Robots or men?: A French workman’s experience in American industry, [ Hyacinthe Dubreuil] on *FREE* shipping on qualifying offers. Hyacinthe Dubreuil’s Followers (3) · Lauren. Hyacinthe Dubreuil’s books. Hyacinthe Let us know. If not, help out and invite Hyacinthe to Goodreads. Le Travail Et La Civilisation. Esquisse De L�histoire Et De La Philosophie Du Travail. by Hyacinthe Dubreuil.

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These are passages from a text originally published in French in The author was a worker and a trade unionist. The ideas here developed are still quite original.

The suggestion to move from dependent work based on the wage-system to groups of independent workers that make contractual arrangements with the owner of the machines the capitalistis a wonderful proposition that, unfortunately, has not received the attention it deserves.

Perhaps the time has arrived to test and apply it on a large scale. All those people who hypnotize the masses with the problem of merely political change do a great wrong in distracting their attention from the personal effort that each man can make if he wishes to see a better world come to life. If the workers of today are bent under the wage-system, they would be just as badly off under no matter what new political regime provided that no fundamental changes were carried as far as the internal regime of the workshop.

We no longer gaze towards the sky for the coming of the Messiah borne upon the clouds amidst the tumult of angels’ trumpets: If it is no longer possible to expect the miraculous appearance of a better society, what then must we do?

If we desire justice, let us create it. And to create justice means first to conceive it, to define our idea” of it, and to translate this idea into the complex facts that should be ordered by it, to discover its many and various applications, to sort out our problems and endeavours, and to expect always to be faced with new difficulties presented by new facts. He alone, cries Faust, who has come through his testing period deserves liberty which, like life, must be conquered afresh each day.

As early as John Stuart Mill observed that the progress of the masses” is not achieved by passive qualities only, and in general what we do for people is no use to them unless it backs up only what they do for themselves”.

Oh, no doubt, to draw the workers’ attention to their duties and to the efforts they have to make would be a bad line of talk for an election address.

There are other reasons than those just indicated for not cherishing too much enthusiasm in favour of the idea of the “conquest of the State” as a solvent of the problem of the workers’ freedom.

At least, I should say, by the conquest of the State” from above”, for we have yet to learn whether a line of conquest “from below” cannot be found, by setting up new social cells of the most elementary nature for the transformation of the State from the inside.

Emile Vandervelde once wrote that he was disturbed at the prospects of the development of the State. This criticism of “etatisme” from the pen of an eminent socialist will already have helped to rectify certain ill-informed opinions.

prolocweb.brebeuf.qc.ca – /Dubreuil Hyacinthe – Duchaussoy Jacques/

It hyzcinthe just here that all those who have had business relations with firms that are growing beyond normal size have, had occasion to complain and lament the old days when the ‘master’ took personal charge of his concern and was accessible to his customers, to his dubreujl, and to his workpeople.

The ‘Departments’, apart from their necessary slowness, have an impersonal character which generally does not help their relations with the outside world, and they have sometimes been known to operate in an inopportune and clumsy manner.

This is one of the most vexatious disadvantages of these firms that have overshot their optimum scale of operation; it is especially noticeable when prompt decisions have to be taken owing to a sudden and unforeseen change of circumstances.

It still further aggravates the already painful situation created by lack of suppleness and adaptability. This evil is simply caused by a vice of organization which, as we see, applies equally to State and to private enterprises.

Hyacinthe Dubreuil : index

It springs from the fact that pari passu with the extension of the business no steps whatever have been taken to distribute and decentralize responsibility.

Introduce responsibility into the functions of the State with some system of sanctions operating as automatically as those which hit a business man who makes a mistake, and at the same stroke you will restore life and activity. What I am saying now is not intended, by the way, to launch a movement here for administrative reform, which is outside my competence, but rather to insist on the need to base all organization of work, at no matter what level, upon the sentiment of responsibility.


Let us hear M. We can scarcely exaggerate the importance of these last words, of which the italics are mine. They will inspire every line of this little work. We must give the workers a taste for freedom, a sense of initiative, a sentiment of dignity.

But these are qualities which will not be won through electoral channels. They will only be forged in the fire of workshop responsibilities, when their work will have passed from the passive to the active stage, from obedience pure and simple, from compulsory output, to the independent enthusiasm of the entrepreneur. I must say that the satisfaction that we derived from this was moral rather than monetary, which proves that if there is need of them, people are still to be found who can sacrifice their material interests for their idealism.

I am sorry to give the lie to this facile, demagogic theory, and point out that on the contrary – and this is an assertion that is easily verifiable – the wages of many unskilled workers often exceed those of the skilled for the simple reason that many of the former are engaged on tasks that are easy to pay by the piece, whereas the work of the latter, for practical reasons, cannot for the greater part of the time be paid otherwise than by the hour.

Everyone in the factories knows this, that is to say all those for whom work is not a mere field of observation and study, but the only way they have of earning their bread.

Actually, such was the case with my gang, and we had around us workers who were quickly familiarized with very simple operations, and who drew wages well above our own, although without the tools that we made they would not have been able to work.

