The Intoxication of Power: An Analysis of Civil Religion in Relation to Ideology
Although these texts provide detailed insight into Hobbes's solution to civil war, they provide only a general understanding of the problem itself. Hobbes's so-called historical treatises, on the other hand, reveal the specific causes of the deteriorating political situation in seventeenth century England. As some Hobbes scholars have pointed out, there is a logical priority to Hobbes's political works because they provide solutions to the problems presented in the historical works. To gain a better appreciation of Hobbes's political solution, then, it is useful to first summarize his historical works, which reveal his understanding of the particular problem he faced.
Hobbes's decision to translate and publish Thucydides' history in was certainly a reaction to the growing political tensions in England at this time. In the s, troubles between Charles I and Parliament escalated due to the King's insistence on raising funds for as series of unpopular wars. After the King openly declared war on Spain, he began to amass the largest military entourage since For a variety of reasons, including early losses suffered at Cadiz at the hands of the Spanish and the negative effects of war on trade, Parliament was reluctant to grant additional funds to the King.
This situation was compounded by a progressively deteriorating relationship with France. After the Parliament of denied Charles' request for supply, the King raised funds through a forced loan, by which private individuals were made to loan money to the crown. Such actions not only strained the relationship between the Parliament and King, but also revealed a number of ideological differences between these two centers of power with serious political implications.
The most important issue concerned the King's authority and its relationship to the law. Charles advocated a divine right theory of kingship according to which God granted him the power, by the grace of his royal anointment, to act outside the law at his own prerogative. The King tempered his view by claiming he would take extra-legal actions only when necessary and only for the good of the commonwealth. Despite this claim of self-restraint, some of his actions conflicted with his declaration of good faith.
The King's insistence on the right to imprison outside the law, for example, sparked serious doubts as to whether his word could be trusted. The Petition of Right, presented in Parliament in , attempted to preserve the liberties of the subjects against the threatening actions of the King, such as forced loans, extra-legal imprisonment, and the billeting of soldiers.
Religious differences, as well as politics, were partly to blame for the political problems of Hobbes' England. It was well understood that religious leaders were not always content with some of the policies of the crown. English Protestants, including both traditional Anglicans and the more radical Puritans, for example, were highly suspicious of Charles' fervent support of the Anglican Archbishop Laud.
The primary reason for their reservations was Laud's advocacy of certain anti-Calvinist notions, including the view that the elect could fall from God's grace through sin. Such a view questioned the bedrock Calvinist notion of predestination to which most English Protestants adhered. In effect, Charles asserted his right as king to declare the traditional position and dictate orthodox dogma by supporting his Archbishop. Historical circumstances strongly suggest that Hobbes's translation of Thucydides was meant to be a political argument for the royalist cause. Hobbes himself supports the truth of this when he states that Thucydides' history provides instruction useful for the defense of the King.
But what specific lessons does this ancient history hold? Hobbes believes democracy is inadequate partly because common people are easily swayed towards politically destructive actions by "demagogues" and religious zealots. If political power is placed in the hands of the common people, who are under the influence of power hungry individuals seeking their own advantage, then the commonwealth will likely fall.
Hobbes's publication of Thucydides was a political act meant to support the royalist cause and to warn against the dangerous consequences of usurping the King's power. In Behemoth , Hobbes shows his readers that an ideological dispute concerning politics and religion was the root cause of the English Civil War. The work begins with a simple question: How did King Charles I, a strong and capable leader, lose the sovereign power that he held by the legal right of succession?
The initial answer is that the King lost control of the kingdom because he lacked the financial resources required to maintain a military. Upon further consideration, however, Hobbes reveals that a deeper cause of conflict was the fact that the "people were corrupted" by "seducers" to accept opinions and beliefs contrary to social and political harmony. Hobbes claims that religious leaders were mostly to blame for creating dissension in the commonwealth because they are responsible for the dissemination of politically dangerous beliefs. In addition, Hobbes placed some of the blame on Aristotle or, more precisely, on religious and political leaders who misused Aristotelian ideas to their own advantage.
As noted above, Hobbes had suggested the dangerous consequences of religious fervor in his translation of Thucydides. In Behemoth , religious leaders directly bear the brunt of his critical remarks. According to Hobbes, religious leaders sow disorder by creating situations of divided loyalty between God and King. Hobbes first blamed Presbyterian preachers for using rhetorical tricks to capture the minds and loyalties of their parishioners. These preachers did not instill beliefs by using reason or argument, nor did they necessarily seek to teach people to understand.
Instead, they indoctrinated their listeners with seditious principles. For Hobbes, preachers are actors who bedazzle their audience by claiming to be divinely inspired. Many "fruitless and dangerous doctrines," Hobbes says, are adopted by people because they are "terrified and amazed by preachers" B In short, preachers used the word of God as a means to undermine the lawful authority of the King. Hobbes also criticized Catholics for their belief that the Pope should reign over the spiritual lives of the people.
Although the Pope's power is supposed to operate solely within the realm of religious faith and morality, papal orders frequently bled over into the world of politics. The problem, for Hobbes, is that the Pope may extend his power over spiritual concerns to the point where it infringes upon and restricts the legitimate scope of the King's power over civil matters. The most dangerous problem with Catholicism, for example, is the Pope's self-proclaimed right to absolve the duties of citizens to "heretic" Kings.
In Behemoth , Hobbes also launches an attack on Independents, Anabaptists, Quakers, and Adamites for their role in creating civil discontent. These religious groups, discontented with both Protestantism and Catholicism, encouraged individuals to read and interpret the Bible for themselves.source site
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The result was that "every man became a judge of religion, and an interpreter of the Scriptures" and so "they thought they spoke with God Almighty, and understood what he said" B The private, antinomian interpretation of Scripture, Hobbes claims, frequently lead to situations of divided loyalty between God and King. If individuals may speak with God directly, then each person may decide for him or herself what civil laws are contrary to God's word, and thereby what laws may be justly broken. Furthermore, Hobbes indirectly blames Aristotle for problems in his country when he criticizes the destructive use of Aristotelian metaphysical and ethical ideas.
Hobbes points out, for example, that priests used Aristotelian philosophy to explain their power to transform a piece of bread into the "body of Christ. Priests exploited the metaphysical doctrines of Aristotle to convince people "there is but one way to salvation, that is, extraordinary devotion and liberality to the Church, and a readiness for the Church's sake, if it be required, to fight against their natural and lawful sovereign" B In the same vein, Hobbes points out that Aristotle's ethical ideas were used to undermine the legitimacy of the sovereign power.
According to Aristotle's doctrine of the mean, to determine what is virtuous in a particular situation one must find the middle path between two extremes. In Hobbes's opinion, this leaded individuals to determine for themselves what is right or wrong in a given situation. The political problem with this view, as might be expected, is that it leads to questioning the validity and regulatory power of civil law, and it thereby could foster resistance and rebellion.
According to Coke, the King is legally restricted by the common law, which is a set of laws determined and refined over the course of time by the application of an 'artificial reason' possessed by wise lawyers and judges. Hobbes agrees with Coke that reason plays an important part in law, but argues that the King's reason is responsible for determining the meaning of laws.
