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population, which we lost formerly by emigration.
We rose to the height of a World Power on the shoul-
ders of commerce and industry. But the gains of
our national development in one direction have often

Industry and Agriculture 255

been paid for by losses in the other. To estimate the
real profit of German industrialisation, the losses and
damage caused by it must be included in the calcula-
tion. It is soon seen, then, that the course of modern
economic life imposes other and harder duties on us
than the task of continually forcing on with all our
might the growth of commerce and industry. Mod-
ern development has great dangers for national life,
and only if we succeeded in removing these could we
rejoice with a clear conscience in the new achieve-
ments. We had to proceed like a clever doctor, who
takes care to maintain all the parts and functions of
the body in a strong and healthy condition, and who
takes measures in good time if he sees that the ex-
cessive development of one single organ weakens the
others. German industry, as a matter of fact, grew
strong at the expense of agriculture during the first
decade of its development. If nothing were done,
agi'iculture threatened to fall under the hammers of
industry and be crushed. But that did not mean an
injury to agriculture alone; it meant, too, a loss for
tile nation. Our agricultural forces that react on our
national life are too A^aluable and too indispensable
for us ever to be able to cease from caring with all
our might for the weal or woe of German agriculture.

256 Imperial Germany

The economic life of a nation is not like a business
house with many branches, and to which these various
branches are of more or less interest according to their
chances of profit at the time.


Apart from the fact that agriculture as a producer
and as a consumer stands on a level of absolute equal-
ity with industry, other than purely economic points
of view must be considered in estimating the economic
strength of a nation. The political economy of a
nation has not only an economic but also a national
significance. It is not merely a question of the ma-
terial gain due to the different kinds of work. It also
depends on how the various occupations react on the
maintenance and growth of the physical and ideal
forces of the nation. Certainly a nation stands in
need of increasing its wealth, its financial power to
live. States in our days need this more than in former
times. Modern government, with its enormous
sphere of action, and, above all, modern armaments,
demand very different material means than was the
case formerly. But by material means alone a na-
tion can neither maintain its place in the world nor
advance it. Physical, moral and mental health are
still the greatest national riches.

Health and Wealth of the Nation 257

Prussia proved gloriously in the Seven Years' War
and in the War of Liberation what a nation, poor
but healthy in body and mind, can achieve; whereas
superior wealth has never been able to prevent the
disastrous consequences of diminishing strength in a

A State is not a commercial company. In the
rivalry of the nations of the earth industrial strength is
of very considerable importance, but great and decisive
events ultimately depend on quite other forces, and
are not fought out in the field of industry. The tru-
ism, that wealth alone does not bring happiness, ap-
plies to nations as much as to individuals. Nations
also can only enjoy increased wealth if they have a
sound mind in a sound body. The Government, in
its economic decisions, must not, like a clever specula-
tive merchant, shape its course according to favoura-
ble circumstances which offer a brilliant prospect to
one sphere of industry or another ; it must subordinate
its economic policy to national policy as a whole, must
act so that not only the present industrial welfare of
the nation is increased, but that, above all, the future
sound development of the nation Is ensured.

The question which political economy has often
asked itself: "How does a nation get rich, so as to

258 Imperial Germany

be able to live well?" must be supplemented for eco-
nomic policy by the other question: "How does a
nation keep healthy, so as to be able to live long?"
Industry and commerce increase our national wealth
to a greater degree and with greater speed than agri-
culture was ever able to do. But, without great and
flourishing agriculture by its side, industry would
soon use up the best forces of the nation, and would
never be able to replace them. Agriculture is the
mother of the nation's strength which industry em-
ploys, the broad acres in which the trees of industry
and commerce stand, and from which they derive their

We rightly admire in the industrial centres of the
Rhineland, Westphalia and Saxony the keenness, the
energy and the organising talent of the employers.
In the perfection of the industrial machinery we ad-
mire the powers of invention and the audacity of our
technical men and engineers. We find cause for ad-
miration, too, in the quahty of the industrial products,
due to the diligence and conscientiousness of the Ger-
man workman. We are rightly proud of the flour-
ishing state of our great and middle-sized towns,
which owe their quick development to the rise of in-
dustry and commerce.

