Alcohol, Russia, Oppression, Slavery

Boycotting Vodka Won’t Help Russia’s Gays - "For centuries, the Russian state used vodka to oppress and exploit its people. Leaders from Ivan the Terrible to Peter the Great to Joseph Stalin forced even their closest colleagues to drink to stupefaction to keep them divided and dependent — just as the state pushed vodka on its people to keep them off balance and subservient — while making a killing off the liquor that was killing their people. From 1763, during the reign of Catherine the Great, through 1914, when Nicholas II instituted prohibition to aid mobilization for World War I, liquor-tax revenues made up some 25 percent to 40 percent of all state income, enough to support one of the world’s largest armies and the upkeep of the Romanovs’ opulent palaces. Even into the 1970s and 1980s, vodka revenues constituted a quarter of the Soviet Union’s revenue. Dissenters everywhere have long recognized alcohol’s oppressive capacity. In 1845, Frederick Douglass argued that getting slaves drunk was “the most effective means in the hands of the slaveholder in keeping down the spirit of insurrection.”"

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