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 a spectre is haunting Europe

Hilde got off her bed and went to the window facing the bay. When she had started to read this Saturday, it was still Sophie\'s fifteenth birthday. The day before had been Hilde\'s own birthday.

If her father had imagined that she would get as far as Sophie\'s birthday yesterday, he had certainly not been realistic. She had done nothing but read all day long. But he was right that there would only be one more birthday greeting. It was when Alberto and Sophie had sung Happy Birthday to her. Very embarrassing, Hilde thought.

And now Sophie had invited people to a philosophical garden party on the very day her father was due back from Lebanon. Hilde was convinced something would happen that day which neither she nor her father were quite sure of.

But one thing was certain: before her father got home to Bjerkely he would get a scare. That was the least she could do for Sophie and Alberto, especially after they had appealed for help ...

Her mother was still down in the boathouse. Hilde ran downstairs to the telephone. She found Anne and Ole\'s number in Copenhagen and called them.

"Anne Kvamsdal."

"Hi, this is Hilde."

"Oh, how are you? How are things in Lillesand?"

 "Fine, with vacation and everything. And Dad gets back from Lebanon in a week."

"Won\'t that be great, Hilde!"

"Yes, I\'m looking forward to it. That\'s actually why I\'m calling..."

"It is?"

"I think he\'s landing at Kastrup around 5 p.m. on Saturday the 23rd. Will you be in Copenhagen then?"

"I think so."

"I was wondering if you could do something for me."

"Why, of course."

"It\'s kind of a special favor. I\'m not even sure if it\'s possible."

"Now you\'re making me curious ..."

Hilde began to describe her plan. She told Anne about the ring binder, about Sophie and Alberto and all the rest. She had to backtrack several times because either she or Anne were laughing too hard. But when Hilde hung up, her plan was in operation.

She would now have to begin some preparations of her own. But there was still plenty of time.

Hilde spent the remainder of the afternoon and the evening with her mother. They ended up driving to Kris-tiansand and going to the movies. They felt they had some catching up to do since they had not done anything special the day before. As they drove past the exit to Kjevik airport, a few more pieces of the big jigsaw puzzle Hilde was constructing fell into place.

It was late before she went to bed that night, but she took the ring binder and read on.

When Sophie slipped out of the den through the hedge it was almost eight o\'clock. Her mother was weeding the flowerbeds by the front door when Sophie appeared.

"Where did you spring from?"

"I came through the hedge."

"Through the hedge?"

"Didn\'t you know there was a path on the other side?"

"But where have you been, Sophie? This is the second time you\'ve just disappeared without leaving any message."

"I\'m sorry, Mom. It was such a lovely day, I went for a long walk."

Her mother rose from the pile of weeds and gave her a severe look.

"You haven\'t been with that philosopher again?"

"As a matter of fact, I have. I told you he likes going for long walks."

"But he is coming to the garden party, isn\'t he?"

"Oh yes, he\'s looking forward to it."

"Me too. I\'m counting the days."

Was there a touch of sharpness in her voice? To be on the safe side, Sophie said:

"I\'m glad I invited Joanna\'s parents too. Otherwise it might be a bit embarrassing."

"I don\'t know ... but whatever happens, I am going to have a talk with this Alberto as one adult to another."

"You can borrow my room if you like. I\'m sure you\'ll like him."

"And another thing. There\'s a letter for you."

"There is?"

"It\'s stamped UN Battalion."

"It must be from Alberto\'s brother."

"It\'s got to stop, Sophie!"

Sophie\'s brain worked overtime. But in a flash she hit on a plausible answer It was as though she was getting inspiration from some guiding spirit.

"I told Alberto I collect rare postmarks. And brothers also have their uses."

Her mother seemed to be reassured.

"Dinner\'s in the fridge," she said in a slightly more amicable tone.

"Where\'s the letter?"

"On top of the fridge."

Sophie rushed inside. The envelope was stamped June 15, 1990. She opened it and took out a little note:

What matters our creative endless toil, When at a snatch, oblivion ends the coil?

Indeed, Sophie had no answer to that question. Before she ate, she put the note in the closet together with all the other stuff she had collected in the past weeks. She would learn soon enough why the question had been asked.

The following morning Joanna came by. After a game of badminton, they got down to planning the philosophical garden party. They needed to have some surprises on hand in case the party flopped at any point.

When Sophie\'s mother got home from work they were still talking about it. Her mother kept saying: "Don\'t worry about what it costs." And she was not being sarcastic!

