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Drugs: a world problem
Interview with the the Master –, through Benjamin Creme
by Patricia Pitchon

Discussion of the scope and depth of illegal drug production, distribution, and use, and what is needed to end its hold on the world.

The solutions put forward in regard to the drug problem in the long chain of cause and effect which binds producers, consumers and dealers, really fall into six categories: legalization; law and order measures; financial measures such as seizing drug dealers’ assets; crop substitution (ie, the peasants who grow the opium poppy or the coca leaf from which heroin and cocaine are derived should be encouraged to grow other crops); education and rehabilitation (aimed at consumers), and finally, negotiation, a solution some Colombians have put forward ever since the drug barons there declared open war on the government.

Any proper plan must get at producers, consumers and dealers; it has to have short-term, medium-term and long-term solutions; and the economic, political and social aspects of the problem must be considered. Mr Benjamin Creme’s Master kindly agreed to answer questions relating to this world problem. The interview took place on 20 September 1989.

PP: More and more people advocate the legalization of drugs as the answer to this problem. This would, they say, cut out to a large extent the drug mafia.

The Master: “This may seem attractive but it is not an option. It would be tantamount to legalized murder.”

PP: Former White House Chief of Staff Donald Regan suggested greater co-operation was necessary between banks, agencies, law enforcement officials and government, and he even proposed (in a recent New York Times article), to get at drug dealers’ cash assets, that the US Treasury could quietly print $50 and $100 dollar bills different from those now in current use. With ten days’ notice, the US Government should announce that the old bills are no longer legal tender and must be exchanged for the new ones. Is getting at the actual cash and assets of drug dealers the primary emergency aim?

The Master: “That is a measure which would only be viable in the short term — and might be attractive in the short term — but experience of life and humanity leads to the conclusion that it would not work.”

PP: What are the loopholes?

The Master: “The loopholes are these: the drug dealers themselves would know in advance of these plans and would take the necessary measures to ‘re-launder’ their assets. In fact, that is what they are doing at this moment. Like the criminals in the past, for instance in Chicago and other towns, they are taking a new stance as respectable citizens, investing in every aspect of national and international life. They are, as often as not, the holders of shares in large corporations, often totally respectable citizens, frequently working for governments in a bona fide position, as advisers, commercial agents, go-betweens and so on, because of their many contacts all over the world. So it would be very difficult to pounce on them within a reasonably short space of time before they reacted to the new situation and found their way out of it. They are in the position they are in only because they are masters of their craft. Their intelligence is as good as that of the best intelligence services.”

PP: Crop substitution cannot be a solution without a restructuring of the prices of commodities on the world market. For example, recently the prices of cocoa and coffee plummeted, wiping out the profits of many countries. What do you think of this?

The Master: “In the long run, crop substitution is the ultimate answer. But, as you rightly suggest, it is dependent on other factors. That is, the growers of these crops must be guaranteed a reasonable return on their work and investment of time and energy in growing crops such as coffee or bananas, or whatever, rather than the drug-producing crops. This entails, essentially, a reorganization of the world’s economy. In the end, it comes back again and again to a reorganization of the world’s economy, based primarily on the principle of sharing and a just redistribution of the world’s resources. “When that is done, you will find that peasants in the various drug-producing countries of the world — of their own free will — will gladly accept the responsibility of feeding the nation, rather than feeding the drug needs of millions of — as they see it — dissolute citizens at the lower end of the social scale, dropouts, etc. They would feel more proud of their work. It would give them a sense of contributing in a positive rather than in a destructive way to the world’s economy. At the moment — as they see it — they have no alternative.”

PP: What do you think about another alternative, that of spending a lot more money on the rehabilitation of drug addicts and on education of the people at large?

The Master: “This must be given a high priority. There are millions of people involved in drugs, both as producers and as consumers. The users, of course, are always the losers. A huge rehabilitation programme must be put into action by all governments who have a problem in this area. Maitreya has already started a process, as some people know, of inaugurating centres in which young offenders, alienated individuals, members of broken families, drug users and pushers (those on the outer edge of society — who feel against society) can be, and eventually will be, rehabilitated. There they can gain the self-respect which will lead to their rehabilitation and equal membership with the rest of society. They must see themselves as belonging. At the moment they are on the slow path to suicide, because, for most of them, life has little to offer of value.”

PP: What about more law and order measures?

The Master: “This is a necessary first step, and should be seen only as that. It is a stop-gap measure, to prevent the escalation of the menace which is a real menace to the well-being of society. It is a canker. But for a short time, sufficient funds should be redirected to this policing action, to control the distribution of the prepared drugs as they leave the various small factories which are growing in number all over the world. This will be necessary for some years.”

PP: What do you think about negotiation with the drug dealers, a solution put forward by several prominent people in Colombia?

The Master: “This should be tried. It may or may not work. It depends on other factors. One of the major factors in all of this is the incentive factor. Where money has its present value, there will always be an incentive for some people to want to be very rich. But very soon, there is going to be a complete transformation in the world’s economic systems due to the devaluation of money after the coming world stock market crash. Then people will find it not so rewarding to engage themselves against the law — and a strengthened law if the previous measures are taken — in the producing countries. It will be less glamorous, less rewarding and more dangerous than at present to engage in what will be seen, more and more, to be a criminal activity. Also, one of the difficulties inherent in negotiation is that some of the biggest drug dealers are seemingly respectable citizens at the head of large corporations and industries, and so on. For them this is an appropriate — although illegal — investment. So they are not likely to come forward easily to enter into negotiations. But it is worth trying.”

