A Modern Fairy Tale

Palace in Blunderland

From the February 1944 issue of the Socialist Standard

Once upon a time there was. a strange world called Bluuderland. In this world there was a palace in which there lived Baron Butrich. He wore the most costly clothes, and adorned himself with bejewelled rings on his fat fingers, and a sparkling tie-pin in his expensive necktie. Neither by hand nor by brain did he toil, yet bags of gold he had in plenty. The choicest foods and rarest wines were served to him by an under-nourished man-servant. His pet dogs, too, were fed with the richest morsels.

Baron Butrich owned many large buildings in which were huge machines. He called these buildings his factories and boasted that he derived his many bags of gold from them.

But Baron Butrich told a lie when he said it was his factories and machines that brought his riches, for the machines were worked by hundreds of poor people who lived in small, old and crumbling houses, and it was really these people who made the Baron’s wealth.

These people had no bags of gold to buy the food they needed, and they would have starved, but Baron Butrich said to them:

“Come into my factory and work my machines, and make with them the costly clothes that my wife and I will wear. Make, too, the shoddy suits and dresses that will cover your thin bodies. Come and make the beautiful expensive toys that will amuse my children. Create, also, the cheap, trifling little gadgets with which your offspring will play. Come into my factory, and, from the pulp of rags, make the newspapers that will bear praise to me, and glorify the things that give me, Baron Butrich, my favoured place in this world. Do all this and 1 will give each.of you a piece of gold with which you will be able to buy bread to eat, clothes to wear, and will pay for the hire of a place to dwell in.”

And to the poor there was nothing to do but go into Baron Butrich’s factory and make the many things that were needed by the Blunderian people. Only in that way could they get the money that would pay for their food, clothing and shelter.

So the poor went into the factory and worked the machines. Beautiful and costly raiment they created for the Baron and his wife; cheap and shoddy garments they made, too, and knew, as they were not rich enough to buy the sort of garb worn by the Butrich’s, that they were fated to wear these inferior clothes. Expensive and intricate toys they made for the Baron’s children; simple little gadgets for their own offspring.

Pulp was made into paper, which was turned into newspapers that told on their pages how rich and grand was this world of Blunderland.

For six days the poor worked in this way, and at the end of that time Baron Butrich said to them:

“You have worked for six days, and here are the pieces of gold I promised you—one piece for each person. Tomorrow you need not work m my factory, but the day after to-morrow come and work for me for another six days and I will give you another piece of gold.”

And the workers took home their pieces of gold and rejoiced that they could now buy food and clothing. But before they had bought all the things they needed they found that their money was spent. And so, to get the gold that buys these needs, the poor were forced to work in the factory for another six days.

So it went on, and priceless things were made for Baron Butrich, who called a small number of new workers to his side. And to these new workers he said:

“Sell these goods for me—sell them for as high a sum as you can get, and I will give each of you a piece of silver.”

And the articles were sold, and Baron Butrich became richer and richer.

As for the workers, although they received their pieces of silver each week they did not get any richer, for the silver was gone by the time they had paid for their food, clothing and shelter. But these poor Blunderians were simple folk, and did not realise that nearly all of the great riches they made were being taken from them by the Baron.

Indeed, they praised and blessed Baron Butrich, who lay in his beautiful bed, and grew fatter and fatter.

And in the castle there were to be seen even richer carpets and costlier furniture, whilst an even greater number of jewels flashed upon the fingers of the Baron as he said to the Baroness:

“How lucky we are that the Blunderians are simple people. Let us reap a rich harvest from their toil, for one day they may discard their simplicity, and there will be nobody to make our wealth.”

F. Hawkins