The CIA, LSD, and Political Dissent - Fritz the Cat

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The CIA. LSD and Political Dissent

Jody came back to the lake last week from a season’s trimming in Humboldt County. He brought back a vial of acid and a book he was passing around for comment. He came back overland this time, airport surveillance being what it is. He also mentioned stopping off at a few psychedelic – New Age communities coming through Mexico. It was decent acid, though I only did a mild dose. Nice colors and paisley patterns, lasted 5-6 hours.
Maybe mind bending at a higher dosage.

The book was entitled something like "LSD, the CIA, and the Youth  Rebellion ¨.  It was very similar to one I’d read a year ago, "Storming Heaven".  I Thought "Storming Heaven" was particularly apt title given the almost universal allusions to the Holy surrounding the chemical, and the idea that in a postindustrial mass consumption society one ought to be able to party with one’s friends at the same place the world’s mystics and holy men spend a life time getting to, and still not miss a day’s work, very Tower of Babelish.

Both books examine the history of LSD, and especially the role the CIA played in introducing the drug to what would become the U.S. counter culture. That the CIA experimented with the drug in the context of interrogation techniques, battlefield incapacitants, pure science, etc. is beyond doubt given Freedom of Information Act releases. This was their right and duty under their charter, and if they watched as known LSD hotspots went about their business, hardly anyone would have been surprised or, with the exception of the professional rights watchers, concerned. The question is "Did the CIA cross the line separating surveillance from manipulation?" Did they move their unethical, repugnant, dehumanizing laboratory experiment into the streets and campuses of the U.S.? Was the CIA experimenting with mass mind control on a segment of the U.S. population during the Vietnam War period?

There is no smoking gun, No Pentagon Papers or Watergate Tapes to rally around, no unquestionably innocent victims  like the U.S. draftees or the Vietnams peasants , only rumors and conspiracy theories and an amorphous category of drug user, the casual freshman party goer under the same law as the harden heroin addict. Given that no legal remedy to CIA abuse is currently possible or even practical, and no reconciliation commission is likely to be formed in the near future, one can only delve into the literature and discuss the issue with friends, as far as I can see.

The question "How far would the CIA go?" seems naive to me when we know that in the laboratory shock therapy, sleep deprivation, psychological manipulation, all manner of licit and illicit drug regimens and even lobotomies were practiced on innocent people who for one reason or another feel under the power of these authorities. They would go the limit and for someone who would stick an ice pick into someone’s brain and swizzle it around just to see what happens, those limits would seem to be rather far. The impunity implied by a bureaucracy, the cold war mentality, reasons of state, career ladder climbing,  inter bureaucratic competition, and the struggle against degeneracy, even by the most degenerate men using the most degenerate methods, all were legitimate and even praiseworthy among the secret, elite sect that sought the philosophers stone of mind control.

I personally don’t thing they ever found it. My experience, 50+ trips on LSD, natural psychedelics and their synthetic imitations, does not lead me to believe that thoughts can be formed or controlled through purely chemical means, that is no purely chemical means could cause me to hold this , that, or the other opinion regarding what is right, true, beautiful, or any other predicate about any other subject at all outside or opposed to my experience  of the world. This is mind control per se. But to say mind control per se is not yet chemically available is not to say that LSD and drugs in general are not  and drugs of great use to the agents of social control, be they police, social workers, the medical establishment or any other formal body encouraged to enforce the legal, social or moral constraints that comprise civilization as we know it.  Most obviously there is the huge market for tranquilizers, sedatives and antidepressants available from your friendly doctor, mood regulators that are useful in dulling life´s sharps edges, adjusting temperaments toward the social norm, or indeed staving off suicidal despondency. There is also the socially tolerated self-meditation available through alcohol, tobacco, coffee and the like, which pick us up, bring us down or merely take our mind off things for a while.