In the political situation prior to the outbreak of civil war, this philosophical difference revealed itself when the King requested funds and was denied. Hobbes, as we have seen, believed the immediate cause of Charles' inability to maintain the sovereign power was his lack of funds to support a military. Charles' request was denied on the basis, in part, of certain statutes claiming that kings shall not levy taxes or enact other means of funding without the common consent of the realm.
The interpretation of these statutes according to the 'reason' of the lawyers in Parliament, Hobbes says, is partly to blame for the King's failure to acquire needed funding. As with the religious seducers, common law lawyers often created situations of divided loyalty.
In their interpretation of the law, barristers such as Coke sometimes claimed the 'law' is in conflict with the dictates of the King. In such situations, is one's duty of obedience to the law as interpreted by the 'wise men' of Parliament higher than one's duty to the King? These kinds of questions, Hobbes believes, inevitably lead to division in the commonwealth and this, in turn, leads to factions within the body politic and civil discord. Hobbes's "science of politics" was supposed to provide a solution to the ideological conflicts that lead to civil war by providing a method of achieving consensus on political matters.
If the conflicting parties could ultimately agree on political ideas, then peace and prosperity in the commonwealth could be achieved. Hobbes's aim was to put politics onto a scientific footing and thereby establish an enduring state of peace. To understand Hobbes's idea of science one needs to turn to De Corpore or On the Body , which is his most developed text on scientific ideas.
In this manuscript of natural philosophy, Hobbes presents his views on philosophical method, mathematics, geometry, physics, and human nature. In his own opinion, the views contained in De Corpore represented the foundational principles of his entire philosophical system and, therefore, of his "science of politics. Hobbes, like many of his contemporaries, stresses the importance of having a proper philosophical method for attaining knowledge. In contrast to the reliance on authority that was typical of medieval scholasticism, leading intellectuals and scientists of Hobbes's time believed that knowledge is not attained by appealing to authority, but by employing an appropriately objective method.
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For Hobbes, such a method was not only important for attaining knowledge, but also served the practical end of avoiding disputes which arose from speculation and subjective interpretation. Although Hobbes did not consistently describe his philosophical methodology, most scholars agree that he used a "resolutive-compositive" method. According to this method, one comes to understand a given object of inquiry by intellectually "resolving" it into its constituent parts and then subsequently "composing" it back into a whole. For Hobbes, such a process may be used when investigating a natural body such as a chair or a man , an abstract body such as a circle , or a political body such as a commonwealth.
So, to use Hobbes's example, one can intellectually resolve the idea of a human being into the following ideas: "rational," "animated," and "body. In the process of resolving and composing a thing, one is able to discover its essential qualities. This process is analogous to taking apart a watch and putting it back together again to find out what makes it tick.
Hobbes used the method of resolution and composition in his science of politics. He first resolved the commonwealth into its parts that is, human beings , and then resolved these parts into their parts i. After such a resolution, Hobbes recomposed the commonwealth in his grand trilogy that progressed from the abstract and physical investigation of natural bodies, to the study of human bodies, to finally the examination of political bodies.
It was important for Hobbes not only to acquire knowledge for himself, but also to demonstrate his conclusions to others. According to Hobbes, scientific demonstration is a linguistic activity of constructing syllogisms out of propositions, which themselves are constructed out of names. The basic linguistic unit of scientific demonstration, then, is the "name.
One may, for example, use the name "man" as a mark, or mnemonic device, to remember what a man is, or one may use the name to communicate something about men to others. When two or more names are joined with a copula an "is" , a proposition is created. For example, "man is an animal" is a proposition that joins "man" with "animal. From the two premises "men are animals" and "animals are alive," for example, one may logically conclude that, "men are alive.
Scientific demonstration, however, is not simply a matter of logically deducing conclusions; the conclusions must also be universal and true. According to Hobbes, a universal conclusion is one that attributes a characteristic to an entire class of things. For example, "all human beings are rational" is a statement in which the term "rational" is used to describe all humans. Hobbes continues, if the predicate term in such a statement 'comprehends' the subject term, then the statement is also a true one.
For example, in the statement "Human beings are animals," the subject term "human beings" is included within the predicate term "animals" and so is a true statement. A scientific demonstration, then, is a syllogism that deduces universal and true propositions on the basis of premises with the same characteristics. Interestingly, in geometry, which is Hobbes's paradigm of scientific demonstration, the truth of the first principles is established by agreement.
In this case, Hobbes adheres to a "conventional view of truth," according to which the truth of propositions is determined by consensus. It is not possible to speak of Hobbes's view of science without referring to the concept of motion. Hobbes believes that motion, understood as any kind of change, is the universal cause of all things.
The various branches of science, therefore, are ultimately sciences of motion. For example, Hobbes believes that geometry is a science of motion because it involves the construction of figures through the movement of points. Physics, similarly, is the science that studies the motion of physical bodies.
Even moral philosophy is a science of motion because it studies the "motions of the mind" such as envy, greed, and selfishness that cause human actions. Thus, one may discover the motions, or actions, that lead to the creation of a commonwealth by understanding the "motions" of the human mind in a parallel way as when one studies points and physical bodies. After presenting his ideas on philosophical method in the first part of De Corpore , Hobbes applies this method to both the abstract world of geometry and to the real and existing world of physical objects.
Keeping to his goal of scientifically demonstrating his conclusions, Hobbes begins his geometrical investigations with a number of foundational definitions, including those of space, time and bodies; he uses these definitions to compose an abstract world of geometric figures and then to draw a number of conclusions about them. At the end of Part III, the investigation shifts away from the abstract world to the 'real and existent' one, signifying a shift from geometry to physics.
At the start of his physical investigations, Hobbes reiterates his point that resolution and composition are the methods to obtain philosophical knowledge. The appropriate method for scientifically investigating the natural world, Hobbes says, is resolution. The goal of physics is to understand the motions of the world as experienced by us. Since our knowledge of the physical world comes from our experiences, Hobbes believes the first job of physics is to analyze the faculty of sense.
Hobbes resolves human sensation into its various "parts": the sense organs, the faculties of imagination and fancy, and the sensations of pleasure and pain. Hobbes then resolves natural bodies, starting with a resolution of the "whole" world, to unveil the variety of motions responsible for physical phenomena, such as the motion of the stars, the change of seasons, the presence of heat and color, and the power of gravity. All of these natural phenomena are explained, just as geometric figures are, in terms of bodies in motion.
Important differences between geometry and physics surface in Hobbes's De Corpore. In the first case, Hobbes uses a compositive method in geometry. Starting with definitions of lines and points, Hobbes derives a number of conclusions about the world of geometric figures.
In his physics, on the other hand, Hobbes starts by resolving senses and the phenomena provided by them. There is also a second distinction that concerns the truth or falsity of claims made in each science. According to Hobbes, geometry operates within the realm of truth because it is grounded on primary principles, or definitions, that are known as true because they have been accepted as true.
