ON EMOTION DRUGS
ON EMOTION DRUGS
by Jeffrey A. Corkern
Our society---in fact, all stable, functioning societies in the world---do NOT like emotion drugs for some strange reason. Drugs like pot, cocaine, heroin, LSD, meth, Ecstasy and so forth. They spend literally HUNDREDS of billions of dollars fighting emotion drugs. "War On Drugs" is not an over-exaggeration to describe this world-wide effort, not in the least. The expenditure easily matches what has been spent on fighting real shooting wars.
This world's societies are SERIOUS about this war. A lot of this world's societies will stand you up against a wall and SHOOT YOU DEAD if they catch you selling emotion drugs.
You wanna know the weirdest thing?
The world's societies can't really tell you WHY they're doing this.
They can't answer the question of why they're making this EXTREME effort against emotion drugs. They can't. Not one society in this world can give an answer to that question you can't shoot down with the greatest of ease. If they could give an entirely logical answer, an answer that could convince EVERYBODY emotion drugs really were intrinsically bad things, an argument everybody could understand, they wouldn't be having such a hard time keeping people away from emotion drugs. They wouldn't be having to spend so much money.
This extreme effort seems strange to a lot of people. So much so there are organizations---like NORML, the National Organization to Reform the Marijuana Laws, for example, and many others---that are actively trying to make emotion drugs legal.
One sign of everyone's complete and total confusion is they haven't even correctly labeled these things as what they are. EMOTION drugs, that is. Drugs that make people feel good, that MAKE people feel a certain EMOTION they want to feel.
Let's run through a couple of these worthless arguments against emotion drugs and shoot them down, just to illustrate how completely and totally confused this anti-emotion-drug thing is.
The first objection you hear is that it's wrong to use to emotion drugs----because they're illegal.
This is so astoundingly illogical it takes your breath away. An example of circular logic at its finest. Because they're illegal? Easily cured, man. Just make the damn emotion drugs legal. Then it'll be right. Just make all emotion drugs legal and let corporations sell them just like soda pop. You'll save how many HUNDREDS of billions of dollars? How much drug crime will go away? How many prisons will be COMPLETELY emptied? How much money will you rake in on taxes? It'll be in the billions! You'll make every nickel back you spent on that futile War On Drugs! People will spend money on emotion drugs before they'll spend money on FOOD, man!
Which brings up the second objection.
Emotion drugs in general hurt their users. Letting people use emotion drugs will be allowing people to damage themselves, even kill themselves. Several of these emotion drugs will kill you deader than a hammer if you slip just one little inch.
First answer to that: There are quite a number of activities that people do in this world that are just as dangerous (or MORE!), that can kill you just as dead---and none of the world's societies forbid these activities. Things like sky-diving. High-speed auto racing. Airplane racing. Hang-gliding. Scuba diving. Mountain climbing. Slip just one little inch doing any of these activities or any of a thousand other risky activities---and you're DEAD, quicker than a heartbeat.
(You know, it's odd, but we can abstract a rule from this observed behavior. We can abstract a single, simple rule the world's societies are using to determine what is and is NOT allowed behavior to get happy.
You can do anything you want that doesn't hurt other people to get happy---except stimulate the happiness centers of your brain directly.
Anything else is allowed, even if you can get yourself killed doing it. Indirect stimulation of your brain's happiness centers is legal. Direct stimulation of your brain's happiness centers is NOT.)
Second answer to that: Okay, so what if we find a way of stimulating the brain's happiness centers that DOESN'T hurt the user? That have no side-effects. Not physically addicting and impossible to overdose on. The perfect drug or class of emotion drugs. Then we can make that one class of emotion drugs alone legal.
Impossible to make a single chemical that does that, you say? Chemicals ALWAYS have side-effects.
Well, actually, you're probably right---if you're talking about chemical substances.
