Author Topic: Counterculture and Western Civilisation  (Read 1353 times)


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Re: Counterculture and Western Civilisation
« Reply #15 on: November 30, 2022, 10:48:33 pm »
Why the “Psychedelic Renaissance” is just Colonialism by Another Name
A new psychedelic renaissance that remains grounded in colonial habits risks replicating historic and systemic harms and injustices
[...]The term renaissance assumes there is something to be reborn from. In the case of psychedelics, the assumption is that the current resurgence of mainstream acceptance, interest, and experimentation, with the requisite increase in financial investment and academic research, is the continuation of the legacy of the 1960s. From the first synthesization of mescaline in 1919 to the discovery of LSD by Albert Hofmann in 1938, the research (and antics) of Timothy Leary and Richard Alpert at Harvard in the 1960s, and the Controlled Substances Act (CSA) of 1970 along with the mass incarcerations that ensued, one could argue that the initial psychedelic movement of Western culture was more akin to a stillborn than a finished labor. Can a movement have a rebirth if it never had a proper birth in the first place?

What is often forgotten in this discourse is that the first psychedelic boom in the 1960s was a novelty only for the West. Countless other cultures, especially Indigenous nations, have been well acquainted with a large number of psychedelic or entheogenic plants and medicines for millenia. It merely took the West generations to catch up. In relation to the recent uptick of interest in psychedelics in the West, the current “renaissance” appears to be far from a deep intellectual and spiritual rebirth, grounded in something other than the survival instinct of Western modernity. As is, it is more akin to a reboot of modern society’s failed attempt to re-imagine (and somewhat heal) itself in the 1960s, while continuing to conveniently place the cost of its survival and continuity on other peoples and cultures elsewhere (i.e. continued coloniality and exploitation as a salve for the existential woes of Western culture).

Without a deeper understanding of the context in which the current “renaissance” is unfolding, most of the mainstream notions of the future of psychedelics import some kind of Western progress narrative, without ever truly looking at the toxic environment in which this rebirth is purportedly happening or the externalized costs of the project. As such, they end up replicating the logic of capitalist modernity.
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Colonial Shadows in the Psychedelic Renaissance
In April, I joined the two-day Psychedelic Liberty Summit, where the voices of several Indigenous participants from Colombia, Brazil, and several tribal nations in the United States discussed their concerns over the parallel trends in decriminalization efforts and the expansion of the use of sacred plant medicines. These medicines and the cultural practices that have sustained their safe and sustainable use are now, more than ever, being consumed by a global public, and many Indigenous peoples argue that these plants and their spiritual practices are being appropriated while their native territories continue to be encroached upon for other global consumption items like minerals, fuel, and beef.
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