During its first national campaign in , not only did it endorse the direct election of United States senators, but it also was in the vanguard of advocacy for complete and unrestricted suffrage for women and full, adequately protected voting rights for blacks. A meager turnout of supporters—5, votes in all—simply encouraged the party to become even more broadly based in its appeal for support. New styles of organizing and agitation were employed. For the first time, women were recruited systematically into the antiliquor movement and given a leading role in the struggle. Beginning in in Ohio, crusades were mobilized to shut down the saloon.
Hundreds of women demonstrated, kneeling in the streets before the barroom, singing and praying. In one famous episode of direct action, the women of Cincinnati laid siege for 2 weeks to a particular saloon, keeping a round-the-clock vigil and even rigging up a locomotive headlight to expose what was taking place behind the swinging doors. Such strenuous and imaginative efforts coincided with a severe economic depression and an accelerating process of monopolization within the brewing industry. These factors were crucial in accounting for the drop in production in the United States of malt beverages to 5.
As with earlier forms of temperance activity, the crusade provided—this time to women—a sense of collective purpose and solidarity. I began going twice a week, but soon got so interested that I went every day, and then twice a day in the evenings. I tried to stay home to retrieve my neglected household, but when the hour for the morning prayer meeting came around, I found the attraction irresistible. The Crusade was a daily dissipation from which it seemed impossible to tear myself. This experience of moral comradeship, which provided an outlet for the social needs of isolated women in the context of service to the family, led to the creation of the Womens' Christian Temperance Union WCTU in In , Frances Willard gave her support to the Prohibition Party, which, to commemorate the alliance, changed its name temporarily to the Prohibition Home Protection Party.
Beyond being engaged in work around prohibition, the WCTU was also deeply concerned about a range of issues: womens' rights, prostitution, prison reform, the struggles of labor, kindergartens, and smoking.
Within the WCTU 45 separate departments carried on special campaigns and won victories ranging from the installation of female guards in womens' prisons to an increase in the age of consent to 18 it had been age 10 in 20 different states. Of particular signifiance was the department of scientific temperance instruction. Under its aegis, an elaborate curriculum was developed that school systems all across the country soon made mandatory.
When prohibition won its later electoral victories, voters had been systematically inculcated with this lurid pseudoscience. Frances Willard's intelligence and energy as well as the espousal by the WCTU of a variety of progressive causes vitalized the Prohibition Party.
The coalition she helped engineer increased its share of the vote in the election of to ,, a dramatic surge from the 10, votes recorded 4 years earlier. The party also gained great prestige by cutting away votes from the Republicans and swinging the election to the Democrats. In , the prohibitionist forces increased their total to ,, and in , to , The period from to marks the second great prohibition wave. More state legislatures voted on prohibition and submitted to the people the question in the form of state constitutional amendments than at any other time.
But though the issue was fiercely contested in three-quarters of all the states, only six enacted prohibition laws by In some regions, particularly in the South, policies evolved that attempted to strike a balance between statewide prohibition and completely free-license systems. Following the example established by the Gothenberg Plan, by which corporate bodies of local government were allowed to control the liquor trade, a number of different towns and counties in North Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, and Virginia began to operate local dispensaries.
The aim of these municipally run distribution networks was to further the cause of temperance, presumably by removing the profit motive from alcohol sales, and to generate revenues for the public welfare. A state dispensary commissioner, appointed by the governor and approved by the board of control, was the chief officer. Under the system that Tillman set up, all production of alcohol was banned within South Carolina.
Bulk orders were placed by the board and commissioner with manufacturers outside the state; these orders arrived at the dispensary at the capital; there, repackaging was conducted, along with shipment to county or city retail dispensaries. Operated by a county board, these outlets sold liquor only during limited hours; the purchaser had to submit a signed request, and anyone of intemperate habits or bad social reputation was theoretically to be refused.
This system, on paper, had appeal to a wide spectrum of opinion on the liquor question. Prohibitionists and antiprohibitionists were initially united, and the first year of the experiment seemed to bear out the promise of this immediate approach. In the year before the new law went into effect, there were licensed saloons in the state; once these were shut down, the dispensaries constituted the only points of legal distribution Grant , p. Besides reducing the number of outlets, the state-run system produced significant revenues; the profits amounted to one-half million dollars a year, roughly a third of the total raised from all state sources.
Despite an auspicious beginning, the state-operated scheme of regulation soon proved to have major flaws. The chief problem that emerged was pervasive malfeasance in the management and enforcement apparatus. The state board of control and the county board whose members it approved became notorious for their venality. The failure of the dispensary system in South Carolina and its eventual abolition in represented a victory for prohibitionists.
The lesson educed was that half measures could not work, especially when they implicated the state in a dirty business. Dry representatives felt confirmed in their belief that government regulation was not only ineffective, but counterproductive; once the state sought to rehabilitate the liquor trade by becoming an accomplice, the principles of temperance were irrevocably compromised.
Efforts to control were viewed as misguided and expedient; prohibition, it was concluded, was the only consistent response to a traffic intrinsically dedicated to excess and disorder. If attempts at control like the one experimented with in South Carolina were regarded as futile and misconceived, prohibitionists saw in federal regulation an even more flagrant example of law serving the greedy interests of the liquor traffic rather than curbing them.
In , the Supreme Court, in its Original Package Case, reversed a ruling that had been in effect since , and then held that a dry state was powerless to bar a liquor dealer from importing alcohol and then reselling it in its original package. This ruling essentially annulled state prohibition by holding that interstate commerce and the sanctity of trade took precedence over dry laws.
Congress responded to the Supreme Court decision by passing the Wilson Act in the same year. This act affirmed the right of a dry state to impose its law on liquor arriving from outside its boundaries. This loophole permitted easy circumvention. Through the use of traveling salesmen, often going door-to-door, and through advertising and other forms of solicitation, liquor dealers in wet states took orders from citizens in dry states and shipped in liquor COD.
If warehouses could not be set up in dry states, then stocks could still be widely distributed through express and freight companies acting as informal agents. A demonic pattern was detected behind compromise measures like those enacted in South Carolina and in the apparent unwillingness of the federal judiciary to allow dry states to enforce the law. Prohibitionists blamed the organized, conspiratorial might of the liquor industry for whatever failures dry forces suffered.
These assertions have usually been treated by historians as paranoid tirades; the corruption and plot-filled intrigue against which people reacted is more than apocryphal. In , the alcohol beverage industry had begun to organize to defend its interests; by , the Personal Liberty League of the United States was ensconced in Washington and state capitals to prevent passage of any measures that might jeopardize sales. Efforts were especially active in cities. Of 24 aldermen elected in New York City in , 11 were saloonkeepers; in , of 1, Republican and Democratic conventions and primaries were held in saloons Asbury , p.
Large amounts of money were raised to support antiprohibitionist candidates; contributions were crucial to the successful operations of urban machines. The connection between political corruption and the traffic in liquor was well established. The funds raised by the industry through subscriptions from the member Brewers' Association, from distillers, and from the ancillary businesses—hotels, grain dealers, coopers—were the war chests used to bribe politicians and buy votes Timberlake , pp.
