The Intellectual Foundations of Political Economy
19th Century Socialist Thinkers
|Part I||Part III|
To the County of Lanark, of a Plan for relieving Public Distress and Removing Discontent, by giving permanent, productive Employment to the Poor and Working Classes, under Arrangements which will essentially improve their Character, and ameliorate their Condition, diminish the Expenses of Production and Consumption, and create Markets co-extensive with Production. By Robert Owen, May 1, 1820.
The following Report was submitted, at the request of Committee of Gentlemen of the Upper Ward of Lanarkshire, to a General Meeting of the County, held at Lanark on the 1st May, 1820, and was ordered to be referred to the consideration of a Committee, composed of the following gentlemen:
Norman Lockhart, Esq., Convener of the Committee; Robert Hamilton, Esq., Sheriff Depute of Lanarkshire; Sir James Stewart Denham of Coltness, Bart; Sir William Honyman of Armadale, Bart; Sir Henry Steuart of Allanton, Bart; Colonel Gordon of Harperfield; Hugh Mosman of Auchtyfardle, Esq. **
[*An MS copy of pts 2-3 is in the University of London Library (MS 692). The full title of the first edn is: Report to the County of Lanark, of a Plan for Relieving Public Distress, and Removing Discontent, By Giving Permanent, Productive Employment, to the Poor and Working Classes; Under Arrangements Which Will Essentially Improve Their Character, and Ameliorate Their Condition; Diminish the Expenses of Production and Consumption, and Create Markets Co-extensive with Production. Another edn 1832, Reprinted in New Moral World vol. 11, nos 38-43, 45-6 (1843), pp. 301-2 209-10 317-18, 325 334-5, 343, 357-8, 365-6, vol. 12, no. 1 (1 July 1843), pp. 1-2. The New Existence of Man Upon the Earth (1854), pt 3, pp. i-xlii, Owen, Life, vol. lA (1858), pp. 263-320. Later reprints include 1927, 1963, 1970, 1991.]
[** Norman Lockhart (1802-49), 3rd baronet from 1832.
Robert Hamilton (?1750-1831), who fought at Bunker Hill and other battles against the Americans; legal writer and genealogist.
General Sir James Steuart Denham (1744-1839), best-known for his role in suppressing the 1798 Irish rebellion.
Sir William Honyman (1756-1825), Lord Armadale: judge.
Sir Henry Steuart (1759-1836): author of The Planter's Guide.
Lt-Col. Thomas Gordon (d. 1832).
Hugh Mosman (1754--1828).]
The evil for which your Reporter has been required to provide a remedy, is the general want of employment, at wages sufficient to support the family of a working man beneficially for the community.
After the most earnest consideration of the subject he has been compelled to conclude that such employment cannot be procured through the medium of trade, commerce, or manufactures, or even of agriculture, until the Govern-ment and the Legislature, cordially supported by the country, shall previously adopt measures to remove obstacles, which, without their interference, will now permanently keep the working classes in poverty and discontent, and gradually deterioriate all the resources of the empire.
Your Reporter has been impressed with the truth of this conclusion by the following considerations: -
1st. - That manual labour, properly directed, is the source of all wealth, and of national prosperity.
2nd. - That, when properly directed, labour is of far more value to the community than the expense necessary to maintain the labourer in consider-able comfort.
3rd. - That manual labour, properly directed, may be made to continue of this value in all parts of the world, under any supposable increase of its population, for many centuries to come.
4th. - That, under a proper direction of manual labour, Great Britain and its dependencies may be made to support an incalculable increase of popula-tion, most advantageously for all its inhabitants.
5th. - That when manual labour shall be so directed, it will be found that population cannot, for many years, be stimulated to advance as rapidly as society might be benefited by its increase.
These considerations, deduced from the first and most obvious principles of the science of political economy, convinced your Reporter that some formid-able artificial obstacle intervened to obstruct the natural improvement and progress of society.
It is well known that, during the last half century in particular, Great Britain, beyond any other nation, has progressively increased its powers of production, by a rapid advancement in scientific improvements and arrange-ments, introduced, more or less, into all the departments of productive indus-try throughout the empire.
The amount of this new productive power cannot, for want of proper data, be very accurately estimated; but your Reporter has ascertained from facts which none will dispute, that its increase has been enormous; - that, compared with the manual labour of the whole population of Great Britain and Ireland, it is, at least, as forty to one, and may be easily made as 100 to one; and that this increase may be extended to other countries; that it is already sufficient to saturate the world with wealth, and that the power of creating wealth may be made to advance perpetually in an accelerating ratio.
