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How Alcohol Conquered Russia
The Atlantic ^ | SEP 25 2013 | STAN FEDUN

Posted on 02/14/2014 9:09:39 PM PST by MinorityRepublican

Picture the Russian alcoholic: nose rosy, face unshaven, a bottle of vodka firmly grasped in his hands. By his side he has a half-empty jar of pickles and a loaf of rye bread to help the devilish substance go down. The man is singing happily from alcohol-induced jubilation. His world may not be perfect, but the inebriation makes it seem that way.

Today, according to the World Health Organization, one-in-five men in the Russian Federation die due to alcohol-related causes, compared with 6.2 percent of all men globally. In her 2000 article “First Steps: AA and Alcoholism in Russia,” Patricia Critchlow estimated that some 20 million Russians are alcoholics in a nation of just 144 million.

The Russian alcoholic was an enduring fixture during the Tsarist times, during the times of the Russian Revolution, the times of the Soviet Union, during the transition from socialist autocracy to capitalist democracy, and he continues to be in Russian society today. As Heidi Brown described in her 2011 article for World Policy Journal, the prototypical Russian alcoholic sits on broken park benches or train station steps, smoking a cigarette and thinking about where his next drink will come from and whether he can afford it.

(Excerpt) Read more at theatlantic.com ...


TOPICS: Constitution/Conservatism; Crime/Corruption; Culture/Society; Russia
KEYWORDS:

1 posted on 02/14/2014 9:09:39 PM PST by MinorityRepublican
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To: MinorityRepublican

This should be the focus of the Russian family council in the DUMA. They have made very effective reforms in the area of marriage and childbirth, but until the alcoholism is remedied, Russia will not see a peak productive population.


2 posted on 02/14/2014 9:13:05 PM PST by Viennacon
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To: MinorityRepublican

Largely unreported, China suffers from the same thing ... massive alcoholism.

I have made several trips to China over the past few years and alcoholism is a very real and unreported event.


3 posted on 02/14/2014 9:24:33 PM PST by doc1019
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To: MinorityRepublican; Viennacon

Old news. There is a crackdown on alcohol for a few years and counting. Alcohol taxes a growing each year, there is a zero-tolerance to DUI offence and many other harassing things making massive drinking difficult. Just ten years ago you could insult a Russian refusing to share a bottle during a lunch break, today drinking early is a kind of deviant behavior and many people aren’t drinking at all.
To be honest, Russia was falsely advertised as the most drinking nation earlier, let alone today.


4 posted on 02/14/2014 9:25:47 PM PST by cunning_fish
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To: MinorityRepublican
...one-in-five men in the Russian Federation die due to alcohol-related causes
...20 million Russians are alcoholics in a nation of just 144 million.

One-in-five: that's 20%. 20 million in 144 million: that's almost 14%. So even if all alcoholcs die from alcohol-related causes, there's still over 6% who do anyway.
5 posted on 02/14/2014 9:27:18 PM PST by Telepathic Intruder (The only thing the Left has learned from the failures of socialism is not to call it that)
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To: doc1019

Democrats need China. Therefore there is no alcohol problem in China for the MSM to report.

Geez, would you please read the memos?!


6 posted on 02/14/2014 9:28:32 PM PST by Talisker (One who commands, must obey.)
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To: cunning_fish

I know its exaggerated. They are far from the worst when it comes to alcoholism. South Koreans are particularly bad.


7 posted on 02/14/2014 9:29:52 PM PST by Viennacon
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To: Talisker

Sorry. My bad. LOL!


8 posted on 02/14/2014 9:30:12 PM PST by doc1019
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To: MinorityRepublican

It’s called communism. Maybe not communism but definitely lack of personal liberty. Why bother functioning in life when there are evil men like Obama and Stalin who control every aspect of your life. Vodka provided the only escape from the mindless misery of life in Russia.


9 posted on 02/14/2014 9:30:33 PM PST by Organic Panic
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To: Telepathic Intruder

If Russians stop drinking or switch to drinking in normal amounts at normal hours or occasions, and then the world is quickly a more dangerous place.

A sober Russian surrounded by sober Russians can produce anything including the most dangerous engines of war. Their language is rich, their literature is richer still, their philosophies are richer yet, their Orthodox Christian faith is richer beyond imagining.

