Altneuland- Theodor Herzl's Zionist Utopia
"Moreover, the public wanted and in fact needed these large bazaars where, without loss of time, one can purchase all sorts of things at the low prices made possible by mass distribution. (Manufacturers are of course able to allow lower prices to large firms than to small ones.) In brief, both production and consumption required the large bazaar. No one was ruined here because, as I have said commerce was then in its beginnings. We had a social-political motive: that is to say, we wanted to cure our small tradesmen of certain outworn, uneconomic, and injurious forms of trade."
The ladies were showing slight signs of impatience at David's detailed explanations. They would be late for the opera. But Kingscourt wished to ask still more questions as he held up his great red hands to the saleswoman who was trying to force them into the white gloves.
"Your story, excellency, does not quite hold water. Today I see that you have much commerce here. But it could not have been like that to begin with. These great structures could not have been set down on the bare ground, nor could there have been crowds of customers waiting to rush into them. Tell that to your little Fritzchen, not to an old hand like me."
"Nor, Mr. Kingscourt, did it happen that way. Things developed naturally. When the Jewish immigration to Palestine began on a large scale, there was a sudden and enormous demand for merchandise. We had not yet produced anything, and needed everything. This was known to the whole world, because the Jewish immigration took place in the full light of day. Large firms hastened to establish branches in the important Palestinian towns. It was not only Jewish firms which took advantage of the opportunity to sell their shopworn goods. German, French, English and American department stores went up in a twinkling. At first they were housed in iron barracks. Later, however, as the stream of immigrants grew, and people wanted more and better merchandise (because in the meantime they had settled down and begun to prosper), the barracks gradually gave way to stone structures.
"The New Society carefully refrained from hampering these large undertakings. On the contrary, we encouraged them because they offered us a double advantage. For one thing, they provided the common necessaries promptly and cheaply; and, for another, their presence restrained our small tradesmen from engaging in unproductive business. We did not want to be a nation of shopkeepers."
"Indeed?" asked Friedrich. "Are there no small traders at all here?"
"Oh, there are, indeed!" was the reply. "No one is subject to rules and regulations here. We live under no despotism, whether monarchistic or socialistic. Every one does as he sees fit. The cheapest and the most expensive goods -let us say, second-hand clothing and jewelry-are handled mainly by individual traders. These are by no means all Jews. Greeks, Levantines, Armenians, and Persians engage in this sort of business much more than the Jews-especially than the Jews affiliated with the New Society."
"How's that? Are there Jews who do not belong to the New Society?" "Yes, of course there are...But now we really must be going." David turned to the saleswoman. "How much for both pairs of gloves?"
"All the devils!" marveled Kingscourt. "What's that?"
David smiled. "Our currency. We have renewed the ancient Hebrew coinage. A shekel is equal to a French franc. Since you are not provided with Palestinian currency, allow me to pay for you."
He threw a gold coin on the counter, and received some silver in exchange. As they turned to go, Kingscourt pinched David's arm and growled at him banteringly. "So you didn't abolish money in your New Society. Should have been surprised if you had."
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