Sure, Benjamin used hashish and mescaline; the hippies used pot, acid, and any number of other drugs. There are many examples of visionaries who used drugs. But today we have neither the erudition and discipline of a Benjamin, nor the capacity for love which the hippies still had. All we have is increasing atomism and incessant economic dislocations and disruptions. Contemporary recreational drugs, consequently, are misunderstood. Recreational drugs are still often seen as on the side of social change, a vague protest vote, from the critical and liberal-minded individuals opposed to outdated and provincial conservatives.
But the truth is that drugs do not transport one from a square and normal world to a place more fluid and free: the status quo is such an historical aberration, such an abnormal and inhuman disequilibrium, that recreational drug use typically quenches the conservative thirst to slow down incessant and unsettling change, to create an oasis of stability where the world might have a moment to make sense to itself.
Thus, it is an absurd ideological inversion only a capitalist society is capable of, that recreational drug cultures see themselves as on the side of change and their lawmakers–who in fact preside over daily planetary dislocations–as lacking flexibility.
Murphy, Justin. 2010. "The problem with drugs as counterculture," http://jmrphy.net/blog/2010/07/04/the-problem-with-drugs-as-counterculture/ (August 13, 2017).