It appeared to your Reporter that the natural effect of the aid thus obtained from knowledge and science should be to add to the wealth and happiness of society in proportion as the new power increased and was judiciously directed; and that, in consequence, all parties would thereby be substantially benefited. All know, however, that these beneficial effects do not exist. On the contrary, it must be acknowledged that the working classes, which form so large a proportion of the population, cannot obtain even the comforts which their labour formerly procured for them, and that no party appears to gain, but all to suffer, by their distress.
Having taken this view of the subject, your Reporter was induced to con-clude that the want of beneficial employment for the working classes, and the consequent public distress, were owing to the rapid increase of the new productive power, for the advantageous application of which, society had neglected to make the proper arrangements. Could these arrangements be formed, he entertained the most confident expectation that productive em-ployment might again be found for all who required it; and that the national distress, of which all now so loudly complain, might be gradually converted into a much higher degree of prosperity than was attainable prior to the extraordinary accession lately made to the productive powers of society.
Cheered by such a prospect, your Reporter directed his attention to the consideration of the possibility of devising arrangements by means of which the whole population might participate in the benefits derivable from the increase of scientific productive power; and he has the satisfaction to state to the meeting, that he has strong grounds to believe that such arrangements are practicable.
His opinion on this important part of the subject is founded on the following considerations:
1st. - It must be admitted that scientific or artificial aid to man increases his productive powers, his natural wants remaining the same; and in proportion as his productive powers increase he becomes less dependent on his physical strength and on the many contingencies connected with it.
2nd. - That the direct effect of every addition to scientific, or mechanical and chemical power, is to increase wealth; and it is found, accordingly, that the immediate cause of the present want of employment for the working classes is an excess of production of all kinds of wealth, by which, under the existing arrangements of commerce, all the markets of the world are overstocked.
3rd. - That, could markets be found, an incalculable addition might yet be made to the wealth of society, as is most evident from the number of persons who seek employment, and the far greater number who, from ignorance, are inefficiently employed, but still more from the means we possess of increasing, to an unlimited extent, our scientific powers of production.
4th. - That the deficiency of employment for the working classes cannot proceed from a want of wealth or capital, or of the means of greatly adding to that which now exists, but from some defect in the mode of distributing this extraordinary addition of new capital throughout society, or, to speak commercially, from the want of a market, or means of exchange, co-extensive with the means of production.
Were effective measures devised to facilitate the distribution of wealth after it was created, your Reporter could have no difficulty in suggesting the means of beneficial occupation for all who are unemployed, and for a considerable increase to their number.
Your Reporter is aware that mankind are naturally averse to the commencement of any material alteration in long-established practices, and that, in many cases, such an innovation, however beneficial its tendency, cannot take place unless forced on society by strong necessity.
It is urgent necessity alone that will effect the changes which our present situation demands; one of which respects the mode of distributing the enormous supply of new wealth or capital which has been lately created, and which may be now indefinitely increased. To the ignorance which prevails on this and other subjects connected with the science of political economy may be attributed the present general stagnation of commerce, and the consequent distress of the country.
Your Reporter, undismayed by any opposition he may excite, is determined to perform his duty, and to use his utmost exertions to induce the Public to take into calm consideration those practical measures which to him appear the only remedy adequate to remove this distress.
One of the measures which he thus ventures to propose, to let prosperity loose on the country, (if he may be allowed the expression,) is a change in the standard of value.
It is true that in the civilised parts of the world gold and silver have been long used for this purpose; but these metals have been a mere artificial standard, and they have performed the office very imperfectly and inconveniently.
Their introduction as a standard of value altered the intrinsic values of all things into artificial values; and, in consequence, they have materially retarded the general improvement of society. So much so, indeed that, in this sense, it may well be said, 'Money is the root of all evil.* It is fortunate for society that these metals cannot longer perform the task which ignorance assigned to them. The rapid increase of wealth, which extraordinary scientific improvements had been the means of producing in this country prior to 1797, imposed upon the Legislature in that year an overwhelming necessity to declare virtually by Act of Parliament that gold ceased to be the British standard of value.** Experience then proved that gold and silver could no longer practically represent the increased wealth created by British industry aided by its scientific improvements.
[* See 1 Timothy 6:10.]
[** Redemption of banknotes in gold was suspended by the Bank Restriction Act in 1797 and reintroduced in 1819, causing deflation.]
