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"Freedom of Occupation": Excerpt from the Staats-Lexikon: "Trade and Manufacturing" (1845-1848)

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sold to the public. Indeed, statistics have shown that in countries with occupational freedom the number of those engaged in trade in most branches is not only not larger, but frequently smaller in relation to the total population than in those countries that are still clinging to guild institutions. These [countries] are also – as already mentioned above – by no means better suited (by virtue of their regulations on apprenticeships, journeymen's travels, and craft masterpieces) to guarantee capable training, and, therefore, fears that the occupational trades could fall into decline as a result of abolition [of compulsory guilds] are unfounded. [Jean-Antoine] Chaptal, a man with thorough knowledge of the subject, says that since the abolition of the guilds all of France's branches of industry have been making progress, and in free competition, in the necessity of job- and knowledge-based training, lies a stronger incentive to capable training than in the old [system of] dawdling along. Inventiveness is awoken by the general spirit of competition, whereas the guilds often lay obstacles in its path. [Jean-Baptiste] Say, for example, recounts that James Watt established a small workshop in 1756; the guilds raised objections and wanted to close the workshop, so the university intervened, appointed Watt as its engineer, and gave him a place for his work. [Aime] Argand, the inventor of the lamps named after him, had to struggle with the tinsmiths and locksmiths who claimed exclusive rights to the manufacture of lamps and sued the “bungler”* in parliament. [François Richard] Lenoir, a famous manufacturer of mathematical and physical instruments, once made a small oven in order to cast metal for his models; the founders’ guild destroyed the oven, and Lenoir had to turn to the king for permission to produce them again. Ultimately, the suppression of small entrepreneurs by big ones is not the result of abolishing compulsory guild membership, for complaints about this have not grown any less audible where guilds continue to exist alongside major industry. Technological progress and the application of large amounts of capital to manufacturing establishments is leading to changes in occupational relations that cannot be averted by guild institutions, provided that a country does not want to cut itself off from a new source of welfare and power, the products of which will then flow in from other countries and show up in trade. But occupational freedom certainly does facilitate the ways and means for small businesses to follow those changes and hold their own alongside them. Trades of a purely local nature, such as the building trades, butchering, baking, and painting have a field that manufacturing cannot take away from them. Other trades survive along with them because the manufacturer is not attuned to the taste and inclinations of the individual, does not perform the final steps necessary for the immediate

* Referring to a non-guild member – trans.

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