Cyclopædia of Political Science, Political Economy, and the Political History of the United States
INDUSTRY, Manufacturing. I. Next to the chase, which alone supplied the wants of man in a savage state, agricultural industry, which includes the raising of flocks as well as the cultivation of the soil, is the first to which man devotes himself; it is the original, the mother industry, which long continues to be the only industry of nascent peoples. Manufacturing industry appears only later, with the arts which complete and attend it. As its particular object is to prepare the raw materials furnished by agriculture, in order to make them more suitable to satisfy our wants, it naturally succeeds agriculture in the order of time, as it does in the logical order of facts; this industry, therefore, does not generally appear until the first advances have been made in civilization, and when there begins to be a surplus of field labor, in an already well-settled region. Not that we fail to find the first rudiments of manufacture in the very infancy of society, and even among savage tribes devoted entirely to the chase. It is not entirely unknown in any stage of civilization; the savage fashions wood and some other materials into a bow and arrows; he turns, in some fashion, the skins of beasts which he has killed, into clothing for his person; he pounds and rubs different dye-stuffs to color his face and his body; he makes an ornament or a distinguishing mark of the feathers of certain birds; and these are so many attempts at manufacturing industry—an industry still very rude, it is true, but which has already the distinguishing characteristics which it afterward maintains. In passing from this first stage, in which the chase is their only occupation, to the raising of flocks and the cultivation of the soil, men make a further advance: they use for clothing the wool of their flocks, which they learn to spin, weave and dye; they sometimes also employ for this purpose the fibre of certain plants, such as flax and hemp, of which they also make cloth. This is, it would appear, the result of an established industry. But in this condition of society, labors of this kind are not separated from agricultural labors, to which they are, so to speak, only accessory; they are carried on together with field labor, by the hands of those who cultivate the soil, and in the intervals of leisure which they have in these labors, it is less, therefore, a branch of distinct industry than an appendage of this primitive industry whose object is the cultivation of the soil.
—In order that manufacturing labors should become detached from those of agriculture with which they are closely connected in the beginning, and form an industry apart, they must have acquired a certain importance and made some progress. For this purpose it is necessary that the agriculturist should have grown wealthier and consequently more exacting, so that, no longer satisfied with the rude garments which he can make himself in his leisure moments, or the rough instruments which he used at first, he prefers to obtain both from specialists whose only occupation is to make them. It is also necessary that the number of workers of the soil scattered through the country, and using manufactured products, should be great enough to furnish these specialists with continuous labor throughout the year. This supposes a more numerous population, more extensive wants, a more advanced civilization. Such progress is not made in a day; neither is it always made regularly nor in exactly the same manner everywhere; but it is necessarily the first step toward manufacturing industry proper.
—When manufacturing arts are separated from agricultural labors, they are in the nature of things united and grouped. Since men occupied with these arts are not obliged, like tillers of the soil, to live scattered over the country, so as to be near the lands they cultivate, they can move their shops almost wherever they please; and as they have frequent need of each other, it is natural for them to unite, and associate in groups at certain given points. This is the origin of those collections of houses, which form at first villages, later towns, and finally cities. It is in cities that the manufacturing arts concentrate. We still find, it is true, even in our time, and in countries most advanced, certain great workshops scattered here and there in the country where there are special local advantages, either on account of water power, or some other cause, but it is none the less in the nature of things for them to be brought together in the cities. Manufacturing arts are best developed in cities through the aid which they lend each other, and the growth of public enlightenment; we see, therefore, that they tend continually to confine themselves to cities, or draw near them. This at least is the general rule; the contrary is, in every country, the mere exception.
—If the separation of manufacturing labors from those of agriculture marks the earliest steps of civilization, it is far from being complete at first. Far from taking place suddenly, at a given moment, it is effected slowly, gradually, in a progressive manner, and often almost imperceptibly. It is, so to speak, the work of centuries. Thus, there is not yet a country in the world, even in the Europe of to-day, where it is complete.
