Altneuland- Theodor Herzl's Zionist Utopia
Friedrich was thoroughly irritated by these comments, though he had met Dr. Marcus only once arid was seeing Levy for the first time. His one wish was that Reschid and Kingscourt had not heard the nasty criticisms. Luckily, they were intent on the proceedings downstairs.
The chairman rang loudly for order. Dr. Marcus had asked for the floor. He ascended the platform a bit heavily, and waited for quiet, so that his feeble voice might carry. There was dead silence as he began.
"Honored Congress! My friend Levy in his efficient way, has spoken of saving your time. I believe it worth while to use some of the valuable time of the New Society in an attempt to understand each other. First let us understand, then decide.
"We have come here not to choose the head of a state; since we are not a state.
"We are a commonwealth. In form it is new, but in purpose very ancient. Our aim is mentioned in the First Book of Kings: 'Judah and Israel shall dwell securely, each man under his own vine and fig tree, from Dan to Beersheba.'
"We are simply a large co-operative association composed of affiliated co-operatives. And this, our congress, is really nothing more than the general assembly of the co-operative association which is called the New Society. Yet all of us feel that more is involved than the purely material interests of an industrial and economic co-operative association. For we establish schools and layout parks; we concern ourselves not only with utilitarian things, but with Beauty and Wisdom as well. For Beauty and Wisdom, too, benefit our commonwealth. We understand that a community must have an ideal in its own interest: let us say at once-an ideal is indispensable. For it is that which draws us on. We were not the first to discover the value of ideals: the discovery is as old as the world. The ideal is for the community what bread and water are for the individual. And our Zionism, which led us hither and will lead us still further to yet unknown heights, is but an ideal, an infinite, endless ideal.
"Do I seem to you to digress? No, my friends, lam keeping to the subject in hand, the elections. He whom we elect as the head of the New Society just be one who will concern himself with the ideal and keep aloof from material things. All his thought must be for the Ideal. He must be a quiet man, just and modest, above the strife of current opinion. We elect him for seven years.
"My friend Levy has refused the office because he feels he can serve us better during those seven years by continuing in his present post. I agree with him. But I too refuse. I am too old. I do not believe I shall live seven years longer. Too frequent elections are unwholesome. They incite too much personal ambition, lead to personal partisanships. Don't elect me. I am too old. My body is no longer flexible; perhaps my mind, too, has lost its elasticity. It may be that I can no longer understand the ideals of younger men. For ideals are always being reborn, and there may be rebirths which a man like myself can no longer comprehend.
"But Levy and I have not come before you merely in order to refuse office. We have a suggestion to make to you. It was Levy's idea, and he is a good judge of men. That. speaks in its favor. And I agree with all my heart.
"The man whose name we shall propose to you is still young,-younger than Levy, very much younger than myself. He is one of the new men who have made this old soil of ours fertile and beautiful again. He walked behind the plow with his father as a boy, but he has also sat behind books. He has a wholesome capacity for public affairs, but. does not let them swamp him. I do not see him here just now. But if he is present, he will be the last to apply my words to himself, so genuine is his humility. He is very capable in his personal affairs, and made his way up from very modest beginnings. If we elect him, we shall not only be honoring a man of high merit, but shall also give our youth an incentive to aim high. Every son of Venice could become a Doge. Every member of the New Society must. be eligible for its highest office."
Enthusiastic applause rewarded these words. "Name! Name! Who is he?" shouted delegates from all parts of the hall. Dr. Marcus raised his hand for silence. "I do not wish to name our candidate for the presidency from this platform," he added, "since it is not our habit to use the election Congress as a campaign meeting. I ask therefore, that the chairman declare a recess."
A recess was declared. The delegates swarmed tumultuously about Marcus and Levy. They named their man. The name was relayed from group to group, and in a few moments winged its way to the galleries: "David Littwak!"
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