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December 15, 2022 66 mins

The Prohibition era (1920-33) plays a far more significant role in U.S. history than is commonly assumed. Yes, it clearly failed in its objectives. And, yes, the assumptions that led to the rapid enactment of the 18th Amendment were massively flawed. But Prohibition was, as Lisa McGirr, professor of history at Harvard, argues in her book, The War on Alcohol: Prohibition and the Rise of the American State, “one of the boldest and most radical social efforts to alter personal behavior in the nation’s history and one that would have dramatic though unintended consequences for nation-state building and for politics.” It is also, not surprisingly, inseparable from the broader history of drug prohibition and drug wars since the start of the 20th century.

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Speaker 1 (00:00):
Hi, I'm Ethan Edelman, and this is Psychoactive, a production
of I Heart Radio and Protozoa Pictures. Psychoactive is the
show where we talk about all things drugs. But any
views expressed here do not represent those of I Heart Media,
Protozoa Pictures, or their executives and employees. Indeed, heed, as

(00:23):
an inveterate contrarian, I can tell you they may not
even represent my own. And nothing contained in this show
should be used as medical advice or encouragement to use
any type of drugs. Hello, Psychoactive listeners. So today we're

(00:44):
gonna talk about America's experience with alcohol prohibition, the eighteenth
Amendment that passed in and where we had alcohol prohibition
this country for thirteen years before it was repealed by
the twenty first Amendment. The person I've asked to talk
to us about is is Lisa mcgurre. She's a historian
at Harvard. She first wrote an award winning book on

(01:05):
the history of the New Right called Suburban Warriors, and
then she wrote a book called The War on Alcohol
subtitled Prohibition and the Rise of the American State. And
I wanted to have lesa because for a few reasons. First,
I think this book, if you're going to read one
book about alcohol prohibition, its rise, it's enforcement, it's demise,
this would be it. It's concise, it covers the field

(01:26):
in the literature, but she also does a few other
things in this book. She emphasizes the importance of alcohol
prohibition in many ways with basically the evolution of American
politics and only twentie century and the rise of the
American state. And she brings a special attention to the
ways that prohibition was enforced in ways that not only

(01:48):
resemble the modern drug war, but that also really played
an important role in transforming American politics. So, Lisa, thanks
so much for joining me on Psychoactive, thanks so much
or having me so listen. I mean, why did you
write this book? Well, um, why did I write the book?
I wrote the book partly because I had I was

(02:11):
looking at an earlier period. My first book was on
the right in the post World War two period, basically
looking at the history of the conservative movement from the
bottom up, trying to use social history to say something
new about the right, uh and the conservative movement, and
I felt that it had picked big payoffs to look
at the right in a new way, basically trying to

(02:32):
understand it from a grassroots perspective, from the perspective ordinary
men and women. So I started to think about an
earlier iteration or moment of the when the right was
pretty powerful, uh, and began to delve into the nineteen twenties.
And as I did, I worked a little bit on
the Saco and Manzetti case and anti immigrant case. Kind
of a moment of heightened nativism and prohibition was popping

(02:56):
up all over the place. And it just struck me
that his storians had not taken a serious enough look
at the repercussions of prohibition. What happened once the Eighteenth Amendment,
which was of course the amendment to the Constitution enacting
national prohibition. What happened once it had passed. Stories have

(03:16):
did a great job looking at the movement for national prohibition,
how it came about. There was a hundred year old
campaign for what was called temperance for sort of you know,
basically trying to tamp down on alcohol consumption. But once
we got to the Eighteenth Amendment, once it was passed,

(03:38):
historians kind of had felt that, you know, this was
a huge policy failure, and there wasn't much to say
it was a great disaster, and as we well know,
it was certainly somewhat disastrous, but there were huge implications
that historians had not done enough to tease out. So
I was really interested in looking at what happened after

(04:02):
what was the unfolding of national prohibition. Of course, it
was relatively short lived, right, It was rescinded by ninety
three with the First Amendment, and that was partly one
of the reasons why historians didn't pay that much attention
to it. But you know, there was a lot more
to say, as I uncovered through looking at it from
a different angle, which was not to tell kind of

(04:23):
a national story of speakeasies at rum runners, but to
look at the experience of ordinary men and women with
the Prohibition Amendment and the way prohibition was enforced um
and how it affected politics. And so by looking at
the kind of from the bottom up perspective and delving
into different parts of the country, I was able to tell,
I think, someone more consequential story of national Prohibition that

(04:46):
had been told until the publication of the book, at least,
I hope so. Okay, no, no, I think so, because
you know what I thought about. But there's been a
lot of great books about prohibition. I mean, it was
a one by Daniel Oakrank Last Call, and I think
that probably helped shape the docum menory that ken Burns
did about prohibition a few years ago. But your book
really does break this sort of new ground in terms
of emphasizing the role in the sort of rise of

(05:09):
the American state. But just to quickly go to the
period that was led up to the eighteenth Amendment. As
you point out, there's these temperance movements in America. There
were states that are prohibited alcohol in the middle of
the nineteenth century, and then repeal those things the temperance
moment begins to rise again. And some of that history
is quite familiar, right. We know that you know that
there's an element of Protestant churches. We know there's the

(05:30):
progressive movement that was bringing us all these good things
like child labor protection and food and drug control and
antitrust laws and women's right to vote and uh direct
election of senators. So there was an active progressive movement.
Alcohol prohibition gets caught up in all of that. There's
also the concerns about industrialization. You know, workers having accidents
and factories, automobiles emerging, people are driving drunk and dying

(05:52):
on the rows. All of these things are going together.
But you really hone in especially on sort of this
particular marriage between progressivism, that progressive era that brought us
all those good things and also embraces alcohol prohibition and
then evangelical Protestanism. And you point, for example, with the
starts of the Women's Christian Temperance Union back in the

(06:13):
eighteen seventies. So talk about that marriage there, that that relationship,
and how that distinctly marks you know, the u S
experience and how the how we emerge evolve from a
sort of temperance movement that's really focused on alcohol moderation
and not total prohibition into a full throttle prohibition movement. Right. Well,

(06:34):
it's really interesting because there was this hundred year old
campaign for temperance that was very much focused on individual discipline,
on taking a pledge to basically discipline oneself against the
addiction and the problem of alcohol excessive alcohol consumption. By
the late nineteenth century, with the emergence of the Women's

(06:56):
Christians Temperance Union, the Anti Saloon League, there is a
sense that individual abstinence is not going to be enough
to solve the problem of the liquor issue, and there's
a turn toward using you know, sort of policy, using
the law at the state and local level. But with
the rise of progressivism in the early twentieth century, there's

(07:17):
a turn toward using the federal government to solve social
and economic problems. And this is really a big moment
in that period of constitutional activism. Right it's the moment
when we get the direct election of senators, where we
get the income tax amendment. It's the moment where we
get four amendments within a period of less than a decade,
including women's suffrage. So the turn towards constitutional activism and