—Reduced to its most simple expression, agriculture consists in cultivating the earth in order to obtain, in a raw condition, the various products which it is capable of giving. Strictly speaking, agricultural labor proper stops here. All subsequent modifications given to these products, all changes to which they are submitted, may be considered as belonging, or capable of belonging some day, to one of the branches of the manufacturing arts. Now agriculture is far from being brought to this state of final simplicity in any country; on the contrary, it still retains possession of some of these processes or modifications which follow cultivation proper and the harvest; it is still only a question of degree according to the stage of advancement in each country. There are several of these processes, it is true, which it would seem should always belong to agriculture, because they can be conveniently carried out only on the spot; such as threshing wheat in the bundle to get the grain.
—In some countries of Europe, the greater part of the spinning and weaving of flax and hemp is still carried on in the country, on farms, and thus continues to form a sort of appendage to agriculture. Not long since this was the case in all France, and is still so to a greater or less degree in a large number of French provinces. Nevertheless these two operations tend more and more especially since the invention of machinery, to leave the country, to abandon the farms for the industrial centres. In England especially (we speak of England proper, leaving out Ireland), this separation is almost complete. But this is not true of retting and hackling, which continue to belong almost everywhere to rural industry. It is easy to foresee, however, that they will be detached from it sometime. Even now in some parts of Belgium, where flax culture has reached the highest degree of perfection, it is nothing rare to see a farmer sell his crop of flax standing, or after it is pulled, to persons who make retting and hackling a specialty. It is true that these persons still work in the country, for the most part, because the present conditions of retting demand it; but suppose that the question of retting by chemical means, which has been so much studied and the solution of which is so desirable, should be finally settled, we may believe that this operation, as well as hackling, would be soon separated from rural industry, to extend, with so many others, the domain of city industry.
—II. Thus it is that, in the succession of ages, in proportion as progress is effected, manufacturing industry increases and extends by detaching each day some one of the branches of this mother industry from which it sprang. Agriculture, which was complicated in its origin by a great number of operations, foreign to its nature, frees itself gradually from these parasitic functions; it leaves them to the workshops of cities, to which they belong, to confine itself more strictly to its special functions, the improvement and cultivation of the soil. The causes which favor this movement are the same which determined it in the beginning: the progress of arts, the increase of wealth, and, above all, the increase of population in a state of civilization somewhat advanced. In order that the separation between the manufacturing arts and agriculture should continue to grow more definite, it is necessary, above all, that exchanges between the city and the country should be easy, so that the agriculturist may always transport to the city, without too much trouble, the raw products which his industry gives, and obtain the finished products which he consumes. If numerous ways of communication contribute to this facility of exchanges, which is not doubtful, this same facility also demands, we can see, a dense population, which increases one number of towns and cities, so that they are never too distant from every part of the country.
—Of all the countries of Europe, and probably of the whole world, England (we always speak of England proper) is that in which the separation between the manufacturing arts and agriculture has made most progress; it owes this advantage to its wealth, its enlightenment, the number and perfection of its roads and canals, but, above all, to the density of its population. With an amount of wealth almost the same comparatively, with as much enlightenment in the masses of the people and a very considerable development of roads and canals also, North America is in this respect much less advanced, because its population is scattered over a great extent of territory. In England, where the agriculturist is exclusively an agriculturist, agriculture is reduced, or nearly so, to its most simple expression; and this explains an interesting phenomenon which has often occupied men's minds, without their referring it, so far as we know, to its real cause, which is the numerical inferiority of the agricultural population of England, compared with that of all other countries English agriculture, it is said, is enormously productive, much more, in proportion, than that of any other country, especially France, and still it employs fewer men, which is true: whence it is concluded that England has acquired an immense superiority in agricultural processes. The superiority of English agriculture is real, no doubt but not to the degree which seems to result from these comparisons. English agriculture employs fewer men in a greater production, because the work is simpler, that is to say, freer from foreign elements; because the men it employs are occupied only in performing special functions, the improvement and cultivation of the soil, while elsewhere the same number of men is divided among a great number of different kinds of labor.
—It is sometimes asked whether the removal into the cities, of the manufacturing arts which previously formed an appendage to agricultural labor, is in itself a good or an evil. If this question be considered in a general way there can be neither hesitation nor doubt on the subject. The separation of manufacturing labors from those of agriculture is the beginning and the point of departure of that division of labor which forms the wealth of civilized nations, and which has so greatly increased the power of man, it is the first condition of progress; we might say it is progress itself. To ask whether this separation is a good one, is in other terms to ask whether civilization is superior to barbarism. But that it should be really favorable, it must be produced under normal conditions, that is to say, slowly, progressively, and under the influence of those natural causes which determine it everywhere: otherwise it may become really the occasion of cruel suffering and fatal confusion. The reason for asking if this removal is not an evil was, no doubt, because in our day it has sometimes taken place suddenly, and violently, under the influence of artificial inducements and restrictive laws.
