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lightened public opinion will not be content with the farce of emotional legislation, it will no more tolerate that the manifest evils of the liquor traffic go unchecked. Progress toward a rational settlement of this great national problem is retarded by the forces opposing each other at the two extremes. The agitation of the past has brought into being a brood of .professional "reformers." It is their means of livelihood to preach, not temperance or abstinence, but some form of prohibition. Their selfishness is as much opposed to all restrictive legislation as is the greed of certain elements of the trade to progressive measures that would eliminate undisputed and crying evils.
There are signs of saner views which, when they once prevail, will lead to rational action. There is a growing demand for an unprejudiced treatment of the whole subject. Recent writings reflect it. To be sure, most of the recent articles published on the liquor question are for popular consumption, and more or less tinged by what the writer wishes to prove, or by what may be approved by most readers. Such articles as those which have appeared in Collier's, for instance, may serve a purpose, but cannot be accepted as the results of unbiased investigation.
MÜNSTERBERG ON PROHIBITION AND SOCIAL PSYCHOLOGY.
Perhaps the most remarkable contribution to current discussion is that by Professor Hugo Münsterberg, the well-known psychologist, in McClure's for April, 1908, under the title, “Prohibition and Social Psychology." It treats the subject from a little understood point of view. Some extracts follow:
"'* * * No problem has, in America, a fair hearing as soon as one side has become the fashion of mind. Only the cranks come out with an unbalanced, exaggerated opposition and thus really help the cause they want to fight against. The well-balanced thinkers keep quiet and simply look on while the movement rushes forward, waiting quietly for the reaction which sets in from the inner absurdity of every social extreme. The result is too often an hysterical zigzag movement, where fearlessness might have found a middle way of steady progress.
"Exaggerated denunciation of the prohibition movement is, of course, ineffective. Whoever simply takes sides with the saloon keeper and his clientele-yes, whoever is blind to the colossal harm which alcohol has brought and is now bringing to the whole country
—is unfit to be heard by those who have the healthy and sound development of the nation at heart.
"But is this undeniable fact really a proof of the wisdom of prohibition? The railroads of the United States injured last year more than one hundred thousand persons and put out seven thousand hopeful lives; does any sane man argue that we ought to abolish railroads? The stock exchange has brought in the last year economic misery to uncounted homes, but even at the height of the panic no one wanted to destroy the market for industrial stocks. How much crime and disaster and disease and ruin have come into the lives of American youth through women, and yet who doubts that women are the blessing of the whole national life? To say that certain evils come from a certain source suggests only to fools the hasty annihilation of the source before studying whether greater evils might not result from its destruction, and without asking whether the evils might not be reduced, and the good from the same source remain untouched and untampered with. Even if a hollow tooth aches, the modern dentist does not think of pulling it; that would be the remedy of the clumsy village barber. The evils of drink exist, and to neglect their cure would be criminal, but to rush on to the conclusion that every vineyard ought, therefore, to be devastated is unworthy of the logic of a self-governing nation. The other side has first to show its case.
"This does not mean that every argument of the other side is valid. In most of the public protestations, especially from the Middle West, far too much is made of the claim that all the puritanic laws and the whole prohibitionist movement are an interference with personal liberty. It is an old argument indeed, ‘Better England free than England sober.' For public meetings it is just the kind of protest which resounds well and rolls on nobly. We are at once in the midst of the 'most sacred' rights. Who desires that America, the idol of those who seek freedom from the tyranny of the Old World, shall trample on the right of personal liberty? And yet those hundreds of singing societies which have joined in this outburst of moral indignation have forgotten that every law is a limitation of personal liberty.