Health and Wealth of the Nation 259

Since the end of the ^liddle Ages we had experi-
enced no development of cities on a large scale. And
it is not fair to condemn the culture of the modern
large towns without qualification, for, as in the JNIid-
dle Ages, the many greater and more populous cities
of modern times are centres of intellectual and ar-
tistic life. Among the influences which emanate from
the large towns and penetrate into the country there
are certainly some that have a pernicious effect on
the habits of life of the country. But these injuries
are often counterbalanced by the renewal and the re-
finement, of external culture which nowadays, as
always, originate in the large towns. He who is
not blind to the great dangers of an exaggerated de-
velopment of the towns in our country must appre-
ciate the very considerable achievements of our great
cities in the spheres of intellect and culture, and must
separate the wheat from the chaff.

It is not right either to seek the defects of our
highly developed great towns too exclusively in the
ethical domain. There is sin intra and extra muros.
The just and the unjust are to be found in the coun-
try as well as in the towns. We must also not forget
that particularly in the sphere of charity the towns
have led the way with model institutions, and that in

26o Imperial Germany

making provision for the lower classes the great em-
ployers of labour have done pioneer work.

The dangers of the industrialisation and the conse-
quent "townification" of Germany do not lie so much
in the spheres of intellect and moral life, so difficult
to gauge and to estimate, but in the physical condi-
tions. The health of the men and the fertility of the
women suffer greatly under the influence of life in
towns, and especially in large towns. For the years
1876-80 in the kingdom of Prussia the yearly aver-
age of living childi-en born to women up to the age of
forty-five was 160 per thousand in the towns and 182
per thousand in the country. For the years 1906-10
the numbers had fallen to 117 in the towns and 168
in the country. That means a loss of forty-three
births per thousand women in the towns. In the
municipal district of Berlin alone the numbers had
fallen in the same space of time from 149 to 84, a
loss of sixty-five. The rapid increase in the town
populations does not connote an increase in the na-
tional population, but a steady decrease, for the
women w^ho migrate from the country to the towns,
and the women who grow up in the towns effect a de-
crease in the birth-rate of the Empire. It is the same
with the health of the men, as tested by their fitness

Health and Wealth of the Nation 261

for military service. According to the statistics com-
piled on the basis of the inquiry made by a Commis-
sion which I appointed in 1906, the country districts,
i.e. communities of less than 2,000 inhabitants, fur-
nished 114 men who passed the miHtary test, the big
towns of more than 100,000 inhabitants 65, the mid-
dle-sized towns of 20,000 to 100,000 inhabitants 83
per 100 men due as calculated on the basis of the total
population. Of the parents of those fit for service,
74.97 per cent, came from the country, 1.68 ])ev cent,
from the large towns. And Germany has forty-eight
towns with more than 100,000 inhabitants, France
only fifteen, Italy thirteen, Austro-Hungary nine.
Almost two-thirds of our population live in the towns
and industrial centres. In the year 1850 agriculture
employed 65 per cent.; in 1870, 47 per cent.; in 1899,
32 per cent.; and in 1912 only 28.6 per cent, of the
total population.

These figures are of very serious import. They
show that every weakening of agriculture means a
weakening of our power of defence, a diminution in
our national strength and safety. Cormnerce and in-
dustry have only flourished so because peace was pre-
served by the strength of our armaments, and they
will only be able to continue to thrive in the future

262 Imperial Germany

if the protection of our armaments is maintained in
undiminished strength. That, however, demands a
strong and numerous rural population, who can find
in highly developed agricultural industry sufficient
work to earn their livelihood. Commerce and indus-
try for their own sake must be deeply interested in
the prosperity of agriculture. As the statistics show,
in future even more than was the case since the end of
the 'nineties, the task of protecting trade and property
in the Empire will fall to the rural population.


