August Bebel

Society of the Future

II. Socialism and Agriculture


Alongside with the means of production and communication, land — the primary material of all human effort and the basis of all human existence — belongs to society. At its advanced stage society takes back what it originally possessed. Among all peoples that have reached a definite level of culture land is communal property. Communal property form the basis of every primitive socialisation, which would be impossible without it. It is only through the rise and development of private property and the forms of domination connected with it, that communal property is abolished in the face of grim struggle and is usurped as private property. The robbery of the land and its transformation into private property constituted the prime cause of the bondage that has passed through all possible stages, from slavery to the "freedom" of the wage-worker in our century, until, finally, the enslaved, after thousands of years of development, re-convert the laud into common property.

The importance of land to human existence is such that in all social struggles of the world — in India, China, Egypt, Greece (Cleomenes), Rome (the Gracchi), the Christian Middle Ages (religious sects, Münzer, the Peasant War), in the empires of the Aztecs and Incas, in the social movements of modern times — the ownership of land has always been the principal demand of militants. At present, too, common ownership of land is advocated by such people as Adolf Samter, Adolf Wagner, Dr. Schäffle, Henry George and others, who do not want to hear anything about common ownership in other domains.

The well-being of the population depends primarily on the cultivation and exploitation of the land. To raise the cultivation of the land to the highest possible level is eminently a matter of public concern. Such development is impossible where private ownership holds sway. The most rational exploitation of the land depends not only upon the way it is cultivated; there are also other factors to be considered, which neither the biggest individual owner nor the most powerful association can cope with, factors which in some cases transcend even the framework of the state and should he attended to on an international scale.


Society must consider land as a whole — its topographic features, its mountains, dales, forests, lakes, rivers, ponds, heaths, swamps, moors and bogs. In addition to the geographical situation which cannot be modified, these topographic features exert certain influence on the climate and the qualities of the soil. Here is an immense field of activity in which a lot of experience can still be gathered and a mass of experiments have to be made. What the state has done in this direction up to now is not enough. First, it allots only small funds to these purposes and, besides, even if it did wish to apply itself to this task in earnest, the big landlords, who have the decisive say in legislation, would prevent it from so doing. Nothing can be achieved in this field without major encroachments on private property. But the existence of the state rests on the declaration of the "sacredness" of private property, the big landlords are its main prop, and, therefore, it lacks the power to act in the indicated direction. Vast and extensive schemes for land improvement, afforestation and deforestation, irrigation and drainage, for mixing soils, contour modifications, planting, etc., would have to be launched, in order to attain the highest possible level of land fertility.

A matter highly important to the state of land cultivation is an extensive, systematically planned network of rivers and canals, which must be organised according to scientific principles. Although the question of cheaper transportation on waterways — such an important issue in modern society — would be of little consequence for the new society, water-ways deserve serious attention, since they are a convenient means of transportation, requiring only a minimum expenditure of effort and material. The most important aspect of the system of rivers and canals is the fact that they are extensively used for drainage and irrigation, for transporting fertilisers and materials necessary for land improvement, as well as for despatching harvested crops, etc.

Experience shows that arid lands suffer much more from cold winters and hot summers than well-watered ones, which is why coastal regions only experience climatic extremes in exceptional cases. Climatic extremes are not advantageous or pleasant for either plants or men. An extensive canal system combined with proper forestry regulations will undoubtedly produce favourable results here. Such a canal system, in conjunction with the building of large reservoirs for the collection and storage of large quantities of water, would be of great benefit when thaws or heavy rainfalls make rivers and streams swell and overflow. Similar installations would also be needed for mountain rivers and mountain streams. Flood devastation would then be impossible. Wide expanses of water with their greater evaporation potential would also in all probability promote more regular rainfall. Moreover, installations of this kind would make it possible to set up pumping and lifting gear for the extensive irrigation of land, whenever it would prove necessary.

Large tracts of land hitherto almost completely barren could be transformed into fertile regions by means of artificial irrigation. Where sheep now can barely find enough to eat, and at best consumptive-looking pine-trees raise their thin branches heavenward, rich harvests could grow and a large population could find ample food and enjoyment. Thus, for example, it is only a question of labour expenditure to transform the vast sand tracts of the Mark, the "dust-box of the holy German Empire", into a fertile Eden. This was also pointed out by one of the lecturers in a report read on the occasion of the German Agricultural Exhibition in Berlin in the spring of 1894.(1) To build the necessary canal and irrigation installations and carry out land-improvement measures, soil mixing, etc., are matters beyond the landowners of the Mark, and thus vast lands, just outside the gates of the imperial capital, remain in a state of backward cultivation that will seem inconceivable to future generations. Again, vast tracts of swamps, moors and marshes could be drained and reclaimed for cultivation both in the north and south of Germany. The waterways could also be used for fish-farming and would provide a rich source of food; moreover, they would furnish opportunities for the installation of the most attractive bathing establishments in communities where there are no rivers.(2)

The effectiveness of irrigation can be illustrated by the following few examples. In the vicinity of Weissenfels, 7.5 hectares of well-watered meadow land yielded 480 centners of after-grass, while live contiguous hectares of meadow land of the same quality, but unirrigated, yielded only 32 hectares. Thus, the former had a crop more than ten times as large as the latter. Near Riesa in Saxony, the irrigation of 65 acres of meadow land raised net profits from 5,850 to 11,100 marks. According to Buchenbenger, the irrigation of the barren, sandy Bocker Heath on the right bank of the Lippe, which required an outlay of 124,000 marks, transformed a plain that had formerly been almost completely unproductive but now yields a gross annual profit of about 400,000 marks. Land-improvement measures in Lower Austria, which required an outlay of one million crowns, raised the area's revenue by about six million crowns; thus, the heavy construction costs proved worthwhile. Besides the Mark, there are other areas in Germany, where the soil consists mainly of sand, that yield but mediocre returns even after a very wet summer. Should these areas be intersected and irrigated by canals, and their soil improved, within a short time they would yield five to ten times greater returns. There are cases in Spain where the yield of well-watered soil exceeds that of unirrigated land thirty-seven times over. Hence, let there be water and new masses of food will be conjured up out of the soil.

