Monday, May 21, 2007


"To my fellow lodgers:

I am in possession of five toy rifles. They are hanging in my wardrobe, one on each hook. The first belongs to me, and the others can be claimed by anyone who wishes to send his name. If more than four people send in their names, the supernumerary claimants must bring their own rifles with them and deposit them in my wardrobe. For uniformity must be maintained; without uniformity we shall get nowhere. Incidentally, I have only rifles that are quite useless for any other purpose, the mechanism is broken, the corks have got torn off, only the cocks still click. So it will not be difficult, should it prove necessary, to provide more such rifles. But fundamentally, I am prepared, for a start, to accept even people without rifles. At the decisive moment we who have rifles will group ourselves around those who are unarmed. Why should not tactics that proved successful when used by the first American farmers against the Red Indians not also prove successful here, since after all the conditions are similar? And so it is even possible to do without rifles permanently, and even the five rifles are not absolutely necessary, and it is only because they are, after all, there, that they ought also to be used. But if the four others do not want to carry them, they need not do so. So then only I, as the leader, shall carry one. But we ought not to have any leader, and so I, too, shall then break my rifle and put it away.

That was my first manifesto. Nobody in our house has either time or inclination to read manifestoes, far less think about them. Before long the little sheets of paper were floating in the stream of dirty water that, beginning in the attics and fed by all the other corridors, pours down the staircase and there collides with the stream mounting up from below. But after a week came a second manifesto.

Fellow inmates:

Up to now no one has sent his name to me. Apart from the hours during which I have to earn my living, I have been at home all the time, and in the periods of my absence, when the door of my room has always been left open, there has been a piece of paper on my table, for everyone who wished to do so to put down his name. Nobody has done so.”


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