The Art of Giving – Frankfurter Zeitung from 1922

Es now is the time for giving. Although well thought out, the time for giving is always, just as our poor earth has to be saved from paralysis every day by the all-giving sun. But since men are once herd animals, and most of them, in their dullness and hardness, would never of themselves realize how beautiful it is to give, let us praise the beneficence of the convention which has set aside a time for giving. Yes, there is a secret wisdom in that this is just the time when nature has withdrawn furthest from the children of men.

There is something liberating, grand, royal about the act of giving. It makes both, the giver and the receiver, so completely human that the comparison with art comes to mind. Here as there is wealth. The feeling of exuberant wealth seems to me to be the decisive element in art too. Evidence of this is that even the formless youthful works of great artists, such as Schiller’s Räuber or Hebbel’s Judith, simply captivate even the most level-headed connoisseur with their intoxicating fullness.

The naive primal socialism

The wealth that a man must have in order to become a giver is the wealth of the heart, just like the artist. In vain would he pile up mountains of matter and mass in front of us if he did not succeed in making the glow of his heart leap over to us. So even the poor can give, thank God: how a few simple verses, a simple melody can make us incomprehensibly happy.

But nevertheless it is easier for the rich than for the poor, giving the feeling of wealth spreading around oneself and throwing rays around oneself like the sun. So much the worse for us who are boundlessly impoverished as a nation! Admittedly, there is still a considerable amount of property, real as well as bogus property, but it has changed hands to such an extent and with such suddenness that the cultural traditions must have been completely devastated for long stretches. No culture without tradition. Many people who have mastered the art of giving are out of money, and many who have the money have not mastered the art of giving.

With us, the culture as a whole, and therefore also the culture of giving in particular, has long been a questionable thing. Or rather, for a long time it has not been in doubt that we have no culture and can at best hope for a cultural renewal in the future. Socialism’s idea of ​​civilization has overwhelmed us. Giving was seen as a social duty, no longer as a work of brilliant freedom.

Now the social misery as a whole is far greater than can be overcome by social charity. If the division of goods that naive Ur-Socialism dreamed of could take place, all wealth would disappear, but poverty would hardly be controlled. As I recently read the devastating assertion that if all the surplus of necessities of life that exists in the world today were distributed fairly among the countries in need, hardly anything would come to Germany. Unfortunately, it will probably be correct, because here too there seems to be something like a law of entropy, according to which all the heat in the world gradually migrates into the ice-cold space without it becoming noticeably warmer.

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