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Fodla32

On Taxing Drug Dealers

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As Communists, we are not interested in bourgeois morality, which only amounts to the preservation of property relations anyway. But, we are concerned with ethics. Ethics is concerned with our relation with the true - particularly the truth of human desire.

 

Recently, there has been a lot of talk about Republicans taxing drug dealers. Some see this are a valid means of accumulating money for Revolutionary purposes. Others see money from drugs as being inherently corrupting. Between these two views, there seems to be three options:

 

a} Tax the dealers

b} Ignore them

c} Exterminate the lot of them

 

In practice, it is usually some combination of all three that is applied.

 

I think that option c} is clearly not a viable option. The massive profits to be had from drugs means that there will always be someone ready to take the risk of being caught. On the other hand, the massive alienation caused by the capitalist regime means that there will always be people wanting to buy drugs.

 

Ignoring them is not really an option either, as the massive profits the gangs make puts enormous de facto power in their hands. Whole areas come under the rule of these gangs. Quite apart from the misery that drug addiction causes to the addicts, the constant need for cash means that ordinary people are not safe in their homes at night - or even walking the streets during the day. Revolutionaries can't rely on the bourgeois state to control the problem. As we see, the bourgeois constabularies are more then happy to allow the dealers to ply their trade - often in return for information on Republicans.

 

So, that brings us to taxing the dealers. Certainly, there are a great number of disadvantages to this option. Drug money can be very corrupting. A taxation regime means constant contact with these criminal gangs, and that can have a very corrupting influence on activists. On the other hand, this is not an inevitable consequence. I think FARC in Columbia has had a close contact with the drug business for some time, but has not showed much sign of being corrupted by the contact. I think it also must be recognised that drug use has different effects in different socio-economic groups. Drugs in a Working Class area, where unemployment is rife, educational achievement is relatively low, and money is always very short, will always have a catastrophic effect, leading the the almost total collapse of the community, and the de facto rule of drug over-lords. This is not true of middle class and ruling class areas. Here society is already atomized to a huge degree. There isn't much of a community to break down. Easier access to employment and money means that drug abusers can control their habits to a much greater extent, and do not need to turn to robbing people's homes to feed their habits. I think we can say this is a general principal - drugs have very different implications for different socio-economic classes. Extending that principal, we can say that, for example, abortion under the capitalist regime has very different implications to abortion in a truely Communist society. The same can be said of immigration. We also have to recognise that while constant contact with criminal gangs can have a corrupting effect for activists, there is also a significant advantage to this contact, in that activists always know what these people are doing, know their strengths and weaknesses, and can keep them under control, and prevent them becoming de facto rulers in Ireland.

 

If all the above is true, would it not be a pragmatic approach to declare Working Class areas off limits for drug dealing, and enforce that on pain of death and without exception, but to tax dealing into all other socio-economic groups? That's not to say that Working Class people can't travel into middle class areas and by drugs there, but, since there is a veritable apartheid segregation of the social classes in effect in Ireland, this would probably happen a lot less than we might fear. And certainly, it would be very difficult for children and teenagers from Working Class areas to get hold of drugs.

 

What are your thoughts Comrades?

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There are great profits to be made by selling drugs to working class people, it is the working class that is most alienated, so the dynamic that you talk about being unable to effectively confront applies in working class areas more than it does anywhere else. If you can confront drugs in working class areas, you can confront them anywhere!

 

You also have to examine the nature of the corrupting influence of drug money. Its not the moral kind of corruption, but economic corruption. If you start taxing dealers, then your financial interests and theirs merge. It becomes in your financial interests to allow them to maximise their profit so that you can maximise your share of it. Of course we are not solely governed by financial interests, but as Marxists we should recognise that economics has a huge power over all aspects of society.

 

One of the biggest effects of this financial link is that it is clearly perceivable by the working class, and while the working class associate Republicans with the drug trade, what kind of alternative is being presented to them? It would be different if this drug taxation was going into building working class institutions, in lifting the working class out of poverty, like it does in Colombia. Even if we were niave enough to believe that it all went to buying weapons to fight the war in the north, this wealth nevertheless leaves those working class communities and does nothing to alter the working class's relation to the means of production. And of course, they don't see that war, so as far as they're concerned the money may as well have gone into the pockets of those taking the taxes.

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I suppose I'm saying that Communists wouldn't be overly concerned about the welfare of classes that would naturally be hostile to us. I'd say the bulk of drug profits are now made in middle class areas. I don't think activists would be willing to take any risks to stop that happening or confront dealing in middle class areas at all. Protecting Working Class areas, however, would be a priority. The only way to do that is to have the drug gangs under the boot of the Army. As I say, let them trade into hostile zones, and tax that trade. This is, in effect, the approach FARC takes. Drug gangs will take the path of least resistance. If they know that they will be executed for dealing in a Working Class area, but will have more or less free reign everywhere else - they will go everywhere else - mostly.

