top of page
  • Steven Huang

Right-Wing Psychedelia: Cultural Plasticity & Political Pluripotency

Research by: Brian A. Pace & Nese Devenot. Image from: Psymposia


SUMMARY

If you've taken psychedelics before; you may have had this thought like "wow - if everybody took psychedelics, we could achieve world peace, or reverse our climate crisis!" Personally, I've used psychedelics to deepen my understanding of race, gender, sexuality and identity that have strengthened my principles of egalitarianism. Indeed, there are peer-reviewed studies about psilocybin producing prosocial behaviors and LSD reducing authoritarian beliefs.


Why, then, do the Proud Boys, "Unite the Right" organizers, and leaders of 8chan, QAnon, Stormfront and The Daily Stormer all use psychedelics to build their fascist propaganda? The authors of this paper cite several instances where neo-nazi's describe LSD as fundamental to their beliefs. They make the case that the core elements of psychedelic experiences (e.g. hyper-association, boundary dissolution, meaning-enhancement) are capable of shifting a worldview, but not in any specific direction (along an egalitarian-authoritarian axis, or a liberal-conservative axis).


IMPLICATIONS

I thought I was going to love reading this piece. After all, Kimberlé Crenshaw and bell hooks were cited in the lit review! And I did enjoy it, but not for the reasons I thought. The authors made me examine my own biases and made me question my own predilection to psychedelic exceptionalism. I have always held the view that psychedelics have the potential to bend the arc of humanity towards equality - and that is still true. However, I understand that it is not a guarantee. It's perhaps equally as possible that psychedelics can easily be used to argue for alt-right principles like a "natural order" and traditional gender roles.


This was an important read for me and for others that get really excited about the potential for psychedelics to create a better world. After all, wasn't it that excitement that (at least partly) led to the War on Drugs? We need to temper our excitement and examine our biases as we study the social impact of mainstream psychedelic use.


WANT A COPY OF THE RESEARCH?

Reach out via the "Contact Me" session and I will send you a copy.



bottom of page