L. Neil Smith's
Number 346, November 20, 2005

"If you can't beat 'em... join 'em"

The New Bucketheads
by L. Neil Smith

Attribute to: The Libertarian Enterprise

Every couple of generations, a prehistoric species of nuisance crawls out from beneath the ideological or religious stratum it was misbegotten under, to inflict itself upon productive human beings who already had more than enough annoyances and irritations in their lives.

These pests, these moral parasites—H.L. Mencken described them best when he said that they wake up in the middle of the night, sweat- soaked and trembling with terror at the notion that somewhere, someone might be happy—have all sorts of hobby horses they're accustomed to riding, but their all-time traditional favorite, hands down, is Demon Rum.

The tendency to blame alcohol for most or all of civilization's shortcomings has been popular for a long, long while. Losers with no lives of their own probably railed against beer-drinking in ancient Sumeria. But it began to hit its stride in America shortly after the War Between the States—for good reason, as we'll see directly—and achieved the acme of its political influence in the days following World War I, when the women had won the vote, and too many of the men were out of the country, defending what they mistakenly believed was freedom.

From 1919, when the Volstead Act became law (in those days, before the Bill of Rights was transmogrified into the dirty joke it's become today, it required a Constitutional amendment to screw with people's lives on such a scale) until its repeal in 1933, it became illegal—Prohibited—to make, transport, sell, buy, or consume alcoholic beverages.

Naturally, instead of establishing a paradise on Earth, as its loopier and more fanatical advocates led even emptier heads to expect, Prohibition actually motivated individuals to drink more than they had (many of them for the first time in their lives, some because they didn't like being told what not to do, others because being told what not to do is the best kind of advertising), and brought us such other social innovations as turf wars, drive-by shootings, sleeping with the fishes, and all the other trappings that we now associate (for good reason) with the even more completely idiotic and infantile "War on Drugs".

My grandmother was a member of the Women's Christian Temperance Union for decades after Prohibition was repealed, and although she was a registered Democrat and an enthusiastic Franklin Delano Roosevelt groupie, voted for Prohibition Party Candidates well into the 1960s. The woman also dressed and undressed in her bedroom closet, even when she was alone in her house, and referred to the intimate moments that are inclined to occur between a wife and her husband as her "bedroom duties".

That'll give you an idea. Call it ad hominem, I call it character revelation.

These days, among the latest Bible-thumpers and tambourine-bangers (although they may try to deny it, I know the type when I see it—and so do you) are the so-called Mothers Against Drunk Drivers, stark naked neopuritans, latterday Prohibitionists who have learned to jerk the big red "For The Children" lever right along with all the rest of the life-controlling goosesteppers that democratic societies seem to spawn.

Like Marxists and Flat Earthers, what they preach sounds good if you don't listen too closely or think about it too much. But there's more.

A long time ago at a Libertarian Party regional conference (or was it a national committee meeting?) far away, one of the guest speakers was the renowned scholar Ralph Raico. Ralph's subject was pornography, and what he said then has stayed with me through all of the decades since.

Imagine, Ralph said, a tired and lonely old man. For one reason or another, he has no wife, no family, no one to help fill the final years of his life with something other than loneliness, despair, and sadness. The only bright moment in his existence is an hour spent in a theater showing dirty movies. It's all he's got and all he ever will have.

What kind of evil person would take what little he has away from him?

A feature article I read recently in the local fishwrap wasted several column inches of perfectly good newsprint on what a bad thing it is that young people—high school and college kids—get ahold of alcohol and drink it. America, claimed the buckethead who wrote the item (I know she'd want me to mention her name) is saturated with alcohol.

The woman betrayed an embarrassing ignorance of history. She didn't seem aware that alcohol consumption in this country has been plummetting in recent years, or why (hint: it's nothing to do with mad mothers).

She didn't seem to know that early on in America's history, most likely because it wasn't very safe to consume the water, people were accustomed to drinking prodigious amounts of alcohol (a quart of whiskey a day wasn't unusual) and that the liquor Martha Washington bought for one party could keep a small city inebriated for a week, today.

She didn't even know that about sixty percent of the population of Soviet Moscow was considered alcoholic—authorities railed against vodka endlessly—because that's what socialist hopelessness does to people.

In short, this article was exactly the kind of politically correct piece that could only be written by a former inmate of the public schools.

Today's kids are like that old man in Ralph Raico's story. Deep down inside, somewhere, they are aware that, thanks George Bush and Hillary Clinton—the taxes politicians are so fond of extracting from those who actually do something for a living, the regulations that bind the population hand and foot—they have no real future to look forward to, nothing but endless grubbing on the assembly line or in some blind cubicle for corporations—and the prospect of endless war.

And bucketheads like this woman begrudge them a beer?

Tell you what, Buckethead, for just a while, why not spend the same energy you use up keeping kids from drinking—and smoking—on making this a free country again. Give kids a future to look forward to.

Then come back and talk to me about alcohol.

We'll have a drink on it.

Four-time Prometheus Award-winner L. Neil Smith is the author of 25 books, including The American Zone, Forge of the Elders, Pallas, The Probability Broach, Hope (w/Aaron Zelman), and his collected articles and speeches, Lever Action, all of which may be purchased through his website "The Webley Page" www.lneilsmith.org. Ceres, an exciting sequel to Neil's 1993 Ngu family novel Pallas was recently completed and is looking for a literary home.

A decensored, e-published version of Neil's 1984 novel, TOM PAINE MARU is now available online: payloadz.com/go/sip?id=137991.

Neil is presently working on Ares, the middle volume of the epic Ngu Family Cycle, and on Roswell, Texas, with Rex F. "Baloo" May. The stunning 185-page full-color graphic-novelized version of The Probability Broach, which features the art of Scott Bieser and was published by BigHead Press www.bigheadpress.com has recently won a Special Prometheus Award. It may be had through the publisher, at Amazon.com, or at billofrightsPress.com.


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