Chapter 10                       Dance With The Devil         By Gunther Schwab                   Written in 1963.




the Devil pressed a button. "Yes?" he asked.

They heard the distorted voice of Do, the Devil's personal secretary.

"No. 384 would like to report."

"Tibu? Excellent ! Let him come in."

A broad, slow-moving man entered the room.

Under his narrow forehead his eyes seemed to be half closed as he gazed searchingly at the guests.

Like a great bear, he bowed to the Boss.

Then he turned to the guests: "My task is the destruction of the farmer and the peasantry."

"Why do you want to destroy them?" asked Rolande.

"Because man's existence stands or falls with these people."


Groot said, "I believe you exaggerate their importance."

"The peasantry," said Tibu, "have three vital tasks.

They have to feed the growing population of the earth;

they have to keep those engaged in non-agricultural occupations employed by buying their goods,

and they must make good the failure of the civic population to reproduce itself."

"That succinctly defines Tibu's job," added the Devil. "If these functions of the peasantry

are interfered with, life comes to an end."

Tibu bowed. "And there's something else. Civilization began when men settled on particular pieces

of ground and set about cultivating the soil. The flight from the land must, therefore,

necessarily mean man's decline."

"Come to the point," said the Devil.

"To make my meaning clear, I'm afraid I must bother you with a few figures.


Holland has the highest yield of wheat per acre of its total territory, in the world.

Germany has only 56 per cent of the Dutch figure, Austria 38 per cent, the U.S.A. 12 per cent

and Australia is the lowest with 1 per cent."

Rolande asked: "Is that due to a difference in the quality of the soil?"

"It's due to the difference in the ways of farming. Where you have peasant farming,

you'll get a high yield per acre, and what's more, you'll get a continuing high yield.

In countries that practice extensive farming, the soil produces little,

and even that little fails to materialize after a short time because the soil is exhausted.


The peasant takes care of his land, which means that for centuries he's given back

to it the vital substances that it needs; thus the humus is preserved and the soil remains fertile."

Harding interrupted: "I would have thought that the large-scale farmer would have had

that much business sense."

Tibu replied: "That's where you're wrong, Mr. Harding. T

he genuine uncorrupted peasant is bound to his soil by tradition;

he loves it, and has a personal relation to it. He feels an obligation towards it.

This spiritual bond is the basis for the soil's preserva­tion."

Harding turned to Groot. "Strange to hear such spiritual views in the Devil's headquarters," he said.

The Devil waved him aside. "The human soul," he said, "is our enemy No. 1.

Wherever you find sickness or degeneracy, you can be sure that we started it by attacking the soul."

Tibu continued: "The success of our work depends upon whether we can recognize

the secret relationships between things.


The peasant is a part of animated creation, and an unconscious process of action and reaction goes

on between himself on the one side and the plants, animals, water supplies, winds and stars on the other.

"Where you have extensive farming, things are very different.

Here the prime consideration is no longer quality but quantity;

commercial success depends on standardization, and once you change over from peasant holdings

to extensive farming, the chemist is ready and waiting to ensure this.

Differences between various soils and general differences in other factors in the environment

are evened out by artificial manure, chemical hor­mones and various substances that force on growth.

This leads to a sort of de-personalizing of the land; analogous to the creation of mass man in society.

The owner of a ranch where extensive farming is practised, and those who work for him,

are completely indifferent to the rules of agriculture.

The whole method of procedure is dictated by business considerations

and not by the demands of the laws of life.


This is what has struck a mortal blow against the fertility of the soil."

The Devil grew impatient. "Let's get down to something practical," he said.

"I must, first of all, state my plan for the ruin of the peasantry. It rests on a financial basis,

which was what I first had to create."

"What basis are you talking about?"

"Industry can pay a much higher rate of interest for borrowed money than agriculture.

Consequently, capital goes exclusively into industry and so industry swells up to giant proportions,

while agriculture tends to wither away because it fails to be nourished by the fertilizing stream of money."

The Devil nodded. "That's a clever idea, Tibu."

"Since all people hurry to the spot where there's money to be had and hurry away from the place

where there isn't, this arrangement causes men to be driven from the land to the town."