—III. In proportion as agricultural industry is freed from the foreign elements which complicate it, it acquires more energy and power. The cultivator of the soil, whose attention was at first divided among a great number of different labors, turns it entirely to those which belong to him; he devotes himself solely to the cultivation of the earth, and invests in this all the capital which he can command. Thus the soil, being better and more diligently cultivated, yields much more on a given space, though a smaller number of laborers may be employed on it. But manufacturing industry gains most from this separation. So long as it is scattered, so to speak, among rural occupations, it is necessarily imperfect, rude, and besides incapable of any connected progress. How in fact could field laborers, whose first care is cultivation, and who become manufacturers only in moments of leisure, producing for a limited consumption, sometimes one object, sometimes another, give to everything they touch the time and attention necessary to bring it to perfection? Should they become skillful, which is not possible, they would be stopped in the way of improvement by the single fact that they could use only imperfect materials in each one of these divided manufactures. In these conditions, therefore, the manufacturing arts are forced to remain stationary. It is only when freeing themselves from the restraints of agricultural industry, and taking up their abode in cities, they commence their upward and progressive movement. Scarcely have they settled in the cities when they assume a new character. The men who carry them on being now in a position to see each other daily, begin an exchange of ideas, and each profits by the advance of general enlightenment. These arts thus brought together and grouped, are soon arranged into classes. Labor is divided. Each one chooses a specialty to which he devotes himself. He becomes more experienced in it, more skillful in everything relating to the execution of his daily labor, and especially more apt to perfect his labor of the application of new processes. For the same reason he is no longer obliged to scatter his capital; he applies it all to this single object, with the greatest success, since he supplies a great number of consumers; and therefore devotes more complete material and a greater quantity of it to its special manufacture. These are not the only advantages which the manufacturing arts gain by going to cities. To them should be added the development of credit, greater where population is massed, the relative ease of the circulation of products, and, above all the instruments of labor, the mutual assistance which the arts lend each other and which becomes for them, especially in certain branches, a daily necessity; but we have said enough to make it clear that their concentration in cities is for them the principle of progress.
—All this does not mean, and we have already said so, that in certain given circumstances manufacturing establishments may not be situated here and there in the country, to make use of particular advantages, such, for instance, as a water power, a coal pit, a mine, etc., without giving up, on this account, the benefit of progress. Properly speaking, when establishments of this kind are indeed special, that is to say, devoted to a single manufacture, even if they are scattered through the country, they belong rather to city than rural industry. They share, like all the others, in the general movement. Still it is necessary, even in this case, that they should maintain constant relations with the cities.
—The more manufacturing industry, considered in all its branches, is freed from the restraints of agricultural industry, the more active and powerful it becomes. Those luminous centres which it creates in cities are the brighter for being composed of a greater number of rays. When a particular manufacture is detached from rural industry, in order to join the groups already formed in the cities, it not only acquires a new force from its contact with the others, but it brings a new contingent to the common centre. A sort of fermentation takes place among these industries thus united and grouped. They continue to be classed, and divided, becoming more specialized every day, not only by reason of the absolute number of various operations which they embrace, but in a much greater proportion. Taken together, they gradually reach an incomparable degree of power, owing to their increasing subdivision, and the mutual assistance which they give each other.
—IV. The country pre-eminently manufacturing is, therefore, naturally that in which manufacturing arts are most completely separated from agricultural industry. In such a country the industrial system develops in its greatest fullness and exhibits the faculty of progress in the highest possible degree. And as, on the other hand, of all the causes which favor this movement of separation, density of population is beyond contradiction the most powerful, it seems we may conclude a priori that, all other things being equal, the sceptre of manufacturing industry should of right belong to the most populous country.