“The best in Russia is very good, and sometimes it is the best in the world.” - Thomas T. Hammond, 1958

Give a Russian a quarter acre garden and he will survive. Give a Russian heavy industry and we already know the result. Ignore the Russian at your peril.


10 posted on 02/14/2014 9:38:05 PM PST by elcid1970 ("In the modern world, Muslims are living fossils.")
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To: Organic Panic

>>>It’s called communism. Maybe not communism but definitely lack of personal liberty. Why bother functioning in life when there are evil men like Obama and Stalin who control every aspect of your life. Vodka provided the only escape from the mindless misery of life in Russia.<<<

What about Britain which is by far more drinking than Russia? Same about Ukraine and Baltic states - by far the least communist post-Soviet states.


11 posted on 02/14/2014 9:48:25 PM PST by cunning_fish
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To: MinorityRepublican

Not everybody who drinks every day is an alcoholic, but the assumption is that they are. Some cultures just drink. The people who founded this country drank ale or hard cider with every meal, and a lot of rum in between. Today’s medical establishment would call them all alcoholics.

Also the term “xxxx related illness” is meaningless. Anyone who dies of a heart attack dies of a “smoking related illness”, even if they don’t smoke.


12 posted on 02/14/2014 9:51:56 PM PST by Hugin
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To: elcid1970
A sober Russian surrounded by sober Russians can produce anything including the most dangerous engines of war. Their language is rich, their literature is richer still, their philosophies are richer yet, their Orthodox Christian faith is richer beyond imagining.

Add in some of the most brilliant mathematicians and physicists the world has known.

Maybe it is good the Russians like to party. Then, again, it has been said they are too much like us: loud, boisterous, friendly.

Without barriers, where does the political animosity come from................

13 posted on 02/14/2014 9:53:02 PM PST by doorgunner69
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To: cunning_fish

In the 1700s...Russia was known for it’s alcohol usage.

I think typical US alcohol consumption prior to the 1920s...was awful high, and it’s only been in the last fifty years that consumption in the US has gone down to some degree.

I remember this topic coming up about the construction of the Pentagon, and how the vast number of workers in the building were drunk or near-drunk as they were building it.


14 posted on 02/14/2014 9:54:57 PM PST by pepsionice
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To: pepsionice

Heavy drinking was widespread in Europe and US on the eve of 20th century.


15 posted on 02/14/2014 10:02:45 PM PST by cunning_fish
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To: cunning_fish
Ken Burns' "Prohibition" addresses this.

A VERY large proportion of US males in the 1800s drank all the time. It was considered customary for kids to have beer as well, even at breakfast.

Lots of reasons, one being that often they didn't have access to clean water, and alcohol was considered "healthier". Good series that had a lot of info I didn't know before.

And yes Americans drink WAY less nowadays.

16 posted on 02/14/2014 10:58:14 PM PST by boop (I just wanted a President. But I got a rock.)
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To: MinorityRepublican

Many Russian videos that involve alcohol, you can’t even post for a laugh.


17 posted on 02/14/2014 11:05:47 PM PST by Berlin_Freeper
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To: cunning_fish

I still stick to my theory that the lack of personal liberty drives a lot of tgis drinking.


18 posted on 02/14/2014 11:09:27 PM PST by Organic Panic
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To: Viennacon

“South Koreans are particularly bad.”

As are Indians. Asia may be the drunkest continent on Earth.


19 posted on 02/15/2014 12:02:47 AM PST by CowboyJay (Cruz'-ing in 2016!)
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To: MinorityRepublican

The Bolsheviks promoted alcohol as a way to keep the people in line


20 posted on 02/15/2014 3:13:14 AM PST by Jimmy Valentine (DemocRATS - when they speak, they lie; when they are silent, they are stealing the American Dream)
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To: Organic Panic

>>It’s called communism. Maybe not communism but definitely lack of personal liberty. Why bother functioning in life when there are evil men like Obama and Stalin who control every aspect of your life. Vodka provided the only escape from the mindless misery of life in Russia.<<

Yeah, but even before 1917, life in Russia was pretty crappy for everyone but the elite.


