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Conservative Denunciation of Occupational Freedom as the Result of an Interfering State Bureaucracy (1851)

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We should once again give each individual trade a corporate constitution with an administration of its own, but we should also strictly demarcate their boundaries and protect one trade from attacks by another. Finding the borderline that divides the right to manufacture from the rights of the small-scale crafts is often difficult, but not infrequently the entire existence of small-scale crafts depends upon the correct determination of this boundary. The separation of trades among themselves is seemingly a small and trivial matter, and our political doctrinaires, whose sharp eyes manage to see the man on the moon’s beard growing, have little sight left for such trifles. And yet here, too, we are dealing with an important social question. The glazier, e.g., needs to understand something about the cabinetmaker’s work. But if he were allowed to pursue this independently, to the best of his ability, then he would quickly become a dangerous rival to the cabinetmaker in the simplest, i.e., in the most profitable work, that a cabinetmaker does. The latter, however, cannot entrust him with this, because the glazier's work is too far removed from his own. Thus it might happen that, in a locality where there is occupational freedom, only decorative cabinetmakers would be able to earn a living alongside the glaziers. The very crafts that are most important for social welfare – because they are the most numerous – are the ones most thoroughly ruined by this kind of dilettantish system.

We should also agree that either merchants should be prohibited from trading in craftsmen’s products or that craftsmen should be allowed to market the raw materials of their trade.

But these kinds of things, like establishing boundaries between the trades, are not just done in a government office. Here, the totality of all the tradesmen can best provide advice and information. Where the authorities need to decide on occupational trade matters, they should always be supported by an expert body of tradesmen who lend their expertise. In many German lands over the last several years, much has improved in this respect. The civil servant generally believes that each person should stick to his own trade;* as far as his own person is concerned, however, he thinks that he can not only deal with office files, but also make shoes if need be.

* Literally: "A cobbler should stick to his last" ["der Schuster solle bei seinem Leiste bleiben"] – trans.

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