—Moreover, this conclusion obtained from theoretical data alone is not disproved by experience; on the contrary, facts are generally at hand to confirm it. Of all European countries, England is surely greatest in manufactures, and it is also, in proportion to the extent of its territory, nearly the most populous. With regard to the continent of Europe, it may be said that it is more or less devoted to manufactures in proportion as it contains on a given space a population more or less numerous. On the other hand, the United States—the rival of England in so many regards, almost equaling it in wealth, and surpassing it in some respects in prosperity and well-being—presents the most striking contrast to it on the particular point with which we are concerned. Its manufacturing system is comparatively as undeveloped as England's is advanced. And why? Because its population is scattered over large spaces, especially in the regions of the west. This sparseness of population has not allowed the manufacturing arts to separate from agricultural industry so completely as elsewhere, and this is the reason why these arts have not kept pace in their development with the general progress of wealth. To this consideration is added another no less decisive. So long as populations, scattered over a considerable extent of territory, find themselves at ease in the territories which they occupy, and land is not wanting to their labor, they have a natural tendency to devote themselves by preference to agriculture, and they do so almost exclusively, merely adding, as we have just said, certain rather rude manufacturing labors to agriculture. This is especially true when they can dispose of the surplus products of their lands abroad and obtain in return the manufactured articles which they do not make themselves. But when these populations once begin to press upon each other, and grow dense on a limited territory, and agriculture no longer suffices to occupy them all, they naturally seek a new object for their activity elsewhere. This they commonly find in the practice of the manufacturing arts. These arts then develop with an irresistible power; they increase and improve in proportion to the amount of activity, and as in such a case they do not delay in finding a market for a good part of their products abroad, they discover in this extension of the markets which they open, and in the growing division of labor which is the natural consequence of this, a new means of improvement and progress.
—These observations so simple, and yet so fruitful in consequences, destroy many systems. They relieve us from searching so far away, as is sometimes done, for the reason of the manufacturing superiority of one country over another. Wealth being equal, this superiority is essentially connected, we find, with the relative density of population. Other circumstances may no doubt concur in this result, but it is none the less the first and ruling cause. This does not mean, as is sometimes supposed, that the most populous country should secure the monopoly of manufacturing industry, for such a monopoly belongs to none; but it does mean that it should occupy the first rank, according to the natural order of things. For the same reason, all other countries will have a rank in the development of their manufacturing industry answering to the relative density of their population. Next to England, for instance, will come France and Belgium; then, certain German states and Switzerland; and, at last, on a decreasing scale, the almost uninhabited regions of Russia and South America. On this point notable differences will be observed in the same country in going from one province to another, according as the population is more or less dense. Lancashire, for example, so rich and, above all, so populous, will be found far superior in manufacturing development to all the other counties of England. In France, the departments of the north, and of the lower Seine, without mentioning the department of the Seine, will be found superior, for the same reason, to all the other departments of France. Finally, in the United States, the eastern states which have been longest settled, and for this reason are the most populous, will be found the only ones in which the manufacturing arts have acquired any power, while the western states, which are younger, are almost entirely strangers to them. It may be said, it is true, that if the density of population acts on the development of manufacturing industry, the growth of this industry, favored by certain local circumstances, influences in its turn the increase of population. Thus the effect would react on the cause and become a cause in its turn. Who knows even, it will be said, if we shall not invert the rules here? Is it by reason of the relative density of its population that Lancashire is superior to all the other provinces of England in the manufacturing arts? or is it not rather to its manufacturing superiority, itself due to other causes, that we must attribute the relative density of its population? Does it not owe this superiority to the exceptional advantages which it has enjoyed for so long a time; to the wealth of its coal mines, and the ease of working them: to the great number and convenience of the water-ways which furrow it; to the neighborhood of the port of Liverpool, so convenient for supplying raw materials and for the exportation of manufactured products; finally, to the relative freedom which a number of its industrial cities have enjoyed, having been freed from the brutal tyranny of trade corporations earlier than others? These doubts are well founded, and we are far from denying all their force. Applied to certain restricted localities, the observation may even be found strictly correct. But it is none the less true that density of population, to whatever cause it be due, and it may come from the age of the nation alone, is one of the necessary conditions, we may even say the first and essential condition, of the manufacturing superiority of a country. The advantages of situation, which Lancashire enjoys are not so peculiar that other places do not share them. They may be found, for example, in the United States a region