(07:41):
towards using the federal government to solve social and economic
problems is one in which progressives are fundamentally aware of
and interested in using to solve the alcohol problem. But
it also intersects then with the absolutest crusade of these
folks within the evangelical Christian move meant, those within the
Anti Saloon League and the w c TU, the Women's

(08:03):
Christian Temperance Union, that are far more stringent in their approach. Right,
So they don't just want to get rid of regulate alcohol,
which may have been a solution progressive reformers might have embraced.
They want to go full hog and basically outlaw all imbibing.
And there's a relationship between those two movements, and what

(08:24):
ends up happening is that the solution proposed by those
that are more along the evangelical Christian lines is the
one that comes to fruition, which is a total ban
on alcohol, which essentially far basically outruns many of the
problems that were proposed in generating a whole new slew
and setup problems in the nineties. As a result of

(08:46):
this total absolute ban on all forms of liquor imbibing. Well,
you also bring into sort of European dimensions here, right,
I mean, one is the fact that part of what
accelerates dramatically the progress towards the eighteenth Amendment and and
the banning of alcohol, I mean to an extent that
it goes much faster than even that, even faster than
any of the advocates expect, is World War One. And

(09:09):
that results in a kind of anti German sentiment. It
results in, you know, people being opposed to the breweries
which are German owned. It results in a serit of
wartime self sacrifice, so that people are y ways grain
on drinking when we should be getting it to the
troops and for that sort of thing. But then there's
another element to this, right, which is that the the
temperance movement is also happening in Europe and other parts

(09:31):
of the Anglophone world in the late nineteenth early twentieth century.
They're placing restrictions on alcohol. They're doing time and place restrictions,
they're limiting hard liquor, all these sorts of things. But
almost nobody except sort of you know, Finland and Iceland
are going for full alcohol prohibition. And the argument you make,
as I understand it correctly, is that the reason, the
key reason America, which initially is almost following in the

(09:54):
footsteps of the Europeans, sort of leapfrogs them into total prohibition,
is this event jelical Protestant dimension. That's right. You know,
it's interesting because World War One is incredibly important for
basically spiraling the Crusade to success, uh and without World One,
it's possible that the prohibition Amendment would never have passed. Basically,

(10:16):
it's during the war that because you see all of
these kind of efforts across those nations were involved in
the war to limit alcohol consumption, right, to provide food
for the troops with hops and wheat, basically, to uh,
you know, sort of to discipline the troops. Um, they're
all sorts of partial prohibitionary measures that are passed. But

(10:38):
the US, again, it's it's exactly what you say is
correct that because of the evangelical Protestant crusaders kind of
more absolutest approach, the United States does not go for
a partial prohibitionary measure, rather for a total and complete ban.
And of course, once the prohibition Amendment is passed, the

(10:59):
way at the enforcement legislation defines alcohol consumption as point
five percent of alcohol as an intoxicating beverage, means that
all alcohol, wines, gears, and distilled liquors will be banned,
uh in total. And that essentially is a very very
different kind of experience than than it happened in many

(11:22):
many other industrial countries that were during war time past
these partial prohibitionary measures. So the US ends up in
a unique position for a large industrial nation and with
a unique set of problems in its wake, and also
with a kind of unique form of state building that
comes out of prohibition, which pushes the US state in

(11:42):
a direction of policing and surveillance, a state that becomes
more heavy on coercion, uh than on social provisioning in
comparison to some other European states. Well, in that context,
talk a little bit about Richard Hobson. Uh. Yeah, Well,
Hobson was one of the what was called fathers of prohibition.

(12:05):
He was the highest paid lecturer for the Anti Saloon League.
He had been uh in the military, was a military
figure who really sought to use the state. Two. Was
sort of aggressive and using the state to solve what
he saw as social and economic problems. He was a
very strong anti liquor crusader. What's fascinating about him is that, uh,

(12:31):
first he comes out with all sorts of exaggerated tropes
about the problem and danger of alcohol. Uh. You know
that basically then this is classic for the probition movement.
More broadly, that alcohol consumption is responsible for half of poverty,
for insane asylums, for you know, all sorts of problems. Basically,

(12:54):
alcohol prohibition is seen as a panacea for many prohibitionists.
Richmond Hopson. Was so interesting about him is during the
nineteen twenties, he moved from the crusade against alcohol toward
a crusade against other forms of narcotic drugs. And that's
where I argue in my book that there's a kind

(13:14):
of symbiotic relationship between the crusade against alcohol and the
crusade against narcotic substances. More broadly, It's something that's pretty much,
I think been neglected because we have a tendency to
look at alcohol prohibition very very much as a different
kind of crusade than the crusade against other narcotic drugs.

(13:37):
But if you look at somebody like Richmond Hobson, you
see the connections. It's almost a little more complicated in
that because even before I think he gets involved alcohol prohibition,
he has his own interaction with the prohibition of drugs
and opium when the United States occupies the Philippines and
they have an opium control system there that's left over
working pretty well for elderly opium users and under pressure

(13:59):
from within the US right from you know, oftentimes religious
figures on Bishop Brent is one and I think Hobson
is another. You know, they basically get their initial taste
through a post you know, basically pushing for an arcotics
control and bands on opium imports and a more international approach,
which is not so much the story with alcohol prohibition,

(14:19):
right it is it is in this case. So Hobson
almost sort of wets his teeth on the narcotic piece,
then dives into alcohol and then comes back out on
narcotics here. So it's a great it's a great point
to make, and I think that things. So there's you
see the kind of building or the forging of a
kind of incipient anti narcotic regime in the early twentieth century,

(14:39):
particularly around opium. But until you get national prohibition, you
do not see the kind of criminalization of addiction at
the level you do in the in the wake of prohibition.
So it's in the nineties twenties, um, that you get
really sort of the end of addiction maintenance, a far
more p approach toward users. And you know somebody like um,

(15:05):
Harry Ansling or who basically says that, you know, you
should lock him up and throw away the key approach
to alcohol prohibition that he also sought to forge, but
that was less successful. But towards drug use he was
a far more successful in doing right, I mean, Harry answer,
there is another crossover guy. Right. He spends the early
nineteen thirties heading the Foreign Control section of the U s.

(15:28):
National Bureau of Alcohol Probition Enforcement, and then in nineteen
I'm sorry, in the late twenties, and then in becomes
the first head of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics. So
he's another person who transitions over as And we're sort
of jumping ahead of our story here because you also
get that with the Rich Women Christian Temperance Union when
ultimately prohibition gets repealed and they make a shift over.

