Saturday, July 26, 2008

A Laughable Theory of Mine (UPDATE 1)

Added final paragraph on recent George Will article

My theory about language and conflict sorta wraps up lots of different parts about world history.  This theory I don't believe, although I can see how it might be true.  The argument is that civilization, or society, is only possible with alcohol.  I will just lay out some facts.

  • The earliest recorded brewing of beer is about 6000 years ago, about the same time as the earliest known human civilization.
  • The Russians outlawed alcohol in 1914, three years later the Tsars were overthrown
  • Gorbachev tried limiting alcohol from 1985-87, the program ended, soon after so did the Soviet Union
  • The Great Depression in the United States occurred during Prohibition
It makes a little sense.  I'm guessing that we'd all want to sleep in communal spaces if we liked each other more, but we need to get together for civilization.  Somehow, alcohol makes that possible.  It probably does so in many ways.  One tiny way is the way it changes a person's breath.  If everyone is drinking beer, they will all have the same smelling breath.

It turns out that, two weeks before I wrote this, George Will wrote an article about beer and civilization.  He emphasizes the water aspect (alcohol kills germs, therefore is safer to drink than water) which I neglected to even mention.

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