Saturday, June 10, 2006

Sanitarians

A Plea For Liberty:
By the side of the claims made in the name of the great mass of labourers, in the name of the industrial proletariat and of the poor, there has arisen during the last fifteen or twenty years a new danger. It has its origin in a false conception of the attributes and powers of the State. We refer to the claims made on behalf of a system of official and governmental hygiene, which pretends to abolish insanitary conditions of life, to make healthy dwellings and workshops, in a word, to take under control the private lives of the citizens. In the opinion of many people at the present day, the modern State should be called on to determine the rate of wages, the length of the working-day, the price of provisions and other necessaries of life; to divide profits among the different branches of native industry, by the aid of innumerable laws, by a protective tariff, and by means of an army of inspectors. The Sanitarians ('Hygienistes' in the French term), in their turn, set out a programme of requirements and dictate the conditions under which houses are to be built and inhabited, the nature of the materials to be used, and the number of the tenants.
mckyPL: The Housing of the Working-Classes and of the Poor, by Arthur Raffalovich in paragraph VIII.5
Whether these pretensions are well founded or not, they have rendered sanitation popular. It has also created a group of Sanitarians who wish State protection to be introduced everywhere. M. Leon Say suggests a doubt whether people will be happier when the Sanitarians become master and succeed in regulating our lives to the minutest detail. In his opinion those who look at this matter from the scientific point of view should spare no effort to check this new protectionist movement. M. Leon Say has declared himself before all things a strong advocate of private initiative, all the more so because the limits of the rights of the State in the matter of hygiene cannot be determined.*89
mckyPL: Footnote: n89
89. [89] Hygiene has, in fact, become an official career. Those who fill the posts given by the State, seek to make themselves indispensable. One of the most distinguished of French doctors wrote to me recently that it will be necessary to make a new '89' against the tyranny of hygiene, and to risk a revolution in order to gain our liberty of eating and drinking, and to limit the busybodydom of Sanitarians in the concerns of our private life.