Pot politics

Mike Butts & Dana Larsen `supertoking.`Mike Butts & Dana Larsen `supertoking.`I have long thought that the traditional Left/Right division in political debate is irrelevant. I believe a more useful perspective is to consider whether a political philosophy is based on controlling the personal freedom of others, or upon allowing others the freedom to do as they will with their person.
This perspective applies to financial freedom as well as civil ones. The traditional “conservative, right wing” ideology supports financial freedoms, but opposes personal ones like abortion, drug use and sexual behaviour. The traditional “liberal, left wing” generally supports personal freedom of sexuality and expression, but also backs high taxation and government intervention, and so opposes personal financial freedom.

The freedom-oriented political perspective is called “libertarian” or “anarchist”, while the control-oriented perspective is known as “authoritarian” or “controlling”. These labels are not exclusive from ideas of capitalism or communism. Indeed, both of those traditional political divisions can manifest in libertarian or authoritarian forms. Despite their political differences, both Russian Communism and US McCarthyism were extremely authoritarian systems.

In her excellent books The Chalice and the Blade and Sacred Pleasure, Riane Eisler describes the historical interplay between what she calls the dominator and partnership models of human society.

The dominator model binds a society together with institutionalized use of pain and tight controls on pleasure, prohibiting sensual enjoyment and placing sexuality into a framework of submission. The dominator model is based upon the subjugation of women and children, the social approval of masculine violence, and a strict hierarchy maintained through fear. Dominator deities tend to be punitive and masculine.

In contrast, the partnership model unites members of society by providing a framework for pleasurable experiences and self-actualization. Aspects of this model include open enjoyment of sex and sensuality, sexual equality and playfulness, egalitarianism, open communication and non-violence. Divinity is often expressed through symbols of life-giving, nurturing, and unconditional love. The physical world is usually considered to be itself divine.

Riane Eisler’s view of human social frameworks seems to correspond with my view of libertarian vs authoritarian political constructs. It is the dominator, prohibitionist, patriarchal, violent controller model which is at the surface of our society, and which struggles to keep the partnership, pleasurable, tolerant, fraternal, freedom-oriented aspect subordinate and out of the way.

I hesitate to say that either one of these social models is necessarily better than the other. Rather, it seems as if both have their uses in different phases of human development. Nevertheless, it does seem clear that our global culture is oriented towards the dominator model, and that we are in need of a dramatic, global perspective shift if we are to continue as a successful species. I believe that a shift is from a dominator to a partnership model would be very useful and beneficial to humanity at this time.

For a variety of reasons, marijuana is the sacred plant of many who follow the partnership path. Although pot-smoking by no means brings automatic enlightenment, this issue documents how cannabis use has long been intertwined with sacred sexuality, egalitarianism, and worship of the natural. Pot-people have a well-deserved reputation for non-violence and tolerance.

In most parts of the world, the dominator war on the sensual enjoyment of drugs and sexual equality manifests itself in very real and violent ways. Marijuana users and growers are demonized and incarcerated by the hundreds of thousands. Doctors who perform abortions are jailed or murdered, while those who do not match sexual stereotypes are routinely humiliated, beaten and killed. All of this is usually done with the sanction and support of whatever religious authorities dominate the region. Massive acts of violent military intervention are commonly used to maintain the dominator hierarchy.

Yet despite all this, there has also been a rising trend of partnership in the world over the last three hundred years. Dominator concepts such as slavery, the divine right of kings, the use of torture, the view of female sexuality as a threat to male spirituality, the use of violence towards children, have all begun to be reexamined and rejected.

Although the war on drugs has been driven to great extremes in recent years, it is not a new invention. Dominator cultures have a long tradition of prohibiting marijuana and other sacred plants, with users of marijuana and other magical herbs having been persecuted and slaughtered for millennia.

Marijuana prohibition is a key aspect of the entire War on Drugs, and the drug war is a key element to maintaining the remains of the slowly dissolving worldwide dominator hierarchy. If we are to have a global shift in modes from dominator to partnership, then ending worldwide marijuana prohibition seems an important piece of the puzzle.

Our lifespan on the globe is but a moment in human history, and less than the briefest instant in the lifetime of our planet. Yet we are at a time in history when the future is most unpredictable, and each small action can be magnified a million-fold into massive change.

I believe humanity is at a time where we are charting the course that will carry us a long way forwards into the future. Do we want the coming centuries to hold increased violence, stricter hierarchy, more repression, and greater punishment? Or can we make the shift into a society of egalitarian sexuality, cooperation, tolerance, and recognition of the divine on earth, of which we are a part?

It’s up to you, and every one of us, to decide what the future will hold.

Mike Butts & Dana Larsen `supertoking.`
Dana Larsen,

Editor, Cannabis Culture.