Fortunately, science is marching on. The human race is no longer restricted to chemical substances when it comes to getting stoned---pardon me, happy. We can cut right to the chase these days, without having to use any kind of nasty chemicals with their nasty side effects.
Direct electrical brain stimulation.
We can run a little metal wire right to certain sections of your brain, trickle a few milliamps of current to it---and you will be in Nirvana INSTANTLY, man, higher than a kite. With NO side-effects.
The groundwork has already been laid. Neuroscientists have ALREADY discovered precisely what sections of brain to tickle, believe it or not.
So there we have it, the perfect happiness drug. Or machine, rather.
So now all objections to emotion drugs have been refuted.
So now we can make all emotion drugs and machines legal. Right? Right! There's not a single objection we can't shoot down. We can't find a single truly logical reason not to.
W-e-l-l, perhaps not. Perhaps there are one or two teeny-tiny little objections to making emotion drugs, or machines, legal.
Let us examine this question as precisely as possible. (Which is something, by the way, the world's societies have NEVER done. They have just been reacting instinctively, stumbling around blind in the dark, on this subject.)
First, let us define precisely what an emotion drug is.
An "emotion drug" is a substance that is capable of directly affecting the emotion centers of the user's brain and is employed by the user for the SOLE purpose of affecting the emotion centers of his brain, for directly altering his emotional state.
Note that this definition is totally a use definition, i.e. the user is the one who defines what an emotion drug is.
Let me illustrate what I mean. Smoking marijuana for the SOLE purpose of getting high defines marijuana as an emotion drug (and illegal). Smoking marijuana to, let us say, relieve the pain of menstrual cramps or to stimulate your appetite because anti-cancer drugs have suppressed your appetite defines marijuana as NOT an emotion drug (and legal).
It is the purpose the user has for the drug that primarily determines whether or not the drug is an emotion drug. To DIRECTLY affect his brain's emotion centers---it's an emotion drug. Anything else, it's not.
So now we have a working definition of "emotion drug." Which is also hereby defined to include, not just drugs, but also mechanical devices.
Now, what rational, logical objection can we find to making these things legal?
What do emotion drugs do.
They make people happy. Fundamentally, the rock-bottom, that's what they do. They make people feel good.
How in the world could that be a bad thing?
I mean, everything else people do has as its sole purpose to get happy. Why aren't emotion drugs just yet another pathway to this emotional state?
Perhaps we should pause here a minute and look at this getting-happy thing. There is something quite astonishing about this getting-happy thing.
You know why people do what they do?
BECAUSE THEY'RE ALL TRYING TO GET HAPPY!
You know what? You can describe ALL human action in terms of getting happy!
All of it, man! ALL OF IT! No matter how small, it’s ALL about being happy!
You race cars at high speed---because you enjoy it. You parachute out of perfectly good airplanes---because it's fun. You play video games---because it brings a smile to your face.
It goes deeper than that. A LOT deeper.
(You even BREATHE to stay happy. Right? How happy are you going to feel if you STOPPED breathing?)
You get married, because being with that special other person makes you happier than anything else in this world.
(You wanna know where this deep insight into human motivation first began to pop to the surface? To become consciously known?
In the eighteenth century!
In the eighteenth century, there was a great deal of philosophical inquiry into why people did what they did. And the answer they came up with was people did what they in order to get happy. This was NOT just some airy-fairy philosophical conclusion, either. This conclusion GOT USED AS A FOUNDATION RULE FOR ONE OF THE WORLD'S MOST SUCCESSFUL SOCIETIES!
Guess which one.
The United States!
What does it say in the Declaration of Independence?
"life, liberty, and THE PURSUIT OF HAPPINESS!"
The Founding Fathers were trying to lay the foundations for a successful society using this radical new discovery. And they did it, man, they did it. They absolutely NAILED it! Because ALL human action truly can be described as an effort to get happy!
Smart guys, our Founding Fathers.)
You have a family---because it makes you happy. You get up every morning, go out and work like a damn dog---because having a family, in the end, makes you happy, so happy you don't mind the extreme effort it takes.
