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Prague Spring and LSD

by Crazy Horse Mon Aug 20th, 2012 at 03:55:30 AM EST

Not much time this AM, so will keep this short. Because today's headline regards the Invasion against Prague Spring, I wanted to highlight what I believe is a key angle.

There was a huge amount of LSD research going on then, as well as a flourishing underground scene. It has been reliably reported that Alexander Dubc̆ek himself had participated. Here is a recent follow-up report.

Because the spread of LSD and other means of expanding consciousness was a global phenomena, one might well compare Prague Spring to the Summer of Love. When one takes the experience out of the set and setting of military hospitals, and onto the vibrant streets of artists and visionaries, wonderful insights flourish.

MAPS: LSD in Prague

A fascinating overview of the global connections from psychedelic historians Bruce Eisner and Peter Stafford produced this gem:

Who Turned On Who

Then Spofa Pharmaceuticals in Czechoslovakia began manufacture, providing a high-quality product which became available to anyone in Prague who wished 10 try the experience under medical supervision.

Communist parry leader Alexander Dubcek and most of the city's artistic community took advantage of the offer, which many claim led to the "Prague Spring" of 1968 that ended in a Soviet invasion. Spofa, however, continued to supply the drug until just very recently.

And of course there's always Dr. Stan Grof. .... UPDATE Evening 20.08.12 At the risk to what's left of my career, i've decided that this is the first of a series on altered states of consciousness, hopefully enlarged over the years here on ET. Since enlightened political/economic change will not happen without an enlightenment of the entire society, let's get started. CAUTION! Discussion of the use of plant and chemical substances to alter perception has always been an area where vehement disapproval from those with the most to lose make them monsters. And many people with no idea whatsoever of any facts tend to have almost violent opinions. But we must go forward, and upward, now.

The reason I wrote this short diary is to accent the profound role of psychedelics in altering human history, and the imminent need for even greater transformation.

"Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage." - Ana´s Nin
by Crazy Horse on Mon Aug 20th, 2012 at 04:12:26 AM EST
The LA Times ran an article on this subject, but I cannot recall just when. By the summer of '69, after my first experience, I had little doubt that the psychedelic experience was at the root of The Prague Spring.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Mon Aug 20th, 2012 at 12:41:25 PM EST
[ Parent ]
That said, Bohemia has always been different.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Mon Aug 20th, 2012 at 12:43:06 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The phrase "the profound role of psychedelics in altering human history" refers to the past tens of thousands of years, if not far longer. (San Francisco's Summer of Love was just a tiny blip on that scale, though one which still reverberates)... as hundreds of new compounds with specific workings, effects and time scales accelerate the understanding of the brain necessary to give this ill civilization a fighting chance.

"Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage." - Ana´s Nin
by Crazy Horse on Mon Aug 20th, 2012 at 01:37:43 PM EST
[ Parent ]
And thanks for the links.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Mon Aug 20th, 2012 at 12:51:35 PM EST
Some more:

Dr. Stanislav Grof Wiki

All the cultures in human history except the Western industrial civilization have held holotropic states of consciousness in great esteem. They induced them whenever they wanted to connect to their deities, other dimensions of reality, and with the forces of nature. They also used them for diagnosing and healing, cultivation of extrasensory perception, and artistic inspiration. They spent much time and energy to develop safe and effective ways of inducing them.[11]

Even more important:

How Stanislav Grof Helped Launch the Dawn of a New Psychedelic Research Era

The world of medicine may finally be ready to catch back up with psychedelic pioneers, whose work was rejected a half-century ago.
One of the most significant figures attending the conference in San Jose is a man largely unknown to the general public. Years before Leary made headlines for his Ivy League adventures, and years before Ken Kesey held the first acid parties in the forests of the Pacific Northwest, a young doctor named Stanislav Grof was conducting rigorous clinical experiments involving LSD in the most unlikely of places: a government lab in the capital of communist Czechoslovakia. It was there, at Prague's Psychiatric Research Institute in the 1950s, that Grof began more than half-a-century of pioneering research into non-ordinary states of consciousness. While he is frequently marginalized in, if not completely left out of, popular psychedelic histories, it is not for any lack of contribution to the field. "If I am the father of LSD," Albert Hoffman once said, "Stan Grof is the godfather ."

for those who believe the complex set of global problems, the oncoming catastrophes, have their roots in a civilization which is completely out of balance, without understanding of the illuminating web of life in which we all swim... it is welcome news that the study of the mind through psychoactive agents has survived the repression, and western civilization, with its high end tools, can once again study the nature of the basic wonder of our beings.

"Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage." - Ana´s Nin

by Crazy Horse on Mon Aug 20th, 2012 at 01:32:18 PM EST
[ Parent ]
seems as good a place to drop it as any

It is time for a post-drug war Marshall Plan | openDemocracy

Fifty years ago almost every United Nations member state signed up to support a global prohibition on the non-medical use of certain drugs. Ever since, citizens all over the world have repeatedly voted for governments that proclaim the virtues of fighting a "war on drugs". Through taxes we pay governments to enforce drug laws to protect us, our children, our communities and our countries from the all too real harms of drug misuse.

