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ROBERT OWEN, THE FATHER OF ENGLISH SOCIALISM. Reprinted (by permission) from Great Thoughts. The end of the n'neteenth century is witnessing the rescue of many memories from undeserved obli- vion, and chief amongst them is that ot Robert Owen. Tardy justice is now being paid to a prophet and pioneer who. with all his mistakes, foresaw, foretold, and prepared for the better day Low dawning upon the people. Robert Own was the father ot English Socialism—we miaht also say was the first Socialist in Europe—certainly he was the tirst true socialist. Historic Socialism arose simultaneously in France and England. In 1817 Robert Owen placed betoie a Committee of the House of Commons a scheme for social reorganisa1 ion by means of socialistic com- munities, and in the very same year Saint Simon propounded his Hociaiist views in his ttttHis" L'indu trie. But though simultaneous, these actions were independent and disconnected. Saint- Simon's Socialism was somewhat sentimental and theoretic, a rosuit of the French Revolution end a deduction from the abstract principles of liberty, equality, and fia ernity. R'bert Oweii's, on the other hand, was practical, and arusefiom no abstract principles, but directly trom the heart and neat of the New Industry itself. It was true- Socialism, inasmuch as it was of industrial and not of f.o.iiical origin, the direct product of the Industrial Revolu- tion. BIRTH AND EARLY LIFE. Wales gave us the first modern Socialist, for Robert Owen was born in Newtown, Montgomery, m the year 1771. He lived to the great age ot eigh y- seven, and after roaming nearly all over the world, completed the circie of his life by dying in Newtown in 1858, where, in a dingy graveyerl, ignored and,, neglected, he hes buried, his felk.w-townstnen reluki- ing permission to erect a drinking fountain or a clock-tower to his memory. Robert Owen's life may be divided into two pMbl, an induti-rial and a theo- logical, although these Were never enti eiy separated. Up to the age of titty-eight be was mÚuIY bUflY with industrial problem, and then he wore out the rest of hisnumerous d>iy*—Welshman-like —in theological combat, firt as secuarist, and finally as spiritualist. He was the son of a flddl..r and ironmoiger in poor circumstances. He had but little education, and began lite at ten as a draper's ass:s,a! t. first. in London, then at Stamford, and back in London again in a shop on old Lonoon Bridge, wlwe he icit Li. ut- self "rich and independent" on .£25 a year with board aud lodging. But he bettered himself by going to St. A< n's Square, Manchester, wheie he received £ 40 lleie ne manifested great business skill, and, seeing his opportunity, at the age of eighteen went into business for himself in the cotton- spinning trade, then taking its n"w and modern foim When but nineteen he became manager and partner in the Chorlton Twist 0<>mp my, where he had con- trol of a cotton-u>ill with five hundred hands. He soon manifested great organising ability and much enterprise. His company becawe a leading ffrm, and Owen used the first bags of Sea Isiand cotton ever imported into this country from the Southern States. In 1799, when twenty-eight, he married the daughter of David Dale, whom be had met previously in Glasgow. THE MILLS OF NEW LANARK. Thisbevan his connection with the f-mous New Lanark Mills. David Dale, in partnership with Richard ArkwrighT, the inventor, bad in 1784 founded these cotton mills near I,ne Falls ot Clyde 11 order to utilise the water-power. Owen p Staged the Chorlton Twist Company to l'urnhae tbean nulls fc X60,000, and he himself in 1800 became manager IoDd tion on the part of all the members for every purpose of social life." In 1813, the year of the new paitner- ship with Bentham and Allen, Owen published his views in the form of a collection of essays entitled A new view of Society, or essays on the formation of Human Charactor." These essays advocated a modified form of Communism and contained much wise and advanced teaching on educational and social questions, but they revealed an antagonism to religion which finally ruined Owen's prospects as a social reformer, especially as he subsequently took no pains to hide that antagonism. Never, however, was a social propaganda more vigoarously conducted. Owen had amassed a large fortuue. but he freely spent it on his schemes and in advertising them to the whole world. In 1816 Owen gave evidence before a. Committee of the House of Commons upon the con- dition of the people, and his suggestions, whici appeared in their report of 1817, revealed his social ism. He anticipated at the beginning of I he new industry all the evils evolved in its subsequent de. velopment, and saw especially that the machinery which was meant to bless man would first curse him. In