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WHAT PROHIBITIONISTS MIGHT LEARN
This is the substance of the law. Surely, any attempt to dilate upon it or to elucidate its details would be a waste of time. If, as stated in the U. S. House of Representatives, the object of sending American delegates to these international congresses is to profit by the investigations and experience of foreign nations, the facts herein reviewed, together with the new Italian law, ought to be regarded as being of considerable value and importance. It remains to be seen whether the delegates think so. It is not at all likely. The prohibitionists' aim at home and abroad is to teach, not to learn. If the opposite were true, they would find splendid opportunities at home; for in its basic principle the Italian law harmonizes perfectly with the teachings of the most eminent American advocates of temperance (as contra-distinguished from prohibition) from the days of Dr. Benjamin Rush, of revolutionary fame, to the era of the Temperance Society under Dr. Crosby's guidance, and, thence on to the period of scientific investigations conducted by the Committee of Fifty. But no American prohibitionist was ever known to mention at these international assemblies the magnificent work of the latter body of eminent scientists. To do so, would be contrary to prohibitory practices. Why should we expect prohibitionists to approach European matters in a more receptive state of mind? Indeed, Americans could learn a great deal from European conditions and the continental treatment of the drink question, as this Italian case shows, but at these congresses the subjects of consideration principally relate, as the name indicates, to alcoholism-i.e. to the abuse, not the proper use of intoxicants—and therefore the meetings are the favorite battle-ground of the extremists of all nations. In Italy, as in every European country, there are abstinence-societies, of course (just as there are vegetarian clubs, and associations pledging their members to eschew tobacco), but their membership forms an infinitesimal small fraction of the population, yet naturally enough, they play a very prominent part in these meetings. There are also in Italy, as in every other country, physicians and scientists who discountenance the use, however moderate, of any intoxicants; but as several symposiums, particularly in Germany and France, have shown, their number is exceedingly small as compared with the large body of scientists who regard the moderate use of mild alcoholic beverages as being conducive to human health and happiness,
or, to quote the words of one of the Italian parliamentary reports: "that pure wine consumed in moderate quantities contributes hygienically to man's well-being." Very few of these scientists, however, consider it worth their while to attend such congresses.
As a rule, the extreme views of European teetotalers and the remedies they propose are not taken seriously by the public. The Italian total-abstainers, for instance, propose that the vintners be induced by moral suasion to convert the grapes, which they cannot sell for table use, into fermented juice and jam. What the Italian people think of this proposition appears very clearly from the law here reviewed and the parliamentary reports upon which it is based. However extreme the views of these teetotalers may be, they would not dare to advocate prohibition; to argue that because forty-one defective or perverted persons out of every million of the population die annually of alcoholism, the entire Italian people should be prevented by law from drinking wine-a beverage which they have consumed daily during many centuries and yet earned world-wide fame for their sobriety. This is the salient point of the contrast between the American and the European reform movement in all its phases a contrast which, it is to be feared, American agitators will never willingly admit, although they are too intelligent not to perceive and understand it.
In order to illustrate this apprehension an incident, unconnected with the Milan Congress, may not be out of place. In the New York Times of the 14th of October, 1913, it is stated that Dr. Crafts, the famous prohibitionist, on returning to America from a tour abroad, stated that "Germany is away ahead of America in some forms of temperance." Dr. Crafts' observations cannot be gainsaid, if temperance be construed in the rational sense of the word. The German people, who as a whole are very temperate in their drinking-habits, should indeed be congratulated upon their successful efforts to suppress all those excesses to which the youth of certain classes were addicted during the short period of intellectual "storm and stress" which lies between the time of the scholastic restraint and iron discipline of the "Gymnasium" and the entry upon the serious duties of their chosen avocations. A marked change for the better is noticable in this respect throughout Germany, and a large part of the credit for this belongs to the different governments; but all this is accomplished by moral suasion and no intention of forbidding or hindering the proper use of healthful
stimulants. The same governments, national, provincial and municipal, employ trained corps of teachers to instruct the vintners in the proper managements of their vineyards, and the different rulers maintained upon their domains model vineyards and winecellars to which the wine-growers' attention is called from time to time for their instruction; and for the same purpose these governments maintain out of the public funds brewing-schools either as independent institutions or parts of agricultural colleges-not to mention the commercial breweries operated by ruling and mediatized houses, such as the one at Munich and the equally famous establishment of the Kaiser's intimate friend and purveyor of beer, Prince Fürstenberg.
