The Call of The Mild
In 1911, when the residents of California were voting on a number of laws and changes to the the state constitution, Jack London, the first writer in human history to ever earn a million dollars at his craft, went and voted too.
Jack was something of a radical and certainly progressive in his thinking. He was a lifelong member of the Socialist Party and also a participant in a gold rush.
Jack was also, like many writers (most?), a raging alcoholic, so it’s no surprise he went and did his civic duty drunk. He did most things drunk, perhaps even everything.
One of the items on the ballot that year was women’s suffrage. Before it became the law of the land, giving women the right to vote was moving slowly but surely, state by state. A comparable analogy in our day and age would be gay marriage. Eventually, it WILL be the law of the land, but first it must go state by state, not unlike like a series of falling dominos.
This is how America works politically, you see—fucking dominos.
Unsurprisingly, Jack London voted to give women the right to vote in California, but not for the reasons you’d think. It wasn’t because women are people too or that they can make decisions as badly as men, oh no. It was because, at that time, women were all about banning alcohol. The prohibition movement was largely a female thing. Jack thought, quite circuitously, that if women got the vote, they, along with a few brain-damaged men, would ban alcohol, thus getting him off the booze and saving his life.
As he wrote brilliantly in John Barleycorn:
"For be it known, in my younger days, despite my ardent democracy, I had been opposed to woman suffrage. In my later and more tolerant years I had been unenthusiastic in my acceptance of it as an inevitable social phenomenon."
"When women get the ballot, they will vote for prohibition. It is the wives, and sisters, and mothers, and they only, who will drive the nails into John Barleycorn."
John Barleycorn is London’s word for booze personified, and regarding it, he says:
"He is the king of liars. He is the frankest truth-sayer. He is the august companion with whom one walks with the gods. He is also in league with the Noseless One. His way leads to truth naked, and to death. He gives clear vision, and muddy dreams. He is the enemy of life, and the teacher of wisdom beyond life’s vision."
Jack London’s plan didn’t work, however. Suffrage did indeed make Prohibition possible, but Jack died from alcohol before it ever took effect, at age 40 in 1916.
But here’s gravel in yer guts and spit in yer eye anyway, my brother!