Radio Show 4

Welcome listeners, – we sail into the fourth airing of – The Republic of Reason –  I am Fergus Quinlan.

This programme – continues with an unending quest for Critical and innovative thinking, looking at any subject or event from a different point of view. If any listeners have comments positive or negative, I would be delighted to hear them…. Email the program at

In this Program We will look at;

  • Drugs and some misunderstanding on addiction and referring to a book by Johann Hari “ Chasing the Scream.”
  • A sea story about radios
  • Review and comments on a Book by Naomi Klein “The Shock Doctrine”.
  • And of course some excellent music.


Drugs. Today we question some aspects of this problem. Viewpoints which never appear to be dealt with in the MSM, but there are signs of improvement.

We will keep to drugs in within the common parlance and not – at least at this stage, stray into all the solace and pleasure-seeking activities that we humans can and do become addicted; smoking, Alcohol drinking, Eating chocolate and sugar, gambling, religion, critical thinking, sailing…I think all the things that give us pleasure and excape…. I’m stuck in there in a few of them… but for the most part we will be discussing illegal drugs as commonly understood….

Every day the media reports a seizure of drugs by the Gardai, huge caches worth millions and millions in cars, flats. This war against drugs carried out by in Ireland and indeed almost worldwide has been going on as long as we all can remember.  All the time the value of the drugs increases and the seizures get more significant, regardless ….. the quantity of drugs available and coming into the country appears to be constantly increasing.  The enforcing authorities, such as the police, customs, and here and abroad are failing over and over again in this so-called war against drugs. They must eventually admit the war cannot be won and change direction?

Q1. Who is buying these millions of euros worth of drugs, this vast quantity of drugs constantly? Is it the middle class, the rich, the poor, it would appear that drug consumption is fairly widespread throughout all strata of society? So there is no doubt that a huge demand exists.  And with that demand – a market and big money can be made. Then it’s a business opportunity to make a stack and this will be met by the street businessmen, the importers, the dealers, the bankers and the enforcers. A mirror image of the legit ones only OK they don’t get IDA, grants and but then again they do not have to pay tax.

2; That leads directly to the next aspect, competition – the turf wars, the shootings, the massive amount of police time spent on surveillance, arrests, charging, courts, and then a whole prison system. For example, in the USA of the 2.3 million people in jail (the biggest incarceration in the history of humanity) in the USA 21% are drug-related.

  1. Yet another aspect is the amount of harmful, dangerous drugs on the markets, unregulated the dealers can and do throw any spiky muck together to beef out ‘pure’ heroine, coke or weed – or bright and college chemistry students churn out designer drugs. One major reason that young students take a risk by swallowing these unknown, mind-blowing and sometimes mind destroying drugs is cost, … it appears to be cheaper to get stoned on drugs than drink. Speaking of mind-destroying, I once was the unfortunate witness of a young man I knew going to the US for the summer and returning a totally changed zombie after a BAD trip…a tragedy which makes me sad.

Now, all these three major problems might be solved in one fell swoop by legalising, taxing and regulating all drugs. Is this crazy one might ask, or  may I just be looking for a hit.. NO Personally, except for a bit of weed back in seventies I haven’t indulged myself.. yet,… I’m waiting for my 90th birthday.  We will return to this subject after a break for …


Music time – for a piece of drug-related music it would be hard to beat the Beatles “Lucy in the Sky – with diamonds” Far out man this is from the first take..Hence the loose introductory chatter…


But joking aside, and there are no jokes for a perfectly lovely young boy or girl who loses their mind on a BAD trip…from a BAD drug. However, All in ALL … We must recognise that the existing approach has not worked and is causing more problems than it solves.

I refer now to a book called Chasing the scream by Johann Hari. It is certainly the best and most humane explanation I’ve ever read on drugs, I encourage anybody who is interested in this topic (Parents, Guards Included) must make it their business to read this book. (SPELL – JOHANN HARI) Go look him up and do read the book. PS I’m not related or connected.

