The Prohibition of Alcohol Revisited: the US Case in International Perspective
The 13-year American episode of the prohibition of alcohol (1919-1933) is so notorious and has been so extensively studied that there would not seem to be much to add. However, very little of this work has been done in a comparative and international perspective. Yet, the prohibition movement was international and quite a few countries, particularly the ones with a significant Anglo-Saxon Protestant majority, went through a long lasting and vigorous struggle over the issue. While some of them came quite close to a total ban, they finally adopted different regimes and none went as far as the U.S. Why was it? This is the question addressed in this paper. Using a political economy approach, we try to compare the strength and stakes of the supporters and opponents of prohibition in the U.S., Canada, Australia and New Zealand. As these countries shared many socio-cultural features with the US, this international exploration should shed new light on the American experiment with prohibition, an episode which has always been somehow a paradox in the land of individual freedom and minimalist government.
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