Re: [OPE-L] robert owen

From: clyder@GN.APC.ORG
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

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