The book is subtitled  “the first and the last day of the war on drugs” The book, describes how this war against drugs started in America over 100 years ago. At that time, as in most countries, drugs were freely available to buy. He describes how many drug importers wanted to make drugs illegal as they would run forced monopolies to make a fortune. In 1914 drugs were made illegal in the US and that spread worldwide and since then the so-called war on drugs has intensified, the figures relating to deaths from drug-related death are enormous as well as the costs to contain it

Promises are made continuously by politicians about a drug-free future for our children….about the same chance as what I spoke in my last programme about a porn free future for children…forget it.

Consider what happened when prohibition came to the United States, speakeasy ’s sprung up overnight. Gangs formed to run them and with the brewing of illegal liquor, there was a huge increase in bad drink so manufactured that it could kill and it did. When alcohol was again legalised, the production was regulated and safer. The state collected taxes. Alcohol was not sold to minors… the gangs disappeared, or….. switched to drugs.

The arguments…. as one can see… whizz around in many directions   One of the main and continuing arguments against drugs is that they’re perniciously addictive and highly destructive. I have even heard it said on many occasions that the reason people are on the street –  destitute and homeless are that they are addicted to drugs.

But is that true? OR are they addicted to drugs because they are homeless and on the streets?  To help resolve this question let us refer some experiments carried out on rats…

In the late 1970’s It was found that when a rat is put in an empty cage alone with food and 2 water bottles one normal and one laced with drugs, The rat got addicted to the drug water and eventually died of malnutrition.

This experiment was touted as proof that drugs are uncontrollable and it laid the foundation for 40 years of drug policy with rehab centres using strict laws focused on withdrawal and a massive state war on drugs. The whole emphasis was making it clear that drugs are bad, bad bad.

Johann Hari in his book refers to a fascinating further development of this research experiment.   He says and I quote;  “ what most people don’t know is that in the same decade of the lonely rat experiment….another scientist professor Bruce Alexander thought it was obvious that lonely rats in boring cages would choose drugs over water. He then built and put the rats in a rat park – a lush cage with food and lots of other friendly male and female rats where they could have sex and little rats, they could play and scurry about and have fun to their heart’s content. They still had access to the choice of drug-laced OR plain water. Surprisingly his rats chose not to use the drugs. The researcher even took the study one step further and kept rats using drugs for 57 days in the lonely cage until they became heavily addicted. He then placed them in the rat park and astonishingly the rats gradually reduced their drug use until they stopped altogether and lived the rest of their lives drug-free.

Putting the rats aside for the moment what about us humans? Experiments like these happen to humans all the time.  One example is in hospitals were badly injured patients are given a medical form of heroin, heroin that is much stronger than the heroin used by street attics. Despite months of use these medical users stop when they go home to a life where they are surrounded by a loving family. A similar drug used for the same length of time would turn the isolated and lonely into street users who would continue to remain alone, disconnected and unhappy into desperate addicts.

The rat park experiments did not show the chemical addictions don’t exist but it showed that they are not the only thing that matters in drug abuse. What appears to be far more important is a person’s access to functioning social life respect, a degree of status a house and family, to be connected to other individuals and to society as a whole.  This is where the resources of the state should be spent and not continuing a useless and failing war on drugs. Many countries throughout the world Ireland included,  are beginning to listen and are moving away from the war on drugs to care, connection and love …far more effective in human terms and in cost terms.


Speaking of DRUGS real legal Drugs… this is one of mine ….Lets take some minutes of the first movement of Rachmaninov Piano Concerto no. 2    this musical masterpiece. This particular performance is played on the Piano by Yuja Wang and I will spell her name Y-U-J-A—W-A-N-G as I must urge you to view this performance on Youtube… one seldom sees such raw human energy as when this Beautiful Chinese pianist engages in a passionate mén.age. à. trois with, the  Verbier Festival Orchestra, a piano to the stunning music of Rachmaninov…


Now for sea stories, or maybe a radio stories.

