“I know; it makes me feel foolish sometimes. But things have changed, and there’s no sense in shutting your eyes to facts.”
“Russia, more especially,” continued Emil, answering the unspoken question. “What’s the use of getting Socialism, if you’re just throwing yourself down for a military machine to run over you? You’re playing the fool, that’s all—and you have to see it. What hope is there for Russia now?”
“There’s the German Socialists.”
“Well, they just didn’t have the power, that’s all. What’s more, we have to face the fact that a lot of them aren’t really revolutionists—they’re politicians, and haven’t dared to stand out against the crowd. Anyhow, whatever the reason is, they didn’t save their own country, and they didn’t save Russia. They certainly can’t expect us to give them a third chance—it costs too much.”
“But then,” argued Jimmie, “ain’t we doin’ just what we blame them for doin’—turnin’ patriots, supportin’ a capitalist government?”
“When you’re supporting a government,” replied Emil, “it make’s a lot of difference what use its making of your support. We all know the faults of our government, but we know too that the people can change it when enough of them get ready, and that makes a real difference. I’ve come to realize that if we give the Kaiser a beating, the German people will kick him out, and then we can talk sense to them.”
They walked along for a bit in silence, Jimmie trying to assimilate these ideas. They were new—not in the sense that he had not heard them before, but in the sense that he had not heard them from a German. “How does your father feel?” he asked at last.
“He hasn’t changed,” replied the other. “And that makes it pretty hard—it’s all we can do to keep from quarrelling. He’s old, and new ideas don’t come to him easily. Yet you’d think he’d be the first to see it—his father was one of the old revolutionists, he was put in jail in Dresden. I don’t suppose you know much about the history of Germany.”
“No,” said Jimmie.
“Well, in those days the German people tried to get free, and they were put down by the troops, and the real revolutionists were driven into exile. Some of them came over here—like my grandfather. But, you see, their children have forgotten about their wrongs—they look back on Germany now, and think of it sentimentally, as it’s pictured in the stories and songs—a sort of Christmas-tree Germany. They don’t know about the Germany that’s grown up—the Germany of iron and coal kings, that combines all the cruelty of feudalism with modern efficiency and science—the Beast with the Brains of an Engineer!”