(15:48):
But I want to dive into one more point before
we get actually two the years of prohibition, which is
you also point out that part of the transformation is
happening only twentieth century. Is this massive immigration happening into America.
Right that by fifteen percent of the American population is
far and born in New York City, It's by nineteen
twenty in Chicago, by two thirds of all people living

(16:11):
there either far and born or the children of far
and born parents. So there's this massive transformation with immigrants
coming from southern and Eastern Europe and basically the older
multi generation of white folks who had come from Western
and Northern Europe and earlier generations freaking out, and for them,
the association with alcohol is huge, and particularly the saloon culture.

(16:34):
So just elaborate upon why in many respects that you
have this movement where the saloon culture really becomes the
dominant element of the prohibition movement. Yeah, I mean, in
a way, the salute, the problem of the saloon, of
the saloon is what brought progressive reformers together with those evangelicals.
So progressives were largely concerned about the problems faced by

(16:58):
poor immigrants, the ways in which you know, there was
great poverty in these cities, unpaved streets, and of course
these this new institution of the saloon. There was actually
a decline in the late nineteenth century of the use
of hard liquors, but there was also a rise in
beer consumption, and beer consumption was associated with the the
imbibing in the kind of all male, boisterous public space

(17:23):
of the saloon, and the balloons were ubiquitous in urban
uh immigrant ethnic neighborhoods. Um they were also spaces where
politics took place, and they were associated with big urban machines.
Another issue for progressives who saw machines as extremely corrupt
and sought to tamp down on the power of machines.

(17:43):
So shutting down the saloon was a way of basically,
in their eyes, solving the problem of those men who
stopped in the saloon on the way home, solving a
problem for women who were faced with more abusive husbands
once they arrived home from the saloon. Um, and also
solving the problem of the of the nature of the

(18:03):
saloon is a political space. So those progressives linked up
with these sort of uh evangelical Christian men and women
basically forming a consensus around we need to eradicate the
saloon problem. Uh, and that saloon problem became the kind
of force that snowballed and basically helped to lead to uh,

(18:27):
the National Prohibition Amendment. Okay, So basically this brings us
up to nineteen twenty. All these variables in play. The
fact that we had passed the sixteenth Amendment instituting an
income tax meant that the federal government was not quite
so dependent upon taxes and alcohol, which I think it
counter for almost of the federal budget at that time.
So that alleviate that you had the whole wartime period

(18:50):
where the federal government, as during the Civil War, plays
a bigger role in American society. You had some progressive
era and stuff to having making that happen as well. Right,
and so get national alcohol prohibition, and initially, right, there's
a huge period of optimism that this thing can actually work,
all sorts of surprising people's support, even people who had
opposed alcohol prohibition said let's give it a try. You

(19:12):
see a dramatic drop in alcohol consumption, alcohol ills in
those early years, right, you know, things are looking good,
but resistance is beginning to emerge. So talk about the
early elements of that, well, I mean, you know, it
has to realize in terms of this sort of optimism
or feeling that one should even somebody like Felix Frankfort

(19:32):
who had posed the passage of the amendment and said,
let's give it a chance. Right, it was part of
the constitution. No constitutional amendment had ever been rescinded. So
it's certainly made sense it was now law of the land,
that there would be efforts at enforcement, and that there
was some sense of optimism in that early moment. But
you know, many places were extremely quote unquote wet and sentiment,

(19:54):
especially urban big cities with lots of immigrant populations, They
had no inten of basically stopping their desire for what
was important part of their leisure life and cultural habits
and certain elements of of uh, you know, religious life.
So basically there was efforts to continue consumption, and there were,

(20:17):
of course, given the desire for Americans to continue in binding.
Very soon there were those who already had been involved
in other kinds of prostitution rings or gambling that saw
an opportunity for a incredibly thriving possibility for a black
market in alcohol training and as a result, of course,

(20:39):
you know, organized criminal rings basically generated new forms of
supply um and oiled their operations with forms of corruption
up and down the federal enforcement chain. So even though
there was there was tremendous amounts of effort to enforce
prohibition and actually optimism and that this law would be
enforced right the prohibition or it was established customs officers

(21:03):
responsible for forcing the law, that border patrol got involved
with enforcement, and of course at the state and local level,
most states passed their own enforcement laws, and so there,
you know, was some sense that this could potentially work
and that quickly, however, fell apart because of the fact
that many Americans still desired to continue to imbibe, and
they did so, and and prohibition generated an entire new,

(21:27):
subterranean kind of black market for alcohol. We'll be talking
more after we hear this. Add So, there's one character

(21:51):
that I didn't know about until I read your book,
UM and just talk about his role and how he plays.
It's not just he plays a huge I don't know
if he plays a big national role, but it's his
ways of thinking about it that really sort of shaped
the evolution of the movement to repeal alcohol prohibition. And
here I'm thinking about Anton Chernak. If I'm saying his
name right, the Chicago based politician explain what was significant

(22:14):
about him. Anton was a kind of significant figure in
Chicago UM and basically became it was sort of an
bohemian from Bohemia and ethnic immigrant who was really deeply
opposed to prohibition. UM and mobilized essentially immigrant groups in

(22:38):
Chicago at the local level to oppose prohibition and passing
a series of sort of proposals at the local level
in Chicago against prohibition that we're not going to have
force at the national level, but showing this kind of
staunch anti immigrant sentiment um and basically you know, argued that,

(23:00):
you know, the the only way to get rid of
organized crime was to get rid of Prohibition. So Anton
Saramac basically was one of these local figures that I
think showed the incredible opposition of ethnic immigrant working class
men and women to Prohibition way before Al Smith came

(23:22):
into the picture. Al Smith, of course, was a prominent
Irish Catholic, multi term governor of New York who eventually
ran for president in n But what long before that,
somebody like Anton Saramac had been mobilizing within the Democratic
Party at the local level and bringing ethnic working class

(23:45):
men and women into the Democratic Party around Prohibition opposition.
And that's really important because this is a moment where
you see Prohibition generating a new politicization of men and
women who had basically you have, not been part of
certainly not part of national politics, who increasingly come to

(24:06):
become an important part of the Democratic Party coalition in
the twenties as a result of Prohibition opposition, right, I mean,
part of what you get to right around n and
al Smith. Al Smith is really the first Catholic to
run for a major major party nomination for president, and
he runs strongly on an anti repeal prohibition line. He

(24:27):
gets obliterated in night in the election by Herbert Hoover,
but nonetheless plays a major role in sort of shifting
this coalition, right, one where you have basically where we're
working class people in immigrants has sort of been divided
between Democrats and Republicans, depending upon local politics, depending upon ethnicity,
really begins to pull them all together. And this was

(24:48):
also a group where you know, wine and beer was
always very much part of the culture, so it sort
of made sense that you would see this emergence happening
out of places like Chicago. But the other group, of
course a African Americans, right, And what's interesting there is
a little bit different because African Americans have more of
a temperance culture. They're not typically Catholic, they have more

