History

The Necessity of Something Like the Berlin Wall, Circa 1891

|

A prediction, via satirical anti-socialist German writer Eugene Richter (one-time leader of the Liberal Party in the Reichstag) in his 1891 work Pictures of a Socialistic Future, of the necessity of strong border protections in the socialist commonwealth (though he specifically predicts merely murderous guards, not a wall per se):

Socialism is founded upon the principle that it is the duty of all persons alike to labour, just as under the old regime the duty to become a soldier was a universally recognised one. And just as in the old days young men who were ripe for military service were never allowed to emigrate without authority, so can our Government similarly not permit the emigration from our shores of such persons as are of the right age to labour. Old persons who are beyond work, and infants, are at liberty to go away, but the right to emigrate cannot be conceded to robust people who are under obligations to the State for their education and culture, so long as they are of working age…

Under these circumstances the Government is to be commended for stringently carrying out its measures to prevent emigration. In order to do so all the more effectually, it has been deemed expedient to send strong bodies of troops to the frontiers, and to the seaport towns. The frontiers towards Switzerland have received especial attention from the authorities. It is announced that the standing army will be increased by many battalions of infantry and squadrons of cavalry. The frontier patrols have strict instructions to unceremoniously shoot down all fugitives.

Link via Bryan Caplan.

NEXT: The Class Struggle Over Beer Strength

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. German writer Eugene Richter (one-time leader of the Liberal Party in the Reichstag)

    Back when being Liberal meant beaing pro-freedom, or at least, not pro-State. How times (and concepts) change after only 100 years of post-modernism.

    1. Only on the wrong side of the Big Lake. In France, “liberal” is still one of the worst smears imaginable.

      1. Re: Lukas,

        In France, “liberal” is still one of the worst smears imaginable.

        If this fact is true, it generates a frightening thought in my mind of what a contrary compliment would be like in France.

        “You’re such a nice Statist” (???)

    2. It still means the same in Europe only in the US the memaning has changed.

  2. Hi,Excellent post and wonderful blog, I really like this type of interesting articles keep it up.

  3. Any society founded on so-called “positive rights” is going to need to prevent emigration. The people who are used as milch cows to fund the “rights” to health care, education, food, etc., the people who produce more than they consume, will find that it’s in their self interest to migrate to places that milk them a little less, so they can keep more of their productive energy for their own benefit. You can train people to believe that they have a moral duty to serve others, but only to a point.
    If there’s one town or state that provides a little less onerous burdens on the young and healthy, or the smart and productive, that one is naturally going to attract more of those people, and it will prosper more.

    Human nature. Eventually you run up to the point where to keep funding the “right” to free shit for everyone you either have to erect a wall, or start with the reeducation camps.

    That’s the real point of “Going Galt”. Not that people will deliberately stop working and drop out of society. But that the incentives will be such that productive people will emigrate or stop producing.

  4. Funny, I haven’t heard much of any rhetoric aimed at people wanting to quit our nation (emigration). Everyone seems stuck on immigration and Mexicans in particular.

    It would be interesting to see walls built to keep Americans from leaving America to work elsewhere.

    It kind of says something that hordes of young Americans aren’t shipping off elsewhere. America is fucked up for sure,but what does this say for the rest of the world?

    1. Actually, I have read that increasing numbers of Americans are finding jobs overseas. Mostly in East Asia or Europe, and in a sort of cosmopolitain globe trotting mix of other young professionals.

      1. And good on them…those seeking employment overseas. Thank God a wall has not been built to keep them in!

        1. No wall, true. The US govt insist on continuing to tax them, though, even if they renounce their citizenship.

          1. It’s worse than that. States are taxing commerce among states. Try buying a Dell computer from TX without paying sales tax for it in CA.

          2. Good luck on the government collecting. There’s nothing the US can do if you don’t come back.

            I don’t know any US citizens who have lived overseas who ever bothered to file a US tax return. I certainly never did.

  5. The Left is nothing but murderous satire.

  6. The man Eugen Richter no E at the end of Eugen.

    1. *is called* is missing from the above post.

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.