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 XXX


THE Chancellor's new proposals for getting rid of the great deficit have been received on all sides in Berlin with mockery and derision. To what lengths this dissatisfaction may yet go there is no foretelling. For a long time past there has been a great spirit of discontent amongst the artificers in metals, and more particularly amongst engineers. These men claim to have had a large share in bringing about the Revolution, and they complain that they are now shamefully cheated out of what Socialism had always promised them. It certainly cannot be denied that before the great Revolution they had over and over again been promised the full reward of their labours. This, as they maintain, had expressly and repeatedly appeared in black and white in the columns of the Onward. And shall they now put up with it, that they only receive the same wages as all the others?


They say that if they were to receive the full value of the machines and tools which are turned out of their shops, after deducting the cost of raw material and auxiliary material, they would get, at least, four times as much as they do now.


It is in vain that the Onward has endeavoured to point out to them that their interpretation is an entirely false one. Socialism, says this organ, never contemplated giving to each labourer in his special field the full reward of his work in that particular sphere of labour. It promised the nation as a whole the full reward of the labours effected by the whole people. Whatever these mechanics might turn out of their shops and mills, it was quite clear that the things turned out were not the result purely and simply of hand labour. Expensive machines and tools were equally necessary to their production. In a no less degree were large buildings and considerable means indispensable. All these accessories had not been produced by the workmen actually engaged at the time being. Seeing then that the Community finds all these buildings, plans, and means, it was assuredly only just that the Community should appropriate whatever remained after paying a certain wage calculated at one uniform rate for all persons in the country.


But these mechanics, somehow, cannot be brought to view the thing in this light. They say that if the State, or the Community, or whatever you like to call it, is now to take those profits which formerly were paid to shareholders for the loan of their capital, it comes to much the same thing to them in the long run. If this was to be the end of the affair, the great Revolution might just as well never have taken place at all.


The prospect of the lengthening of the workingday to twelve hours has made these workmen in the different metal trades more bitter than ever. Twelve hours a day at a roaring fire, and at work on hard metals, is a different thing from twelve hours behind a counter waiting for customers, or twelve hours looking after children.


In short, these men demand the full reward of their labour as they understand the term, the working-day being limited to ten hours at the very outside. Several large meetings of the men have already taken place at night on Jungfern Common and Wuhl Common, to debate upon the question of a resort to force should their demands not be conceded. There is talk of the threatened strike embracing 40,000 men, who are engaged in Berlin in the different metal branches.

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