(25:09):
of a tradition, you know, ministers playing a very powerful role, right,
many of them support alcohol prohibition, and then sort of
alcohol prohibition kind of comes along and low and behold,
they find just what this sort of working class whites
do that when it comes to enforcing the prohibition laws,
it's not you know, middle and upper middle class white
families that are by and large getting you know, rested

(25:30):
or having their houses raider, being thrown in jail. It's blacks,
and it's poor whites in the South and in the
and in the and the urban cities. Part of what
I'm curious about, why did this occur or did it
occur to basically leading black leaders the book or T.
Washington's the others at that time in the early twentieth century.
Why didn't they oppose prohibition anticipating that they would be

(25:53):
the principal victims of its enforcements. I think it's important
to look at a kind of class division, that there's
a sort of politics of respect ability among the middle
class African Americans who really, you know, sort of believe
that there is a way that limiting alcohol consumption, just
like progressive white progressive reformers did for the white working class,

(26:15):
would uplift those others, right, poor others, poor African Americans. Um,
but I think, what so, there is a kind of
a way in which many of the sort of elite
voices when in the African American community at the early
edge of prohibition, are in fact supportive of prohibition. That
falls apart pretty quickly when they see the repercussions um

(26:38):
and why they didn't see it before. We prohibition is
in a way, it's dramatically new, at least at the
national level, and the the implications for black communities are
very intense, and that it becomes quickly known in places
like South Side of Chicago or Harlem in New York
where police would allow vice, the vice districts deplour ish,

(27:00):
right And as a result of that, it's not only
that poor African Americans are being arrested thrown in jail
for violating the law a disproportioned rates. It's also that
the violence that's rained down through elicit markets occurse of
course within African American communities, right, they're the most affected
by the violence that happens in gang warfare in these

(27:24):
illicit industries. Um. So, bombings take place in so outside
of Chicago and Harlem and other places, and of course
this is a place where you get slumming right where
they're Whites in other parts of the city go for
their entertainment uh and for imbibing and so all of that.
Then African American leaders quickly see the problems of prohibition

(27:45):
and somebody like Marcus Garvey actually had always been who's
an outlier in a way, sort of the very well
known black nationalist who was was initially opposed to prohibition.
It comes out really forcefully against it, but pretty soon
you get a lot of leaders African American leisure oppos
is what basically they see unfolding with all the eighteenth Amendment.
So now this gets us into the thick of prohibition

(28:08):
where in the mid to late twenties now, right, and
while you have on the one hand, this disproportioned enforcement,
especially against blacks and other minorities working then oftentimes poor
whites and sometimes working class whites in other areas, you
also have the prohibition culture that emerges. Right. You have
the Harlem renaissance, You have the jazz culture. You have
white people going to hear jazz. You have all the

(28:30):
excitement in New York and that emanating out to the
rest of the country. You have blacks and whites interacting
more and more in terms of on the bootlegging, right,
oftentimes blacks working for white but more and more working
together on this sort of stuff. And so there's a transformation.
You know, women going because it's not saloons anymore. But
now they're going to speak easies, and there's and and
there's greater you know, gender not about equality, but sort

(28:52):
of gender mixing in places where previously that would not
have been accepted for quote unquote good women to go to.
And obviously what happens is is the Women's Christian Temperance Union,
the Evangelical Protestants are freaking out, The old Anti Saloon
League is freaking out, and they find an ally in
the ku Klux Klan, which had fallen on hard times

(29:13):
and now sees alcohol prohibition and the potential to play
a role as an enforcement arm of prohibition as their great,
big opportunity. So tell us a little more about that,
you know, sort of ugly partnership between these three major players. Well,
you know, I think that it's exactly right to point
out that prohibition really does despite all of the efforts

(29:34):
and enforcement, and despite the fact that you know, prison
numbers are rising, men and women are being incarce incarcerated
selectively right working class men and women, uh, you know,
white Ethnics, African Americans. Still there's this huge revolutionizing of
nightlife and as you also point out, sort of this
racial mixing as well as gender mixing, and the new

(29:56):
subterranean kind of world of the saloon, or that what
not the saloon, but now the kind of cocktail world
of of these new drink spaces, And that generates a
tremendous amount of anxiety among those men and women who
had fought so hard to pass the law. Right the
w c TU, the Anti Saloon League, and those men
and women now see that this is prohibition, is the
law of the land. So they're looking for ways to

(30:19):
enforce it. Right there, w c TU comes up with
the motto, work for enforcement where you are. The Anti
Saloon League also seeks to work for enforcement. Well. When
the Kool Klux Klan, which is of course a white supremacist,
anti immigrant, anti Catholic organization, sells itself to white evangelical
men and women who already anxious about the problem right

(30:42):
the scandal of the lack of law enforcement, the clan
sees an opportunity to basically use the problem of the
lack of enforcement, the problem of the kind of of
bootlegging of speakeasies and argue that we will clean up.
We will going to clean up your community. Right, So
they instrumentalize the law to recruit men and women into

(31:06):
their ranks quite successfully. So you see, basically the clan
was established in nineteen fifteen, but it's in nineteen twenty
that they begin to really take off. They do so
partly because it's the wake of World War One, there's
a lot of anxiety about returning African American veterans, the
kind of new militancy in the community. But they also
do so because they have an opportunity with this new

(31:29):
law of the land, to sell themselves to white Evangelical
Protestants as a law enforcement organization. Right, So they recruit
around the issue of bootlegging. We're gonna come in, we're
gonna clean up your community. Of course, who they target
in their enforcement raids is the drinking of not themselves

(31:49):
because they're they're not totally tempered themselves, but off the
drinking of others, right, Catholics, immigrants, African Americans. Um. So
they use prohibition, they use the at the Amendment as
a as a mechanism to basically, uh, you know, boost
themselves and become incredibly powerful in the nineties. Right, you're
leading out a little bit here the role the Jews too,

(32:11):
I mean, the leading anti Semite of the day, Henry Ford.
You quote his newspaper at one point saying, you know
where his dearborn independence says that of all bootlegging is
Jewish right and at KKK also being anti Semitic, although
obviously the numbers of the Catholics are much much greater,
and in a way some of this reminds me. I mean,
you know, you have them getting involved in the same

(32:32):
way that sort of in vigilante groups and citizen armies,
in the way that you had people in the southwestern
more recent decades mobilizing to try to do something about
illegal you know, immigration in the United States, or maybe
there's even analogy to make, or recently with the recent
changes in some of these laws to allow civilian lawsuits
right against people involved in abortion once again trying to mobilize.

