Altneuland- Theodor Herzl's Zionist Utopia
David, who by this time understood the old man's manner, retorted in the same vein. "No, Mr. Kingscourt, we could not bear to part with money. For one thing, we are damned greedy Jews. And for another, money is an excellent expedient. If there hadn't been any, it would have had to be invented, you know."
"Boy, you talk after my own heart. I have always said so. Money is a good thing-a fine thing. It's only that it has been spoiled by people."
When they entered their box at the opera, the overture was almost finished. Many people were staring up at them from the auditorium, and the ladies hastened to seat themselves. Friedrich and Kingscourt were surprised at the magnificence of the building. Yes, said David, it had been under construction for five years, and was subsidized by the New Society. An ordinary theater was usually completed within a year once the co-operative had been established.
In the next box sat two bejeweled and overdressed women, one elderly and the other young, on either side of an elderly man. They saluted the Littwak party with a striking show of respect. To Friedrich it seemed that the Littwaks rejected rather than acknowledged the greeting. The older woman and the man he seemed to have met somewhere or other in the dim past.
"Who are those people?" he whispered to David.
The latter shrugged. "A Mr. Laschner, his wife and daughter."
Laschner! The rich Viennese stock broker. Suddenly Ernestine's betrothal party flashed before his mind's eye. The recollection was both amusing and painful.
"I must say, I should never have expected to see them here."
"They did not come until our house was finished," said David. "Palestine now has the same comforts as in the European large cities. But a Laschner meets with the same contempt here as elsewhere. ...We did not indeed abolish money, my dear Mr. Kingscourt; but it is not everything here. The members of our New Society have become so free in the economic sense that the old, disgusting kowtowing to wealth has naturally disappeared. Mr. Laschner may have money, he may spend as much of it as he pleases; but no one takes off his hat to him for that reason. Of course, if he were a decent sort, we should gladly accept him. We expect everyone to show a sense of solidarity. This man, however, has not even troubled to join the New Society. He did not care to assume the duties of our commonwealth. He therefore lives here as a stranger. He may move about freely like any other stranger, but no one respects him. You will understand that."
"Do I understand it!" murmured Kingscourt, looking contemptuously toward the upstarts' box....
The curtain went up, showing a public square in Smyrna; the rising prophet surrounded by his first disciples. Kingscourt asked Miriam to explain the theme of the opera.
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