Rarely a year passes without there occurring at least once or twice, and sometimes more frequently, more or less serious floods caused by streams and rivers overflowing in various provinces and states of Germany. Large tracts of highly fertile soil are then washed away by the force of waves and others are buried for years under sand, stones and debris, or else made barren forever. Whole plantations of fruit-trees, cultivated over decades, are uprooted. Houses, bridges, streets and dams are washed away, railways ruined, human lives sacrificed, cattle drowned, land-improvement installations destroyed and crops devastated. Vast tracts of land, threatened by frequent floods, are either not cultivated at all or very sparsely, so as to avoid further losses. Extensive ravaging of forests, especially on mountains, particularly on the part of private owners, aggravates the danger. The senseless ravaging of forests for the sake of profit is said to be responsible for the decrease in the fertility of the soil in the provinces of Prussia and Pomerania, in Carinthia and Styria, Italy, France, Spain, Russia, etc.

The destruction of forests in the mountains frequently results in inundations. The floods in the Rhine, Oder and Vistula valleys are ascribed mainly to the destruction of forests in Switzerland, Galicia and Poland respectively. The same factor is responsible for the frequent floods in Italy, namely those in the Po Valley, Madeira, large parts of Spain, the most fertile provinces of Russia, and extensive, once abundant and fertile lands in Western Asia have lost most of their fertility for the same reason.(3)

At long last bourgeois society, too, has understood that the time has come to put an end to indulgence and tolerance in this field and that the introduction of rational measures on a large scale can transform the forces destroying land culture into such as promote it. Thus, work has started on the building of large barrages in order to collect enormous quantities of water and use its power to produce electricity for industry and agriculture. Bavaria, in particular, is building barrages for mountainous rivers and streams on a vast scale in order to obtain power for the electrification of its railways and for various industrial establishments. The agrarian Bavaria of old is thus gradually being transformed into a modern industrial land.


It goes without saying that these enormous problems cannot be solved in a flash, but the new society will apply all powers at its command to their solution, because its sole mission will be to solve problems of civilisation and to tolerate no obstacles on the way to this goal. In due course it will solve problems and accomplish feats inconceivable to the present-day society, because the very thought of them would set their heads spinning.

Soil cultivation in general will be vastly improved through these and similar measures. In addition to the considerations discussed above, there are others relevant to the improvement of land utilisation. Today many square miles are sown to potatoes, which are used mainly for distilling large quantities of brandy, consumed almost exclusively by our poor population living in want and poverty. Brandy is the only stimulant and "worry-chaser" they can get. The civilised people of the new society will not consume brandy, the soil and its tillers will be freed for the production of wholesome food. Again, we have already mentioned the cultivation of sugar-beet and the manufacture of sugar for export. More than 400,000 hectares of our best wheat land are used each year to grow sugar-beet in order to supply England, Switzerland, the United States, etc. The countries whose climate favours the cultivation of sugar-cane are unable to compete. Our regular army, scattered production, scattered commerce, scattered agriculture, etc., require millions of horses and corresponding fields for feeding them and for rearing colts. Completely transformed social and political conditions will in the future free the bulk of the land used for this purpose. Once again, large areas and many hands are gained for other purposes. Of late extensive fields, covering many square kilometres, are being withdrawn from agriculture and populated centres are being razed to the ground, because the new long-range firearms and changed combat tactics require firing ranges and training grounds in which whole divisions are able to manoeuvre. All this comes to an end, too.

The vast field of agriculture, forestry and irrigation has long since been a subject dealt with in a spate of writings. No branch has been left untouched: forestry, irrigation and drainage, cultivation of cereals, pulses and tubes, fruit, berries, slower and decorative plants, vegetable gardening, the cultivation of fodder crops for stock-breeding and of pastures, rational methods for breeding cattle, fish, poultry and bees, the utilisation of fertilisers and manure, the realisation and utilisation of agricultural and industrial by-products, chemical soil analysis to establish its suitability for various crops, seed tests, crop rotation, machinery and implements, the rational layout of farm buildings of all sorts, weather conditions, etc. — everything has been made the subject of scientific discussion and investigation. Hardly a day goes by without new discoveries and inventions being made which lead to improvements and refinements in one of the above fields. Since Thaer and J. V. Liebig, soil cultivation has become a science, indeed, one of the leading and most important sciences which has assumed a scope and importance equalled in few fields of material production. But, if we compare this enormous progress in all spheres with the actual state of our agriculture, it must be admitted that up to now only a fraction of the private owners has been able to turn the progress made to any advantage, and that all have their private interests in view without paying any heed to the commonweal. The vast majority of our farmers, one might say 99 per cent of them, are not even in a position to use the advantages science and technological advance offered them: they lack the means or the knowledge, or both. Here the future society will find a field of action in which ample theoretical and practical groundwork has already been done — it only has to provide the proper organisation in order to attain the most impressive results.


While the opinion that, owing to the personal diligence of the small producer and the members of his family, small-scale production is able to compete with large-scale production still lingers on in socialist circles, experts have long since taken a different view. Let the peasant through his own and his family's excessive efforts accomplish as much as he wants, yet from the viewpoint of a man of culture his fate is to be pitied. No matter how much he may accomplish through over-exertion and self-denial, modern machinery and the science of soil cultivation accomplish more. Notably, the utilisation of machinery and science alone is able to make also the peasant a highly cultured man, whereas today he is but a slave of his property and a Helot of his creditors.

