Up in Smoke: A Few Thoughts on Drugs

Fratricidal street-gang fighting is a direct manifestation of a self-destructive behavior pattern. It is also a form of escapism by which Black youths vent their rage, frustrations and despair on each other rather than dealing with the true enemy. Pathological religionism or the fanatical indulgence in religion is essentially escapist because it encourages the victim to concentrate his attention, energy and hope for salvation and freedom upon a dubious, mystical force. It discourages confronting the actual causes of our misery and deprivation. It encourages the focusing of attention upon pie in the sky, rather than the securing of more lamb chops right here on planet earth. It also serves as a source of profits for those religious charlatans, preachers and ministers who exploit it.

Alcoholism is both self-destructive and escapist. It is also a source of tremendous profits for the capitalists. The amazingly high number of bars and liquor stores in the Black communities testify to this tragic fact. The capitalist liquor industry could prosper just on the business it does in the Black ghetto alone. – Cetewayo Tabor, 1971

The Black Panther Party had no way of predicting the new plague that would sweep Black and Brown communities beginning in the mid-1980s, that of crack cocaine. This plague would claim its leader, Huey P. Newton, who went from meeting with Jiang Qing and Chou Enlai and being recognized as the leader of the vanguard formation of the revolutionary liberation struggle in the United States in 1971 to lying dead in the street outside of a crack house in West Oakland in 1989, murdered by a drug dealer and a drug addict himself. This was a situation shared with many former Black Panther Party cadre, the internal contradictions that eventually antagonized into a split between the Cleaver (left-adventurist) and Newton (social-democratic) factions in 1971 would wreck lives, demoralize people, and generally sow an atmosphere of discord, paranoia and hatred within the Black Panther Party, as would the constant pig harassment. Sending of anonymous and forged letters to cadre and improper handling of such materials (brown mail), introduction of FBI and local police informants into branches of the Party like the pig O’Neal who played a direct role in the murder of Illinois BPP Chairman Fred Hampton, and outright murder of BPP affiliates and cadre all helped drive people to drink and drugs as mechanisms to help them cope with this situation, despite the fact that drug and alcohol use by cadre was expressly forbidden. This helped lead to fights, murders, beatings, and a general atmosphere of hopelessness and hatred all around that ultimately exacerbated to the point that the Party, once the most advanced group, the vanguard, admired by many, loved by the masses, and recognized internationally, was destroyed. The role of broken discipline and use of alcohol and drugs can not be simply swept under the rug. The overall negative relation of the masses and the revolutionary to drugs, the harmful relation of drugs to their communities, and the class nature who sell them as a sort of vocation must be consistently raised and concrete examples must be given to truly uphold a proletarian revolutionary line on drug and alcohol abuse and trafficking.

Huey P. Newton. Co-founder of the Black Panther Party, revolutionary theorist, and eventual victim of the drug plague.

Who loves drugs? Who really, really, really loves drugs? Imperialists do! The British strung almost every Chinese official from the emperor on down to the lowest and pettiest official out on opium in the 1800s, the First Opium War began because Lin Zexu seized and burned 1,016 tons of the noxious chemical at Humen in 1839. The British then went to war, defeated the Chinese, and got most favored nation status and Hong Kong out of the deal. The Second Opium War opened China to imperialist missionaries, the use of Chinese as indentured servants for the Americans and British, access to new treaty ports, and general right to abuse and loot the Chinese nation. Drugs in relation to the Chinese people, just as they are in relation to the Colombian, Peruvian, Mexican, and New Afrikan peoples, are imperialist tools for our oppression and domination. The CIA dumped drugs into our community with the complicity and assistance of the Mafia, street gangs, and other lumpenbourgeois elements. They aided drug trafficking to enable them to assist right wing death squads in Central America in the 1980s. On our streets, on the streets of Colombia, on the streets of Mexico, they work with the police and routinely wheel and deal to enable themselves to escape bourgeois punishment, and bribe bourgeois politicians. In Mexico, they have cops on their payroll, and oftentimes it’s the police who do the killings. The Zetas were former Mexican Army troops.”El Chapo”, whose freedom was incorrectly demanded by some elements of the masses at my city’s anti-Trump protest that my mass organization helped organize, is an anti-people element who, if he were captured doing his dirty work in a revolutionary base area, would be executed after being denounced by the masses for what he is.


