Graham Hancock : The War on Consciousness (Censored TED Talk Video)
TED Talks has been in the spotlight lately for censoring some of their videos. Recently TED Talks decided to pull down Graham Hancock’s video titled “The War on Consciousness” wherein Graham is yet again asking the pertinent question, aren’t we sovereign over our own consciousness and how we choose to explore it …?
Here is Graham Hancock’s article titled ‘War on Consciousness’ …
We are told that the “War on Drugs” is being waged, on our behalf, by our governments and their armed bureaucracies and police forces, to save us from ourselves. “Potential for abuse and harm” are supposed to be the criteria by which the use of drugs is suppressed—the greater a drug’s potential for abuse and harm, the greater and more vigorous the degree of suppression, and the more draconian the penalties applied against its users.
In line with this scheme drugs are typically ranked into a hierarchy: Schedules I, II, and III in the US, Classes A, B, and C in the UK, and so on and so forth all around the world. Thus, to be arrested for possession of a Schedule I or Class A drug results in heavier penalties than possession of a Schedule III or Class C drug. Generally if a drug is deemed to have some currently accepted medical use it is likely to be placed in a lower schedule than if it has none, notwithstanding the fact that it may have potential for abuse or harm. In the absence of any recognized therapeutic effects, drugs that are highly addictive, such as heroin or crack cocaine, or drugs that are profoundly psychotropic, including hallucinogens such as LSD, psilocybin, or DMT, are almost universally placed in the highest schedules and their use attracts the heaviest penalties.
The notable exceptions to this system of ranking according to perceived “harms” are, of course, alcohol and tobacco, both highly addictive and harmful drugs—far more so than cannabis or psilocybin, for example—but yet socially accepted on the grounds of long customary use and thus not placed in any schedule at all.
The Failed War
When we look at the history of the “War on Drugs” over approximately the last 40 years, it must be asked whether the criminalization of the use of any of the prohibited substances has in any way been effective in terms of the stated goals that this “war” was supposedly mounted to achieve. Specifically, has there been a marked reduction in the use of illegal drugs over the past 40 years—as one would expect with billions of dollars of taxpayers’ money having been spent over such a long period on their suppression—and has there been a reduction in the harms that these drugs supposedly cause to the individual and to society?
It is unnecessary here to set down screeds of statistics, facts, and figures readily available from published sources to assert that in terms of its own stated objectives the “War on Drugs” has been an abject failure and a shameful and scandalous waste of public money. Indeed, it is well known, and not disputed, that the very societies that attempt most vigorously to suppress various drugs, and in which users are subject to the most stringent penalties, have seen a vast and continuous increase in the per capita consumption of these drugs. This is tacitly admitted by the vast armed bureaucracies set up to persecute drug users in our societies, which every year demand more and more public money to fund their suppressive activities; if the suppression were working, one would expect their budgets to go down, not up.
Meanwhile the social harms caused by the “War on Drugs” itself are manifest and everywhere evident. In the United States, for example, there have been more than 20 million arrests for the possession of the Schedule I drug marijuana since 1965 and 11 million since 1990. The pace of arrests is increasing year on year, bringing us to the astonishing situation where, today, a marijuana smoker is arrested every 38 seconds.1 The result, as Rob Kampia, executive director of the Marijuana Policy Project, recently observed, is that marijuana arrests outnumber arrests for “all violent crimes combined,” meaning police are spending inordinate amounts of time chasing nonviolent criminals.2 And it goes without saying that those who are arrested for the use of marijuana and other illegal drugs do suffer immense harm as a result of the punishments inflicted on them—including, but not limited to, personal trauma, loss of freedom, loss of reputation, loss of employment prospects, and serious, long-lasting financial damage.
Inventory of Harm
Such matters are only the beginning of the long inventory of harm caused by the “War on Drugs.”
