UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

The drug war is a flat circle : drug prohibition as a neoliberal project Ejeckam, Keith Chukwuka Obinna


Despite mounting evidence of neoliberalism’s failures in domains of society, economy, and ecology, neoliberal governance has grown more dominant and pervasive. Neoliberalism’s failures are matched by its capacity, both material and ideological, to inhibit or eliminate alternatives. Instead of Schumpeterian creative destruction, neoliberalism offers governance through the destructive foreclosure of alternatives. The persistence of drug prohibition shares in the broader neoliberal pattern of governance through alternative-foreclosing policy disasters, and has been instrumental in the pattern’s development. This connection is expressed in two especially prominent ways: (1) the creation and empowerment of organizations which bear material interest in continuing both the illicit drug trade and the policy of drug prohibition, and (2) the simultaneous obfuscation and reproduction of historical forms of oppression, including racial capitalism and Eurocoloniality. Consequently, attempts to challenge drug prohibition on the grounds of its failure to meet its declared objectives – improving public health and safety – fail in-part because they miss the ways drug prohibition serves broader neoliberal governance. Considering different proposals for drug policy reform, I demonstrate that effective drug policy reform necessitates contesting or uprooting the neoliberal foundations of drug prohibition.

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