Front Page Titles (by Subject) 7: The Supply of Labor as Affected by the Disutility of Labor - Human Action: A Treatise on Economics, vol. 2 (LF ed.)
The Online Library of Liberty
A project of Liberty Fund, Inc.
Search this Title:
7: The Supply of Labor as Affected by the Disutility of Labor - Ludwig von Mises, Human Action: A Treatise on Economics, vol. 2 (LF ed.) 
Human Action: A Treatise on Economics, in 4 vols., ed. Bettina Bien Greaves (Indianapolis: Liberty Fund, 2007). Vol. 2.
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 copyright to this edition, in both print and electronic forms, is held by Liberty Fund, Inc.
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 Supply of Labor as Affected by the Disutility of Labor
The fundamental facts affecting the supply of labor are:
The self-sufficient man who works in economic isolation for the direct satisfaction of his own needs only, stops working at the point at which he begins to value leisure, the absence of labor’s disutility, more highly than the increment in satisfaction expected from working more. Having satisfied his most urgent needs, he considers the satisfaction of the still unsatisfied needs less desirable than the satisfaction of his striving after leisure.
The same is true for wage earners no less than for an isolated autarkic worker. They too are not prepared to work until they have expended the total capacity of work they are capable of expending. They too are eager to stop working at the point at which the mediate gratification expected no longer outweighs the disutility involved in the performance of additional work.
Popular opinion, laboring under atavistic representations and blinded by Marxian slogans, was slow in grasping this fact. It clung and even today clings to the habit of looking at the wage earner as a bondsman, and at wages as the capitalist equivalent of the bare subsistence which the slave owner and the cattle owner must provide for their slaves and animals. In the eyes of this doctrine the wage earner is a man whom poverty has forced to submit to bondage. The vain formalism of the bourgeois lawyers, we are told, calls this subjection voluntary, and interprets the relation between employer and employee as a contract between two equal parties. In truth, however, the worker is not free; he acts under duress; he must submit to the yoke of virtual serfdom because no other choice is left to him, society’s disinherited outcast. Even his apparent right to choose his master is spurious. The open or silent combination of the employers fixing the conditions of employment in a uniform way by and large makes this freedom illusory.
If one assumes that wages are merely the reimbursement of the expenses incurred by the worker in the preservation and reproduction of labor power or that their height is determined by tradition, it is quite consistent to consider every reduction in the obligations which the labor contract imposes on the worker as a unilateral gain for the worker. If the height of wage rates does not depend on the quantity and quality of the performance, if the employer does not pay to the worker the price the market assigns to his achievement, if the employer does not buy a definite quantity and quality of workmanship, but buys a bondsman, if wage rates are so low that for natural or “historical” reasons they cannot drop any further, one improves the wage earner’s lot by forcibly shortening the length of the working day. Then it is permissible to look at the laws limiting the hours of work as tantamount to the decrees by means of which European governments of the seventeenth, eighteenth, and early nineteenth centuries step by step reduced and finally entirely abolished the amount of the unpaid statute labor (corvée) which the peasant bondsmen were liable to give to their lords, or to ordinances lightening the work to be done by convicts. Then the shortening of daily hours of work which the evolution of capitalist industrialism brought about is appraised as a victory of the exploited wage-slaves over the rugged selfishness of their tormentors. All laws imposing upon the employer the duty to make definite expenditures to the benefit of the employees are described as “social gains,” i.e., as liberalities for the attainment of which the employees do not have to make any sacrifice.
It is generally assumed that the correctness of this doctrine is sufficiently demonstrated by the fact that the individual wage earner has only a negligible influence on the determination of the terms of the labor contract. The decisions concerning the length of the working day, work on Sundays and holidays, the time set for meals and many other things are made by the employers without asking the employees. The wage earner has no other choice than to yield to these orders or to starve.
