The call ‘Alcoholism and socialism are incompatible!’ has resounded on and off throughout the years of Soviet power. Public policy during these years has aimed at nothing less than the resolution of what is held to be ‘one of the most difficult tasks of the cultural revolution … the transformation of the social consciousness of wide sections of the population and the whole structure of their spiritual life and morals’.1 More specifically government policy has been conducted in terms of a struggle against any ‘survivals and birthmarks of capitalism in the minds and conduct of the people’, starting with the ‘struggle against drunkenness as the very basis of almost all of the negative phenomena in society, at work and in the family’. Under socialism, it is held, drunkenness and alcoholism, even when they have become residual, remain complex social factors, the elimination of which lies in the sphere of economic, moral—legal, and preventive— medical education. The struggle against alcohol, accordingly, is an inseparable part of communist education, because socialism and drunkenness, and even more communism and drunkenness, are seen as incompatible.2


Alcoholic Beverage Central Committee Legal Sanction Soviet Society Public Catering 
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  1. 1.
    T. Korzhikhina, ‘Bor’ba s alkogolizmom v 1920–1930-kh godakh’, Voprosy istorii, 1985, no. 9, p. 21.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    E. P. Lanovenko et al., P’yanstvo i prestupnost’: Istoriya, problemy (Kiev: Naukova dumka, 1989).Google Scholar
  3. 8.
    L. D. Miroshninchenko, ‘Istoriya bor’by s p’yanstvom i alkogolizmom v 20–30-kh godakh’, Voprosy narkologii, 1990, no. 3, p. 57.Google Scholar
  4. 10.
    V. G. Treml, ‘A Noble Experiment? Gorbachev’s Anti-Drinking Campaign’, in M. Freidburg and H. Isham (eds) Soviet Society Under Gorbachev: Current Trends and Prospects (Armonk, NY: Sharpe, 1987).Google Scholar

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© International Council for Soviet and East European Studies, and Walter Joyce 1992

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  • Walter Joyce

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