Date: Tue Oct 31 2006 - 03:36:07 EST
Visiting New Lanark was a great inspiration to me in the late 1980s, encouraging me to work with Allin on our book Towards a New Socialism, which contains strong owenite themes. Quoting Dogan Goecmen <Dogangoecmen@AOL.COM>: > > Robert Owen (1771 – 1858) was a contemporary of G.W.F. Hegel. He saw Karl > > Marx launching the Communist Manifesto in 1848 in London. Owen’s name is > well > known among academics, but he is hardly researched. His work is subject to > discussions merely in socialist circles. However, further research would > show how > relevant his work is. He is rich in ideas about how to solve modern social > problems and how to overcome environmental crises by reorganising production > > and consumption. > Owen was a self-taught and self-made man. He received only a primary > education in Newtown (County Powys) in Wales and an apprenticeship in > London. But he > developed a good grasp of the sophisticated questions of social, moral and > political philosophy, and political economy. He was influenced mainly by > 18th > century French philosophers, particularly by P.H.T. d’Holbach. But the > primary source of his knowledge was the conditions of the working class in > Britain. > Therefore, all his intellectual and political activities, theoretical and > practical knowledge were devoted to improving the conditions of the working > > class. > Owen wanted to change the world and open up a new epoch in the history of > humanity. His main thesis was that throughout history humanity had been > acted > upon by circumstance. But it was time now that human beings acted upon their > > circumstances. All his experiments and works contain in their titles the > expression ‘new’. His experiment in New Lanark in Scotland (1800-1825), > though in > many senses revolutionary, was still an experiment to show how the profit of > > the owners of the means of production could be improved by improving the > conditions of the working class. The only experiment which might be > classified as > socialist was New Harmony between 1825 and 1829 in Indiana in the USA. In all > > his experiments he paid particular attention to the education of children > and in his educational experiments he combined theory and practice. After > the > failure of his experiment in Indiana he was involved in publishing > periodicals. He introduced the term ‘socialist’ in social and political > philosophy. > Since Friedrich Engels’ distinction between utopian and scientific > socialism, Owen is seen as a utopian socialist. But he was not a utopian in > the sense > that he was naïve and hoping to change the world by experimenting with > small-scale socialist settlements. With his experiments he wanted to > stimulate the > imagination, to show practically that production can be organised on the > principle of meeting peoples’ needs and that a new society can be > established > throughout the world on the principle of internationalism. He was aware of > the > fact that this would require huge effort. If he was a utopian, then, it was > in > the sense that he thought that this effort could be made by capitalists, who > > were interested merely in improving their profit, and by statesmen who were > > interested primarily in enlarging their powers and empires. But having > seized > power, even Lenin suggested that one must return now to Owen to learn how to > > build a socialist society or in Owen’s words a New Moral World. > Dogan Gocmen > > ---------------------------------------------------------------- This message was sent using IMP, the Internet Messaging Program.
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