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cloth only sold at 10d. an ell (First Statistical Account for Alvie, Vol. XIII. p. 379).
Even a small croft of 13 to 17 acres would tend to give a fairly full employment. Under present conditions the cultivation of a ten-acre croft would only amount to 80–100 full days' work (see Report on Economics of Small Holdings, p. 35), under the open-field system, with wooden ploughs; herding; tathing, i. e. manuring the land by confining the animals in a fold of sods that was moved every eight or ten days, which was regularly practised by Balnespick (for a description of the process see Robertson’s Report on the Agriculture of Inverness-shire); threshing by means of the flail; elaborate systems of weeding to clean the dirty ground (see Northern Rural Life, chap. v.), etc., the amount of work needed must have been very much greater. Thus Sir John Sinclair's typical farmer of 37 acres (View of the Northern Counties, p. 79) employs three servants, and in Balnespick's Account Book the larger sub-tenants certainly had labourers or cottars on their land.
In addition to work on their own holdings, the sub-tenants had to perform a considerable amount of labour for the tacksman. From the Account Book it is evident that they helped with the harvest, ploughing, harrowing and tathing, they also “ did the long carriage,'' i. e. went an errand with a horse and cart at their landlord's pleasure-in 1771 the long carriage consisted of taking loads of bark to Forres, about forty miles off. And it is almost certain that they also cut and carted the peats, for this was a universal service and one of the last to be abolished.
In trying to visualise the hard struggle these people endured it is difficult to realise that their circumstances were unusually favourable, for Dunachton More is an exceptionally productive farm, and the years 1769 to 1779 were not remarkable for special scarcity. Only four years ahead, the terrible shortage of the “ Year of the White Peas,” lay before them one of the long series of famines that the Highlands endured, when the people were obliged to rely for food-stuffs on their own uncertain climate and not very productive soil. (See C. Fraser Mackintosh's Letters of Two Centuries, p. 303, for local effects. A more general account is given in Northern Rural Life, chaps. vii. and viii., and the first volume of Transactions by the Highland Society, published about 1799. I have seen personal letters describing the later shortages of 1802 and 1817-9, but so far as I know they have never been described in any published work.)
I. F. GRANT
Representative Government and a Parliament of Industry : A Study
of the German Federal Economic Council. By HERMAN FINER, of the London School of Economics. (The Fabian Society and George Allen and Unwin, 1923.)
MR. FINER's history and analysis of the German “ Economic Council,” from its pre-war origin to January 1923, is of first-rate importance for every student of political science.
The war that was to make the world safe for democracy has brought democracy, in the sense of majority rule based on territorial elections, into a condition of rapidly increasing weakness. Every year “politics ” and “politicians ” are becoming more dangerously discredited, and it is becoming more easy for any organised minority which is prepared to use force to overthrow governments based on local elections and political persuasion.
Mr. Finer believes that this discredit of territorial democracy has been due, not to the wickedness of its opponents, but to its own inability to carry out the urgently necessary work of social invention. Territorial democracy has failed as a “ will-organisation” because it has failed as a “ thought-organisation." He spent the summer vacations of 1921 and 1922 in Germany studying the history of the German Federal Economic Council and interviewing those who had made that history. He has returned passionately convinced that parliamentary institutions cannot succeed in the modern world unless they are supported and enriched by a system of functional representation. His book, however, because it is a full and accurate record of facts, will be as useful to those who disagree as to those who agree with his main thesis.
In the winter of 1918–19 the leaders of the German Republic rejected the “Soviet” idea of trusting all power to the workingclass vocational bodies, and convoked a National Assembly based on territorial elections. The new Government was opposed by a series of revolutionary strikes, and on March 5, 1919, made peace with the revolutionists by promising to incorporate in the constitution a hierarchy of Workers' Councils, District Labour Councils, and a national Central Labour Council. A majority of those who made this promise seem to have believed that they had been coerced into an unwise engagement, but, the promise once made, the Government set themselves to carry it out. The scheme, however, actually adopted was very different from that apparently contemplated by the Declaration of March 5, 1919. Only the Central Council was created (though with the intention that it should be followed by the creation of local councils). The Central Council was not a “Workers' Council ” but an “ Economic Council.” When established by the decree of May 4, 1920 (after a long and extraordinarily interesting controversy, of which Mr. Finer gives a full acount) it consisted of 326 members, 128 of whom represented employers, 128 workers, and 70 the community (co-operators, housewives, officials, liberal professions, and the nominees of the Reichsrat and the Executive Government). Its powers are strictly consultative, but include the right to insist on being consulted, to bring its proposals and criticisms before the Reichsrat and the Reichsrat committees, and to pay its own expenses from a separate budget passed by the Reichsrat.
