Monday, December 23, 2013

Notes on early libertarians

Over at Overweening Generalist, Michael Johnson has posted "The Drug Report: December 2013: Inhalants, From the Mundane to Outre," which discussed inhaled drugs from nitrous oxide to marijuana. He also attempts to run to ground a Robert Anton Wilson anecdote about William James.

Michael doesn't mention this, but Herodotus, the first Greek historian, recorded early examples of marijuana use by the Scythians, a nomadic proto-libertarian group of peoples who lived north of the Black Sea. (Proto-libertarian might seem a stretch, but they avoided being absorbed into the Persian Empire and also kept their independence from Alexander the Great's empire.)

Herodotus records that "They take some hemp seed, creep into the tent, and throw the seed on to the hot stones. At once it begins to smoke, giving off a vapor unsurpassed by any vapor-bath one could find in Greece. The Scythians enjoy it so much that they howl with pleasure."

More here.

1 comment:

Arthur Hlavaty said...

There are several versions of the William James/nitrous anecdote. In one, the Great Revelation is "Overall there is a smell of petroleum," which could be seen as a prophecy of the 20th century.