The cardinal fallacy involved in this reasoning has already been pointed out in the preceding sections. The employers are not asking for labor in general, but for men who are fitted to perform the kind of labor they need. Just as an entrepreneur must choose for his plants the most suitable location, equipment, and raw materials, so he must hire the most efficient workers. He must arrange conditions of work in such a way as to make them appear attractive to those classes of workers he wants to employ. It is true that the individual worker has but little to say with regard to these arrangements. They are, like the height of wage rates itself, like commodity prices, and the shape of articles produced for mass consumption, the product of the interaction of innumerable people participating in the social process of the market. They are as such mass phenomena which are but little subject to modification on the part of a single individual. However, it is a distortion of truth to assert that the individual voter’s ballot is without influence because many thousands or even millions of votes are required to decide the issue and that those of people not attached to any party virtually do not matter. Even if one were to admit this thesis for the sake of argument, it is a non sequitur to infer that the substitution of totalitarian principles for democratic procedures would make the officeholders more genuine representatives of the people’s will than election campaigns. The counterparts of these totalitarian fables in the field of the market’s economic democracy are the assertions that the individual consumer is powerless against the suppliers and the individual employee against the employers. It is, of course, not an individual’s taste, different from that of the many, that determines the features of articles of mass production designed for mass consumption, but the wishes and likes of the majority. It is not the individual job-seeker, but the masses of job-seekers whose conduct determines the terms of the labor contracts prevailing in definite areas or branches of industry. If it is customary to have lunch between noon and one o’clock, an individual worker who prefers to have it between two and three p.m. has little chance of having his wishes satisfied. However, the social pressure to which this solitary individual is subject in this case is not exercised by the employer, but by his fellow employees.
Employers in their search for suitable workers are forced to accommodate themselves even to serious and costly inconveniences if they cannot find those needed on other terms. In many countries, some of them stigmatized as socially backward by the champions of anticapitalism, employers must yield to various wishes of workers motivated by considerations of religious ritual or caste and status. They must arrange hours of work, holidays, and many technical problems according to such opinions, however burdensome such an adjustment may be. Whenever an employer asks for special performances which appear irksome or repulsive to the employees, he must pay extra for the excess of disutility the worker must expend.
The terms of the labor contract refer to all working conditions, not merely to the height of wage rates. Teamwork in factories and the interdependence of various enterprises make it impossible to deviate from the arrangements customary in the country or in the branch concerned and thus result in a unification and standardization of these arrangements. But this fact neither weakens nor eliminates the employees’ contribution in their setting up. For the individual workers they are, of course, an unalterable datum as the railroad’s timetable is for the individual traveler. But nobody would contend that in determining the timetable the company does not bother about the wishes of the potential customers. Its intention is precisely to serve as many of them as possible.
The interpretation of the evolution of modern industrialism has been utterly vitiated by the anticapitalistic bias of governments and professedly prolabor writers and historians. The rise in real wage rates, the shortening of hours of work, the elimination of child labor, and the restriction of the labor of women, it is asserted, were the result of the interference of governments and labor unions and the pressure of public opinion aroused by humanitarian authors. But for this interference and pressure the entrepreneurs and capitalists would have retained for themselves all the advantages derived from the increase in capital investment and the consequent improvement in technological methods. The rise in the wage earners’ standard of living was thus brought about at the expense of the “unearned” income of capitalists, entrepreneurs, and landowners. It is highly desirable to continue these policies, benefiting the many at the sole expense of a few selfish exploiters, and to reduce more and more the unfair take of the propertied classes.
