I had a look at the US Prohibition story some time ago and it told quite a different story from what I'd always thought. I absolutely condemn these attempts at enforcement, but that's a story about the wickedness of power generally. As (I think) Charles Lamb said, "Governments are as bad as they dare to be."
But we are between Scylla and Charybdis. There is the power of government, and in resisting its excesses we may be tempted to assist the power of large corporations (which now appear to be growing mightier than the State and the People). The enemy of your enemy is not your friend - and in any case, corporations and the government are not mutually inimical after all: a career in politics often seems to be followed (if not accompanied at the time) by very lucrative dealings with the commercial sector.
And I have some doubts about Sartre-type definitions of freedom (he was very upset by Freud's theory of the unconscious). So here's some questions I want to repeat, from my comments over at the fine and idealistic people (no irony) at Orphans of Liberty:
- Is it freedom to fall victim to addictions?
- Or to allow powerful vested commercial interests to increase temptation and opportunity?
- Are we free if we merely act out compulsions, and other scripts written into our subconscious?
And bearing in mind that, as I said there, black people I know reckon the Establishment’s soft on drugs because it keeps the blacks down:
4. Is freedom just freedom for me, me, me or should Robinson Crusoe respect Man Friday, too?
Sartre thought there was no such thing as collective freedom, until the Paris student riots of 1968, and then suddenly he did think it. But that's what happens when a first-class brain is faced with more than one thing it wants to believe.