This is an archive of the ArtCat Zine, 2007-2009. Please visit our new project, IDIOM.
Prohibition is typically considered a failure. The inability to eliminate drinking as a widespread social phenomenon, and the corresponding increase in a general contempt for the law are usually cited as evidence of the temperance movement's misguided idealism. However, when one examines the actual level of alcohol consumption pre- and post- prohibition, one sees that there was a marked decrease, as much as seventy-percent in the first years following the eighteenth amendment. Even after repeal, the populace continued to drink significantly less. Thus a judgement of failure should perhaps be limited simply to the failure of the legislation to persist; and any criticism of the ideal in question should be made imagining a world in which people drink twice as much as they do today.
A similar caution might be employed in considering the revolutionary movements of the 1970's -- examined by Naeem Mohaiemen In his Young Man Was No Longer A... an ongoing work-in-progress that he will present this Friday at the New Museum. What makes these movement's failures for us? What does that label obscure? And what was the world like that gave rise to them in the first place? The presentation will move between personal anecdote and historical commentary. Tickets are available here.