Saturday, October 8, 2011


I just finished watching the Ken Burns series "Prohibition".  Ken Burns' stuff has a particular style to it, and it doesn't click with some people, but I loved his series "The Civil War" and "Baseball".  I really recommend this new series.  It resonates today, and not in just the equivalent modern-day prohibitions with their organized crime, bootlegging and hypocrisy.  The way a series of single-issue zealots managed to hijack politics and legislatures to get their program through is downright scary, and we can see it in politics now, especially in the US.  The last episode ends by implying that for nearly three-quarters of a century, the lessons of unintended consequences from such political manipulation learned in the twenties and thirties have kept this kind of thing in check, but I fear the absolutists who want to legislate morality today have forgotten the lessons of history.  It would do them good to look past the sensationalism and "glamour" of the Hollywood version of Prohibition, with its gangsters and speakeasies and actually think about why, after nearly a hundred years of fighting for Prohibition, it lasted only thirteen years and left destruction, crime, and contempt for government in its wake.

Worth watching.

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