(32:54):
Are sometimes arm sort of citizen groups that are welcomed
by law enforce authorities, even federal law enforcement authorities, because
they just feel understaffed overman like you know, billy putting
their finger in the dike of you know, a widespread
law violation. That's right. So basically the clan not only
operates at the local level, as a kind of bolt

(33:15):
to bolster local policing, but at certain points is deputized
in fact, at one point by the Federal Prohibition Bureau
to serve as kind of ground troops to help to
clean up these communities. So in the case I look
at in terms of the citizen enforcement Army in southern Illinois,

(33:36):
you have clan members going to Washington, traveling to Washington
to say, hey, we need your help cleaning up our communities.
Is that we have a wide open community in Williamson County, Illinois.
And Roy Haynes at that time is the head of
the Federal Prohibition Bureau says, you know what, we we
don't have the band power, We don't have the people
power to do it. But if you, if you will

(33:58):
sort of as as sort of foot soldiers and find
the evidence, you know, we will bring in federal uh.
We we will deputize and bring in Federal Prohibition Bureau
agents to help you. And basically the federal government deputizes
essentially folks who are members of the clan to conduct
a series of raids, and those raids at first target roadhouses,

(34:19):
target bootleg facilities, and soon it devolves into an attack
essentially on the what is largely an Italian Catholic presence
in herren Uh and Marian in Williamson County, Illinois, where
basically Catholic churches are rated UM and immigrant homes are

(34:39):
also rated UM. And it becomes really almost a form
of terrorism against the community which is leveraged or utilized
and led by the clan deputized by the Prohibition Bureau.
This becomes such a problem for the Bureau that by
ninety six and twenty seven they're arguing, we cannot utilize
any citizen ballvolunteers in our raids because they often turned

(35:03):
so violent. But you see, it's not just in Williamson County,
but in other parts of the country. The clan it
backs and supports local police who are overwhelmed to conduct
raids and to try to shut down drinking establishments. I mean,
at least I'll tell you, I mean some of the
analogies here and obviously because your other work on the
new Right to the contemporary day, I mean, the KKK

(35:24):
is not just fringe. Then it's electing senators, it's electing governors.
It has real political power, and their extreme it also,
you know, and it reminds me of what's a little
bit what was going on today where you have a
really radical kind of you know, trumpist right wing you know,
element that's becoming more and more powerful, it seems in
the United States, and even though they were sort of
you know, just by the edge defeated in many places

(35:46):
in the recent election, seems to be gaining traction among
a growing on a number of Americans. And also the
history of political violence. I mean, we think about America
as not having had much political violence since the assassination's
late sixties and some of the racial violence that happened then.
But when you take us back to that era of
the teams in the twenties, when you had literally fights
over prohibition, political fights things like that, with people being killed,

(36:10):
people being threatened. Um, I mean, it reminds us that,
you know, America, you know, does have these levels, that
has these histories of significant sort of social cultural political violence,
and in some respects it at the times seems like
we may be returning to some days like that. I mean,
where you might even fear that you know, state you know,
state police forces might begin to ally with civil arms,

(36:34):
civilian military groups. I don't want to get too dramatic here,
but I have to say one on bleak mornings, I
sometimes wonder whether we might be returning to that period
of a hundred years ago. Yeah, I mean, you know,
history doesn't repeat itself, but it certainly has echoes and
rhymes from the past. So um, you know, I think
certainly in terms of the sort of paramilitary or vigilante

(36:55):
forces that we see with Proud Boys or others, you know,
there are sort of obviously it's quite reminiscent of some
of the kind of paramilitary forces like the Clan. Although
again the Clan was, as you point out, which is
really important, not simply vigilante organization, right. I mean, it
gained political power in several different states, um, and exercise

(37:16):
tremendous amount of sway in the nineteen twenties, So I
think that's really important to point out to You also
make the point in the South and the enforcement it
was obviously the targeting of black Americans, but also quite
a fair bit of targeting of poor white Americans. And
then sometimes that you know, in many of these states,
even though blacks were substantial minority of the population, you

(37:36):
still had poor whites in some states being a majority
of those who are getting locked up, and it reminds
me a bit of what we've seen in the last
and fifteen years around the attacks on meth amphetamine, where
that's large, by and large, not a black issue, especially
in certain parts of the country. It's a white, poor
white one, and where you see that racism is the
driving force between behind modern outcome, behind modern drug prohibition.

(37:58):
But that class element and that element of targeting poor
whites involved in illicit trade, you know, was something that
you know, the white establishment of the South and parts
of the westerner are perfectly willing to engage in. Yeah. No,
I think that there are parallels there as well. It
was African Americans in New South cities, but it was
also poor rural whites that ended up find jailed incarcerated

(38:21):
for long terms. I mean, it was as long as
you were a marginal really the marginal violators, right, so
those who were kind of you know, having a back,
uh sort of still, but not those who could afford
the levels of protection that organized crime rings required, right,
So that the problem essentially devolved on poor marginal violators, black, white,

(38:42):
Mexican American whatever they might be, those who were identified
already within public discourse with kind of criminality. Um, and
I think you can see certainly parallels with today as well.
So politically back then, I mean, the Republicans are sort
of the dominant party from the late nineteenth century until
roughly the nineteen thirty and the Democrats keep trying to
break through. Both parties are appealing to working class voters

(39:04):
as well as to the corporations. You know, Republicans are
seen more as the world as the party of corporate America,
but you know, they're also identified with Lincoln and abolition
of slavery and things like that, and they're doing some
stuff they're you know, they're claiming to do in terms
of workers rights. But Al Smith, you point out in
the eight really begins to organize and bring to the

(39:25):
voting boost for the first time millions of ethnic, recently
immigrant immigrant America's first and center generation Americans. In doing so,
he lands up alienating not just through his anti prohibition
centement beels because he's a Catholic. He lands up losing
some of the kind of a grarian Democrat voters, the
ones who have been more evangelical Protestant, the ones who

(39:46):
had followed William Jennings Bryan, you know, the only only
figure in American history ever to run for president and
lose three times as head of a major national ticket.
But then because of I guess really out the depression
more than anything else, Holes just radically changes things. And
when night as the election begins to approach in nineteen
thirty two, you have party leadership in the Democrats wary

(40:09):
of taking on this issue. Republicans are getting wary about
being so associated with the support for prohibition. The Democrats
were of taking it on because they still have that
Southern base. But somehow this becomes a radical swing where
millions and millions of people show up, um oftentimes motivated
first and foremost by the desire to repeal alcohol approbition.

(40:30):
And in thirty two though f DR, who's much more
reluctant about repealing prohibition, finds he essentially has no choice
but to embrace it. And you see basically a fundamental
realignment happening and hardening in American politics. Um that you know,
changes the composition of Republican and Democratic party. So at Leasta,

(40:53):
just tell us more about that moment, what happened between
twenty and thirty two, and with labor and others. Well,
I mean that it is interesting at the Democratic Party
convention because FDR was a reluctant anti prohibitionists. He didn't
want really prohibition to be part of, you know, at
the core issue. But ethnic white working classmen and women

(41:15):
who had really joined the Democratic Party already by twenty
eight with Al Smith at the at the front of
a repeal platform, pressed the issue in thirty two, and
basically Roosevelt in order to get the nomination, had to
agree to repeal being a central issue for the Democratic Party.