"Excellent !

"I have seen to it that the income of city dwellers rises while that of the country folk falls."

"Examples, please," cried the Boss.

"Average wages in West Germany are 4,300 D.M. a year,

but those working on the land only earn on the average 2,100 D.M."

The engineer was unconvinced.

"That may be true of the actual cash income, but the workers on farms get a certain income in kind,

including not only food, but fuel and light. They have cottages, and so on —"

"Those are all included."


Rolande looked incredulous and Tibu turned towards her.

"If we take the average worker's income as 100, then in Austria the agricultural worker earns

63 per cent and in the United States only 42 per cent. In Austria, the agricultural population

is 20 per cent of the whole; it does 38 per cent of the country's total work,

and receives 15 per cent of the national income. By creating this unbalance,

I have deprived the peasant of the labour force which he needs and have transferred it to industry.

That's not all. I've uprooted innumerable peasants and driven them out of agriculture."

"I always knew you were a competent sort of chap, Tibu."

"Thank you, Boss. I've also contrived to injure the peasant by a price and wages policy geared

to the artificially inflated wants of the urban masses.


For agricultural products the farmer gets on the average 61 times what he got in 1937,

whereas he must pay ten times what he paid at that time for the products of the town,

for social insurance and so on."

"One thing adds to another," said the Devil. "Within the last forty years,

the peasantry of Central Europe has handed over a great part of its children to the town.

It's borne the costs of bringing them up, but in the end has had no return.

This is a heavy economic burden on the peasantry and one which must Ultimately weaken it.

Further, the peasantry is making a con­tinual sacrifice of its human capital. In Austria,

the rural popu­lation is smaller by 600,000 than it was in 1914.

This represents an expenditure of 21 billion dollars, from which agriculture gets no benefit at all.

In America, the number of farmers fell by 11 per cent between 1940 and 1950 and much the same thing

is happening all over Europe.


A hundred years ago, 75 out of every hundred people in Central Europe were living by agricul­ture

and supporting, over and above themselves, another 25 people in the cities.

Today, 20 people engaged in agriculture must support 65 otherwise engaged,

which means that the modem peasant has to support roughly ten times as many people

as he did a century ago. He is compelled to go on continually producing more,

with a shrinking labour force.

"The proportion of persons employed in agriculture in rela­tion to the total population

s steadily falling; in England it's now only 4 per cent; in Western Germany, 14;

in Switzerland, 18; in Austria, 20 and in Denmark, 23.

As a result, the peasant is now subjected to a most exhausting and oppressive form

of forced labour that knows neither rest nor respite.

On the average, an industrial worker works 2,500 hours a year, a peasant works 3,500 and his wife 4,700.

As a result of this excessive burden, both buildings and soil are neglected;

the amount of land culti­vated by peasants grows less from year to year

because the peasant is simply no longer able to cope."

"Considering the grave food situation all over the world, that's good news indeed," said the Devil, with a laugh.


"As the peasant's working day grows ever longer, his rest ever shorter,

the fearful burden of his daily work interferes with his characteristic way of thinking.

It kills the spirit and the soul; it is this which has enabled me to do away with all the excellent

and happy customs that used to grace the peasant's life – regional costumes, games,

songs and so on. I've trodden the peasant's joy in creative work underfoot."

Harding was frowning. "If people leave the land," he said, "we can put that right by mechanization —"

"You can, indeed," said Tibu, with a sneer, "and this is the very first step towards that extensive

farming which is so dear to our hearts here.


For thousands of years agriculture has been carried on with tools that remained much the same;

for all that, however, there was a slow but steady disappearance of the soil.

Now, with agricultural machines, the process can go forward at headlong speed.

Of course, tractors and threshing machines have to be serviced by human beings.

Also machines, so far as I know, don't usually have children.

They won't make up for the flight of the rural population to the towns and,

above all, they won't produce the pensions and allowances for the old which the younger generation

are now called upon to provide. But I think the various points I've been trying to make could be better

understood if I let someone else illustrate them for me. Do you mind if I switch on the television set?"

"Go ahead."


An old farmhouse appeared; in front of it two men were sitting on a bench.

