Blame it on the A-A-A-Alcohol

Jamie Fox took some advice from the 1980’s Soviet Government  in his song Blame It (On the Alcohol) when he says:

Blame it on the vodka
Blame it on the henny
Blame it on the blue top
Got you feeling dizzy
Blame it on the a a a a a alcohol

The Soviet government in the late 70’s to 80’s attempted to cut back on alcohol consumption in order to reduce, “high rates of child-abuse, suicide, divorce, absenteeism, accidents on the job, and contributing to a rise in mortality rates,” by limiting the production of alcohol and stigmatising the overconsumption of alcohol.

In 1985, Mikhail Gorbachev campaigned against alcohol abuse by, “limiting the kinds of shops permitted to sell alcohol, closing many vodka distilleries and destroying vineyards in the wine-producing republics of Moldavia, Armenia and Georgia, and banning the sale of alcohol in restaurants before two o’clock in the afternoon.”

Vodka Brings With It” Poster

In 1979 Vladimir Vysotskii wrote a song about his suffering from long-term alcohol abuse, which was not unusual for a middle age Soviet man.  His song was aptly entitled the “Anti-Alcohol Song

But with the government crackdown on all things alcohol, the Soviet people turned to homebrews. This was particularly difficult to regulate because this ‘moonshine’-like alcohol was being made in the comfort of Soviet households. A. Sidorov writes of the Government’s frustration with this dilemma in his article in The Current Digest entitled, Alcohol is Society’s Enemy: A Villian With No Stigma. Sidorov states, “the province internal affairs administration informed me that in the past four years, almost 3,500 illegal distillers have been discovered. But the police are far from happy with the situation… Why not? Because it is not publicized and publicly condemned. Of the 30 home brewers that were uncovered in Pachelma District during the first half of 1984, only one was brought before a comrades’ court, while the rest got off with a fine and a bit of a scare….A strange logic is at work here: Homemade liquor, when discovered in the kitchen of its maker, is grounds for criminal prosecution, yet homebrew on the table for celebrations with family and friends is considered quite normal?! “

-Yet like most Soviet policies from the 80’s, this too, came to an end.

By 1987, the campaign was officially abandoned because of an increase in organized crime, alcohol poisonings from extreme substances, homebrewing, and a sharp decrease in state revenue from alcohol sales, leading to the printing of more money and subsequent inflation.


Anti-Alcohol Song (1979)

Anti-Alcohol Campaign Images

Anti-Alcohol Campaign Images

12 Replies to “Blame it on the A-A-A-Alcohol”

  1. This is a very creative and well written Post. You do a great job of using your sources to keep the reader engaged in the subject matter. The topic is also very interesting because there doesn’t seem to be a clear cut answer on how to address the issue. Great job!

  2. It is interesting to see that their campaign against alcohol back fired and created more trouble than it fixed. Like you said: an “increase in organized crime, alcohol poisonings from extreme substances, homebrewing, and a sharp decrease in state revenue from alcohol sales, leading to the printing of more money and subsequent inflation.” was definitely a big problem. It intrigued me to read that so many cases of home-brewers were kept quiet. Perhaps it was because the government wanted to appear in control of the situation. Great post.

  3. This is an excellent post! It is super thorough and does a great job incorporating diverse sources and wonderful primary sources! The “moonshining” like practices that developed due to the prohibition are very similar to the US’s result of prohibition in the 1920’s. I found that there was an “Anti Alcohol Song” very humorous, but an important indication of the role of the media in social issues.

  4. A lot of people wrote about this topic, but none (including mine) had as awesome a title as yours! great post and use of your sources especially the song to jazz up the post. Good Job.

  5. It’s kind of like Prohibition – you try to take the alcohol away from the people and organized crime increases to fill that need and desire for alcohol. It’s crazy how many times the USSR/Russia tried to limit alcohol consumption and it never worked. Fascinating post!

  6. It is interesting to see how other societies deal with the alcohol regulation and compare it to American regulation. It seems like it was similar to America. I would be curious to learn if there was any lessening of the problems that caused the initial regulation. Great job!

  7. Alcohol was a big problem in the Soviet Union and I’m glad you addressed it in your post! This reminds me of US prohibition and the rise of homemade distilleries and illegal alcohol. It’s interesting to compare the same problem in Soviet and American cultures.

  8. I loved your post! I think you do a great job of using the posters to show partially the comedy being used in relation to the ban as well as how it was a serious matter. It’s certainly amusing to think that Russian’s would ever put a ban on vodka distilleries! It’s also interesting to look at this and compare it to our own prohibition. Great job!

  9. Your posts have the best titles, Sophia! I like the way you used songs – contemporary and historical to highlight some of the issues around alcohol consumption. Nicely done!

  10. I love the inclusion of the Anti-Alcohol song! Such a weird time in soviet history, but I guess we as Americans can’t say anything, since we even attempted to ban alcohol when we instated prohibition.

  11. You didn’t mention how T-Pain awesome is in that song lol. I really liked your post and the posters you included. Your audio piece was also a nice touch. There was definitely some good intent behind this, but who really thought that this was going to work? Didn’t they know that we had this issue in the early 20th century? Of course this just lead to a lot of illegal stuff happening. Nice post!!

  12. How interesting! This, along with the US prohibition, shows more than anything that we are all just a bunch of drunks.

    On a serious note, it is interesting to see how efforts to limit alcohol failed in both countries. It really makes me wonder why. I like how you used all those primary sources. I also love your posts title.

    Great post!

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