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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 32.djvu/311

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297
GOVERNMENTAL INTERFERENCE.

sirability of restricting trade and commerce is accepted and carried out, the larger idea of the middle ages, that restrictions should be imposed, not merely on the freedom of commercial intercourse between country and country, but also between districts of the same country, and even between man and man, tends to reassert itself and demand recognition and acceptance; as is demonstrated by a variety of incidents on both sides of the Atlantic. In this movement in Europe, France at present takes the lead. Thus, for example, French workmen and employers are apparently now in unison of opinion, that all foreigners shall be rigidly excluded from any kind of work done by or for the Government, and from furnishing any kind of supplies for the public service. Among the bills recently brought forward in the French Chamber of Deputies, and which have received the serious attention of the Government, one provides that only French coal shall be used in the navy, and only French oats in the army; and, in general, that nothing of foreign growth or production shall be bought for public use, except such articles as are not produced in France. Clauses in existing treaties with foreign nations and apprehensions of reprisals have, it is believed, alone prevented the project of imposing special and differential taxes on all foreign workmen. The committee in charge of the French International Exhibition of 1889, while invoking the co-operation and good feeling of other countries, have restricted all bids for buildings to French firms exclusively, ruling out all foreign firms from participation in the work, even though established in France, and employing only French workmen. The ancient guild system of the middle ages, restricting craft-membership and the employment of apprentices, and claiming the right to exclusively regulate prices, hours of labor, and other conditions of service, is also everywhere reestablishing itself; the glaziers of Paris leading the advance in this direction, by formally petitioning the authorities for incorporation as a guild, to which no foreigner shall be admitted, and no one not a member, even if he be a Frenchman, shall be allowed to set glass or make repairs upon windows in French territory. In a discussion of the labor-problem at a recent Catholic Congress in Belgium, the Bishop of Liege is reported as saying that the old trade-guilds must be revived and placed under the guardianship of Christian lay employers and of the clergy. Then each trade or calling must be placed under the special protection of a saint; and brotherhoods of those engaged in it, composed both of employers and workmen, must be formed for the celebration of the saint's fĂȘte and for participation in religious processions and funerals, and the rendering of mutual assistance in times of need. But it was also remarked, that while labor was pretty sure to indorse the recommendation of the revival of the guild, it would be equally sure to wholly disregard the ideas of the bishop as to the uses that should be made of it. It should also not be overlooked in this connection, how closely, and yet perhaps unintentionally, the