Compass Pathways, which is based in London and boasts an advisory board of esteemed scientists, is cranking out psilocybin to study the compound in people with depression.
So far, Compass claims it has made two 250-gram batches of psilocybin, the equivalent of 20,000 doses of 25 mg of the drug. Although some of that will be tested for stability, the rest has been shaped into capsules. Those will soon be shipped to a handful of sites in Europe and North America, where Compass plans to use the psilocybin in clinical trials.
Go look at the long history of revolutions and you’ll find that far more often than not, the people who overthrow governments and bring nations crashing down are the precise equivalent of today’s basement brigade: people with educations but no opportunities, losers in the struggle for prestige and wealth, who figure out how to weaponize their outsider status in one way or another.
One of the things that makes losers so dangerous in such a setting is that they have a freedom their successful classmates lack: the freedom to think and say whatever they want. In the struggle for success, remember, any least sign of straying from the acceptable is a weapon in the hands of your rivals, and will be used ruthlessly to shove you aside and take your place. (Watch students at prestigious US universities looking for any pretext to accuse each other of racism or sexism if you want a great example of this process in action.) Those who drop out of the struggle don’t have to submit to the suffocating conformism demanded of their successful peers, and inevitably make use of that freedom in ways that offend the conventionally minded.
It’s not surprising to see Paul Krugman defending American empire, although it’s a little remarkable to see him literally using the word “empire” as a positive. One of the central differences between liberalism and leftism is that liberals believe American dominance over the world is a good idea, but just needs to be run by decent people, while leftists believe that it’s impossible to talk of democracy while also imposing your will on others. Richard Seymour’s excellent book The Liberal Defense of Murder shows how liberals throughout recent history have used rhetoric about humanitarianism and democracy to justify nationalistic wars of aggression.
But it’s vital to avoid this liberal view of American history, because it’s a false view that leads to ignorance. Garry Kasparov, in criticizing Donald Trump’s warm praise of Vladimir Putin…said he was “ready to call this the darkest hour in the history of the American presidency” and couldn’t think of any other. I’d say that the half million people killed in the Iraq War, the Indians slaughtered and deported by Andrew Jackson, the dissidents thrown in jail by Woodrow Wilson, the slaves sold by Thomas Jefferson, the Rwandans left to die by Bill Clinton, the Nicaraguans killed by Reagan-armed paramilitaries, the Jewish refugees turned away by Franklin Roosevelt, the Japanese civilians bombed by Truman, and the Vietnamese mothers who saw their children poisoned by Agent Orange might be able to think of a few other “dark hours.” I am sure some would insist that people who say this aren’t speaking literally, but it often seems as if they are. Kasparov certainly seemed to be. And Krugman says that Trump “praising murderous dictators” is “a systematic rejection of longstanding American values, though the president often voted the greatest ever praised the Indonesian mass murderer Suharto for his “wise and steadfast leadership.”
It is, of course, important to oppose Donald Trump for doing atrocious things, of which he does many. But it’s also important to be principled, and not to let one’s dislike for Trump become a defense of American empire.
Encryption is a tool of autonomy and consent; its application to money reduces the degree to which governments can arbitrarily compel economic obedience, or even detect the absence of compliance. I have no illusions that we’re on the brink of ancap paradise, nor that such a thing will ever be feasible. And I still pay my taxes. But I am happy to see this shift in the balance of power. Exit technologies improve a population’s BATNA. Members of the cypherpunk movement, after decades of collective effort, have made it possible to opt in to the monetary policy of your choice rather than bowing to whatever level of inflation the Fed prefers. Monetary policy was the libertarian issue as recently as 2012, but Bitcoin has made things peculiarly quiet on that front. I’m eager to see the results of a little competitive pressure.