The benefits large-scale production in agriculture offers when all its advantages are put to rational use are immense. First of all production means a considerable extension of the area available for cultivation, because of the removal of the vast number of roads, foot-paths and boundary lines, which the parcelled holdings of today require. The abolition of these tiny holdings will also save a vast amount of time now wasted. Fifty people engaged in large-scale production, even if we disregard the more rational means of labour they use, can easily accomplish very much more than fifty persons engaged in small-scale production. Only in large-scale production can the labour force be grouped and organised in the most rational way. To this should be added the enormous advantages offered by the use of all sorts of machinery and improved equipment, by the industrial utilisation of the crop, and by more rational methods for rearing stock and poultry, etc. Particularly great is the advantage obtained from the rise of electric drive in agriculture, which places all other cultivation methods in the shade.

P. Mack(4) notes that mechanisation yields a saving of over 5,000 horse days, and that a single investment of a capital of about 40,000 marks will cut the cost of the product by over 12,000 marks or by 48 marks per hectare, this excluding the additional produce obtained as a result of the introduction of subsoil ploughing, as also from the more accurate cultivation by machinery.(5)

The additional yield of cereals that would be obtained after subsoil ploughing is estimated at 20 to 40 per cent, while the yield of root crops would increase also, often by as much as 50 per cent. If the average increment is reckoned at a mere 20 per cent, this would provide an additional income of 55.45 marks per hectare on the given estate, which, together with the already mentioned saving, would bring the total to 103.45 marks per hectare. Assuming that the price of land is 800 marks a hectare, the extra profit amounts to 13.5 per cent. Thus, the aim is to create the necessary power stations to provide energy for agriculture. Then all the machinery in operation could be driven and heat and light produced as well. In addition to illuminating houses, streets, stables, barns, cellars, warehouses and factory buildings, electric installations could, where necessary, also be used to gather in the harvest after dark. Mack has calculated that the universal electrification of agriculture would make it possible to do without two-thirds of the draught animals now used in our agriculture (that is, 1,711,300 head), which would provide a net profit of 1,002,989,000 marks a year. If the expenditure on electric power is deducted from this figure, the saving would amount to about 741,794,000 marks a year.

The utilisation of electric drive will make agriculture increasingly assume the features of a purely technical, industrial process. The manifold uses of electricity in agricultural production are illustrated in the following comparison:(6)

An electric motor can drive:

  1. Machines, which raise the gross yield: a) for the tilling of fields: cleaners for seed corning, grain graders, electric ploughs (design completed); b) for the harvest: mower-binders (under construction), potato harvesters (available with all possible improvements), irrigation installations.
  2. Cost-reducing machinery: a) hoisting equipment, un-loading equipment in barns, elevators for the conveyance of grain and straw to stacks and barns, as well as hay up into lofts, sack-lifts, pumps for liquid manure; b) transport equipment; trough conveyors and conveyor belts, pneumatic installations for the conveyance of grain, field conveyors, windlasses and winches for lifting heavy loads; c) processing equipment: straw presses, grinding-mills, chaff-cutters for marketable produce.
  3. Machines for agricultural production: a) distillery equipment and equipment for the manufacture of starch, all-purpose water pumps; b) dairy equipment: milk coolers, separators, churns, mixers, presses, etc.; c) saw mills, circular and frame saws; d) cartwright's machinery, band saws, drilling machines, turning lathes, wheel machines.
  4. Equipment for preparing livestock fodder: chaff-cutters, beet-cutters, coarse grinding-mills, potato, oat and other crushers, water pumps.

It was found that the hours of manual labour required for the threshing and preparation for dispatch of 1,000 kilograms of grain is as follows:

Working hours
1. If all work is manual 104
2. If small thrashers with winches and cleaners are used 41.4
3. If threshers with 20 h.p. electric motors are used. 26.4
4. If big threshers with electric motors, self-chargers, chaff and waste blowers,
straw presses and elevators driven by a 60 h.p. motor are used

Today nothing stands in the way of a general application of the electric plough in agriculture. Electric ploughs, like electric railways, have already reached a high degree of perfection. The heavy and expensive steam plough is rational only for large areas and for subsoil ploughing. It is designed first and foremost to obtain higher yields of root crops. The electric plough, on the other hand, can be used both for deep and shallow ploughing and is applicable also in medium-sized farms. It makes possible the cultivation of steep slopes, where it would be difficult to use even a horse-drawn plough. It is highly labour-saving, as can be seen from the comparison of ploughing costs for electric, horse-drawn, ox-drawn and steam ploughs.

Cost per morgen of medium depth ploughing
4 6 8 11 14
Horses 2.50 3.00 4.20 7.70 13.30
Steam Plough (hired)
from 6.00 6.70 7.60 9.15 10.70
to 7.50 8.40 9.35 11.00 12.55
Steam Plough (own)
from 4.50 5.00 5.85 7.30 8.85
to 6.00 6.70 7.60 9.15 10.70
Electric plough, 40 h.p. 2.70 3.55 4.60 6.25 7.95
Electric plough, 60 h.p. 2.65 3.40 4.30 5.70 7.10
Electric plough, 80 h.p. 2.50 3.15 3.90 5.20 6.50

The facility with which electric power is transmitted and distributed, and the extremely simple servicing and maintenance of electric machines are decisive advantages for agriculture, since extensive areas can now be supplied with power through thin wires. And since there must be a network of power stations, a planned electric network, the electric drive in agriculture can very easily be combined with electroculture, with the direct influence of electricity on plant growth.

