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Franz Hitze, The Quintessence of the Social Question (1880)

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Let’s turn to the opposite end of the spectrum – the paid laborers. The necessity of corporative organization has prompted the foundation of workers’ associations. Unfortunately, on the one hand, these are political partisan creations; on the other hand, they lack the solid structure that they require and that can only be secured through legislation. If workers should and wish to achieve an improvement of the situation, if they wish to escape from their proletarian existence, then they have to get organized. Factory workers already enjoy such corporative (protective) legislation, but it still requires significant extension. If that extension is supposed to be radical and practical, the workers themselves have to take care of it, and this necessitates organization. Being organized is even more important if we consider the future goal – overcoming the pure wage system and transforming it into a system of fixed salaries. Surely in the long run our “humane” and “democratic” age cannot ignore the fact that the relationship between entrepreneur and worker has to assume more steadiness, more mutuality. The paid laborer is more than a “commodity” that simply needs to be purchased where and when it serves to earn a profit. The working class has a “right to work,” a right to share in the enjoyment of (national) capital and its fruits, however ideal, abstract, and general that right may be. What follows from this as well, however, is the right of the working class to order the system of production.

The most individualistic occupational group appears to be the farmers. Farmers' pride and farmers' obstinacy still have little use for a “guild-like,” cooperative, and corporative organization. However, the increasingly industrial arrangement of production methods, the growing importance of science, of machines (agricultural chemistry), and of capital are forcing farmers to organize in a socialistic way if they intend to hold their ground against large-scale operations. Joint establishment of agricultural schools, test stations, industrial facilities (for employing laborers in wintertime, for preserving the waste from manufactured goods, for better exploitation of products on the market), joint use of machines, joint improvements (expanding fields, drainage, etc.), merging of operations, joint purchase and sales, joint building projects (roads, sheds, etc.) – all of these things require solid organization, and, farmers being what they are, this can only be achieved by way of a compulsory cooperative. But this is made all the easier, because all of these endeavors do not go beyond the (rural) community.

The necessity of corporative legislation for the farming class is already being acknowledged. Freedom from usury, the right to change employment, and the equal division of inheritance are not suitable for farmers. The ordering of inheritance laws and mortgage laws constitute extremely vital questions for our farmers. And yet, a general, hackneyed discussion is not possible here; one has to consider the local, even personal situation. Only another member of the same occupational class can decide on the question of indebtedness, as well as the division of inheritance according to the specific and respective conditions. If some regulation is supposed to take place, is supposed to be instituted in this respect – and this has to happen – then organs that will ultimately achieve this must first be established: the farming class has to organize.

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