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).
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.