Brewers owned or had controlling interests in nearly 80 percent of all saloons. With the development of refrigerated railroad cars, and the crown bottle cap, fierce, unrestrained expansion became endemic. The big brewers of St. Louis and Milwaukee began establishing local district offices and made loans at easy terms to saloons for licenses, fixtures, and stock. Once such deals had been struck, the saloonkeeper was driven to sell as much as possible.
At the turn of the century, saloons in Washington state stayed open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, in complete defiance of regulations Clark , p. The liquor industry was also crude and belligerently aggressive in its self-promotion. There was little effort made to soften its image or mollify public concerns. At a convention of dealers in Ohio in , the question of serving minors was raised. The liquor industry was a perfect archetype of unbridled, plutocratic self-interest, and the prohibitionist campaign against it represented a critique of both the economic and moral order.
The traffic threatened America along several fronts: it debased electoral politics by corrupting voters; it allowed conglomerates to gain unfair advantage in the marketplace and mock the principle of equal competitive opportunity; and it spread environmental blight. They draw the young men of the country into their places of business, they crush them, they extract from them all that is precious—and they throw their tailings out upon society. The liquor industry was perceived as quintessentially parasitic; the descriptive images of the prohibitionists were loaded with metaphors of cholera.
Alcohol infiltrated the drunkard's body and the social body, breaking down self-control, and eventually resulting in a befouled and excruciating death. The prohibitionists who worked to eliminate this public health hazard largely felt themselves to be innoculated personally from the disease. The biographies of leaders in the antiliquor movement between and show a group of solid, middle-class men and women. Most were born in the Northeast, and more came from urban backgrounds than the national average.
Four out of five belonged to evangelical denominations, primarily Methodist and Presbyterian. Of those who fought in the Civil War, three out of four were on the Union side; previous party affiliation was overwhelmingly Republican Blocker , p. The solid division that had appalled Channing 50 years before had grown more gaping and antagonistic; massive immigration, the gross materialism of the new rich, and the rising violence of labor struggles all were signs of the times. A great war had to be fought to reestablish unity, to reconcile the opposing forces, and to stabilize a social order that seemed to be coming apart.
Restraint—through inculcating self-restraint and imposing social control—had to be institutionalized. From the same basic concern for social and moral cohesiveness, earlier temperance advocates had also invoked the right of governmental intervention. But by the last decade of the century, the detachment of classes from one another, which Channing had seen ominously evolving, appeared now as a commonly accepted fact of life. Given these fixed, pervasive polarities of class, it became incumbent on the state to act systematically as mediator and, when necessary, even to impose moral and civil equilibrium.
The mandate that the prohibitionists encouraged government to accept was designed to curb extremist behavior. The alcohol addict and the millionaire brewer were each impulse-ridden. The gilded capitalist and the beer-swilling slum dweller were both dedicated to consumption. In this survey, there are clearly tensions between politically conservative and progressive impulses. Censure of those above and below provided no clear theoretical basis on which to plan strategy. As self-styled protectors of the social outcasts, the prohibitionists went beyond simple paternalism. At the same time, there was deep anxiety about alliances with other political groups that shared a commitment to social justice but were not equally dedicated to the drive against alcohol.
During the s, a struggle was fought within the Prohibition Party; its outcome would decide the ultimate future of the entire antiliquor movement. Frances Willard led the faction that urged coalition building. In , the beginnings of the kind of coalition that Willard recommended were established on the state level, with Populist and Prohibition candidates running as a slate. But despite Willard's attempts to build on this collaboration, it never evolved beyond this preliminary stage. The Populists themselves finally decided that their need for a farmer-labor alliance precluded a prohibitionist stand that might seriously alienate the urban, immigrant voter.
We denounce its pernicious influence upon our country and demand its suppression. The Populists' rejection of fusion intensified rather than dampened the debate about the search for common ground. Momentum began to develop for an unequivocal, single-issue approach. If we do not desire votes, and take measures to secure them, we had better go out of politics and organize a hard-shell temperance society at once. The formal split between the fusionists—committed to coalition politics, hostile toward established economic power, and often disaffected from the churches of America—and the narrow-gaugers—more suspicious of the dispossessed than the possessors, deeply involved in organized religion, and fearful of becoming entangled in lower-class, civil issues such as currency or the wage system—took place at the party convention in Pittsburgh.
What these masses need is a strong moral party to rise and abolish these sources of crime and poverty, take away those irresistible temptations, and turn the price of labor into legitimate channels of trade that will bring comfort and contentment into the home. Labor organizations ought to aid us in this, and, instead of constantly demanding higher wages, should systematically teach their members how to get the most real good out of it.
Other antifusionists recoiled at the idea of a partnership with disreputable elements. Look at history, and point to an epoch in which the ragamuffin elements of society have won a battle. You will find ambuscades and bloody streets. You will not find a case in which civilization has been advanced.
Such polemics were felt necessary to rebut what still were powerful, if minority, opinions. We are holding a political convention. For 25 years the Prohibition Party has been run by narrow-gauge managers. Tons of prohibition literature has been sent out, but not a leaf on any other issue.
There are 20,, church-members in the country, 4,, church voters, and yet we can only poll , votes. The broad-gaugers urged a platform that included: 1 government issue of money, and free silver; 2 land grants only to actual settlers; 3 government ownership of railroads and utilities; 4 income tax and free trade; 5 abolition of convict labor; 6 women's suffrage; and 7 one day's rest in seven. In response, the minority faction bolted and formed the National Party. The Prohibition Party, left now entirely in the hands of staunchly one-dimensional crusaders, suffered a dismal defeat at the polls, receiving less than half the votes it received 4 years earlier.
This humiliation merely confirmed that the party had strayed too far from the paths of righteousness and demonstrated the need for an unqualified identification with the church. Toward this end, a depoliticizing of the party was undertaken. By , former traces of sympathy for the underdog were all but effaced. The league was militantly single-issue and denounced partisan politics and expediency.
By its very name, it suggested a sober moderation of purpose—not to build a broad-based, mass movement, or even to prevent people from drinking, but rather to attack the seat of boss government—the symbol of decadence. Even while the league intended from the very beginning to move toward national prohibition, it saw this ultimate victory accomplished only as the result of a series of local successes.
The country would be dried up piecemeal. The popular will would be appealed to and mobilized along a wide continuum to oppose institutionalized debauchery. An elaborate hierarchical structure was created: beginning at the level of leagues sponsored by individual congregations and proceeding to town, country, and state chapters, the policy called for dry votes to be bartered as a solid block with political candidates in return for a commitment to support a designated regulatory approach. The league pushed for local option and then moved on to state prohibition.
With hundreds of full-time, professional organizers funded through subscriptions from local churches and donations from national corporate leaders and with a publishing house that, during its first 3 years, printed the equivalent of million book pages, the league brought bureaucratic rationality to the antiliquor movement. Its leaders, from H. Russell to Wayne Wheeler, acknowledged that their techniques derived from business practices, particularly those of the liquor industry itself. In its opportunism and pragmatism, in its single-issue approach, in its delivery of electoral payoffs to its friends, and in its ability to destroy its enemies, the league became a machine.
