Altneuland- Theodor Herzl's Zionist Utopia
"None so far. Seems a strapping fine fellow."
They were interrupted by the host himself, who came to inquire their wishes for the evening. Did they prefer a play or a concert? He placed a newspaper with amusement notices before them.
Kingscourt pointed to the paper without looking at it. "Do so many lies still grow in the world?"
"Only as many as the readers want," retorted David. "A vast number, then," grinned Kingscourt.
"It depends. On the whole, the co-operative papers are truthful and decent."
"What kind of papers?"
"The co-operative ones. The press naturally had to be co-operative in our mutualistic economic order."
"Halt! Halt!" cried Kingscourt. "Not so fast, please! Under what kind of economic order do you live?"
"A mutualistic order. But please don't imagine a system of cast-iron rules, rigid principles, or anything stiff or hard or doctrinaire. It is only a simple, flexible modus operandi.
It too already existed in your day like everything else you see here. All kinds of industrial and commercial co-operative societies were then in existence; and you will find all kinds operating effectively here. The whole merit of our New Society is merely that it fostered the creation and development of the co-operatives by providing credits, and-what was even more important-by educating the masses to make use of them. Economic science had long ago recognized the significance of the co-operatives. But, in practical life, they succeeded-when they did succeed by accident and with much difficulty. Their members were usually too poor to hold out until the inevitable success could be achieved. And all the while they had to be fighting the covert or open opposition of the threatened interests. Provision merchants were not of course happy over the advent of the consumers' co-operatives. The cabinetmakers' co-operatives were no joy to the furniture manufacturers, and so on. The combined power of habit, friction, and the inhibitions imposed by old customs worked against the formation of the co-operatives. And yet their method provides the mean between individualism and collectivism. The individual is not deprived of the stimulus and pleasures of private property, while, at the same time, he is able, through union with his fellows, to resist capitalist domination. The plague, yes, the curse of the poor has been removed-they no longer earn less as producers and pay more as consumers than the rich. Here the bread of the poor is as cheap as the bread of the rich. There are no speculators in the necessaries of life. You know how in the co-operative method has, indeed, become one of the strongest motives in the new Palestinian colonization, due chiefly to the efforts of the organized labor movement. It is much more developed in agriculture, however, than in industry or commerce the old days they used to ruin hundreds of thousands of people through their practices. Nor did we allow the old type of small tradesman to come into existence, but established consumers' co-operatives at the very beginning of our enterprise. There you have another example of the advantages of our freedom from inherited burdens. We did not have to ruin anyone in order to ease the lot of our masses."
"But what about the newspapers?" asked Friedrich. "We were speaking of them. How can they be organized cooperatively? Do they belong to the editors-or how else is it done?"
"Very simply. The co-operative newspaper belongs to its subscribers. Their investment is limited to the amount of their subscription; and they are not liable beyond that. The larger the circulation of a paper, the greater, of course, its income from advertisements, announcements, etc. These profits belong to the readers-to the subscribers, rather. They are reimbursed for the cost of their subscription from the annual profits. When business is very good they receive one hundred per cent on their investment. Sometimes even more."
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