A Liberal savant, an old friend of mine, said to me
some years ago in JSTorderney, as he watched the ships
which passed my house, that he could not understand
how I, otherwise a sensible man, could have given
our industrial pohcy such an agrarian tendency by
means of the tariff. I pointed to a ship that was
just passing, and said: "A ship without sufficient
ballast, with too high a mast, and too heavily rigged,
will turn turtle. Agriculture is our ballast. Com-
merce and industry are to be our mast and sails.
The ship cannot advance without them. But with-
out ballast it will capsize." The captain of a ship
must certainly try to make good headway. But he

The Protection of Agriculture 263

must not acquire speed at the expense of safety. If
the ship of our Empire is to pursue her proud course
with speed and safety, then the navigators must see
that agriculture weighs heavy in the hull of the ship.
The protection of agriculture is a national duty
of great importance — a duty which would have to be
fulfilled, even if agriculture were of far less economic
value than is actually the case. Although agricul-
ture no longer occupies the paramount position in in-
dustrial life that it did formerly, yet it holds its own
among the other branches of trade. It is true that
according to the census of 1907 only 17,680,000 in-
habitants are occupied in agriculture as opposed to
nearly 26,380,000 in industry; but the value of its
produce is equal to that of the produce of industry,
or even surpasses it. Statistics on the subject do not
supply sufficient data, and therefore the question
whether agriculture or industry is more profitable
cannot be answered definitely in favour of one or the
other. JNIany a townsman, however, will be surprised
to learn that the yield of one agricultural product
alone, namely, milk, was 2,600 million marks in the
year 1906, while the yield of all the mines in the same
year only amounted to 1,600 million marks. The es-
timates formed by agriculturists and by industrialists

264 Imperial Germany

as to the total value of agricultural and industrial
products are not in agreement.

But whether, as regards the yield, agriculture or
industry stands first, that is really of little or no im-
portance ; we need them both, and the downfall of one
could never find full compensation in the rise of the
other. To estimate the real economic value of the
products it would be necessary to ascertain also in
what manner agriculture and industry react on the
stimulation and on the money-making powers of com-
merce. And even then one would still have to take
into consideration that the value of the yield is influ-
enced by the fluctuation of prices in the world's
markets. These questions are of more interest from
the ]3oint of view of the scientific investigation of
economic life than from that of the practical political
treatment of economic forces.


Industrial goods are disposed of in the foreign
market, on the Continent and overseas, and in the
home market in Germany itself. The development
of our railway systems, our natural waterways, our
canals, and the oversea traffic growing ever greater
under the protection of the German navy, have

Foreign and Home Markets 265

brought the foreign market within easier reach. In-
dustry has need of the foreign market in order to
maintain its present development, to extend it and
to provide millions of workmen with sufficiently prof-
itable work.

For this reason it is the duty of economic policy
to conclude favourable commercial treaties of long
duration in order to keep the foreign market open.
But, all the same, the home market is also of very
great importance. It would be called upon to re-
place the foreign market if in time of war our na-
tional frontiers should wholly or partly be closed.
But in the home market, agriculture is by far the
most important customer of industry; only if agri-
culture is able to buy, if it earns enough itself to en-
able others to earn too, will it be able, in critical times,
to consume a part of the products which cannot be
disposed of abroad. The old proverb, "If the peasant
has money then everyone else has too," is literally
true, as soon as industry is forced, to a greater ex-
tent than is necessary in times of peace, to find its
customers at home.

A policy which only considers the demands, moods
and chances of the moment, which only does that which
at the time is easiest to do, which only works ad hoc.

266 Imperial Germany

without thought for future results, cannot claim any
merit. Not even the best considered policy can in-
clude every future contingency in its calculations.

But every one of our actions and of our decisions
is the cause of future effects, and it may well be ex-
pected of a statesman that he foresee at least a part
of the possible results of his policy.