In recent years plant physiologists, and together with them agricultural experts, have worked most diligently to discover the effect of electricity on the growth and fertility of the most important crops, and especially on our cereals. This problem was solved by Professor K. S. Lemström, who died in 1906. He stretched an electric net over relatively large areas of arable land, in must of which he induced a positive charge by means of induction machines, earthing the negative pole in the soil. During the whole vegetation period, or part of it, a weak current was fed to the experimental field, while a control field in the same area was left free of all influence. All these experiments oracle in the most diverse latitudes showed, first, that with proper care yields increased by 30-100 per cent, secondly, that the crops matured in a shorter period and, finally, that there was a considerable improvement in quality. This method, however, contained a number of practical shortcomings, which Newman, an English farmer, succeeded in eliminating. He was able to interest Oliver Lodge, the famed English physicist, in the Lemström method. According to a recent report by Lodge, who substituted a specially designed mercury rectifier for the induction machine used previously, experiments have been conducted from 1906 to 1908 on an area of 10 hectares. They have proved that the electric net can be fixed at a height of five metres above the ground without impeding the favourable influence on the yield, a height at which fully loaded carts can conveniently pass beneath it, and in general all agricultural work, such as the cultivation of root crops, can be carried out without any interference; whereas, according to Lemström, the network had to be no more than 40 centimetres above the plants it was to influence.(7) Various millers made comparative experiments in baking and have found that the flour from electrified wheat is much better than that from non-electrified wheat. It follows that the time is now ripe for the adoption of this new method in agriculture and gardening.

Fowler's steam plough, with two compound locomotives, requires for its rational exploitation an area of 5,000 hectares, which exceeds the total arable area of most peasant communities. It has been estimated that if, for example, all land under cultivation in 1895 had been worked with a wide range of machinery, and all the other achievements had been applied, this would have resulted in a saving of 1,600 million marks. According to Ruhland,(8) a successful fight against all corn blights alone would be sufficient to make Germany's present grain imports unnecessary. In his pamphlet Weeds in our Fields and Pasture-Land Dr. Sonnenberg of Worms reports that, according to an official enquiry in Bavaria, Bavarian agriculture loses 30 per cent of the harvest every year, because its fields are choked with weeds. Comparing two areas of four square metres each, one overgrown with weeds, the other free of them, Nowatzki noted the following results:

Stalks Grain Steaw yield
On the weedy area 216 180 239 gm.
On the weeded area 423 528 1,077

Dr. von Rümker, Professor at the Agriculture Institute of Breslau University, points out that statistics prove that scrupulous fertilisation is to all intents and purposes not practised in Germany's agriculture at all. Sowing and tilling are often carried out quite haphazardly, thoughtlessly, and with such imperfect and unsuitable implements that the yield of the effort and work remains negligible. German farmers do not even carry out the simple task of sorting seeds. Professor von Rümker shows in the table below the extent to which seed-sorting could raise the yield per hectare:

Wheat yielded Grown from unsorted
seed: per ha in kg.
Grown from sorted
seed: per ha in kg.
Increment from sorted
seed in kg
Total harvest 8,000 10,800 +2,800
Grain 1,688 2,885 +1,217
Straw and chaff 6,332 7,915 +1583
Total weight of
harvest in hectolitres
77.2 78.7 +1.5

The increment gained through sorting, therefore, comprises, according to this table, 1,200 kilograms of grain per hectare, which, valued at 15 marks per double centner, represents in terms of value 180 marks. If the cost of sorting is computed at a maximum of 4.40 marks, the net gain on grain alone will amount to 175.60 marks per hectare, not counting the gain from straw and chaff. Comparing the results of his extensive cultivation experiments, Rümker further established that by choosing the most fertile varieties for every locality a higher average harvest could be obtained and gross incomes be increased as follows:

Rye 300-700 hg. of grain or by 42-08 marks per ha
Wheat 300-800 hg. of grain or by 45-120 marks per ha
Barley 200-700 hg. of grain or by 34-119 marks per ha
Oats 200-1,200 hg. of grain or by 26-156 marks per ha

If we take the increment obtained through the seed-sorting and the correct choice of wheat varieties, the yield in wheat production alone will be raised by 1,500 to 2,000 kg. of grain or by 220 to 295 marks per hectare.

A work entitled The Future of German Agriculture(9) proves what enormous increments in yield could be obtained for all agricultural products if ample and proper fertilisation — the introduction of mineral fertilisers — superphosphate, and Thomas slag, kainite and phosphoric acid — should make the soil more fertile. The fields in Germany sown to wheat and rye could then well yield an average of 36 and 24 double centners per hectare respectively. Also a large part of the land now sown to rye could, with better fertilisation and cultivation methods, be used for wheat production, so that the average yield of agricultural land sown to grain — two-fifths wheat and three-fifths rye — could amount to 28.8 double centners her hectare. After the deduction of seed and inferior grain from this yield, 26 double centners would be left for public consumption. The 7.9 million hectares now being sown to grain crops could be extended by about 1.5 million hectares of pastures, fallow land and waste land — heath and moors(10) — so that at an average yield of 26 double centners per hectare from a sown area of 9.4 million hectares, 251.92 million double centners of grain crops could be harvested. At a yearly per capita consumption of 175 kilograms enough grain crops for 144 million people could be produced. The 1900 census showed that Germany had a population of about 56,345,000, which means that already with the level of development attained by technology and science by that time, German soil could have supplied with grain a number of people two and a half times as large as Germany's population. With the present methods used to run the scattered private holdings Germany is compelled to import on an average a ninth of its total grain requirements. These results can be obtained only under communist production at the highest stage of development, but the above authors naturally give no thought to this. According to one of their calculations, the increment German agriculture would derive from intensive cultivation would be as follows:

Grain 145.1 mln. double centners
Potatoes 444.0 mln. double centners
Oats, barley, peas and beans 78.7 mln. double centners
Meadow hay 146.2 mln. double centners
Hay and fodder 110.0 mln. double centners
Turnips 226.0 mln. double centners

If we take into account that, according to Mack's above recommendations, the introduction of electric drive would also save a very large number of draught animals, this means that the number of slaughter cattle could be raised considerably and the land needed for them could be used to sow more crops for people.

