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World Economy

Rudolf Steiner Archive & e.Lib Document

Sketch of Rudolf Steiner lecturing at the East-West Conference in Vienna.

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World Economy

On-line since: 13th November, 2000


THE following answers to questions (on the Tailor Example) given by Dr. Steiner at the “Seminar” which accompanied this course of lectures may be helpful to the reader: —

Q. X brings up for discussion the problem of the tailor. (Lecture IV.)

A. The illusion arises because the effect in relation to the single suit is extraordinarily small and therefore it needs a long time for this small effect to become visible in the tailor's accounts and for the loss to be really felt. Products become cheaper through division of labour. When you work, under division of labour, for a community your own products will also become cheaper than they would be if you were to work for yourself. This is due simply to the cheapening effect of the division of labour. If you interrupt it at a certain point, then you will make the article concerned, which you have made for yourself, more expensive. Now the single effect in relation to a single suit would naturally be small, but it would be marked if all tailors were to make their own suits. When a tailor, who makes his own suits, comes to make up proper accounts, he ought to price his own suits higher than the market price. He must reckon his expenses higher. Naturally, the supposition is that the suits should be bought, not from other tailors, but from the dealers in clothes, the clothiers. The price of a suit at the clothiers is cheaper than it would be if tailors worked without clothiers — otherwise the division of labour and merchanting would have no sense. Therefore the tailor ought to price a suit a little higher if he does without the merchant, because the merchant brings the single suit on to the market more cheaply than the tailor could bring it into use...

Q. Does the tailor depress the price of other suits of clothes by that one suit?

A. He depresses the price of suits by withdrawing one suit from the total number of suits with which the clothiers are dealing. He deprives the clothiers of the opportunity of making a profit on this suit. Therefore the clothiers must demand a higher profit on the other suits. This demand of the clothiers for a higher profit brings about a rise in clothiers' prices, but it means a drop in tailors' prices.

Q. Suppose there are considerably more clothiers than are economically justified?

A. In what I have said there is the presumption that exactly as many clothiers exist as are economically justified. We have to do not with progression in a straight line, but in a direction towards a maximum and a minimum. There is an optimum number of clothiers which will give the best commercial results. Anything over or below it would work uneconomically.

Q. Can the number be ascertained?

A. When you have rational management, then you will have a determinate number of clothiers, as of producers ...

List of relevant literature, published or distributed by Rudolf Steiner Press unless otherwise stated:


The Threefold Social Order
The Social Future
The Inner Aspect of the Social Question
Anthroposophy and the Social question
Education as a Social Problem


The Liberation of Work (Routledge R Kegan Paul)

of the works of Rudolf Steiner in the original German. Published by the Rudolf Steiner Nachlassverwaltung, Dornach, Switzerland, by whom all rights are reserved.

General Plan (abbreviated):


I. Works written between 1883 and 1925
II. Essays and articles written between 1882 and 1925
III. Letters, drafts, manuscripts, fragments, verses, inscriptions, meditative sayings, etc.


I. Public Lectures
II. Lectures to Members of the Anthroposophical Society on general anthroposophical subjects
Lectures to Members on the history of the Anthroposophical Movement and Anthroposophical Society
III. Lectures and Courses on special branches of work:
Art: Eurythmy, Speech and Drama, Music, Visual Arts, History of Art
Medicine and Therapy
Sociology and the Threefold Social Order Lectures given to Workmen at the Goetheanum

The total number of lectures amounts to some six thousand, shorthand reports of which are available in the case of the great majority.


Paintings in water colour, drawings, coloured diagrams, Eurythmy forms, etc.

When the Edition is complete the total number of volumes, each of a considerable size, will amount to several hundreds. A full and detailed Bibliographical Survey, with subjects, dates and places where the lectures were given, is available.

All the volumes can be obtained from the Rudolf Steiner Press in London as well as directly from the Rudolf Steiner Nachlassverwaltung (address as above).

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