Lecture 9 Tuesday, November 19, 2013
• Last class: anti-alcohol movement, policies that refleced the aims of the movement
• Some argued for temperance (limited access), importance of personal reponsibily for
drinking; others aimed for prohibition
o Key difference is that prohibition is corrosive. The adoption of policy which has
poer of state being organizd to prevent people from drinking alcohol
o That’s different from personal decision to abstain, or putting limits on the access
(making it more expensive)
o All about coercion, marshalling resources of state to ensure people don’t drink
o Restricting/forbidding production and distribution (sale) of alcohol
o Two kinds of prohibition—the worse is the one that makes it criminal offense to
consume alcohol (some Muslim countries), but we’re focusing on United states—
slightly less corrosive, it’s prohibition on production but not consumption
o It wasn’t illegal to consume alcohol in the United States during prohibition, but the
expectation is that if it can’t be produced, it can’t be sold/exchanged, so people
wouldn’t be able to drink.
• Also prohibition in more places than United States
o People tend to think about US when talking about it—US has made a bigger deal
about it, American historians have made it a hinge point in American history.
o But there was Prohibition in Soviet Union, Scandinavian countries—they didn’t
consider it major although it clearly affected major part of social life. It still hasn’t
assume dthe kind of importance that it did for US.
o But we need to put US Prohibition into a context—the context of Prohibition
o Around the same time that US government imposed Prohibition on American
citziens, Porhibiton was also enacted in Canada, parts of Mexico, Finland,
Sweden, Norway, Belgium.
o This is the moment of Prohibition—1914-mid 1930s. Wave of Prohibition.
o If you include parts of Africa where colonial powers iomposed prohibition upon
the native peoples, and American native peoples, and Canadian native peoples,
then this is fairly widespread movement
o It was picke dup later in liberation and independence movements in Africa and
parts of Asia o At the moment, Prohibition exists in a number of Muslim countries, and in some
cases applied only to the native population (Saudi Arabia), whereas there’s
tolerance for foreigners to do it in private
o 3-5 states in India have Prohibition rules right now. Possibly Bujarat is one of
them—to get alcohol, need to have a permit. Like Canada in 1960s! it’s attached
permanently to a passport, gives permission to buy a certain amount on daily
basis. But for the resident population, alcohol is not available.
• Anyway, it’s main moment was 1914- mid1930s.
• It’s also become important lesson for people
o Historians and non-historians debate as to whether it was successful
o In a sense, ti wasn’t because it was repealed
It was introduced by amendment to the constitution—difficult—needs to
be signed on by majority of the states
There was an amendment in 1919 that introduced Porhibition
Another amendment to repeal the first amendment, to take Prohbition off
Important political events
Some say that Prohibition doesn’t work, therefore prohibition on
marijuana/drugs/etc. also wont’ work because people always find a way
around the rules, resist prohibition. That’s one of the lessons commonly
drawn from it.
Very difficult to come to firm decision on wheterh it was successful. It was
failure because it was repealed. On the other hand, some successes:
reducing level of alcohol consumption.
Of course, we don’t know how much people drank during prohibiton
because it was illegal, no one kept records
But we can estimate.
Best estimate is that alcohol consumption fell rapidly to around 30%,
gradually throughout 1920s alcohol consumption rose (illegal) to about
70% of pre-Prohibition levels. So there’s a sense that Prohibitio may not
have been successful in terms of being repealed, but it did lead to
reduction in consumption.
Would consumption rates have continued to increase, or would
enforcement have gotten better? We don’t know. But it’s one way of
measuring the success. Drinking continued, but not at the same rate. Big
shifts in what was drunk, where people drink, what kinds of people drank.