where the coal mines are not less rich nor less easily worked; where navigable highways are not less numerous; where industrial freedom is as great; where credit, another source of activity and power, is as great; where this other advantage is found which Lancashire has not of having the raw material near at hand, without the manufacturing arts having as yet attained the same activity. It is because the United States, a new country, has not had the time, in spite of the real advantages which it enjoys, to be covered with a population equal to that which is crowded into the regions of western Europe occupied since ancient times. It will have this population some day, perhaps, and then, but only then, will it be able to rival Europe in the perfection of its manufactures. In contrast to the United States, China enjoys almost none of the advantages which Lancashire possesses, save, perhaps, the number and extent of its canals. It has no coal mines, or it does not know how to use them. The resources of the mechanical arts, which contribute so much to increase the industrial power of Europe, are almost unknown. China has no idea, it appears to us, of the marvelous power of credit; and a deplorable policy, followed for a long time, of refusing all regular communication with other nations, deprived its industry altogether of the active stimulus given by foreign competition, and of that increase of vigor received from the increase of markets. Notwithstanding this, the Chinese people are superior to the Americans in nearly every branch of the manufacturing industry, except the mechanical. They are even superior, in many respects, to the English people, whom they surpass at least in the ingenious subtleness of their processes and the perfection of their workmanship. And to what circumstance is this superiority, otherwise so difficult of explanation, to be attributed unless to the extraordinary density of the Chinese population, which has increased and multiplied upon the same territory during a long succession of centuries? So true is it that this is a ruling circumstance, and that it triumphs even over obstacles of various kinds which a nation may meet.
—What has not been tried to invert this natural order of things? What systems have not been imagined and put in practice? All the governments of Europe, struck with the prestige which manufacturing industry gives countries where it is exercised, and even attaching an exaggerated importance to the possession of this industry, have tried to anticipate its appearance, by enforcing an artificial activity upon it within the limits of their respective states. They first acted by means of tariffs, drawn up in such fashion as to favor the importation of raw materials, and to hinder that of manufactured products, in order to assure for their own manufactures on the one hand the exclusive advantage of the home market, and on the other, a greater or less advantage over foreign markets. They did more; they encouraged and excited the manufacturers of their countries by exceptional favors, by advances of money or prizes. Vain efforts! The superiority in the manufacturing arts remained where the nature of things put it, that is to say, in the midst of dense populations, whose activity could not find sufficient employment in the cultivation of the soil. Was there at least success, by all these artificial means employed, in hastening the advent of industry one step? On the contrary, we might venture to maintain, though we do not intend to insist on this side of the question, we might make bold to maintain, we say, that by these means their progress has been retarded rather than hastened; and if anything might have hurried the course of time, it is much less the artificial activity forced on them, than the enjoyment of a perfect freedom. Beyond a doubt, certain manufactures may be raised up here and there before their time by exceptional favors, prohibition or subsidies, but to make them prosper is another thing. And at what a cost have these sickly establishments been maintained! At the price of heavy sacrifices by the country; at the price of a harmful misdirection of capital, which was withdrawn from more fruitful investments in which it was employed; finally, at the price of a relative decrease of agriculture. In reality there was no success, therefore, in this method except a success in lessening the natural resources of the country, in checking the increase of population, and in retarding, after all efforts, the natural advent, the final and really fruitful advent of this same manufacturing system so much desired.
—V. We have no desire, however, to belittle what the development of the manufacturing arts adds to the brilliancy, the greatness and the power of the civilization of a great country. The manufacturing arts contribute more than any other power to attract and fix in industrial centres the liberal arts and positive sciences whose promoters they are, and whose co-operation they require at every step. By the uninterrupted communication which they establish among men, they favor the progress of enlightenment in every direction, and by this greatly contribute even to the advancement of agriculture to which they seem foreign. To them, and to commerce which assists them, we owe most of the works of public utility, roads, canals, railroads, harbors, and great monuments of architecture. A German writer, whose name has gained a certain celebrity on the other side of the Rhine, has developed, in a work, otherwise of no great real value, this thesis successfully, though he has almost everywhere exaggerated the truth and drowned just conclusions in the floods of an exuberant imagination. However this may be, we can agree with Fr. List, that the development of the manufacturing arts is one of the most powerful motors of progress, nothing perhaps contributing so greatly to the growth of civilization in all its aspects. But should we conclude, with this writer, that we ought to force this development and endeavor to produce it prematurely by artificial means? Certainly not; for in addition to the fact that such an attempt would certainly fail, it would, we repeat, postpone the realization of its object.
