Magazine article Monthly Review

Capitalism and the "War on Drugs."

Magazine article Monthly Review

Capitalism and the "War on Drugs."

Article excerpt

With the capture and extradition to the United States of the first of the Colombian drug lords, the media have begun what may become a popular entertainment series: the clever, thrilling exploits of the undercover narcotics cops in bringing villains to justice.

Might we, however, expect the mainstream capitalist media to investigate such fundamental questions as (1) Why does the enormous business of drug production and distribution exist? (2) Why is there such a ready profitable market for narcotics? As with most other serious issues it is doubtful that they will contribute to our understanding of the drug problem, much less to its solution.

That understanding must begin with a recognition that the countries in which drug production is centered are very poor, underdeveloped, dominantly agricultural, whose economies have traditionally depended heavily on exports of food crops and natural resources to First World capitalist nations. Considerable numbers of poor peasants in the drug--producing countries make their living-often a much better one than they can earn as sharecroppers or seasonal farm laborers-by growing, harvesting, and transporting crops of narcotics for the wealthy drug cartels, run by local capitalists with First World financial connections and assisted by willing and well-rewarded political and law enforcement authorities.

The market for their products is very largely in the developed, industrial nations of North America and Europe. One major outlet is in the inner city cores, where chronically unemployed slum dwellers and many homeless people, who very commonly are members of super-exploited ethnic minorities, find solace and temporary relief from their endless misery by drug use. …

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