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25 September 2011

I and We in Libational Context

I'm getting pumped up for the the new Ken Burns' documentary, Prohibition. Prohibition was an attempt at "social engineering" or, more accurately, intentional cultural manipulation. While a grassroots movement, it resulted in a top-down result. It didn't work. The problems of alcohol, however, did not disappear with the Cullen-Harrison Act. Two years later, Bill Wilson offered the world an individualistic response that resonated much more with the the increasing individualism that industrialization had ushered in, Alcoholics Anonymous. What I am proposing is that the 18th Amendment failed in part because it was a communal solution in an individualist society. It's one thing to say, "We have a problem, and it is demon liquor," a far different thing to say, "I am Bill W., and I am an alcoholic." More on this kind of dichotomy here.

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