The Roaring Twenties


The Roaring Twenties is an axiom. The axiom is used to refer to a decade of western culture in the 1920s. This period was marked by rapid and significant growth in the economy and an excellent cultural perspective. It also saw the increase of dynamic arts, most notably the blossoming of Jazz music and dancing. Inventions towards the new technologies such as automobiles, the radio and motion pictures brought about a spirit of novelty to the people. These technologies benefited the countries greatly since they led to new industries such as aviation and cinema. Economies blossomed after the First World War during this era, bringing new economic giants such as the United States of America into the limelight.


he Roaring Twenties also saw an era of social and political changes. More people were moving and living in urban cities than in rural settings. People began embracing modernity. The decade is credited for many positive changes as seen, but it also came with cultural and political conflicts. One such issue was the prohibition of some products such as alcohol. This was swiftly followed by the closing of taverns and bars in the United States. This law drove the liquor business underground to hide from authorities. This gave birth to mafias and illegal joints and eventually led to a growth in organized crime.

One of the leading spokesmen against prohibition was Percy Andreae, who was a brewer before the ban, and later an influential anti-prohibitionist. He became president of The National Association of Commerce and Labor. Percy believed that religion is what drove most prohibitionists. He argued that prohibitionists were as a result of a specific religious sect that wanted to use the law for the supremacy of its concept. He pointed out that only a few people in religious denominations such as Catholics and Jews, Lutherans or Episcopalians supported prohibition as opposed to others.

It is evident, however, that not everyone shared Percy’s point of view. Richmond Hobson, a U.S. Representative from Alabama who was also a decorated veteran of the Spanish–American War, is one of the most popular prohibitionists. According to him, those who opposed prohibition had no foundation in scientific facts that is why their arguments made little sense to him. He argued that liquor could degenerate the character of an individual, hence labeling it a “protoplasmic poison.” He further believed that liquor could reverse the principle of evolution, taking a civilized population back into savagery. He also made a religion-based argument that alcohol could ruin or infest the physical life of man, who he described as the image of God, and a little lower than the angels. He warned that nature would find a way to exterminate any race that reversed the evolutionary principle. These views received extensive support from other prohibitionist supporters.

Today, it is hard to point out a solid example of prohibition entirely to the one in the Roaring Twenties. However, the fight on drug abuse today is not far from a perfect example of prohibition. Governments have banned the use of several drugs, including marijuana, cocaine, among others. However, as specialists argue, the current day prohibition is bound to fail just like the previous one. This is high because, in an era where people no longer want to pay taxes, governments are forced to legalize drugs to tap into taxes generated from the consumption of these drugs. This is evident in cases such as the legalization of Marijuana in the United States. A common trend to observe, however, in both modern and the first prohibition is the role of religion in supporting the ban. Today, complacent activists use pseudoscientific theories to pass laws that dictate how we live, rather than seeking to improve public health.

In the Roaring Twenties, most middle-class Americans saw prohibition as a way to assert control over immigrants, who they deemed as “unruly” They viewed drinking as a vice brought by such immigrants. This brought about a huge conflict, and social tension also referred to as a cultural civil war between people living in cities and those in small towns. The small town dwellers were more in support of prohibition since they saw it as a way of taming the new generation of reckless city-dwellers and hoped that it would help return the nation to the good old days. The failure of prohibition later helped ease this tension and has been upheld to date.