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is better than any form of the legalized traffic, for there must be no compromise with evil. It is a tough morsel for the moral digestion. Is the question then not of abating an admitted evil, but of salving one's conscience by subscribing to an academic dictum that it shall no longer exist? Small wonder that this line of reasoning has led present day leaders of the temperance movement to treat so lightly the festering ills that flow directly from the wilful, persistent and concerted violation of fundamental as well as statutory laws. This is the fatal cancer that gnaws at the vitals of a righteous cause as it is now directed.
Nevertheless, we are bidden to court the far graver dangers of attempting national prohibition. The complication of conditions sure to arise from it fairly staggers the imagination. One can pass quickly over some of the more obvious. It would be exceedingly awkward, while of course feasible, to find the hundreds of millions of new revenue to offset the inevitable losses. But one cannot so easily dispose of the far-reaching economic disturbances inevitably following upon the destruction of a business representing in its various branches a capital far exceeding a billion dollars and which is a factor in agriculture, manufacture, transportation, etc. Since economic laws know no distinction of persons, the blow would fall upon the just and unjust alike.
But such considerations, the prospect of international difficulties over tariffs, etc., are to be reckoned as naught against the consequences from an irrepressible illegal sale of intoxicants. Let us look straight at some of the elements that would enter into the situation and foretell not of probabilities, but certainties. There is the demand for stimulants which no legislation affects; there is the case and trivial cost of producing alcohol; and the universal desire to make easy money. Combine the three, add to it the undisguised hostility to prohibition of all great centers of population and, indeed, of whole states, and we have an opposition which no method of policing can overcome. The watchful eye and impartial hand of the federal government would be withdrawn from the struggle. Having no longer any interest in revenue, it would not search the length and breadth of the land for illicit manufacture. Presumably, it would watch importations, if not attempt the necessary patrolling of the whole coast and borders. The restraint now exercised by a trade jealous of the traffic carried on by persons who pay no tax would disappear. Enforcement would be left at the most important
points in the hands of officials unfriendly to law and acting for a population out of sympathy with it. What is now known the world over as the "shame of Maine”—the synonym for debauchment of law and order, the toleration of violation of law for the sake of political gain—would become the general stigma of our country. Against these verities we must balance the possibility of a diminished abuse of drink. Vain anticipation! There is to be no embargo on manufacture for home or personal use, nor could there be. One might, therefore, reasonably expect conditions parallel to those of Sweden in the last century when home distillation was legalized, resulting in an amount of drunkenness, the like of which history scarcely records. The unquenchable desire for stimulants will be met by a supply of the most destructive alcoholic preparations, since the lighter substitutes will be difficult to obtain, and no device known to human ingenuity can check it.
Such, in briefest outline, is the prospect we are told to welcome or be forced to accept through political coercion. As before, every effort will be bent to make the issue one solely between the extreme leaders of the temperance movement and the liquor trade, without any opportunity to let those be heard who are just as eager as the former to promote sobriety, but who still would reckon with facts and poor human nature. As at present staged, one can picture a contest over national prohibition between two factions. On one side the advocates, constituting a widespread, thoroughly organized, wellendowed body which is officered by professional spokesmen of no particular political faith, who have forsaken all belief in persuasion and clamor for the strong arm of the law of annihilation. And on the other side the trade and allied interests fighting for their own and matching the maneuvers of their opponents step by step.
As in so many battles waged throughout individual states over the prohibition question, the great public is not likely to be greatly moved over a national contest. The attitude of most is likely to be that of bored indifference which is not simply to be regarded as apathy, but as evidence of a conviction that the game is so played as to shut out the general public from participation. There may be semblances of white-hot zeal for universal sobriety, and doubtless many are touched by it; but it usually cools quickly as if it had been artificially stimulated. What creates this indifference is largely that, instead of fostering a free expression of opinion, deliberate effort is made to thwart it. Then, too, the cloven hoof of those who don the temperance garb simply to stalk political game is usually sq plainly visible. The occasion lends itself beautifully to play upon moral as well as political cowardice with the common effect of relegating a great part of the public to a passive rôle. Those who are vitally concerned about the drink evil but would seek to eradicate it by successive steps, and not by an empty fiat of law, usually get buffetings from both sides; by the extremists for favoring evil and by the trade for efforts to curtail its interests. But one can afford to risk both in a good cause.
We are asked, almost commanded, to abide by the assumption that the liquor problem has been thoroughly explored in all its depths. Even if it were true, the acceptance of the proposed universal solution by no means follows. Unfortunately, the final authoritative word on the subject of alcohol remains to be spoken, whatever special pleaders may assert to the contrary. The evils connected with the abuse of drink are plain, yet we cannot uncover the chain of causation to its uttermost link. Science still halts before the fundamental question: Why do men become alcoholists? Therefore, it cannot pin its faith on a legislative "thou shalt not" as a sovereign cure for ailments that may be rooted in the constitutional peculiarity of the individual, and of which alcoholism may simply be a symptom. How far drink is the active originating cause of physical and mental disorder is still to be determined, and the knowledge thus far gained does not point to a remedy applicable en masse.