A temporary expedient was thought of and adopted, and Bank of England paper became the British legal standard of value; - a convincing proof that society may make any artificial substance, whether possessing intrinsic worth or not, a legal standard of value.
It soon appeared, however, that the adoption of this new artificial standard was attended with extreme danger, because it placed the prosperity and well-being of the community at the mercy of a trading company, which, although highly respectable in that capacity, was itself, in a great degree, ignorant of the nature of the mighty machine which it wielded. The Legislature, with almost one voice, demanded that this monopoly of the standard of value should cease. But it was wholly unprepared with a remedy. The expedient adopted was to make preparations for an attempt to return to the former artificial standard, which, in 1797, was proved by experience to be inadequate to represent the then existing wealth of British empire, and which was, of course, still more inadequ-ate to the purpose when that wealth and the means of adding to it had been in the interim increased to an incalculable extent. This impolitic measure involved the Government in the most formidable difficulties, and plunged the country into poverty, discontent, and danger.
Seeing the distress which a slight progress towards the fulfilment of this measure has already occasioned, by the unparalleled depression of agriculture, commerce, and manufactures, and the.consequent almost total annihilation of the value of labour, it is to be hoped that the Government and the Legislature, and the enlightened and reasonable part of society, will pause while they are yet only on the brink of the frightful abyss into which they are about to precipitate the prosperity and safety of themselves and the country.
The meeting may now justly ask of the Reporter, what remedy he has to offer, and what standard of value he proposes to substitute for gold and silver?
Before proceeding to this part of the subject he begs to claim the indulgence of the meeting for occupying so much of its time, trusting that the intricacy, difficulty, and importance of the question, added to the daily increasing poverty and distress of the working classes, (going on apparently without limitation,) and the consequent alarming and dangerous state of the country, will be accepted as some apology for him; and more especially when it is considered that he is not advocating any private interest, but simply stating a case in which the prosperity and well-being of all ranks in the community are deeply concerned.
To understand the subject on which your Reporter is now about to enter requires much profound study of the whole circle of political economy. A knowledge of some of its parts, with ignorance of the remainder, will be found to be most injurious to the practical statesman; and it is owing to this cause, perhaps, more than to any other, that the world has been so wretchedly governed; for the object of this science is to direct how the whole faculties of men may be most advantageously applied; whereas those powers have been combined, hitherto, chiefly to retard the improvements of society.
Your Reporter, then, after deeply studying these subjects, practically and theoretically, for a period exceeding thirty years, and during which his practice without a single exception has confirmed the theory which practice first sug-gested, now ventures to state, as one of the results of this study and experience,
THAT THE NATURAL STANDARD OF VALUE IS, IN PRINCIPLE, HUMAN LABOUR, OR THE COMBINED MANUAL AND MENTAL POWERS OF MEN CALLED INTO ACTION.
And that it would be highly beneficial, and has now become absolutely necessary, to reduce this principle into immediate practice.
It will be said, by those who have taken a superficial or mere partial view of the question, that human labour or power is so unequal in individuals, that its average amount cannot be estimated.
Already, however, the average physical power of men as well as of horses, (equally varied in the individuals,) has been calculated for scientific purposes, and both now serve to measure inanimate powers.
On the same principle the average of human labour or power may be ascertained; and as it forms the essence of all wealth, its value in every article of produce may also be ascertained, and its exchangeable value with all other values fixed accordingly; the whole to be permanent for a given period.
Human labour would thus acquire its natural or intrinsic value, which would increase as science advanced; and this is, in fact, the only really useful object of science.
The demand for human labour would be no longer subject to caprice, nor would the support of human life be made, as at present, a perpetually varying article of commerce, and the working classes made the slaves of an artificial system of wages, more cruel in its effects than any slavery ever practised by society, either barbarous or civilised.
This change in the standard of value would immediately open the most advan-tageous domestic markets, until the wants of all were amply supplied; nor while this standard continued could any evil arise in future from the want of markets.
It would secure the means for the most unlimited and advantageous inter-course and exchange with other nations, without compromising national interests, and enable all governments to withdraw every existing injurious commercial restriction.
It would render unnecessary and entirely useless the present demoralising system of bargaining between individuals; and no practice perhaps tends more than this to deteriorate and degrade the human character.
It would speedily remove pauperism and ignorance from society, by furnishing time and means for the adequate instruction of the working classes, who might be rendered of far more commercial value to themselves and to society than they have yet been at any period of the world.
It would supply the means of gradually improving the condition of all ranks, to an extent not yet to be estimated.