 

Also, Communists wouldn't be too concerned about the bourgeois morality that most Republican groups still live under today.

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Guest Connolly

Id say ignore them. At least for the forseable future.

 

Republicans should be organising and educating communities, which is the complete opposite to what has been happening apart from, maybe, eirigi in certain areas (and even that has been very limited).

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Personally I think take them head on. RIRA/CIRA etc. speak of smashing normalisation, then smash the normalisation of drug dealing in working class areas. Sure, someone will take the place of the dead dealer in the immediate aftermath, but it will send kids a message. Also, if they can prevent dealers from going around acting as if they're the bees knees, kids will no long think it is a glamorous lifestyle, which of course it isn't.

 

Lugh raised a good point though- profits from taxes should be used to build up institutions in deprived areas. Not whittled away on God knows what.

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Id say ignore them. At least for the forseable future.

 

Republicans should be organising and educating communities, which is the complete opposite to what has been happening apart from, maybe, eirigi in certain areas (and even that has been very limited).

 

How can you ignore people who are making the de facto conditions of life in Working Class areas?

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Where Republicans confront drug dealers, this tends to be in working class areas already. I don't think anyone is advocating that they follow the dealers into middle class areas. Let the bourgeois police their own areas!

 

But is it practical to let the dealers profit at will in the middle class areas? Would that not leave the dealers with a level of wealth and power that Republicans or Communists simply couldn't hope to resist? Would there be any chance of holding the Working Class areas against such power?

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Personally I think take them head on. RIRA/CIRA etc. speak of smashing normalisation, then smash the normalisation of drug dealing in working class areas. Sure, someone will take the place of the dead dealer in the immediate aftermath, but it will send kids a message. Also, if they can prevent dealers from going around acting as if they're the bees knees, kids will no long think it is a glamorous lifestyle, which of course it isn't.

 

Lugh raised a good point though- profits from taxes should be used to build up institutions in deprived areas. Not whittled away on God knows what.

 

So, you would be in favour of taxing their profits from the wealthy areas - while using those taxes to keep them out of the Working Class areas?

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So, you would be in favour of taxing their profits from the wealthy areas - while using those taxes to keep them out of the Working Class areas?

Well the conditions are already in place to prevent drug use in wealthy areas, the ones that use them do it because they feel like it.

 

In working class areas they may use drugs due to unemployment, no future prospects, no sport outlets etc. So I think taxes could be put to better use in poorer areas, yes. That said, we need to tackle dealers head on, no matter where they are.

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Guest Connolly

How can you ignore people who are making the de facto conditions of life in Working Class areas?

 

I dont understand what you mean by 'making the de facto conditions'.

 

Those who will be touched by addiction will be a minority within a given community. Fighting the coal miner will dirty the image of republicanism in the eyes of the broader community. Its a dirty business.

 

Organise communities and assist communities to solve the problems is what they should do. March on the dealers houses like they did in the past.

 

An elite detached from the community going around fighting dealers armed to the teeth and with no value for life is a waste of time and energy. It will just end up with people in prison for something which is, really, a stupid thing to get involved in. At this point in time anyway.

 

Republicanism is weak. It will stay that way when people are going around threatening and killing nut balls instead of doing political and organising work.

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By de facto conditions, I mean people in estates afraid to sleep at night because of junkies breaking into houses. I mean the only real employment opportunities being joining a drugs gang. I dont think you can ignore such a situation, or those who are creating it.

 

And why should Republicanism have a clean image? Clean in who's eyes? Revolution is nasty business. Its results that count, not the opinions of people who will never do anything anyway.

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Guest Connolly

And why should Republicanism have a clean image?

 

Because in the absence of anything politically visible to the broader community, the broader community will see republicans wrestle with coal miners and think both are coal miners. You can only really tell who is and who is not a coal miner when you know the people involved.

 

Thats why a visible political presence is needed. Oranising communities. Being in touch with communities. Interacting with communities.

 

If they dont do this (and they dont seem to be) - they will go nowhere.

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Guest Connolly

As for ignoring a situation.

 

I ignore things all the time. Homeless people, beggers, poverty. Indeed, republicans ignore things all the time.

 

You cant tackle everything. And some things are more constructive for building a popular base of support than others.

 

Fighting drug dealers is not one of those, especially without any existing base of support.

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