"the tariff or death"

"To live free while working or to die as a combatant"

Practical case:

about 1825, an industrialist owner of a spinning mill has spinning frames model A which manufacture 100 pins per hour. Let us admit, the employee who occupies himself of this machine is paid 10 F of the hour, that is to say 10 centimes per pin.

Two years later, the technological development puts on the market of the spinning frames which produce 200 pins per hour. The profits of productivity of the technical capital are important and the industrialists who will not possèderont these new trades will be inevitably beaten by those which will use them. The industrialist, to develop, must thus be among the first with being able to buy these new machines if it is not able to manufacture itself of the innovating machines. So as to preserve this capacity to invest and follow technological progress, it will force following calculation:

The machine will produce 200 pins but the employee does not have anything to see in this technological progress, he will continue to be paid 10 F of the hour but nothing will be able to prevent it from calculating its new tariff at piece-rates: this one will be divided here by two, it will pass to 5 centimes by pins. This new tariff will be wrongfully appreciated in comparison with handling which will double and tire of as much the employee.  The silk workers will revolt while launching this slogan which will be taken again throughout XIXème century: "the tariff or death". "To live free while working or to die as a combatant"


The silk workers are craftsmen of silk having a great occupational qualification and whose trade is recognized by the aristocracy which carries the results of their work. Ruined by the new industrial workshops installed in the suburbs of Lyon which produce more and at lower cost and the economic crisis of 1830, these craftsmen do not have any more like choice but to engage themselves as workman in these new factories or to remain on their premises to work 18 hours per day. To become paid and not to be its own owner more would still pass if they were associated the development of their factories but the application of these rules of the calculation of the wage the piece or the time tariff will render comprehensible to them the exact nature of the rules of this new industrial system. Sufficient educated in calculation management, they will refuse this system and will revolt as that occurred a few decades earlier under the Revolution.  The tariff if not it is better to prefer to die to accept this spoliation of work: the claim could not more legitimate, be justified that it was by the increase in rates. Monarchy will repress this revolt cruelly. There the brothers of Louis XVI and the noble ones have an occasion to take their revenge. They will apply the right of personal property of 1789 and in that they will respect this basic right obtained by the French people but this right will now be used to base their monopoly on the property of the means of production and the profits drawn from the profits as productivity. A royal army of 26 000 men will put an end to the first revolt of 1831. In 1834, at the time of the second revolt, the army will have to draw with the gun to reduce the insurrectionists.

 Capitalism will come to systematize this mode of calculation: the fixing of the wages must be free according to the market in order to respect the right of personal property of the contractors. Whereas the rural migration settles with the profit of the factories and the cities, those which refuse the reduction in the tariff must from go away and leave place with the peasants who present at the doors factories and which them will be well obliged to accept the new tariff, especially if they do not know anything in the world factory.

The showdown of 1831 carried out by the industrialists succeeds only by the fear of Monarchy of re-examining the founded popular revolts a new republic able to protect the property from work of the citizens and to position back a collective ownership organized by the community of the workmen. The army became thus, better than the catholic religion, the true defender of the system of being able. While preferring to rest on the soldiers rather than on the employees, the capacity also took a criminal route which was going to enable him to sacrifice more and more soldiers to consolidate his system.  The revolution of 1848 will found the National Workshops, true return to a collective ownership for the workmen but the economic laws and the competition of the capitalist system, the lack of entrepreneurship among the population since the departure of the Protestants, will not make it possible this revolution to lead to a real progress. Rather than to see the return of Monarchy, the people and the army will prefer the return to a Napoleonean capacity. The middle-class republic of 1871 will continue this way and without scruple will massacre the Commune of Paris and any discussion on its system of being able with the service of the capitalists. The paroxysm of this system was reached in the years 1916-1917 with the massacre of hundreds of thousands of soldiers in a few weeks at the time of the war of sliced during the First World War. They are not the romantic ones, writers, painters and musicians, who, by celebrating the time of the cathedrals and the knights, the Celtic, Egyptian and different people, could reintroduce solidarity and resistance networks protected by new knights out of weapons.

The profits thus released with the profit of the owners of the means of production are used for always being able to buy the most modern machines, most productive. Force is to note that since 1831, France knew to become the industrialized country for which the profits of productivity are primarily due to the technical capital, the country where automation at the vastest summer whereas the staff training remained very in on this side needs caused by this technological development. The prevalence of the image of the engineer in the popular imagery was well the vector of this élitiste culture which put technology at the service of the capitalists. And technology, more surely still than somewhat smoky scientific rationalism, more choked spirituality source of the alternative organized in network. Will come then time from the technological catastrophes: industrial, nuclear power, oil slicks. The citizens like the leaders of these industries will have to acknowledge their amazement and their fear in front of consequences which them scientific spirit had not been able to imagine. The terrorist threat, while seizing technologies to destroy the centers of the industrial and financial company, will complete this questioning of the system of the liberal economy. Another mode of property of these richnesses and these means of production must be restored. This evolution passes by an actualization and personal property and collective ownership, that of the states like that of the communities.

History of the revolt of the silk workers in Lyon: 

November 22, 1831, in Lyon. The workmen take possession of the barracks of Good Pasteur, plunder arms manufacture. Several bodies of guard of the army or the national guard are attacked and set fire to. The workmen make themselves main from the city, which is evacuated by the authorities. The battle is hard. Approximately 600 wounded victims including approximately 100 died and 263 military side, and 69 dead and 140 wounded civil side.