Until recently the fatuous notion prevailed that drunkenness could be successfully dealt with by invoking the penal code. Now we demand a diagnosis of the individual case, recognizing that a complexity of causes may underlie the trouble. How, then, can we be content with pure assumption when facing the infinitely more obscure and complex social disorders in which liquor appears to play such a prominent part? To catalogue all of them as chiefly of alcoholic origin is so much easier; it fits in with the seeming simplicity of the one remedy advocated. But the truth must be insisted upon. The substitution of mere assertion for fact yields a dangerous guide to action. As in the case of the individual, so in that of society generally, an accurate diagnosis must precede the application of a specific, lest we injure where we would heal. In short, patient inquiry must still be the order of the day, beginning with the alcoholist himself.
The confident belief that the pathology of the alcohol situation is but imperfectly understood does not imply that all constructive effort must wait upon scientific investigations. The fight against the drink evil must go on, and many tried and still useful weapons wherewith to wage it are at hand. Moral suasion continues to be available and is a greater force in the world than coercion. Education and the amelioration of social customs are now as ever powerful adjuncts to right living. But education must be founded upon truth and not upon a counterfeit or upon pure fiction invented for purposes of propaganda. Finally, weak human nature can be shielded from temptation by rational progressive control of the liquor traffic. Apparently, efforts in this direction are not even welcomed by extremists who with a curious perversion of logic express an absolute faith in legal restraint raised to the nth power, but scornfully deny the efficacy of any lesser restraint. It is begging the question to say that our restrictive legislation has been a total failure, for it has not been rational nor progressive. True, it is exceedingly prolific, but it evidences a search for varieties rather than for central principles; each state seems to want its special brand of laws. The invention of legal irritants has been mistaken for the discovery of elements that make for stable control. The whole fabric of liquor laws is of the haphazard order, from the pivotal question of the authorities who should grant privileges to sell and their power of control, down to the most trivial detail. The experiments may appear numerous, but are for the greater part revivals of time-worn expedients.
This backward condition of our liquor legislation is easily ac- ! counted for. Its key-note has always been repression and penalties regardless of whether they could be enforced. Progressive measures have been blocked not solely by the trade but by persons most inimical to it, whose theory is that the worse the status of the trade becomes the sooner it will be abolished. Therefore, they look askance at such practical means of promoting sobriety as that of taxing intoxicants according to their alcoholic strength and of favoring the substitution of the least intoxicating beverages in every way.
It is a commonplace to refer the shortcomings of liquor laws to the political meddling of the liquor trade. That it has displayed a pernicious activity in this respect no one can deny, but it is a fair question whether we may not attribute this largely to our method
of handling the whole situation. The question of liquor selling is still a rare factor in the politics of prohibition states where the question of obedience or disobedience to the laws is a constant issue in elections. The same spectacle may be observed not only where restrictive laws far outstrip public opinion which is needed to give them force, but where all effort to demolish the liquor traffic is directed through political channels. The bane of the situation is that instead of eliminating the saloon from politics we are perforce keeping it in politics. Take as an example the notorious perversion of the local option principle when so applied to countries that an important urban population, against the express desire of the majority, is forced to accept the dictates of a rural population which is little affected by the outcome. The middle western states furnish numerous examples of local option merely as a device for gaining large political units in the interests of eventual state prohibition. Naturally, under such circumstances, the trade meets political tactics in kind.
The lawlessness of the saloon, and its brazen use of politics, where not under careful restraint, is an old story and an inevitable concomitant of raw social conditions. On the other hand, it cannot be gainsaid, the liquor traffic gradually ceases to trouble politics when placed under discriminating and thoroughly enforced control; in other words, where the best system of legislation has been developed. Then, too, the recognized spokesmen for the liquor interests realize full well that their future security lies in obedience to law, and not in achieving freedom from restraint through devious political methods. The elements that have not yet learned this lesson must be made to do so.
Those who dread the prospect of unbridled indulgence in drink no less than the spectacle of whole states in open rebellion against law and order, cannot afford to sit idly by and let the liquor question be fought out by the absolutists on one side and trade interests on the other. It is for them to build on facts, not on unalloyed theory, relying upon wholesome influences as more productive of sobriety than the prohibitive letter of the law. Not least among such influences is sane, progressive legislation. Apparently this cannot be worked out in conjunction with the present day leaders of the temperance movement in this country. The greater the pity! But it is a curious reflection upon prevailing conditions that, in the constructive work to be done, one can turn with greater confidence