And, as it would materially improve human nature, and raise all in the scale of well-being and happiness, none could be injured or oppressed.
These are some of the important advantages which would arise (when due preparation shall be made for the change,) from introducing the natural standard of value, and abandoning an artificial one, which can no longer serve the purpose.
It now remains to be considered how this change can be effected without creating temporary confusion.
To accomplish this desirable object, several legislative measures will be necessary.
The first, as an intermediate and temporary one, to put a stop to the increasing pecuniary distress of the working classes, will be to relieve the country from the ruinous effects which have been produced by the various attempts to compel a return to cash payments; a longer perseverance in which is calculated to derange the whole of the existing social system. The attempt will prove as vain as to try to restore a full-grown bird to the shell in which it was hatched, or to make the clothes of an infant cover a giant; for the improvements of society have equally outgrown the late system of cash payments. Should the attempt be persevered in, no more wealth will be created, and much of that which is now considered wealth will be destroyed. A perseverance in such a course will compel the working classes to starve or emigrate, while the present higher orders will be left an easy prey to their enemies and to poverty. No real benefit could arise to any party from a return to cash payments, if such a measure were practicable.
The next step is to adopt such measures as will permit the labouring unoccupied poor to be employed to raise their own subsistence, and as large a surplus for the infant, the aged, and the incapacitated poor, as their labour can be made to yield; the labourer to receive an equitable remuneration for the surplus he may create.
But the industry of the poor, thus applied, will tend still further to overstock the markets of the world with agricultural and manufactured produce, and, in the same proportion to decrease the nominal or monied prices of both, and of course add to the public distress.
It is this view of the subject that has induced your Reporter so strongly to urge those who take a lead in the affairs of this populous and distressed county to come forward at this critical juncture to recommend to the Government, and to petition the Legislature, to take into their most serious consideration such means as may be proposed to remove the existing obstructions in the way of the general prosperity of the country.
It is the want of a profitable market that alone checks the successful and otherwise beneficial industry of the working classes.
The markets of the world are created solely by the remuneration allowed for the industry of the working classes, and those markets are more or less extended and profitable in proportion as these classes are well or ill remunerated for their labour.
But the existing arrangements of society will not permit the labourer to be remunerated for his industry, and in consequence all markets fail.
To re-create and extend demand in proportion as the late scientific improvements, and others which are daily advancing to perfection, extend the means of supply, the natural standard of value is required.
It will be found equal to the important task which it has to perform.
It will at once remove the obstruction which has paralysed the industry of the country; and experience will prove that this effect cannot be accomplished by any other expedient.
Your Reporter, having given the foregoing general explanation of the principles which his experience leads him to recommend for adoption to relieve the country from its distress and danger, will now proceed to a development of all the measures necessary to put these principles into practice.
It is admitted that under the present system no more hands can be employed advantageously in agriculture or manufactures; and that both interests are on the eve of bankruptcy.
It is also admitted that the prosperity of the country, or rather that which ought to create prosperity, the improvement in mechanical and chemical science, has enabled the population to produce more than the present system permits to be consumed.
In consequence, new arrangements become necessary, by which consumption may be made to keep pace with production and the following are recommended:
Ist. -To cultivate the soil with the spade instead of the plough.
2nd. - To make such changes as the spade cultivation requires, to render it easy and profitable to individuals, and beneficial to the country.
3rd. - To adopt a standard of value by means of which the exchange of the products of labour may proceed without check or limit, until wealth shall become so abundant that any further increase to it will be considered useless, and will not be desired.
We proceed to give the reasons for recommending these arrangements in preference to all others.
And first, those for preferring the spade to the plough for the universal cultivation of the soil.
Practical cultivators of the soil know, that the most favourable circumstance for promoting the growth of vegetation is a due supply of moisture, and that when this is provided for, a good general crop seldom, if ever, fails.
Water enters so largely into the food of all plants, that if its gradual supply can be secured, the farmer and horticulturist feel assured of a fair return for their labour. Whatever mode of cultivation, therefore, can best effect the object of drawing off from the seed or plant an excess of water, and retaining this surplus as a reservoir from which a gradual supply of moisture may be obtained as required, must possess decided advantages.
It is also known to all practical agriculturists, that to obtain the best crops, the soil ought to be well broken and separated; and that the nearer it is brought to a garden mould, the more perfect is the cultivation.
These facts no one will dispute, nor will any deny that the spade is calculated to prepare a better recipient than the plough for an excess of water in rainy seasons, and to return it to the seed or plant afterwards in a manner most favourable to vegetation.
