August Bebel 1879

Free Development of the Individual

1. An Existence Free of Cares

First Published: Die Frau un der Sozialialismus, Berlin, 1946, S. 463-624;
Source: Society of the Future, Progress Publishers, 1971;
Translated: from the German by Don Danemanis;
Transcribed and HTML Markup: Sally Ryan.

an is to have the opportunity to develop himself to the full--that should be the purpose of all human socialisation, which means that he must not be fettered to the soil on which he has been placed by accident of birth. We should acquaint ourselves with our fellows elsewhere and the world at large not only from books and newspapers; personal observation and practical experience are also needed. Hence, the future society must make accessible to all what in present society is already available to many, even if in most cases they are driven to it by need. The requirement for variety in all aspects of life is a striving deeply rooted in human nature. It stems from the craving for self-perfection that is inherent in every human being. A plant in a dark room stretches and strains, as though endowed with consciousness, towards the light that filters through some crevice. Just so with man. An instinct implanted in man must find rational satisfaction. The craving for change is not hampered by the condition of the new society; on the contrary, that society does everything to gratify this craving. This will be facilitated by the highly developed system of communications and made necessary by international relations. In future many more people will travel for all manner of purposes than was the case before.

Society requires ample stocks of the necessaries of life of all kind in order to be able to meet all demands. It correspondingly regulates working hours according to requirements, makes them longer or shorter, as requirements and the time of year make it desirable. It will apply itself in one season mainly to agriculture, in another mainly to industrial production and to arts and crafts, it deploys its labour force as occasion may require: through the combination of numerous forces provided with the most up-to-date technical equipment it can with the greatest of ease carry out undertakings which seem impossible today.

Society not only takes over the care of the young, but does the same for its aged, sick and incapacitated. The community takes care of those who for any reason have become unable to work. This is not a question of charity, but one of duty, not a hand-out but care and assistance born of every possible consideration due to those, who, while strong and able to work, fulfilled their duties to the community. Old age is made more pleasant with everything society has to offer. Everyone holds onto the hope that he will some day himself enjoy what he now affords to others. Now the old are not haunted by the thought that others are waiting for them to die in order to come into an inheritance. The fear that once they are old and helpless they will be thrown aside like a squeezed-out lemon has also vanished. They depend neither on the charity and support of their children nor on the alms of the community. The position of most parents who in their old age depend on the support of their children is all too familiar. And how demoralising an influence is exerted on children, and to a still greater degree on relatives, by the hope of a possible inheritance. What base passions are awakened, and how many are the crimes that such hopes have given rise to--murder, forgery, usurpation of inheritance, perjury and blackmail.

The moral and physical condition of society, the nature of the work, homes, food, clothing and social life it provides will all help to protect men against accidents, sickness and debility. Natural death, the ebbing away of vital strength will then become more and more common. The conviction that heaven is on earth and that death is the end will cause people to lead sensible lives. He enjoys most who enjoys longest. Long life is valued most by the clergy who prepare people for the "hereafter". A life free from cares makes it possible for the clergy to enjoy the highest life expectancy of any profession.