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The Cosmic Right: The Overlap Between Psychedelics and Right-Wing Politics [ONLINE]
March 3 @ 11:00 am - 1:00 pm
by Psychedelic Society (UK)
It has been argued that psychedelic experiences will automatically make you more liberal, open-minded, tolerant, progressive and environmentally friendly. But the historical evidence suggests otherwise – in fact, psychedelics have in the past been embraced by conservative, traditionalist and patriarchal cultures, like the Aztecs, and in the west, their champions have included illiberal elitists such as Aldous Huxley or Aleister Crowley, eugenicists like Havelock Ellis, war-loving nationalists like Ernst Junger, and even neo-pagan fascists. More recently, the ‘Qanon shaman’ who became the poster-boy for the Capitol Hill insurrection has proved that psychedelics do not necessarily make you liberal or immune to authoritarian and anti-democratic conspiracy theories.
This talk will explore the overlap between psychedelics and harmful illiberal politics. More positively, it will also argue that a case can be made for a more liberal and democratic ‘psychedelic conservatism’ – drawing the connections between psychedelics and conservative values like virtue ethics, love of nature, respect for elders, ancestors and family, support for veterans, respect for the value of wisdom traditions, self-transcendence and connection to the divine. All these ideas both play a role in psychedelic culture and are central to conservative philosophy. Is the psychedelics movement more conservative than it realises? Can one make that argument to try and win over right-wing voters and politicians in the effort to legalise psychedelics?
Jules Evans is a writer and teacher. He is the author of Philosophy for Life and Other Dangerous Situations (2013), The Art of Losing Control: A Philosopher’s Search for Ecstatic Experience (2017) and Holiday From the Self: An Accidental Ayahuasca Adventure (2019). He is co-editor of Breaking Open: Finding a Way Through Spiritual Emergency (2020) and is an honorary research fellow at the Centre for the History of the Emotions at Queen Mary, University of London. His website is www.philosophyforlife.org.