(41:37):
So it was that group of ethnic working class men
and women, these urban dwellers who were absolutely approsed to
prohibition because they saw it as an affront to their culture.
They were, you know, sort of angered by the extent
to which they were the ones that were they felt
were suffering under the law. Um, they saw it really

(41:57):
as an attack on their communities, and they model when
they came into politics and into the Democratic Party in
twenty eight and again in thirty two. So you see,
twenty eight is a moment really of realignment. It's the
moment where these white working class men and women who
have been divided between the Republican and Democratic parties move
in to the Democratic Party in the big cities, and

(42:19):
Roosevelt consolidates that in thirty two because of basically two issues.
One is the Great Depression, so these people are suffering
from massive unemployment. Labor is basically arguing that something needs
to be done for the working classes. But Roosevelt's not
yet embracing the New Deal. So what can he do.

(42:39):
He can declare for repeal and open up an industry
without increasing federal spending. He can attack the Republicans for
the extravagant spending on prohibition. So repeal becomes a very
important plank in a couple of ways. One is because
it draws in those white working class men and women.
But the second one it satisfies some concern of labor

(43:01):
without going so far as to increase government spending, which
Roosevelt well then do after he's elected. But it's not
yet a central part of this platform. So there's a
kind of transitional moment there. Repeal plays an important role
in kind of consoliding that early New Deal coalition. Once
those men and women are part of that coalition, Roosevelt

(43:21):
increasingly answers some of their other concerns. Uh, and we
get really the coming of the New Deal. Yeah, I
think you write that. At the thirty two convention, the
issue repeal prohibition comes up and the party leaders are
still hesitant, but it gets a standing ovation for like
half an hour. It's like the number one issue, you know,
motivating the Democratic faithful at that point. I mean, you

(43:42):
have the depression going on, all of this, but somehow
repeal national prohibition is the one that gets the most
sustained applause of everything gets. It's an incredibly significant issue,
and I think it's really been neglected at that moment.
It's also really important. Hoover's in big trouble because of
the Great Depression, but he's also in big troll because
the Republican Party straddles the issue of repeal. They have

(44:04):
basically a very muddled platform that's trying to satisfy both
wings of the party. Those are increasingly seeing, hey, you
know what, we're in a great depression. We can't afford
to spend money on on enforcing prohibition. But the other
wing of the party, these white evangelicals who are really
pushing for prohibition still, and Hoover, who is himself is

(44:26):
a big backer a prohibition really sort of those who
leave that convention argue that basically the party is going
to lose, if not on the depression, definitely on the
issue of repeal, and repeal is big enough, uh, that
the party is in big trouble. So there are Democrats
really do consolidate their support and the Republicans waffle, and

(44:46):
that matters. The Great Depression matters a good deal as well,
and one cannot forget that, of course. But the neglect
I think of prohibition issue is something that you know,
my book really tries to remedy, to look at its
significance at that critical moment. Let's take a break here
and go to an ad. There's another point you maken hear,

(45:21):
which is that the twenties becomes maybe the first decade
in American history where Americans become obsessed with crime. Right,
it's not just all the prohibition is violence and the
owl component all that, but it's labor strikes, race riots, anarchists, bombings,
automobile accidents, you know, bank robbery steps, all of this
sort of stuff, and governments at the federal state level

(45:43):
respond to it, not unlike they did under Nixon and
even more so under Reagan and Bush. In the eighties
and nineties with draconian legislation. So you have, on the
one hand, both the working class people and others getting
even more beaten up. Even as support for prohibition is declining,
They're getting more beaten it up by tougher laws, tougher enforcement,
last gas efforts. And as the other thing, which is

(46:05):
a major focus of your book, is it really it's
really about the growing empowerment of the federal state and
the punitive state, and the and the federal criminal justice bureaucracy.
So explain more about what was going on with all that. Well,
I mean, prior to prohibition, the federal government had a
relatively tiny role in crime control. It was really a

(46:27):
local issue, was a state issue. But in the nineties
twenties it really becomes an issue of national concern, and
the federal government takes on a new responsibility for crime
control that it has yet to relinquish. So it's really
basically federal officials leverage the kind of deep seated concerns

(46:51):
and the overcrime, this sort of discourse of you know,
the sort of rise and wave of criminality that happens,
partly because there is a whole new class of crimes
as a result of prohibition, because there are more arrests
and there are more prosecutions, and there is this increasing

(47:12):
crackdown and as you mentioned your Conean legislation, so there's
a whole set of concerns and as a result, the
federal government basically leverages those concerns to increase the bureaucracy,
to gain increased knowledge of crime and crime control, to systematize,
for example, federal crime statistics. This is the moment of

(47:32):
the birth of the uniform crime reports. It's the moment
of a new consolidation of power coming out of national
Prohibition in thirty two and thirty four with the Bureau
of Investigation, which becomes a federal Bureau of Investigation, increases
its purview and muscle. It's the moment when the Bureau
of Prisons is elevated to the Fed to a become

(47:55):
the Federal Bureau of Prisons, and prisons are expanded and
systematized and reformed at the federal level to to reduce overcrowding.
It's a it's a whole moment of a kind of
consolidation and building of the federal what I call the
federal penal state. And this is something which of course,
also links up to the issue that you're really concerned

(48:17):
about around drugs, because it's also the moment of consolidation
out of the Prohibition Bureau of a a new independent
Bureau of Narcotics, right uh, and the federal government, you know,
gets its first National Drugs Are with Harry annslinger Um,
and out of that, uh comes a whole new host

(48:40):
of legislation in the thirties, and of course the Marijuana
Tacks Act in the criminalization of marijuana at the federal level.
All of this kind of merges out of essentially the
way that the fire government leveraged this host of concerns
around crime and crime control, as well as the kind
of demise increasing demise of alcohol prohibition turning it turning

(49:02):
its muscle in a new direction toward this growing and
far longer lasting war on drugs. Yeah, Lisa, when I
think about the comparison to the modern day drug war,
I mean you point out that probably proportionally the growth
in the prison population is certainly the federal prison population
between nineteen the early twenties and the mid thirties was

(49:24):
probably a proportional growth comparable to what happened with the
modern day war on crime and drugs, where we went
from a half million people behind bars to you know,
two point two million people behind bars. Now, of course,
the percent of the population incarcerated back then was much
smaller than it was in the modern day drug war, right,
but you also make the point that something like thirty

(49:44):
percent of all the people in federal prison plus an
additional are there for alcohol prohibition violations by the time
prohibitions ending, and another twenty percent for narcotics violations. So,
you know, you think about the modern day you know,
I think about the federal prisons with the drug war.
You know, we start off as the drug wars gaining
speed in the late eighties or the nineties, it's roughly

