Drugs are ubiquitous in the past and present of capitalist society. What can they tell us about our society and economy?
Americans are in the midst of a world-historic drug binge. Opiates, amphetamines, benzodiazepines, marijuana, antidepressants, antipsychotics–across the board, consumption has shot up in the 21st century. At the same time, the United States is home to the largest prison system in the world, justified in part by a now zombified “war” on drugs. How did we get here?
is a look at American society through the lens of its pharmacological crutches. Though particularly acute in recent decades, the contradiction between America’s passionate love and intense hatred for drugs has been one of its defining characteristics for over a century.
Through nine chapters, each devoted to the modern history of a drug or class of drugs, Fong examines Americans’ fraught relationship with psychoactive substances. As society changes it produces different forms of stress, isolation, and alienation. These changes, in turn, shape the sorts of drugs society chooses.
By laying out the histories, functions, and experiences of our chemical comforts, the hope is to help answer that ever perplexing question: what does it mean to be an American?