Whatever you do, it's to feel happiness in one form or another. It's all about being happy, your own personal happiness, and everybody else's, in the end.
Unless, of course, you use emotion drugs to get happy.
Now you no longer need to do any of those other things. Now all you need is the emotion drug---a bag of pot, a line of coke, a wire to the brain. Now you don't need any of those other things to get happy anymore. Race cars, airplanes, video games, you don't need them---and something far more terrible you're not going to need.
You want to know what the most terrible thing is you're not going to need?
You're not going to need---other people.
You're not gonna need other people, man. You can see this already happening in society. This is a known psychological effect of emotion drugs. Look at the people you know who use dope. Look at them REAL HARD.
Are they not---ISOLATED? Fundamentally cut off from the rest of the world? In a kind of unchanging stasis? Not going anywhere?
They don't HAVE to change, you see. With people who don't use emotion drugs, if they are in pain somehow and not happy, they are FORCED to change something about themselves or their environment in order to be happy. They are FORCED TO GET SMARTER about the Universe, to strike the rock-bottom. This is NOT true for people who use emotion drugs. If they feel bad, they just go running to the dope, and PRESTO! They're happy! Without having to go through the effort of making all that nasty, wrenching, painful change! Of having to learn anything, of having to get smarter even the least little bit!
So they DON'T change or get smarter, and this is a known psychological effect of emotion drugs. If somebody started using emotion drugs at fifteen, you can examine him psychologically ten, twenty, thirty, forty years later---and he will STILL be fifteen years old on the inside. He (or she, of course) will know what he knew at fifteen---and NOTHING else.
(You can see this same isolating effect in drug-related violent crime, too. Crimes committed while under the influence of emotion drugs have a tendency to be more violent. The emotion drugs have cut the criminal's emotional connection to the rest of humanity, you see, and the result is he does more horrible things to his victims than he would have had he not been under the influence.)
Emotion drugs---cut you off from EVERYTHING. Period. WITHOUT emotion drugs, you must interact with the world in order to get happy. WITH emotion drugs, you DON'T. Right?
You know what the definition of society is?
People interacting with other people.
What do emotion drugs do?
Shut down that interaction with other people. With everything else, too, but primarily with other people.
So, if a society makes emotion drugs legal, what, inevitably, must legal emotion drugs do to that society in the end?
DESTROY IT. UTTERLY.
NOW we have a rational, logical reason for a society to make emotion drugs illegal. VIOLENTLY illegal, put-you-in-jail-for-twenty-years illegal, stand-you-up-against-a-wall-and-SHOOT-YOU-DEAD illegal.
(I'm not advocating these kinds of severe punishments, please understand. I'm saying I understand why a society would impose these kinds of severe punishments.)
Now, I know some people are NOT going to like this coldly logical conclusion, that emotion drugs really, truly are intrinsically bad things, because they use emotion drugs themselves on a regular basis, and they are going to whine about this and refuse to be convinced. Because they LIKE emotion drugs and don't want to give them up. So they'll DELIBERATELY stay dumb. They’d rather have dope than brains, man. They’ll squinch their eyes shut as tight as they can, put their hands over their ears and refuse to believe a single word they've read. Emotion drugs are their refuge from reality, their escape from pain.
So I'm going to hit this one more time, harder.
Let's look at this one more time, in more detail.
Let's theoretically make emotion drugs legal, and see what happens to society.
Okay. Emotion drugs are legal, and corporations start fighting each other to sell them.
What happens first?
Emotion drugs get CHEAP. Cocaine, fifty cents a pound. Crack, one dollar a pound. Marijuana, two dollars for twenty one-ounce cigarettes. Heroin, five bucks a pound.
Sure, millions of people will get addicted and eventually kill themselves. You'll be stepping over dead bodies in the streets every day. Every city will have to have a crew that does nothing but pick up dead bodies. But we knew that's what was going to happen when we made emotion drugs legal. Hell, it's just cleaning up the gene pool. Just evolution in action, right?