The head of the business naturally knew of this situation and never left off chaffing us about it. And every time this occurred he used to insist that we should fall into line with the general rule, and thus raise our own wages, at the same time, naturally, giving him more plentiful production. For if our work did not lend itself as readily to rapid operation as was the case with the other men, it is no less certain that the initiative of the interested party, stimulated by piece-work, could nevertheless contribute some means of speeding up the work.

As he was satisfied, however, with the quality of our work, he did not dare to override our objections and impose upon us by force a system of work which was distasteful to us. Then it was that I remembered the experiment of the typographers’ commanditesabout which I had read in one of their propaganda pamphlets and suggested to my comrades that we should undertake our work an the same basis.

They accepted, and we then made a proposal to the head of the business which I may describe in this way:. Having prepared a detailed list of all the jobs that we were doing regularly, we calculated the cast of production of each piece according to the time that we took over it and the wage that was paid us.

That enabled us to tell the head of the business that up to the present these various pieces were casting him so much each.

We asked him then to take these prices purely and simply as a basis far a collective enterprise, that is to say that we undertook dubreuul to deliver him these pieces at the same price, but under the same conditions as an outside supplier, it being understood that thenceforth nobody would any longer be concerned with the time that we took over the work.

And, believe me, that was because we knew that we could make them easily! Naturally the work-place, equipment, raw materials and miscellaneous supplies would be at our disposal as formerly Note: It was finally agreed that every fortnight one of us would present at the counting-house a docket yhacinthe work delivered and draw the total sum due, so that no one at all could interfere in our distribution of this sum among the members of the gang. Taking advantage of the opportunity we added an extra demand to our proposal, saying to the head of htacinthe business: What is the good of uselessly punching these cards now, seeing that dubrduil have just done a deal that makes us your suppliers, and you are only paying far the work that we deliver to you.

Being businesslike and frank, and smiling as if to say ” but you can’t do that to me”, hywcinthe employer resisted the temptation that so many others would have had to yield nothing under the heading of “authority “, and agreed to everything: We became independent in the heart of the vast organization where we had to go on living, and from that moment onwards we passed scornfully by the time-recording clock, instrument and symbol of the mechanization of the worker!


We have no longer a moment to lose. No longer any effort to waste. No longer a talent that must not be used to the maximum. We soon get to work on rearrangements in the team. By Virtue of the principle of the utilization of abilities we soon arrange ourselves so that the jobs shall be shared out in such a way as to fit more exactly the competence of each man. There is among us an element that is precious above all others, and that is the skill of those who can be sure of executing the finest class of work.

One of us who we think has hitherto had a poor share in the distribution of the work gets a job of a more important order. We cannot afford to throw our resources away! Now, then, take care about the quality of the work! It won’t do to have arguments of this sort when the goods are delivered, or when they come to be used later on: Everyone understands that, and through the fact of the close interlocking of all the interests we now have a regime of the most thorough-going mutual aid.

The member of the team who is good at figures will keep the accounts. We consult an engineer, who supplies us with the formula we need for proportional sharing on a double basis. First we want the coefficients which distinguish the differences in value of the participants.

Then one to represent the time put in by each of us during the week or the fortnight. We must in fact have advance knowledge of absences.

All that is arranged without discussions, and is dbureuil consolidated at the sharing-out of the first invoice. Nothing hyaicnthe in fact more decisive than the sanction of results: From the first fortnight each man’s share is raised to a third more than the wage he drew before.

If it were necessary -but there is no need of anything over and above our observations – we might remark to the master – who has become our customer – that his pieces are not costing him any more than before. In reality they are costing less, yhacinthe we have given him more of them in the same time: Between ourselves our solidarity will take on later some novel and efficacious forms: A comrade is going to entertain some relations at home, and would very much hyzcinthe to be free to be with them: We shall not make any deductions.

It will be our turn another time. We decide – because we know him to be no scrimshanker, that we shall take no account of his absence. On the day of the share-out, he will touch his full quota. It is cordial and spontaneous. And it is efficient and elastic, quite different from hyyacinthe cold and mechanical operation of an insurance policy. The group is a family. But I will return later on to the examination of possible consequences of work thus organized in the group. Consequences the first effects of which I was able to dubrueil in this experiment, and the like of which can be observed in every case of application, and when the workers are left to themselves.

The important thing is to record the change in our relations with the business. They are no longer those of superior and subordinate. We are no longer supervised.

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According to Godin’s aspiration, this supervision has been entirely transferred to the work that leaves our hands. For we are in fact no longer wage-earners, but dubreull suppliers, no more nor less free than outside contractors. This situation is even confirmed by the fact that we have competitors. Getting supplies of certain pieces from outside firms, the employer sometimes says to the team: We examine whether the objection is well-founded. We accept or ddubreuil as the case may be. Moreover, let those who are disturbed at the idea of the disappearance of wages ponder these words: The only possible alternative to wages is the contract system.

If the wage-system is slavery, the contract alone is the practical basis of freedom. There is nothing more regular nor more powerful than the laws of life and of nature.

This has long been recognized in connection with many matters to which man’s scientific attention has been extended. It is precisely on the basis of this discovery, in fact, that we have succeeded in making rational use of the great forces of nature.