The incorrectness of this interpretation is obvious. All measures restricting the supply of labor directly or indirectly burden the capitalists as far as they increase the marginal productivity of labor and reduce the marginal productivity of the material factors of production. As they restrict the supply of labor without reducing the supply of capital, they increase the portion allotted to the wage earners out of the total net product of the production effort. But this total net produce will drop too, and it depends on the specific data of each case whether the relatively greater quota of a smaller cake will be greater or smaller than the relatively smaller quota of a bigger cake. Profits and the rate of interest are not directly affected by the shortening of the total supply of labor. The prices of material factors of production drop and wage rates per unit of the individual worker’s performance (not necessarily also per capita of the workers employed) rise. The prices of the products rise too. Whether all these changes result in an improvement or in a deterioration of the average wage earner’s income is, as has been said, a question of fact in each instance.
But our assumption that such measures do not affect the supply of material factors of production is impermissible. The shortening of the hours of work, the restriction of night work and of the employment of certain classes of people impair the utilization of a part of the equipment available and are tantamount to a drop in the supply of capital. The resulting intensification of the scarcity of capital goods may entirely undo the potential rise in the marginal productivity of labor as against the marginal productivity of capital goods.
If concomitantly with the compulsory shortening of the hours of work the authorities or the unions forbid any corresponding reduction in wage rates which the state of the market would require or if previously prevailing institutions prevent such a reduction, the effects appear that every attempt to keep wage rates at a height above the potential market rate brings about: institutional unemployment.
The history of capitalism as it has operated in the last two hundred years in the realm of Western civilization is the record of a steady rise in the wage earners’ standard of living. The inherent mark of capitalism is that it is mass production for mass consumption directed by the most energetic and far-sighted individuals, unflaggingly aiming at improvement. Its driving force is the profit motive, the instrumentality of which forces the businessman constantly to provide the consumers with more, better, and cheaper amenities. An excess of profits over losses can appear only in a progressing economy and only to the extent to which the masses’ standard of living improves.13 Thus capitalism is the system under which the keenest and most agile minds are driven to promote to the best of their abilities the welfare of the laggard many.
In the field of historical experience it is impossible to resort to measurement. As money is no yardstick of value and want-satisfaction, it cannot be applied for comparing the standard of living of people in various periods of time. However, all historians whose judgment is not muddled by romantic prepossessions agree that the evolution of capitalism has multiplied capital equipment on a scale which far exceeded the synchronous increase in population figures. Capital equipment both per capita of the total population and per capita of those able to work is immensely larger today than fifty, a hundred or two hundred years ago. Concomitantly there has been a tremendous increase in the quota which the wage earners receive out of the total amount of commodities produced, an amount which in itself is much bigger than in the past. The ensuing rise in the masses’ standard of living is miraculous when compared with the conditions of ages gone by. In those merry old days even the wealthiest people led an existence which must be called straitened when compared with the average standard of the American or Australian worker of our age. Capitalism, says Marx, unthinkingly repeating the fables of the eulogists of the Middle Ages, has an inevitable tendency to impoverish the workers more and more. The truth is that capitalism has poured a horn of plenty upon the masses of wage earners who frequently did all they could to sabotage the adoption of those innovations which render their life more agreeable. How uneasy an American worker would be if he were forced to live in the style of a medieval lord and to miss the plumbing facilities and the other gadgets he simply takes for granted!
The improvement in his material well-being has changed the worker’s valuation of leisure. Better supplied with the amenities of life as he is, he sooner reaches the point at which he looks upon any further increment in the disutility of labor as an evil which is no longer outweighed by the expected further increment in labor’s mediate grati-fication. He is eager to shorten the hours of daily work and to spare his wife and children the toil and trouble of gainful employment. It is not labor legislation and labor-union pressure that have shortened hours of work and withdrawn married women and children from the factories; it is capitalism, which has made the wage earner so prosperous that he is able to buy more leisure time for himself and his dependents. The nineteenth century’s labor legislation by and large achieved nothing more than to provide a legal ratification for changes which the interplay of market factors had brought about previously. As far as it sometimes went ahead of industrial evolution, the quick advance in wealth soon made things right again. As far as the allegedly prolabor laws decreed measures which were not merely the ratification of changes already effected or the anticipation of changes to be expected in the immediate future, they hurt the material interests of the workers.
