General Security: The Liquidation of Opium


It is my undisguised intention to exhaust the subject once and for all, so they will leave us the hell alone with the so-called dangers of the drug.

My point of view is clearly anti-social.

There is only one reason to attack opium. This is the danger that its use can inflict on society as a whole.


We are born rotten in body and soul, we are congenitally maladjusted; to do away with opium, you will not do away with the need for crime, the cancers of the body and soul, the propensity to despair, inborn cretinism, hereditary syphilis, the instability of the instincts, you will not prevent the fact that there are souls predestined for poison, in whatever form—the poison of morphine, the poison of reading, the poison of loneliness, the poison of onanism. the poison of sexual overindulgence, the poison of the congenital weakness of the soul, the poison of alcohol, the poison of tobacco, the poison of anti-sociability. There are souls that are incurable and lost to the rest of society. Deprive them of one means of folly, they will invent ten thousand others. They will create subtler, wilder methods, methods that are absolutely DESPERATE. Nature herself is fundamentally anti-social, it is only by usurpation of powers that the organized body of society opposes the natural inclination of humanity.

Let the lost destroy themselves, we have better ways to occupy our time that to attempt a regeneration which is not only impossible but also pointless, ODIOUS, AND HARMFUL.

So long as we have failed to eliminate any of the causes of human despair, we do not have the right to try to eliminate those means by which man tries to cleanse himself of despair.

For it would first be necessary to do away with that natural and hidden impulse, that specious inclination of man which makes him seek a solution, which gives him the idea of seeking a solution to his troubles.

For the lost are lost by nature, all your ideas of moral regeneration will make no difference, there is AN INNATE DETERMINISM, there is an undeniable incurability in suicide, crime, idiocy, madness, there is an invincible cuckoldry in man, there is a congenital weakness of the character, a castration of the mind.

Aphasia exists, locomotor ataxia exists, syphilitic meningitis, theft, usurpation. Hell is of this world and there are men who are unhappy escapees from hell, escapees destined ETERNALLY to reenact their escape. But enough of that.

Man is miserable, the soul is weak, there are men who will always destroy themselves. It matters little how they do it; THIS IS NOT THE BUSINESS OF SOCIETY.

We have demonstrated, have we not, that society can do nothing about this, that it is wasting its time, and that is only becoming further entrenched in its own stupidity.

And finally, HARMFUL.

Those of us who dare to face the truth know, do we not, the results of prohibition of alcohol in the United States.

An overproduction of folly: beer with the alcoholic content of ether, alcohol spiked with cocaine and sold under the counter, increased drunkenness, a kind of general intoxication.


The same for opium.

Prohibition, which causes increased public curiosity about the drug, has so far profited only the pimps of the medicine,  journalism, and literature. There are people who have built fecal and industrious reputations on their alleged indignation against the inoffensive and insignificant sect of the damned of the drug (inoffensive because insignificant in size and because always an exception), this minority of those damned by the mind, by the soul, by the disease.

Ah! How neatly tied, in these people, is the umbilical cord of morality! Since they left their mothers they have never sinned, have they? They are apostles, they are the descendants of priests; one can only wonder from what source they draw their indignation, and above all how much they have pocketed to do this, and in any case what it has done for them.

But this is not the point.

In reality, this furor over drugs ad the stupid laws that result form it:

  1. Are powerless against the need for the drug which, whether or not it is satisfied, is intrinsic to the soul and would drive it to deliberately anti-social gestures, EVEN IF THE DRUG DID NOT EXIST.
  2. Aggravate the social need for the drug, and change it to a secret vice.
  3. Aggravate the real disease, for this is the real question, the central issue, the dangerous point:


All the laws, all the restrictions, all the campaign against narcotics will only succeed in depriving all the most destitute cases of human suffering, who possess over society inalienable rights, of the solvent for their miseries, a sustenance for them more wonderful than bread, and the means of finally re-entering life.

Better the plague than morphine, proclaims official medicine, better hell than life. Only an idiot like Jean-Pierre Liausu (who is, moreover, an ignorant nonentity) would claim that we should let the sick stew in their own sickness.

And all the boorishness of the person betrays itself and indulges itself fully:


Destroy yourselves, and you who are desperate, and you who are tortured in body and soul, abandon all hope. There is no more solace for you in this world. The world lives off your rotting flesh.

And you, lucid, madmen, spastics, cancer patients, chronic meningitis cases, you are the misunderstood. There is a point in you which no doctor will ever understand, and for me this is the point which saves you and makes you august, pure, wonderful: you are outside life, you are above life, you have miseries which the ordinary man does not know, you exceed the normal level, and it is for this that men refuse to forgive you, you poison their peace of mind, you undermine their stability. You have irrepressible pains whose essence is to be inadaptable to any known state, indescribable in words. You have repeated and shifting pains, incurable pains, pains beyond imagining, pains which are neither of the body nor the soul, but which partake of both. And I share your suffering, and I ask you: who dares to ration our relief? In the name of what superior lucidity that usurps our very souls, we who are at the very root of knowledge and lucidity?

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And this because of our desire, because of our determination to suffer. We whom pain has sent traveling through our souls in search of a calm place to cling to, seeking stability in evil as others seek stability in good. We are not mad, we are wonderful doctors, we know the dosage of soul, of sensibility of marrow, of thought. You must leave us alone, you must leave the sick alone, we ask nothing of mankind, we ask only for the relief of our suffering. We have evaluated our lives well, we know what restrictions they impose on others and above all on ourselves. We know what willed deterioration, what renunciation of ourselves, what paralysis of subtle functions our disease inflicts on us each day. We are not going to kill ourselves just yet. In the meantime, leave us the hell alone

Antonin Artaud  January 1, 1925

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