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Big Alcohol is one of the most powerful and profitable industries in the world — yet this constellation of massive corporations, lobby groups, and governments faces almost no scrutiny for the immense health and social harms it causes.
Like climate change is to fossil fuels and lung cancer is to cigarettes, these countless alcohol-related harms — cancer, organ failure, traumatic injury, dependency — are a direct result of Big Alcohol’s thirst for profits. Now, it is fighting make alcohol even less regulated, and cheaper, stronger, and more ubiquitous, as it expands into the Global South and seeks even higher returns.
In Drinking Up the Revolution, James Wilt makes the case for smashing the global alcohol industry and building a politics of joy in its place. Far from a call for prohibition or sobriety, it is instead a manifesto for putting alcohol production and supply into the hands of the working class, facilitating lower-risk drinking, reduced harm, and decommodified sources of relaxation and pleasure.
For too long, the alcohol industry has dominated our understanding of the substance’s history, impacts, and ubiquity. Drinking Up the Revolution is a rallying cry to take back power from the corporations that have commodified our desire for joy and sold it back to us in a way that harms our health, lives, and the world around us.
James Wilt is a freelance journalist, PhD student, and the author of Do Androids Dream of Electric Cars? Public Transit in the Age of Google, Uber, and Elon Musk (Between the Lines Books, 2020). His writing has appeared in many publications including The Globe and Mail, The Walrus, Vice, Canadian Dimension, Briarpatch, The Narwhal, Passage, National Observer, CBC Calgary, Alberta Oil, Ricochet, and Rabble.
“Drinking Up the Revolution offers both an incisive expose of the extensive harm perpetrated by a cynical globalised alcohol industry in its naked pursuit of profit, and a lower-risk, alternative way for the world to enjoy alcohol – or not.”
“Drinking Up the Revolution is not only persuasive in its calls for an end to the oligopoly of Big Alcohol, its manifesto envisions a set of compelling alternatives that could very well help break up alcohol’s near-monopoly on culturally-sanctioned means of celebration and connection.”
“You might feel a general anxiety about society’s worsening relationship with alcohol, and Drinking Up the Revolution explains why.”
“James Wilt fills a much needed gap in left thinking about alcohol. With care, passion, and rigour Wilt is able to not only map out the capitalist problems of big alcohol plaguing society but also present promising solutions, and an abolitionist hope of dreaming bigger. Drinking Up the Revolution is a must read for those who want to indeed find working class joy again, with deep compassion and attention to race and class Wilt presents a way forward together.”