The term social gains is utterly misleading. If the law forces workers who would prefer to work forty-eight hours a week not to give more than forty hours of work, or if it forces employers to incur certain expenses for the benefit of employees, it does not favor workers at the expense of employers. Whatever the provisions of a social security law may be, their incidence ultimately burdens the employee, not the employer. They affect the amount of take-home wages; if they raise the price the employer has to pay for a unit of performance above the potential market rate, they create institutional unemployment. Social security does not enjoin upon the employers the obligation to expend more in buying labor. It imposes upon the wage earners a restriction concerning the spending of their total income. It curtails the worker’s freedom to arrange his household according to his own decisions.
Whether such a system of social security is a good or a bad policy is essentially a political problem. One may try to justify it by declaring that the wage earners lack the insight and the moral strength to provide spontaneously for their own future. But then it is not easy to silence the voices of those who ask whether it is not paradoxical to entrust the nation’s welfare to the decisions of voters whom the law itself considers incapable of managing their own affairs; whether it is not absurd to make those people supreme in the conduct of government who are manifestly in need of a guardian to prevent them from spending their own income foolishly. Is it reasonable to assign to wards the right to elect their guardians? It is no accident that Germany, the country that inaugurated the social security system, was the cradle of both varieties of modern disparagement of democracy, the Marxian as well as the non-Marxian.
Remarks About the Popular Interpretation of the “Industrial Revolution”
It is generally asserted that the history of modern industrialism and especially the history of the British “Industrial Revolution” provide an empirical verification of the “realistic” or “institutional” doctrine and utterly explode the “abstract” dogmatism of the economists.14
The economists flatly deny that labor unions and government prolabor legislation can and did lastingly benefit the whole class of wage earners and raise their standard of living. But the facts, say the anti-economists, have refuted these fallacies. The statesmen and legislators who enacted the factory acts displayed a better insight into reality than the economists. While laissez-faire philosophy, without pity and compassion, taught that the sufferings of the toiling masses are unavoidable, the common sense of laymen succeeded in quelling the worst excesses of profit-seeking business. The improvement in the conditions of the workers is entirely an achievement of governments and labor unions.
Such are the ideas permeating most of the historical studies dealing with the evolution of modern industrialism. The authors begin by sketching an idyllic image of conditions as they prevailed on the eve of the “Industrial Revolution.” At that time, they tell us, things were, by and large, satisfactory. The peasants were happy. So also were the industrial workers under the domestic system. They worked in their own cottages and enjoyed a certain economic independence since they owned a garden plot and their tools. But then “the Industrial Revolution fell like a war or a plague” on these people.15 The factory system reduced the free worker to virtual slavery; it lowered his standard of living to the level of bare subsistence; in cramming women and children into the mills it destroyed family life and sapped the very foundations of society, morality, and public health. A small minority of ruthless exploiters had cleverly succeeded in imposing their yoke upon the immense majority.
The truth is that economic conditions were highly unsatisfactory on the eve of the Industrial Revolution. The traditional social system was not elastic enough to provide for the needs of a rapidly increasing population. Neither farming nor the guilds had any use for the additional hands. Business was imbued with the inherited spirit of privilege and exclusive monopoly; its institutional foundations were licenses and the grant of a patent of monopoly; its philosophy was restriction and the prohibition of competition both domestic and foreign. The number of people for whom there was no room left in the rigid system of paternalism and government tutelage of business grew rapidly. They were virtually outcasts. The apathetic majority of these wretched people lived from the crumbs that fell from the tables of the established castes. In the harvest season they earned a trifle by occasional help on farms; for the rest they depended upon private charity and communal poor relief. Thousands of the most vigorous youths of these strata were pressed into the service of the Royal Army and Navy; many of them were killed or maimed in action; many more perished ingloriously from the hardships of the barbarous discipline, from tropical diseases, or from syphilis.16 Other thousands, the boldest and most ruthless of their class, infested the country as vagabonds, beggars, tramps, robbers, and prostitutes. The authorities did not know of any means to cope with these individuals other than the poorhouse and the workhouse. The support the government gave to the popular resentment against the introduction of new inventions and labor-saving devices made things quite hopeless.