It becomes very interesting subject • There are certain similarities between, say, Russia and US in terms of patterns and
o Complicated example
o Alcohol’s been there for thousands of years, Russians have stereotype for being
o We have to be careful about these national stereotypes…very hard to know what
he level of consumption actually was
o We know NOW that it’s one of the higheth of the world, but that’s now. Hard to
get a sense of consumption earlier in 20 century.
o Problem: high level of domestic production. Home brewing and distilling.
o That became more important during Prohibition.
o Even outside of that, widespread domestic production of alcohol. That’s still true
now in Russia and parts of southeastern Europe (Bulgaria—domestic production
is probably twice that of commercial production)
o The Russians had this reputation fo being heavy drinkers of vodka (distilled from
o When WWI broke out in August 1914 and Russians declared mobilization to fight
the war, the Tsar decreed that alcohol would nto be produced or sold for duration
of hostilities—early 1918. That was earlier than anyone else because Russia
pulled out of the war.
o Policy introduced in 1914 was based on same kinds of considerations as other
countries fighting WWI introducing redstrictions—preserve military efficience (it
interfered with efficiency), but on the homefront it would disrupt industrial
efficiency. Munitions, armaments, transportation, uniforms, etc. that was needed
had to be produced at home. By keeping alcohol away from workers, it was
expected that work would be more reliable.
o It was easy for Russian government to place restriction son vodka. 1914: state
monopolgy on vodka. Controlled the production and sale of it—easy to control it.
It was autocratic state, easier for Russian government to impose restrictions on
alcohol than French/British government (there would be political repercussions,
restrictions would be unpopular and that would affecte elections)—Russian
government didn’t have to face the public.
o It was a factor in the fall of imperial Russia… couldn’t maintain the standards and
productivity needed to keep fighting the war, which is what pulled them out early.
o The ban on alcohol during war was ignored by Russian troops—that’s the drift of
all the reports from the front o Also, civilians found plenty—clandestine production of vodka quickly replaced
o So drinking continued
o Discovery of champagne on its way to St. Petersburg—shows that he aristocratic
family probably continue dto drink
o Anyway, this restriction brought imperial government into the same position as
many socialist organizations—Bolsheviks, etc. rom end of 19 century-1914: they
argued for prohibition because of teir ideological take on alcohol. They said it
was used by capitalists to keep the workers docile, to dissuade form becoming
o Many soalist organizations argued in favour of prohibition—major
Marxist/socialist organizations like the Second International—adopted resolutiosn
in favour of prohibiont in 1880s-1890s
o So they both had this same policy
o When Bolsheviks and lenin came to power in 191,7, one of their first acts was to
o 1917: closded all distilleries and wineries. They weren’t actually producing, but
they remained open ready to produce when the hostilities/war ended. But the
Bolsheviks closed them.
o Apointed commissar for struggle against alcoholism and gambling (seen as
waste of wages, encouraged by capitalsits)
o Red Army: alcoholism was among the offences punishable by death.
o 1918: all existing stocks of alcohol declared propberty of state (ex. Wine cellar)
o 700 warehouses in St. Petersburg used for storing alcohol, Tsar’s residence had
cellar with alcohol valued in US $500.
o The aim of these policies introduced by Bolsheviks was to introduce prohibition
on permanent basis. The idea was produce non-drinking Soviet populationto
contribute to making of new Soviet citizen (ideal was to produce a new citizen—
moral, hardworking, patriotic, alturiostic, committed to Marxist ideology)—kepe in
mind that 1914 prohibition was tempoerary
o But drinking culture had long history in Russia, was iompossible to eradicate.
This is true for anywhere- -difficult to eradicate anything as heavily embedded as
o It was something done among workers- refusal to drink was interpreted as
hostility. IN early Soviet factories, managers required vodka in order to train new
workers for their jobs—was a means of exchange.
o Soviet authorities could have taken pragmatic course (encouraged moderate
drinking, tried to remove it from workplace, cut back on production, restricted hours of sale), but they insisted on strict abstinence and tried to apply that to
citizens across the board.
o Apparently Lenin himself drank wine, beer, and vodka. Possible that he portrayed
himself as non-drinker to set the tone for other Soviet citizens. Hitler did the
same thing, saying he abstained from meat, alcohol, and sex (dedicated to
Germany without distractions)… We don’t know whether he was a drinker at this
time or not.
o IN addition to saying ti was bad for individual (health) and society (social
disruption), the Soviet model of prohibition emphasized political dimension. Being
drunk = counterrevolutionary. Not a godo Marxist. TRAITOR.
