Re: [OPE-L] robert owen

From: Dogan Goecmen (Dogangoecmen@AOL.COM)
Date: Mon Oct 16 2006 - 03:30:50 EDT

Hi Jerry,
this is what I am trying to say. Owen is subject of discussions in  socialist 
circles in the broadest sense of the term, and, you are right, I  should have 
also said in anarchist circles. 
Among mainstream academics the whole debate centers on the issues of  
distributive justice. The concept of distributive justice rests on the assumtion  of 
the distinction between mine and thine. (Please see Hume on justice.) Owen  
saw the limits of the concept of distributive justice practically in his  
experiments. His experiment in New Lenark was based on this concept. But soon he  
relised that this is a too narrow concept to grasp the complexity of human  
relations. When he wanted to change the whole nature of the experiment the  
shareholder abanden him his plans. Therefore in his later experiments he wanted  to 
estabilish communities resting on the concept of commmon ownership of the  
means of production.
I gree with you entirely that Marx scholars neglected utopian aspect of  
Marxist thought and that it is absolutely necessary to study utopian thinkers as  
part of Marx's (and Engels's) critique of political economy.
All leftwing scholars agree that capitalism must be critisised. Bu what is  
the alternative? This is the point. Without some kind of reliable and 
convincing  alternative all critique will fall short. Owen (and other 19th century 
utopian  thinkers) might be a good starting-point here. But I think also Thomas 
More is  essential. It is interesting that many of Marx's terms are already used 
by More  - so for example 'capitalism' to describe the social formation we 
live in.
I thank you very much for the references in this and the last  email.
In solidarity,
In einer eMail vom 16.10.2006 02:47:45 Westeuropäische Sommerzeit schreibt  

Hi  Dogan:

You might be surprised by the extent to which contemporary  anarchists
have discussed Robert Owen, e.g. see Kenneth Rexroth's (1974)  chapter
on  Communalism:

I'm  not sure how many more recent academic publications by anarchists on
Owen  there have been (I imagine you're right about that) but outside of
the  scholarly community there is probably more interest among anarchists
about  Utopianism in all forms than there is interest among most Marxists
about  value theory. I think, btw, that having a discussion about Owen on
this  list would be quite interesting given the divergent theoretical  and
political beliefs represented in the list membership.

In  solidarity, Jerry

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