And one more aspect should be highlighted. Every nation has only one class of farmers. You can turn rural workers into factory workers. But it is very difficult to create a new rural population from factory workers. There is a disastrous mistake reflected in the words that a well-known liberal parliamentarian once said to me: "Let us first defeat this rural population, which is allied to the Junkers; then we will naturally establish a new agrarian people."
In Italy, following the downfall of Rome's last two great land reformers, the Gracchi*, the Italian peasant class was doomed. To this day, that is to say, in the course of more than 2,000 years, it has not been possible to create a new class of free peasants in Italy, and the entire economic life of a land so richly blessed by nature is suffering most grievously from this defect.
How, then, will the German land reform movement achieve and secure healthy conditions in agriculture? Its program demands that "the German soil be placed under one law, a law that promotes its use as a place for working and living and rules out any misuse. [ . . . ]"
* The popular tribunes Tiberius Sempronius Gracchus (162-133 B.C.) and Gaius Sempronius Gracchus (153-121 A.D.) tried to stop the decline of the Roman peasantry by redistributing state property, most of which was, however, in the hands of the nobility. These generous attempts, however, were thwarted by the predominance of the aristocratic classes within the state. [Information provided in Ernst Schraepler, ed., Quellen zur Geschichte der sozialen Frage in Deutschland. 1871 bis zur Gegenwart, 3rd revised edition. Göttingen and Zurich: Muster-Schmidt, 1996, p. 99.]
Source: Adolf Damaschke, Die Bodenreform. Grundsätzliches und Geschichtliches zur Erkenntnis und Überwindung der sozialen Not [Land Reform. Fundamental and Historical Observations on Understanding and Overcoming Social Hardship]. Jena, 1900. This excerpt is taken from Part III: “Bodenreform und Agrarproblem” [“Land Reform and the Agrarian Problem”].
Original German text reprinted in Ernst Schraepler, ed., Quellen zur Geschichte der sozialen Frage in Deutschland. 1871 bis zur Gegenwart [Sources on the History of the Social Question in Germany. 1871 to the Present], 3rd revised edition. Göttingen and Zurich: Muster-Schmidt, 1996, pp. 97-99.
Translation: Thomas Dunlap