Drugs And Capitalism
Drugs and spices have long been at the center of global trade, but the concept of “drug” in its modern, Western sense is particularly derived from interactions with cultural “others.” Thinkers such as Jacques Derrida have written on the ancient Pharmakon and its relationship to signification and sacrifice.
As Richard DeGrandpre writes in the opening passages of Cult of Pharmacology, “This about sums up the modern history of drugs: irrational and unpredictable. Full of fear and loathing, with a strong theme of commerce running right through the center.” Sayak Valencia has associated illegal drug markets with the formation of “Endriago subjectivity” in Gore Capitalism. Opioid abuse is regularly in the news while local economies boom from marijuana legalization, from which profits are in conflict with federal banking laws. In contrast, more and more psychedelic science has praised the benefits of LSD, psilocybin mushrooms, ayahuasca, and MDMA, often through rhetorics of mind-body health.
Such biopolitical rhetoric often attempts to speak from a universalized, “spiritual” (entheogens) and transcultural perspective, enabling amnesia with respect to the ways drug commerce is part of primitive and ongoing accumulation of capital.
The New Polis welcomes submissions both of a scholarly and popular nature that fit within its broad range in topic areas from critical theory and cultural analysis to political thought and theology. We are currently calling for work related to the broad theme of “Drugs and Capitalism.” Some related lines of inquiry may include but are not limited to: