In our age, the Puritan impulse — let’s discipline humanity into perfection! — is rampant again. It’s now mainstream to propose the outlawing of everything from gambling to tobacco to meat.
Washington Examiner: Exactly 100 years ago, on Jan. 17, 1920, America’s liberal “progressives” imposed the “great experiment” of Prohibition. It was the culmination of the Left’s crusade to reshape human life.
After 13 disastrous years, Prohibition was abandoned. But that wasn’t to be the last experiment. Nowadays, the same arguments and attitudes lie behind attempts to control how we speak, what we write, read, and look at; how we hire; whether we smoke; and what we eat.
Therefore, we need to take Prohibition seriously. It might seem quaint that drinking alcohol was ever criminal — as quaint as trying to banish the wearing of shoes. And of course, the era of Prohibition possesses a certain glamour. When we contemplate the Roaring ’20s, we know “the great experiment” will end and smile at its idiocy.
But it’s worth restating the truth: Prohibition was not just absurd and impractical but wicked.
The so-called temperance movement of the late 19th century was part of a wider tendency to remake humanity. Radical social reformers dreamed of getting rid of personal property, the traditional family, armies, the church, capital, wine, government; and they realized that such revolutionary change implied abolishing traditional notions of freedom. read more