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.
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Chapter XIV


THE Chancellor has tendered his resignation. All well-intentioned persons must sincerely regret this step, especially after yesterday's event. But the Chancellor is said to be in an overwrought and nervous state. And, indeed, this can scarcely be wondered at, for he has had a hundred times more thought and work than any chancellor under the old system had. The ingratitude of the mob has deeply wounded him, and the incident of yesterday was just the last drop which has made the cup run over.


It has come out, however, that the boot cleaning question was really at the bottom of the ministerial crisis. It is now known that the Chancellor some little time back handed over to the Cabinet an elaborate memorandum, which memorandum, however, the other ministers always contrived to persistently shelve. The Chancellor insists now on attention being paid to his memorandum, and he has had it inserted in the Onward. He demands that class differences be instituted, and says that for his part he cannot possibly dispense with the services of others. The maximum eight hours' day simply cannot and does not exist for a chancellor, nor could otherwise exist than by having three chancellors to govern in shifts of eight hours each of the twenty-four. He urges that he, as Chancellor, lost a lot of valuable time each morning over cleaning his boots, brushing his clothes, tidying up his room, fetching his breakfast, and similar offices; and that, as a consequence, matters of grave State import, which he alone was in a position to attend to, were subjected to vexing delay. He had no other choice, he says, than either to appear occasionally before the ambassadors of friendly powers minus a button or two on his coat, or to, himself, (the Chancellor, as is well known, is not married,) do such small repairs as were too pressingly urgent, or too trifling, to be sent to the great State repairing shops. He argues further that by having a servant to perform such little offices much valuable time would have been saved to the public. Then again the having to take his meals at the one appointed State cookshop was very irksome, by reason of the crowd of suppliants who daily organised a hunt after him. As for his carriage-drives, he never took them except when, from the limited time at his disposal, it was otherwise quite impossible to obtain a mouthful of fresh air.


All this sounds, of course, very plausible, but there is no denying that a proposition of this kind is diametrically opposed to the principle of social equality, and that it would only too strongly tend to introduce the system of household slavery once more. That which is demanded by the Chancellor for himself others might with equal right demand, and we should soon have his colleagues in the Cabinet, and others, such, for instance, as heads of Government departments, directors of the numerous State institutions, mayors of towns, etc. etc., making the same pretensions. On the other hand, however, it certainly does seem a pity that the whole vast machinery of the State, upon whose smooth working such mighty issues depend, should now and then come to a stop because the Chancellor has to sew a button on, or to polish his boots before he can receive someone in audience.


This is a question of greater moment than is apparent to everyone at first sight. But that such an excellent Chancellor, and such a consistent Socialist should in the course of his career be tripped up by a stumbling-block of this kind cannot be too much regretted.

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