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pends. The workmen are now nearly employment for the rest; and the abo as well informed as the master, of the lition of piece work, under more or less state of the market for his commodi- of modification, held a conspicuous ties; they can calculate his gains and place among the demands of the Amal his expenses, they know when his trade gamated Society. These are combinae is or is not prosperous, and only when tions to effect objects which are perniit is, are they ever again likely to strike cious. Their success, even when only for higher wages; which wages their partial, is a public mischief; and were known readiness to strike makes their | it complete, would be equal in magni. employers for the most part willing, in tude to almost any of the evils aristhat case, to concede. The tendency, ing from bad economical legislation. therefore, of this state of things is to Hardly anything worse can be said of make a rise of wages, in any particular the worst laws on the subject of intrade, usually consequent upon a rise dustry and its remuneration, consistent of profits, which, as Mr. Fawcett ob- with the personal freedom of the laserves, is a commencement of that bourer, than that they place the enerregular participation of the labourers getic and the idle, the skilful and the in the profits derived from their labour, incompetent, on a level: and this, in every tendency to which, for the rea- so far as it is in itself possible, it is sons stated in a previous chapter, * it the direct tendency of the regulations is so important to encourage, since to of these unions to do. It does not, it we have chiefly to look for any radi- however, follow as a consequence that cal improvement in the social and eco- the law would be warranted in making nomical relations between labour and the formation of such associations il. capital. Strikes, therefore, and the legal and punishable. Independently trade societies which render strikes of all considerations of constitutional possible, are for these various reasons liberty, the best interests of the hunot a mischievous, but on the contrary, man race imperatively require that a valuable part of the existing ma all economical experiments, voluntarily chinery of society.
undertaken, should have the fullest It is, however, an indispensable con- license, and that force and fraud should dition of tolerating combinations, that be the only means of attempting to they should be voluntary. No severity, benefit themselves, which are internecessary to the purpose, is too great dicted to the less fortunate classes of to be employed against attempts to the community.t compel workmen to join a union, or take part in a strike, by threats or $ 6. Among the modes of undue violence. Mere moral compulsion, by exercise of the power of government, the expression of opinion, the law on which I have commented in this ought not to interfere with ; it belongs
+ Whoever desires to understand the questo more enlightened opinion to restrain
tion of Trade Combinations as seen from the it, by rectifying the moral sentiments point of view of the working people, should of the people. Other questions arise make himself acquainted with a pamphlet
published in 1860, under the title “ Trades when the combination, being voluntary,
Unions and Strikes, their Philosophy and proposes to itself objects really con Intention, by T. J. Dunning, Secretary to trary to the public good. High wages the London Consolidated Society of Book. and short hours are generally good ob
binders." There are many opinions in this
able tract in which I only partially, and some jects, or, at all events, may be so: but
in which I do not at all, coincide. But there in many trades unions, it is among the are also many sound arguments, and an inrules that there shall be no task work, structive exposure of the common fallacies or no difference of pay between the
of opponents. Readers of other classes will
see with surprise, not only how great a pormost expert workmen and the most un tion of truth the Unions have on their side, skilful, or that no member of the union but how much less flagrant and condemnable shall earn more than a certain sum per
even their errors appear, when seen under
the aspect in which it is only natural that week, in order that there may be more
the working classes should themselves regard * Supra, book v. chap. vii.
chapter, I have included only sùch as / were uninterruptedly advancing, has rest on theories which have still more been ascribed to various causes, but or less of footing in the most en- there is one which lies at the foundalightened countries. I have not spoken tion of them all: the Holy Inquisiof some which have done still greater tion, and the system of mental slavery mischief in times not long past, but of which it is the symbol. which are now generally given up, at Yet although these truths are very least in theory, though enough of them widely recognised, and freedojn both of still remains in practice to make it im opinion and of discussion is admitted possible as yet to class them among | as an axiom in all free countries, this exploded errors.
apparent liberality and tolerance has The notion, for example, that a go- acquired so little of the authority of a vernment should choose opinions for principle, that it is always ready to the people, and should not suffer any give way to the dread or horror indoctrines in politics, morals, law, or spired by some particular sort of religion, but such as it approves, to be opinions. Within the last ten or printed or publicly professed, may be fifteen years several individuals have said to be altogether abandoned as a suffered imprisonment, for the public general thesis. It is now well under- profession, sometimes in a very temstood that a régime of this sort is fatal perate manner, of disbelief in religion ; to all prosperity, even of an econo- and it is probable that both the public mical kind: that the human mind, and the government, at the first panic when prevented either by fear of the which arises on the subject of Chartism law or by fear of opinion from exer- or Communism, will fly to similar cising its faculties freely on the most means for checking the propagation of important subjects, acquires a general democratic or anti-property doctrines. torpidity and imbecility, by which, In this country, however, the effective when they reach a certain point, it is restraints on mental freedom proceed disqualified from making any consi- much less from the law or the governderable advances even in the common ment, than from the intolerant temper affairs of life, and which, when greater of the national mind; arising no longer still, make it gradually lose even its from even as respectable a source as previous attainments. There cannot bigotry or fanaticism, but rather from be a more decisive example than Spain the general habit, both in opinion and and Portugal, for two centuries after conduct, of making adherence to custhe Reformation. The decline of those tom the rule of life, and ens rying it, countries in national greatness, and by social penalties, against alı persons even in material civilization, while al- who, without a party to back them, most all the other nations of Europe assert their individual independence.
