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Wirtschaftsgeschichte. By Max WEBER. Edited by S. HELL
MANN and M. PÁLYI. (Munich : Duncker & Humblot.
1923. Pp. 348, large 8vo.)
For a quarter of a century Lujo Brentano lectured at the University of Munich on Economic History. These lectures having enjoyed a great success, the students requested his successor Max Weber to discourse on the same matter. He did so in the years 1919–20, but without the bright concrete pictures of European development which Brentano had given. Following his special interest in sociology, Weber gave a “ Summary of universal Social and Economic History.” He died suddenly in the summer of 1920, leaving only loose leaves of notes, and a professor of History and an economist of Munich have compiled this volume with the help of the notes and transcripts of students.
As a result of these origins, the volume is not so compendious as other works of Max Weber's, but its diction is fresher, simpler and better arranged. The abundance of its contents is shown by the Index occupying no less than 29 pages compared with 315 pages of text. Indeed the book shows a marvellous knowledge on the part of the author, embracing all times and peoples of the earth,-as well as his inclination to employ incessantly special technical terms frequently formed from foreign roots.
Weber, having cultivated universal economic and social history, illustrates matters of agriculture, crafts and mining, trade and currency, industry and finance by reference to ancient Egypt and Babylon, to classical antiquity, to Indian, Chinese and Japanese conditions as well as to mediæval and modern European civilisation. Moreover, Max Weber was able to see the reality and to realise men of the most different races, times and countries.
As an example of his treatment of his subject matter we may refer to his elucidations of money (p. 208 and following), where -it may be mentioned—the only paradox of the book is to be found, viz. : “Money is the creator of individual property." He touches on various objects of which ownership and inheritance inhered in primitive epochs only in men or only in women, and puts the emphasis upon money as fulfilling two fundamental functions—as a compulsory means of payment and as a general means of exchange. This function of money as a general means of exchange comes from foreign commercial intercourse, peace between two countries being in early times based on a continued exchange of presents between their rulers. The further rôle of money as a means for heaping up treasures is derived from the fact that the chieftains had to maintain a train of followers to whom presents had to be made on special occasions. Hence the extraordinary appreciation of treasures by Indian Rajahs and Merovingian kings; the “ Nibelungenhort,” too, is nothing else than a treasure of such a character.
Weber distinguishes in general: ornamental money, useful money (corn, salt, tobacco, arms, ironware), dress money (furs, hides, woven material of foreign origin) and token money (Chinese counters are circulating in some parts of India; fur money existed in Russia in the shape of small pieces of fur, unfit for use).
Payment is frequently effected by a sum of diverse kinds of money, e.g. in Java by one precious stone and twenty mother-o'pearl shells; similarly with the Indians of Missouri a wife was bought for 2 knives, 1 pair of trousers, 1 blanket, 1 gun, 1 horse and i leather tent—this amounting to the sale of a wife for one complete warrior's outfit.
Contrary to those who believe in an imminent decay of capitalist civilisation, Weber notes, that the modern nationalist State gave capitalism high chances for development, and he is consequently of the opinion that capitalism will last till the nationalist States themselves have given place to a unique Universal Commonwealth.
Every reader will feel indebted to the editors for their having made these suggestive unwritten lectures accessible to the public.
The Co-operative Movement in Japan. By K. OGATA, Professor
in the University of Commerce at Tokio. · With a preface by SIDNEY WEBB. (London: P. S. King & Son. 1923. Pp. 362, in Octavo.)
THE essential feature of this big volume is the description of some old and widespread genuine Japanese forms of mutual assistance and economic communism. Similar associations, called mujin or ko, appeared seven or eight hundred years back, and before the Great War some 1,600,000 were in existence. Their members join temporarily for the purpose of mutual assistance in trade or in domestic economy, in arranging pilgrimages to temples or holiday trips, etc. They are local unions on a smaller or larger scale, mounting up to some hundreds of members and sometimes dissolving after a short time. Some have profit-seeking purposes (business mujins).
Another community, three-quarters of a century old, is the hötokusha, devised by a simple peasant, Sontoka, who is highly respected and regarded almost as a saint. Besides money loans these groups facilitate the common buying and selling of goods, the drying of cocoons, the replanting of forests and so on. The Civil Code of 1896 granted them personality in law as well as public utility.