Politicians were intimidated. But the great successes that the prohibitionist forces achieved cannot be attributed simply to the ruthless pressure politics and lobbying skill of the league. Most of the dry victories came about through referenda, not legislative amendments. In , only 3 states had prohibition; by , there were 9, with campaigns under way in all the others.
By , there were 23 dry states, and in 17 of these states the measure was approved by the direct vote of the people. The last great wave of prohibition sentiment that led directly to the adoption of the 18th Amendment represents far more than simply a public relations coup. No matter how organizationally adept and politically manipulative the league was, it could only engineer, not manufacture, the juggernaut. Both were contributing factors, but not decisive ones. Of 25 referenda victories between and , 16 preceded America's entry into the war. In , the House voted for national prohibition by a to majority.
Blocker, in examining referenda in rural states defined as those states with more than half of the population living in areas of less than 2, people , concluded that class was a more significant correlate than ruralism for approval of prohibition Blocker , p. Admittedly, the article that the Anti-Saloon League drew up for Congress in , which was ratified in January and took effect 1 year later, defined prohibition in far stricter ways than had most state laws. Only 13 states with only one-seventh of the total population had a bone-dry ban before the 18th Amendment.
In the other 23 states with prohibition, numerous provisions allowed citizens to import a specified monthly amount or even to ferment wine. So many exceptions were included that between the years and , the per-capita consumption of legal hard liquor increased from 1. But even though the 18th Amendment went beyond abolishing the saloon—the goal that had provided the basis for unity for the antiliquor movement—and imposed a degree of abstinence that was unfamiliar to residents of most dry territories, the elimination of these loopholes was accepted as a more thorough purifying.
For almost 40 years national prohibition had been associated with deliverance; for most Americans, its precise form was best left to league experts to elaborate. In fact, the 18th Amendment was not nearly so rigorous and uncompromising as the league made it out to be. Significantly, the amendment avoided proscribing the purchase or consumption of liquor and provided a grace period during which stocks could be put away by those who had the desire or the money.
And by outlawing manufacture and sales only, it countenanced through omission patronage of the bootlegger. Endless debates would ensue about whether the source of abusive behavior was inherent in a particular drink or in the particular psychology of the drinker. The Volstead Act, which detailed enforcement of the 18th Amendment, consisted of 72 sections full of complicated and equivocal codes. Designed with the help of the league, it was intended to integrate the best features of various state prohibition laws.
Cross-references, contradictions, and modifications of ordinary criminal procedures created enormous administrative and legal problems. This use of the spoils system filled the Prohibition Bureau with men whose incompetence and venality discredited the enforcement apparatus with juries, courts, and the public.
But even had the bureau been staffed with more honest and able men, the tasks that they were assigned and the laws governing their performance made successful enforcement nearly impossible. Agents of the bureau were responsible for tracking down the illegal production of alcohol; but the Volstead Act reinforced the federal statute relating to search and seizure by adding a clause making issuance of any warrant dependent on proof that the liquor was for sale. No matter how much liquor a person had at home, no matter how it was obtained or what use was intended, agents had to have positive evidence that a commercial transaction was involved.
What such a requirement actually did was to permit home manufacture, both for personal use and as a cottage industry organized as part of large criminal networks. Small stills, primitive but effective, were set up by bootleggers in apartments, with the liquor being collected on a regular basis. More common were beermaking and winemaking for genuine home consumption. Malt and hops shops proliferated; big food chains openly advertised ingredients and apparatus—hoses, gauges, capping machines.
Section 29 of the act, which permitted fruit juices to be made and consumed for personal use, led to a boom for the California grape industry. Such charades not only made it innocent and amusing to circumvent Prohibition but also revealed a pervasive ambivalence at the root of the 18th Amendment and its enforcement statutes. Even while possession of liquor illegally obtained was unlawful, the act of drinking was maintained as privileged.
This anomaly suggests first that prohibitionists understood the politically feasible limits of regulating individual behavior. The league and other defenders of the 18th Amendment regarded as a slur any suggestion that they supported sumptuary laws and were deeply embarrassed and resentful of the popular concern of the dry snooper and killjoy on the prowl to mind someone else's business.
There was, among prohibitionists, a pervasive if implicit recognition of the practical inviolability of private conduct. But the failure of prohibition laws to intrude directly on the mores of the consumer was not primarily a tactical decision made on the basis of calculating how deeply public policy should be allowed to invade private experience. Once the destruction of the , saloons had been achieved, and the systematic spread of addiction stopped, it was believed that the appetite for drink would wither away without the artificial stimulation of an organized traffic.
The taste for alcohol was a false need, implanted by moral brigands. Ever since Benjamin Rush elaborated the concept of drink as disease, the consumer was simultaneously exempted from fundamental blame and diminished in the degree of autonomy. For being freed from censure and sin, the drinker paid the price of compulsory wardship. In the tradition of temperance and prohibition, the person who submitted to alcohol was the quintessential victim. The environment needed to be decontaminated; there was no reliable way to immunize people or even to identify those particularly at risk.
Instead, the body politic had to be kept free from infection. Once the liquor industry was removed, then health would be restored. According to prohibitionist doctrine, Americans had once been pure. A nefarious trade had robbed people of their reason and corrupted domestic and social integrity. The 18th Amendment represented a millennial triumph inaugurating personal self-restraint and national solidarity. To police compliance was contradictory. It made no sense to enforce a cure that would naturally take effect. But even with the saloon effaced, there continued to be both a demand for alcohol and a traffic to meet it.
The Volstead Act had built in wholly inadequate safeguards against the reproduction of the trade. Legal alcohol was among the largest source of illegal liquor. The total production of distilled spirits rose from million gallons in to million gallons in Most of this increase, of course, can be attributed to the greatly expanded use of industrial alcohol.
As a basic chemical, it was required in the manufacture of cosmetics, leather goods, dyes, and synthetic textiles one rayon plant used 2 million gallons of denatured alcohol annually. The single most significant factor in the expanded production of denatured alcohol was the spectacular burgeoning of the auto industry. In , there were 7. And whereas before, 90 percent were open and therefore not suitable for cold-weather driving, by , 70 percent were closed, suggesting the possibility of operation in cold weather.
Antifreeze was thus a sudden necessity, and three-quarters of the total output of completely denatured alcohol went for that purpose. A considerable portion of the enormous increase in production undoubtedly was diverted to bootleggers. Emory Buckner, the United States Attorney for the southern district of New York, estimated that in , 60 million gallons were sold as beverage alcohol Dobyns , p. Since it is likely that this congressional testimony was intended to secure additional appropriations for enforcement, the claims of such mammoth diversions are suspect.
However, even more modest figures suggest systematic fraud. The technique of diversion most often employed took advantage of the complicated chain of subsidiary denaturing plants allowed by the Volstead Act. Large distillers produced denatured alcohol but also sold alcohol in its natural state to smaller, independent firms for them to process. These firms could also pass along pure alcohol to other, even smaller plants. During this series of transactions, alcohol could be illegally diverted at any point.
There was no way to monitor sales and verify them as legitimate. Distillers might sell 10, gallons to a dummy perfume manufacturer or chemical plant in receipt of a legal permit; the alcohol would then be sent to bootleggers. Some would be reserved to make whatever item the company was expected to produce, and this commodity cologne, for example , with records faked to show a volume large enough to account for the diversion, would then be shipped to a wholesaler known as a cover house. The bill for the inflated amount of cologne would be paid and the deal completed.
