Pictures of the Socialistic Future

Richter, Eugene
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Henry Wright, trans.
First Pub. Date
London: Swan Sonnenschein & Co., Ltd.
Pub. Date
Introduction by Thomas Mackay.

Chapter I


THE red flag of international Socialism waves from the palace and from all the public buildings of Berlin. If our immortal Bebel could but have lived to see this! He always used to tell the bourgeoisie that "the catastrophe was almost at their very doors." Friedrich Engels had fixed 1898 as the year of the ultimate triumph of socialistic ideas. Well, it did not come quite so soon, but it has not taken much longer.


This, however, is immaterial. The main thing is the fact that all our long years of toil and battling for the righteous cause of the people are now crowned with success. The old rotten regime, with its ascendency of capital, and its system of plundering the working classes, has crumbled to pieces. And for the benefit of my children, and children's children, I intend to set down, in a humble way, some little account of the beginning of this new reign of brotherhood and universal philanthropy. I, too, have not been altogether without some small share in this new birth of mankind. All, both in time and money, that I have been able for a generation past to snatch from the practice of my craft as an honest bookbinder, and all that my family could spare, I have devoted to the furtherance of our aims. I am also indebted to the literature of Socialism, and to my connection with political clubs, for my mental culture and my soundness on all socialistic points. My wife and children are in full accord with me. Our beloved Bebel's book on women has long been the highest gospel to my better half, Paula.


The birthday of the new socialistic order happened to be our silver wedding-day; and now, behold, today's celebration day has added fresh happiness to us as a family. My son, Franz, has become engaged to Agnes Müller. The two have long known each other, and the strong attachment is mutual. So in all the elevation of mind, inspired by this great day, we have knit up this new bond of affection. They are both somewhat young yet, but they are, nevertheless, both good hands at their trades. He is a compositor, she a milliner. So there is ground to hope it will turn out a good match. They intend to marry as soon as the new regulations in respect of work, arrangements of dwellings, and so on, shall have reached completion.


After dinner we all took a stroll unter den Linden. My stars! what a crowd there was! And what endless rejoicing! Not one single discordant tone to mar the harmony of the great celebration day. The police is disbanded, the people themselves maintaining order in the most exemplary manner.


In the palace gardens, in the square in front, and all around the palace, vast crowds were gathered, which showed unmistakable unanimity and steadfastness of aim. The new Government was assembled in the palace. Colleagues, chosen from amongst the foremost leaders of the Socialist party, have provisionally taken over the reins of Government. The Socialist members of the town council form, for the present, the corporation. Whenever, from time to time, one of our new rulers chanced to show himself at one of the windows, or on a balcony, the uncontrollable ecstasy of the people would break out afresh, showing itself in frantic waving of hats and handkerchiefs, and in singing the workmen's Marseillaise.


In the evening there was a grand illumination. The statues of the old kings and marshals, decorated with red flags, looked strange enough in the red glare of so much Bengal fire. The days of these statues are, however, numbered, and they will shortly have to give place to statues of bygone heroes of Socialism. It has already been determined, I hear, to remove the statues of the two Humboldts from the front of the university, and to place there in their stead those of Marx and Ferdinand Lassalle. The statue of Frederic the Great, unter den Linden, is to be replaced by that of our immortal Liebknecht.


Upon our return home we kept up, in our cosy family circle, this double celebration till a late hour. My wife's father, who hitherto has not made much account of Socialism, was with us on the occasion, and was very sympathetic and cheery.


We are full of hope that we shall now soon vacate our humble dwelling, three storeys high, and exchange it for something better. Well, well, the old place, after all, has witnessed many a quiet joy of ours, no lack of trouble and sorrow, and plenty of honest endeavour as well.

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