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20 people you didn't know where Prohibitionists

20 people you didn’t know were Prohibitionists

Speakeasies, rum runners, and backwoods fundamentalists railing about the ills of strong drink are just one small part of the global story of prohibition. The full story of prohibition—one you’ve probably never been told—is perhaps one of the most broad-based and successful transnational social movements of the modern era. The call for temperance motivated and aligned activists within progressive, social justice, labor rights, women’s rights, and indigenous rights movements advocating for communal self-protection against the corrupt and predatory “liquor machine” that had become rich off the misery and addictions of the poor around the world.

From the slums of South Asia, to the beerhalls of Central Europe, to the Native American reservations of the United States, discover 20 key figures from history that you didn’t know were prohibitionists.

Vladimir Lenin

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Full name: Vladimir Ilyich Ulyanov

Lived: 22 April 1870-21 January 1924

Nationality: Russia

Occupation: Bolshevik revolutionary, politician, theorist

Inspired by Marxist political philosophy—in which both the state and the aristocracy profit from the capitalist exploitation of the impoverished worker—exiled social critic Vladimir Lenin often blasted the tsarist vodka monopoly as the primary means in which the rich got richer and the poor got poorer in the Russian Empire. After coming to power in the October Revolution of 1917, Lenin held fast to the prohibition of the liquor trade that was adopted as a military-mobilization measure by both the tsarist regime and Provisional Government. Even amidst reports of rampant bootlegging and illicit distillation, Lenin would insist upon prohibition right up until his death in 1924, claiming that reintroducing liquors, “profitable though they are, they will lead us back to capitalism and not forward to communism.”

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