Monthly Archives: April 2016

Why the NSW Government is Addicted to Drug Enforcement

An historical & critical account

In 2004 I wrote this piece (click on the link) that tried to figure out why the neoliberal state is so invested in drug enforcement despite all the evidence against its effectiveness as a public health measure.

Waking up to news today of NSW police officers engaging in obscene racial vilification and abuse, trolling the Facebook page of NSW Green MP Jenny Leong (who recently introduced legislation to stop the use of drug dogs in NSW parliament), I’m both alarmed and horrified at how prescient my analysis was.

All the signs indicate that the NSW government is doing whatever is can to funnel consumers into the Star Casino – one of the only venues in inner Sydney that is exempt from the NSW lockout laws.  One mechanism they are using is the Sydney Lockout; another is the police use of drug detection dogs – among other, unprecedented, police powers.

In my piece, Recreational States: Drugs and the Sovereignty of Consumption, I try to work out why the neoliberal state is keen to give licence to and profit from once “immoral” forms of consumption (like gambling), but remains so intent on policing and punishing other forms of consumption deemed illicit (like drug use).

Fun police

The term I use to describe these operations is ‘exemplary power’.  Have a read, and if you’re as worked up about the current situation as I am, one way of developing and consolidating your thinking is to undertake research and training in cultural studies.

Or just get out onto the streets and protest while we still can.


Reclaim the Streets Sydney

Keep Sydney Open



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Filed under Drug dogs, Engagement with medicine, Parties, Police

The Exemplary Power of the Casino State

This is so evil. And so transparent.

The strong arm of the increasingly militarised NSW government is tweaking the urban geography of Sydney so it becomes a cash cow that funnels money straight into the coffers of corporate oligarchs via gambling and pokie machines.

Basically, Baird, Grant and their cronies are playing the city to court the support and donations of corporate tycoons and ensure a constant stream of revenue   from the gaming industry for their increasingly intensive and aggressive operations.

The once ‘independent’ –  now ministerially controlled – Office of Liquor and Gaming is presumably cheering on the push to raze Moore Park and Kippax Lake (a precious habitat for wildlife in the inner city) to build a massive footy stadium in an area whose loutish drinking culture the government claims to be concerned about.

SO concerned, in fact, that it has taken it upon itself to impose an inner city curfew on all other signs of nightlife “for our safety”.

But no concern is evident in any of these decisions for the public culture of the city or what it might take to keep it friendly, diverse, collectively accessible, interesting, relaxed, open, relatively free and dynamic.

Meanwhile this state – newly weaponised with unprecedented police powers and immensely fortified by the opportunity to control all regulatory decisions on liquor AND gaming – is so addicted to gambling revenue that it is prepared to condone and profit from a commodity-system that is industrially designed to create compulsive attachments – highly lucrative ones at that – that are known to exacerbate socioeconomic inequality and destroy communal and family relations.

Despite its claims and protestations, the state is ultimately devoid of *real* concern for the health, welfare and safety of its citizens, as this licentious investment in industrial gambling demonstrates.

The only thing stopping the state from trying to monetise other commodities deemed ‘dangerous’ and ‘addictive’ – like, say, drugs – is the irresistible opportunity that drug enforcement provides to harass minortized groups, emergent communities – indeed anyone who doesn’t fall in line with the state’s self-proclaimed right to determine norms of consumption and forcibly populate sanctioned markets.

Indeed, so invested is the ‘casino state’ in the invasive powers it has accrued through drug enforcement that it expressly rejects and denounces (as criminal!) medical interventions and measures (like pill testing) that might actually reduce some of the harms associated with consuming drugs procured through markets that the state hasn’t or can’t or just couldn’t be arsed working out how to regulate.

In the case of gambling , by contrast, the state makes consumers directly responsible for managing the potentially destructive effects of consumption. Indeed, it’s very eager to put all responsibility on the consumer and disavow its own implication in gambling problems.  We’re talking, remember, about a form of consumption that happens to appeal overwhelmingly to the most economically desperate, vulnerable, structurally disadvantaged citizens.

The message we’re meant to get from all this – the message the state is stepping over itself to send us – is that those who don’t comply with sovereign authority and its arbitrary decisions and determinations about what counts as legitimate consumption are basically just gonna get what’s coming to them. Comply or die. Necropower incarnate. Allow the body that consumes properly and profitably to live as long as it manages to (when fed a diet of shit), and let the bodies that don’t consume in profitable ways die. That’ll teach those masses a lesson or two about the unquestionable right and might of power.

Hypocritical, thuggish, and contemptuous of the social life of citizens.  And of course Troy Grant, Minister of Police, is right behind it, doing the heavy lifting, flexing his might in plain view, just to demonstrate the power of the state to suppress any trace of difference or dissidence or enjoyment that is not immediately monopolisable and easy to cash in on.

So blatant.  So transparent.  A violent demonstration of power undertaken in plain view.  Like a schoolyard bully.  Or a drug lord.  Both of which happen to be figures the state silently gives the nod to.  Exemplary power.

Are we feeling safe yet?

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Filed under Affect, Devices and technology, Drug dogs, Police, Policy and programs, Self-medication