The Geopolitics of LSD

What happens if you cross Baba Ram Dass with Allen Dulles?



Passion Pictures

I recommend The Verge's interview with Tim Scully, the underground chemist at the center of the new documentary Sunshine Makers. In the 1960s Scully became convinced, in the manner of the time, that LSD could solve the world's problems. And so he teamed up with the Brotherhood of Eternal Love—a motorcycle gang turned drug-dealing psychedelic church—and started working to get acid into as many hands as possible.

So far, that may sound like familiar '60s territory. But then we get to the best part of the Q&A, when Scully starts spouting the hippie-idealist version of hard-nosed geopolitical thinking:

[O]ne of the things we agreed on was that if we just turned on the United States it would be like unilateral disarmament. We really had to make sure that every country in the world got turned on, particularly those behind the Iron Curtain, or else it would be a very bad thing geopolitically. And so we talked to the Brotherhood and they made an effort to spread it around the world. And they did get our LSD into Vietnam and behind the Iron Curtain and all over.

Dear Hollywood: I suddenly have an idea for the best Cold War thriller ever.

Scully, for the record, isn't quite as idealistic as he used to be. "Things happened," he reports, "that made me realize that just scattering more LSD to the four winds was not real likely to save the world."