The spade, whenever there is sufficient soil, opens it to a depth that allows the water to pass freely below the bed of the seed or plant, and to remain there until a long continuance of heat draws it forth again to replenish the crop in the ground when it most requires to be gradually supplied with moisture; and the greater the depth to which the soil is opened, the greater will be the advantage of this important operation. Hence the increased crops after deep ploughing, and after trenching, although the latter process may be also in some degree assisted by the new or rested soil which it brings into action; yet both these effects are obtained by the use of the spade.
The action of the plough upon the soil is the reverse of that of the spade in the following important particulars: -
Instead of loosening the subsoil, it hardens it; the heavy smooth surface of the plough, and the frequent trampling of the horses' feet, tend to form a surface on the subsoil, well calculated to prevent the water from penetrating below it; and in many soils, after a few years' ploughing, it is there retained to drown the seed or plant in rainy seasons, and to be speedily evaporated when it would be the most desirable to retain it. Thus the crop is injured, and often destroyed, in dry weather, for the want of that moisture which, under a different system, might have been retained in the subsoil.
It is evident, therefore, that the plough conceals from the eye its own imperfections, and deceives its employers, being in truth a mere surface implement, and extremely defective in principle.
The spade, on the contrary, makes a good subsoil, as well as a superior surface, and the longer it is used on the same soil, the more easily will it be worked; and by occasional trenching, where there is sufficient depth of soil, new earth will be brought into action, and the benefits to be derived from a well prepared subsoil will be increased.
These facts being incontrovertible, few perhaps will hesitate to admit them.
But it may be said that, 'admitting the statement to be true to the full extent, yet the plough, with a pair of horses and one man, performs so much work in a given time, that, with all its imperfections, it may be a more economical instrument for the purpose required.'
Such has been the almost universal impression for ages past, and, in consequence, the plough has superseded the spade, and is considered to be an improved machine for ordinary cultivation.
All this is plausible, and is sanctioned by the old prejudices of the world; but your Reporter maintains that it is not true that the plough is, or has ever been, in any stage of society, the most economical instrument for the cultivation of the soil. It has been so in appearance only, not in reality.
Cultivated as the soil has been hitherto, the direct expense of preparing it by the plough (in the manner in which the plough prepares it,) has been in many cases less per acre than it would have been by the spade. The increased crop which the latter implement would have produced, all other circumstances being the same, does not seem to have been taken into account, or to have been accurately ascertained, except by Mr Falla, of Gateshead, near Newcastle, who, for many years, has had a hundred acres under spade cultivation, chiefly for nursery purposes, and who, by his practical knowledge of the subject, has realised, as your Reporter is informed, a large fortune.* He has satisfactorily proved, by the experiments of four successive years, (for the particulars of which see the Appendix to this Report), that although the expense of cultivation by the spade exceeds that of the plough per acre, yet the increased value of the crop greatly overbalances the increased expense of cultivation, and that even with 'things as they are' the spade is a much better, and also a much more economical instrument with which to cultivate the soil, than the plough.
[*William Falla (1761-1830) was a Nonconformist nurseryman at Gateshead who inherited his father's business in 1804 and specialised in forest trees. Though renowned as an advocate of spade husbandry, he also approved of and adopted new machinery, like the iron plough. For his relations with Owen, see Owen, Life, vol. IA (1858), pp. 314-20.]
Why, then, your Reporter may be asked, is not the spade more generally used, and why is there now so much reluctance, on the part of those who cultivate the soil for profit, to its introduction?
A little will explain this.
Hitherto, those who have cultivated the soil for profit have generally been men trained to be tenacious of old established practices, all their ideas have been confined within a very narrow range; they have not been taught to think about anything, till lately, except that which was in the common routine of their daily practice. Their minds were uncultivated; yet, having naturally the use of their senses, they could not fail gradually to acquire by experience a useful knowledge of their domestic animals, of pigs, sheep, cattle, and horses. These they could treat and manage well; but, taught as men have ever yet been instructed, they could acquire no knowledge of themselves, and must have consequently re-mained ignorant of human nature and of the means by which the powers of men could be applied more advantageously to the soil than the powers of animals. The system in which man has been hitherto trained, so far as our knowledge of history extends, has kept him in utter ignorance of himself and his fellows; and hence the best and most valuable powers of the human race could not be made available for their own well-being and happiness. And if the most enlightened disciples of this system have been incapable of governing human beings aright, and of giving a beneficial direction to their powers, much less could those be equal to the task, whose knowledge of men was necessarily more confined, as is the case with farmers of the present day. These can better direct the employment of ten horses than ten men; and yet the spade husbandry would require that each horse now in use should be superseded by eight or ten human beings; and, to succeed in the business, an economical direction of their powers, which implies a knowledge of human nature in all respects, ought to be as well understood by those who conduct the spade operations, as the nature and management of horses are by farmers of the present day. For this change the cultivators of the soil are not prepared; and however more profitable the spade husbandry may be proved to be than the plough, they are not yet competent to undertake it. Many preparatory changes are necessary.
