Bill Moyers and Drug "Soft" Hysteria and Propaganda

alec ramsdell a_ramsdell at
Mon Jul 6 09:03:07 PDT 1998

Did anyone see the recent PBS Bill Moyers special on the "addiction epidemic"?

We were treated to this fashionably liberally concerned hack piece back at rehab. The propagada included doctors' grave diagnosis of addiction as an incurable "disease"--an essential, genetic, thing-before-social-relations-and-material-conditions. There was the dirty titillation of two addicts-on-the-street comparing the rush of heroin to sexual orgasm. There were the dramatics of personal narratives by actual drug users, whose real tragedies and damaged lives are demeaned and exploited by the camera. There was plaintive Bill in his neatly decked-out living room, whose son's own story drew his attention to the woes and plight of the "addicted".

The way I see it, from my experience of it, "addiction" is *ultimately* a superstructural affair, expressive of a crisis of material conditions and social relations. It is not wholly a neurobiological affair, and the tautological function of medical speculation ("addiction" is a "mystery") only serves to perputuate a recovery industry of, among other things, expensive treatment centers for those who can afford them, methadone clinics for minorities and the poor (to support the clinics' owners' rich lifestyles), and the self-help genre, the method of whose steps to success propagates itself everywhere from the popular capitalist-peppy works of Stephen Covey and Anthony Robbins to ever-new taxonomies of addiction (sexaholic, overeater, excercise addict, and now: internet addict).

Excuse me if this is out of left-field. I just had to process those feelings (no more stinking thinking for me!). Thank you.


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