Saturday, 14 August 2010

Cassandra Award winner for 1891

... must have been Eugen Richter, for his astoundingly prescient 'Pictures of the Socialistic Future', a black comedy set in a future where socialism has triumphed. Here, his ever-hopeful narrator discusses the recent allocation of housing:

Upon the cornpletion of this casting lots for residences, exchanges of the rooms that had fallen to the various ticket-holders were permissible. Those persons who desired to remain together, such as married couples, for instance, but who had got their quarters in different streets, houses, or storeys, were allowed to exchange as best they could. For my part, I had to put up with a tiny room, a mere cupboard of a place, adjoining the room vvhich had fallen to my wife's lot, and, in order to get this cupboard, I had to give up my nice room in a neighbouring house to a young man to whom the cupboard had fallen; but the main thing, after all, is that we do not get separated.

Not that all married couples have, by any means, yet been successful in obtaining a satisfactory exchange of rooms. There may be even some who do not take any particular pains to secure this end. Marriage is a private affair; and, therefore, officially, there can be no lotteries of larger dwellings for married people, and of smaller ones for those who are single. Were such the case, then, the termination of a marriage contract, for instance (which ought to be attainable at any moment), might have to be put off until single rooms for the individuals concerned were procurable. As it now is, each compound dwelling formed by the two halves to a marriage contract can, at a moment's notice, on the termination of the contract, be resolved into its original halves. All you have to do is to make a division of the furniture, and the thing is settled.

Thus we see that everything in the new Community has been settled in a logical and sagacious manner. All the arrangements guarantee full personal liberty to every man and every wornan; and how humiliated must those feel who used to maintain that Socialism meant the subjugation of the individual will.

Indeed. Find the book at the Ludwig von Mises site.

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