Another field of agricultural activity that could be carried on on a very different scale is poultry raising and egg production. Every year Germany imports eggs to the value of about 149.7 million marks (1907) and live poultry to the value of over 40 million marks. Breeding and farming in these different fields of agriculture are still extremely backward. In future, the concentration of stables, of all types of warehouses, cellars, forage and feeding installations, dung pits, etc., linked with the concentration of production, will not only save time, effort and materials but also impart advantages accruing from rational utilisation, which small and medium farms never enjoy today, and large ones only in rare cases. How insufficient are, for example, hygiene installations in the vast majority of stables, how imperfect the fodder installations and the facilities for the care of cattle and poultry! That cleanliness, light and air are needed by animals as much as they are by people and that they have a favourable effect on their state of health is a fact rarely appreciated by the 20th-century farmer. It is self-evident that the production of milk, butter, cheese, eggs, honey and meat will be carried on in much more rational, hygienic and profitable conditions.

The setting up of large covered premises, drying houses, etc., will make it possible to gather in crops in any weather conditions, and quick harvesting will obviate the enormous losses now so frequently sustained. According to Goltz, during a single harvest in adverse weather, from eight to nine million marks' worth of crops are ruined in Mecklenburg, and from twelve to fifteen million marks' worth in the Königsberg area.


The cultivation of fruit and berries and gardening will in future also reach a level of development previously inconceivable. How much we still sin against fruit cultivation can be seen from the had state of our orchards in most parts of Germany, and even in lands famed for their fruit-growing like Württemberg.

Through the application of artificial heat and moisture in large, covered premises, the large-scale cultivation of vegetables, fruit and berries will be possible in all seasons. The flower shops of our big towns display in mid-winter a variety of flowers that vies with that they stock in the summer. One of the most brilliant advances made in forced fruit cultivation is exemplified by the hot-house viniculture practised by Garden-Director Haupt in Brieg, Silesia, who has found many imitators and has himself had precursors in other countries, for example in England. The arrangement and the results obtained in that vineyard were so fascinatingly described in the Vossische Zeitung of September 27, 1890 that we have decided to give a few excerpts here. The paper wrote:

"The glass house 4.5 to 5 metres high occupies an area of approximately 500 square metres, that is, one-fifth of a morgen, and its walls face directly north, south, east and west. Twelve rows of double espaliers run from south to north, spaced 1.8 metres apart from each other, which simultaneously serve as supports for the flat inclined roof. In a bed 1.25 metres deep, on top of a bank of earth 25 centimetres thick, which contains a drainage system with vertical pipes to ventilate the soil — a bank whose very heavy beds are made loose, porous and fertile through the addition of chalk, crumbled masonry, sand, rotted manure, bone-meal and potash — Herr Haupt has planted on the espaliers 360 grape-vines of the variety that yields the finest grape-juice in the Rhinegau, that is, white and red Riesling, Tramin, white and blue Muscatel and Burgundy.

"In addition to openings in the side walls, ventilation of the premises is effected by 20-metre vents in the roof, which can be opened and closed and held in place in any weather conditions by means of a metal lever complete with spindle and winch. The vines are watered by 26 sprinklers fastened to 1.25-metre rubber hoses suspended from an overhead water main. Herr Haupt introduced at the same time a truly ingenious contrivance for the quick and thorough watering of his 'wine-hall' and his 'vineyard', namely, an artificial rain device. High up, under the roof, are four long copper pipes containing small perforations at intervals of half a metre. The fine streams of water that spurt upwards through these perforations strike small round sieves made of window gauze and pass through them to form line sprays. A thorough sprinkling by means of the rubber hoses always requires several hours, while a mere turn of a tap is all that is needed for a soft refreshing rain to trickle evenly on the vines, the soil and the granite-paved paths. The temperature can be raised to 8-10°R above the outside air without any artificial heating, simply through the natural qualities of the glass house. In order to protect the vines from their most destructive and dangerous enemy — the vine-louse — should it ever appear, it is enough to close the drain pipes and to open all the taps of the water main. The resulting hooding of the vines is too much for the enemy. The glass roof and walls protect the hot-house vines from storm, cold, frosts, excessive rain; a fine wire netting above them — from eventual hail, and the artificial rain device — from drought. The vine-dresser of such a 'vineyard' is his own weather-maker and he can laugh at all the dangers from the incalculable whims and pranks of callous, cruel Nature, which always threatens to destroy the fruit of the wine-grower's efforts and toil.

"What Herr Haupt expected happened. The vines thrived splendidly in the constant warm climate. The grapes ripened fully and in the autumn of 1885 they yielded a juice that was in no way inferior to the grapes generally grown in the Rhinegau, as regards its high sugar and low acid content. The grapes thrived equally well the next year, and also during the bad year of 1887. On these premises, when the vines have reached their full height of 5 metres and carry plentiful clusters of swollen grapes right up to their very top, it will be possible to produce 20 hectolitres of wine annually and the cost per bottle of this noble wine will not exceed 40 pfennigs.

"There is nothing to prevent this new viniculture, promising high and steady returns, being conducted on a large scale like any other industry. Glass houses of the nature of this one of one-fifth morgen could undoubtedly be built to cover areas of one morgen and be provided with the same facilities for ventilation, irrigation, drainage and rain-making, in which vegetation would also start several weeks sooner than in the open, and the grapes would be protected from May frosts, rain, and cold during-blossom time, from droughts while they grow, from pilfering birds and grape thieves and from moisture while they ripen, from the vine-louse throughout the year, and the grapes could safely be left hanging on the vines until November and December. In his report, which was delivered in 1888 to members of the Society for the Promotion of Horticulture, who visited him, and from which I have borrowed much of the technical details in this description of the Haupt 'vineyard', the inventor and founder of this undertaking by way of conclusion outlined the following highly attractive prospects for the future: since this kind of viniculture could be carried on all over Germany, and in particular on otherwise unfertile, sandy and stony soil (as, for example, in the worst parts of the Mark), which can be used for cultivation and watered, the great significance 'viniculture under glass' represents for agriculture is evident. I should like to designate it as 'the viniculture of the future'".