F THE GROUNDS AND LIMITS OF THE LAISSER-FAIRE OR
§ 1. We have now reached the last | tion, to what objects governmental part of our undertaking; the discus- | intervention in the affairs of society sion, so far as suited to this treatise may or should extend, over and above (that is, so far as it is a question of those which necessarily appertain to principle, not detail) of the limits of it. No subject has been more keenly the province of government; the ques- contested in the present age : the con
test, however, has chiefly taken place trolling the free agency of individuals. round certain select points, with only Government may interdict all persons flying excursions into the rest of the from doing certain things; or from field. Those indeed who have dis- doing them without its authorization; cussed any particular question of go or may prescribe to them certain things vernment interference, such as state to be done, or a certain manner of education (spiritual or secular), regu- doing things which it is left optional sation of hours of labour, a public pro- with them to do or to abstain from. vision for the poor, &c., have often This is the authoritative interference dealt largely in general arguments, far of government. There is another kind outstretching the special application of intervention which is not authorimade of them, and have shown a suffi- tative : when a government, instead ciently strong bias either in favour of of issuing a command and enforcing it letting things alone, or in favour of by penalties, adopts the course so meddling; but have seldom declared, seldom resorted to by governments, or apparently decided in their own and of which such important use might minds, how far they would carry either be made, that of giving advice, and principle. The supporters of inter- promulgating information; or when, ference have been content with assert- leaving individuals free to use their ing a general right and duty on the own means of pursuing any object of part of government to intervene, wher- general interest, the government, not ever its intervention would be useful : meddling with them, but not trusting and when those who have been called the object solely to their care, estathe laisser.faire school have attempted blishes, side by side with their arany definite limitation of the province rangements, an agency of its own for of government, they have usually re- a like purpose. Thus, it is one thing stricted it to the protection of person to maintain a Church Establishment, and property against force and fraud; and another to refuse toleration to a definition to which neither they nor other religions, or to persons professing any one else can deliberately adhere, no religion. It is one thing to provide since it excludes, as has been shown schools or colleges, and another to rein a preceding chapter,* some of the quire that no person shall act as an most indispensable, and unanimously instructor of youth without a governrecognised, of the duties of government license. There might be a nament.
tional bank, or a government manuWithout professing entirely to sup-factory, without any monopoly against ply this deficiency of a general theory, private banks and manufactories. on a question which does not, as I There might be a post office, without conceive, admit of any universal solu- penalties against the conveyance of lettion, I shall attempt to afford some ters by other means. There may be a little aid towards the resolution of this corps of government engineers for class of questions as they arise, by civil purposes, while the profession of examining, in the most general point a civil engineer is free to be adopted of view in which the subject can be by every one. There may be public considered, what are the advantages, hospitals, without any restriction upon and what the evils or inconveniences, private medical or surgical practice. of government interference.
We must set out by distinguishing § 2. It is evident, even at first between two kinds of intervention by sight, that the authoritative form of the government, which, though they government intervention has a much may relate to the same subject, differ more limited sphere of legitimate acwidely in their nature and effects, and tion than the other. It requires & require, for their justification, motives much stronger necessity to justify it ofà very different degree of urgency. in any case ; while there are large The intervention may extend to con. departments of human life from which • Supra, book v. ch. i.