And, yeah, intellectual, moral, and scientific progress will slow way the hell down because society will be collectively choosing NOT to get smarter. The smart people, instead of doing all the stuff smart people do, like inventing cures for cancer and AIDs and things like that, will be drooling against their bedroom wall stoned out of their friggin’ minds.
What will happen along with this?
Well, if people can use emotion drugs to get happy---they will tend NOT to use any other method. So sales of high-speed race cars will go down. Along with parachutes. And airplanes. And video games. And whatever else you can name, because the only goal people really have, the ONLY reason they do whatever it is they do, every single action, no matter how small, is to get happy. As so fundamental a document as the Declaration of Independence recognizes.
When we made emotion drugs legal---we made that the CHEAPEST way to get happy.
So the VISIBLE start of the decline of society will be an economic crash, which will take a good while before it starts.(The INVISIBLE part will be the intellectual decline. This will start immediately and actually have MUCH more severe effects---but you will NEVER see it happening.) The only companies making money will be the emotion-drug companies.
What happens next?
The emotion drugs get BETTER.
Free-market competition, right? The first primitive generation of emotion drugs have an unfortunate tendency to damage and kill their users. This is like, you know, REAL bad from a profit standpoint. So the emotion-drug companies will engage in a research race to produce the best possible emotion drug, one that doesn't kill or damage their customers.
It is QUITE clear what the end of that research race will be.
Say hello to the Happiness Box.
The Happiness Box is the ultimate expression of the wire-to-the-brain thing, the ultimate emotion drug. It is a steel box designed to keep a human brain alive and happy. VERY happy. The way it's used is a living brain is removed from its body and placed in the box. Various wires and tubes are connected to the brain and the box is closed. Somebody punches the start button, and that brain goes into Nirvana---and STAYS there, forever.
For as long as the brain or the box lasts, anyway. With the appropriate technology, this could easily be hundreds of years, maybe even thousands.
Various ruffles and flourishes are possible. For example, the most advanced version of the Happiness Box could, instead of just keeping you stoned all the time, be programmed so that you lived an artificial life inside the box. Of course, after the knowledge you were in a Happiness Box was removed, so it would seem completely real to you.
Hmmph. It hits me the first primitive generation of Happiness Boxes are on the market RIGHT THIS SECOND.
Right? The user gets into what's already being described as a "total immersive experience" and stays there in his own little world for hours and hours, completely isolated from the rest of reality. It's not unknown for people to play these things for days on end, without even sleeping. And to get addicted to them, too.
Yeah, Happiness Boxes are already headed our way. The Playstation 10,000, the ultimate XBox, SIMS become real, Azeroth forever and ever. Just drop your brain into it, close the lid, and press the Start button.
These things will sell like hot cakes, won't they, folks? Perfect happiness living your perfect life forever, and no side-effects! People will be jumping into Happiness Boxes by the millions.
And there will be a TREMENDOUS push for everybody to jump into his own personal Happiness Box. Because as more and more people disappear, society is going to go downhill FAST. It will be a race to the bottom like nothing ever seen in history.
And once the last person goes into the last Happiness Box, that will be the end of society. Society made emotion drugs legal---and the end result was the absolutely unavoidable, total destruction of society.
And the Suicide of Man.
Once again, oopsie.
(Guess what we just found.
We just found the mechanism by which sentient races go extinct. They reach the technological point where they can build Happiness Boxes, build them, jump into them, and disappear. When the last brain dies----as it must inevitably do---that race is extinct. Not with a bang, but with a whimper. Poof.)
In the meantime, I note that in the real world, while emotion drugs are illegal, HAPPINESS BOXES ARE NOT. The world's societies haven't looked very far down the road when it comes to emotion drugs. Which makes sense, when they can't even define what an emotion drug is.