However, the regime of prohibition (the criminalisation of production, supply and use) has been applied only to certain drugs. It has rarely been applied to tobacco and alcohol. But who does this prohibition protect?

In a classic protection racket, a racketeer threatens damage to a business, or harm to an individual, unless the victim pays the racketeer "protection" money. The 1961 UN Single Convention on drugs, to which the UK is a signatory, frames its approach in terms of a concern for the "health and welfare of mankind" and a desire to "combat" the "serious evil" of "addiction to narcotic drugs". It then places an obligation on signatories to put in place a blanket prohibition (and thereby eliminate use and eradicate supply) in order to protect us from this "evil".

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Mon Aug 20th, 2012 at 01:25:14 PM EST
I was in Prague that Spring at the film school and even took part in the somewhat satirical May Day parade. But of tabs I saw none. Plenty of beer - to which, as Helen will attest, I am not partial - but very little mind-bending that I could see.

For contrast, that following Summer in 68 a group of us from the RCA film school went to the US and made a commissioned picaresque movie along Route 66 from Chicago to LA. Our actor was fellow student Tony Scott, who sadly took his own life yesterday. He was fearless, honest and immensely kind. Great fun to be with. I haven't met him since our student days, but he was not a chap one would forget.

You can't be me, I'm taken

by Sven Triloqvist on Mon Aug 20th, 2012 at 05:22:02 PM EST
Heartbreaking. We've enjoyed a number of his and ScottFree's productions.

'tis strange I should be old and neither wise nor valiant. From "The Maid's Tragedy" by Beaumont & Fletcher
by Wife of Bath (kareninaustin at g mail dot com) on Tue Aug 21st, 2012 at 06:37:52 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I'm afraid that the wording of the quote offers little support to the claim that Dubcek took acid and that acid was one of the contributing causes of the "Prague Spring."

Certainly the Prague Spring does enter into the international zeitgeist of the times and was an experiment in openess initially encouraged by the Soviet Politburo. It actually was the Soviet Politburo that sought to replace Novotny with Dubcek as Novotny was considered far too reactionary, repressive and corrupt by Politburo standards. (I'm aware this claim goes against low-brow hagiography popular in the West.) It is no wonder the corrupt Novotny flunky Jan Sejna chose to flee to the West rather than the USSR (where he eventually recycled himself as a rightwing darling alleging Czech torture of Vietnam MIAs with, I suppose, good old LSD).

That the Slovak Dubcek got out of hand simply reminds one of similar cases in the Western hemisphere where invasions of Central American and Caribbean states were the order of the day at the time. Castro, too, was favourably pumped in the American press before he "got out of hand." The best laid plans often do go array.

by de Gondi (publiobestia aaaatttthotmaildaughtusual) on Tue Aug 21st, 2012 at 12:19:55 PM EST
I can't find the quote from the 70's where Dubc̆ek himself spoke of his experiences, during the time of his "exile" as a forestry ranger, though i remember reading it at the time.

To make my point clearer, I am only stating that the use of LSD was one factor in generating the mindset of Prague Spring, and that other, primarily political factors were dominant. The factor of influence is not in question.

"Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage." - Ana´s Nin

by Crazy Horse on Wed Aug 22nd, 2012 at 03:33:14 AM EST
[ Parent ]
sorry if it's OT, but can anyone shed light on why many psychedelics are called alkaloids, while acid is... an acid?

prague spring being the fruit of psychedelising the area may be a reach, but then if LSD were an agent in this political transformation, it would likely have been downplayed, especially by the media, similarly to how it's been downplayed as agent in the development of the WWW, the discovery of DNA, and who knows how much else?

seems the only place where it entered the media narrative as serious change agent was in the field of music, and even that semi-mutedly..

now there is a little allowed if it's to help mop up the psychic messes of war, where they truly are at their fuckwit's end on what to do about the growing military (and ex-military) suicide factor, a very embarassing factor it is too, seeing as the dominant media narrative about war is that it's a noble career path, and if that were true why would so many have been so ashamed as to off themselves?

so the promising new research into MDMA for PTSD is allowed space, like psilocybin use for alleviating fear of dying for terminal patients.

notice the pattern?

when all else fails...

this is reality pushing up the rug of denial, and mighty little bumps at that.

consider also how 'they' were all over it when they thought it could be used as a weapon, before it became a recreational drug of choice for millions and research (professional at least!) was shut down.

the introduction of crack to the ghettos during the reagan iran/contra just say no years, and the worldwide proliferation of heroin since the afghan/kosovo adventurism neatly fulfill the current topsyturvy narrative that suits the 1% just fine, thankyou very much...

acid promoted feelings of compassion and connectedness, so it's entirely possible it was responsible in a roundabout, indirect way for many socially inspired events and phenomena, such as prague spring, but hard evidence seems still thin, as if we could say centuries -millenia?- of use of hashish helped bring about the arab spring. one day that theory could be toutable, but now would have no media valence, zip, zero. time still has a lot of telling to do in this regard...

if leary had not come along, it's possible that psychedelics would have remained in the serious science camp, and may well have earned a different media treatment than it has now, but then there is another scenario suggesting the diffusion of certain social movements like deep ecology, selp-help, computer science and countless others, including music would have remained less invigorated.