Tibu explained: "The old man is Mittermoser, a peasant; the other is his nephew,

Hans, who's now a mechanic in the town. Listen to them."

The younger of the two began to speak. "It serves you farmers right if labourers won't stay with you.

Why do you make them work for so long? I work for eight hours in a factory and then I'm free,

but with you, people have got to sweat their guts out from four in the morning till right into the night."

Mittermoser took a pipe out of his mouth; slowly, he turned towards his nephew.

"Who is it that makes them work for such long hours?

Who?" he asked with emphasis.

"The farmer – you and the others, all of you."

The old man puffed for a while; then slowly he asked:

"Tell me, Hans, who is really your boss?"

"My boss? Why, Mr. Brandtner, the engineer; you know that."

The peasant thoughtfully nodded his head. "Well, well, Mr. Brandtner, the engineer.

 You see, Mr. Brandtner can arrange things much as he pleases.

He can have people work eight hours, or ten hours, or six hours.

But with my boss you can't do that kind of thing; it wouldn't help much if we farmers

were to grumble or even go on strike, for our boss, you see, is the weather, the seasons,

the heat, the cold, the rain, the drought, the soil, the fertility, the hail, the wind, the whole of Nature.


And when it comes to the beasts, there's no eight-hour day as far as they're concerned.

And corn grows so long as it's light, and so does the tree in the woods.

You see, everything is quite different than it is with you in the towns.

And that's why the peasant and his people must work for as long as the weather holds

and as long as it's light.-

"Yes, I see that, Uncle, but that's why people won't work for you any more."

"Yes, yes, and it's why tiny children have to do heavy labour here.

Then they can't keep up at school, and then the city folks contemptuously say that peasants'

children are backward and stupid.

You see, the peasant is exposed to all the risks involved in working close to Nature,

and that's been his condition for thousands, nay for tens of thousands of years.

Other people are spared all that; they can quietly work out their production costs,

their prices and their profits at so much per cent.


We've none of that here, my friend, for you can't do business with nature.

And yet, you know, I still say 'This is the life, the real life'."

"What do you mean?"

"You live a real life when you're dealing with something that's alive, with the soil,

the forest, the cattle, but paper and machines – those are dead things,

and if a man continually busies himself with dead things,

it may well be that he soon begins to die himself and never notices it."

"Switch it off, switch it off!" cried the Devil. He turned towards his pupils.

"Did you hear that? The man's grasped the truth.

What we must do is to lead people away from living things and get them to concentrate

on things that are dead; then they'll die themselves, first spiritually, then physically.

If all peasants were to think like this Mittermoser, we'd have our work cut out, I can tell you."

The engineer had for a time been lost in thought.

"Very well," he said, "we'll have to import our food, that's all."

Tibu said, "You're rather naive, Mr. Groot.


Do you really think that our efforts to make agriculture worthless are con­fined to Europe?

If the peasantry dies in Europe, very well; you can then get your grain from other countries,

if you can pay for it. But supposing that one day those other peoples and other nations think

 that work in the fields is too low a form of occupa­tion, too dirty and too unprofitable?

"Do you know that great parts of the agricultural population of China is migrating

to the towns where there's no work for them and no kind of job? Because of this,

it's been impossible to realize the Chinese programme for agriculture.

Do you know that the number of rural workers in the U.S.A. has fallen by 637,000 since 1956?

When, thanks to my indefatigable work, there's nobody left in the world who will plough a field – well,

what happens then? Famine will have come, and with it the end of all man's inflated glory."


The Hunger Devil blew out his cheeks and there was a twinkle in his little round black eyes.

Obviously he was very pleased with himself.

"This is the way I'm gradually bleeding the life out of the peasantry; unfortunately, Boss,

I have less gratifying matters to report."

"Indeed," said the Devil, apprehensively.

"A little while ago, there appeared a man who might well be more dangerous to me and to all

of us than all the Mittermosers put together."

"Who is that?"

"Paul Groger, the son of a peasant who lost his father's f arm; he goes from city to city,

from village to village, to stir up trouble against us. May I switch on the television again?"

"Please do."