o Soviet newspapers said that any worker who drank was committing crime against
himself, family, production, and the state. No distinction between private and
o Gave the state a vested interest in the bodies of workers, the activities, a claim to
regulate their diets.
o On the factory floor, the situation was very different—we know form court
procedings that in 1917-1921/22, there were many workers who arrive dto work
drunk, many workers defended their customary right to drink.
o Workers consume dthe illicit alcohol that was very pletiful on black market,
treated the new revolutionary holidays the way they ddi under the Tsar
(celebrations, heavy drinking), when they didn’t make their own they got it from
illicit distilleries and illicit breweries. About 1/3 of rural households were making
vodka (1920). In 1918, village in southwest Russia distilled the amount of grain
that would have fed town of 12,000 people for a year.
o Massive diversion of grain supplies into vodka
o During the war, and immediately after. Keep in mind the Civil War was going on
up to 1922/1923. This was war between Bolshevik government and anti-
Bolshevik forces, aided by Americans, Canadians, other forces. Even though
WWI ended in 1918, it continued in effect in Soviet Union for another five years.
This is how the Soviet Union came into being- being invaded by other countries.
It set the tone for Soviet attitudes and Soviet-foreign relations.
o This diversion of grain supplies alarmed authorities- they blamed the kulaks (who
wer elater blamed for collectivization and exiled into Siberia in 1930s, blamed for
undermining prohibition policy—wealthy peasants)
o We get a sense of the resistance—1922, more than half a million prosecutions
for liquor crimes in Russian republic. Serious penalties. In 1918, penalty for
making illicit alcohol was minimum 5 years imprisonment.
o This policy of prohibition that began 1914 under imperial government, continued
by Bolsheviks under 1917, began to be relaxed in 1921. About seven years of
prohibition in Russia/Soviet Union. o That’s about half the period of US Porhibition. Shorter period, but still interesting.
o What convinced Soviet government to relax prohibition was widespread
resistence—people kept drinking and producing. And the Soviet state was
missing out on tax revenues.
o Normally would collect taxes on production, distribution, and consumption. If it’s
all illicit, no taxes.
o One of the prupose for relaxing it: generate tax revenues. New Soviet state that
realized it had to industrialize quickly, wanted to modernize its armed forces too.
Tax revenues were important.
o 1921: government prermitted production and sale of wine. 1922: permitted
production and sale of beer. 1923: low alcohol voda (20%). 1925: 40% vodka.
o Al alcohol in the hands o the state—state monopoly
o In reaction to the harm that alchol did, they built in also anti-alcohol campaings.
Encouraging people not to drik. Educatino programs encouraging people not to
drink (in the schools)
o Period of prohibition in Russia/Soviet Union, seven years—half of US
• American Prohibition—“The Noble Experiment”
o National Prohibitoin (to distinguish from state prohibition)
o States had prohibition before the national one
o Map of the state of liquor laws in 1917, same year as US was entering WWI, a
couple of years before amendment introduced prohibition.
o States with prohibition are in white. (at least half). The ones with diagonal lines
have “local option” (local counties could decide whether to go wet or dry)—about
1/5. In places lik Texas, these were the drier states. More than 50% of counties
were dry. The draker ones like New Mexico—less than 50% were dry sothey had
more salloons. The four in black are called the booze states—unrestricted
alcohol as permitted.
o Anyway, states with prohibition were everywhere. Stronger in southeast, also in
the west. The states that were more likely to allow alcohol wer emo rein the
o Still, by 1919, the required nmber of states had signed onto the amendment of
the constitution. Congress passed the national prohibition amendment.
o Whilhe amendment was being considered, Congrses passed Wartime Prohibition
Act (passed on November 21, 1918,a fter the war…)—banned sal of intoxicating
bethrages, effective July 1, 1919. Before that date, 46/48 states had ratified the
18 amendment which introduced national prohibition and ti came into effect
January 1 1920. o All the act did was impose prohibition. They neded enabling act to say what was
meant by alcohol, set out enforcement measures, set out any exceptions to
o It was known as the Volstead act—what gave the prohibition teeth. It really
shocked people. They had expected that some low-alcohol (3-4%, ight beer)
could be produced. But instead of allowing for that, or exempting beer and wine
but targeting spirits, the act included all alcohol! Anything that was beverage
alcohol. Industrial alcohol was accepted—different.
o Alcoholic beverage: anything moe than 0.5%
o De-alcoholized wine—even that has traces of alcohol but less than 0.5%. So
basically that would be the only thing allowed.
o The aim of prohibition was to put alcohol industry out of business.
o Commercial breweries fell from 1300 in 1916 to zero.
o Number of distilleries declined by 85%. The ones left lmade industrial alcohol.