So get ready, all you young people out there. The opportunity to buy your own Happiness Box and disappear into it is going to come within your lifetime. It's going to be entirely legal to do so.
Step right up and get'em while they're hot, folks.
One hell of a debate is coming to this world.
SHOULD I, OR SHOULD I NOT, JUMP INTO A HAPPINESS BOX?
On the face of it, this seems a laughably absurd question. Of course, you should jump into a Happiness Box! Perfect happiness! Living a long time, maybe a thousand years! More! It's the SMART thing to do!
Sure, when the world's societies see what Happiness Boxes are doing to the world, they will try to make these Happiness Box thingies illegal, in order to stay in existence.
But does a society really have that right? To punish people for using emotion drugs, Happiness Boxes, even when it's a certain thing that society---the human race itself---will be destroyed in the end?
Does a society have the right to put its existence above the right of its members get happy anyway they want to? Does the human race have a right to put its existence above the rights of its members to get happy anyway they want to?
The answer to this question---doesn't matter. If enough people want it, and they will---Happiness Boxes WILL become legal. No matter what the answer is, no matter what it does to society, to the human race. The history of Prohibition teaches us that.
The world's societies are going to LOSE this War On Drugs, aren't they, folks? They don't have a snowball's chance in Hell, despite all the hundreds of billions they've spent. Society is going down, HARD. The clock is ticking, the fuse is lit, it's only a matter of time until the explosion. Happiness Boxes are going to come out, and it's going to be Game Over for the human race in less than fifty years.
And why does that even matter? Where in Nature does it say that human society HAS to exist? That the human race itself HAS to exist? Don't all species go extinct in the end anyway? It all seems just so inevitable and unavoidable.
So why not just let it happen? In fact, why not start funding research into creating Happiness Boxes for everybody in the world immediately?
Last one in is a rotten egg!
I mean, look at the real world. A world filled with horror. With death and dying, cancer and AIDS, with terrorists and suicide bombers and a million different painful ways of getting killed.
A world---FILLED WITH UNHAPPINESS.
Compared to perfect bliss and perfect safety inside a Happiness Box. Is there anything in the world that could possibly offset that? That would make jumping into a Happiness Box a STUPID thing for an individual to do?
Because that's the one thing that would stop this from happening. If there were some EXTREMELY powerful reason for an individual NOT to jump into a Happiness Box.
Is there such a reason?
W-e-l-l, yes, there is, actually. There is ONE teeny little thing that could actually make it incredibly stupid for an individual to jump into a Happiness Box. So much so that he would look at this thing and then just walk away without so much as a backward glance at a lost Nirvana.
But I have got to warn you all first. It is a truly BIZARRE reason. Lean back and take a breath. Brace yourselves.
The reason is:
IF PEOPLE HAVE SOULS.
If people have souls. That one thing, AND THAT ONE THING ONLY, would make it stupid to jump into a Happiness Box.
Allow me to explain.
First, I must define precisely what I mean by "soul."
A "soul" is an eternally existing thinking and feeling structure that survives the death of the physical body. Souls can and do inhabit physical bodies, but don't require one.
In the simplest terms, a "soul" is you---without a body. Exactly the same---except without a body.
So how would having a soul make it stupid to jump into a Happiness Box?
Let's think about what would happen to you when you jumped into a Happiness Box and closed the lid.
Okay. Centuries and centuries and CENTURIES of unending pleasure and bliss. Then your brain dies, as it must do in the end.
And your soul pops loose. Is thrown back into harsh, cold reality from the artificial Nirvana it's been in.
What kind of psychological condition is your soul in? How well is it going to get along with all the other souls out there?
How strong is your soul going to be after centuries of bliss?
About as strong as wet cardboard, huh, folks. Whatever lessons your soul learned about getting along with reality and all the other souls out there have been wiped away by centuries of unending pleasure, haven't they? Just smoothed away and gone.
So all those painful lessons are going to have to be relearned. All over again. Painfully.
