Question: How come nobody saw through Nick Clegg?
Answer: Because they fancy him. Consciousness Gone.
I am writing in response to Ryan Bourne’s, Centre for Policy Studies article Minimum Alcohol Pricing: Illogical, Illiberal, Unfair, posted on the CPS website 23rd March 2012.
I write from the perspective of a psychoanalysis researcher, a former mental health NHS researcher and former mental health worker in voluntary and statutory mental health frontline services. I write as a woman who has lived with drug using relatives and friends and as a human being that has witnessed the horrific effects of drug and alcohol misuse and abuse. I write as someone who has witnessed a drugs market, moved from King’s Cross, back into the West End and into Camden Town, when two decades planned redevelopments were completed in King’s Cross St. Pancras about seven years ago. Academics, local Social Services and Hospital departments, Church representatives, Community groups, Artists and the Metropolitan Police co-operated as parts of a social engineering support team, to ensure all sections of society, including minority groups such as drug using homeless sex workers, were not forgotten in the process of gentrification.
In his article, referring to Dr Sarah Wollaston’s claim that many problems in society, such as violent crime, are caused by alcohol-induced problem drinkers. Ryan writes that, “At first sight, this seems a beguiling argument, but give a bit of thought to it and you soon realise it is illogical, authoritarian nonsense.” I highlight this sentence because what Ryan doesn’t realize is that there is little, if any, logic or rationality involved in the over consumption and abuse of alcohol. In fact, the purpose of alcohol is precisely to turn down, if not totally switch off, the conscious thinking function. Alcohol use is an emotive and somnambulant practice, designed to loosen and/or free the executive ego of the subject from their authoritarian superego. The authority complex being the key complex. Free it from the reality that the world out there i.e. the boss, partner, relatives, peers, society, is sometimes too frustrating, too demanding, too corrupt and just too difficult to manage.
Ryan is right however, that the problem doesn’t start with alcohol, but with people struggling to manage their self and their relations with others. The liberal notion of a free society that he uses in his thinking, is obviously dogma of his libertarian political ideology. Such dogma is an example of repetition of thought, addiction i.e. ‘fixed’ ideology and a classic example of the limitation of consciousness and thinking. There may be 80 or more channels on the telly, but one person can only watch the same few familiar programmes. My question then in the “Is it right to introduce a minimum alcohol price to tackle alcohol-related problems?” debate is, how can we loosen thinking and open minds sufficiently, so that people can respond to differing views, needs, wants, behaviours, practices, etc., more freely, while at the same time, making a case for individual responsibility.
The notion of a free society, bound by the rule of law, is a contradiction in terms. We all know that you can’t have freedom without responsibility. Of course, in an ideal society, a rounded and balanced individual would be able to, “decide to drink as he or she wishes, subject to the laws surrounding anti-social behaviour, violence and licensing.” ‘Wishes’ i.e. unconscious desire, ‘decide’ i.e. conscious thinking, ‘laws’ i.e. authority, and ‘subject’ i.e. inferiority, and ‘ideal’ (as in lights turned on so full that no one can see anything) being the operative psychoanalytic words here.
It is precisely because of the sometimes difficult conditions of society (because of the corruption and lack of authority, especially amongst people in positions of power e.g. parents, teachers, priests, politicians, stars, etc.) that individuals are subjected to, that they need some relief. Relief from the conscious realization that powerful people are unconscious at times, just as are drug users, the religious, people in love, creative people and the collective e.g. people operating within an ideology, people at football matches, concerts, etc., at which individual consciousness is momentarily lost in ecstatic merger with the other or a collective psyche. One of my early attempts at writing Japanese haiku:
the group’s suggestion induces emotion
reduces intellect and it is imitation
that compels the individual to obey contagion
I despair at the current liberal politics that justifies itself, in relation to the freeing of a Middle East that is more addicted to religion, than any Western drug addict could ever imagine, dream, hallucinate, fantasize about or wish for. Faced with such pressing and profound consciousness raising issues that beset global society, is it right to introduce a minimum alcohol price to tackle addiction problems. I don’t think raising the price of alcohol = raising consciousness. I have always said that I respect religious people and drug users, because they know the limitations of their conscious minds much better than others. Ironically, those who advocate freedom and consciousness, tend to be the most blind, deaf and dumb.
