A Brief History of Prohibitions: Introduction

From the time civilized human beings first walked this planet, the misdemeanours they have committed due to overindulgence in alcohol are numerous and, as the butterfly effect demands, such misdemeanours are sometimes just the beginning of a long series of foolish acts. Noah’s drunkenness, as described in the Bible, together with the curse he cast on the descendants of Ham, one of the purported ancestors of the African nations, was to justify, among certain “influencers” in the last centuries of the second millennium, humanity’s most drawn-out crime, that of the systematic enslavement of some African tribes. Nero, the harpist-hero of his time, a friend of the people, to be sure, as well as a misunderstood artist, allegedly, because of his fondness for amphorae, burned Rome with a flask of Greek wine while singing, “Oh, Oh, lambent flame Oh, Oh, omnivorous power, hai !” A fine conflagration, leading to the spilling of the blood of the first martyrs of Christianity and allowing the city to be rebuilt  to the Emperor’s tastes once he emerged from his drunken stupor. Closer to us, Stalin, a crazed paranoiac who bathed in vodka before dictating, red-eyed and hungover, lists of the poor wretches who would get a bullet, if they were lucky, or a one-way ticket to a Siberian labour camp, if they weren’t. Not to mention Uday Saddam Hussein, ruffian and killer of helpless young women, because he had bad wine and serious problems with both his virile member and his head. Closer still: Kim Jong-Un, his celluloid baby-doll face can never mask the fratricidal little thug that he is nor the undeniable fact that, according to sources that are not befuddled with drink, he needs the bottle to believe himself a great dictator, whether from the height of a balcony or under the covers of his bed. Less far-reaching in consequence, but certainly no less tragic, in addition to the thousands of road deaths caused by drunken drivers, we must also mention, above all, the large cohort of women and children beaten to death by the homecoming drunkard …

Less far-reaching in consequence, but certainly no less tragic, in addition to the thousands of road deaths caused by drunken drivers, we must also mention, above all, the large cohort of women and children beaten to death by the homecoming drunkard

It is perhaps due to these chaotic stumblings of our brief history that humanity took it into its head to drastically curb alcohol consumption or even impose a long-term ban on it.  This alcoholic incarnation of evil should not, however, make us forget that Hitler, spawn of the devil and architect of humanity’s greatest crime, never, or hardly ever, touched a single drop of wine or Munich beer, not even a glass of champagne after his greatest victory, which he celebrated ascetically during a very austere and discreet visit to the “broken and violated” French capital on 23 June 1940.

Should alcohol consumption be prohibited or not?

So, should alcohol consumption be prohibited or not? If we legislated heavily every time a drunkard started breaking the threads of destiny, wouldn’t we be putting collective safety ahead of individual freedoms? And, the worst thing about all this, is that Ets Fratacci B. B. Modi, the Horn of Africa’s number one importer of drinks, both alcoholic and non-alcoholic, has entrusted this thorny issue to a guy who has never drunk anything but still water or fruit juice with no added sugar … you might as well ask a pacifist for an opinion on a heavy machine gun.


To better understand this brief history of prohibition, this intoxicography needs to begin at the heart of all insobriety, with the the holy of holies whence flowed the first alcoholic libations, at the root of the orgiastic evil: France, summoned to appear immediately before the bench as the first global exporter of bottled inebriation and a country that has, strangely, never, or almost never, experienced prohibition: “That’s because we, my dear sir, know how to drink!”

France and the French, Without Whom Things Would Be No More Than What They Are

Could such an infamy as banning the beloved bars and watering holes, with their simplicity of yesteryear, ever be visited upon the land of fine dining and fine wines? With traditional bars officially in decline nowadays, the foreigners who visit the most beautiful country in our solar system and its neighbouring galaxies every year are almost unanimous: the French spirit of frank conviviality is taking on the sour flavour of vinegar. A sorry period in the evolution of a people who no longer really know where they are going, but remember where they have come from, even if the distant and supra-cosmic origins of their heritage begin with smelling naphthalene and finding in it the aroma of a myth. In French Gaul, drunkenness was always endemic in some regions, whose names we shall tactfully avoid mentioning. When you think that seeing the divine reflected at the bottom of the glass brought us to beheading our head, for form’s sake, unflinchingly recognizing our own characteristic faults would be to risk unwilling suicide in order to be done with it. However, we digress; the only known French “prohibition” took place under the German regime.

The Germany of Mr Hitler, recognizing the benefits of the fine wines and spirits of the ancient kingdom of the Francs, demanded only that goods of all kinds be delivered up at an infernal rate … and an almost total stranglehold on the finest vintages.

Thus it was that, in a letter dated 20 August 1940, the man whose very name sounded like a gunshot declared, in his shaky handwriting, “It is with a heavy heart that I tell you today that you must stop drinking.” Jacques Prévert, a French poet and alcoholic on his good days, hearing of the disaster, decamped sharpish to Italy, at a time when Nice had returned to Mussolini’s fascist bosom; Il Duce, before becoming the contortionist automaton of the Republic of Salò, had nevertheless told his soldiers at the border not to importune “any Jews trying to flee France to take refuge among us.” It just goes to show that moderation in all things remains a must … Someone can be a huge fascist and an antisemite to boot without decreeing the immediate extermination of an entire people. Fanaticism, when it barks a little too loudly, no matter whose balcony it’s on, must receive the punishment it deserves: a good bucket of cold water (or warm mulled wine) on its head.

the only known French “prohibition” took place under the German regime. The Germany of Mr Hitler, recognizing the benefits of the fine wines and spirits of the ancient kingdom of the Francs, demanded only that goods of all kinds be delivered up at an infernal rate … and an almost total stranglehold on the finest vintages.

Moderation … If we must unearth a common factor in all the wise sayings of the world, it must surely be the practice of moderation in all circumstances, of being moderate in all things or nearly all things. As suggested by the tiny injunction added to almost all alcohol advertising, please appreciate and consume these few lines in [strict] moderation.

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