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Idea of Progress: the prohibition, for the better or for the worse?

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Idea of Progress

The prohibition for better or for worse ?

beverage = alcohol = liquor = booze


Progress is the idea that the world and the society can evolve positively in therms of sciences, technology, modernization, living condition, etc. However, the idea of progress is still debate between those who consider that it’s beneficial and those for think that it’s harmful. The Prohibition in the United States may be in this debate. The Prohibition was a period marked by the ban on the sale, production, importation, and transportation of alcoholic beverages in the United States that remained in place from the 29 january 1919 in the 18th amendment to 1933 in the 21th amendment with the repeal of the « Volstead Act » .

Prohibition marked one of the last stages of the Progressive Era. The Progressive Era was a period of social activism and political reform across the United States, from the 1890s to 1920s.The main objective of the Progressive movement was to eliminate corruption in government and to re-instaure order in the United State society.

But the prohibition has been reviewed in 1933 with the 21th amendment according to the wishes of a major part of the population, so we can wonder if the Prohibition can be considered as a progress in the United states.


Is the prohibition for better or for worse ?


  1. The prohibition had a lot of destroying consequences, for worse
  2. But it also allowed the progress of the american society, for better.

  1. The Prohibition for worse

During the industrialisation, after the first world war, in a fédéral country, each states are able to instaure their own laws, ( the first state who decide to make prohibition was the Main), and the prohibition was established in the other states step by step;

But there was a gap between the sates who chose the prohibition and the others

Furthermore the division of the population was one of the worse consequences of the prohibition, because the population was torn into the drys (protestants, who are in favor of the prohibition) and the Wets (catholics, against the prohibition).

This period was in favor of the intolerants religious men, who think that the consumption of alcohol is impur. This context of prohibition fed « the intolerance period » and  allowed the development of vicious groups as the Klu Klux Klan.

But it also had economical consequences : a lot of americans lost their jobs, mainly the liquor producers. It also had an undesirable effect on the consumption of the population because the price of booze increased in the black market and the purchasing power of the population who still consume alcohol decreased inevitably. Moreover there were no taxes on the black market, and the United States lost some money.

And with the black market getting more important, the organise crime became more influent, and the «bootlegging movement» increased, with the illegal act and the violence that follows, as we can see in the movie « Some like it hot » released in 1959. Furthermore, the mafia made the insecurity grow, for the control of the black market. It’s in this context, that the organise crime saw the rise of charismatic leaders, as the Italian leader Al-Capone who organized the « St. Valentine’s Day Massacre » the 17 February 1929 against an Irish mafia.


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