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?
Quick Fixes 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?
About the Author
Benjamin Y. Fong is Honors Faculty Fellow at Barrett, the Honors College and Associate Director of the Center for Work & Democracy at Arizona State University. He is the author of Death and Mastery: Psychoanalytic Drive Theory and the Subject of Late Capitalism (Columbia, 2016) and co-editor with Craig Calhoun of The Green New Deal and the Future of Work (Columbia, 2022). His other work can be found in Jacobin, Catalyst, The New York Times, and Damage Magazine, amongst other places.