The factory system developed in a continuous struggle against innumerable obstacles. It had to fight popular prejudice, old established customs, legally binding rules and regulations, the animosity of the authorities, the vested interests of privileged groups, the envy of the guilds. The capital equipment of the individual firms was insufficient, the provision of credit extremely difficult and costly. Technological and commercial experience was lacking. Most factory owners failed; comparatively few succeeded. Profits were sometimes considerable, but so were losses. It took many decades until the common practice of reinvesting the greater part of profits earned accumulated adequate capital for the conduct of affairs on a broader scale.
That the factories could thrive in spite of all these hindrances was due to two reasons. First there were the teachings of the new social philosophy expounded by the economists. They demolished the prestige of Mercantilism, paternalism, and restrictionism. They exploded the superstitious belief that labor-saving devices and processes cause unemployment and reduce all people to poverty and decay. The laissez-faire economists were the pioneers of the unprecedented technological achievements of the last two hundred years.
Then there was another factor that weakened the opposition to innovations. The factories freed the authorities and the ruling landed aristocracy from an embarrassing problem that had grown too large for them. They provided sustenance for the masses of paupers. They emptied the poorhouses, the work-houses, and the prisons. They converted starving beggars into self-supporting breadwinners.
The factory owners did not have the power to compel anybody to take a factory job. They could only hire people who were ready to work for the wages offered to them. Low as these wage rates were, they were nonetheless much more than these paupers could earn in any other field open to them. It is a distortion of facts to say that the factories carried off the housewives from the nurseries and the kitchens and the children from their play. These women had nothing to cook with and to feed their children. These children were destitute and starving. Their only refuge was the factory. It saved them, in the strict sense of the term, from death by starvation.
It is deplorable that such conditions existed. But if one wants to blame those responsible, one must not blame the factory owners who—driven by selfishness, of course, and not by “altruism”—did all they could to eradicate the evils. What had caused these evils was the economic order of the precapitalistic era, the order of the “good old days.”
In the first decades of the Industrial Revolution the standard of living of the factory workers was shockingly bad when compared with the contemporary conditions of the upper classes and with the present conditions of the industrial masses. Hours of work were long, the sanitary conditions in the workshops deplorable. The individual’s capacity to work was used up rapidly. But the fact remains that for the surplus population which the enclosure movement had reduced to dire wretchedness and for which there was literally no room left in the frame of the prevailing system of production, work in the factories was salvation. These people thronged into the plants for no reason other than the urge to improve their standard of living.
The laissez-faire ideology and its offshoot, the “Industrial Revolution,” blasted the ideological and institutional barriers to progress and welfare. They demolished the social order in which a constantly increasing number of people were doomed to abject need and destitution. The processing trades of earlier ages had almost exclusively catered to the wants of the well-to-do. Their expansion was limited by the amount of luxuries the wealthier strata of the population could afford. Those not engaged in the production of primary commodities could earn a living only as far as the upper classes were disposed to utilize their skill and services. But now a different principle came into operation. The factory system inaugurated a new mode of marketing as well as of production. Its characteristic feature was that the manufactures were not designed for the consumption of a few well-to-do only, but for the consumption of those who had hitherto played but a negligible role as consumers. Cheap things for the many, was the objective of the factory system. The classical factory of the early days of the Industrial Revolution was the cotton mill. Now, the cotton goods it turned out were not something the rich were asking for. These wealthy people clung to silk, linen, and cambric. Whenever the factory with its methods of mass production by means of power-driven machines invaded a new branch of production, it started with the production of cheap goods for the broad masses. The factories turned to the production of more refined and therefore more expensive goods only at a later stage, when the unprecedented improvement in the masses’ standard of living which they caused made it profitable to apply the methods of mass production also to these better articles. Thus, for instance, the factory-made shoe was for many years bought only by the “proletarians” while the wealthier consumers continued to patronize the custom shoemakers. The much talked about sweatshops did not produce clothes for the rich, but for people in modest circumstances. The fashionable ladies and gentlemen preferred and still do prefer custom-made frocks and suits.