Such a ruse was almost foolproof. Inspection was woefully inadequate; prohibition agents were prevented from investigating beyond the point of the initial sale of alcohol to the manufacturer; and the number of legitimate companies requesting permits was increasing as a consequence of rapid industrial development. The reluctance of the Volstead Act to monitor more stringently how businesses used their allocations of alcohol stemmed not simply from an unwillingness to expose the inherent problems of enforcement.
Rather, it betrayed Prohibition's own sense of almost paralytic ideological bewilderment.
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For the duration of the Volstead Act, there was a pervasive anxiety not only about interfering with personal behavior, but also about intruding on the marketplace. Just as individual consumption was protected as a right, so too was private enterprise sanctified. Under the direction of the league, the antiliquor movement had aligned itself more and more closely with the cult of efficiency and had come to regard corporate leaders as benefactors rather than as plutocrats.
But once this leak had been stopped through the law, then further governmental tinkering might risk damage to the delicate gears of the machinery of production.
The individual, unfettered from seductive influences, would return to a natural state of sobriety; likewise, prohibitionists assumed business, left to its own devices, would be a strong ally, grateful for the profits extracted from a now abstemious labor force. Throughout much of the history of temperance and prohibition, a tension can be traced between a public health perspective—one that emphasized the need for collective action on behalf of those disabled by drunkenness, stressed the accountability of a powerful, profiteering business in the creation of disease and human misery, and accepted the premise that genuine democracy could not exist so long as pervasive, systematic polluting of the social environment was allowed—and an essentially antagonistic free enterprise perspective—one that emphasized discipline, efficiency, and self-restraint.
Only for a brief period during the s did at least some elements within the movement accept the implications of the call to liquidate an entire industry. But while a broad anticorporate agenda was rejected and though the politics of prohibition grew increasingly racist and demagogic as the league took command, the central contradiction could not be evaded.
There was no convincing way to reconcile the confiscation of private property with a faith in the sacred rationality of the market. Prohibitionists invoked their descendency from abolition because such a heritage served to validate the justice of the cause as well as restrict the meaning of reform to a millennial moral triumph.
The precedent of abolition had established that an evil traffic could be destroyed and owners dispossessed of their tainted wealth, all without threatening the legitimate property rights of other economic sectors. There were, however, fundamental differences between commerce in beer and commerce in human bodies.
Despite tirades against liquor as the Simon Legree of the soul, Prohibition could never successfully equate literal physical slavery and slavery to alcohol. No matter how aggressive and seductive the marketing of liquor might be, drunkenness still involved self-induced surrender of independence. Prohibitionists did argue that the power of alcohol to form moral lesions discounted the possibility of free choice, but this largely metaphorical line of reasoning was specious since its extensions could not easily be controlled.
Although temperance and prohibition were always imbued with nostalgia for a bucolic and mythic past in which behavior was managed by a patriarchal guardianship, the concept of government as moral trustee did not belong exclusively to those who were looking backward. Socialists could just as easily appropriate it and demand that government intervene to protect the individual against the predatory attacks of a whole range of industrial buccaneers.
Once the principle was established that the conduct of citizens was vulnerable to a pathogenic milieu, then regulating that milieu became legitimate. As the business community recognized even before the passage of the 18th Amendment, the limits of this regulation were difficult to confine. This prohibition measure and mandate is but one of these ends. It is … a theory of the proper social life.
In the enforcement of Prohibition there was always an underlying sensitivity to the boundaries of regulation. Even in the approach to its most notorious enemy—the brewery industry—prohibitionists proceeded with great caution. The authors of the Volstead Act refused to adopt statutes, which were included in some state laws, that banned entirely the production of malt liquors.
Instead, a clause was included that permitted breweries to manufacture beer as long as it was dealcoholized to 0. The exemptions allowed under the Volstead Act seriously compounded the problems of enforcement. Not only were the energies of the inadequate and poorly trained bureau hopelessly divided between a myriad of potential points of violation, but more important, the special allowances contaminated the whole body of antiliquor law. Official disinterest in evasion encouraged noncompliance; an obvious lack of consistency in the way that availability was controlled made people question whether public policy actually intended to achieve a dry America.
Gusfield, in attempting to account for the gaping loopholes of the Volstead Act, has proposed that Prohibition never seriously aimed to curb drinking. It must also be borne in mind that for all the corrupt, inept, and discretionary ways that that law was written and enforced, it did reduce the amount that Americans drank. There is now little dispute about the fact that the annual per-capita consumption level declined as the result of Prohibition. Because of the long war of statistics fought between wet and dry forces, data, no matter how useful, have often been assumed to be little more than disguised polemics.
There was, of course, a surfeit of spurious evidence churned out by both sides. But there is a body of credible information suggesting that the 18th Amendment had a substantial impact on drinking patterns. Those who opposed Prohibition argued that Americans were drinking less during the decades leading up to the 18th Amendment, and that a severely restrictive policy was both unnecessary and counterproductive.
Statistics, however, reveal an entirely different picture of per-capita consumption. Between and , consumption was 1. Between and , the annual figures had risen to 1. Department of Commerce , p. In the issue of The Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science that recapped the experience of national prohibition, Clark Warburton presented data indicating a dramatic decline in consumption during the early years of Prohibition and a leveling off as the s ended. In a persuasive summary of research on this question, Norman H. Clark concluded:. We may set the outer limit of that at about 50 percent and the inner limit at about one-third less alcohol consumed by the total population than had been the case … [before Prohibition] in the United States Clark , pp.
Various data tend to confirm his judgment. Death rates from cirrhosis were In two predominately wet states, the decline in alcoholic psychosis was even more dramatic. In New York, it fell from National records of arrest for drunkenness and disorderly conduct declined 50 percent between and Feldman , p. Reports of welfare agencies from around the country overwhelmingly indicated a dramatic decrease among client population of alcohol-related family problems Feldman , p.
The principal benefits accrued to the group most vulnerable in the past to the devastating effects of drink. Observers, during Prohibition and since, have been unanimous in concluding that the greatest decreases in consumption occurred in the working class, with estimates of a percent decrease Sinclair , p. Defenders of Prohibition claimed improvements in the physical health and sobriety of the labor force as a vindication of their cause. Workers were more fit for production and more likely to avoid sinking into costly deviance or dependency.
Spending money, once squandered at the saloon, was now used to purchase cars and refrigerators. Thus, the 18th Amendment deserved credit for helping to stabilize the behavior of the laboring class and pave the way for prosperity. Given the dutiful service that the prohibitionists saw themselves delivering to industrial coherence, it came as an incomprehensible betrayal when major elements of the business community abandoned the dry alliance.
This defection helped obscure the accomplishments of the 18th Amendment, shift the focus away from the public health benefits and toward the costs paid in terms of personal freedom and increased class conflict, and spawned a campaign to nullify the law through noncompliance. Both of these interpretations are superficially plausible; breweries and distillers vigorously supported the organization of this earliest and most powerful prorepeal group.