Western industrial societies, and all those cultures around the globe that increasingly seek to emulate them, teach us to venerate above all else the alert, problem-solving state of consciousness that is particularly appropriate to the conduct of science, business, war, and logical inquiry, and to such activities as driving cars, operating machinery, performing surgery, doing accounts, drawing up plans, accumulating wealth, etc., etc., etc. But there are many other states of consciousness that the amazing and mysterious human brain is capable of embracing, and it appears to be a natural human urge, as deep-rooted as our urges for food, sex, and nurturing relationships, to seek out and explore such “altered states of consciousness.” A surprisingly wide range of methods and techniques (from breathing exercises, to meditation, to fasting, to hypnosis, to rhythmic music, to extended periods of vigorous dancing, etc.) is available to help us to achieve this goal, but there is no doubt that the consumption of those plants and substances called “drugs” in our societies is amongst the most effective and efficient means available to mankind to explore these profoundly altered states of consciousness.
The result is that people naturally seek out drugs and the temporary alterations in consciousness that they produce. Not all people in every society will do this, perhaps not even a majority, but certainly a very substantial minority—for example the 2 million Britons who are known to take illegal drugs each month or those 20 million people in the US who have been arrested for marijuana possession since 1965. And these of course are only the tip of the iceberg of the much larger population of American marijuana users, running into many more tens of millions, who have, by luck or care, not yet fallen foul of the law and are thus not reflected in the arrest statistics.
Needless to say, it is of course exactly the same urge to alter consciousness that also impels even larger numbers of people to use legal (and often extremely harmful) drugs such as alcohol and tobacco—which, though they may not alter consciousness as dramatically as, say, LSD, are nevertheless undoubtedly used and sought out for the limited alterations of consciousness that they do produce.
For the hundreds of millions of people around the world whose need to experience altered states is not and cannot be satisfied by drunken oblivion or the stimulant effects of tobacco, it is therefore completely natural to turn to “drugs”—and, since the “War on Drugs” means that there is no legal source of supply of these substances, the inevitable result is that those who wish to use them must resort to illegal sources of supply.
Herein lies great and enduring harm. For it is obvious, and we may all see the effects everywhere, that the criminalization of drug use has empowered and enriched a vast and truly horrible global criminal underworld by guaranteeing that it is the only source of supply of these drugs. We have, in effect, delivered our youth—the sector within our societies that most strongly feels the need to experience altered states of consciousness— into the hands of the very worst mobsters and sleazeballs on the planet. To buy drugs our sons and daughters have no choice but to approach and associate with violent and greedy criminals. And because the proceeds from illegal drug sales are so enormous, we are all caught up in the inevitable consequences of turf wars and murders amongst the gangs and cartels competing in this blackest of black markets.
It should be completely obvious to our governments, after more than 40 years of dismal failure to suppress illegal drug use, that their policies in this area do not work and will never work. It should be completely obvious, a simple logical step, to realize that by decriminalizing drug use, and making the supply of all drugs available to those adults who wish to use them through legal and properly regulated channels, we could, at a stroke, put out of business the vast criminal enterprise that presently flourishes on the supply of illegal drugs.
It ought to be obvious, but somehow it is not.
Here is the recording a of radio show interview where Graham discusses his banned TED Talk …
Evolver Intensives is also starting with an online webinar with Graham Hancock titled “The War on Consciousness“.
In this exclusive Evolver webinar, Graham Hancock will expand upon the themes he introduced in his provocative TEDx talk, and explore the ramifications they have for your life:
- Should sovereignty over your own consciousness be as fundamental a right as free speech?
- How might visionary plants have effected human evolution, and what potential do they have for us today?
- Why does our society approve of some states of consciousness, but actively suppress others that might offer solutions to the ecological and spiritual crises of our time?
- How can you explore the potential offered through visionary plants like Ayahuasca safely and responsibly?
Graham Hancock is one of the sharpest minds of the new consciousness movement. The author of numerous books, including the bestselling Fingerprints of the Gods, Supernatural, and the visionary novel Entangled, he never fails to ask the right question and investigate assumptions too often taken for granted.
We are at the threshold of a major societal shift. Why is the expansion of consciousness so critical to the future of humanity — and why are so many people threatened by this possibility? How can you overcome this fear in your own life, and among those you know?
In this live, interactive video session, Graham will discuss the censorship controversy and why he feels these issues are so important and worth defending. And he will explore how you can take part in the consciousness transformation that is already in motion.
This single-session webinar takes place on Saturday, April 14. The format is a 60 minute presentation followed by 30 minutes of Q&A. You will be part of the discussion, able to ask your questions on camera, just like a Skype call.
Join us for this exciting exploration into the nature of consciousness and spirituality.