L'organisation du travail à Bruxelles au XVe siècle. G. des Marez

1904 Journal of Political Economy  
1904. 8vo, pp. xii + 520. THE stu1denlt of economic history has cause for delight when viewing the broad and painstakin;g investigations carried on for so many years, in so many lang_uages, toward a truer valuation of city life in the past, and particularly of stuch leading institutions as the trade corporations or guilds. The main characteristics of these corporations have already been well defined; the sttudy of local singularities or national miodifications are now the main object of
more » ... n object of scholars in the field. The chief valuie of Des M\larez's volume lies in his minutte anlalysis of the history of labor organizations in Brussels during the period of the city's chief importance as a trade center. The author begins his work by making a decided distinction between the guild proper, as the earliest aristocratic association of manufactturers, with which begins the preponderance of Brussels in the cloth trade, and the later associations of individual workers and employers of labor on a limnited scale, who organize in defiance of the guild and finally form the democratic faction in the citygoverinment. The struggle which decided the victory in favor of the labor organizations was carried on very much on the same lines here as elsewhere. Th1le old guild of drapers, in sole possession of the trade (on which all other lines of inldtustry appear at first dependent) and of political power, overreaches its limits of just influence and antagonizes the individual workers by treatinig them as its menials. The latter by reptulsion learn the value of combination, and by force of numbers finally effect their eventual release from indtustrial and political tutelage, even compelling the guild to joinl their party, and thus securing stability of the new order. The next stage in the development is that the organiizations become in their turn employers, and enter the struggle for industrial monopoly as against individual and outside competition. They attempt to outwit tlhe repeated effort of capital or influence to get nmore than the apportioned share of profit, and maintain jealously the dead level of nediocrity in every branch of industry, besides exploiting successfully the inferior and weaker elements within their own ranks. This is the stage which usually succeeds the triumph of the new order over the old and precedes the next-the formation of protective unions among the wage-earn-ers, which is likelyr to end in general loss of trade and tiniform poverty. This stage seems not yet reached This content downloaded from 129.
doi:10.1086/251093 fatcat:b3fjbkw6hjc4zneaa2msb7d7la