—On the whole, a dense population is in some respects a great disadvantage for a country; the raw products of the soil are generally more costly there than elsewhere, and living more difficult. As a compensation for this disadvantage, it seems to be the will of Providence that densely populated countries should have a natural superiority in enlightenment, civilization and industry, which serves as an offset to the relative drawbacks of their situation. Is the compensation sufficient? We shall not examine this question here; but we can not deny its existence. To undertake the reversal of this law of Providence, by guaranteeing to a new and thinly settled country all advantages at once, is a chimerical and foolish project.
—VI. It will be understood, after a proper consideration of what we have just stated, that it is the nature of the manufacturing arts to extend their domain incessantly and to acquire in time a relatively greater importance. Though agricultural industry is not absolutely stationary, though, like all other branches of human labor, susceptible of progress, still it has its limits, marked both by the extent of territory under cultivation, and the number of its productions; the field of manufacturing industry, on the contrary, is limitless, and the number of its productions infinite. "That part of agricultural industry," says J. B. Say, "which is devoted to the cultivation of the soil, is necessarily limited by extent of territory. Neither individuals nor nations can make their territory greater than it is, nor more fruitful than nature wished it to be, but they can increase their capital continually, and consequently extend almost indefinitely their manufacturing and commercial industry, and in this way multiply products which are also wealth." (Cours, part i, chap. viii.) In every country marshes can be drained, wild lands brought under cultivation, greater fertility imparted through cultivation to lands already tilled, but the number of these improvements is not infinite; an impassable limit is always met in the extent of the territory occupied. In like manner, the number of the products of the soil may be increased with time; in addition to the fact that this increase is itself limited, it is to be remarked that the cultivation of one of these productions of the soil necessarily encroaches on that of the other. In manufacturing industry, on the contrary, in which immense values can be produced on a very small space, by the aid of a large amount of capital, there are really no limits to production except the amount of capital and the number of wants. The variety of its products also is unlimited. It is therefore, we repeat, in the nature of things that manufacturing industry should increase in importance, in proportion as civilization progresses: while agriculture, without losing its rank of mother industry and feeder of nations, tends nevertheless to descend to the level of those which it ruled so long.
—This change of position, evident in history everywhere, becomes especially striking when we compare the old condition of the nations of Europe with their present state. Consider, for example, what England was in the time of the Norman conquest and what she is today. She was then an almost exclusively agricultural country. The agricultural interest, the agricultural movement, dominated everything. A simple appendage of agriculture, manufacturing industry occupied a very humble position at its side, and was scarcely counted in the balance of the nation's interests. Consequently it arrested the attention of the sovereign but rarely. Several countries of continental Europe were more advanced in this direction, especially Italy, the Netherlands and some provinces of France, where from that time forth a certain number of cities were found which gave a rather striking activity to manufacturing industry; but even in those countries the agricultural interest had a visible preponderance—It is generally said in all the legislative assemblies of Europe, in speaking of each country separately, that agriculture is the great business of each country, in particular that agriculture is its predominant interest. This statement is often repeated in France; it is made even in England, and, for stronger reasons, in other countries. It may be there is right on both sides. But it is a remarkable sign of the times that it should be necessary to put forth and defend propositions of this kind, which formerly were so strikingly self-evident that the contrary could not even be conceived. These propositions alone prove that a certain change of front is gradually going on, and that the time draws near when manufacturing industry will occupy decidedly the first rank in the most advanced countries. There is no reason to complain of this. The relatively higher position which manufacturing industry occupies, is the most evident sign of a growing civilization. In the earlier ages of the world, when men were satisfied with the roasted flesh of animals as their only food, and their rough skins as their only clothing, with a hole in the ground or a hut made of mud and reeds or sticks as their only dwelling, it is quite clear that manufacturing industry had little to do and occupied but a small place. It is quite as clear that manufacturing industry occupied a greater place in proportion as the human race required better food, lodging and clothing, and raw products of the earth needed, in consequence, a more complicated and skillful manipulation.