They must acquire as accurate a knowledge of human nature as they now possess of common animal nature. Agriculture, instead of being, as heretofore, the occupation of the mere peasant and farmer, with minds as defective in their cultivation as their soils, will then become the delightful employment of a race of men trained in the best habits and dispositions, familiar with the most useful practice in arts and sciences, and with minds fraught with the most valuable information and extensive general knowledge, - capable of forming and con-ducting combined arrangements in agriculture, trade, commerce, and manufac-tures, far superior to those which have yet existed in any of these departments, as they have been hitherto disjointed and separately conducted.
It will be readily perceived that this is an advance in civilisation and general improvement that is to be effected solely through the science of the influence of circumstances over human nature, and the knowledge of the means by which those circumstances may be easily controlled.
Closet theorists and inexperienced persons suppose that to exchange the plough for the spade would be to turn back in the road of improvement, - to give up a superior for an inferior implement of cultivation. Little do they imagine that the introduction of the spade, with the scientific arrangements which it requires, will produce far greater improvements in agriculture, than the steam engine has effected in manufactures. Still less do they imagine that the change from the plough to the spade will prove to be a far more extensive and beneficial innovation than that which the invention of the spinning machine has occasioned, by the introduction of which, instead of the single wheel in a corner of a farm house, we now see thousands of spindles revolving with the noise of a waterfall in buildings palace-like for their cost, magnitude, and appearance.
Yet this extraordinary change is at hand. It will immediately take place; for the interest and well-being of all classes require it. Society cannot longer proceed another step in advance without it; and until it is adopted, civilisation must retrograde, and the working classes starve for want of employment.
The introduction of the steam engine and the spinning machine added in an extraordinary manner to the powers of human nature. In their consequences they have in half a century multiplied the productive power, or the means of creating wealth, among the population of these islands, more than twelve-fold, besides giving a great increase to the means of creating wealth in other countries.
The steam engine and spinning machines, with the endless mechanical inventions to which they have given rise, have, however, inflicted evils on society, which now greatly over-balance the benefits which are derived from them. They have created an aggregate of wealth, and placed it in the hands of a few, who, by its aid, continue to absorb the wealth produced by the industry of the many. Thus the mass of the population are become mere slaves to the ignorance and caprice of these monopolists, and are far more truly helpless and wretched than they were before the names of WATT and ARKWRIGHT were known. Yet these celebrated and ingenious men have been the instruments of preparing society for the important beneficial changes which are about to occur.
All now know and feel that the good which these inventions are calculated to impart to the community has not yet been realised. The condition of society, instead of being improved, has been deteriorated, under the new circumstances to which they have given birth; and it is now experiencing a retrograde movement.
'Something, therefore, must be done,' as the general voice exclaims, to give to our suffering population, and to society at large, the means of deriving from these inventions the advantages which all men of science expect from them.
In recommending the change from the plough to the spade cultivation your Reporter has in view such scientific arrangements, as, he is persuaded, will, on due examination, convince every intelligent mind that they offer the only means by which we can be relieved from our present overwhelming difficulties, or by which Great Britain can be enabled to maintain in future her rank among nations. They are the only effectual remedy for the evils which the steam engine and the spinning machine have, by their mis-direction, created, and are alone capable of giving a real and substantial value to these and other scientific inventions. Of all our splendid improvements in art and science the effect has hitherto been to demoralise society, through the misapplication of the new wealth created.
The arrangements to which your Reporter now calls the attention of the Public, present the certain means of renovating the moral character, and of improving, to an unlimited extent, the general condition of the population, and, while they lead to a far more rapid multiplication of wealth than the present system permits to take place, they will effectually preclude all the evils with which wealth is now accompanied.
