Slavoj Zizek — Why I am against drug legalisation

In this excerpt from a talk and Q&A given at the Institute for the Radical Imagination on 08/10/2019 titled ‘For a Left that Dares to Speak its Name’, Zizek …


  1. Zizek doesn't say he's against drug legalization, as the title suggests. Rather, he seems to be saying that drug prohibition is based on ideology by pointing out the contradiction of allowing smoking or drinking alcohol, which is actually more harmful than many illegal drugs, but disallowing others if the justification for banning certain drugs is that they are harmful. There are reasons for this to happen that aren't purely ideological, first smoking tobacco doesn't alter your state of mind the same way heroin or cocaine, and drinking alcohol isn't so fastly addictive as heroin or cocaine. Smoking and drinking are more accepted in society simply because the impact they have on people isn't so fastly destructive, you can keep functioning for a longer time.
    Many people confuse or don't know the difference between legalization and decriminalization. Decriminalization has been proven statically the most effective way to deal with drug epidemics. It works especially well with class A drugs like heroin and cocaine. By not penalizing drug consumption and even assisting in the use of these drugs, you create first a better statistical knowledge of the net of consumers, allowing for a better comprehension of the dynamics of use, where they buy, what they buy, how much they buy, etc. And with these data not only you can more effectively help the drug consumer to fight against addiction, you can also better combat the drug business, and understand how and where they operate. The problem with legalization is that it doesn't render obsolete the traffic, traffic still happens, it often lowers the price and creates secondary nets of drug dealing, it's true that by taxing this drugs it would help financing programs of recovery but it also introduces a ethical confrontation/dilemma, should the state be part of a business that causes harm to their citizens?

  2. Do I understand him right to in fact just support radical centralization of power for sake of consistency, effectiveness, effienciency and the use of reason in each and everyone's individual life and in all societal and economic phanomenons?

  3. I believe that drug trafficking cannot be possible without a help of state. I even believe that all big drug dealers are employed by state. And then bureacracy write anti-drug strategies, which is a good way to steal money from tax payers.

  4. Lol I once asked slavoj if he’d smoke a joint with me and he went off on that exact answer of being a product of Stalinist paranoid environment and that’s he’d never even smoked a cigarette

  5. Should drugs be legalized? I think so. Should drugs be commercialized and commodified no. At some level they already are and legalization brings a higher level of it for the mainstream capitalist market. Why? To make money in order to support research? That's a problem with the system. So drugs should be legal and not commercialized is my belief, and more so after seeing legalization of pot in Country of Socialized healthcare. Capitalism gets it's way, or gets in the way. I can't say.

  6. The problem is what to do with mafia, with the violence and dirty monet that it generates.. the total.corruption and so on..when anyway prohibition doesnt work, people still consuming all kinds of drugs, it just makes the business more profitable and violent

  7. He ends up not touching the point of the genocide of black and poor people which is what fuels the war on drugs, or the experience of countries having less drug addicts after legalisation. It's certainly an excerpt that doesn't do Zizek any good, only useful for those interested in (questionably) funny anecdotes.

    I think his satirical and often lighter way of talking about capitalism has its drawbacks on the possibilities of the discourse. Not necessarily a criticism, since it's how he gets his message to more people.

  8. If you're against the legalization of drugs,then you must also be for the criminalization of alcohol and tobacco,2 of the most harmful drugs.
    If you're not,than you're a hippocrite.

  9. They gave labrats addictive drugs. Some they put in cages and they went to the drug before they went for food. They gave others more freedom and better conditions and they went for the food first. I don't have the details and it is aterrible model but the argument stands analysis. Treating people like lab rats is going to be bad for at least half of us.

    Maybe the drugs are not the problem so much as the situations people find themselves in.

  10. Not all drugs are "just as dangerous", the danger varies quite a lot actually, both in quantity and quality. Anyway Zizek didn't address legalisation or decriminalisation in the current system, only that he's not fundamentally against state regulation or intervention for certain things. He also gave the anecdote of people who were rigidly anti-smoking while engaging with other drugs, however that same hypocrisy is mirrored exactly in the current legal precedent.

  11. alchool is a dangerous drug…you can buy it anywhere dirt cheap…quit the mainstream bullshit dominant speech…
    heres the challenge…how many families were destroyed and disfunctional because of alchool?!and how many cause of weed?

  12. Love Zizek but I think the point he misses when he asks why we should be able to take hard drugs but have smoke free zones – if someone does a line of cocaine, the people around them aren't inhaling it in the way they would if that person was smoking a cigarette.

  13. Zizek has never taken drugs? Given his dismissive references to acid, during previous talks, I had assumed that he had. How would he do in a debate with Alan Moore, I wonder?

  14. well he is against legalisation of hard drugs obviously. that makes sense. if he want to allow weed or something like that in comparison to smoking etc is something different.

  15. The working class shouldn't alienate themselves from reality in a capitalist system, and there's no need for escapism in a socialist system. Drugs are a pastime for the decadent bourgeoisie.

  16. Thank you! Finally! A leftist who is against these stupid drug policies! I have been a leftist against drugs for a while and always hearing about stupid weed weed weed weed weed! It smells so bad here living in California because of that stuff. Seriously though, I think I agree with Zizek on every political position now that he said this.

  17. people need drugs so they can take mini breaks from this reality, they do that because tis reality sucks. its a true factoid.

    and escapism is fundamental to social progression.

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