The outstanding fact about the Industrial Revolution is that it opened an age of mass production for the needs of the masses. The wage earners are no longer people toiling merely for other people’s well-being. They themselves are the main consumers of the products the factories turn out. Big business depends upon mass consumption. There is, in present-day America, not a single branch of big business that would not cater to the needs of the masses. The very principle of capitalist entrepreneurship is to provide for the common man. In his capacity as consumer the common man is the sovereign whose buying or abstention from buying decides the fate of entrepreneurial activities. There is in the market economy no other means of acquiring and preserving wealth than by supplying the masses in the best and cheapest way with all the goods they ask for.
Blinded by their prejudices, many historians and writers have entirely failed to recognize this fundamental fact. As they see it, wage earners toil for the benefit of other people. They never raise the question who these “other” people are.
Mr. and Mrs. Hammond tell us that the workers were happier in 1760 than they were in 1830.17 This is an arbitrary value judgment. There is no means of comparing and measuring the happiness of different people and of the same people at different times. We may agree for the sake of argument that an individual who was born in 1740 was happier in 1760 than in 1830. But let us not forget that in 1770 (according to the estimate of Arthur Young) England had 8.5 million inhabitants, while in 1831 (according to the census) the figure was 16 million.18 This conspicuous increase was mainly conditioned by the Industrial Revolution. With regard to these additional Englishmen the assertion of the eminent historians can only be approved by those who endorse the melancholy verses of Sophocles: “Not to be born is, beyond all question, the best; but when a man has once seen the light of day, this is next best, that speedily he should return to that place whence he came.”
The early industrialists were for the most part men who had their origin in the same social strata from which their workers came. They lived very modestly, spent only a fraction of their earnings for their households and put the rest back into the business. But as the entrepreneurs grew richer, the sons of successful businessmen began to intrude into the circles of the ruling class. The highborn gentlemen envied the wealth of the parvenus and resented their sympathies with the reform movement. They hit back by investigating the material and moral conditions of the factory hands and enacting factory legislation.
The history of capitalism in Great Britain as well as in all other capitalist countries is a record of an unceasing tendency toward the improvement in the wage earners’ standard of living. This evolution coincided with the development of prolabor legislation and the spread of labor unionism on the one hand and with the increase in the marginal productivity of labor on the other hand. The economists assert that the improvement in the workers’ material conditions is due to the increase in the per capita quota of capital invested and the technological achievements which the employment of this additional capital brought about. As far as labor legislation and union pressure did not exceed the limits of what the workers would have got without them, as a necessary consequence of the acceleration of capital accumulation as compared with population, they were superfluous. As far as they exceeded these limits, they were harmful to the interests of the masses. They delayed the accumulation of capital thus slowing down the tendency toward a rise in the marginal productivity of labor and in wage rates. They conferred privileges on some groups of wage earners at the expense of other groups. They created mass unemployment and decreased the amount of products available for the workers in their capacity as consumers.
The apologists of government interference with business and of labor unionism ascribe all the improvements in the conditions of the workers to the actions of governments and unions. Except for them, they contend, the workers’ standard of living would be no higher today than it was in the early years of the factory system.
It is obvious that this controversy cannot be settled by appeal to historical experience. With regard to the establishment of the facts there is no disagreement between the two groups. Their antagonism concerns the interpretation of events, and this interpretation must be guided by the theory chosen. The epistemological and logical considerations which determine the correctness or incorrectness of a theory are logically and temporally antecedent to the elucidation of the historical problem involved. The historical facts as such neither prove nor disprove any theory. They need to be interpreted in the light of theoretical insight.