I personally put LSD into the category of taking our minds off thing for a bit, in the realm of social control. My best guess is that after 10 years of fruitless research, someone at the top of the CIA said enough is enough, put your LSD into storage and let´s watch what happens in the private sector. And perhaps he knew that it wouldn’t be long before some agent with a lot of time invested in LSD research "liberated" that stock and seeded the private sector with it. And perhaps at the same time the propaganda wing of the CIA began seeding the counter culture with the myth of LSD, that it is a short cut to liberation, that it is a powerful impetus toward social change, that the CIA is terrified of acid’s power and is doing its best to put the jinni back in the lamp.

And the seeds sprouted and blossomed first in the New York area, then most famously in the San Francisco area. The new "freaks" were as intrigued and mystified by LSD as the older "spooks" has been; only now the Holy Grail was enlightenment and liberation, a sort of personal mind control. Inevitably these goals became as elusive as those pursued by the CIA, only there was no one in charge to order the drug shelved, so the experiment has continued to this day, along with the myths propagated by the high priests of misinformation.

If the CIA was not able to perfect LSD as an instrument of mind control, that doesn’t mean that there isn’t a niche for LSD in the arsenal of social control. Consider now the Romans kept control over a large and varied population in with bread and circuses. Bread because hungry people are dangerous, and circuses because the devil finds work for idle hands. They had chariot races, gladiators, and feeding those pesky Christians to the lions. The latter amused one part of the population, and terrified another. The U.S. entertainment sector is the envy of the world. NASCAR and the NFL fill stadium after stadium.

But these circuses for the masses are of very little interest to those who are of particular danger to the establishment; the intellectuals, those who could contrive and implement an alternative to the existing social order. For them a more sophisticated circus is required, a more intricate circus.  Something that will challenge and intrigue their intellect.  Something that will appeal to the vanity of these, the most vain of people. Circuses of the intellect. Circuses of the mind.  In one ring danger and adventure, without leaving home, in another ring beauty, both ordinary and extraordinary. Like the trapeze artists above one can, at least for the moment, slip earth’s surly bonds and fly with the angels. And in the center ring, ladies and gentlemen, the fruit from the forbidden tree of knowledge. And if in this circus of curiosity and wonder your bite of forbidden fruit should turn into an insatiable lust for power you will not be turned out to wander east of Eden, you will be cast down into utter darkness.

The same set of people who are inclined to rebel against social control are seemingly, also inclined to rebel against political control. And while the first may be accepted by the authorities, with varying levels of exasperation, the second is a serious problem to be eliminated as quickly as possible with the least possible disturbance to the status quo. Anyone stepping out of live politically will be placed under the microscope for any drug law violation and dealt with severally. It happened over and over during the Vietnam war protest. Prosecute one and intimidate hundreds, rumor mongering becomes childishly easy in a milieu saturated in LSD.  When you see someone you looked up to put into prison for 10 years for passing a joint to the wrong person, you begin to get the idea that it is time to leave town for a while. Political descent crumbles with a minimum of fuss and bother, and since the statute of limitations was eliminated under former head of the CIA President George Bush Sr., any foolish act committed at any time in the past may come back to haunt today’s elderly dissident. So don’t expect the drug laws to be reformed any time soon, there is another war on the horizon and those drug laws will come in handy. People wandering in the wonderland of medical marijuana have followed Alice down the rabbit hole. Let a thousand flowers bloom, them cut down the tallest ones.  They have committed a federal crime. The feds will laugh at Dr. Feelgood’s signature.

Data banks are filling up, but they will never be fall. Every phone call, e-mail, text message, and blog is being stored and incrimination.  Big Brother doesn’t have to watch you anymore. It’s all done by machines, automatically. Big Brother doesn’t need LSD to read your mind; it’s all right there on your blog for the whole world to see. Every time you tag a photo, Microsoft’s or Google’s facial recognition software get one step closer to market domination, and you get one step further  from any hope of anonymity in any public space.

Caesar’s wife must be beyond reproach, lest Caesar’s enemies use his wife indiscretions against Caesar’s policies, and the political dissident must be squeaky clean, lest he find himself doing time not for political dissent, which is constitutionally protected, but for drug abuse, leaving him as unprotected as any 17th century witch.

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