21 posted on 02/15/2014 3:34:11 AM PST by KAESNO2
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Comment #22 Removed by Moderator

To: MinorityRepublican
We conservatives ought to retain the estimable quotient of humility in our judgments about alcoholism that we normally apply to other issues. Put a different way, there is no conservative position on cancer, or space aliens, or for that matter, global warming or even evolution. Science and conservatism are not and should not be at odds. Conservatism has to do with how these issues should be dealt with in our constitutional Republic. Conservatism does not tell us whether we are descended from the apes or anything about the ozone layer. There is no conservative doctrine that says that cancer does or does not exist, that is a matter for medical science. Evolution is not a conservative or a liberal position, it is a scientific theory subject to all the qualifications properly attached to scientific theories going back long before Galileo.

Likewise, there is no conservative position on whether global warming exists or does not exist, that is a matter for those scientists. But conservatism has much to say about whether the science has been proven concerning global warming, or climate change if you prefer, to a degree that we can rightly justify using it to restrict other people's liberty, confiscate their property, and tax them. Conservatives, much like less blessed humans, are liable to assume that certain truths which we accept about human nature, the natural state of man, whether he is good or evil, a saint or a sinner, should be applied to matters of science or medicine. It works the other way around, too.

Sublime as it is to be conservative, it is nevertheless our lot to share with every other human, albeit to a lesser degree, the penchant for social engineering. If the cause excites our instinctual reactions strongly enough, like aversion to sodomy or the carnage caused by drug abuse, we are nearly as likely as liberals to turn to government to impose our nostrums on others for their own good. If we add additional emotional incentives, such as dealing with the welfare of children, we like all humans are even more prone to unleash government to sacrifice liberty for what we perceive to be the greater good.

In a constitutional republic, even in a constitutional republic constructed with separation of powers and checks and balances, protected by competing institutions, enjoying free speech, with the right to petition government, and overseen by judicial review, the human tendency, especially tendency of the human herd, is to resort to social engineering. The result is to lose liberty often for dubious advantage. Every instance of social engineering can be justified and always is justified by the perceived evil and a presumed good. Each instance is always justified but after 2 1/2 centuries of examples of doing good, we as a nation must concede that the cumulative effect has been to deprive us of liberty. This state of affairs endues conservatives with a healthy if limited sense of humility but it only motivates liberals to do more good. We weigh the costs but they imagine they have finally perfected human nature.

I can think of few areas of social engineering where conservatives should be more wary of unintended consequences than in empowering government to deal with alcoholism. The greatest example of social engineering (the 13th amendment not considered here as an example of social engineering because it attempts to undo not free choice but the absence of free choices for African-Americans endorsed and fortified by government) up until the New Deal was prohibition. America learned a great lesson from prohibition but did not apply the lesson to any subject other than alcohol. In fact, the political impulse that led to the repeal of Prohibition, New Deal Progressivism, led to a binge of social engineering imposed on America by the very same people who hated prohibition.

Prohibition ultimately failed because it misread human nature and stimulated a series of unintended consequences which have affected society to this day. The new deal, the great society, Obamacare, are all doing the same.

I would add propositions I know will find disfavor in this forum: The war on drugs and criminalization of sodomy leads to unintended baleful consequences because they also misread human nature. When it comes to the war on drugs it is as though we have learned nothing about the unintended consequences which occurred during prohibition. We see the same lawlessness, the same irresistible encroachment of the drug culture into the whole of society, the corruption of the rule law and those who enforce the law. Worse, we see the same cynicism growing in the public about the rule of law. Prohibition failed and the war on drugs has been lost because criminal laws are blunt instruments wholly unsuitable for changing human nature or for dealing with the ultimate questions of human depravity. The criminal law is scarcely suited but it is better than other alternatives for dealing with the consequences of the abuse of alcohol or drugs but it is very ineffective in controlling the use of alcohol or drugs. In other words, arrest the alcoholic for drunk driving but not for drinking. Arrest the addict for driving under the influence but not for using.

I am not convinced that criminalizing homosexual intercourse among consenting adults in private changed sodomites habits and I'm not sure that it is the proper province of limited government to attempt to do so. Rather, bashing down bedroom doors is hardly an example of humility, rather it is the epitome of government arrogance and the belief in the infinite capacity of government to change human nature.