On the first offshore venture of the old Pylades – Dublin to the Isle of Man via Carlingford in July 1982, the boat had no radio communications except for a trusty transistor to get the BBC shipping forecast. This resulted in an interesting meeting in Carlingford lough….A British naval boarding party started waving what looked like a radio mic at us and finally verbally shouting at us to stop in that they might board –not stopping we yelled back… as the Vire two-stroke inboard was very sensitive to being taken out of gear and changing its revs  .. We helped them aboard anyway as we steamed along at a cracking 4 knots. However, the staring faces of three children looking at them unnerved the force and they withdrew…

After a further incident off the Chicken Rock, the SW point of the Isle of Mann, we began to realise that perhaps a VHF radio, for safety… might be a good idea.  27 years later when Katherine and I planned to circumnavigate we thought that the installation of a single sideband radio might be a good idea for similar reasons.

Katherine volunteered to sit the mandatory Department of Transport test for a Radio Operator’s Long-Range Certificate of Competency.  To turn our little ship into a ‘radio station’.

To get on a training Course was difficult, but Katherine, being Katherine found a place and headed off alone to Carlingford in County Louth on a dark Sunday in October 2008. She checked in as the only – lonely guest – in a silent hotel.  The course was five full days 09.00 until 20.00 on the last two, with the exam on the fifth day.  She was the only female amongst the 7 students. The other six were all skippers of fishing boats from Portavogie in Northern Ireland.

Katherine found the going harder than expected but the friendliness of the skippers helped as the week slid by. However, stress levels also began to rise —  the skippers of fishing vessels, found the ‘classroom’ to be an alien place. The night Katherine rang me to describe how the instructor had clattered one of the skippers on the head – I knew then that things were rougher than expected.

On the morning of the exam the hotel dining room Katherine found it occupied by a single other people, a lonely man—-the examiner.  Eating breakfast in silence, they met again shortly after in the examination room.

Much later that day the the flags were out in Dooneen as Katherine arrived home with Radio Operators’ Long-Range Certificate of Competency’

The SSB proved very valuable in our safe routing around South Africa & the Cape. We were assisted by a group of amauter radio operators who ensured we dodged the ferocious little depressions that jumped off the African continent and blew contrary to the Agulas currrant …”22ft square waves you won’t survive it mate” (I cant do a south African accent),,,we took their word and did what we were told.This is a short clip of Katherine action in the Indian Ocean calling up a sailors net with the other minute a routeing exchange with the famous  ocean weather router Herb Hilgenberg


SSB Radio clip>


Herb now retired, provided sailors with invaluable information and guidance as a hobby throughout the Atlantic routing small craft away from dangerous weather systems. Our most extended communication on the SSB was between Herb based in Ontario, Canada to Pylades about twenty miles short of Dingle about 2600 nautical miles.

We were so appreciative of his services we sent him the following poem  drafted on route from the Azores 12/06/12, which we understand is hanging in his radio  shack;

His call sign was Victor X-ray 49 eight  his boat – southbound 2

Sailors plying on Oceans deep

With weather worries, poorly sleep

The pressure fall is steep and fast

And lows pursue, the dice is cast.


Crawling from a restless bed

They stare, the dawn is crimson red.

The sunset has been black and gold

The wind is belching hot and cold


A storm spins down, a sailors fate!

Last hope is, Victor – X-ray, four nine eight.

On radio waves a Hertz invention

The crackling static seeks attention

Bad propagation, but a voice breaks through

“OK, this is, Victor – X-ray, southbound Two.”


Now push south, then east, then west,

It will be tough but that’s the best.

Another ship escapes its fate.

Due to Victor X-ray four nine eight.


In all safe harbours near and far

Where sailor’s tales enrich a bar

There grows the legend of a router great.

It’s Victor X-Ray four nine eight.




Speaking of Weather forecasts one of the most evocative pieces of music was the intro to the BBC shipping forecast as we jammed our ears to the headphone of a RDF a radio direction finder or a damp TRANNY… now generally gone from the knowledge of the modern sailor.   Sailing by.


