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 XV


THE ministerial crisis called forth by the boot-polishing question is not yet over. Meantime, a decree has been issued against all emigration without the permission of the authorities. Socialism is founded upon the principle that it is the duty of all persons alike to labour, just as under the old regime the duty to become a soldier was a universally recognised one. And just as in the old days young men who were ripe for military service were never allowed to emigrate without authority, so can our Government similarly not permit the emigration from our shores of such persons as are of the right age to labour. Old persons who are beyond work, and infants, are at liberty to go away, but the right to emigrate cannot be conceded to robust people who are under obligations to the State for their education and culture, so long as they are of working age.


At the beginning of the new order of things scarcely any other persons than gentlemen of private means, with their families, showed any desire to get across the borders. True, the working powers of these people had been originally taken account of as a factor in the general sum; but it soon turned out that the labour done by such persons as had never been accustomed to harder work than cutting off coupons, or signing receipts, was of such little value that further assistance from these quarters could well be dispensed with. These people were hence quite at liberty to go. The main thing was to take care that they did not take money or money's worth with them over the frontier. Then again, the emigration of nearly all the painters, sculptors, and authors was a thing that could be viewed with the most perfect equanimity. The new system of working on a grand scale, and more or less on one and the same pattern, was not at all to the taste of these gentlemen. They raised objections to working with others in the great State workshops, for the good of the State in general, and to being subjected to the supervision of officials. Let all such malcontents go! We shall have no lack of poets, who, in their leisure hours, will gladly sing the praises of Socialism. It had been intimated to artists and sculptors that they would no longer be able to lay their works of art at the feet of insolent wealthy upstarts, but would have in future to dedicate them to the nation at large. And that does not at all suit these servants of Mammon.


There is, however, one unpleasant fact in connection with the emigration of all the sculptors, and that is, that the proposed erection of statues to many of the departed heroes of our cause seems to be delayed indefinitely. Not even the statues of those memorable pioneers Stadthagen and Liebknecht are completed. On the other hand, the clearance of the salons of the bourgeoisie has placed a vast amount of sculpture at our disposal for the decoration of our meeting-halls and the like.


A word as to authors. These gentlemen who criticise everything, and whose very business it is to spread discontent amongst the people, may, in fact, readily be dispensed with in a State where the will of the masses is law. Long ago Liebknecht used those memorable words: "He who does not bend to the will of the majority, he who undermines discipline must be bundled out."


If all such gentlemen go of their own accord so much the better.


If this had been all, no prohibition of emigration had ever been needed. But the incomprehensible part of the business is that it was observed that useful people, and people who had really learnt something, went away in ever-increasing numbers to Switzerland, to England, to America, in which countries Socialism has not succeeded in getting itself established. Architects, engineers, chemists, doctors, teachers, managers of works and mills, and all kinds of skilled workmen, emigrated in shoals. The main cause of this would appear to be a certain exaltation of mind which is greatly to be regretted. These people imagine themselves to be something better, and they cannot bear the thought of getting only the same guerdon as the simple honest day labourer. Bebel very truly said: "Whatever the individual man may be, the Community has made him what he is. Ideas are the product of the Zeitgeist in the minds of individuals."


Unfortunately the Zeitgeist under the old system long went wandering about, lost in the mazes of error. Hence all these mad notions about the superiority of one man over another.


As soon as our young people shall have received proper training in our socialistic institutions, and shall have become penetrated with the noble ambition to devote all their energies to the service of the Community, so soon shall we be well able to do without all these snobs and aristocrats. Until such time, however, it is only right and fair that they should stay here with us.


Under these circumstances the Government is to be commended for stringently carrying out its measures to prevent emigration. In order to do so all the more effectually, it has been deemed expedient to send strong bodies of troops to the frontiers, and to the seaport towns. The frontiers towards Switzerland have received especial attention from the authorities. It is announced that the standing army will be increased by many battalions of infantry and squadrons of cavalry. The frontier patrols have strict instructions to unceremoniously shoot down all fugitives.


Our Chancellor is an energetic man, and it is to be hoped he will long continue at the head of affairs.

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