And the pain won't just be yours. For everybody else who has to deal with you, too.
The danger is greater than it might appear. For somebody who has been in the simplest kind of Happiness Box, one where his bliss centers were stimulated, the end result will be the creation of a child, an infant. This will be an unpleasant thing to deal with, but not too unpleasant.
But worse is possible. MUCH worse.
Consider somebody who has been in the most advanced type of Happiness Box, one where he has lived in an artificial reality designed to cater to his every whim. Centuries and centuries and CENTURIES of having his every desire fulfilled, of ALWAYS getting his own way.
What kind of psychological effect would that have on a soul?
It would turn that soul into a stone-raving sociopath, wouldn't it, folks. A true screaming psycho. Somebody who would never take anybody else's feelings into account. Who would stop short at nothing to get what he wants, not even murder.
This is a bad thing. To say the least. There's going to be a great deal of pain and agony involved for that soul to get right again, to relearn old lessons. For that soul and everybody else who has to deal with that soul.
So, in the end, when the pleasure that soul experienced unlearning those lessons is weighed against the pain that soul and everybody else experienced for that soul to relearn those lessons---the pain will be the greater amount. FAR greater.
Which makes jumping into a Happiness Box a STUPID thing to do in the first place.
If you DON'T have a soul, jumping into a Happiness Box is SMART.
If you DO have a soul, jumping into a Happiness Box is STUPID.
Note. Which one is the smart thing to do is entirely dependent on whether or not you have a soul---AND NOTHING ELSE.
So do you really, truly have a soul? That's the key thing you have to know when it comes time to make that decision.
(It's far from an impossible thing, you know. There isn't any DEFINITIVE scientific evidence one way or the other. In fact, there are at least three different scientific projects I know of going on this very minute that are trying to detect souls.)
We can get an indication of the answer to this question by examining it from a somewhat abstract viewpoint. Let's look at this question from a societal viewpoint, by examining what the impact of immortal souls would be on a society.
How would everybody having immortal souls affect a society's behavior?
(You can examine this question by examining individual human behavior too, and get the same answer, but we are talking about societies here, and so I restrict the argument here to societies.)
What kinds of rules and regulations would an immortal-soul society have to have?
One rule should be perfectly clear from all of the above.
IN AN IMMORTAL-SOUL SOCIETY---YOU CAN'T GET HAPPY BY DIRECT STIMULATION OF YOUR EMOTION CENTERS. YOU CAN'T GET HAPPY BY ANY MEANS OTHER THAN INTERACTING WITH OTHER SOULS AND THE UNIVERSE.
In others words---emotion drugs HAVE to be ILLEGAL in an immortal-soul society, because, as we just saw, they create more pain than pleasure in the end. Any kind of emotion drugs. No Happiness Boxes. No coke. No crack. No heroin. And so on down the line, although the line starts getting fuzzy eventually, because there will be certain substances---like marijuana and wine---that will have uses other than getting stoned.
(But it won’t actually be necessary to pass laws making emotion drugs illegal. No SMART eternal being is going to touch these things. In a society of smart, self-aware eternal beings, a dope dealer will starve to death.)
I gotta tell you, man, I see something quite incredibly strange here.
You know that single, simple rule the world's stable societies are using regarding getting happy we abstracted up above? Compare it to the rule we just now derived about getting happy in an immortal-soul society.
Do you see it?
IT'S THE SAME DAMN RULE!
You can't get happy by using emotion drugs! Stable human societies are ALREADY acting like an immortal-soul society!
Like we all have souls!
When you try to find a good, solid reason why societies make emotion drugs illegal---the rock-bottom reason you eventually run into is the deep, deep assumption by all these stable societies that people really, truly are immortal souls!
Although nobody knows for a scientific fact souls exist---the world's stable societies ACT like they do. ALL of them. EVERY damn one!
Funny thing, that.
Y'all have a good one.
Labels: souls emotion drugs happiness