Drug dealers have an antagonistic relation to the masses of people that we Communists strive to organize, and the bigger they are, the more reactionary they are, the more lives they’ve ruined, the more people they’ve killed, and the more blood debt they’ve accumulated. The petty dealer can be struggled with and, hopefully, transformed and learn to serve the people. Individuals such as El Chapo who have cultivated and built ties to the reactionaries, fascists, and imperialists have cast their lot on the side of the enemy, and the masses simply will not allow them to remain unpunished for their thousands of crimes. These are the big lumpenbourgeoisie and compradors (whose illicit profits have allowed them in many cases to join the ranks of the regular bourgeoisie through money laundering and “legitimate investments”) who will be destroyed and wiped out just like any other imperialist or big bourgeois, they assist and serve the destruction and massacre of their people. There are millions of reasons why revolutionaries execute drug deals, why the Chinese Communist Party banned opium trafficking after driving the (opium soaked) KMT troops off the mainland, why the PCP, CPP, and the CPI(Maoist) and Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) took and take hard lines against drug trafficking and use in their base areas. To sell drugs is counterrevolutionary, to use them is to open yourself up for a myriad of health problems and an individual that is addicted to drugs or alcohol is prime for being brought into the web of police infiltrators, snitches, spies, and wreckers, and subsequently introduced to the revolutionary movement, where they can get revolutionaries arrested, killed, or turn the masses against us. A revolutionary who uses intoxicating drugs freely, disregarding all discipline except that of the pipe or the needle, is a threat to themselves and to others, and will sooner or later get themselves and many others killed, arrested, or isolated from the masses. The higher the particular cadre is, the more dangerous drug use is. See Huey Newton as an example. This is the line on drugs on those who are currently making revolution today and those who have made it in the past.


This said, as long as capitalism exists and the bourgeoisie hold state power in the United States, Communists do not push for further criminalization or support the ratcheting up of the already destructive, wasteful, and harmful so-called “War on Drugs”. Like I’ve already said, the bourgeoisie love their drugs, both to use themselves and to use to bring discord and death to our communities. Everybody knows that criminalization does nothing to stop the flow of drugs, the imperialist do not want this. What they do want is a justification to snatch our mothers, fathers, sons, daughters, brothers, cousins, neighbors, and friends away and introduce them to the prison slavery system. What they do want is for our communities to remain destabilized and destroyed by fratricidal gang wars, fighting over “turfs” that are in reality owned by developers and slumlords who live in condos downtown. What they do want is potential comrades wandering through the back alleys of every metropolitan area in this country with a pistol ready to blow someone’s head off to obtain money for their next fix. They don’t want to ban drugs, they want to suppress, sow discord, and oppress. Those who sell drugs play right into their hands. Some know this and do so willingly because their lumpen outlook prohibits them from looking out for anyone but themselves, some don’t. The 18 year old who sells shit on the side while working at McDonald’s is not an enemy, they are a victim of circumstances and, if they are given the opportunity to work and produce in a meaningful way, I believe they will. The vested drug dealer who sells large quantities of such drugs as methamphetamine, heroin, and crack cocaine to anyone who comes along, forces people into prostitution and sex slavery for drugs, is on record as a confidential informant and is responsible for many killings and incarcerations, is indeed an enemy and the masses view them as such.

That being said, legalizing drugs raises a new set of contradictions. Legalization doesn’t necessarily mean that oppressed nations people still won’t be locked up or arrested for dealing or using a certain drug, it does give Marlboro and other corporations the opportunity to experiment with selling them, though, and it gives their kids who use drugs an out. There is a law for the masses, and there is a law for the bourgeoisie. The bourgeoisie, as individuals and as a class, can do things that you can not. Marijuana or cocaine being legal doesn’t mean that you still can’t find yourself lying dead in a gutter, shot by a pig. I’ve also noticed that the triumphalism and celebratory atmosphere around the legalization of one drug in Colorado, Illinois, or some other state is generally the province of petit-bourgeois single issue activists who simply want to smoke weed without getting hauled into court and getting their parents upset. After it’s legalized, there’s no more activism forthcoming from these quarters. The Communist always asks first, “For Whom”, and these meaningless laws and bills and petitions are not for, from, or to serve my people. What does serve my people is making and building a party for revolution, and said Party will not be wandering around gentrified neighborhoods with petitions begging the bourgeois government to legalize marijuana in our hands or holding “free the weed” rallies where we smoke and play hacky sack. This is petit bourgeois degeneracy at its finest and a stopover on the road to a nice $190,000 a year position at a law firm or a position at a university where you can wow your students with stories from your “activist” career and glory days.

Drug users are, generally, not the enemy. They’ve got an illness. Of course, they shouldn’t be privy to confidential information, trusted with secrets, or trusted in any way until they have been treated for their illness and have been educated regarding the dangers of using these drugs, not in a pig type DARE way, but in a genuine way that shows concern for their well being, the role of drugs in our communities, and the broad benefits of not using drugs. Of course, these tasks are not just for individuals to strike out on themselves and try to attempt to do, this can only lead to demoralization and frustration, these tasks are for a collective of committed and experienced revolutionaries, many of whom may have once struggled with substance abuse issues themselves. We listen to those who have shared our experiences and have gone through what we’ve gone through and who treat us as equals, not those who come down from the church or the university to preach.





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