It is estimated that in Great Britain and Ireland there are now under cultivation upwards of sixty millions of acres; and of these, twenty millions are arable, and forty millions in pasture; - that, under the present system of cultivation by the plough and of pasturing, about two millions, at most, of actual labourers are employed on the soil, giving immediate support to about three times that number, and supplying food for a population of about eighteen millions. Sixty millions of acres, under a judicious arrangement of spade cultivation, with manufactures as an appendage, might be made to give healthy advantageous employment to sixty millions of labourers at the least, and to support, in high comfort a population greatly exceeding one hundred millions. But in the present low state of population in these islands not more than five or six millions of acres could be properly cultivated by the spade, although all the operative manufacturers were to be chiefly employed in this mode of agriculture. Imperfect, therefore, as the plough is for the cultivation of the soil, it is probable that, in this country, for want of an adequate population, many centuries will elapse before it can be entirely superseded by the spade; yet under the plough system Great Britain and Ireland are even now supposed to be greatly over-peopled.
It follows from this statement, that we possess the means of supplying the labouring poor, however numerous they may be, with permanent beneficial employment for many centuries to come.
The spade husbandry has been proved, by well-devised and accurately conducted experiments, to be a profitable mode of cultivation. It is now become also absolutely necessary, to give relief to the working classes, and it may be safely calculated upon as the certain source of future permanent occupation for them. [See communication from Mr Falla, of Gateshead, at the end .( See Owen, Life, Vol. lA (1858), pp. 314-20.)]
The next consideration which demands our attention is, - what constitutes a proper system of spade husbandry? - or, in other words, how these new cultivators can be placed on the soil and associated, that their exertions may have the most beneficial result for themselves and the community?
The leading principle which should direct us in the outline of this arrangement, and from which there should be no deviation in any of its parts, is the public good, or the general interest of the whole population.
To this end, the following considerations must be combined.
1 St. - Where, in general, can the labourers be best placed for spade cultivation?
2nd. - What is the quantity of land which it may be the most advantageous to cultivate in cumulo by the spade?
3rd. - What number of workmen can be the most beneficially employed together, with a view to all the objects of their labour?
4th. - What are the best arrangements under which these men and their families can be well and economically lodged, fed, clothed, trained, educated, employed and governed?
5th. - What is the best mode of disposing of the surplus produce to be thus created by their labour?
6th. - What are the means best calculated to render the conduct and industry of these workmen beneficial to their neighbours, to their country, and to foreign nations?
These are some of the leading objects which naturally arise for our consideration in forming arrangements for the introduction of the spade as a substitute for the plough cultivation.
To substitute the spade for the plough may seem most trivial in the expression; and to inexperienced, and even to learned men, - to my respected friends the Edinburgh Reviewers, for instance, who cannot be supposed to have much useful practical knowledge, - will appear to indicate a change equally simple and unimportant in practice.
[*The Edinburgh Review was the leading organ of the classical political economists. Founded in 1802, it was edited by Francis Jeffrey, Francis Homer, and Henry Brougham.]
It generally happens, however, that when a great calamity overwhelms a country, relief is obtained from practical men, and not from mere theorists, however acute, learned, and eloquent. In the present case, simple as at first appears to be the alteration proposed, yet, when the mind of the practical agriculturist, of the commercial man, of the man of science, of the political economist, of the statesman, and of the philosopher, shall be directed to the subject as its importance demands, the change will be found to be one of the deepest interest to society, involving consequences of much higher concern, ment to the well-being of mankind than the change from hunting to the pastoral state, or from the pastoral state to the plough cultivation.**
[** Scottish theorists in particular commonly classified the evolution of society into hunting and gathering, pastoral, agricultural and commercial stages. See Ronald Meek, Social Science and the Ignoble Savage (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1976).]
The change comes, too, at a crisis most momentous for the safety of the civilised world, to re-unite the most jarring interests, which were on the extreme point of severing all the old connections of society.
It comes, too, at a period when the force of circumstances has trained men, even by the destructive art of war, to understand in part the extraordinary effects which may be produced by well-devised arrangements and extensive combinations.
It has occurred, too, at the first moment when experience has, in some degree, prepared men to comprehend the superior advantages which each may gain by attending to the great interests of human nature, rather than to the mistaken feeling and policy which rivet the whole attention of the individual to benefit himself, or his party, through any other medium than the public good.
Were the subject now before us to be entered upon with more confined views of its interest, magnitude, and importance, it would fail to be under-stood, and justice could not be done to it. Yet how few of the celebrated political economists of the day have their minds prepared for this investiga-tion!