his" Observations on the Effects of the Manulac- turing System (1817) he says, Since the discovery of the enormous, the incalculable power to superbedv iijanual labour, to enable the human race to create wealth by the aid of the sciences, it has b. en a gross mistake of the political economists to make humanity into slaves to science, instead of making, as Nature intends, science to be the slaves and the servauts of humanity. And this sacrificing of human beings with such exquisite physical, intellectual, mo.a], spiritual, and practical organs, faculties and powers, so wondrously contained in each individual, to pins, needles, thread, tape, etc., and to all tuch inanimate materials, exhibits ac once the most gross ignorance of the nature and true value of hum mity, and of the principles and practices required to form a prosper- ous, rational, and happy state of society, or the true existence of man upon earth." He even goes so far as to ask where the increased wealth went which his two thousand workpeople produced-wealth which it would have taken six hundred thousand men to have produced a century before. He clearly saw that his people benefited but little. Owen revolted then, against the subordination of man to machinery, whioh he saw going on around him. Nor was be satisfed with Malthus's solution. He denied that over-population was any danger, he saw that the efficiency of the means of production would increase in greater ratio, and declared that it was not by arti- ficially limiting- population that mn could escape from their woes, but by instituting rational ar- I rangements and by securing a fair distribution of wealth." OWEN AS COHHUNIST. This Owen thought could be secured by the multi- plication of communities similar to that of New Lanark—conducted on Socialistic or Commu-nstic principles. These he thought might multiply, be federated, and ultimately unite the whole world into one great happy republio. So persuaded was he that he had found a cure for all onr woes that he started forth to found his new world. In 1825 he went to America and founded, in Indiana, New Harmony, a model Commune, at vast expense to himself, while his diseiple, Abraham Combe, set up another for him at Orbiaton, near Glasgow. Both were utter failures, as were also two founded-one at Balabine. in county Claro, Ireland, in 1831, and another at Tytherly, in Hampshire, in 1839. These experiments were the financial ruin of Owen, who. with heroic self-sacrifice, pank a whole fortune ih them. In 1821 part-owner. Here Robert Owen soon proved that he had a soul above money-making. The condition of the workman was at this juncture degrad-d iu the extreme. With no political rights-without even power to combine-be was ill-housed, ill-fed, iil-paid, all of which bad very serious physical and moral results. These evilt*, evils aggravated by the rise of the factory system and the invention of machinery, were keenly ielt by Kobeit Vw,n. He found the adults at New Lanark—same 1,5-io a deplorably low, neglected, and vicious condition. He at once improved their dwellings and shortened their hours. Ttie children-some five hundred of them—had been woli-treated by Ddvid Dale; but Owen did still more for them he undertook their education. At first he was distrusted by the workpeople, who credited him only with an eye to profit. inudgei-y in his reforms 1 but when barn times came in 1806. and most, mil a W'-iv c.nseo, Roberi Owen run his at a loss, and puid ■ £ 7,000 in wages. Ttiis won for him the hearts of the operative;1. Fr. m that time Robert Owen began his wondcrfui and successtul expenmeiit3 in THE ORGANISATION OF INDUSTRY, with a view to the happiness of the labourer. These experiments became famous, and attracted the a mention ot statesmen and social reformers in every land. Owen became the hero of a decade and the t riend of royalty, g rat"tateUlell, and philanthropists. For tne adults at N' w Lanark O-veu secured shorter hours of labour, improved dwellings and sanitation, and established shops or ttoresupoii the co-operative rincij le. For the children h^ e-tabiished au infant sohoo —or ra' her, An Institution for the Formation of haracter "—the nature of which can be guessed from the tact that the tiniest iiif^nts were taught in the playground never to injure their playmates, but to do ail in their power to make them happy." In all this Owen was pioneer-a. pioneer ot the Factory Acts, of Co-apey ation, and of Infant. Schools. Hut while the public approved, lis partners did not —it did not seem to their mercenary minds "business "-so that when Owen began to build a schoolroom 90; t by 40ft, to bo called The Institu- ti m," tney objected, and stopped proceeding. With bui ding Opt rations suspen ded, ana half-reared walls, Robert OWI,n turned his attention to the question of g !tti,iL, rid of