The author then goes on to say that the wine made from these grapes has received the highest praise from experts, and adds that "the vineyard affords sufficient space for the simultaneous cultivation of other profitable plants between the vines or next to them. Between every two vines Herr Haupt grows one rose bush, which blossoms at its best in April and May, and on the espaliers along the east and west walls of his greenhouse he grows peaches; the beauty of their blossom in April must lend a fairy-tale charm to the interior of this vine palace made of glass." Much attention has been given to this kind of fruit-growing particularly in Belgium. But in Germany this method of cultivation is also to be found on quite a large scale, for example, for growing pineapples.

There is nothing to prevent the setting up of similar establishments on a much wider scale for the most diverse cultures, so that we could enjoy the luxury of two or three harvests a year for many products. Today such undertakings are first and foremost a question of profitability, and their products are available only for the privileged members of society, who are able to pay for them. A socialist society knows no other criterion than the availability of labour, and if this is in sufficient supply, the work is carried out to the advantage of all.


We thus see that even under present conditions the way is being paved for a complete revolution in the matter of human nourishment. The utilisation of these discoveries is extremely slow because it is very much in the interests of the powerful classes — the landowners and their social and political props — to prevent this process gaining ground. True, every Sunday in spring prayers are said in all churches for a good harvest, but if the harvest in all countries is a good one, prices drop sharply and this dismays the landowner. What is a boon to others is detrimental to his interests and he is therefore a secret enemy of every invention or discovery which is of advantage not to him alone but also to others. Our society is in every respect a house divided against itself.

To maintain the land in a state of fertility and increase that fertility is primarily a question of adequate fertilisers. The production of these is one of the most important tasks facing the new society as well.(11) Manure is for the soil what food is for people and, what is more, just as every kind of food is not equally nourishing for man, every manure is not equally suitable for the soil. The land must be feel back exactly the same chemical ingredients it loses through the growing of a harvest, and it must receive a greater quantity of chemical substances preferably needed for the growth of the specific genus of plants. The study of chemistry and its practical application will therefore assume a scope unimaginable today.

Animal and human excrement contains chemical ingredients suitable for the reproduction of human food. Hence efforts should be made to see that it is properly collected and then distributed rationally. This is at present being greatly sinned against, especially in towns and industrial centres, which receive foodstuffs en masse, but return only a minimum of their waste and excrement to the soil. This means that estates located at considerable distances from towns and industrial centres suffer greatly from a lack of manure — for often the manure of human and animal origin available at the estate does not suffice because the people and animals there consume only part of the yield — and thus a system of soil-vandalism is practised that impoverishes the soil and impairs the harvest, unless the importation of artificial fertilisers compensates for the lack of natural ones. All countries which export agricultural products and do not import manure will sooner or later head for ruin through the impoverishment of the soil, as is the case with Hungary, Russia, the Danube Principalities, etc.

In the middle of the past century Liebig advanced his theory of artificial substitutes for humus and this led to the introduction of fertiliser concentrates. Schulze-Lupitz proved that, although some plants do not receive nitrogenous fertilisers, they nevertheless enrich the soil with nitrogen, a phenomenon solved and explained by Hellriegel. He proved that myriads of bacteria, in symbiosis with certain pulses, supply to plants directly from the atmosphere the nitrogen necessary for their growth.(12) While agrochemistry since Liebig's discoveries constitutes one side of scientific agriculture, agrobacteriology constitutes the other. In addition, Germany has at her disposal potash and kainite deposits, Thomas slag, superphosphate and phosphoric acid which provide inexhaustible sources for the production of artificial fertilisers, whose correct utilisation combined with rational cultivation methods make possible the production of enormous quantities of food.

An idea of the importance of these various artificial fertilisers can be gained from the fact that in 1906 Germany consumed an equivalent of 300 million marks' worth, including 58.3 million marks' worth of sulphate of ammonia, and 120 million marks' worth of Chile saltpetre, while the rest was spent on Thomas slag and superphosphate, salts of potash, guano and others. Of these nitrogenous fertiliser is the most important. Its enormous effect can be seen from the following: Wagner has shown that in comparison with yields after full fertilisation, the oat harvest in Hessen dropped by 17 per cent when phosphoric acid was deficient, by 19 per cent when there was a potash deficiency, but by 89 per cent when there was a lack of adequate nitrogen. On the basis of all these experiments, it was established that from one hectare the following yearly yield is obtained: after full fertilisation — 96 marks, after fertilisation without adequate potash — 62 marks, after fertilisation without adequate phosphoric acid — 48 marks, with a nitrogen deficiency — 5 marks. It has been computed that if Germany were to use double the present quantity of nitrogenous fertilisers, she would not only be able to satisfy all her grain and potato requirements but would also have a considerable amount left over for export. And the main sources of these valuable fertilisers, Chile salt-petre deposits, as also the guano deposits, are being quickly exhausted, while the demand for nitrogenous compounds is constantly growing in Germany, France and England, and in the past ten years in the U.S.A. as well. The English chemist William Crookes brought up this question as far back as 1899, and referred to it as a matter of much greater importance than the possibility of an imminent exhaustion of the British coal mines. He, therefore, considered the solution of the problem of manufacturing nitrogenous fertilisers from the enormous nitrogen reserves in the atmosphere to be the main task of chemistry. One need but consider that the amount of air above each square centimetre of soil weighs about a kilogram and that four-fifths of it are nitrogen, whence it is easily computed that the nitrogen content of the Earth's atmosphere weighs about 4,000 million tons. Compare this with the present annual consumption of saltpetre which corresponds to about 300,000 tons of nitrogen. If nitrogen were not compensated at all, the reserves in the atmosphere would suffice for the production by chemical compounding of nitrogenous fertilisers to cover the world's present saltpetre requirements for more than 14,000 million years.