(50:05):
two thirds of the federal prison population of the hundred
thousand people are there for drug law violations. You get
up to today when it's half of over two hundred
thousand people behind bars and drug love violations. So really,
the I mean, the focus on crime is there. But
as you point out, the Bureau of Prohibition Enforcement is
dramatically bigger than jayker Hoover's new FBI. The FBI dosity

(50:26):
from close to competing with it in size until probably
World War two starts and FBI guess of ald encounter intelligence,
so that that war on alcohol and then drugs really
does drive the growth of a federal crime control establishment
really more than anything in American history. Yeah, at this moment.
I mean, it's really the birth of a fundamentally changed

(50:49):
role for the federal government crime patrol and the sort
of building of the initial edifice, let's say, of the
federal penal state, which will enable that later and larger,
longer lasting we're on drugs. So in some ways, the
way I look at prohibition alcohol provision is to see
it as a kind of dress rehearsal for the later again,

(51:11):
larger and and far more let's say, quote unquote successful
at least in terms of it's the way it has lasted,
uh than alcohol prohibition. Um So, but they these absolutely,
I mean I think that this is these are the
legacies and consequences that come out of alcohol prohibition that
have largely been neglected. And I think really by looking

(51:33):
at that history it really helps us much better understand
our current moment because you really see how so not
not just the parallels, but the way the one led
to the other, and also the problem of Once you
have that edifice established, it's very difficult to go back
to ground zero. Right, So federal prohibition increased, showed the

(51:55):
muscle and power of the federal government, and we got
rid of alcohol prohibition. But that muscle moved forward in
different directions. But the federal government didn't just go back
to where it was in nine by far not right.
It grew and expanded in new directions in the way
right I mean obviously, you know, a lot of the
people of prohibition was driven by working class people who

(52:15):
are people in their allies, and increasingly by middle class
people who were you know, beginning to violate prohibition and
just wanted the freedom to drink and that didn't have
to want to be criminalized and live in fear, even
though they were much less likely to be attacked by
the police and anybody else. But you point out that
among the wealthy business people who had traditionally aligned with
the Republican Party, right, some of them, you know, begin

(52:39):
increasing the line with the Democratic Party. They see prohibition
as a threat, and for them, they hate all these
things that everybody else hates about alcohol prohibition. But they're
also wary about the way in which is creating the
big state. You focus on John Raskob right, a wealthy
businessman who becomes the chair of the Democratic Party I
think in nineteen thirty or thirty two, and it sounds

(53:01):
like that's their major fear, and ultimately, you know, they
get pushed aside. Yes, So this is really I think
it's quite fascinating that that many of the opponents of
alcohol prohibition at the elite level are conservative men and
women who believe that this is going to crack a
kind of door open to providing new authority for the

(53:26):
government to regulate all sorts of other things, not just
alcohol prohibition. So that's their big concern, and overreaching federal
government that could potentially regulate the economy. Well, it turns out,
in fact they were right, because it did crack that
door open. And while there was a great deal of
hostility among those ethnic working class men and women toward prohibition,

(53:53):
they saw that the fed that federal power was being misused,
but they could they could turn it and hopefully use
that same power in a different direction. That's precisely what
they did. So essentially, those within the Democratic Party made
the argument these men and women that hey, look, you
know we have been able. We passed the eighteen Amendment.

(54:14):
The federal government did all of this. You're gonna tell
me that we can't pass a thirty hour a week bill.
I mean, there's sort of a ways in which they
saw we now have that power. We don't want it
to regulate our private lives. We want to have be
able to imbibe and to drink and have our leisure,
but we want to use that power and turn it
in a different direction. And that is precisely what happened

(54:34):
with the New Deal. So those those years, that the
whole decade of that debate over the scope of federal
power and made the federal government visible in people's lives
in a fundamentally new way. And as a result, I
think that it contributed to the seeing the possibilities. Right,
there's sort of problems, but also the possibilities of utilizing

(54:56):
the federal government to regulate the Economy's at those folks
on the elite level, like John Raskop and others. What
happened once repeal happened. Alcohol provision didn't just return to
localities right First, the idea was to regulate it, to
use the federal government to regulated through the national Recovery Act,

(55:17):
and at that moment, these conservs established the liberty lead
because they're so threatened by this idea that the federal
federal government is going to control the regulation of alcohol.
And it's only when the Supreme Court declares the n
r A illegal or unconstitutional that then you have the
reversal of control of alcohol at the state level. But

(55:40):
it's nowhere what it was before alcohol provision, because it's
really systematized at the state level and there's far more
kind of uh, sort of across the board forms of
state regulation of alcohol control that had not really existed
in the same way prior to prohibition. M know you. Um. Essentially,

(56:02):
FDR kind of pulls a fast one on the businessman
who support him, right, I mean, he's such a master
at telling people what they want to hear. But ultimately
he sides with those who are the little guy on
his stuff, right, and the Rascods of the world and
the other ones, you know, SEEFDR build the big state
in a way that America had never had before with
the exception of wartime. Yes, absolutely, yeah, so, I mean FDRs,

(56:25):
I mean he's just a fascinating figure, of course, and
he was an experiment or a doctor. And he you know,
he came on board to repeal when he needed to
to get that nomination um. And then when he had
those ethnic men and women in the Democratic Party coalition,
he listened to those voices. You know, he was willing
to expand the size of the state and the scope

(56:45):
of the state to provide some fundamental elements of security
for those especially white working class men and women. Yeah,
and you talk about the ways in which working class folks,
African American leaders and double a cp UH Clarence Darrow,
the famous kind of civil liberties lawyer in early twentieth
century America. You know, they're basically saying to the federal government, well,

(57:08):
if you could put all these resources behind trying to
enforce futilely the eighteenth Amendment, why can't you do the
same with the fourth Amendment and the fourteenth Amendment and
the ones that would benefit us little guys? Right exactly right.
So again, there's the way in which that expansion of
how er opens the door for all of these hosts
of other questions of ways in which the federal government

(57:29):
should essentially back rights that it had not been earlier. Yeah.
So also, Lisa the Wickersham Commission. I mean, Hoover feel
it feels obliged, in the face of this crime wave
and discontent with prohibition to appoint this Wickersham Commission in
early nine nine when he becomes president. UM. But it
kind of blows up in his face, not unlike the

(57:51):
way the Schaefer Commission blows up in Nixon's face UM
on the drug issue forty years later. M hmm, Yeah,
I mean it certainly did blow up in a space
in the sense that, uh, you know, he had hoped
to appoint a commission which would show that there were
all sorts of problems with law enforcement. But for Hoover,
he had really wanted to improve enforcement. That was, he

