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Printed by R & R. CLARK, Edinburgh.

029019E,S

PREFACE.

aned TDT

So much has been written about Labour and Capital and the legislation relating to them that it is scarcely possible to say anything new upon this subject. Not only is there an immense literature of controversial pamphlets bearing upon the matter, but there is also a superabundance of facts and information. What seems now to be needed is a careful attempt to understand the principles of legislation which emerge when we analyse the actions of the Legislature, and the state of public opinion with reference to the conflict of labour and capital and the regulation of industry. The allimportant point is to explain if possible why, in general, we uphold the rule of laisser faire, and yet in large classes of cases invoke the interference of local or central authorities. This question involves the most delicate and complicated considerations, and the outcome of the inquiry is that we can lay down no hard-and-fast rules, but must treat every case in detail upon its merits. Specific experience is our best guide, or even express experiment where possible; but the real difficulty often consists in the interpretation of experience. We are reduced to balance conflicting probabilities of good and evil. In order, however, to prevent the possible misapprehensions into which a hasty reader of some of the following pages might fall, I may here state that I am a thorough-going advocate of free trade. As the subject of the book does not include foreign commerce I have no opportunity of showing the consistency of this doctrine with such regulation of home industry as I advocate.

Concerning the functions and actions of trade societies I have not hesitated to express approval or blame in the freest way; but I think the time is come when all bitter terms, all class rancour, and all needless reference to former unfortunate occurrences, should be laid aside. The economic errors of trades unions after all are not worse than those which pervaded the commercial, if not the governing, classes a generation or two ago.. One result which clearly emerges from a calm review is that all classes of society are trades-unionists at heart, and differ chiefly in the boldness, ability, and secrecy with which they push their respective interests.

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