Altneuland- Theodor Herzl's Zionist Utopia
"May I be allowed a criticism?" asked Friedrich. "We have admired so many fine things in 'Old-New-Land' that perhaps I may venture a misgiving."
"Certainly!" replied David. "What is it?"
"These laborers seem peculiarly depressed, as if the splendid machine they serve had somehow crushed something in them. Of what good are all the clever mechanical devices if people are none the happier for using them? These men remind me of the factory workers of my day. I admit, they look less sad, and seem to be healthier. Nevertheless, there is a resemblance. That is what troubles me. Knowing that this farm belongs to a benevolent association, I expected to see happier-looking people. I confess, I am a bit disappointed."
The manager gave him a surprised glance, and turned questioningly to the others. "Doesn't Dr. Loewenberg know where he is?" he asked.
"No," replied David. "We purposely did not tell him, as we wanted him to gain an unbiased impression. It Was to be a surprise for him that this is a penal colony."
"Impossible!" cried Friedrich. "A penal colony! That alters the case, of course! Will you please tell me," he asked the manager, "if you get effective educational results?"
"Our people are restored to physical and moral health. Most of them come to love life on the land, and don't want to leave it. After serving their terms, they are often glad to remain here as hired laborers. Sometimes we settle them as independent farmers in remote districts. The profits of the estate are used to finance such settlements, which begin to repay the loans after a few years. We restore the dregs of society to manhood."
When, the next day at Beisan, Friedrich reported what he had seen to Kingscourt, the old man exploded, "Of course! All the marvels happen when I'm not there. Water flows uphill, and prisons are free!"
The Noah's ark carried them southward along the Jordan Valley on a well-paved road, which often followed the river bed and as often diverged from it. The Jordan was at its spring rise, the landscape on both shores softly green. Lovely villages, towns, and residential suburbs peeped out from wooded slopes on the eastern and western heights. Every now and then the Jordan Valley train rushed by on the right bank. There was also lively traffic on the high road. It was the season when most of the tourists forsook Jericho now a famous winter resort. The Jordan Valley was already too warm for the spoiled darlings of fashion who had run away from the European winter. There were many large touring cars on the road which resembled David's ark, with parties of smartly dressed men and women traveling northward, the Lebanon season being now at its height. The tourists would take ship for Europe at the end of April from Beirut, unless they preferred the quicker land route to Constantinople by the Asia Minor express.
But, though the pleasure-seekers left the Jordan Valley when the hot weather set in, the sturdiest elements - the workers-remained at home there. The plains on both sides of the river, famed since ancient times for their fertility, were more luxuriantly planted than ever before. Now that the Jordan Valley was worked with the newest and best agricultural machinery available, it yielded abundant crops of rice, sugar cane, tobacco and cotton, which brought rich profits.
The hydraulic engineers had achieved remarkable things in this region. Regulation of the Jordan had been only one of their tasks. By means of magnificent dams in the valleys between the mountains on the eastern side, the abundant water supply of the land had been utilized to the full. In the ages when the land had lain neglected, the rain had been allowed to run off into the ground. Now, by the simple system of dams so well known throughout the civilized world, every drop of water that fell from the heavens was exploited for the public, good. Milk and honey once more flowed in the ancient home of the Jews. Palestine was again the Promised Land.
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