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Page:Economic Development in Denmark Before and During the World War.djvu/68

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ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT IN DENMARK

unemployed; but on the whole attention was concentrated on labour exchange. In not a few places municipalities or philanthropic societies established employment offices governed jointly by employers and employees; and under the stress of the World War centralized efforts were made as the various countries imposed the establishment of these offices on their municipalities.

All this activity in the field of unemployment insurance furnishes proof of the independent development of social ideas. Adam Smith and Turgot announced the principle of man's right to work, and they built upon it. They set forth as a prime necessity the abolition of all trade restrictions, so that all men might use their powers as they thought fit. But the working classes insisted more and more urgently that work should be assigned by the state. That the attempt made in France, in 1848, to carry out Louis Blanc's ideas of the right to work failed, was no great misfortune; in truth, it was not even loyally supported. But the claim increased in urgency, until in the eyes of many people it came to represent the prime right of man; At the close of the last century the social-democrats of Switzerland undertook to solve the problem by a referendum, but they were unsuccessful. The Unemployment Insurance Fund established in Berne in 1893 was one of the results of their agitation, however, and from that time on the question of unemployment had its place on the order of the day in all countries. To procure work might be extremely difficult, not to say impossible, even though many municipalities in hard times made great efforts to start some new enterprise, as was the case in many English towns toward the close of the last century; but the workmen had a clear right to exist, even when unemployed.

It was in Norway and Denmark that the first great step was taken in this direction. Denmark was better prepared for it through the previous development of legislation; but Norway was a little quicker and came out a length