Points readers who enjoyed our interview with Mark Schrad on his
recent book, The Political Power of Bad Ideas: Networks, Institutions, and the Global Prohibition Wave, will no doubt concur with the points he makes in an op-ed in today’s New York Times about the difficulties Russian authorities face when they advocate alcohol abstinence or moderation: improved public health could bring with it a substantial reduction in tax revenue. What’s a poor state to do?
That policy conundrum begs its own historical question, one that it seems like the Points community should be able to answer, if anyone can:
What is the history of temperance campaigns–grassroots as well as state-sponsored– in Russia? Schram touches briefly on a few highlights in his op-ed. From my own research I know that, since the end of the Cold War, Alcoholics Anonymous has enjoyed a growing presence in Russia and other former eastern bloc countries. But there’s a wide spectrum and a lot of room to maneuver between AA’s spiritual mutual-help approach to abstinence and government agitation against over-consumption. Can the global Points community fill in some of that blank space?
I realize it’s the end of the academic year, and for many of us that means no leisure to contemplate such weighty matters. If that’s the case, feel free to just enjoy some of the wild anti-alcohol propaganda posters available on-line– artifacts awaiting the contextualiztion they deserve.