Slavoj Zizek suggests that today there are two kinds of opium for the people: Opium and the people.
The return of „the people“ marks the rise of the populist right, which especially in Germany, purports to act in the name of a mythical, equally powerful and innocent homogeneous entity called „das Volk“. But even liberals like Volt or Podemos (to a lesser extent) play the game when they designate themselves neither right nor left but claim to act in the name of this mythical entity.
The referent serves to obfuscate the real power relations in a society and can never be upheld as soon as real political decisions, where one group of society struggles against another, have to be taken. While this strategy can be easily discarded, the relation of the left to the other of Zizek’s opiums, namely drugs proper, is not so easy to assess.
Some claim drugs have liberating potential and others vilify them. The neuropsychopharmacologist David Nutt claims that the illegality or legality of a substance is not based on any rational risk assessment. Alcohol has by far the most harmful effects on others and magic mushrooms near to none. Some drugs inspire awe, creativity and curiosity while others simply numb the pain of existence.
The consumption of drugs is the endgame of the hedonic consumer. There is no other route to bliss for such a low effort. In some ways the drug addict is the only one who takes the imperative of postmodern society at face value: Enjoy!
The rest of us contend ourselves with diet coke or even chocolate laxatives. We are stuck in the imperative to consume but try to avoid its detrimental effects. Thereby we lose enjoyment itself and keep the bad conscience of not having enjoyed enough. What if the purpose of life is not to enjoy but to find your duty and act on it?