"Yet the political aspect does not concern the social psychologist. I abstract from it as from many others. There is, indeed, no limit to the problems which ought to be studied most seriously before
such a gigantic revolution is organized. The physician may ask whether and when alcohol is real medicine, and the physiologist may study whether it is food and whether it is rightly taken as helpful to nutrition; but this is not our problem. * * * It is matter for the economist to ask what will become of the hundred thousands of men who are working today in the breweries and related industries. A labor union claims that 'over half a million men would be thrown out of employment by general prohibition, who, with their families, would make an army of a million human beings robbed of their means of existence.' And the economist, again, may consider what it might mean to take out the license taxes from the city budgets and the hundreds of millions of internal revenue from the budget of the whole country. It is claimed that the brewers, maltsters, and distillers pay out for natural and manufactured products, for labor, transportation, etc., seven hundred million dollars annually, that their aggregate investments foot up to more than three thousand millions; and that their taxes contribute three hundred and fifty millions every year to the public treasuries. Can the country afford to ruin an industry of such magnitude? Such weighty problems cannot be solved in the Carrie Nation style; yet they are not ours here. * * *
"Nearer to our psychological interest comes the well-known war-cry, 'Prohibition does not prohibit.' It is too late in the day to need to prove it by statistics; every one knows it. No one has traveled in prohibition States who has not seen the sickening sight of drunkards of the worst order. The drug stores are turned into very remunerative bars, and through hidden channels whiskey and gin flood the community. The figures of the United States Commissioner of Internal Revenue tell the story publicly. * * But the secret story is much more alarming. What is the effect? As far as the health of the nation and its mental training in selfcontrol and in regulation of desires are concerned, the result must be dangerous, because, on the whole, it eliminates the mild beverages in favor of the strong drinks and substitutes lonely drinking for drinking in social company. Both are, psychologically and physiologically, a turn to the wrong. It is not the mild beer and light wine which are secretly imported; it is much easier to transport and hide whiskey and rum, with their strong alcoholic power and stronger effect on the nerve cells of the brain. And of all forms of drinking none is more ruinous than the solitary drink, as soon as the
feeling of repugnance has been overcome; there is no limit and no inhibition. * *
"But man is not only a nervous system. Prohibition forced by a majority on an unwilling minority, will always remain a living source of the spirit of disregard for law. Yet, 'unwilling' minority is too weak an epithet, the question is of a minority which considers the arbitrary rule undemocratic, absurd, immoral, and which really believes that it is justified in finding a way around a contemptible law. * * *
"Judges know how rapidly the value of the oath sinks in courts where violation of the prohibition laws is a frequent charge, and how habitual perjury becomes tolerated by respected people. The city politicians know still better how closely blackmail and corruption hang together, in the social psychology, with the enforcement of laws that strike against the belief and traditions of wider circles. The public service becomes degraded, the public conscience becomes dulled. And can there be any doubt that disregard of law is the most dangerous psychological factor in our present-day American civilization? It is not lynch law which is the worst; the crimes against life are twenty times more frequent than in Europe, and as for the evils of commercial life which have raised the wrath of the whole well-meaning nation in late years, has not disregard of law been their real source? In a popular melodrama the sheriff says solemnly: 'I stand here for the law'; and when the other shouts in reply, 'I stand for common sense!' night after night the public breaks out into jubilant applause. To foster this immoral negligence of law by fabricating hasty, ill-considered laws in a hysterical mood, laws which almost tempt toward a training in violation of them, is surely a dangerous experiment in social psychology. * * *
"The question of the liquor trade and temperance—which is so widely different from a hasty prohibition—has engaged the minds of all times and of all nations, and is studied everywhere today with the means of modern science. But this spring flood of prohibition legislation which has overrun the States shows few signs of deeper connection with serious study and fewer signs of profit from the experiments of the past. When the Chinese government made laws against intemperance about eleven hundred years before Christ, it can hardly have gone more hastily to work than the members of this movement of the twentieth century after Christ. It is unworthy of women and men who want to stand for sobriety to allow themselves
to become intoxicated with hysterical outcries, when a gigantic national question is to be solved, a question which can never be solved until it is solved rightly. A wrong decision must necessarily lead to a social reaction which can easily wipe out every previous gain. * *
"Progress is to be hoped for only from the most careful analysis of all the factors of this problem; yet, instead, the nation leaves it to the unthinking, emotional part of the population. * * When leading scholars bring real arguments on both sides of the problem, their work is buried in archives, and no one is moved to action. But when a Chicago minister hangs the American flag over his pulpit, fastens a large patch of black color on it, declares that the patch stands for the liquor evil which smothers the country, denounces wildly the men who spend for whiskey the money which ought to buy medicine for sick children, and then madly tears the black cloth from the stars and stripes and grinds it under his heelthen thousands rush out, as excited as if they had heard a convincing argument. And this superficiality is the more repellent because every glimpse below the surface shows an abundance of cant and hypocrisy and search for cheap fame and sensationalism and still more selfish motives mingled with the whole movement; even the agitation itself, with its threats of ruin, borders too often on graft and blackmail and thus helps to debauch the public life. *
"Psychologically, the case stands thus: alcohol has indeed an inhibitory influence on mind and body. The feeling of excitement, the greater ease of motor impulse, the feeling of strength and joy, the forgetting of sorrow and pain-all are at bottom the result of inhibition; impulses are let free because the checking centers are inhibited. But it is absurd to claim from the start that all this is bad and harmful, as if the word inhibition meant destruction and lasting damage. Harmful it is, bodily and socially, when these changes become exaggerated, when they are projected into such dimensions that vital interests, the care for family and honor and duty are paralyzed; but in the inhibition itself lies no danger. ***
"It was a well-known philosopher who coupled Christianity and alcohol as the two great means of mankind to set us free from pain. But nature provided mankind with other means of inhibition, sleep is still more radical, and every fatigue works in the same direction; to inhibit means to help and to prepare for action. * * * “And are those who fancy that every brain alteration is an evil