The first thing government should do in dealing with alcoholism is to examine critically its own role in enabling it. It is the height of hypocrisy for a government to condone, glorify, subsidize and otherwise enable the drinking of alcohol on the one hand and criminalize the alcoholic on the other. That is not to say that the criminal law cannot or should not be used as a lever to force a problem drinker who has broken criminal law into therapy. That is not to criminalize the status but to acknowledge the existence of a disease and the need for therapy in lieu of punishment. Statistically, those who are forced into therapy generally fare as well in maintaining abstinence as those who voluntarily undergo therapy.

One last word about human nature in an attempt to connect the conclusion with the opening of these remarks: Alcoholism remains a mystery as deep as nature vs. nurture. There is something in the human nature of some people which leads them to alcoholism and there is something in the culture of several countries which generates alcoholism.

An anthropologist would look at American Indians from Terra Del Fuego to the Arctic Circle and conclude that there must be some gene in these people which leaves them so desperately vulnerable to alcohol. I recall being warned about driving at night in Ecuador on rural roads because the Indians become so inebriated they simply go to sleep in the middle of the road. One need only visit a few reservations to see the ravages of alcoholism on a statistical basis that is overwhelming.

Yet there are other races almost immune to alcohol they evidently have been spared the alcoholism gene. There is a saying among Jews who see one of their own in an inebriated state, "he drinks like a goy" meeting he drinks like a Gentile, a practice foreign to the Jewish culture. Don't worry, Jews have their own share of neuroses and problems. There is a reason why alcoholism has been called, "the Irish virus" others have suggested that the reason is to keep the Irish from overrunning the earth.

My point is that we do not know the role genes play in predicting alcoholism much less the role of culture. For example, if one ventures into the Scandinavian countries or most northern climes (which includes Russia, the subject of this article) one finds a high statistical incidence of a certain kind of alcoholism associated with hard liquor, loss of control, binge drinking, and severe dislocations. On the other hand, if one looks at the cultures around the northern shores of the Mediterranean one finds alcohol use, or rather alcohol abuse, mostly associated with wine and tending more toward addiction rather than binge drinking. Is this a function of the potency of the beverage, the culture, or the genetic makeup of the people in these regions? Science does not give us conclusive answers and we as conservatives ought to have a great deal of humility in presuming those answers.

That humility should be extended to other areas and make us very wary of trying to police human nature.


23 posted on 02/15/2014 4:59:18 AM PST by nathanbedford ("Attack, repeat, attack!" Bull Halsey)
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To: MinorityRepublican
In 2010, the Church described AA as an "effective instrument in rehabilitating drug and alcohol addicts,” while saying it would develop its own alcohol program. Meanwhile, many Russians still prefer more traditional remedies. "I went to the AA and I couldn't believe my ears. They have no God and they say that they conquer alcoholism themselves. That fills them with pride," one Orthodox believer wrote on his blog. "I went back to the Church. There, they conquer it with prayer and fasting.

As I understand it, the AA movement started with a Christian foundation in its principles and structure. It wasn't a Christian organization per se, however, I believe it is based on a Biblical principle to give your burden to God, and let Him take over.

Today, I believe AA still maintains a step about God, however, it highly encourages members to believe in whatever God or higher power they choose. With the rise of militant atheism (i.e. there shall be NO God discussion in any public sphere whatsoever), I would not be at all surprised if some AA chapters prohibit even the mention of the word "God" at any meeting or in any literature. In fact, I believe that is the trend.

I applaud those who are addicted who participate in AA. As those in addiction say, "whatever works, works." However, one does not have to participate in AA or NA in order to avail themselves the same cure for any sinful condition - God.

24 posted on 02/15/2014 5:10:08 AM PST by SkyPilot
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To: nathanbedford
I agree - I have great empathy for those who in the throes of addiction, and for their families.

Addiction to anything (drugs, alcohol, pornography, food, etc) are all weapons of Satan.

Satan uses "footholds" to bind us in slavery (Ephesians 4:27) in addiction and other conditions.

And yes, I agree, Conservatives can be very judgmental about many things. In certain areas, it is right to "judge" even from a Biblical sense. The Book of Proverbs has a great deal to say about the sluggard. Drugs and alcohol are among the most powerful of all addictions, taking over the mind, body, and spirit.

25 posted on 02/15/2014 5:14:56 AM PST by SkyPilot
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To: doc1019

I find that very interesting. Would you say it is generational or problematic for the emerging young people apparently having some success as well


26 posted on 02/15/2014 5:26:52 AM PST by bert ((K.E. N.P. N.C. +12 ..... History is a process, not an event)
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To: cunning_fish

So, your thought is that the old drunks are dying off and the younger generation is not so burdened with the problem?