it must be unreservedly and imperi
ously excluded. Whatever theory we only always irksome, but always tends, adopt respecting the foundation of the pro tanto, to starve the development social union, and under whatever po of some portion of the bodily or mental litical institutions we live, there is a faculties, either sensitive or active ; circle around every individual human and unless the conscience of the indibeing, which no government, be it that vidual goes freely with the legal reof one, of a few, or of the many, ought straint, it partakes, either in a great to be permitted to overstep: there is a or in a small degree, of the degradapart of the life of every person who tion of slavery. Scarcely any degree has come to years of discretion, within of utility, short of absolute necessity, which the individuality of that person will justify a prohibitory regulation, ought to reign uncontrolled either by unless it can also be made to recomany other individual or by the public mend itself to the general conscience; collectively. That there is, or ought unless persons of ordinary good intento be, some space in human existence tions either believe already, or can be thus entrenched arcund, and sacred | induced to believe, that the thing profrom authoritative intrusion, no one who hibited is a thing which they ought professes the smallest regard to human not to wish to do. freedom or dignity will call in question: It is otherwise with governmental the point to be determined is, where | interferences which do not restrain inthe limit should be placed ; how large dividual free agency. When a governa province of human life this reserved ment provides means for fulfilling a territory should include. I apprehend certain end, leaving individuals free to that it ought to include all that part avail themselves of different means if which concerns only the life, whether in their opinion preferable, there is no inward or outward, of the individual, infringement of liberty, no irksome or and does not affect the interests of degrading restraint. One of the prinothers, or affects them only through cipal objections to government interthe moral influence of example. With ference is then absent. There is, howrespect to the domain of the inward ever, in almost all forms of government consciousness, the thoughts and feel. agency, one thing which is compulsory; ings, and as much of external conduct the provision of the pecuniary means. as is personal only, involving no con- | These are derived from taxation; or, sequences, none at least of a painful or if existing in the form of an endowinjurious kind, to other people; I hold ment derived from public property, that it is allowable in all, and in the they are still the cause of as much more thoughtful and cultivated often a compulsory taxation as the sale or the duty, to assert and promulgate, with annual proceeds of the property would all the force they are capable of, their enable to be dispensed with.* And opinion of what is good or bad, admi- the objection necessarily attaching to rable or contemptible, but not to com compulsory contributions, is almost alpel others to conform to that opinion ; ways greatly aggravated by the exwhether the force used is that of extra pensive precautions and onerous relegal coercion, or exerts itself by means strictions, which are indispensable to of the law.
prevent evasion of a compulsory tax. Even in those portions of conduct which do affect the interest of others,
* The only cases in which government. the onus of making out a case always
agency involves nothing of a compulsory nature, are the rare cases in which, without
any artificial monopoly, it pays its own ex. bitions. It is not a merely constructive penses. A bridge built with public money, or presumptive injury to others, which
on which tolls are collected, sufficient to pay
not only all current expenses, but the inte. will justify the interference of law with
rest of the original outlay, is one case in individual freedom. To be prevented point. The government railways in Belgium from doing what one is inclined to, or and Germany are another example. The
Post Office, if its monopoly were abolished, from acting according to one's own and it still paid its expenses, would be judgment of what is desirable, is not another.
§ 3. A second general objection to to stretch their interference, and asgovernment agency, is that every in- sume a power of any sort which can crease of the functions devolving on easily be dispensed with, should be rethe government is an increase of its garded with unremitting jealousy. power, both in the form of authority, Perhaps this is even more important and still more, in the indirect form of in a democracy than in any other form influence. The importance of this con of political society; because, where sideration, in respect to political free public opinion is sovereign, an indidom, has in general been quite suffi vidual who is oppressed by the soveciently recognised, at least in Eng- reign does not, as in most other states land; but many, in latter times, have of things, find a rival power to which been prone to think that limitation of he can appeal for relief, or, at all events, the powers of the government is only for sympathy. . essential when the government itself is badly constituted; when it does not $ 4. A third general objection to represent the people, but is the organ government agency, rests on the prinof a class, or coalition of classes : and ciple of the division of labour. Every that a government of sufficiently popu additional function undertaken by the lar constitution might be trusted with government, is a fresh occupation imany amount of power over the nation, posed upon a body already overcharged since its power would be only that of with duties. A natural consequence the nation over itself. This might be is that most things are ill done; much true, if the nation, in such cases, did not done at all, because the governnot practically mean a mere majority ment is not able to do it without of the nation, and if minorities were delays which are fatal to its purpose; only capable of oppressing, but not of that the more troublesome, and less being oppressed. Experience, however, showy, of the functions undertaken, proves that the depositaries of power are postponed or neglected, and an exwho are mere delegates of the people, cuse is always ready for the neglect; that is of a majority, are quite as while the heads of the administration ready (when they think they can count have their minds so fully taken up with on popular support) as any organs of official details, in however perfunctory oligarchy, to assume arbitrary power, a manner superintended, that they and encroach unduly on the liberty of have no time or thought to spare for private life. The public collectively is the great interests of the state, and the abundantly ready to impose, not only preparation of enlarged measures of its generally narrow views of its inte social improvement. rests, but its abstract opinions, and But these inconveniences, though even its tastes, as laws binding upon real and serious, result much more individuals. And the present civiliza- from the bad organization of governtion tends so strongly to make the ments, than from the extent and vapower of persons acting in masses the riety of the duties undertaken by them. only substantial power in society, that Government is not a name for some there never was more necessity for one functionary, or definite number of surrounding individual independence functionaries : there may be almost of thought, speech, and conduct, with any amount of division of labour within the most powerful defences, in order to the administrative body itself. The maintain that originality of mind and evil in question is felt in great magniindividuality of character, which are tude under some of the governments of the only source of any real progress, the Continent, where six or eight men, and of most of the qualities which living at the capital and known by the make the human race much superior name of ministers, demand that the to any herd of animals. Hence it is whole public business of the country no less important in a democratic than shall pass, or be supposed to pass, in any other government, that all ten- | under their individual eye. But the dency on the part of public authorities inconvenience would be reduced to a