Prohibition documentary on Netflix.

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    • #70422
      • Total Posts: 578

      The history of how alcohol prohibition was amended to the constitution and then later repealed.

      Very interesting politics indeed. It loudly illustrates that political polarization existed, then briefly went away (World War II and the great depression generally unified America politically), and now we have again, gradually creeped back to a state of political polarization.

      The “wet” side was politically centered around immigrants in big cities. The “dry” side was politically centered around religious, rural (The South and Midwest), domestic Caucasians. Sound Familiar?

      The Ku Klux Klan was at it’s peak (over 2 million active members with the total US population being much smaller than it is today) and marched in support of the “dry” side. Not surprising that they believed they were doing “God’s work”.

      Woodrow Wilson, the first post Civil War Southerner elected as President (and a Democrat) loaded his cabinet with Jim Crow advocates as well as prohibition supporters. In retrospect, Franklin Roosevelt was a flat out revolutionary in comparison and gives you the general idea of the political environment he had ultimately inherited (and had to work within).

      The federal government was never in position or had the will to finance the enforcement of prohibition. When Republicans were in power, they advocated for states to pay for enforcement as they ideologically despised federal intervention in local affairs. When Democrats were in power, the great depression reprioritized federal expenditure to more pressing issues. In effect, the states from the South and Midwest actively pursued the enforcement of prohibition. The other states considered it a financial burden that the rural states imposed upon them.

      So many politicians and enforcement people were bought off during prohibition, that Americans were generally cynical of government in general. Everyone tasked with administering prohibition seemed corrupt.

      More than anything extremist measures by the “dry side” (again the South and Midwest) ultimately killed alcohol prohibition. There was a legitimate argument that powerful distilled spirits were destroying families, but the Germans wanted their beer, and the Catholics and Italians wanted their wine. In effect, the South and Midwest was attempting to destroy immigrant culture by forcing total assimilation (and total abstention). Thousands of legitimate immigrant jobs in the brewing and distilling industry were eradicated and it isn’t surprising that immigrants moved their workforce into organized crime to keep doing the work they had always done. Making, distributing, and serving alcohol.

      The parallels to today are uncanny. The South and Midwest imposing extremist measures upon urban America. Insisting upon immigrant assimilation along the way (leading to ethnic and racial bias). Like alcohol prohibition, I suspect it is their unwillingness to adapt, or relent, or compromise that will ultimately lead to the failure of their collective “vision”.

      I highly recommend viewing this documentary series. Very enlightening.




      "I welcome their hatred" Franklin D Roosevelt

    • #70431
      • Total Posts: 254

      We’ve got it on DVD.  Great PBS series, indeed!    recommended

    • #70473
      • Total Posts: 2,052

      Also very active over Prohibition due to immigrant workers spending their pay at the local bars and having nothing left to give their families for food:

      WCTU (Women’s Christian Temperance Union)

      At its founding in 1874, the stated purpose of the WCTU was to create a “sober and pure world” by abstinence, purity, and evangelical Christianity.[4] Annie Wittenmyer was its first president.[5] The constitution of the WCTU called for “the entire prohibition of the manufacture and sale of intoxicating liquors as a beverage.”[6]

      Frances Willard, a noted feminist, was elected the WCTU’s second president in 1879 and Willard grew the organization to be the largest organization of women in the world by 1890. She remained president until her death in 1898.

      Its members were inspired by the Greek writer Xenophon, who defined temperance as “moderation in all things healthful; total abstinence from all things harmful.” In other words, should something be good, it should not be indulged in to excess; should something be bad for you, it should be avoided altogether — thus their attempts to rid society of what they saw (and still see) as the dangers of alcohol.[7]

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