Page 122 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 18

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J
e w i s h
B
o o k
A
n n u a l
110
in the account of his client, Julie Moeller, and embarks on a
plan “to find a bridge to her” guided by the rule “first business,
then pleasure.” In
Muttersoehnschen
there is the destitute
epicurean, Gabriel Rosen, who mulcted Sebastian Dengel out of
20,000 gulden, and boasted to the admirers of his philosophy:
“We live only once and are therefore duty-bound to live as well
as possible.” Rudolf Solarius in
D ie Dame in Schwarz,
Hemsen
in
Unser Kaethchen,
and the materialists Wasserstein and Rhein-
berg in
Das Neue Ghe tto—
all are typical examples which could
be multiplied.
It is quite obvious that in Herzl’s mind the ineluctable craving
for money had made an enslaving impact on the society of his
day. “I was confused through money, as is our time,” exclaimed
Vlan in
Panama,29
voicing the maxim of contemporary society.
Herzl not only created individual stage characters as symbols of
this mercenary trend, but devoted whole plays to it as well. Thus,
in the dramatic sketch
Panama,
which is based on the famous
corruption affair, he strove to prove the police reporter’s asser-
tion: “Abolish money . . . without money there would have been
no Panama.” The farcical comedy
D ie Patronessen
30 unfolds
corruption in charitable institutions. When Schlapper, the brain
behind the foul methods, was confronted with the demand for
adequate control, he simply transferred his base plans to an-
other field: “A man like me must now enter politics, but I shall
yet conquer society.”31 Herzl’s most devastating and comprehen-
sive satirical attack against the rule of materialism was reserved
for his three-act comedy,
Seine H oheit.
He applied this high-
sounding title not to a person, but to money. From serving
people, money gradually came to rule them and to enact a role
through which honor, status, friendship, love, divorce, and
almost anything else could be acquired. “Everything can be
bought—and everybody,” exclaimed Franz Hellwig. This applies
particularly to marriage which Dr. Ahlsberg defines as a “specula-
tive partnership,” and delivers himself of the motto that over-
shadows all the scenes in the play: “Money does not make one
happy, but one must have it.”32
Almost every step in Herzl’s endeavors for the Jewish cause
reveals his understanding of the tyrannical grip of money on
society. There can be no doubt that his disgust with this trend
influenced his conclusions for the new Jew he hoped to create.
“We shall learn from the historical mistakes of others,” he said
in the
Judenstaat,
“and also from our own.” He saw no distinc-
tion in this materialistic tendency between Jew and non-Jew.
29 It is here quoted from HerzPs
Feuilletons,
Berlin-Vienna, 1911, Vol.
II, pp. 77-88.
30 Reprinted in
Feuilletons, op. cit . ,
Vol. I, pp. 81-96.
31
Ibid. ,
p. 88.
32
Seine Hohe it ,
Act. I, p. 22; Act 3, p. 17.