Throughout world history human societies have struggled to establish a balance between maintaining order and freedom. Sometimes the equilibrium is disturbed and anarchy is the inevitable consequence. Every modern nation seeks stability without compromising human rights but achieving this is ultimately fraught with danger, and it is virtually impossible to realise this in its purest sense because the world isn’t perfect.
Human beings are by their very nature invested with a sense of free will, and as a consequence prone to unpredictable and irrational behaviours. However there is also a corresponding and paradoxical desire for community and the need to belong. Some individuals refuse or are incapable of behaving according to the conventions of society. This has perplexed philosophers and scientists.
In 1943 the Swiss chemist Albert Hofmann discovered that a distinct compound could have the potential to cure both severe psychiatric illness and deviant criminal behaviour. Four years later LSD was manufactured by Sandoz Laboratories and marketed as a panacea for many of the social ills of the time. The authorities in the USA learned about this drug and its potential in the fifties and sensed that it would be of immense benefit, especially in terms of quelling any dissent with the government. The CIA acquired a vast quantity of the drug and used it in a notorious project that was codenamed MKUltra. In the CIA experiments LSD was used to test whether people placed under interrogation could be easily manipulated or brainwashed by their captives.
LSD was a drug that enhanced emotional perception and its popularity increased throughout the sixties. However by 1968 the American government became sufficiently concerned by the drug`s effect on the morale of the nation’s youth that it was made illegal. This was at the height of the Vietnam War when the nation needed strong, valiant young men instead of an insentient generation chemically adulterated.
One year later Charles Manson and his followers went on a horrific murder spree, all under the influence of LSD. This once marvellous panacea was discovered to cause or exacerbate the behaviour that it was designed to treat. Now we realise that there is no universal panacea to the cruelty and violence that is latent within every human.