(58:14):
knew there were all sorts of problems, but his hope
was better enforcement will result in the success of the law.
Let's give it time, let's give it a chance. Like
many progressives, including Jane Adams who back Toober and twenty
eight precisely because he was in favor of prohibition. But
you know, he appoints all sorts of really very prominent
legal figures, uh and academics to this commission. It's a

(58:39):
very large scale study, UM, which points out not just
the problems of prohibition, but many, many different aspects of
the problems of the criminal justice system more broadly. That
Hoover was really not expecting and it was really disappoint him.
It was a really disappointing commission. They come out and

(59:00):
basically argue that prohibition is pretty much unenforceable. That you know,
they give it because it's within his purview his administration.
They say, let's give it some chance, but if it
doesn't work out, we should repeal this. And he is
totally opposed to this. Um. And basically, you know, that's
another that's sort of another kind of nail in the coffin, uh,

(59:20):
that that that helps to seal partially the fate of prohibition,
because the recommendations are fully contradictory with a little report
that Hoover puts out about the commission, it becomes a
disastrous kind of public relations uh, you know, campaign for
the administration and for prohibition as well. UM. And so this,

(59:42):
you know, this moment between twenty nine and thirty two
is really significant for eroding the support for prohibition across
the Board Commission. Right, they do come under pressure from
whom and others not to outright come out for repeal, right,
so they sort of pull their punches on it. In fact,
it came across a funny ditty that was written by
Franklin Adams in New York World, where he summed up

(01:00:04):
summed up the wicker Sham's commissions about prohibition, and it
goes like this prohibition is an awful flop. We like it.
It can't stop, it's meant to stop. We like it.
It's left the trail of grafton slime. It don't prohibit
worth the dime. It's filled our land with vice and crime. Nevertheless,
we're for it, you know so. But I guess it
was just reflected the politics at the moment, you know.

(01:00:27):
So at Lisa, I'll tell you something. I mean, I'll
tell you there's one other. I mean, obviously the connections
and I this is just just sharing with you, my
and the audience my own sort of personal um, you know, engagement.
All of this is that as I was, um, you know,
finishing my PhD at Harvard on international drug control and
starting to teach at Princeton, just as the drug war

(01:00:48):
was heating up, and I began speaking out and for me,
the prohibition analogy was central. It was something that I
used as a way to relate to audiences when people
were you know, entirely seized by the craziness of the
war on drugs and using that as the fundamental um
you know framework. Now, we didn't have an eighteenth Amendment

(01:01:08):
to mobilize against right, but in fact that was the
key analogy, and it was one that you know, continue
to resonate with people. We had to jump over the
hoop where people would say alcohol is different, alcohols different
arcotics are fundamentally different. But in that case we could
use marijuana as an example of something that was actually
less dangerous in alcohol. And in that case, in fact,
that model of repealing alcohol prohibition was the one that

(01:01:31):
played out very powerfully for us in the movement that
we built at least repeal marijuana prohibition and to begin
to roll back other aspects of the drug war. Well,
and I think I think it's a it's a really
um it's it's different, and yet there are so many
similarities in parallels and in terms of you're right, I mean,
certainly with marijuana. Um. I think the campaign has obviously

(01:01:52):
been it took a long time, but it has been
somewhat successful, but clearly still not at the at the
federal level. Uh, at least in terms of, yes, we've
got Joe Biden pardoning, but not in terms of you know,
sort of decriminalizing um. But yeah, but at least I'll
tell you marijuana though the notion just twenty years ago
that you know, there were some quotes, you had, one

(01:02:13):
quote I had. I've seen a quote by Morris Shepherd,
the pro Prohibition Center from Texas, who said in nineteen
thirty that the chances of eighteenth Amendment being repealed were
about the same as a humming boon, you know, you know,
flying to the moon, you know, with a skyscraper on
its back, and three years later in fall. And so
now we tend to say, oh, ho ham, well, we
haven't quite legalized it nationally. But in fact, the notion
of repealing marijuana prohibition was regarded as absolutely quixotic and

(01:02:37):
almost absurd really until about twelve years ago. So it
was a really very It wasn't quite the rapidity with
which the twenty first Amendment was passed. I mean that
happened so quickly in those last years, but it actually
did happen very very quickly. And through building together coalitions
as well. Mm hmm. No, it's an excellent point, um.

(01:02:57):
And but that was successful for so many years, and
it's coming apart the seems because so many of these
countries that are deeply affected by you know, the sort
of war on drugs are are really speaking out forcefully. Um.
And that also is you know, sort of part of
an important transnational coalition building to dismantle the that war

(01:03:18):
on drugs as well. Yeah, I mean, the U S
did try infect It was part of Harry Anslinker's job
in the late twenties. His heead of the Foreign Control
section of the Bureau Prohibition to try to create some
sort of nascent international arrangement, and he was successful in
getting treaties with about a dozen countries in the mostly
in the western hemisphere of the Caribbean and elsewhere. But
ultimately it was a futile, failed effort. But obviously he

(01:03:40):
was a lot more successful in playing a key leading
role in building the global drug prohibition regime between nineteen
thirty and when he finally left office in the early
nineteen sixties. Right. Well, listen, Lisa, I've loved this conversation
with you. I loved your book for our listeners. Lisa
mcgurre Harvard is story in the book The War on Alcohol.
If you want the one go to book to read

(01:04:03):
about alcohol prohibition, that's the one to get. So, Lisa,
thank you so much for taking us time to speak
with me and my listeners, and uh, best of luck
on your future endeavors. Thanks so much, it's been a
real pleasure and a great conversation. Take care, Ethan. Thanks again.

(01:04:25):
If you're enjoying Psychoactive, please tell your friends about it,
or you can write us a review at Apple Podcasts
or wherever you get your podcasts. We love to hear
from our listeners. If you'd like to share your own stories,
comments and ideas, then leave us a message at one
eight three three seven seven nine sixty that's eight three

(01:04:46):
three psycho zero, or you can email us at Psychoactive
at protozoa dot com, or find me on Twitter at
Ethan natal Man. You can also find contact information in
our show notes. Psychoactive is a production of I Heart
Radio and Protozoa Pictures. It's hosted by me Ethan Naedelman.
It's produced by Noam Osband and Josh Stain. The executive

(01:05:09):
producers are Dylan Golden, Ari Handel, Elizabeth Geesus and Darren
Aronofsky from Protozoma Pictures, Alex Williams and Matt Frederick from
My Heart Radio, and me Ethan Naedelman. Our music is
by Ari Blucien and a special thanks to Avi Brios,
f Bianca Grimshaw and Robert Deep. Next week we'll be

(01:05:39):
bringing you a bonus episode. It's me being interviewed by
my friend gian Carlo conna Vestio about my own psychedelic experiences.
It's for his podcast on Mango TV, in a series
called Psychedelic Confessions. Subscribe to Psychoactive now see it, don't
miss it.
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