This problem has already been solved. As far back as 1899, A. Frank and N. Caro obtained calcium cyanamide by means of the reaction of atmospheric nitrogen with calcium carbide (lime and coal) at high temperatures. The product in an unrefined state contained from 14 to 22 per cent of nitrogen. The new fertiliser has been placed on the market under the name of lime nitrogen. But this is not the only way to obtain nitrogen. The Norwegians C. Birkeland and S. Eyde succeeded in 1903 in converting atmospheric nitrogen directly into nitric acid by burning it electrically. This method gives a product that is in no respect inferior to Chile saltpetre and for some soils even superior to the latter. Of late it has appeared on the German fertiliser market under the name of "Norgesalpeter". In 1905, Otto Schönherr succeeded in discovering a method which is technically superior even to that of Birkeland-Eyde. In addition to electric power, only the cheapest materials are required — water and limestone. Conversely, the manufacture of lime nitrogen requires coal as well, and the necessary nitrogen cannot be applied in the form of air but must first be separated from it. Thus, a new fertiliser has been introduced in agriculture that is produced by a purely technical industrial process, and is available in inexhaustible quantities.(13)

According to A. Müller, a healthy adult secretes on an average 48.5 kilograms of solid and 438 kilograms of liquid excrement a year. Estimated in accordance with current fertiliser prices and provided there is no drop in value due to evaporation, etc., this excrement has a money value of about 5.15 marks. The main obstacle in the way of maximum utilisation of this excrement is the lack of suitable and adequate collecting depots, and the high transportation costs. A large portion of excrement in towns is thrown into our rivers and streams, and pollutes them. The refuse from kitchens, small workshops and factories, which could be used as manure, is also usually wasted most frivolously.

The future society will find ways and means to put a stop to this waste. It will find it easier to resolve this problem, largely for the reason that big towns will gradually cease to exist and the population will decentralise.


No one can consider the present growth of our big cities a healthy phenomenon. The obtaining industrial and economic system constantly draws large masses of the population to the big towns.(14) They are the main seat of industry and trade, it is in them that communications converge, that the owners of great wealth have their headquarters, and that central authorities, military staffs and high courts are to be found. It is in them that large educational institutions, academies of art, places of entertainment, exhibitions, museums, theatres, concert halls, etc., are concentrated. Thousands are drawn there by their professions, thousands by the promise of pleasure, and many more thousands by the hope of easier earnings and a more pleasant life.

But, figuratively speaking, this growth of big towns resembles that of a person whose waistline steadily grows while his legs grow thinner and are finally no longer able to carry the burden. All the villages, in the direct vicinity of these cities, as the proletariat starts to concentrate in them, also come to resemble towns. These communities, for the most part short of funds, are obliged to introduce the highest possible taxation, but are still unable to satisfy the demands made on them. When the gap between them and the big towns finally closes they collide as does a planet that moves too near the sun. This does not improve the living conditions in either the one or the other. They grow worse as a result of the further crowding of already inadequate housing. These accumulations of large masses of people, an inescapable feature of modern development, constitute, to a certain extent, revolutionary centres, but they will have fulfilled their mission once the new society has been established. Their gradual dissolution then becomes necessary, the current will then run the other way — the population of the big cities will migrate to the country, form new communities there, adapted to the changed conditions, and will combine industrial with agricultural activity.

This migration will begin as soon as urban populations, due to the advance of means of communications, production establishments, etc., are in a position to transfer to the country all their habitual benefits of civilisation, to set up their educational establishments, museums, theatres, concert halls, public facilities, etc., there. People will enjoy all the advantages of city life but will be spared its disadvantages. The whole population will live in much healthier and more pleasant surroundings. The rural population will participate in industry, the industrial population in agriculture and gardening, a variety in occupation at present only enjoyed by a few, and then in the main only at the cost of an excessive outlay of time and effort.

As in all other domains in this field, too, the bourgeois world is anticipating this development by transferring each year an increasing number of industrial establishments to rural areas. The unfavourable living conditions in big towns — high rents, higher wages — force many owners to undertake such transfers. On the other hand, the big landowners are increasingly becoming industrialists, sugar manufacturers, distillers, brewers, cement, pottery, brick, woodwork and paper producers. Even today tens of thousands live in the suburbs of big towns, when the transport facilities make such a way of life possible.

Decentralisation will also abolish the existing antithesis between the rural and the urban population.

The peasant, this helot of modern times, who until now has been cut off from all higher cultural development owing to his isolation, will become a free individual because he will then be a highly cultured man.(15) The wish Count Bismarck once expressed, that he might see the big towns destroyed, will be fulfilled, only in a sense other than he expected.(16)

1. An official report on the Chicago World Exhibition also reads: "The utilisation of water for the cultivation of both fruit and vegetables is to be increasingly aspired to, and water-supply associations with this end in view could also turn our deserts into paradises."

2. "For example, in Bohemia, one of the best cultivated areas of the Austrian Empire, (56,000 hectares of arable land, that is, a quarter of its entire agricultural land, requires draining, while a third of the 174,000 hectares of meadow land is said to be either too dry or too wet. The state of affairs is naturally much worse in areas which are generally backward in economic development, such as Galicia." Dr. Eugen von Philippovich, Volkswirtschaftspolitik, S. 97, Tübingen, 1900.

3. According to Schwappach, forests are extremely useful because they bind the soil, especially in mountainous areas, by preventing the washing away of land, as also in plains by holding down loose sand. Deforestation is one of the chief causes responsible for the arable land in Russia being covered with sand.

4. P. Mack, Althof-Ragnit, retired cavalry captain and estate owner, Der Aufschwung unseres Landwirtschaftsbetriebs durch Verbilligung der Productionskosten, Eine Untersuching über den Dienst, der Maschinen-technik und Elektriziität der Landwirtschaft bieten, Königsberg, 1900.

