Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Aaronovitch on coke

Writing about it, I should stress, in Sunday's Observer. In the piece, Aaronovitch announces that he has changed his mind about cocaine use after a preview of Maria full of grace, a film about the fate of Maria, a 'mule' who transports cocaine from Columbia to New York in her stomach.

His "change of mind" isn't clearly outlined but from what one can gather, Mr. Aaronovitch has moved from a liberal position to a more conservative one following the breath-taking revelation that people suffer and are exploited as a result of their involvement in the international drugs traffic.

I agreed with him to a certain extent in the sense that far too much of the debate about drugs focuses on the effects of any given narcotic on the consumer, rather than its wider implications for those involved in production and transport.

However, while reading the piece, I was reminded about the tendency amongst conservatives to use the exploitation argument when it concerns "vice" trades such as narcotics or pornography. Of the latter, for example, I've always thought that there was something rather hypocritical when Tories take up the female exploitation argument against pornography when hitherto, they'd shown no interest whatsoever in the issue of women's rights.

In the same way, some anti-drugs campaigners' solicitude with victims of the drug trade seems distinctly limited, with no similar concern shown about the conditions under which their childrens' trainers are made in the People's Republic of China.

The other point that occurs to me is that the drugs trade is a pretty good example of the unfettered market in action; not the sort of observation often made by disciples of Freddie Hayek.

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