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How Prohibition set the blueprint for modern forms of state power.

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It was so controversial and so overly ambitious, there was no way the federal government was going to be successful, however in the very attempt to do so, a whole set of new institutions are built, and there's a new orientation towards policing and surveillance in the effort to enforce the law. And at the most fundamental level, a vast expansion of federal government authority for this moment.

Historian Lisa McGirr traces current day drug-war and mass-incarceration policies back to Prohibition-era expansion of federal power, where concerns over immigration, poverty and morality forged a bi-partisan coalition willing to embrace a muscular, interventionist government that sustained itself long after the appeal of the Eighteenth Amendment.

Lisa is author of The War on Alcohol Prohibition and the Rise of the American State.

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Guest

Lisa McGirr

Lisa McGirr is an author and professor of history at Harvard University.

 

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