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pose: (1) to persuade the individual to embrace temperance or abstinence; and (2) to stop the excesses of an uncontrolled or illregulated and heedless trade. That as a part result the public attitude toward the abuse of drink has been profoundly and favorably modified in this country one may affirm without fear of contradiction, leaving aside the question of the complex forces that have influenced it. Likewise, it is undisputed that the trade, as represented by its leading elements, no longer countenances its old-time attitude, for it admits the need of house-cleaning and is bound to undertake it. The right of a community to a free choice between licensing and forbidding the sale of intoxicants, it acknowledges. Stringent control, which it once fought, is now recognized as its safety. That the days of the village and cross-roads grog-shop are gone never to return, it concedes openly. In short, it is no longer the aggressive, defiant trade of former days, and not to trace this change of front to temperance work reinforced by a more enlightened public opinion is to deny the obvious. Nothing that has been said implies contentment with the present status of the trade. One can acknowledge its improvement without experiencing satisfaction with things as they are.
To the essence of the temperance movement we owe large and lasting benefits; but it does not follow that one must laud its present-day excrescence.
The movement has undergone momentous changes in this country. Moral suasion as a means of betterment seems to have been relegated to the background. The old line prohibition party, which more or less exemplified it, has become a negligible factor. It has been replaced by an agency which knows no political party so long as it can use any for its own end. Its creed is coercion rather than persuasion, and its strength lies in its ability to make capital out of political cowardice. Much, perhaps most, of the recent prohibition legislation might properly bear this legend: "Enacted under political pressure, not from conviction.” The situation is so palpable that one need not be asked to furnish proof. But just because of their political aspects one grows skeptical about the extent of many alleged victories for temperance, for in a question affecting public morality majorities won under political compulsion do not count. As an impartial observer of American conditions has recently said: "Even when the vote shows the majority to be in favor of prohibition legislation, one cannot from the size of the majority draw a decisive conclusion in regard to the numbers of voters who are truly adherents of prohibition. As for that, these may actually be in the minority. In the American prohibition states it has repeatedly been shown that numbers of persons who vote for prohibition do not do so because they are personally convinced of its expediency and are willing to contribute personally to its enforcement, but from ulterior motives. They vote for these laws partly that they in return may gain the support of prohibitionists in election to local offices or as members of the legislature. Partly, they desire to get the prohibitionist vote in seeking one of the other positions which in the state are filled by popular elections and which may bring economic advantage or satisfy one's ambition. And when these persons have attained the places for which they have striven, one observes that they in part personally transgress the law that they have helped to force through, in part close their eyes to the violation by others and are not concerned about counteracting it, as by their votes they did not intend to court bother or make enemies." He then points to the : great extent to which "politics has entered into the special prohibition cause as well into the abstinence cause generally," and adds: “When prohibition is given a place on a party machine program there is, if it is carried through, still less guarantee that the rank and file of the party will live up to it or will exert itself to get it enforced, than when the individual citizen binds himself to vote for it. For as remarked, it will be a long time before the general public will regard the transgression of a liquor law as equivalent to
The radical defect of the prohibitionist movement as at present engineered is the devious political methods employed. There is a sordid trading for votes to carry a moral issue. That conviction must underlie the votes in order to make them effective has ceased to be accepted. Superficially, the method of votes at any price seems effective. Men are easily made cowards by threats of political annihilation or of social ostracism. The barter of conviction for place or favor belongs to the shadow side of popular government. Yet it is deliberately fostered by persons who undertake to speak in the name of lofty morality, for the history of recent prohibition contests fairly reeks of a method of bidding for votes that in its essence is
1 Some Principal Traits of the Alcohol Legislation and Its Enforcement in the United States, by Dr. A. Holst, professor of Sanitation, University of Norway.
just as reprehensible as a money bribe. That the thing may be done by indirection does not palliate it. So long as the fear or baser motives of voters are traded upon in order that they may give the lie to their convictions, a tyranny is exercised which has no defence. But it has long since come to pass that open boast is made of coercion to gain the kind of legislation which inevitably spells failure unless supported by an overwhelming public opinion.
And now we are called upon to witness a new application of political coercion for the purpose of regulating personal conduct. Congress has been petitioned to submit for ratification a constitutional amendment forbidding the manufacture and sale of intoxicants throughout the country. To become part of our fundamental law the proposed amendment must be accepted by thirty-six out of the forty-eight states. But the hostile attitude toward prohibition of the most important urban centres is well known. They cannot be won by persuasion, therefore must be coerced. The scheme is so simple that no one can be blind to its meaning.