—VII. To obtain a correct idea of the importance which manufacturing industry has acquired, in civilized societies, we must not examine it merely in great establishments which are commonly called manufactories. It is far from being in these places in its totality. On the contrary, it is rather to be found in the infinite number of shops of the second or third order; in those of small manufacturers, artisans, of the men of all trades. Shops that are inconsiderable, when each is taken alone, are so superior to the others in number that when taken together they exhibit an amount of labor far beyond that which is executed in the great manufactories. "All labor," says J. B. Say, "expended on purchased material, even when it is fashioned for one's own consumption or that of one's family, may be classed with manufacturing industry. The mother of a family who spins flax or knits stockings for herself or her children, carries on a manufacturing industry. A tailor is a manufacturer, since the same quantity of cloth has a somewhat greater value when it is cut and sewed into clothing than it had before. A locksmith, a bookbinder, are manufacturers; a baker, a pastry-cook, the keeper of a restaurant, are also manufacturers, since they purchase provisions and by a certain process render them fit for our use, and thereby increase their value. In cities manufacturing labors are carried on in every story of every house. In one place, buttons are made; in another, snuff-boxes; in a third, the links of a watch chain are made and put together; in a fourth, gloves are made or shoes bound. The perfumer plucks rose leaves; the apothecary pulverizes drugs; the optician polishes eye-glasses. All these labors are of the same kind, whether performed on a grand scale, in vast workshops where two or three hundred men are at work, or on a small scale, by the chimney corner." Much more subject to the division of labor than agriculture, manufacturing industry is usually divided into an infinite number of branches, so that it is nearly impossible to follow it in all its subdivisions.
—VIII. Like agriculture and commerce, manufacturing industry has had serious difficulties to overcome at various times, without speaking of the natural difficulties connected with its own task. It has met the resistance of man and of things, especially in the imperfections of civil and political laws. If commerce has often been trammeled with artificial barriers, such as tolls, home and foreign tariffs, etc.; if agriculture, on its part, exercised all through the country, undefended, was more exposed than any other branch of human labor to exactions, violence and brigandage of every sort; manufacturing industry had to suffer also from many kinds of oppression. Despised and abased in antiquity, left almost entirely to the hands of slaves, it was generally trampled upon by governments and citizens. In the middle ages, though preserved in a certain measure, by the walls of the cities where it took refuge, from the exactions, the robbery and the despotism of the lords, it had to endure the almost equally brutalizing yoke of trades corporations. Later, it had still to struggle, particularly in France, against manufacturing regulations. It was in spite of these obstacles that it grew, and rose to the point at which it has arrived.
—IX. Some are alarmed at the increasing predominance of manufacturing industry, to which they ascribe the greater part of the evils which afflict modern society. They are especially alarmed at seeing populations concentrate as they do in cities, and gather in great masses, whose existence seems often precarious, and who even sometimes become dangerous to the public peace. It would be better, they say, for this multitude to remain scattered through the country, devoted to the labors of the field, which would procure them a more assured existence and a better morality. Crowded together as they are in cities, they grow corrupt by contagion. Moreover, there is nothing less certain than the refined labor which the manufactories in cities offer them; generally better remunerated than labor in the country, it is more precarious, and the manufacturing industry is not seldom seen to abandon in distress and give over to despair the mass of those it has supported.
—Those who reason in this way forget, first of all, that there is no choice to be made in this question the relatively greater concentration of population in cities is the inevitable consequence of its increase. We have already stated that the field of agriculture has its limits; it has its natural limit in the extent of territory, in the possible extension of cultivation. Now, when population, by increase, has exceeded its limits, what is to become of it? Would it be convenient and profitable, would it moreover be possible to detain men in the country when they could no longer find employment there? True, it is sometimes said that masses of unemployed laborers are crowded together in the cities, while the country lacks laborers; but this is a mistake; these words are generally in the mouths of those who use ready-made phrases, and repeat them blindly, without examination. This state of things is impossible in principle, and does not exist in fact. The influx to the cities is the surplus of the country, nothing more; sometimes even the reflux is not so rapid as is necessary to maintain the just equilibrium of functions and forces, because the domestic hearth has its charms and the native village its attractions, and neither is abandoned without effort. This is proved by the single fact, that in ordinary times the wages of labor are less in proportion in the country than in the cities. There is a mistake, therefore, on this point; it is forgotten also that men multiply chiefly in the country; therefore, whatever may be said and done, is not the influx of the country population to the cities a necessary and inevitable movement? It is necessary also that this population should move toward the cities in greater numbers in proportion as it increases, because there at least manufacturing industry opens up to it an indefinite field of labor.
