Eighty years ago today, freedom fighters in America won an important battle against progressivism and for liberty.
What isn’t widely known today is that Prohibition was a progressive movement.
Historian William O’Neill said “among middle-class people in the progressive era, no cause was more respectable or ardently fought for” than prohibition. He also said, “Prohibition was typically progressive in that it was based on scientific premises, advanced in an organized and efficient manner, shrouded in moral hyperbole and expected to produce fantastic results.”
One of the more ardent advocates of Prohibition was progressive James H. Timberlake, who wrote a book called “Prohibition and the Progressive Movement.”
“The moral idealism of Wilsonian progressivism, the growing cult of efficiency and the intense absorption in material progress, the widening knowledge of the scientific case against moderate drinking and the increasing public hostility to the liquor interests, all gave prohibition added momentum.”
(Read those two quotes again, but instead of applying them to prohibition, apply them to climate change. It’s the same argument.)
So the moral busybodies of the progress led Prohibition movement succeeded in making alcohol consumption illegal. The results?
the unintended consequences proved to be a decline in amusement and entertainment industries across the board. Restaurants failed, as they could no longer make a profit without legal liquor sales. Theater revenues declined rather than increase, and few of the other economic benefits that had been predicted came to pass.
On the whole, the initial economic effects of Prohibition were largely negative.
One of the legal exceptions to the Prohibition law was that pharmacists were allowed to dispense whiskey by prescription for any number of ailments, ranging from anxiety to influenza. Bootleggers quickly discovered that running a pharmacy was a perfect front for their trade. As a result, the number of registered pharmacists in New York State tripled during the Prohibition era.
The trade in unregulated alcohol had serious consequences for public health. As the trade in illegal alcohol became more lucrative, the quality of alcohol on the black market declined. On average, 1000 Americans died every year during the Prohibition from the effects of drinking tainted liquor.
The greatest unintended consequence of Prohibition however, was the plainest to see. For over a decade, the law that was meant to foster temperance instead fostered intemperance and excess. The solution the United States had devised to address the problem of alcohol abuse had instead made the problem even worse. The statistics of the period are notoriously unreliable, but it is very clear that in many parts of the United States more people were drinking, and people were drinking more.
It all ended today, but the fight continues.
How is this possible? How are progressives not laughed out of office after centuries of failure?
Johan Goldberg explained it best in “Liberal Fascism.”
In the liberal telling of America’s story, there are only two perpetrators of official misdeeds: conservatives and “America” writ large. Progressives, or modern liberals, are never bigots or tyrants, but conservatives often are. For example, on will virtually never hear that the Palmer Raids, Prohibition or American eugenics were thoroughly progressive phenomena. This are sins America itself must atone for…The only culpable mistake that liberals make is failing to fight “hard enough” for their principles. Liberals are never responsible for historic misdeeds, because they feel no compulsion to defend the inherent goodness of America.”
That’s why people must still today hoist the Gadsden flag and march against progressives who want to pass legislation that’s “for our own good.”
I’d like to end with a sincere “Thank you” to the freedom fighters of the 20s and 30s, who took to the streets and demanded their rights be returned to them:
I think I’ll go get me a bottle, just to celebrate the fact I can.