5. Campbell's subsoil plough which is reported to have achieved truly astounding results in the barren zones of North America has assumed major importance in recent years. The striving to save labour has led to the designing of conveyor installations for the threshing and elevation of straw, etc. This same labour shortage prompts the further utilisation of labour-saving machines, such as potato sorters, potato planters, roller dryers, hay loaders, swath loaders, etc.

6. Kurt Krohne. "Die erweiterte Anwendung des electrischen Betriebs in der Landwirtschaft". Elektrotechnische Zeitschrift, 1908, Hefte 39 bis 41.

7. M. Breslauer, "Beeinflussung des Pflanzenwachstums durch Elektrizität", Elektrotechnische Zeitschrift, 1908, Heft 38, S. 1915. Breslauer is now at work on the construction of a small experimental installation near Berlin.

8. Dr. G. Ruhland, Die Grundprinzipien aktuellar Agrarpolitik, Tübingen, 1893, Lauppsche Buchhandlung.

9. By Kommerzienrat Heinrich Albert-Bieberich in collaboration with Homuth, teacher of agriculture, Friedenau-Berlin, 1901.

10. Of the available 5 million hectares of waste land, fallow land, pastures, etc, 4.5 million hectares have been put to account. The areas which will be afforested could on the other hand be transformed from woodland into arable land or pastures.

11. "There is a recipe for ensuring the fertility of fields and the permanence of their yield; it this recipe is properly followed, it will be more remunerative than all others that have ever been used in agriculture before; it is as follows: every farmer taking a bag of grain, a centner of rape, or root crops or potatoes, etc., to town should, like a Chinese coolie, bring back from town a similar quantity (or if possible more) of the soil components absorbed by his crops and return them to the field, from which he took them; he should not despise a single piece of potato peel or a straw, but should remember that one of his potatoes lacks a piece of peel or one of his ears a stalk. His outlay in bringing them home is small and the investment is safe, a savings bank is no safer, and no capital guarantees him a higher interest; the returns from his field will double in as little as ten years; he will produce more grain, more meat and more cheese, without expending more time and effort, and he will not experience constant anxiety about how to find new and unknown means, which there are not, to preserve the fertility of his field in some other way .... Old bones, soot, ashes, leached out or not, the blood of animals and waste of all kinds should be collected in special centres and prepared for distribution .... Governments and municipal police authorities should take care that a rational provision of lavatories and sewers prevent the loss of these materials." Liebig, Chemische Briefe, Leipzig and Heidelberg, 1865.

12. "Die deutsche Landwirtschaft an der Jahrhundertwende." Festrede, gehalten an der Königlichen Landwirtschaftlichen Akademic am 12. Januar 1900 von Dr. Max Delbrück.

13. According to Professor Bernthsen: "Über Luftsalpetersäure", Speech delivered at the Seventh International Congress in London, Zeitschrift für angewandte Chemie, 1909, Heft 24. Since new industry requires cheap water-power to produce electricity, the Baden Aniline and Alkali Factory and other German chemical plants, in partnership with the Norwegian-French company formed by Birkeland-Eyde, secured for themselves suitable water-power in Norway. Two companies, each with a share capital of 16,000,000 croners were formed for the exploitation of Norwegian water-power and the manufacture of saltpetre. In addition, the Baden Aniline and Alkali Factory has applied to the Bavarian Government for a concession to carry out its plan to harness about 50,000 electric h.p. from the Alz and construct a factory near Burghausen in south-east Bavaria.

14. According to the census of June 12, 1907 Germany had 42 big towns of over 100,000 inhabitants each. In 1816 there were only two such towns. In 1871, there were only eight. In 1871, Berlin had about 826,000, in 1900 — 1,888,000, in 1905 — 2,040,148 inhabitants; the population has thus more than doubled (a 147 per cent growth!). Greater Berlin had in 1871 — 875,328, in 1900 — 2,469,009 inhabitants. In 1907, 42 big towns had a total of 11,790,000 inhabitants and their share of the total population now accounts for some 19 per cent. Some of these big towns had to include in their municipalities contiguous industrial suburbs, which had populations large enough to be towns themselves, and this made their population figures rise sharply. Between 1885 and 1905, the population of Leipzig grew from 170,000 to 503,672; of Cologne from 161,000 to 428,722; of Magdeburg from 114,000 to 240,633; of Munich from 270,000 to 538,983; of Breslau from 299,000 to 470,901; of Frankfort on the Main from 114,000 to 334,978; of Hanover from 140,000 to 250,024; of Düsseldorf from 115,000 to 253,274; of Nuremberg from 115,000 to 294,426; of Chemnitz from 111,000 to 294,927; of Essen from 65,074 to 239,692 inhabitants, etc.

15. Professor Adolf Wagner is quoted in the Lehrbuch der politischen Ökonomie by Rau as saying: "Small private holdings in land form an economic basis that can be replaced by no other for a highly important part of the population, for the independent, self-sustaining peasantry with its peculiar socio-political position and function." If the author is not enthusing over the small farmer in order to please his conservative friends à tout prix, he must consider our small peasant a very poor person. Under present conditions the small peasant is almost inaccessible for higher culture: he drudges away of his hard work from sunrise to sundown and often lives worse than a dog. The meat, butter, eggs, milk he produces are not for him; he produces them for others, and under present conditions he cannot raise himself to a better level of existence and, therefore, becomes an element impeding the progress of civilisation. Who favours retrogression because he profits from it may find satisfaction in the continuance of this social stratum; human progress, however, demands that it disappear.

16. At the Erfurt "Union Parliament" of 1850, Count Bismarck thundered against the big towns "as hotbeds of revolution", which should be razed to the ground. He was right — bourgeois society produces its own "grave-diggers", the modern proletariat.

Next: Withering Away of the State