From the heady freshness of the ocean to Economic Havoc and Ruin. Let us look at The Shock Doctrine a book by the Canadian writer Naomi Klein.

Many writers have pointed to the havoc and ruin that have accompanied the imposition of free markets across the world. Whether in Africa, Asia, Latin America or post-USSR Europe, policies of wholesale privatisation and structural adjustment have led to unbalanced economic activity and social dislocation on a massive scale. Anyone who has watched a country lurch from one crisis to another as the bureaucrats of the IMF imposed austerity and cut after cut pursuit of the holy grail of privatisation will recognise the process the Canadian writer Naomi Klein describes in The Shock Doctrine.

There are very few books that help us understand what is gong on in the world. The Shock Doctrine is one of those books. Ranging across the world, Klein exposes the strikingly similar policies that enabled the imposition of free markets in countries as different as Pinochet’s Chile, Yeltsin’s Russia, and post-Saddam Iraq. Part of the power of this book comes from the parallels she observes in seemingly unrelated developments.

But has the free market experiment failed? As Klein sees it, no, free-market shock therapy may have succeeded in achieving its true objectives. Post-invasion Iraq may be “a ghoulish dystopia where going to a simple business meeting could get you lynched, burned alive or beheaded”. Even so, Klein points out, Halliburton is making handsome profits – it has taken on many of the traditional functions of the armed forces in Iraq. An entire society has been destroyed, but the corporations that operate in the ruins are doing rather well. Klein’s message, then, in its own, profit-centred terms – disaster capitalism can work.

But the neo-liberal order is facing intractable problems. The Iraq war may have allowed another experiment in shock therapy, but a failed state has been created as a result of which Gulf oil – “the jugular vein of global capitalism” – is less secure than before. Faced with defeat in Iraq, the US administration seems to be gearing up for an assault on Iran – a move that would magnify the catastrophe many times over. At the same time financial crisis has reached into the American heartland with their amazing ability to get away with vast “quantitive easing” (printing money). It is impossible to predict how these crises will develop, but it is hard to resist the suspicion that larger disasters are in the making.

I had been involved in dozens of protests In London and Dublin supporting the Anti-apartheid movement in South Africa. Actions in the worldwide struggle against the Apartheid system. For 27 years Mandela had been in jail the ANC kept fighting.  When Mandela was freed and the white government agreed to end Apartheid there were great celebrations elections were held. a new democratic government of the people came to power. All was well …not quite! Naomi Klein describes in frightening detail the how people were allowed political power…. but were hoodwinked out of economic power the revolutionaries were good at war but hopeless in economics.

Want to redistribute land? Impossible— the negotiators agreed to add a clause to the new constitution that protects all private property, making land reform virtually impossible.

Want to create jobs for millions of unemployed workers? Can’t—hundreds of factories were actually about to close because the ANC had signed on to the GATT, the precursor to the World Trade Organization, which made it illegal to subsidize the auto plants and textile factories.

Want to get free AIDS drugs to the townships, No That violates intellectual property rights commitment under the World Trade Organisation WTO which the ANC joined with no public debate as a continuation of the GATT – General Agreement on Trade and Tariffs.

Need money to build more and larger houses for the poor and to bring free electricity to the townships? Sorry—the budget is being eaten up servicing the massive debt, passed on quietly by the apartheid government.

Raise the minimum wage to close the apartheid income gap? Nope. The IMF deal promises “wage restraint.” And don’t even think about ignoring these commitments— any change will be regarded as evidence of dangerous national untrustworthiness, a lack of commitment to “reform,” an absence of a “rules-based system
An anti-apartheid activist described the trap in stark terms. “They never freed us. They only took the chain from around our neck and put it on our ankles.” business was saying, ‘We’ll keep everything and you [the ANC] can have political power, you can have the façade of governing, but the real governance will take place somewhere else.’” A process that is common in so-called transitional countries—new governments are, in effect, given the keys to the house but not the combination to the safe. But a section of ANC ledership were poisoned by money and helped fool and repress the people … All very familiar stuff to us in post revolutionary Ireland.

