A report today indicates a record opium crop in Afghanistan this year. The farming of poppies is seeing a resurgence, particularly in areas where violence is rife and agricultural aid is sparse. It seems that large-scale producers will not only provide all the necessary ingredients, but also pay in advance. This is in addition to reports that cannabis cultivation is also seeing a dramatic rise in the country.
And who can blame them. In a country where Western interventions have caused political instability and war, why would anyone, including the UN who are tasked to monitor and reduce drug production in the country, expect the Afghani people to give a toss about what rich white people on the other side of the world choose to spend their money on? I see no lack of morality in the trade myself – they are producing a crop to meet a demand, they are earning a decent living for them and their families, in circumstances most of us can’t even imagine. The fact that other people may then choose, under their own free will, to use that crop in way a manner which may be harmful to themselves, is no concern of the farmers.
Yet the War On Drugs prohibits it, and no doubt Afghanistan will come under further fire for failing to control its most lucrative exports.
Now this year’s bumper crop, partly due to poor weather for two previous years, partly due to more farmers choosing this crop above less well-paid alternatives, is coming at a time when, as a country, we probably need it most. Britian’s poorest are being targeted by benefit cuts and room taxes; budgets for social and health care are being reduced; politicians are diverting our eyes from their significant fuck-ups and self-serving financial scams by blaming the state of the country’s finances on the poor by likening them all to Mick Philpott; the impact of Margaret Thatcher’s policies still resonating across the country following her death, the anger no less fierce than the day she lost power. It does not surprise me that there were two incidents of football violence at prominent matches over the weekend – I think the current feelings of distrust and unfairness are rising in much the same as they did in the 80s.
And, in the 80s, at a time where everyone but those at the top of the social strata battled against the system and lost, and feelings of disempowerment and displacement engulfed the country, which market flourished? Here’s a clue – it blocks out physical and emotional pain, it provides a sense of social identity, and maintaining its demands is equivalent to a full-time job. That’s right guys, strap in – heroin’s sure to make a come-back!