European forms of co-operation (co-operative productive societies excepted), were introduced by a special Law in 1899, which came into force in 1900, and since then the government has strongly encouraged such co-operative societies as effect loans, buy and sell, or work combined forms of such businesses. Four-fifths of the 14,000 co-operative societies (in the modern sense) existing in 1921 were Credit Associations. All of them enjoy legal advantages over trade companies and stand under public survey and control.
But they all are organisations implanted by authority from above, and have not naturally grown up from co-operative ideals, like their analogous forms in England, in Belgium, in Denmark, in Germany or in Italy, or even like the old Japanese friendly associations mentioned above.
NOTES AND MEMORANDA
THE AGRICULTURAL POPULATION AND THE RENTAL OF LAND
PRIOR to the institution of the census in 1801, there are only estimates of the population. Even the first census failed in its object, because the method of obtaining the information had not been determined by practice, and the general standard of education was so low that it was impossible to place any reliance upon the figures returned. This was particularly evident in respect of the occupational statistics. So far as agriculture was concerned, the census of 1831 states quite plainly that the failure of the question in 1801 “ became manifest and worthless answers were entered without attempt at correction.” It is only possible, therefore, to arrive at the agricultural population in 1811, and, since the number of families only is stated, it is necessary to use some figure as a multiplier in order to determine the number of persons. It was usual in the pamphlets of the day to estimate five persons to a family; if this figure is used, nearly four million people are shown to be employed in agriculture. This is a highly improbable result, particularly in view of the figure given in the 1841 census, which is only a million and a quarter. Some deduction must therefore be made from the 1811 figure, and it is, to say the least, unlikely that more than three million persons were engaged in the industry then. If that figure is taken, about 30 per cent. of the population were engaged in agriculture, whereas in 1911 only about 3.6 per cent. were so employed. The decline has not been uniform during the century, the number having risen between 1841-1851. It then consistently declined until 1901. At the next census a new system of enumeration was adopted, with the result that the 1911 figures show an increase. In this return is a table1 stating the number of men and women over ten years of age, employed in agriculture in 1851 and at each decennial period thereafter. The total population at the date of each census is also stated in this return, and from these figures the percentage of population employed in agriculture can readily be calculated.
1 General Report (Cd. 8491), p. 113.
The figures contained in the census returns are not strictly comparable, owing to the differences in the methods of enumeration employed. Many attempts have been made to weight the various returns so as to render them perfect, but these efforts must be received with reserve. It is necessary to accept what is to hand, and it has seemed best to take the figures published in the tables appearing in the 1911 General Report.
It is reasonable to assume that the profits of any national industry compared with the total income of the nation bear some relation to the percentage of the total population employed in that industry. A large number of economists have tried to formulate estimates of the total national income, but nothing satisfactory has yet been produced. The investigator is, therefore, forced to accept the income assessed to income tax for the purposes of calculations, and here again difficulties are encountered. Different bases of assessment were adopted at different times, and there is a hiatus from 1815–1842, when income tax was not levied. It does not seem possible, therefore, to do more than compare the rent of land assessed to income tax and the total income assessed. It is not desirable to carry the investigation into the “war period,” as numerous changes were instituted, and the inflation and deflation of the currency introduced factors at present incalculable. So far as can be estimated from the only figures available, the rent of agricultural land in 1811 was about 20 per cent. of the total income assessed to income tax. During the century this proportion steadily declined, and in 1911 it was about 3.8 per cent. of the total. These percentages are not absolutely comparable, since the classification of income has been changed, and the later period contains elements not included in the earlier. These are not, however, very large, and do not make a really significant difference in the annual percentage.
The argument that the percentage of population engaged in agriculture and the proportionate annual income derived from the rent of land are related, is to some extent substantiated by an examination of these figures. If the percentage of population in England engaged in agriculture, and the percentage of income derived immediately prior to the war are examined, the first is found to be 3.6 per cent. and the second 3.8 per cent.
At the same time there had been an absolute decline in the number of persons engaged in agriculture, which cannot be stated exactly, but probably amounted to at least 50 per cent., if not slightly more. Although some land not used for agricultural purposes at the time of Couling's survey in 1827 may have been