The Blog

After Fabric: A Moment of Clarity

It is the moralizers who are immoral, as they seek to inhibit and intrude. They treat us like infants, just as they themselves behave like peculiar children. Failed drug laws are responsible for death and misery around the world.

Islington Council's widely criticized decision to shut down Fabric might come to represent a new low in jobsworth, counter productive state interference. It's reminiscent of the cat and mouse battles of the 1990s, when the Pay Party Unit and the Territorial Support Group, validated by decades of deranged shit stirring from the likes of Mary Whitehouse, attempted to forcibly straitjacket society by disrupting raves and warehouse parties. These demented killjoys had a vision--to construct a nation of inhibited, guilt ridden neurotics, just like them. Unsurprisingly, people didn't go in for that so much, and it appeared that such sententious attitudes had been relegated to the past. Now though, Fabric's forced demise raises a lot of questions--about modern ethics, tolerance, and who is calling the shots.

The decision to revoke Fabric's license was made after two drug related deaths, so let's consider a central issue highlighted by these events: the dysfunctional nature of our current drug legislation, and the need for urgent reform.

The stark truth is that criminalizing drugs serves no useful purpose. Whichever way you look at it--in terms of health, policing, morals--current drug laws are a festering pile of outdated, ill-considered, stubbornly unmovable fecal matter. They are so harmful, so illogical, so clearly not working, that it can only be assumed that the various individuals throughout modern history who constructed our narcotics policies were themselves heavy crack users, and saw prohibition as the only way to curb their unruly habits.

In terms of health, making narcotics illegal has negative outcomes. In Portugal, where since 2001 drug use has been decriminalized, rates of use and drug related deaths have gone down, not up.

I personally don't want rates of use to go down--I'd like the whole country to revel decadently in a state of louche ruin--but the people who currently prohibit drug use take a different view, so they should look at figures from countries where an alternative is being tried.

By going further than decriminalization and actually making drugs entirely legal, a clean supply can be guaranteed, and purity levels will cease to be a risky unknown. Overdoses will fall, and the risk of accidentally consuming something toxic and horrible will disappear.

And while we're at it, why not use the tax raised from legal supplies to help fund health services? That way, if anyone does need medical assistance it will have been paid for in advance, many times over.

Regarding law enforcement, police forces across Britain are stretched and underfunded. Officers already couldn't give a flying fuck about possession for personal use, so why persist in calling it a crime? As for the more serious business of dealing with those pesky organized distribution gangs, industrial scale producers, and cross border smugglers--in a world with a fully legalized drug trade they don't exist anymore. In fact, production would be a booming business, providing jobs and distributing wealth.

If you buy Fairtrade coffee because you think it helps growers in Latin America, then you'll be feeling obnoxiously virtuous every time you chop out a quality checked, fully authorized line of ethically sourced gak, knowing that the farmers that harvested your powder have been lifted out of poverty by the profits of a thoroughly rehabilitated and above board cocaine agribusiness.

And morally? Well, your morals are none of my business, and mine are none of yours. The ethical issues around drug legislation are one of the great deceptions that enable the authorities to maintain the looking glass status quo.

The dominant narrative is that a functional society doesn't get high, and therefore legalization can never be considered for fear that it sends out the wrong message. This fuzzy bullshit must be called out if we are to make progress--society is already getting high and it always has been. The fundamental reason to legalize drugs is precisely because people want to take them, are doing so enthusiastically, and despite this, society is evidently not falling apart at the seams.

If narcotics were as revolting and destructive as the authorities would have us believe, we wouldn't need to prohibit them--most people are sane enough not to consume revolting, destructive substances. But the reality is that for the majority of users drugs are enjoyable and manageable, and the greatest dangers stem from prohibition itself. Taking as a given the fact that we're all independent, self-determining adults, then isn't it time to acknowledge that people use drugs because it's fun, and that having fun is--can we all agree?--a good thing.

There is no moral quandary around legalizing drug use because drug use is not a moral issue. Nobody wrings their hands and chokes up when offered a flat white and a Marlboro Menthol, but these are no less druggy than the currently illegal substances. The only issue to consider is your own personal tolerance--how much can you ingest, and how much of other people's idiosyncrasies can you swallow?

Fabric has been closed down by people who are in denial of their own humanity. Urges to party, to be intoxicated, to step outside the mundane, should not be impeded. Of course not everybody wants to do these things, but most grown ups operate on a live and let live basis. The mistake we have made is in allowing a small number of immature, puritanical micro-managers to acquire positions of power and restrict our personal freedoms. They do this when they criminalize our drugs, and they do it again when they use their ridiculous drug laws to then close down our clubs.

It is the moralizers who are immoral, as they seek to inhibit and intrude. They treat us like infants, just as they themselves behave like peculiar children. Failed drug laws are responsible for death and misery around the world. They are also linked to the loss of yet another vulnerable British nightclub. During this moment of shared clarity that the Fabric review has crystallized, it's time to address the truth--that the bankrupt drug policies foisted on us by generations of preening hypocrites are irrational and destructive, and should be disposed of like a used needle.