Though the demise of the Soviet Union in 1991 may have been regarded as a positive event by Western historians and ideologues, a victory for and validation of liberal democracy, its impact on the lives of Russian people was devastating.

Before we go into –The Neo-liberal attempt to eat Russia in 1991 we shall play.




The grand Finale of the 1812 overture by Tchaikovsky with the Danish Philharmonic — Written to celebrate the Victory of the Tsarist forces over Napoleon and his ridiculous attempt to take Russia, While the music is abit Nationalistic and Militaristic  It kind of a warning..… As an American General said the First rule in the Military hand book is  Do Not Invade Russia.


Naomi Klein sets out in forensic detail how the dissolution of the Soviet Union in the early 1990s was used as a laboratory by American free-market think-tanks, gurus, and economists.

They came from the economics department of Chicago University, The major influence was the late Milton Friedman, the man credited with devising neoliberal economics.  An economic model which places a focus on controlling the money supply as a way to anchor inflation, which he and his co-thinkers viewed, and still view, as the enemy of economic growth.

In her book, Klein places the economic and social shock therapy administered in Russia in historical context.  The primary aim of these economic “hit men” was the destruction of any last vestige of state involvement in the nation’s economic life. Rather than the arbiter of social justice and guarantor of economic stability, the government would be reduced to the role of facilitating and protecting the interests of international investors, shareholders, speculators, and corporations. This involved the deregulation of the economy and banking system, the removal of social programs and safety nets, the lifting of price controls and the privatization of all state-owned sectors of the economy, which were sold off at a fraction of their true value to speculators.

President Boris Yeltsin who had been supported by vast quantities of American dollars and glorified as man of the year on the cover of Time Magazine had applied to join the IMF and was an eager convert to free-market orthodoxy. He and his friends saw what loot they and the freebooters of the world could get and they went for it. The economy was near bankrupt, and the creditor nations of the G7, exploiting Russia’s vulnerable state, made a condition of their cooperation in rescheduling the debt that the IMF should play a central role as a policy advisor, lender, and coordinator of assistance. As the Harvard academic Daniel Pipes, wrote at the time: “It is desirable for Russia to keep on disintegrating until nothing remains of its institutional structures.”

The impact of this economic medicine on Russian society was devastating. Most Russians consumed 40 per cent less in 1992, after a year of shock therapy, than they did in 1991, while a third of the population had fallen below the poverty line. By 1994 the suicide rate had doubled, drug use had risen to record levels, and violent crime had increased by four times its previous rate during the Soviet era. Russia was on the precipice of disaster with the State Duma and President Boris Yeltsin, in full-blown civil war – a consequence of the chaos that had beset the country.

When we sailed from Kinvara to Russia in 2017 we certainly found that things had greatly improved. The Russians held Putin in some respect, despite him being a participant in a grab of the people’s wealth and being a shrewd capital accumulating businessman, he nevertheless appears to have been instrumental helping Russia recover from those dark years of economic rape. He has led a re-establishment of national sovereignty, moved the country away from the internal economic vandalism and blocked off external international speculators and reestablished state control over the banks.  More distressing for Washington he has overseen the rebuilding of the Russian Military forces and alliances with China.

It is a recovery the Washington Wall Street consensus has never forgotten or forgiven. The Republic of Reason must return to the whole fascinating history of Russian and its story again.


The next programme  The Republic of Reason will deal amongst other things with the Vexed question of Belief, faith-based and non-faith based. We will look at books such as Phil Zuckerman Society without God and perhaps … Some Bertrand Russel  and his early Book ‘Why I’m not a Christian.’  Well have a great Paddy day and weekend I’m off the Shannon Airport at 2 pm on Paddies day to protest the Use of Shannon by Trumps Military We are to be joined by some US Veterans for Peace who have served in Iraque and Afghanistan…should be interesting. Thank you for listerning …Keep well