The chief political leader in this new tendency was Prince Aloys v. Liechtenstein, who complained of the political influence exercised by the chambers of commerce, and demanded the organization of working men in gilds. It was by their influence that a law was introduced limiting the rate of interest, and they co-operated with the government in legislation for improving the material condition of the people, which had been neglected during the period of Liberal government, and which was partly similar to the laws introduced at the same time in Germany.
There seems no doubt that the condition of the workmen in the Special legislation. factories of Moravia and the oil-mines of Galicia was peculiarly unfortunate; the hours of work were very long, the conditions were very injurious to health, and there were no precautions against accidents. The report of a parliamentary inquiry, called for by the Christian Socialists, showed the necessity for interference. In 1883 a law was carried, introducing factory inspection, extending to mines and all industrial undertakings. The measure seems to have been successful, and there is a general agreement that the inspectors have done their work with skill and courage. In 1884 and 1885 important laws were passed regulating the work in mines and factories, and introducing a maximum working day of eleven hours in factories, and ten hours in mines. Sunday labour was forbidden, and the hours during which women and children could be employed were limited. Great power was given to the administrative authorities to relax the application of these laws in special cases and special trades. This power was at first freely used, but it was closely restricted by a further law of 1893. In 1887-1888 laws, modelled on the new German laws, introduced compulsory insurance against accidents and sickness.
These measures, though severely criticized by the Opposition, were introduced to remedy obvious, and in some cases terrible social evils. Other laws to restore gilds among working men had a more direct political object. Another form of state socialism was the acquisition of railways by the state. Originally railways had been built by private enterprise, supported in some cases by a state guarantee; a law of 1877 permitted the acquisition of private lines; when Taaffe retired the state possessed nearly 5000 m. of railway, not including those which belonged to Austria and Hungary conjointly. In 1889 a minister of railways was appointed. In this policy military considerations as well as economic were of influence. In every department we find the same reaction against the doctrines of laissez-faire. In 1889 for the first time the Austrian budget showed a surplus, partly the result of the new import duties, partly due to a reform of taxation.
For a fuller description of these social reforms, see the Jahrbuch fur Gesetzgebung (Leipzig, 1886, 1888 and 1894); also the annual summary of new laws in the Zeitschrift fur Staatswissenschaft (Stuttgart). For the Christian Socialists, see Nitti, Catholic Socialism (London, 1895).
Meanwhile it was necessary for the government to do something The language question. for the Czechs and the other Slavs, on whose support they depended for their majority. The influence of the government became more favourable to them in the matter of language, and this caused the struggle of nationalities to assume the first place in Austrian public life - a place which it has ever since maintained. The question of language becomes a political one, so far as it concerns the use of different languages in the public offices and law courts, and in the schools. There never was any general law laying down clear and universal rules, but since the time of Joseph II. German had been the ordinary language of the government. All laws were published in German; German was the sole language used in the central public offices in Vienna, and the language of the court and of the army; moreover, in almost every part of the monarchy it had become the language of what is called the internal service in the public offices and law courts; all books and correspondence were kept in German, not only in the German districts, but also in countries such as Bohemia and Galicia. The bureaucracy and the law courts had therefore become a network of German-speaking officialism extending over the whole country; no one had any share in the government unless he could speak and write German. The only exception was in the Italian districts; not only in Italy itself (in Lombardy, and afterwards in Venetia), but in South Tirol, Trieste, Istria and Dalmatia, Italian has always been used, even for the internal service of the government offices, and though the actual words of command are now given in German and the officers are obliged to know Serbo-Croatian it remains to this day the language of the Austrian navy.
Any interference with the use of German would be a serious blow to the cause of those who hoped to Germanize the whole empire. Since 1867 the old rules have been maintained absolutely as regards the army, and German has also, as required by the military authorities, become the language of the railway administration. It remains the language of the central offices in Vienna, and is the usual, though not the only, language used in the Reichsrath. In 1869 a great innovation was made, when Polish was introduced throughout the whole of Galicia as the normal language of government; and since that time the use of German has almost entirely disappeared in that territory. Similar innovations have also begun, as we shall see, in other parts.
Different from this is what is called the external service. Even in the old days it was customary to use the language of the district in communication between the government offices and private individuals, and evidence could be given in the law courts in the language generally spoken. This was not the result of any law, but depended on administrative regulations of the government service; it was practically necessary in remote districts, such as Galicia and Bukovina, where few of the population understood German. In some places a Slav-speaking individual would himself have to provide the interpreter, and approach the government in German. Local authorities, e.g. town councils and the diets, were free to use what language they wished, and in this matter the Austrian government has shown great liberality. The constitution of 1867 laid down a principle of much importance, by which previous custom became established as a right. Article 19 runs: "All races of the empire have equal rights, and every race has an inviolable right to the preservation and use of its own nationality and language. The equality of all customary (landesüblich) languages in school, office and public life, is recognized by the state.