They made beverage alcohol for some of the exemptions.
o 96-97% of liquor wholesalers went out of business. Some retailers continued to
work by changing their business…
o Economic effects staggering to individuals and the governemtn. Closure of these
winers, breweries put tens out thousands out of work. The brewers, the people
who drove the delivery trucks, glass manufacturers, etc. The alchol industry is
part of broader set of industries, and all these employees were affected.
o The few exceptions to prohibition:
o Religious purposes:
Recognition that some religions (some Christian denomeninations) like
Pentecostals, Catholics, etc. used wine int heir rituals and needed access
Although there was push from anti-alchol campaigners to get them to use
grape juice instead. Two-wine theory—grape juice was the good
references to win ein the Bible.
Also used in Jewish rituals. Kosher wine retail store, a guy carrying
enough wine to get himt rhough a satyr.
Wine allowed for Christians, only for the clergy. Business in sacramental
o Medical uses: Improtant to recognize the continuing belief that alcohol had therapeutic
Belief in medicinal purposes of alchol declined in 19 century. Look at
hospital records: amount being ordere ddeclined from 870s/1880s to
Also he emergence of patent medicines, appreciation of vitamins—
alcohol lost its cache/appeal. WIh alchol, couldn’t do tests, blind tests with
placebos. The benefits were said to be fairly general—good for digestion,
heart, mental agility—can’t pin down.
Sense that the claism for medicinal benefits had declined
But in 1920s America, doctors still believed it was beneicial!
surve y in 1921: 50,000 randomly selected physicians. 51%: infavour of
prescribing whiskey to patients, 26% thought beer was a “necessary
therapeutic agent”, smaller proportion argued for wine (odd because it
had long therapeutic tradition since Greeks and Romans, digestion and
But wine wasn’t consumed much in US. It was more about distilled spirits
One texas doctor told of the successful use in champagne in treating
symptoms of scarlet fever, but not much in precise mathcin go fparticular
alchols and particular ailments.
Anyway, doctors were gneralyl of the view that whiskey as medicine was
fine but as beverage, unnecessary. In favour of prohibition (treating alchol
as recreationgla beverage), but in favour of using it as therapeutic agent.
Told of cases where patients deprived of alchol would suffer and die.
Pressure by doctors to allow beer as exception to the prohibition—only
whiskey was allowed as exception but they pushed for beer and ti went to
Supreme Court—they ruled that beer shold not eb prescribed by doctors.
So doctors did a U-turn in terms of their position. Before prohibition, in
favour of it, saying lachol was not good as recreational beverage and this
would deal with widespread damage on individuals and society. But once
they wer ein situation regulated by government, state telling them what to
presercribe to patients (beer, whiskey in some cases), they thoguth this
was unbrearable interference with their freedom as doctors. Doctors by
mid-1920s voted against prohibition. ON eo fthe first professions to switch
their position on prohibition.
Pharmaists: another group not happy with prohibiton. They were
essentially liquor retailers. Alcohol was par tof the stock and rade of
pharmacies—many patent medicines, cough medicines have alcohol in
them. They’d make medicine for people, had facilities to keep alcohol in
place. It made sense that patient would go to pharmacy to get the alchol prescription. Pharmacists didn’t lke this, didn’t want to be alcohol retailers,
so they resisted it. Btu they were persuaded to carry on. In fact, many of
the pharmacists decided that it was in their own interest ot allow people to
get their whiskey prescriptions because they’d want other things in the
Many people started pharmacies so they’d have access to this business.
Government passed regulations saying only 10% of revenue could coemf
rom alchol prescriptions—to stop the people who started pharmacies just
to sell alcohol.
It became common for people to get alcohol prescriptions under this
o So the