Mrs Barbara Castle in her White Paper In Place of Strife, laid emphasis on how ‘the growing independence of modern society means the use of the strike weapon in certain circumstances can inflict disproportionate harm on the rest of society’. The recent strike of the miners, the earlier activities of the electricians, and the activities of the Transport Unions emphasize this point. Some, if not all unions, have power to wreak havoc on the state. Indeed, they indicate their power to threaten the sovereignty of the state. The problem of labour peace is no longer purely an economic one: it is political. In the 19th Century the task of government was to keep clear of intervention in the economic sphere. And this liberal view is apparently still held by some of those in the large trade unions. Nevertheless, one of the indisputable functions of government is to maintain order, and where it fails it is moribund. The problem of the 20th Century is to reconcile the apparently conflicting interests of labour, capital and all the citizens which comprise the state. This is not simply a problem of labour economics but a problem of government, too.
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