Above all there are certain contingencies which
must be reckoned with, because they have occurred
again and again, at greater or lesser intervals, in the
past, and come under the category of indestructible
elements of the world's history. War is such a con-
tingency and must be reckoned with in every states-
man's calculations. No sensible man desires it.
Every conscientious Government seeks to avoid it so
long as the honour and vital interests of the nation
permit of so doing. But every State department
should be organised as if war were going to break out
to-morrow. This applies to economic policy as well.


Owing to the sense of security induced by a long
period of peaceful prosperity, we are more inclined
than is good for us, to make our arrangements with
regard to economic matters as if this peace would

Agriculture in Time of War 267

be permanent. Even if we had not been threatened
with war during the last decades we must realise that
there is no such thing as permanent peace, and must
remember ^loltke's words: "Permanent peace is a
dream, and not even a beautiful one. But war is an
essential element of God's scheme of the world."

There is no part of public or private life that would
be untouched by war. But the effects of war are
most directly felt and most palpable in economic mat-
ters. The results of a war, be it successful or un-
successful, put in the shade the results of even the
most serious economic crisis. Economic policy must
foster peaceful development ; but it must keep in view
the possibility of war, and, for this reason above all,
must be agrarian in the best sense of the word.

As in time of war, industry is dependent on the
buying power of agriculture, the productive power of
agriculture is a vital question for the whole nation.
There are parties and groups representing certain
economic interests which demand that the Govern-
ment shall place a very small duty on agricultural
products from abroad, particularly the most impor-
tant, corn and meat, or even let them in duty free, so
that the price of comestibles, under the pressure of
foreign competition, may be kept low, and thus the

268 Imperial Germany

industrial workman's expenses of living may be re-
duced. They want to base all economic policy on an
imaginary permanent peace. Our agriculture, which
has to compete, so far as wages are concerned, with
the high wages paid by industrial concerns, which has
to employ the most modern and expensive machinery
in order to pursue intensive culture on soil that has
been tilled for centuries, is absolutely unable to pro-
duce at the same price as the large, young agricultural
countries, which work virgin soil and pay small wages.
Our agriculture needs a protective tariff. Im-
ported agricultural products must have a sufficiently
heavy duty imposed on them to prevent the foreign
supply from falling below a price at which our home
agriculture can make a fair profit. The reduction
of agrarian duties at the time of Caprivi's commer-
cial policy, brought about a crisis in our agriculture
which it was only able to weather by dint of working
with stubborn energy, and hoping for a complete
change of tariff arrangements within a short time.
If we sacrificed the protective tariff on agricultural
products in order to lower the cost of living by means
of cheap imports, the danger would arise that agricul-
tural work would grow more and more unprofitable,
and would have to be given up to a greater and greater

Agriculture In Time of War 269

extent. We should go the way England has gone.
During the time when there were strained rela-
tions between Germany and England, I once ex-
plained to an Enghsh statesman how utterly un-
founded and even nonsensical was the English fear of
a German attack, let alone a German invasion.
Whereupon he replied: "All you say is right, and,
so far as I am personally concerned, you tell me noth-
ing new. But with regard to English public opinion
and the man in the street, you must not forget that
England's position is very different from that of the
Continental Powers. France suffered a terrible de-
feat, but a few years after Gravelotte and Sedan she
had recovered so far that it was possible to contem-
plate 'war in sight.' Almost as quickly Austria got
over the effects of 1859 and 1866. After the Jap-
anese War, in spite of serious defeats on land and at
sea, and of a grave revolution, Russia's favour did
not cease to be courted on more than one side. Eng-
land is different. Eighty per cent, of our popula-
tion lives in cities. Our agriculture is unable to pro-
duce more than a fifth of the wheat and a half of the
meat consumed in England. If our navy were de-
feated, and England were cut off from foreign trade,
within a very few weeks we should be reduced to the

270 Imperial Germany

choice between starvation and anarchy on the one
hand and an unconditional peace on the other."
Countries where agriculture flourishes, countries
where at least a great part of the population is en-
gaged in tilling the soil, where agriculture supplies
the home market in part, and provides a large portion
of the necessary foodstuffs, have greater powers of
resistance in critical times, and recover far more easily
after such, than countries that are dependent en-
tirely on commerce and industry. Carthage experi-
enced that as opposed to Rome. Even the highest in-
dustrial wages are of no avail if the workman can buy
no food in the country with his money.