his covetous partners; and finally, with Jeremy Bertbam and William Alien, the Quaker, bought them out and formed a new company ou the express condition that he was to werk his will so long as the mills paid his partners five per Cf-nt. The N,,w Lanark Mills became more success- iuI and famous than ever. As he afterwards wrote in the Times (in 1834): .0 For. twenty-nine years we did without the necessity for magistrates or lawyers, without a single legal panithment, without any known poor's rlite, without intemperance, and with- on religiu animosities. We reduced the hours of labour, well educated all the child en from infancy, improved tl.e condition of the adults, diminished their (laily hours of labour, pai I interest on capital, and cleared upwards of X300,000 profit." It led to great results both educationaly and socially. Through Uwen, Lord Brougham, James Mill, and bir U. Grey opened in 1819, in Brower's G eon, West- minster, the fitst public infant school in England. OWEN AS SOCIALIST. He found, however, that mere philanthropy woald no so ve the economic question—that it mvcuveo ntire social reorganisation. His reflections and experiments led him to advocate Communism, or, a* he termed it, co-operation, unrestrained co-opera- he started a journal, The Economist, in which to advo- cate his cause. The spirit in "hich he entered on his enterprise may be gathered from these glowing word in the first number "I have had the boldness to take upon my shoulders the burden of examining the whole affairs and circumstances of man- kind. I summon to my aid all the friends of humanity. It my feeble voiee be at first scarcely beard amid the noisy contentions cf the world, yet if it be joined by the full chorus of the sons of truth, swelling into clarion shouts of count- less multitudes, and caught with joyous acclaim from nation to nation, the harmonising strains shall resound throughout the giobe." On the title-page of his paper it was declared to be "a periodical paper, explanatory of a new system of society and a plan of ar-sociation for improving the condition of the working classses, during their continuance at their present employment." The italics are ours THE COLLAPSE. But Owen mixed up with his Socialism ablatant and aggressive Secularism which, in a much more intolerant day than this, was fatal to his prospects of success. Friction began at New Lanark with his Quaker partner, Wm. Allen, and being now penniless he was in 1828 forced to withdraw from the mills, the scene of all his triumphs. Henceforth for thirty long wretched ye rs he was a social outcast, i-purned by the very folks who once feted him, his name becoming a synonym for theories and views proiane and immoral. Nothing daunted, Owen car- ried on a vigorous props ganda amongst the working classes, and ..0 successfully, that the IVtstmirxU- Review (1839) stated that Robert Owen's Seouiarism was the actual creed of a great portion of them. Strange to say, however, his Socialism wa^still-bcrn A few enthusiastic followers—the Owenites-oid atart labour leagues, hut the fruit they produced was political, they produced the Chartist agitation. In 1832 Owen established a Labour Exchange," where notes for work done were to supersede money. In 1835 the Owenites first gave the name Socialism t > the new movement, at meetings of "the associa- tion of all classes and of all nations." These are links with the later Soc alism, which, however, owes nothing directly to Owen. Owen's Socialism came too soon, not for the need of the workmen, but for his intelligence. It died out completely even in Owen's lifetime. Owen finally renounced Secularism for what oae calls, "the comfortless vagaries" of Spiritualism,, due probably to the influence of his well-known son, Robert Dale Own, the American Sinn tor and Spiritualist. in his declining years he retired to the obscurity of his Welsh birthplace, aud there ebbed out in extreme old age. Owen was a great man. To him we largely owe the Infant School System, the Factory Acts, Co-opera- tion, and Municipal Socialism. In all these he -was a pioneer, and a pioneer of magnificent ardour, courage and self-sacrifice. But he was too inconoclastic and over confident. He understood neither average' human nature, nor the laws of social development, and he made the mistake of attacking the aocepted ideas of both religion and marriage. Where he was wrong he was offensively wrong, RDd where he was right he was premature, and therefore his movement- was foredoomed to failure. Like some robust peren- nial plant, it died down quite out of eight, but left such vigorons roots in English soil, that after ap- parent death, under new favourable conditions, Owen's ii fluencf revived ano bronght forth abundant frnit in Education, the Co-ooerative movement and modern municipal Socialism. fextrsb E. Kinu,