Most of the authors who wrote the history of the conditions of labor under capitalism were ignorant of economics and boasted of this ignorance. However, this contempt for sound economic reasoning did not mean that they approached the topic of their studies without prepossession and without bias in favor of any theory. They were guided by the popular fallacies concerning governmental omnipotence and the alleged blessings of labor unionism. It is beyond question that the Webbs as well as Lujo Brentano and a host of minor authors were at the very start of their studies imbued with a fanatical dislike of the market economy and an enthusiastic endorsement of the doctrines of socialism and interventionism. They were certainly honest and sincere in their convictions and tried to do their best. Their candor and probity may exonerate them as individuals; it does not exonerate them as historians. However pure the intentions of a historian may be, there is no excuse for his recourse to fallacious doctrines. The first duty of a historian is to examine with the utmost care all the doctrines to which he resorts in dealing with the subject matter of his work. If he neglects to do this and naïvely espouses the garbled and confused ideas of popular opinion, he is not a historian but an apologist and propagandist.
The antagonism between the two opposite points of view is not merely a historical problem. It refers no less to the most burning problems of the present day. It is the matter of controversy in what is called in present-day America the problem of industrial relations.
Let us stress one aspect of the matter only. Vast areas—Eastern Asia, the East Indies, Southern and Southeastern Europe, Latin America—are only superficially affected by modern capitalism. Conditions in these countries by and large do not differ from those of England on the eve of the “Industrial Revolution.” There are millions of people for whom there is no secure place left in the traditional economic setting. The fate of these wretched masses can be improved only by industrialization. What they need most is entrepreneurs and capitalists. As their own foolish policies have deprived these nations of the further enjoyment of the assistance imported foreign capital hitherto gave them, they must embark upon domestic capital accumulation. They must go through all the stages through which the evolution of Western industrialism had to pass. They must start with comparatively low wage rates and long hours of work. But, deluded by the doctrines prevailing in present-day Western Europe and North America, their statesmen think that they can proceed in a different way. They encourage labor-union pressure and alleged prolabor legislation. Their interventionist radicalism nips in the bud all attempts to create domestic industries. Their stubborn dogmatism spells the doom of the Indian and Chinese coolies, the Mexican peons, and millions of other peoples, desperately struggling on the verge of starvation.
[12. ]Other fluctuations in the quantity and quality of the performance per unit of time, e.g., the lower efficiency in the period immediately following the resumption of work interrupted by recreation, are hardly of any importance for the supply of labor on the market.
[13. ]See above, pp. 294–300.
[14. ]The attribution of the phrase the Industrial Revolution to the reigns of the two last Hanoverian Georges was the outcome of deliberate attempts to melodramatize economic history in order to fit it into the Procrustean Marxian schemes. The transition from medieval methods of production to those of the free enterprise system was a long process that started centuries before 1760 and, even in England, was not finished in 1830. Yet, it is true that England’s industrial development was considerably accelerated in the second half of the eighteenth century. It is therefore permissible to use the term “Industrial Revolution” in the examination of the emotional connotations with which Fabianism, Marxism, the Historical School, and Institutionalism have loaded it.
[15. ]J. L. Hammond and Barbara Hammond, The Skilled Labourer 1760 –1832 (2d ed. London, 1920), p. 4.
[16. ]In the Seven Years’ War 1,512 British seamen were killed in battle while 133,708 died of disease or were missing. Cf. W. L. Dorn, Competition for Empire 1740 –1763 (New York, 1940), p. 114.
[17. ]J. L. Hammond and Barbara Hammond, loc. cit.
[18. ]F. C. Dietz, An Economic History of England (New York, 1942), pp. 279 and 392.