In his book of the series, Marr does condescend to say, to extenuate the crimes of a century ago, that “they did not know what we know”. They couldn’t help being Edwardians, poor silly things. How were they to know they would look so laughable in their top hats?
We surely have no right to be smug. We too will look laughable in our equivalents of the top hat: things we do now will in the future look silly, unreasonable, plain stupid, or even wicked. As Moore maintains, this perspective on the past can be unjustified, a product of arrogance and a lack of imagination.
But sometimes, once they're looked at with some perspective, things just are laughable. When this happens, it's usually not just because they look silly in the sweep of history; they look silly in contemporary terrms, anomalous even with reference to the era's own values.
One of the things that I think future generations will find it most difficult to empathise with is our attitude to drugs. Just as we laugh at the foolish puritans in the US who introduced Prohibition and managed to create and entrench a whole new class of gangster, our own prohibition will appear an ignominious failure, and on almost every conceivable level.
Our descendents will look back and wonder why we - who prided ourselves on our liberalism, tolerance, and rationality - were willing to pursue for so long something so illiberal, intolerant, irrational, and deeply immoral, too. We fail on our own terms as well as on those of some imagined, objectifying future.
There are so many problems with our current attitude to drugs it's difficult to know where to begin. Of course, it's irrational. The Times yesterday, drawing on the now notorious Prof Nutt's research, ranks drugs, legal and illegal, on the basis of their risk, and contrasts this with their official classification: