Conclusion



The factors mentioned throughout reflect the conflicting opinions of the upper and working classes, regarding alcohol consumption. Simply put, the upper classes felt that increasing drunkenness was a sign of the loss of social control (referring to control by the government and other institutions like the church). The upper classes were threatened by the formation of the labor movement in the taverns, because it reshuffled the base of political power, making the working class more powerful. Labor unions were also viewed with suspicion, particularly because they were the result of the spread of socialism, which was the basis of the labor movement and empowerment of the working class. Socialism was also opposed by the church because of its condemnation of religion as a form of oppression ("Religion is one of the forms of spiritual oppression which everywhere weighs down heavily upon the masses of the people, over burdened by their perpetual work for others, by want and isolation"11) . Generally, these people felt the regulation of alcohol was hitting the problem at the root. They saw it as a means of not only reducing general alcohol related problems like crime, but also fight political radicalism, socialism, and once again giving them the upper hand over the now empowered worker.

The working class perceived any attempt to regulate alcohol consumption as a means of oppression. To them, the visions drawn up by the socialists were groundbreaking. The idea of a common worker yielding such political power was lucrative (to them), hence regulation of alcohol was seen as an attempt to take away their new found freedom by restricting their use of the pub, the tavern and the cabaret. The working classes also felt that the linking of alcohol as the source of moral decay was unjust because unlike the upper classes (who could afford a large variety of entertainment), their only sources of recreation were the public drinking places. Here they could have social lives beyond family and work, in a comfortable, non-hierarchical environment. Alcohol itself was a source of divide between the classes. However, the consequences of alcohol consumption, including the catering to a new, less sophisticated market and the rise of unifying and amicable environment for the working class, gave rise to features (e.g., labor movement), which had far more significant bearings on the class divide than alcohol itself.