Pierre du Pont took over the AAPA in and solicited other millionaires on the basis that an end to Prohibition would save them huge amounts in corporate and personal income taxes. But it is a mistake to regard the AAPA as simply a crude tool wielded by venal interests. Some of the claims contained in this litany are legends that can be quickly dismissed. Before the 18th Amendment, people were drinking more, not less. There is no convincing evidence that Prohibition brought on a crime wave; homicide had its highest rate of increase between and ; organized rackets, while expanding to take advantage of new opportunities, had been firmly established in urban areas before the 18th Amendment Feldman , p.
According to census statistics, the rate of death from wood or denatured alcohol remained almost constant from its peak year in of Feldman , p. Mystifications constantly appeared in newspapers and magazines as fact. Even more important to the AAPA in its campaign to undo the 18th Amendment were threats of class strife. Al Capone, while a convenient symbol of the failure of Prohibition, was less terrifying than the spectre of Bolshevism. Advocates of repeal stole the thunder from the dry forces.
The defenders of Prohibition were both enraged and baffled by the betrayal of corporate America. In their deep resentment and bewilderment, backers of Prohibition did not understand that the very prosperity for which the 18th Amendment took credit had gradually begun to create the need for a new labor force. The worker as exclusively a producer was being transformed into worker as consumer. But important elements of the ruling class had to be incited rather than suppressed; a huge advertising industry began to develop in the mids to manufacture new needs.
The Intoxication of Power: An Analysis of Civil Religion in Relation to Ideology
Freedom of consumption required personal sovereignty; forward-looking companies understood this to be a tenet of economic growth and industrial peace. This evolution in the concepts of corporate management took place organically; the ideological shift occurred not as part of a grand conspiratorial design, but rather as a gradual and intuitive reassessment.
It is not a question of whether we approve of drinking or not. It is a habit, and when you invade a man's habit, you unsettle him. You find that the man who has heretofore been contended to labor as he had been laboring, becomes restive and discontented. It was largely from the corporate-dominated movement opposing Prohibition that the concept of alcohol control emerged. As Levine suggests, the phrase was rarely used before the passage of the 18th Amendment; during the s, however, it came to represent a pivotal idea in the struggle for repeal Levine , p.
Basically, advocates of control took a position that they defined as a just mean between dangerous polarities. Permitting saloon power to run amok had given rise to futile attempts at imposing moral fetters. A policy of control avoided this dual extremism. Instead of efforts to repress consumption through a total curb on availability, alcohol control emphasized effective regulation. As part of the critique developed by the AAPA, the argument was made that bureaucratic rationality should underlie any state intervention. The experiences of foreign countries were seen as especially instructive.
The direct involvement of the state in Canadian, Swedish, and English systems of alcohol sales proved, according to proponents of control, that the best safeguards to public order were technical mechanisms rather than sumptuary laws. The example of Carlisle was among the most frequently cited.
Here, a board of control bought out the entire alcohol industry in a square-mile area of Scotland and managed the business themselves. The experiment, a wartime measure initiated in , was undertaken in order to reduce problems of drunkenness that had increased sharply because of the doubling of the adult male population brought about by sudden industrial concentration. The city had the highest proportion of criminal convictions to population in all of England. The board proceeded to exert control through restrictive regulation and constructive arrangements.
The number of licensed premises was reduced from to 69; the practice of selling a mixture of beer and spirits was prohibited; Sunday closings were enforced, as were bans on sales to young persons. On the constructive side, the board encouraged the sale of food and nonintoxicants. The results of direct government involvement were impressive; drunkenness declined rapidly, and the system earned the support of all sectors of the community. In the United States, those who believed that Prohibition constituted a perversion of federal power, pointed to Carlisle as a case in which the state had demonstrated its capacity for creative control.
Those who designed public policies surrounding alcohol had to be free from narrow partisan prejudice; according to the AAPA and other adherents of the control model, neither the liquor industry nor the sectarian zealots of the Anti-Saloon League were competent to maintain social stability. Government action to regulate the distribution of liquor was promoted as the antidote to the poisonous viruses of fanaticism. The state, through direct supervision of sales, could both structure patterns of consumption and appropriate and defuse a social issue that had generated conflict and division for nearly years.
The paradigm of control became a powerful theoretical alternative to Prohibition because it refined the principle of government responsibility rather than rejecting it. Control posited a fundamental substitution; instead of moral stewardship, government would provide administrative expertise. Under bureaucratic auspices, a new rationale would evolve. However, by exercising its legitimate authority as defender of the public order, government was also entitled to place checks on drinking.
Catlin stressed the importance of particular techniques of regulation being geared to local conditions. Federal law should sustain the authority of the states. Although advocates of control were in favor of experimenting with a variety of different forms, there was wide agreement on certain basic principles. The guiding assumptions for Catlin—that spirits posed a greater threat than beer and wine and therefore required a more restrictive tax and that the liquor trade must not be run for private profit—were tenets of the control position.
In discussing the alcohol control movement it would be a mistake to exaggerate the degree of its influence in changing public opinion. As a theoretical concept, management of consumption was an approach set apart equally from Prohibition and laissez-faire; its stance was too scientific and too dispassionate to gain a following. While the AAPA incorporated in its membership those who made serious attempts to devise regulatory policies as alternatives to Prohibition, the movement for repeal mobilized its support primarily through the use of polemics and propaganda.
Despite the earnest and objective inquiries of men like Catlin and Koren, such policy analysis had little impact on the immediate struggle. The battle lines were split between wet and dry, and ideological third parties were anathema. It must be understood, too, as the decade of the s came to an end, that the forces favoring the maintenance of Prohibition were more than holding their own. The gradual displacement of one model of individual and social behavior virtue inherent in austerity and self-restraint by another virtue inherent in moderate consumption and easy-going compliance did not constitute a sudden ideological transformation that swept away support for the 18th Amendment.
For all the heavily funded organizing of the AAPA and for all the scandals involving both agents of the bureau and Anti-Saloon League members themselves these latter exemplars of rectitude became implicated in various shady transactions , Prohibition was still strong in In the election of that year, dry political candidates swept the field. Hoover was an overwhelming victor; 80 of 96 senators, of House members, and 43 of 48 governors elected were backers of the 18th Amendment.
The Wickersham Committee, appointed in to investigate the 18th Amendment, came out with a report that, while including minority opinions, nonetheless endorsed Prohibition and urged stronger enforcement. Even William Randolph Hearst, one of the principal opponents of Prohibition, as late as , regarded repeal as out of the question. The prize-winning essay in the national contest sponsored by his papers proposed redefining beer as nonintoxicating; a more direct attack on the 18th Amendment was seen as political adventurism Hearst Prohibition was part of the Constitution and thus protected by an aura of the immutable.
Breaking the law defied but did not overthrow official legitimacy. But beyond this practical consideration, repeal involved an element of the blasphemous. Economic collapse created the possibility for extreme and unprecedented measures. The primary argument now made for repeal was no longer the demoralizing effects of Prohibition on civil liberties or class harmony; the end of the 18th Amendment was presented as the key to economic salvation. Alcohol was now linked to a patriotic cause; just as Lincoln had turned to the liquor trade in to finance the war effort, so too did Roosevelt campaign in on the promise to repeal the 18th Amendment and revive an industry that could provide both jobs and tax revenue.
