While supporting protectionism in international trade, Friedrich List believed in free trade among the German states and in freedom of occupation and residence within them. However, in the years 1815-66, there were many critics of freedom of occupation and residence, and many supporters of the guilds. One of their major arguments was that the introduction of such freedoms was really an act of bureaucratic oppression, imposed on an unwilling population by authoritarian government officials. The folklorist and conservative journalist Wilhelm Heinrich Riehl (1823-97) articulated this idea with verve and clarity in his very influential book Civil Society (1851).
The emergent socialist movement, as one might expect, was no friend of the free market. In this excerpt from Ferdinand Lassalle's 1863 "Open Letter," the socialist leader explained his "iron law of wages," according to which the workings of the free labor market invariably and irresistibly reduced workers' wages to a subsistence minimum.
The period 1815-66 saw the development of a specifically Roman Catholic social and economic doctrine in Germany. More than any other, the man who articulated this doctrine was the Bishop of Mainz, Wilhelm Emmanuel von Ketteler (1811-77). Ketteler took up both the conservative criticism of freedom of occupation and Lassalle's "iron law of wages," vigorously condemning the free market economy and the political liberals who endorsed it. Yet, unlike other Catholic or conservative critics of the free market, he had his doubts about the guild system, noting the benefits to consumers from economic competition, and he rejected the idea of government economic intervention. Ketteler felt that the Catholic Church could best help solve the social question by offering charity, getting the workers to lead a moral and religious life, and encouraging wealthy and devout Catholics to provide the funds to found producers' cooperatives.