Since there is a recent uptick in the population, I had come to believe that the breeders have shunned the vodka.


27 posted on 02/15/2014 5:30:12 AM PST by bert ((K.E. N.P. N.C. +12 ..... History is a process, not an event)
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To: Viennacon
I know its exaggerated. They are far from the worst when it comes to alcoholism. South Koreans are particularly bad.

Understandable with a group who sells it's wives and daughters to GIs to supplement the income...

28 posted on 02/15/2014 5:31:25 AM PST by trebb (Where in the the hell has my country gone?)
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To: nathanbedford

Interesting view about the dangers of social interventionism. Prohibition was such a huge success in the 1920’s, after all.

Solzhenitsyn laid the blame for Russian alcoholism at the feet of Tsar Ivan the Terrible. Prior to his reign, Russians drank only wine or beer, but Ivan discovered the technology of distillation from the Swedes, saw a tremendous opportunity in a state monopoly on the production of vodka, and the rest was history.

Ivan grew rich from vodka revenues & created an important social safety valve that was as effective in maintaining control over the Russian people as his dreaded secret police.

Quite a theory, you might say.


29 posted on 02/15/2014 5:32:50 AM PST by elcid1970 ("In the modern world, Muslims are living fossils.")
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To: bert

>>So, your thought is that the old drunks are dying off and the younger generation is not so burdened with the problem?

Since there is a recent uptick in the population, I had come to believe that the breeders have shunned the vodka.<<

I ve no idea. It seems like older people are drinking less, too.


30 posted on 02/15/2014 6:31:01 AM PST by cunning_fish
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To: cunning_fish

I’ve known alcoholics whose age and medical condition decreased their drinking to very moderate or light levels. Their bodies just can’t take it. Maybe decreased alcohol use by the aging population of Russia is just more-or-less natural.


31 posted on 02/15/2014 6:35:34 AM PST by jjotto ("Ya could look it up!")
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To: Organic Panic
Same problem in Scandinavia. Except their societies are not reaching economic collapse, yet. Norway, for example, is completely propped up with oil money.

Interesting too, that it is disproportionately the men. We could theorize that the root cause is certainly communism, the sloth and lack of initiative and vision it allows for one's life but also the Marxist empowering of women with the simultaneous disempowerment of men.

We are seeing the same thing here with hard drugs. However, our society IS seeing economic collapse.

32 posted on 02/15/2014 6:38:02 AM PST by riri (Plannedopolis-look it up. It's how the elites plan for US to live.)
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To: MinorityRepublican

gonna ping this for the FR ___legalize marijuana____ contingent


33 posted on 02/15/2014 6:40:11 AM PST by dennisw (The first principle is to find out who you are then you can achieve anything -- Buddhist monk)
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To: MinorityRepublican

I wonder how much genetics comes into play. Some Asians, many Native Americans simply do not metabolize alcohol in the same way or are impacted by it differently (and addictively).

Perhaps this plays some part.


34 posted on 02/15/2014 6:50:07 AM PST by RFEngineer
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To: nathanbedford

bttt


35 posted on 02/15/2014 6:50:21 AM PST by Liberty Valance (Keep a simple manner for a happy life :o)
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To: MinorityRepublican

@#$%@#% Prohibitionists


36 posted on 02/15/2014 7:06:40 AM PST by wonkowasright (Wonko from outside the asylum)
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To: Jimmy Valentine
The Bolsheviks promoted alcohol as a way to keep the people in line

Thus the obama regime embracing pot...

37 posted on 02/15/2014 4:42:27 PM PST by Caipirabob (Communists... Socialists... Democrats...Traitors... Who can tell the difference?)
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To: elcid1970
Ivan IV had dislike to drunkards and forbid selling alcohol in Moscow.
38 posted on 02/19/2014 8:14:27 PM PST by Cossak
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To: cunning_fish

It’s one method the privileged use to wage war against the people. A form of chemical warfare. Same reason the George Soroses of today dupe their leftist minions into pushing legalization of marijuana in this country.


39 posted on 02/19/2014 8:28:47 PM PST by reasonisfaith ("...because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved." (2 Thessalonians))
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