Perhaps she was thinking that a "philosophical garden party" was just what was needed to bring Sophie down to earth again after her many weeks of intensive philosophical studies.

Before the evening was over they had agreed on everything, from paper lanterns to a philosophical quiz with a prize. The prize should preferably be a book about philosophy for young people. If there was such a thing! Sophie was not at all sure.

Two days before Midsummer Eve, on Thursday, June 21, Alberto called Sophie again.


"And Alberto."

"Oh, hi! How are you?"

"Very well indeed, thank you. I think I have found an excellent way out."

"Way out of what?"

"You know what. A way out of the mental captivity we have lived in for much too long."

"Oh, that."

"But I cannot say a word about the plan before it is set in motion."

"Won\'t it be too late then? I need to know what I am involved in."

"Now you\'re being na\'i\'ve. All our conversations are being overheard. The most sensible thing would be to say nothing."

"It\'s as bad as that, huh?"

"Naturally, my child. The most important things must happen when we are not talking."


"We are living our lives in a fictional reality behind the words in a long story. Each single letter is being written on an old portable typewriter by the major. Nothing that is in print can therefore escape his attention."

"No, I realize that. But how are we going to hide from him?"



"There\'s something going on between the lines as well. That\'s just where I\'m trying to be tricky, with every crafty ruse I know."

"I get it."

"But we must make the most of the time both today and tomorrow. On Saturday the balloon goes up. Can you come over right now?"

"I\'m on my way."

Sophie fed the birds and the fish and found a large lettuce leaf for Govinda. She opened a can of cat food for Sher-ekan and put it out in a bowl on the step as she left.

Then she slipped through the hedge and out to the path on the far side. A little way further on she suddenly caught sight of a spacious desk standing in the midst of the heather. An elderly man was sitting at it, apparently adding up figures. Sophie went over to him and asked his name.

"Ebenezer Scrooge," he said, poring over his ledgers again.

"My name is Sophie. You are a businessman, I presume?"

He nodded. "And immensely rich. Not a penny must go to waste. That\'s why I have to concentrate on my accounts."

"Why bother?"

Sophie waved and walked on. But she had not gone many yards before she noticed a little girl sitting quite alone under one of the tall trees. She was dressed in rags, and looked pale and ill. As Sophie walked by, she thrust her hand into a little bag and pulled out a box of matches.

 "Will you buy some matches?" she asked, holding them out to Sophie. Sophie felt in her pockets to see if she had any money with her. Yes--she found a crown.

"How much are they?"

"One crown."

Sophie gave the girl the coin and stood there, with the box of matches in her hand.

"You are the first person to buy anything from me for over a hundred years. Sometimes I starve to death, and other times the frost does away with me."

Sophie thought it was perhaps not surprising if the sale of matches was not especially brisk here in the woods. But then she came to think of the businessman she had just passed. There was no reason for the little match girl to die of starvation when he was so wealthy.

"Come here," said Sophie.

She took the girl\'s hand and walked with her back to the rich man.

"You must see to it that this girl gets a better life," she said.

The man glanced up from his paperwork and said: "That kind of thing costs money, and I said not so much as a penny must go to waste."

"But it\'s not fair that you\'re so rich when this girl is so poor," insisted Sophie. "It\'s unjust!"

"Bah! Humbug! Justice only exists between equals."

"What do you mean by that?"

"I had to work my way up, and it has paid off. Progress, they call it."

"If you don\'t help me, I\'ll die," said the poor girl.

The businessman looked up again from his ledgers. Then he threw his quill pen onto the table impatiently.

"You don\'t figure in my accounts! So--be off with you--to the poorhouse!"

"If you don\'t help me, I\'ll set fire to the woods," the girl persisted.

That brought the man to his feet, but the girl had already struck one of her matches. She held it to a tuft of dry grass which flared up instantly.

The man threw up his arms. "God help me!" he shouted. "The red cock has crowed!"

The girl looked up at him with a playful smile.

"You didn\'t know I was a communist, did you?"

The next minute, the girl, the businessman, and the desk had disappeared. Sophie was once again standing alone while the flames consumed the dry grass ever more hungrily. It took her a while to put out the fire by stamping on it.

Thank goodness! Sophie glanced down at the blackened grass. She was holding a box of matches in her hand.

She couldn\'t have started the fire herself, could she?

When she met Alberto outside the cabin she told him what had happened.

"Scrooge was the miserly capitalist in A Christmas Carol, by Charles Dickens. You probably remember the little match girl from the tale by Hans Christian Andersen."

