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Should We Dose the Rich With Acid?

November 29, 2012

It is illegal and, in most cases, immoral to slip LSD into the system of an unwitting subject, and certainly not something I would ever do. This is simply a thought experiment (one I am sure was often discussed in the Sixties, but not so much, maybe not enough, since). The rich I have in mind are those of the more grandly plutocratic and dickish kind, though we might consider garden-variety rich assholes as well. Should these people be sent on an unexpected trip? Wouldn’t that be kind of awesome?

Yes. If someone went around doing this to carefully chosen obnoxiously wealthy people I would say “Right on.” And so would you, most likely, and so would millions and millions of people around the world. Because what really sticks in the craw is the supreme sense of smug self-satisfaction that money can buy, the ability to insulate oneself in a narcissistic reality cocoon that floats serenely above the common  fray without challenge, capable of action while shielded from equal reaction. The beauty of this idea is that it provides such an elegant and relatively benign way of ripping that cocoon apart for a time, in dramatic fashion. It sends the message, “You cannot just buy your own preferred reality, it can be altered; you can be gotten to, made a naked helpless soul again.” And that’s just sweet. It’s a juvenile fantasy, perhaps, but really, really sweet. You could even think the experience might do the victim some good. Though probably not.

I am not advocating that we dose the rich with acid. Such action would be illegal, and perhaps juvenile. I am just saying that it is time to start a discussion about whether or not we should dose the rich with acid. We face an uncertain future, with many challenges, monsters with melting faces, and trippy colors ahead. We know there will be bad trips. The question is, how will those bad trips be distributed? Equitably? Or according to all the old distinctions of class that our seers have taught us don’t really exist because we are all of us already dead?

This post was partly inspired by this interview of Chrystia Freeland by Ezra Klein about the super-rich and this past election. The acid part may have been subliminally suggested by a bookmark on my browser for this article, which I have not yet read.

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