Front Page Titles (by Subject) CHAPTER V: The Right to Work - Socialistic Fallacies
The Online Library of Liberty
A project of Liberty Fund, Inc.
Search this Title:
Also in the Library:
CHAPTER V: The Right to Work - Yves Guyot, Socialistic Fallacies 
Socialistic Fallacies (London: Cope and Fenwick, 1910).
About Liberty Fund:
Liberty Fund, Inc. is a private, educational foundation established to encourage the study of the ideal of a society of free and responsible individuals.
The text is in the public domain.
Fair use statement:
This material is put online to further the educational goals of Liberty Fund, Inc. Unless otherwise stated in the Copyright Information section above, this material may be used freely for educational and academic purposes. It may not be used in any way for profit.
The Right to Work
Scheme of the committee of the constitution—Before the days of June—Amendment of Mathieu (of la Drôme)—Lamartine's argument—Ledru-Rollin's—Observation of Pelletier (of Lyons)—Rejection.
The organisation of the national workshops and the discussions and promises of the Luxembourg had demonstrated the imprudence committed by the Provisional Government in affirming, in their proclamation of February 25th, the right to work, and of promising to give effect to it. Nevertheless the draft constitution published on June 20th, contained an article (7) in the following terms:—
“The right to work is the right possessed by every man to live by working.
“It is the duty of Society, by the means of production and of the general resources of which it disposes, and which will eventually be organised, to supply work to able-bodied men who are unable otherwise to procure it.”
Not one of the members of the committee which drafted this article had remarked upon its character. Nevertheless the right to work completely disappears in the second draft constitution which was read on August 29th, article viii. containing merely the following provision: “It is the duty of the Republic to provide the means of subsistence to necessitous citizens, to wit by providing them with work within the limits of its resources….”
But Mathieu (of la Drôme), attempted to reintroduce the right to work by modifying the article in the following manner:—“The Republic recognises the right of all citizens to instruction, work, and assistance.” To those who objected on the ground of the net cost of this right he replied, “If work is a right, it matters little what may be the burden which it imposes upon society.” On the same day, September 8th, less than three months after the events of June, Lamartine supported it by arguments such as the following:—‘In truth it appears that you might delete those three magnificent words which you propose to inscribe on the title page of your constitution, liberty, equality, and fraternity,’ and substitute for them the convenient words ‘buy and sell.’” (Prolonged applause).
Ledru-Rollin used an argument which shows the heartless coolness with which men of his stamp thought to guide opinion:—“When you register the right to work, you are under no obligation to have it organised on the very next day.”1 But he enclosed his argument in this formula: “The right to work is the Republic in its practical application.” Politicians like Billault also supported the right to work by saying: “This country is passionately attached to words; you must reckon with this predisposition.” Pelletier, a labour deputy from Lyons, said, “if you do not know what to do in order to consecrate the right to work and to make the people happy, the people will say, ‘retire and make room for others.’” Mathieu's amendment, as re-amended by Glais Bizoin, was rejected by 596 votes to 187. No one in France nowadays talks of the right to work; it has gone to join the other socialistic antiquities.
“Le Droit au Travail,” Recueil des discours par J. Garnier.