By Toby Seddon

Why are a few psychoactive ingredients considered as ‘dangerous drugs’, to be managed via the legal legislation inside of a world prohibition regime, when others – from alcohol and tobacco, via to these we name ‘medicines’ – are visible and controlled very in a different way? A heritage of substances strains a family tree of the development and governance of the ‘drug challenge’ during the last two hundred years, calling into query one of the most basic principles during this box: from ‘addiction’ to the very suggestion of ‘drugs’. on the center of the publication is the declare that it was once with the emergence within the overdue eighteenth century of contemporary liberal capitalism, with its particular emphasis on freedom, that our issues in regards to the intake of a few of those elements started to grow. And, certainly, notions of freedom, unfastened will and accountability stay primary to the drug query at the present time. Pursuing an leading edge inter-disciplinary method, A heritage of substances presents an educated and insightful account of the origins of latest drug coverage. it is going to be crucial examining for college students and teachers operating in legislations, criminology, sociology, social coverage, background and political technology.

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Extra info for A History of Drugs: Drugs and Freedom in the Liberal Age

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This is a radical argument. It undercuts attempts to identify the ‘truth’ of addiction. Rather, Levine suggests that the concept was ‘invented’ in the late eighteenth century. Levine’s basic thesis has not gone without challenge by historians – Jessica Warner (1994) and Roy Porter (1985) have offered the most notable and sustained critiques – but, as Ferentzy (2001) in particular has persuasively argued, his broad position largely stands up in historical terms and it is worth examining further here.

He describes these sites as machines for ‘assembling civilization’ (1999: 72). It is in this sense that I argued in Chapter 1 that ‘freedom’ and the governance of the drug problem can be seen as mutually constitutive. The latter is another site, another machine, where civilization is assembled. This connection with liberalism suggests a possible framework that we might use in our mapping of the ‘semantic river’ flowing through the concept of freedom. As discussed in Chapter 1, in charting the ‘mutations and transformations’ of liberal government over the past 200 years, three broad phases can be identified: classical liberalism; welfare liberalism; and neo-liberalism.

This modern notion of freedom was closely bound up with the birth of modern industrial capitalism. As Bauman (1988: 7) observes, it is a concept tethered to ‘life conditions in the capitalist society’ (1988: 7) and indeed only made possible by the advent of such a society. This is a critical point. The way we view and understand freedom today, the freedom that we valorize so strongly and prominently, is not a universal attribute of the human condition. It is in fact a relatively novel connotation of the term, less than 250 years old.

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