Narcocapitalism to the rescue

(Narcocapitalism, Laurent de Sutter, November 2017)

The unifying theme of Narcocapitalism is the de-excitement of the masses. If you can keep people calm, you can manipulate them as desired. So the psychological, political and capitalistic ends can be achieved. This is an unusual thesis, and de Sutter gathers unusual underpinnings to pull it together.

He starts with the invention of anesthesia, which transformed surgery and the ability of doctors to manipulate (individual) bodies. This evolved to the introduction of cocaine into seemingly everything, but especially via drugmakers. If people were calmed by cocaine and its derivatives, they would be less agitated and activist, and better consumers — all benefits to capitalism. Drugs evolved to change the circadian rhythm, allowing soldiers to kill without sleep, night clubbers to stay up endless hours, workers to be pressed for more productivity. Possibly the oddest evidence resides in birth control pills, which men feared would excite, rather than de-excite women into having non-productive sex at will. This went against all the principles of control — except the better consumer aspect.

Today, we have massive opioid and anti-depressant pandemics, which serve to calm the nerves and dull the thought processes of millions. No one is ever cured of anything; they are simply kept de-excited. The drugmakers are in narco-heaven. Even as taking the drugs is illegal, designing them, making them and selling them to doctors and pharmacies is not. It’s the true hypocrisy and contraction of the capitalist system.

As I read, I kept thinking correlation is not causation, and de Sutter’s arguments didn’t bowl me over. But they are outside the box, which is always of interest to me.

David Wineberg

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