PP: Are these people whose names we’ve never heard?

The Master: “Largely so. There may be some who are under suspicion by various government agencies, but so far they have been astute enough to ‘keep their noses clean’.”

PP: Are there Americans and Europeans among them?

The Master: “Most nationalities. But they are on a level which is practically untouchable and unsuspectable, working through divisions or departments which they have set up.”

PP: What about other measures such as bank reforms?

The Master: “There is probably little that can be done in this department without altogether greater access to bank accounts. Most of the money ‘laundered’ on a large scale is ‘laundered’ through the main banks in Switzerland, and they are vowed to withhold information about such investments because the banks make enormous profits from them. So these are the last places where you would be able to enforce a search. This is a very ‘long shot’ indeed, unless you change the laws of investigation and search. It can be done in some countries, like Britain, if enough evidence can be brought to bear. But it is difficult to find that evidence at the levels where it really counts. It is too well organized, and, as said before, the intelligence network of those concerned is very good indeed. They can quickly move on their assets from one bank to another. They spread it over many banks, and invest in absolutely legitimate industries.”

PP: So is it a very extensive network of corruption?

The Master: “Absolutely. It is world-wide and much more than skin deep. It is very deep indeed.”

PP: If a change is brought about in producers and consumers, what is going to happen to this network of corruption at high levels, with all these funds at its disposal?

The Master: “The value of money has to change. Then they will lose the incentive to make such enormous fortunes, because there will be nowhere to spend them. As the world economy changes to one of sufficiency and sustainability rather than the present one of constant growth and production, the incentive to amass massive wealth will diminish. There will always be scope for the rich and greedy, but in the face of world public opinion and the changes in the world economic systems which will gradually come about, it will become less a life purpose.”

PP: A gradual change of perception of values?

The Master: “Yes, partly enforced from outside by the change in the value of money.”

PP: What is the perspective in the short and medium-term for Colombia?

The Master: “There are high hopes that Colombia will take the constructive path, but the path to destruction has as great a possibility. At the moment, anything can happen. It can go in the direction of civil war and a kind of mass suicide, or Colombia can rehabilitate itself with the help of major nations like the United States and the non-acceptance of the criminal activities of drug processing and dealing. This means a severe crackdown on the personal armies employed to keep the whole business going in Colombia and elsewhere. They have to be met on their own level.”

PP: There seems to be a link here between drugs, defence and debt affecting this situation, because if the producer countries are going to engage in crop substitution they cannot sustain their enormous debts; the debt is not going to be cancelled unless defence costs go down in the industrialized countries and they actually relieve these countries (ie Peru, Bolivia, Colombia, etc) of their debt, and at the same time drugs flourish in an environment where there is great poverty. Is this correct?

The Master: “It is a correct assessment, and each of these factors has a part to play in this corrosive business of drug production. Debt write-offs will have to be subsidized by curtailing defence in the major nations. This is already under way. On the surface, defence programs already started are continuing. So many billions have been spent on weapons which are nearing completion that these will probably go ahead. But new projects have been cancelled on all sides. As the US and the USSR reach agreement on curtailing nuclear weapons, this will give an incentive to all to diminish production. It creates a stabilized condition in which war becomes more and more unthinkable on a global scale. They set the tone for the other nations.”

PP: Is the drug problem a long and painful haul? Are we going to have to spend 10 or 20 years to deal with it?

The Master: “Hopefully, and probably, not. It could last perhaps five or six years more in diminishing intensity. The shell of the nut will be cracked when the principle of sharing is beginning to bite (to take place and to be implemented) among the nations. That is the key to the whole process. This allows the poorer countries — the so-called Third World countries who are largely producing the drugs on a massive scale — to take their rightful and dignified place in the community of nations without having to resort to that illegal activity, which nobody wants except those who are making money from it. The principle of sharing itself, and the achievement of an economy based on sustainability and sufficiency will pull the rug out from under the feet of the dealers.”

PP: Perhaps we need a shock to effect a major shift. Will that shock be the stock market crash?

The Master: “Humanity needs to be up against it and desperate, and that shock will certainly be sharp, and will bring humanity to its senses, and the governments, in some cases, to their knees. They will appeal, when Maitreya comes forward, for guidance and will accept the guidance, and all their priorities will change. Of course this will change the dependence of millions on drugs. People turn to drugs because they do not know who they are; they do not know who they are because they are under-educated. They are obsessed with the sense of their own ignorance, their own inability, their uselessness, and so they feel they have nothing to lose. They have no self-respect. That is why Maitreya says, ‘without self-respect, no further progress can be made’. The first thing is to teach self-respect.

“The transformation of the economic structures of the world and a reorientation of government priorities will create the conditions in which people can regain their self-respect. And they will not want the drugs. If people do not want the drugs, no one will supply them. It is a matter of opinion among the Hierarchy that the drug crisis is now reaching its height, and when it reaches its height there is only one way it can go (and that is down).”

From the November 1989 issue of Share International

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First published April 1999, Last modified: 15-Oct-2005