The screen showed a dimly lighted hall in which a tightly-packed audience was listening

with breathless attention; Paul Groger, the peasant's son, was a well set up man of uncertain age,

obviously an excellent speaker.

"They still speak of us peasants in the towns as members of the agricultural industry;

that's nonsense. We aren't members of an industry – we're peasants,

and if we take on the job of feed­ing the people we don't do it for economic or business reasons,

but because we've been called by the Lord God to be peasants."

"Ouch!" said the Devil. "That hurt! Switch it off!"

Tibu pleaded, "Do please listen. This is important."

Groger continued: "That's why we claim the right to live as peasants,

to live in the way the eternal laws of nature prescribe and not in the way the clever people

in the cities want us to live.

"Machines, motors – yes, we need them.

But they can't force us to keep up the breathless pace of the assembly line.

The peasant's raw materials are living things – plants and beasts,

and his real machine is the living earth."

There was loud and continuous applause.


The Devil and his henchmen remained lost in thought and were obviously very ill-pleased.

Harding and Groot listened with indifference, but Sten and Rolande showed signs of great excitement.

Groger continued: "Whoever migrates to the town dies within three generations.

The flight from the land is a flight towards death.

The higher powers, the lasting and creative powers, are rooted in the peasantry."

Again there was tremendous applause. People rose in their seats and started to cheer.

Tibu switched off.

The Devil muttered: "A crazy idealist; he'll never get any­where."

"I'm afraid that isn't true, Boss. In the coming months, he's doing a lecture tour through half Europe."

Satan's voice was icy cold as he said: "He'll not do any lecture tour.

You will immediately do all that is necessary.


Communicate with our agents in the Ministries and the Press.

The man must be silenced, rejected, slandered, suppressed and, if necessary, killed. Understand?"

"I've made a note of it.

As long as man practised the peasant's craft and lived on the land,

he remained a healthy and creative figure over thousands of years.

The people who migrated from the land to the towns, however,

usually have no children in the third generation – as we have just heard.

If I can prevent the land from supplying the cities with children,

we shall very soon achieve our ends.

Over the last twenty years I've done every­thing in my power to transfer the infertility of the towns

to the countryside. Today, the peasants are like everybody else; they have few children,

very often no children at all."

"Just substantiate that statement, will you?"


"In Sweden, there are peasants on 50,000 farms who are over fifty years in age and

who have no son in the house. In Schleswig-Holstein every seventh farm is run by a farmer

of more than 65. In Austria, there are 319,000 peasant families with 382,000 children below fourteen,

so there are only twelve children of that age for every ten farms;

only 22,000 peasant families have more than three children; 133,000 peasant families have nobody

to succeed them. On the average, 50 per cent of all peasant families have no child under 14."

The Devil laughed. "You strike at the very heart, Tibu. You're a subtle fellow."

"Civilized man today only lives in so far as he can postpone death a little."

"Very well put !

"How terrible," said Rolande. "Can nothing be done?"

The Devil smiled. "On the whole, Tibu, I'm very satisfied with you.

I want you to report back again in, say, fifty years' time.

But in your next report I want to hear that there's not a single peasant-holding

or anything of that kind left. Use all the means you have at your disposal.

Drive them from this paradise of Nature into the hell of suburbs and tenement houses,

from security to homelessness, from life to death.


Take from the peasant everything to which his soul still dings; his tradition, his pride,

his wealth of children, his religious faith. See to it that every peasant's son has got his scooter

and every village inn has got its juke box with the latest pop songs.

The 100,000­year-old peasant soul is one of the most formidable obstacles that confront us.

Destroy it by any means you can; once you've done that the decline of the West is assured.

And the decline of the West makes certain the decline of all mankind."


of Nature into the hell of suburbs and tenement houses, from security to homelessness,

from life to death. Take from the peasant everything to which his soul still clings; his tradition,

his pride, his wealth of children, his religious faith.

See to it that every peasant's son has got his scooter and every village inn has got its juke box

with the latest pop songs. The 100,000-year-old peasant soul is one of the most formidable

obstacles that confront us. Destroy it by any means you can; once you've done

that the decline of the West is assured.

And the decline of the West makes certain the decline of all mankind."



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