The New Eden

The desolate street felt cold under his bare feet. To his right stood what was once a long chain of successful businesses, but now with smashed windows, doors hanging off hinges, and no one inside, customer or employee. The air was thick and muggy. He might as well be breathing in smoke. At least that would kill him faster.

Joseph could vaguely remember the times before The New Eden. The streets were flooded with cars, and the shops were always so well maintained to satisfy the waves of people. He had always hated walking past the stores. The sight of people being fed for a profit rather than goodwill for their fellow men infuriated him. It was extortion he had thought to himself. Extortion and slavery.

The New Eden had promised to banish the plague of selfishness and greed. It had promised to rid the idea of living for yourself, of rising higher than your fellow man. It had promised to put the needs of everyone above all; above the needs of those who only wish to produce for their own profit so they can live luscious lives while the rest suffer.

It had succeeded.

There was no way to know how long Joseph had been walking. A few days most likely. In that time he had sustained himself by eating scraps of food, mostly rotting, that he could find in dumpsters and garbage cans, and ate tree bark when nothing else was available. His blue denim jeans were ripping in various places, and the red flannel he wore now bore only one sleeve. The naked soles of his feet were bloody and battered from the harshness of the gravel road. “How had it gotten to be like this,” he thought to himself.

He had been in complete support of The New Eden. Everyone knew the current selfish, capitalist society was failing. Wasn’t it obvious? It was time for a change; a better world where all men were equals and sought not to profit from one another, but to prosper together. Where a man would not keep for himself, but share with who needed it. This was human nature after all.

But the problems grew extensive, and quickly. Famine and starvation was rampant. The fields were not being worked like they were supposed to. Men who would work hours a day tending the crops were given less rations than those who did not work, but were deemed to need it more. There was no reason to work, for there was nothing to work for. A man did not own anything. Men, as a whole, owned all.

The more the needy were given, the more needy there were. There weren’t enough able bodied men to produce what was needed. Those that did produce did not reap any rewards for his work. There were no rewards, for a man owes it to his fellow man. Is charity not enough?

The shops had closed down after they had been seized by The New Eden Police. It didn’t matter what store it was. Restaurants, clothing, electronics. They were to be worked not for a profit, but for the consumption of others. They never lasted.

Joseph’s legs grew weary. He felt as if he was carrying a bag full of bricks on his back. He told himself to continue walking. He collapsed after a few feet. The air was harder to breathe. The street that had once felt cold on his feet now felt warm as he was lying face down on it, unable to move. He could feel his heartbeat slowing, becoming fainter… His breathing lessened. As he lay in the dirty street, he couldn’t help but think that, perhaps, he had been wrong.

The New Eden promised to banish selfishness. But wasn’t it selfishness that had brought those people to produce in the first place? Wasn’t it the promise of reward for their work that made and kept them working?

It had promised to banish individualism. But wasn’t it individualism that drove people to innovate and create? Wasn’t it their own volition, their own drive, that made them undertake these endeavours?

It had promised to place the needs of all above the needs of the individual. But aren’t the masses merely made up of individuals? And when everyone needs, why is it the obligation of other men to satisfy those needs? Could misfortune really be a claim upon the fortunate?

As Joseph lay in the street reflecting upon these ideas, he repeated the words he was told.

“History calls those men the greatest who have ennobled themselves by working for the common good.”

As he felt his consciousness slipping, and his organs slowly shutting down, he had a revelation.

“The common good,” he thought to himself, “good by what standard?”

His breathing stopped.

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Eric Taylor
enjoyed the brave look at the corruptions of communism
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