And tliis state of affairs can arise if, in time of war,
the frontiers are wholly or largely closed, and home
agriculture is not in a position to provide a sufficient
amount of foodstuffs. What we might gain in peace,
and for the moment, by surrendering our agriculture
to foreign competition, we might ultimately have to
pay for in war with misery, hunger and their fatal
consequences to the State and society. Our agricul-
ture can only maintain numerous and, above all, pro-
ductive undertakings if it is protected by a sufficient
duty on imported agricultural produce. This pro-
tection it must receive.

Justice Towards Working Classes 271


It is the duty of the State to look after the welfare
of all classes of workers and the people in general.
It must not allow an industry of economic impor-
tance, like agriculture, which is indispensable to the
nation, to suffer in order that other branches of in-
dustry may thrive the more easily and quickly. The
State must grant its aid in proportion to individual
needs, and must make the nation in general share the
necessary burdens. As it is right that the working
classes should receive direct grants from the Im-
perial exchequer, so it is right that the existence of
agriculture should be indirectly assured by means of
the tariff. Both are a nohile officium of the State.
It is just as misleading to speak of favouritism in re-
gard to agriculture because of the policy of protec-
tive duties, as it is to speak of favouritism towards the
working classes because of our social policy. True
justice on the part of the State does not lie in grant-
ing or refusing the same thing to each class, each
trade, or each citizen, so that there may be no ex-
ternal differences; that would only be mechanical jus-
tice. Real justice hes in giving to each, as far as is
possible, what he most needs. This is the justice I

272 Imperial Germany

meant when, two months before the introduction of
the Tariff Bill, at a dinner on September 21, 1901,
given me at Flottbeck, my birthplace, by the provin-
cial diet of Pinneberg, I defined the economic policy
of His Majesty's Government as one that desired to
give to each what he required, true to the old motto
of the Hohenzollem, "Suum cuique." Our tariff
policy has to fulfil a double purpose. It must, on
the one hand, by means of sufficient protection, main-
tain home products in agriculture and industry in a
position to compete with foreign goods. On the other
hand, by means of commercial treaties of long dura-
tion, it must keep the foreign markets open to our in-
dustrial exports and foreign trade. In order to ac-
complish this first task we must surround ourselves
with a barrier of duties; in order to do justice to the
second we must arrange our protective tariff in such
a way as not to make it impossible for other countries
to conclude commercial treaties with us on terms which
are more or less acceptable to them. Commercial
treaties are like mercantile business contracts. Both
parties ask more than they expect to get ultimately,
and gradually reduce their demands, until, on the
basis of some middle course, the business is concluded.
Both parties try to obtain the greatest possible ad-

The Caprivi-Marschall Tariff Policy 273

vantages at the smallest possible cost. The salient
point for the State is this, to see that no important
economic interests are sacrificed. A middle course
must be found between protective tariffs and com-
mercial policy by means of which agriculture, com-
merce and industry can progress equably and side
by side.


Owing to a momentary standstill in exports the
Caprivi-Marschall Tariff Policy was directed entirely
towards commercial treaties. In order to be able to
conclude favourable commercial treaties as easily and
rapidly as possible, foreign countries were offered a
reduction in the duty on corn. But the opinion of
clever business men, that the demands of the other
parties increase in proportion as they are offered
more, proved to be right in the end. The important
commercial treaty with Russia, who derived great ad-
vantages from the reduction in the duties on cereals,

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Online LibraryBernhard BülowImperial Germany → online text (page 14 of 18)