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NOTES AND ABSTRACTS 279
be sought principally from within the factory. Manufacturers are coming to feel their responsibility in this matter, and to appreciate the advantage of educating the men upon whom they must in a large measure depend for commercial success. HENRY BRURE, in The Commons, June, 1904. E. B. W.
Intervention under the Old and the New Regimes. Interventionism, which is the application of the principles of social economy, is chronologically antecedent to the formation of that science, but not logically so. A certain meas- ure of provisional theory must always precede practice.
In ancient times the citizen belonged altogether to his city, and the mass of producers belonged to the richest citizens. In the Middle Ages production was carried on by the domestic and craft systems, with very narrow markets and restricted trade between different parts of the country. The public powers first intervened to regulate the conditions of production, or to sanction the rules estab- lished by the corporations, for up to the time of Louis XI. these had enjoyed almost complete independence.
With the growth of the market, and the greater distance and interval between producers and consumers, the producer tended to become more impersonal and his wares possessed less and less individuality. Thus economic relations ceased to be private affairs and became matters of public concern ; a third factor, the state, entered the economic arena. But in the guaranteeing of rights, the state overlooked the journeymen and apprentices. They were destined to wait through long centuries for the protection of our modern legislation. The spirit of the modern movement of organized labor is not at all based on memories of the regime of the mediaeval corporation which reactionary politicians wish to restore.
The intervention of the state was not for, but against, the workers, so long as this regime lasted, as witness the ferocious laws of Henry VIII. against apprentices and journeymen who escaped from their masters. Under Elizabeth an increase in wages above a certain maximum was a criminal offense, punishable for both master and workman. The difference between the economy of the Middle Ages and of our own day is clearly visible when we consider that today it is the establishment of a minimum wage rather than a maximum which is the vital question.
During the second epoch of the old regime, a period of expanding trade and widened markets, intervention was still unmindful of the working class. In 1787 the workmen of Lyons were still held to their day of eighteen hours ; and about the same time a statute of Louis XVI. fixed at fourteen hours the day's work of the tool-makers and farriers of Versailles.
The French Revolution with its verbal abstractions and its generalizations invoked the individualistic principle, and by the law of 1791 proclaimed that to be free, contracts ought to be individual. Between the individual patron and the individual workman the state alone could step, the state born of the will of all, theoretically organized and ruled by all, offering in the name of all its sanction to free contracts. It was thus that the principle of negative liberty, of non- intervention of the state, was established.
In France public opinion at length forced the adherents of this verbal liberal- ism to promulgate the law of 1841 regarding the work of women and children. The facts of industrial life did not seem to correspond to the economic theory. As Sismondi says, in spite of the implicit faith which the students of political economy accorded their masters, they were nevertheless forced to demand new explanations for phenomena which were becoming farther and farther removed from the rules established by the masters. It was John Stuart Mill who first pointed out the illuminating fact that the distribution of wealth is subordinated to the prevailing state of civilization, a thing which changes constantly, and thus the laws of economic distribution can never be fixed and unmodifiable.
The founders of economic interventionism both in France and Germany per- ceived the fact that economic science is a social science, and in Germany especially, socialist criticism, both through fear and persuasion, was a powerful stimulus to the interventionist movement, which found ardent support in the so-called socialists of the chair, and was finally realized in the program of