The end to which the temperance movement in the United States is now being perverted has long been foreshadowed. For years the periodical accounts of the “gains” for prohibition have almost exclusively dealt with the extent of the territory made dry and the proportion of the general population living within it, but have been significantly silent about the successes attending enforcement. This substitution of issues has a distinct purpose. The alleged rapid expansion of dry territory is paraded as evidence of an irresistible demand for nation-wide prohibition. Hence, when the petitioners recently made their plea for a constitutional amendment, they did not base it upon the blessings of prohibition as now exemplified, but upon the numbers living within areas from which the liquor traffic has legally been excluded as indicating beyond doubt that a majority of the population already favor such an amendment.
It is really a challenge to one's intelligence when one is asked to compare the number of square miles covered, respectively, by dry and wet territory as proof of gains for prohibition. Yet reputable magazines and newspapers have of late helped to perpetuate the absurdity. As if it mattered that barren wastes, forest and mountain land and thinly settled agricultural districts, which never supported a saloon, have been added to the prohibition area ! And anyone can easily compute that in a license state without local prohibition the surface of the districts from which drink-selling is excluded through self-operative causes must exceed that of the places in which the traffic finds a footing. Nor can one accept at its face value the claim that "fifty-five per cent." of our population now live in dry territory for it is subject to so many radical qualifications, aside from the fact that the figures named are often open to doubts. At present only about 15,000,000 people in the United States out of the 91,000,000 (census of 1910) live under statewide prohibition laws, and even of these a goodly proportion dwell on the borders of license states and need but cross an imaginary line to obtain drink. Thus the great bulk of the population said to typify an anti-saloon sentiment lives under local prohibition laws. But here again it is found that untold numbers have their habitat in dry districts conveniently near license places with every opportunity to make use of what they offer. Take a familiar example: The no-license cities and towns suburban to Boston (license) and geographically a part of it contain about 400,000 inhabitants who have the amplest access to liquor supplies and can only be said to live under prohibition in a technical sense. Like conditions prevail throughout this commonwealth and are exemplified elsewhere in a multitude of places nominally under local prohibition. That they have outlawed the saloon doubtless signifies an enmity toward this institution, but it must not be confounded with a full-blown enthusiasm for national prohibition since the condition upon which they remain dry is that handy-by places keep wet. Under the circumstances it is rather meaningless to take gross percentages of the population in license states that live under local prohibition as actually showing the numbers which are made to feel the effects of sumptuary legislation and would welcome its general application.
Moreover, it is venturesome for purposes of convincing argument to omit all reference to the numerical strength both in statewide and local prohibition territory of the minority. It is a matter of history that Maine, after generations of experience, succeeded in saving its constitutional prohibition only by a handful of electors. It is a matter of history that local prohibition is often enacted by insignificant majorities that are easily overturned. It is a matter of demonstrable fact that majorities apparently favorable to local prohibition would oppose state, as well as national, prohibition. Nevertheless, we are solemnly asked to accept the statement about the fifty-five per cent. of population living in dry territory, as proving that a majority of the people would welcome national prohibition. One finds other cogent reasons for believing that many of the alleged millions of temperance people and embryonic national prohibitionists are but phantoms, useful only to apostles of a fictitious sentiment. There are the ominous figures of the production and consumption of liquor which of recent years have shown an unmistakable steady upward trend. No trick of explanation can harmonize this fact with the extravagant claims about the increasing multitudes that are seeking the blessings of prohibition. Rather one is led to question the usefulness of laws which do not even have the primitive result of keeping consumption at a uniform level, not to say of reducing it. To take refuge in the argument that people living under license are responsible for the growing use of intoxicants is arrant nonsense, for it would argue an amount of localized overindulgence contrary to all known experience. The growth of the production and consumption of liquor is a very proper reason for advocating remedial measures, but the opposite of proof that prohibition throughout a vast area is an actuality. It is probably on this ground that the question of enforcement is studiously kept in the background by those who contend for that constitutional amendment. Yet before the final step is taken one must demand an exemplification of prohibition thoroughly enforced on a large scale. Here is an ugly chapter in the temperance movement. · One is reluctant, however, to thresh over the old straws which have been turned so many times and always with the result of discovering rottenness underneath. The situation may be summed up by saying that all outside, impartial and trained investigators have reached the conclusion which the Swedish Medical Society in its profound study, entitled Alcohol and Society, puts tersely, by saying that prohibition in the United States has only existed in name. Even ardent friends of the prohibition idea abroad find that we have not provided them with a model, but rather with a deterrent example.
As an extenuating explanation it is said that the effects of local and state prohibition are more or less neutralized by the access to imports from license places, and that the real cause of the apparent failures of enforcement would disappear under a country-wide law. It is a specious plea for it ignores the fundamental reason underlying violations- lack of popular desire to have prohibition enforced, or, to put it differently, popular refusal to place transgressions of this law on par with other crimes.
Then there is the final reply that even unenforced prohibition