1920s >> 1924 >> no-236-april-1924

Joseph Chamberlain on the Functions of the Capitalist State


“From the moment that we accepted and entered upon the duties of office our most important duty, our most absorbing care, has-been not the party legislation, which occupies probably the largest part of our public discussion, but the development and the maintenance of that vast agriculture, manufacture, and commercial enterprise upon which the welfare and even the existence of our great population depends. .  .  .  .  All the great offices of state are occupied with commercial affairs. The Foreign Office and the Colonial Office are chiefly engaged in finding new markets and —in defending old ones. The War Office and the Admiralty are mostly occupied in preparations for the defence of those markets and for the protection of our commerce. The Boards of Agriculture and of Trade are entirely concerned with those two great branches of industry. Even the Education Department bases its claim to the public money upon the necessity of keeping our people well to the front in the commercial competition which they have to sustain; and the Home Office finds the largest scope for its activity in the protection of life and health and in the promotion of the comfort, of the vast army of manual labourers who are engaged in those industries. Therefore it is not too much to say that commerce is the greatest of all political interests and that that Government deserves most the popular approval which does most to increase our trade and to settle it on a firm foundation.”

(From a speech to the Birmingham Chamber of Commerce, 1896. Quoted by L. S. Woolf in Empire and Commerce in Africa, p. 7.)