To many of the German communists this scheme seemed a mockery of the programme for which they had contended in 1919. But Mr. Finer insists that though the functions of the Economic Council are purely advisory they are yet of vital importance. In the complex society of to-day, he argues that the work of invention is at least as important as that of decision, and a council consisting of men closely connected with the daily organisation of production and consumption will be more likely (even although their powers are advisory) to invent wise forms of national action than are the hard-driven omnivalent representatives of territorial constituencies.
The psychological question which Mr. Finer here raises is not a simple one. Dr. Rivers, in his posthumous Psychology and Politics, argues that a committee with advisory powers is more likely to think effectively than a committee with executive or legislative powers, because it is free. I myself believe that, generally speaking, the sharp edge of effective thought is more likely to be the result of responsibility for action. But the thinking that can be done by those who are responsible for the central government of a modern nation is strictly limited in amount. A minister or member of parliament is, I believe, likely with the same amount of ability and knowledge, and in the same amount of time, to think more effectively than a Civil servant or an advisory expert; but he can only spare a fraction
of the time given by the others and only accumulate a fraction of their knowledge.
If power could be subdivided as easily as thought, no problem would arise, but unfortunately in a modern society, since all our actions influence all our fellows, power must be concentrated in the hands of a few individuals so placed that all the contending forces shall impinge upon them. Therefore both in the government of nations and in the direction of international organisation the central political problem of our time is how to contrive that the less responsible mental processes of the expert adviser shall give more help than at present to the more responsible mental processes of the statesman.
On all this problem the experiment analysed so ably by Mr. Finer is, perhaps, even more important than the British experiment of a competitive Civil Service, or that late-mediæval experiment of recognised universities and academies on which so much of the intellectual structure of the modern world was founded. No one, indeed, has ever worked so hard at the relation between political power and social function as the German thinkers whose speeches and memoranda Mr. Finer here translates. To me only one major element in the problem seems to have been omitted in the German controversies of 1919–23. The statesmen and workers and employers concerned were dealing with an immediate problem made more terrifically urgent by the results of the Treaty of Versailles. They were bound to think of the existing employers and workmen as the representatives of the employing and working elements in society. Nations living under less immediate danger should, I am sure, pay more attention to the fact that the distribution of functions among the members of a community is being constantly changed by death and birth and by intellectual and social development. An organisation of the building trades or the medical profession may suit well enough the facts of 1923, and yet may make so little allowance for future recruitment and adaptation that it may produce such a system of social distortion and functional monopoly that, like the late mediæval gilds, it must be swept away by political or industrial evolution. And a system by which existing professional organisations are given constitutional consultative rights may do much to increase the rigidity of their organisation.
Mr. Finer's study stops in January 1923, that is to say, at the most critical point of the experiment. We have, therefore, the right to ask him to bring his account in the near future again up to date, and to tell us how far the advisory functions of
the Central Economic Council have proved to be an effective force in the guidance of German economic policy, and how far it has been found possible to carry through the difficult work of organising the local councils on which the Central Council is ultimately to be based. If this means that Mr. Finer will give us a second edition of his book, that fact will have the further advantage of enabling him to correct a number of passages in which he has apparently allowed his own meaning to be obscured by a confusion between English idiom and the German idiom of his sources.
Business Cycles and Unemployment : Report of a Committee of
the President's Conference on Unemployment. (McGraw
Hill Publishing Co., Ltd., London, 1923. Pp. xl + 405.) Cycles of Unemployment in the United States, 1903–1922. By
WILLIAM A. BERRIDGE, Ph.D. (Houghton Mifflin Company,
THE first of these books appears as the Report of a “ Committee on Unemployment and Business Cycles," appointed from the President's Conference on Unemployment that met in September 1921. Mr. Herbert Hoover, who presided over the Conference, contributes a brief foreword; the Committee themselves make a Report with Recommendations of about thirty pages. The main bulk of the book and, from the point of view of economists, its most valuable part, gives the results of an investigation made for the Committee by the “ National Bureau of Economic Research ”; it contains twenty separate contributions by as many different writers. Though, from its composition, the volume necessarily fails to achieve, as it does not aim at achieving, the synthesis of facts and theories upon which the final illumination and solution of any problem depends, it is an extremely valuable survey of the principal aspects of the problem of unemployment and of the latest facts in America that bear upon it.
The actual “Recommendations ” of the Report, with two exceptions, are somewhat indefinite; they emphasise the importance rather than the means of a more scientific control of credit expansion by the banks and by the Federal Reserve Board, or of their own industries by business men, or of public and private construction at the peak of the boom. The two definite recommendations are for better collection and distribution of statistics and the establishment of a national system of employment bureaus. On unemployment insurance, which in this