As Phillip Davies said, “it’s surely obvious that those who like to drink to excess, are the least likely to be deterred from drinking by price rises.” Ryan is right to agree with Philip here. There are people with innate psychical constitutions e.g. choleric action types and people with similar acquired psychical structures and complexes, that thrive on chasing unconscious libidinal energy flows, as exercised in competition, large groups, sport, drug addiction, religion, politics, etc. A life driven by impulsion, compulsion and repetition is their normal way of functioning and operating in the world, it’s their reality. Their thinking (conscious rational) function is much less operative than other types of people, either by nature or due to impaired psychological development. These fiery character types will always find a mission, cause, ideology or devout practice to be consumed in obsessively and fight to death for, whether it be a dangerous sport, drug use, a religion or politics e.g. saving the environment. Cleaning, like prostitution, is the oldest business in the book and it always looks brand spanking new, but oddly never clean, a bit like housework, it’s never finished.
The question in this debate is not alcohol induced problems (so popular amongst the environmental lobby), it is how to raise awareness of the limitations of consciousness (much like the limitations of natural resources), of the necessity for a certain amount of repetition (of perceiving, sensing, feeling, thinking, acting, believing), of natural compulsive and addictive human processes and relations, the most obvious being a loving marriage which is a mutually dependent relationship. There are much better ways of eliminating the negative effects of addiction, e.g. supporting education on attachment and dependency issues, properly enforcing existing laws so that perpetrators of drug fueled crime are made to face more directly the ‘cost’ of their actions on their own and other people’s lives, and increased awareness of healthy forms of loss of individual consciousness and merger with the collective.
It is difficult to talk of principle though, when the impulse to live cancels out thinking. Ryan points to Alex Deane’s principle, outlined in his ConHome column on this subject last year that, “People should be free to choose to eat or drink whatever they want, without interference from a nannying government.” The problem is, it is easy to make people eat something and swollen it and think that it looks and smells good and tastes delicious, that they would never instinctively eat, as advertisers and the green movement know very well and are making loads of money out of it. All those environmental folks eating biodynamic organic vegetarian wholefoods, don’t realize they look anorexic, or that their consciousness is caught in a collective zeitgeist that they are subjected to. This is because our windows and doors of sense perception – eyes, ears, nose, mouth, skin – are not entirely our own and are to a large extent dependent on what’s going on in our society/environment. I think I’m going stop here, because that’s the most important thing I want to say. Even your appetite and sight, hearing, smell, thinking, feeling, etc., is not entirely your own. The individual subject is partly (50-50) a collective human being. In psychology, this half individual half collective being is called a Self, as opposed to an individual, who thinks it is autonomous and independent. The collective, in the broadest possible terms, is commonly known as God.
In conclusion then, if the Conservative Party wish to support health and social policy initiatives, they are going to have to come up with other means than only increasing the price of alcohol. On the other hand, as a real conservative and trainee psychoanalyst, I’m only writing this article response because I have a compulsive/repetitive (maybe even addictive) libidinal psychosexual energy current connection to Ryan, the CPS chap who wrote the minimum alcohol pricing article. Psychoanalytically, it makes most sense to stay instinctively on the libido (life energy), because that is what consciousness really is. I should count myself lucky that I can know what I fancy and what I don’t fancy, thank you very much. Losing consciousness is one thing, but losing instinct is another thing altogether.
Bourne, Ryan. (2012) Minimum Alcohol Pricing: Illogical, Illiberal, Unfair. Centre for Policy Studies online article.
Demir, Ayla Michelle (2006) Addiction Is Narcissism. Psychoanalytic Psychology essay published on Academia Education website.
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