From issue 9 of Forward
“The drugs problem is a symptom of a deeper disease…” stated the British Ambassador to Afghanistan recently and he could not be more correct. The drugs problem, whether it is drug production in the east or drug consumption in the west, is a symptom of a deeper disease, a disease that has inflicted untold tragedies upon entire nations and peoples, a disease that has caused misery, death and famine for centuries, the disease of imperialism. The British Ambassador, however, is incorrect when he continued “…and as we tackle instability, tackle disorder and the insurgency, we are facing some very big challenges on all those fronts, but as we tackle them we will see poppy production go down.”
The root of drug production in Afghanistan, as in Columbia and elsewhere, is the global economic and political system that forces farmers, of all sizes, to grow drugs ahead of bananas or grains. Drug production for consumption in the west is profitable. When you add to this the political dimension of war lords, criminal gangs and CIA led sponsorship you get instead of what we call ‘banana republics’ ‘heroin dictatorship’, drugs as always then becomes an issue of control and usury. No war on terror or counter insurgency measures can change this only a direct assault on the economic environment that creates this situation can bring about change. And this is a matter of urgency as will be seen.
But who will conduct this assault? Not the current elite for they profit off drug production directly and also indirectly through the degradation of working class communities and cultures. Let us not forget it was the CIA that introduced heroin to black communities in the US to destroy the militant movements that Malcolm X had helped build. It is also this system based upon inequality that causes such mass alienation and depression among young people that drugs becomes an attractive option to escape reality for just a short while. Drugs is the easy escape however it is nothing even close to freedom as it further and deeper enslaves you in the system of misery.
A recent UN report cited Afghanistan as the number one opium producing country in the world, producing a whopping 93% of the world’s opiates. 2006 and so far in 2007 has seen record harvests for Afghanistan with 193,000 hectares of opium poppies being grown. These undisputable facts show up the farce that is the government in Kabul and condemn the US led invasion and occupation as another humanitarian disaster. Imperialism, however, is happy for the US got what they wanted, linking oil in the Caspian Sea to gas reserves in Asia. From the elites point of view Afghanistan is a success!
Some Irish people may not care about the US led ‘war on terror’, may not oppose the use of Shannon or Shell’s control of energy resources off Mayo but if you care about heroin destroying communities, families and lives and are serious about tackling this epidemic you must listen and study seriously the system that forces this crisis upon us. In Dublin alone there are 13,000 heroin addicts and the waiting list for methadone clinics is measured in years not weeks like most countries. Over 90% of the heroin in Ireland is from Afghanistan. The ease of production and distribution is enabled by the US and their allies there.
Governments create and capitalize off decreasing working class consciousness and increasing disillusionment with politics. Drugs and suicide are just two of the most serious symptoms of the alienation capitalism creates. Successive Irish Governments have condemned many young people to the horrors of heroin addiction and condemned many communities to the terrors of drug gangs and drug feuds. It is time we connected all the dots and throw out this system that is rotten to the core. This is a matter of urgency and truly is a question of socialism or barbarism.