anarchy archives


About Us

Contact Us

Other Links

Critics Corner


The Cynosure

  Michael Bakunin
  William Godwin
  Emma Goldman
  Peter Kropotkin
  Errico Malatesta
  Pierre-Joseph Proudhon
  Elisée Reclus
  Max Stirner
  Murray Bookchin
  Noam Chomsky
  Bright but Lesser Lights
  Cold Off The Presses
  Anarchist History
  Worldwide Movements
  First International
  Paris Commune
  Haymarket Massacre
  Spanish Civil War
  Art and Anarchy
  Education and Anarchy
  Anarchist Poets

The text is taken from my copy of FIELDS, FACTORIES AND WORKSHOPS: or Industry Combined
with Agriculture and Brain Work with Manual Work
, Thomas Nelson & Sons, London, Edinburgh, Dublin and New York, 1912.


We have most interesting monographs dealing with separate branches of the small industries of Switzerland, but we have not yet such comprehensive statistical data as those which have been mentioned in the text in speaking of Germany and France. It was only in the year 1901 that the first attempt was made to get the exact numbers of workpeople employed in what the Swiss statisticians describe as Hausindustrie, or "the domestic industries' extension of the factory industries "(der hausindustrielle Anhang der Fabrikindustrie). Up till then these numbers remained "an absolutely unknown quantity." For many it was, therefore, a revelation when a first rough estimate, made by the factory inspectors, gave the figure of 52,291 workpeople belonging to this category, as against 243,200 persons employed in all the factories, large and small, of the same branches. A few years later, Schuler, in Zeitung für Schweizerische Statistik, 1904 (reprinted since as a volume), came to the figure of 131,299 persons employed in the domestic industries; and yet this figure, although it is much nearer to reality than the former, is still below the real numbers. Finally, an official census of the industries, made in 1905, gave the figure of 92,162 persons employed in the domestic industries in 70,873 establishments, in the following branches- textiles, watches and jewellery, straw-plaiting, clothing and dress, wood-carving, tobacco. They thus represent more than one-fourth (28.5 per cent.) of the 317,027 operatives employed in Switzerland in these same branches, and 15.7 per cent of all the industrial operatives, who numbered 585,574 in 1905.

Out of the just-mentioned 92,162 workpeople, registered as belonging to the domestic trades, nearly three-quarters (66,061 in 49,168 establishments) belong to the textile industry, chiefly knitting and the silks; then comes the watch-trade (12,871 persons in 9,186 establishments), straw-plaiting, and dress. However, these figures are still incomplete. Not only several smaller branches of the domestic trades were omitted in the census, but also the children under fourteen years of ago employed in the domestic trades, whose numbers are estimated at 32,300, were not counted. Besides, the census having been made in the summer, during the "strangers' season," a considerable number of persons employed in a variety of domestic trades during the winter did not appear in the census.

It must also be noted that the Swiss census includes under the name of Heimarbeit (domestic trades) only those "dependencies of the industrial employers" which do not represent separate factories placed under the employer's management; so that those workshops and small factories, the produce of which is sold directly to the consumers, as also the small factories directly managed by small employers, are not included in this category. If all that be taken into consideration, we must agree with the conclusion that the "domestic trades have in Switzerland a much greater extension than in any other country of Europe" (save Russia), which we find in an elaborate recent work, published in connection with the 1910 exhibition of Swiss domestic industries, and edited by Herr Jac. Lorenz (Die wirtschaflichen und sozialen Verhältnisse in der Schweizerischen Heimarbeit, Zurich, 1910-1911, p. 27).

A feature of importance which appears from this last work is, that more than one-half of the workers engaged in domestic trades have some other source of income besides these trades. Very many of them carry on agriculture, so that it has been said that in Switzerland "the domestic trades' question is as much a peasant question as a labour question."

It would be impossible to sum up in this place the interesting data contained in the first four fascicles published by Herr Lorenz, which deal with the cotton, the silk, and the linen domestic industries, their struggles against the machine, their defeats in some branches and their holding the ground in other branches, and so on. I must therefore refer the reader to this very instructive publication.



[Home]               [About Us]               [Contact Us]               [Other Links]               [Critics Corner]