"I didn\'t expect to meet them here in the woods."

"Why not? These are no ordinary woods, and now we are going to talk about Karl Marx. It is most appropriate that you have witnessed an example of the tremendous class struggles of the mid-nineteenth century. But let\'s go inside. We are a little more protected from the major\'s interference there."

Once again they sat at the little table by the window facing the lake. Sophie could still feel all over her body how she had experienced the little lake after having drunk from the blue bottle.

Today, both bottles were standing on the mantelpiece. There was a miniature model of a Greek temple on the table.

"What\'s that?" asked Sophie.

"All in good time, my dear."

Alberto began to talk: "When Kierkegaard went to Berlin in 1841, he might have sat next to Karl Marx at Schel-ling\'s lectures. Kierkegaard had written a master of arts thesis on Socrates. About the same time, Marx had written a doctoral thesis on Democritus and Epicurus--in other words, on the materialism of antiquity. Thus they had both staked out the course of their own philosophies."

"Because Kierkegaard became an  existentialist and Marx became a materialist?"

"Marx became what is known as a historical materialist. But we\'ll come back to that."

"Go on."

"Each in his own way, both Kierkegaard and Marx took Hegel\'s philosophy as their point of departure. Both were influenced by Hegel\'s mode of thought, but both rejected his \'world spirit,\' or his idealism."

"It was probably too high-flown for them."

"Definitely. In general, we usually say that the era of the great philosophical systems ended with Hegel. After him, philosophy took a new direction. Instead of great speculative systems, we had what we call an existential philosophy or a philosophy of action. This was what Marx meant when he observed that until now, \'philosophers have only interpreted the world in various ways; the point is to change it.\' These words mark a significant turning point in the history of philosophy."

"After meeting Scrooge and the little match girl, I have no problem understanding what Marx meant."

"Marx\'s thinking had a practical--or political--objective. He was not only a philosopher; he was a historian, a sociologist, and an economist."

"And he was a forerunner in all these areas?"

"Certainly no other philosopher had greater significance for practical politics. On the other hand, we must be wary of identifying everything that calls itself Marxism with Marx\'s own thinking. It is said of Marx that he only became a Marxist in the mid-1840s, but even after that he could at times feel it necessary to assert that he was not a Marxist."

"Was Jesus a Christian?"

"That, too, of course, is debatable."

"Carry on."

"Right from the start, his friend and colleague Friedrich Engels contributed to what was subsequently known as Marxism. In our own century, Lenin, Stalin, Mao and many others also made their contribution to Marxism, or Marxism-Leninism."

"I suggest we try to stick to Marx himself. You said he was a historical materialist?"

 "He was not a philosophical materialist like the atomists of antiquity nor did he advocate the mechanical materialism of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. But he thought that, to a great extent, it was the material factors in society which determined the way we think. Material factors of that nature have certainly been decisive for historical development."

"That was quite different from Hegel\'s world spirit."

"Hegel had pointed out that historical development is driven by the tension between opposites--which is then resolved by a sudden change. Marx developed this idea further. But according to Marx, Hegel was standing on his head."

"Not all the time, I hope."

"Hegel called the force that drives history forward world spirit or world reason. This, Marx claimed, is upside down. He wished to show that material changes are the ones that affect history. \'Spiritual relations\' do not create material change, it is the other way about. Material change creates new spiritual relations. Marx particularly emphasized that it was the economic forces in society that created change and thus drove history forward."

"Do you have an example?"

"Antiquity\'s philosophy and science were purely theoretical in purpose. Nobody was particularly interested in putting new discoveries into practice."

"They weren\'t?"

"That was because of the way the economic life of the community was organized. Production was mainly based on slave labor, so the citizens had no need to increase production with practical innovations. This is an example of how material relations help to affect philosophical reflection in society."

"Yes, I see."

"Marx called these material, economic, and social relations the basis of society. The way a society thinks, what kind of political institutions there are, which laws it has and, not least, what there is of religion, morals, art, philosophy, and science, Marx called society\'s superstructure."

"Basis and superstructure, right."

 "And now you will perhaps be good enough to pass me the Greek temple."

Sophie did so.

"This is a model of the Parthenon temple on the Acropolis. You have also seen it in real life."

"On the video, you mean."

"You can see that the construction has a very elegant and elaborate roof. Probably the roof with its front gable is what strikes one first. This is what we call the superstructure."

"But the roof cannot float in thin air."

"It is supported by the columns."

"The building has very powerful foundations--its bases--supporting the entire construction. In the same ............
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