chapter  3
8 Pages

A New View of Robert Owen: Owenites and Owenism

In Britain meanwhile it was imprecise, Owenism could appeal broadly, and Owenites grew in number. To the masses which the French Revolution had made politically aware and on which the Industrial Revolution was imposing new and appalling burdens while increasing exponentially the capacity to create wealth, Owen's new view was of a society which had realised their aspirations. Seeking to use the master's own model, some Owenites established co-operative communities. In 1833 that Owen appeared at the London Co-operative Congress to advocate the creation of the Grand Moral Union of the Productive Classes. In an age lacking social imagination the persuasion, however firm, of Owenism, could not remove mountains. Still, the struggle within Parliament for the reform of Parliament came near to being a revolution on whose comprehensive and rolling tumbril Owenites and Owenism could have expected to secure, as a preliminary to the reconstitution of the country as an industrial democracy, a terminal passage for the old corrupt order.