Nine days after his inauguration, Roosevelt sent before Congress a piece of legislation modifying the Volstead Act and legalizing the sale of beer. During the summer of , the administration stumped for repeal; with James Farley in charge of the effort, and the AAPA and WONPR providing organizational support, repeal was promoted as a key element of a recovery program. In a series of state elections to select delegates to conventions, the degree of shift in popular sentiment was measured. Michigan, which had a plurality of , for the 18th Amendment in , voted for the 21st Amendment by ,; overall, repeal triumphed 3 to 1 15 million to 4 million.
While retreating from prohibition enforcement, the federal government retained responsibility to regulate the legitimate production of distilled spirits, wine, and beer and to prevent the illegal production of these products. After repeal, most questions regarding alcohol devolved to the states. Seven continued with prohibition, though 5 of these declared beer to be nonintoxicating; 12 states decided to permit liquor, but only for home consumption; 29 states allowed liquor by the glass.
Legislators vowed ritualistically to prevent the return of the saloon and exclude the liquor traffic from political influence. The Alcohol Beverage Control ABC laws that the states did adopt were designed in part to curb the most notorious abuses of the pre-Prohibition era. Restrictions were imposed on hours and days of sales in an effort to diminish the bar's seduction of the breadwinner from his domestic obligations.
Visibility requirements were instituted; in some states they mandated that bars be open to public inspection, in others they kept the spectacle of the drinking act safely hidden from the eyes of children or decent citizens. These laws were full of conceptual confusion. On one hand, they embodied a ceremonial deference to those Americans sensitive to the morally fraught nature of alcohol use.
But on the other, it was precisely this problem-oriented attitude toward alcohol that repeal had undermined. The issues of public sensibility or public morality were inextricably linked to a discredited past; temperance, which once had denoted moderate use, now conjured up the image of prohibitionist fanaticism. The role of the state was to oversee orderly distribution rather than to curtail availability. A wariness of moral intervention was only one element in the position that the states assumed.
Economics was another major factor. The exigencies of the fiscal crisis forced many commonwealths to turn to the beverage industry for help. Between and , 15 states adopted monopoly systems; these states were broke and in order to stock their chains of stores had to buy on credit from the distillers. The alliance between state government and the liquor industry produced revenues that were often earmarked for special purposes; hospitals, schools, drought relief, and mothers' aid all received funds that served to heighten enthusiasm for sales.
A trade magazine underscored the industry's own promotion of these benefits Dobyns , p. A little child is playing happily in the streets of a big city. With all the strength of a twelve-year-old, he throws the ball against the side of a building. It bounces off his hand on the rebound. Quickly the youth runs after the ball into the middle of the street. Brakes screech wildly. One anguished scream rends the air. Johnny lies unconscious beneath the wheels of a big truck, his two legs broken. Were it not for alcoholic beverages, Johnny might go through life a helpless cripple.
Thanks to the revenue derived from liquor taxes, however, the state has been able to build and maintain a large hospital just for cases like this. And this is only one of the many splendid causes to which liquor revenue is put. Publicity has been often given in the past to the so-called evils of liquor while the sale has been, and is, attacked vigorously by varying numbers of drys. Small stress, on the other hand, is given to the enormous benefits derived from liquor taxes.
However, the postrepeal rehabilitation of the liquor industry stemmed from more than such putative public service. Not only did the manufacturers of alcohol subsidize indirectly the general welfare, but they also produced a commodity that had become decontaminated. The experience of the 18th Amendment endowed drinking with a new prestige, both social and moral. Consumption was exhibited as a badge of tolerance and civility.
After Prohibition, the problems associated with alcohol were seen more and more as ones of personal choice or personal disability. Today the emphasis on individual accountability and the distaste for vigorous governmental action appear more firmly enshrined than ever. Institutionalized altruism is increasingly perceived as counterproductive, the cause rather than the cure for the ills that afflict us.
Overregulation is now a code phrase conjuring up an elaborate set of inept and self-righteous rules, impossible to enforce and corrosive in the sweep of their mandate. Citizens, it follows, are best protected by being left to their own devices. Of course, a basic education for living should be provided.
But once such skills have been imparted, then their application depends on free, individual choice. The theory of a right to health flies in the face of good sense, serves to undermine personal responsibility, and in addition, places obligation where it cannot help but be unfulfillable. But while powerful, this concept that individuals are held accountable for themselves is still not unchallenged. An important countervailing theoretical perspective has emerged.
The environmental movement, the antismoking campaign, the protests against atomic power, and the oil companies all have a collective view of hazards. For example, a growing contention is that pollution is so pervasive that individuals cannot avoid being exposed to its hazards. The political configurations of this alliance are unclear. However, a concern for the social and physical ecology has already led some groups to develop sophisticated lobbying techniques and mobilize successful and massive campaigns of public education. Prohibition will certainly never return.
Above and beyond the mechanical problems of enforcement, it failed originally because it created no stabilizing vested interests. No reform movement can survive unless it is rooted in new institutions. But while extreme forms of controlling consumption of alcohol are utterly lacking in feasibility, there is the chance that state policy may once again assume a more interventionist role. The boundaries between personal and governmental responsibility constantly shift.
Although a mass movement to curb drinking will never reemerge, one can conceive that new, extensive regulation of the liquor industry might be integrated into a paradigm of environmental safeguards and corporate responsibility. Antialcohol organizing reached its pinnacle of influence during historical periods in which agitation against the plundering of the social and physical landscape was most intense.
Efforts to curb drinking emerged from broad reformist sentiment. The relative obscurity today of any alcohol control movement may be deceptive. The conditions are present for a revival of widespread interest in the problems of alcohol. No one can predict if such a resurgence of popular concern will, in fact, develop, but the record of the past suggests that movements once thought safely interred do not always remain in their graves.
A brief review of the shifting attitudes toward cigarette smoking demonstrates how quickly a substance once thought innocuous or even beneficial can be redefined as dangerous and deviant. The material presented here is a synopsis of Nuehring and Markle , and Markle and Troyer Cigarettes were brought back to America in the s by tourists returning from England. Smoking was initially tolerated and even endorsed; rations of cigarettes provided to soliders during the Civil War were regarded as crucial to their well-being.
By the s, however, cigar manufacturers, wary of competition, attempted to discredit cigarette smoking. Lurid accusations were made: cigarettes were laced with opium and the paper bleached with arsenic; the content was derived from garbage and packaged by Chinese lepers. Transformed into a vice, cigarette smoking began to be taken up by the temperance movement; pledges against smoking and drinking were often made together by churchgoers. Cigarettes and drinking were attacked as an evil partnership threatening to undermine physical and moral health.
Young people were considered especially vulnerable, and delinquency and school failure were often traced directly to indulgence in these dirty and debilitating habits. So widespread was the association between smoking and antisocial behavior that 14 states passed prohibition laws against cigarettes during the period to