—Is it true, on the other hand, that this labor is more hazardous, more subject to chance, than field labor? It is true, in fact, that in many branches of manufacturing industry, production has its intermissions, its moments of activity and languor; most economists have made this remark. Manufactured products which mainly answer to change in taste and fancies, are more subject to the fluctuations of demand than agricultural products which answer more to constant wants. When, however, it is merely a question in the tastes or the fancies of consumers, the evil is generally not so serious, because capital and labor are transferred without much trouble, whatever may be said to the contrary, from one kind of production to another, and the damage resulting from displacement is generally compensated for in advance, by the relative increase of wages and profits. What is more serious is this, that there is sometimes a general stagnation of production in manufacturing industry. "There are," as J. B. Say justly remarks, "periods in a country where manufacturing industry is highly developed, in which there is no movement of labor, and when the whole laboring class suffers." (Cours, part i., chap. xviii.) In practice, nothing is truer than this. But we believe there is a mistake as to the ordinary causes of these stagnations of labor, when they are attributed to the uncertainties peculiar to manufacturing production and industry itself. However variable the tastes and wants may be to which this industry answers, they may be quite constant enough when taken together, unless other causes foreign to industry suddenly disturb production and labor. We have pointed out some of these causes under the heading COMMERCIAL CRISES (which see): there are also other causes in the uncertainty of political movements. Manufacturing industry, therefore, is unjustly blamed for those fatal crises which descend upon it without provocation on its part, and of which it is merely the earliest victim.
—We will admit, however, that when these calamities come they affect field labor less than the labor of cities, because the first answers more to wants which can not be put off. But if manufacturing industry and commerce find causes of suffering in the irregular movements of political bodies, and the defective constitution of credit which affect them more directly, agriculture has its causes of suffering also, and perhaps more incurable ones, in the uncertainty of harvests and unfavorable seasons. A failure in the vintage threatens the existence of rural populations in the south of France, and a failure in the grain crop has more general and not less disastrous effects. If the sufferings of these people are less noticed it is perhaps only because being scattered over great spaces their complaints are less audible.
—X. There is, besides, a general consideration which dominates this whole subject. It is this, that the concentration of a great manufacturing system in cities is the best guarantee, we might even say the only guarantee, of the tranquillity, the security and the liberty of the country. It has often been said, with justice, that manufactures nourish and vivify agricultural labor, because they absorb its products. Nothing could be truer. But it might be added, with no less truth, that the manufacturing population collected in cities are, with regard to the inhabitants of the country, vigilant sentinels who watch for them, advanced corps who defend them. Is it believed that the inhabitants of the country in Europe have always enjoyed the comparative liberty which is assured them to-day? Has their labor always been as regular, and their existence as peaceable? No matter how little any man has studied history, he knows that they have not. Now these populations have not risen to this superior position which they occupy without effort and trouble. Let us add that they have not won this position by themselves, and that they owe it above all to the manufacturing and city populations, which opened up to them in so many directions the way of civilization and progress. This remark is not a new one. It was made by Adam Smith, who himself borrowed it from Hume. "Commerce and manufactures," says he, "gradually introduced order and good government, and with them the liberty and security of individuals among the inhabitants of the country, who had before lived in an almost continual state of war with their neighbors, and of servile dependency upon their superiors. This, though it has been the least observed, is by far the most important of all their effects. Mr. Hume is the only writer who, so far as I know, has hitherto taken notice of it." ("Wealth of Nations," book iii., chap. iv.) An important result indeed, and which would suffice to destroy all the critical observations which the development of manufacturing industry has occasioned, by compensating richly for the real or supposed evils which this development may produce. Even if we consider the marvelous activity of manufacturing industry in modern times, we need not ask if the extension of industry has not been attended by some evils. We need not trouble ourselves to learn if in the present state of things manufacturing industry is as sure and as profitable as agricultural labor. We must ask, first, if this increase of manufacturing industry was not inevitable; then, if, in spite of partial suffering which it engenders, or which we wish to attribute to it, it has not produced a greater general benefit. In other terms, if the general condition of the human race is not to-day, owing to this same increase of manufacturing industry, greatly superior to what it was formerly. Thus stated, the question will be quickly solved. (See
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