November 23, 1831, in Lyon. The workmen occupy the Town hall. An attempt at insurrectionary government is born. But, either for lack of project political, or by the trick of the authorities, these last will take again the control of the city as from December 2, 1831. An army of 26 000 men, 150 guns ordered by the son of the king and the Soult marshal, subdues the rebellion. There are 600 died and 10 000 people are expelled of the city. 

April 9, 1834, in Lyon, beginning of the second insurrection of the Silk workers. After the failure of the strikes of February then the vote of the law against the workers' associations, the judgement of the leaders of February, this 9 April, puts fire at the powder. The army occupies the city and the bridges, but already the first shootings burst with the troop, which shoots at disarmed crowd. At once, the streets cover barricades. The organized workmen take by storm the barracks of Good-Pasteur, and barricade themselves in the districts while making some of true fortified camps, as with the Russet-red Cross. It is the beginning of the "Bloody week".

April 10, 1834, Of new shootings take place with the troop. The insurrectionists seize the telegram, of the district of Guillotière, then of Villeurbanne where the barracks are taken. The black flag floats on Fourvière, St Mizier and Antiquaille.

April 11, 1834. The engagements continue. The district of the Russet-red Cross is bombarded by the troop which received reinforcements, massacres of all the inhabitants of the building of the street Transnonain.
Attempts at insurrection in Saint Etienne and Vienna.

April 12, 1834,  the troop attacks and takes the insurgent district of Guillotière, after having destroyed many houses with artillery

April 14, 1834, the army reconquers the city gradually and attacks for the third time the district of the Russet-red Cross, massacring many workmen.

April 15, 1834, in Lyon. End of the "Bloody week". The second great insurrection of the Silk workers is subdued in blood. More than 600 of victims are again to regret. 10 000 insurgent made captive will be judged in a "lawsuit monster" in Paris in April 1835, and will be condemned to the deportation or heavy prison sentences.


Strikes in the valley of the Beetle 1870 - 1914

The valley of the Beetle is a valley of Alsace located between Strasbourg and Saint-Dié, chief town of district: Molsheim

(on this Web site, some photographs of this valley are presented to you in animation: "country prohibited" by the fairies with the men)

source of the document : Season of Alsace, review published by the Last News of Alsace, edition of theBlue one.

... An investigation of the Presidency of Low-Alsace, carried out in 1887, relates to the working time and gives variable figures by company, which are located between 2 p.m. and 12h30 per day. This last figure is most widespread. The schedule of work common to the majority of the companies is that applied to the Factory Scheidecker de Labroque: 5 hours with 8 heures30, 9 hours at 1 p.m., 14 hours at 7 p.m..

The strikes at Scheidecker-in Regel with Schirmeck and Labroque of 1886  will start in connection with the introduction of a new scale of wage the piece which lowers the rate of them. It testifies to the will of employers to recover with its profit the profits of productivity pulled by the introduction of more modern machines and more rapids. That runs up quite naturally against the refusal of the workmen. Moreover, the strike is at the exit even process of modernization, which, and that is typical textile branch, is done gradually, workshop by workshop, machine by machine, without closing of company, to continue to carry out the orders, but without allowance none for the workmen whose trades are stopped by work...



The payment of a factory tourquennoise in 1880

1 Piety, cleanliness, and punctuality make the force of a good bargain. 8 It is strictly interdict of speaking during the office hours.
2 Our firm having reduced the schedules of work considerably, the office workers will have to more be present only 7 a.m. of the morning at 6 hours of the evening, and this, the days of weeks only. 9 The thirst for tobacco, wine or alcohol is a human weakness, and as such is prohibited to all the members of the personnel.
3 Prayers will be known as each morning in the large office. The office workers will be obligatorily present there. 10 Now that the office hours were vigorously reduced, the catch of food is still authorized between 11h30 and midday, but, to in no case work will not have to cease during this time.
4 Clothing must be of the most sober type. The office workers will not let themselves go to imaginations clothing of colors sharp, they will not carry bottom either, unless those are suitably mended. 11 The office workers will provide their own feather, a new pen-knife is available on request at Mister the Director.
5 In the offices, one will carry neither coat, nor overcoat. However, when time is particularly rigorous, the scarves, mufflers and caps will be authorized. 12 A senior, appointed by Mister the Director, will be responsible for the cleaning and the cleanliness of the large room, as well as directorial office. The juniors and the young people will introduce at Mister the Director 40 minutes before the prayers, and will remain after closing time to carry out cleaning. Brushes brushes floorcloths and soaps will be provided by Management.
6 Our firm places a frying pan at the disposal of the office workers. Coal and wood will have to be locked up in the trunk for this purpose. So that they can be heated, it is recommended to each member of the personnel to bring each day, 4 coal books during the cold season. 13 Increased lately, the new weekly wages will be from now on the following:

juniors up to 11 years:                     0 F 50

juniors up to 14 years:                     1 F 45

young people:                                         3 F 25

employees:                                      7 F 50

seniors (after 15 years of house):   14 F 50

The owners recognize and accept the generosity of the new laws of work, but await of the personnel a considerable increase in the output in compensation of these utopian conditions.


7 No office worker will be authorized to leave the part without the permission of Mister the Director. The calls of nature are however allowed and, to yield to it, the members of the personnel will be able to use the garden below the anode screen. Of course, this space will have to be held in a perfect order.

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