Prohibition before Prohibition: Law & Morality in the Utopian Context of the Icarian Community


Theodore Georgopoulos

Theodore Georgopoulos is Director of the Wine & Law Program of the Faculty of Law of Reims, holder of the Jean Monnet Chair in European Wine Law, President of the Georges Chappaz Wine Institute in Champagne and President of AIDV, international association of lawyers in vine and vine law.

In 1848, dozens of families left France, following Etienne Cabet, to found in Nauvoo, Illinois, a utopian community inspired by the book “The trip to Icaria” and based on constitutionalism and comprehensive regulation.

The Icarian experience is thus a unique opportunity to reflect on the relationship between the law and alcohol in conditions of “social laboratory”. Source of all social ills, a threat to the moral and political order of the Community, but also a necessary source of income and food required in the extreme Midwestern conditions, the alcoholic drink (and the regulation of its consumption) put to the test the credibility, the coherence and, finally, the realization of the utopian project.

Based on the research and analysis of the “official” documents of the ICAR community, the paper explores the relationship between law and morality in a context that denies individualism and places the common interest at the top of the hierarchy of values. at the expense of individual freedom.

This post is also available in French