Anti-Prohibition Sentiment is But a Recession--Opinion Will Soon Go in Opposite Direction

That the country is in the trough of a moral as well as business depression is clearly shown by the extremely heavy wet vote cast at the polls throughout the nation last Tuesday according to the following article entitled "The Recession" written for the Crimson by Thomas N. Carver, David A. Wells Professor of Political Economy in the University.

"Every great humanitarian movement has its setbacks. The fight for prohibition has suffered defeats before and will suffer others in the future. Like other reforms it advances by a series of advancing and receding waves. But this is noticeable each advancing wave has always gone farther than, and each receding wave has not gone back so far as the preceding one.

"For seventy-five years the movement has been gathering headway. A state will adopt prohibition and then find that it does not work so well as was expected. The resulting disappointment gives the liquor forces their opportunity. The prohibitory law is repealed, but it does not stay repealed. The contrast is convincing. The state generally finds that even though prohibition did not work so well as was expected, it worked better than anything else that the state tried. Some states have enacted, repealed and re-enacted, more than once. In the end the state stays dry. That, in a nutshell, is the history of state-wide prohibition.

"Local prohibition, under local option, has had the same story. A town or county will go dry, then wet, and then dry again. But in the long run more go dry than wet, and more and more stay dry.

"No dry need be discouraged by the present recession and wets will do well not to jubilate too much. This recession will not go back very far and the next wave will carry prohibition further than it has yet gone. No one who has studied the history of the movement can be in any doubt about that.


"We are undoubtedly in the trough of a moral as well as of a business depression, not that there is any connection between them. The high moral fervor of the war period has been followed, very naturally by a cynical reaction. The evidences abound on all sides. What Agnes Repplier called the decay of reticence, and what others call by a harsher name, indicates a general breaking down of standards. The way students steal books from college libraries is another evidence of a general moral slump. These evidences cannot be entirely dissociated from political corruption, unscrupulous business methods, racketeering, and general lawlessness. When there is a general moral depression it is likely to show itself in a multitude of different ways.

"But moral depressions do not last forever. We have had them before and shall probably have them hereafter. Eventually people become bored with looseness and general cynicism. They may for a time grow tired of Victorian standards, they may find middle class morality uninteresting, but they grow tired even sooner of nastiness. A little mustard is an appetizer, but it takes very little more to become an emetic.

"When our people have grown sufficiently weary and dissatisfied with the present orgy, which is, after all, only a rather poor imitation of what our boys saw in the demi monde of continental cities, as our racketeers are only imitators of Les Apaches, we shall gradually regain our balance and our good sense.

"Meanwhile, the wets must do the worrying. We have predicted that the repeal of the state enforcement law would be followed by increased drunkenness. It is up to the wets to see that our prediction does not come true. I sincerely hope that they will succeed, for I dread an orgy of drunkenness, of moonshining and rum-running more than I dread any other plague.