Guest speaker: John Dolan
Year this lecture was recorded: 2017
Today’s podcast features an interview with John Dolan, who is well known as the “War Nerd”. Additionally, he has another alter ego as the writer Gary Brecher. The War Nerd podcast covers a wild amount about the history along with speculations about the future of human warfare. In this interview, John explains the long history of drugs and war.
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For extended reading about this deep subject, there’s
‘Shooting Up: A Short History of Drugs and War‘ by Lukasz Kamienski
Support the work of Lex Pelger
on the Psychedelic Salon 2.0 podcasts
(as well as all of his psychoactive advocacy)
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I just want to continue a bit on the theme of politics, war, peace and psychedelics. First I want to say I did not mean to put words in John Dolan’s mouth about human nature and certainly invite a correction on his part if I am misunderstanding him. He clearly describes human behavior in wars, whether fueled by speed alcohol or other substances, as ugly or horrific. He acknowledges the psychic wounds of soldiers as deep and hard to heal.
I really want to put my questions and thoughts on this issue in a form that is practical and realistic as well as philosophical. They are inevitably both since we don’t know much about what human nature is apart from the warlike cultures that have dominated recorded history.
So when one says that war produces horrific behavior, why is it horrific? What part of human nature sees rape, hacked-off limbs, killing non combatants, torture etc. as un-natural or evil if they are actually part of human nature? We seem to have an internal point of view at odds with bad behavior. What is that? Is this the same point of view that in a buddhist form advocates universal compassion and non-violence, in Jesus words calls on those who would be children of God to love others as ourselves, even enemies? Is this abhorrence for violence the same place in the human heart that writes a song like ‘Imagine’? How many who have experienced a vision of oneness and spirit through the use of soul manifesting medicines have been deeply changed by this vision, have opened themselves to the inner work needed to change internal violence and bad habits of thought and emotion?
It seems to me that psychedelics, meditation/mindfulness/qigong/yoga/prayer/dance/ music, direct action for justice, sharing food and assistance to those with need, science in service of peaceful human development , and other similar paths taken as a whole comprise a powerful counter argument about human nature . In fact it seems that the war culture is stuck in a juvenile stage of development and is manifestly plagued by psychic wounds and boring self-destructive or world-destructive loops, while a world wide peace culture continues to develop in the womb of humanity and mother earth. The technical and community answers are with us but habits of mind and cultural manipulation are blocking them from sight.
War is a vey pervasive paradigm and this paradigm is the greatest disease we face. We seem to be speeding toward a next step where we either die in the madness of our wars for plunder or find the courage and sense to end them and initiate a peacable coexistance. Psychedelics are among the most powerful tools we have for dissolving non useful paradigms, both personally and culturally. Some advocates of these medicines have disparaged politics as meaningless and impotent, but I think that is crazy. One does not have to devote enormous hope and energy into politics, but to speak at all is a political act, and to enact change one must understand that change requires political change beyond merely supporting one of the war parties.
Peace to all and thank you Lorenzo and Lex for your spirit and courage and warmth in creating this ongoing podcast.
I just want to disagree with one of Dolan’s underlying premises which is that war is a product of human nature. That “all of us” have this violence within us and that war is the natural result of that. In fact war is directly related to hierarchical power structures and is very hard to produce without constant effort driven by huge rewards for success. The trillions of dollars devoted to war requires the constant manufacture of paranoia, and massive campaigns of lies. Professional soldiers are isolated as much as possible from the fact that they are invading and making war on people who never threatened them. It doesn’t work; they come back from combat with ptsd and part of that is shame.
Yes, many young men get into fights but few continue to behave that way. That isn’t war and isn’t even the norm in all cultures. The vast majority of people avoid war. On this basis alone one can make an argument that it is not human nature that is producing war, but rather very specific forms of human culture. Our addiction to these cultural forms in the US is pervasive. Even our children watch violent war movies of many varieties. We are constantly pressured to identify with surrogate warriors in sports, to choose between war parties politically, to fear those not like us.
There are places where these are not the cultural norms and there is much more emphasis on cooperation. These places still have violent drunks, domestic abuse and street fights, but the violence goes way down and they are not producing new wars.
It seems to me that war is an abuse of young men by old men over power and privilege. And it relies on the actual human need and the genuine aspect of human nature that wants acceptance into the tribe and to establish manhood. If acceptance and maturity rituals revolved around issues of moral responsibility and universal justice, respectful understanding and awe of nature, contact with spirit worlds, cooperation, and individuation, then wars would be treated like pimples, not gods.
[COMMENT by Lorenzo: Well said! I’ve always thought that if only young people (who would have to pay the taxes to support the war) were allowed to start a war, and only old people would be sent to fight, then wars would soon fade away.]
I don’t mean to be negative and I certainly don’t mean to say shut up and follow your leaders. I simply mean to say that I think we should focus on are the things we can actually work with. I don’t want all rainbows and machine elves. I specifically said I don’t mean to knock it entirely because I recognize that these are issues that are directly relevant to my life and that of the community. Its certainly important for the information to be properly dispersed. I only meant that I would like to see y’all focused on the things that we can effectively work with. This political information can be widely found across the internet by anyone who is paying close enough attention and I spoke up specifically to point out that I recognize the importance of political discourse I just think there is so much more to talk about here. If u have to go into politics, talk about what we can do better, alt forms of government, more talks with intentional community leaders, modern perspectives on capitalism, etc… there’s a lot to be discussed I just don’t think Alex Jonesing it is the most appropriate direction.
Howdy Miguel, just a suggestion here. If you don’t like the topic of a talk, don’t listen to it. Lorenzo is kind enough to take the time to put these together when he could be doing a myriad of other things. I enjoy the same talks you do, but when there is some topic I’m not interested in, I simply don’t listen to it. I’m not trying to be a prick here, I just wanted to point out that it’s a lot to ask, especially considering it’s free. I am very grateful to Lorenzo and have only praise for him and all his efforts, not only the Psychedelic Salon. Keep on truckin’, Lorenzo. Thank ya kindly.
[COMMENT by Lorenzo: Thanks Kabooby, I needed to hear that :-).]
I don’t want to sound like I’m ignorant to these issues but the psychedelic salon is not where I want to hear about wars and politics. I recognize it’s overall importance and I’m not knocking it but for me this is a place of exploration and integration. Musing and revelations. Food for higher thought, if you will. This is one of the few places I can usually turn for something unique and abstract to think about and while I recognize that these are important topics to the community…from my perspective, talking and thinking about this stuff simply doesn’t do you or anybody much good. If u are a political leader or an key social influencer of some kind, perhaps. But if you can’t exercise an element of control or influence over a situation..it’s none of your business and youre just grasping at straws trying to be right and for them to be wrong. No matter how much you might be affected by said situation. If there’s nothing you can do just shut up chop the wood and carry the water.
[COMMENT by Lorenzo: Here is what I hear you saying: “Shut up and follow your leaders, no matter how deranged they may be.” I’m sorry if these podcasts are causing you to think. But, as I’m sure you know, the word ‘psychedelic’ means mind manifesting. That’s what we’re doing here. All of the negative comments about the insertion of political discussions into the salon makes me think that we’re on the right track. The world isn’t made up of only psychedelic rainbows and machine elves. At times, consensus reality needs to also rear its ugly head.]