When, in 1873, Adolph Wagner read before the German Verein für Socialpolitik an elaborate paper on joint-stock companies, he made many suggestions as to the reform of corporation law. But he concluded by defending the thesis that, while the reform of corporation law was indispensable, this alone, however perfectly accomplished, could not suffice to eliminate the evils of corporate management of property; he contended that corporations must continue to be mischievous until they are restricted to a narrower field of activity than that now occupied by them; that the state, in its various branches, must assume control of those enterprises that are of necessity monopolies.
To the interminable discussion recalled by the name of Wagner and the mention of his thesis it is here desired to contribute but a single suggestion. Spencer and others dwell always upon the distinction between "compulsory co-operation" through the state, which is said to be characteristic of a "militant régime" and "voluntary co-operation" through private associations, which is said to be the proper thing under an "industrial régime." Now, is it not true that the distinction between these two kinds of "cooperation" is fading out? Co-operation can be wholly "voluntary" only when isolation is a possible alternative. Is not industrial isolation becoming almost as impossible as political isolation? Co-operation through the state is becoming less and less "compulsory" in the old significance of the term, because it is becoming more and more possible to choose what government we will live under. This comes from increased facilities, both physical and legal, for moving from one state to another. Formerly, a man must obey the state under which he was born; his "cooperation" with it was, indeed, compulsory. Now, expatriation is a comparatively simple and pleasant alternative to obedience. States and nations are coming to compete with each other for desirable citizens, as producers of services or commodities formerly competed with each other for purchasers. There can be no doubt that Bismarck's hand was less heavy upon Germany because so many of her citizens emigrated, and so many more of them might have emigrated to this or other countries. Within the States and cities of our own republic we see our Legislatures and town councils continually coerced by considerations of attracting or retaining desirable classes of citizens. It is easier to escape from the power of the Legislature of Pennsylvania than from the influence of the Pennsylvania Railroad; it is easier to get beyond the reach of the tax-gatherers of all our States than to cease to pay tribute to the Standard Oil Company or to the anthracite coal pool. The point may be restated thus: The "coming servitude" to which we are advancing through the increasing dominance of the state will be modified by the power