Intoxication culture and radical unionism

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The opinions stated in this article aren't necessarily those of the SITT-IWW and shouldn't be considered as such.

For those who know me, it’ll be no surprise to hear that I consume a lot of marijuana, I am what people call a high functioning user. My consumption and use is intertwined with my self image issues, my social anxiety, and my PTSD. I feel like I need to use before going out and talking to focus my thoughts and not end up being a rambling idiot. I feel like I need to use to make my body acceptable, or at least in my mind, acceptable to society. I spend a lot of money on my self-medication, and I freak out when my means to self medicate is low or gone. This means I have the choice to stop self-medicating and plunge into a plethora of stress and internal anxiety, or forking over the money to keep up my line.

This is a facet of intoxication culture; it is a self-consuming beast that ingests social interactions and forces them to develop under the guise of consuming drugs. In our union, which is mostly conveyed through drinking alcohol, after a meeting we’ll go out for a drink, after a GMB we’ll go out for a drink, after a demo we’ll go out for a drink, we drink a lot, we drink an alarming amount. We spend a lot of money, collectively falling into the pit of intoxication culture, and there isn’t much we do socially that doesn’t include alcohol.

This not only makes for very unsafe spaces, but also makes our socializing inaccessible to those who have made the choice of not consuming, or those that cannot.

Look, I’m not trying to rain on our parade. Of all people, I’ll be the first to take in a few pints after a long meeting. I’ll be the first to consume. I’m a part of this cycle, I live in this beast, I’ve had a long past of cutting corners to get my high, I’ve ditched work, ditched friends, ditched responsibilities just to get back on my line, partly because of everything I mentioned, but also because I would feel weak and incapable of dealing with those responsibilities sober. This is something I’m still struggling with, and I’ve cut so many corners that most of my work ends up looking like a circle.

When an organization of people feeds this machine, we change, we have fewer standards, we give in to the beast, and everything we do is permeated by intoxication. It means the difference between getting something done, and getting things done so we can go drink. In my opinion we’re better than that.

It means that as strong as we are, as critical as we are and as powerful as we are, we’re still a slave to the drink and the toke, and I think we’re far better than that.

I don’t got the answers to fix this, I’ve got my own beasts, but together, there ain’t anything we can’t do.


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