Why does Dr. Crafts fail to point out these facts? It would perhaps be more appropriate to ask why he should point them out, considering that they destroy his entire stock in trade accumulated during many years of arduous labors.
This incident, gleaned from another field, also tends to confirm the assertion that America might indeed learn from European methods—as Congress evidently intended-if the men delegated to these international meetings, instead of helping to propagate the spirit of intolerance inseparable from zealotism, would study impartially the past history and present condition of the foreign countries, which they are paid to visit.
In past years this same Dr. Crafts headed the American delegation and, as his reports show, he neither saw nor heard anything in Europe that could shake his convictions that alcohol in any form (wine, beer, cider or spirits) and consumed in any quantity, however moderate, must lead to the physical and moral destruction of individuals and nations.
It is not likely that his successor, Mr. Dinwiddie, will differ from him in this particular. No matter what the past history and present condition of the Italian people may teach to other men, to the Prohibitionist they will prove nothing except the correctness of his shibboleth, his “ceterum censeo”—alcohol must go.
"ALCOHOL AND SOCIETY."
Important Work Sponsored by the Swedish Association of
HIS is the title of the weightiest book on the liquor problem which has appeared since the days of the Committee of Fifty. It is published in the name of the Swedish Association of Physicians and was prepared by a committee selected by it. Having devoted several of its meetings to a discussion of the alcohol question, the Swedish Association of Physicians, which represents the highest corporate medical authority in Sweden, resolved in March, 1908, to charge some of its best qualified members with special inquiries into the different aspects of the liquor problem. The result of their labors, extending over five years, is the above book, which bears the sub-title "Considerations of the anti-social influences caused by the use of intoxicating liquors, together with proposals for systematic means of combating them in Sweden."
As is well known, Sweden has long been the exponent of advanced temperance legislation. Its "riksdag," or parliament, contains a very strong representation of men who are total abstainers, if not full-fledged prohibitionists. That it voted to subsidize the work of the Swedish physicians is therefore strong evidence of public faith in their knowledge and impartiality. For this reason, as well as because of its intrinsic merit, the findings of the book under consideration are of world-wide interest to those concerned with the truth about the much controverted liquor question. Unfortunately, the work has not yet been translated into English. There is thus the greatest reason for reproducing briefly its leading utterances and conclusions. In the following some of them will be summarized and others translated in full. Explanations or remarks by the compiler have been put in parenthesis to distinguish them from the text. All the italics used are found in the original.
The Alcohol Question. A Question of General Hygiene of the Utmost Importance. The Attitude of Physicians Toward it.
A more objective and impartial view of the whole liquor problem is emphatically needed. Even a superficial knowledge of the concepts appearing in the literature of the last decade, as well
as of the methods of investigation they reveal, must awaken a lively wonder in the mind of a somewhat critically inclined investigator at the serious shortcomings of prevailing methods of study. The obvious mistakes and exaggerations even in regard to some of the fundamental things upon which the modern temperance doctrine is built have their counterparts in the unscientific and swollen notions concerning the usefulness and necessity of alcohol expressed by persons who feel themselves called upon to defend the status quo.
But the alcohol literature is not alone in exhibiting faults which only a more critical study can free it from. Even practical measures are not founded upon exact knowledge gained by methodical observations of and insight into the social bearings of the alcohol question. Thus a thorough understanding of the extent of the abuse of drink is lacking; the different types of alcoholics are not sufficiently well known, and the extent of the injury they do themselves and others is only superficially ascertained. The development of alcoholism in individuals and the social and individual conditions giving rise to it have not been made the object of study. If the abuse of alcohol is a social disease it must be owned that our knowledge about it is exceedingly imperfect, both in regard to its deeper causes and manifestations as well as in regard to its course. There is no social instrument delegated to study the phenomena and to penetrate the manifold conditions associated with them. Consequently no fact-basis is at hand which may inspire to new methods and the following up of the effects of those adopted against the drink evil.
And yet the temperance movement touches a side of modern social life which ought to be made the object of exact investigations, partly of an experimental nature. Here as well as in other fields it is important that the measures proposed should be preceded by a thorough knowledge not only of the social phenomena, the evils which underlie the reform efforts, but also of the circumstances that, in turn, condition these phenomena. Without such knowledge one risks that while a present evil, patent to all, is being suppressed, other evils may arise which are more difficult to detect and perhaps even more dangerous.
During a long campaign of education, the modern temperance movement, relying upon the authority of physicians and scientists, has sought to establish certain opinions about the injurious effects