DIY mysticism has had a chaotically dualistic effect through history, on one side the breakthroughs of huxley, alpert et al, on the other the many 'acid casualties' that stemmed from the use of an exponential power tool in often inexpert, unprepared situations, eyegrabbing media scare tactics and contributing to the 'war on drugs' mentality.

all the while big pharma sales have gone ballistic and kids are socially engineered by 'good' drugs from a very early age...

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Wed Aug 22nd, 2012 at 01:19:56 AM EST
Alkaloid - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The name "alkaloids" (German: Alkaloide) was introduced in 1819 by the German chemist Carl F.W. Meissner,[13] and is derived from late Latin root Latin: alkali (which, in turn, comes from the Arabic al-qalwī - "ashes of plants") and the suffix Greek: -οειδής - "like".[nb 1] However, the term came into wide use only after the publication of a review article by O. Jacobsen in the chemical dictionary of Albert Ladenburg in the 1880s.[14]

There is no unique method of naming alkaloids.[15] Many individual names are formed by adding the suffix "ine" to the species or genus name.[16] For example, atropine is isolated from the plant Atropa belladonna, strychnine is obtained from the seed of Strychnine tree (Strychnos nux-vomica L.).[5] If several alkaloids are extracted from one plant then their names often contain suffixes "idine", "anine", "aline", "inine", etc. There are also at least 86 alkaloids containing the root "vin" (extracted from the Vinca plant).[17]

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Fri Aug 24th, 2012 at 08:55:24 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I believe with all my heart that my experimentation with psychedelics in the late 70s and early 80s had a profound impact on who I am today. And I consider that impact to have been a very positive one, opening my mind to better understand my fellow human.

In my case, that is not an easily done thing. Not because my mind would not open, but because I have a completely different way of thinking than most people, so there was very little common experience. I am autistic.

Before I became "experienced," I was an introvert of the most unusual type. I would talk for hours with a couple of people on my newspaper delivery route on a regular basis. One was a retired English teacher, the other a widow in her 70s. I now know this is the sort of thing that is a sign of my form of autism.

After enhancing my empathy, I find that I can talk to almost anyone, and while I am still an introvert when it comes to making friends, no one would ever call me that based on my conversational skills and willingness to engage just about anyone.

I am getting ready to go to work soon, so I will have to check back when I get home (2300(-5GMT, I think)) and perhaps expound on this topic then.


by Mentatmark (mentatmark at gmail dot com) on Thu Aug 23rd, 2012 at 12:25:44 PM EST
Thanks for the comment, please feel at home here to discuss your experience.

"Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage." - Ana´s Nin
by Crazy Horse on Thu Aug 23rd, 2012 at 12:39:48 PM EST
[ Parent ]
From Sasha Shulgin

"Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage." - Ana´s Nin

by Crazy Horse on Fri Aug 24th, 2012 at 06:49:10 PM EST
Sasha also sent this, which without time for analysis (i must wake in 3 hours) at least brings the discussion forward. Although it's HuffPo, it's a step towards mainstream.

Underground Surfaces

"The current relationship between regulators and these Schedule 1 substances is a tangle of impossible possibilities," writes Tim Doody. Researchers, then, are left operating in the spaces between the law. One such space is a kind of "crowdsourced" science, in which individuals self-administer and self-report on the effects of substances that are difficult or illegal to test in the lab. Dr. James Fadiman, a veteran LSD researcher, recently set up such a study to test the effects of small "micro-doses" of LSD. The results, Doody quotes him as saying, seem to be stable and impressive: Many participants reportedly confirmed that their lives were noticeably easier, more focused, more productive -- in short, "a good day. That seems to be what we're discovering," he said.

OK, we're moving beyond just Prague Spring, but we can't forget that Prague Spring was influenced by thousands of self-administered doses.

"Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage." - Ana´s Nin

by Crazy Horse on Fri Aug 24th, 2012 at 07:10:56 PM EST
[ Parent ]
There is even a connection from the Prague Spring to Woodstock, via the Czechoslovakian LSD that was enjoyed backstage. Here is a excerpt from "Searching For The Sound" by Phil Lesh, bassist for the Grateful Dead:

"At least our time backstage was punctuated by some fascinating incidents. My favorite: Paul Kantner and stage manager Bill Laudner of the (Jefferson) Airplane trying to dose the main water supply (and the coffee urn) with some speckled-pink tablets of acid, and being busted by Bill Graham, who excoriated them mercilessly until Laudner sought to trump him with "Bill! You don't understand! This is in solidarity with our brothers and sisters in Czechoslovakia! Prague Spring, man!" Bill was not impressed enough to acquiesce, however; it was agreed that the tablets would be given out by hand, individually."

by US Blues on Tue Aug 28th, 2012 at 11:26:34 AM EST

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