Having given the outline of the considerations which show the superiority in principle of the spade over the plough as a scientific and economical instrument of cultivation; - having also described briefly the objects to be attended to in forming economical arrangements for the change proposed: - it now remains that the principle should be generally explained by which an advantageous interchange and exchange may be made of the greatly increased products of labour which will be created by the spade cultivation aided by the improved arrangements now contemplated.
These incalculably increased products will render gold, the old artificial standard of value, far more unfit for the task which is to be performed, than it was in 1797, when it ceased to be the British legal standard of value, or than it is now, when wealth has so much increased.
Your Reporter is of opinion that the natural standard of human labour, fixed to represent its natural worth, or power of creating new wealth, will alone be found adequate to the purposes required.
To a mind coming first to this subject, innumerable and apparently insur-mountable difficulties will occur; but by the steady application of that fixed and persevering attention which is alone calculated successfully to contend against and overcome difficulties, every obstacle will vanish, and the practice will prove simple and easy.
That which can create new wealth is of course worth the wealth which it creates. Human labour, whenever, common justice shall be done to human beings, can now be applied to produce, advantageously for all ranks in society, many times the amount of wealth that is necessary to support the individual in consider-able comfort. Of this new wealth, so created, the labourer who produces it is justly entitled to his fair proportion; and the best interests of every community require that the producer should have a fair and fixed proportion of all the wealth which he creates. This can be assigned to him on no other principle than by forming arrangements by which the natural standard of value shall become the practical standard of value. To make labour the standard of value it is necessary to ascertain the amount of it in all articles to be bought and sold. This is, in fact, already accomplished, and is denoted by what in commerce is technically termed 'the prime cost,' or the net value of the whole labour contained in any article of value, - the material contained in or consumed by the manufacture of the article forming a part of the whole labour.
The great object of society is, to obtain wealth, and to enjoy it. The genuine principle of barter was, to exchange the supposed prime cost of, or value of labour in, one article, against the prime cost of, or amount of labour contained in any other article. This is the only equitable principle of exchange; but, as inventions increased and human desires multiplied, it was found to be inconvenient in practice. Barter was succeeded by commerce, the principle of which is, to produce or procure every article at the lowest, and to obtain for it, in exchange, the highest amount of labour. To effect this, an artificial standard of value was necessary; and metals were, by common consent among nations, permitted to perform the office.*
[*On the emergence of exchange from barter, see for example Adam Smith, Wealth of Nations (1776), Bk 1, ch. 4.]
This principle, in the progress of its operation, has been productive of important advantages, and of very great evils; but, like barter, it has been suited to a certain stage of society.
It has stimulated invention; it has given industry and talent to the human character; and has secured the future exertion of those energies which otherwise might have remained dormant and unknown.
But it has made man ignorantly, individually selfish; placed him in opposition to his fellows; engendered fraud and deceit; blindly urged him forward to create, but deprived him of the wisdom to enjoy. In striving to take advantage of others he has over-reached himself. The strong hand of necessity will now force him into the path which conducts to that wisdom in which he has been so long deficient. He will discover the advantages to be derived from uniting in practice the best parts of the principles of barter and commerce, and dismissing those which experience has proved to be inconvenient and injurious.
This substantial improvement in the progress of society may be easily effected by exchanging all articles with each other at their prime cost, or with reference to the amount of labour in each, which can be equitably ascertained, and by permitting the exchange to be made through a convenient medium to represent this value, and which will thus represent a real and unchanging value, and be issued only as substantial wealth increases.
The profit of production will arise, in all cases, from the value of the labour contained in the article produced, and it will be for the interest of society that this profit should be most ample. Its exact amount will depend upon what, by strict examination, shall be proved to be the present real value of a day's labour; calculated with reference to the amount of wealth, in the necessaries and comforts of life, which an average labourer may, by temperate exertions, be now made to produce.
It would require an accurate and extended consideration of the existing state of society to determine the exact value of the unit or day's labour which society ought now to fix as a standard of value: - but a more slight and general view of the subject is sufficient to show, that this unit need not represent a less value than the wealth contained in the necessaries and comforts of life which may now be purchased with five shillings.
The landholder and capitalist would be benefited by this arrangement in the same degree with the labourer; because labour is the foundation of all values, and it is only from labour, liberally remunerated, that high profits can be paid for agricultural and manufactured products.
Depressed as the value of labour now is, there is no proposition in Euclid more true, than that society would be immediately benefited, in a great variety of ways, to an incalculable extent, by making labour the standard of value.
By this expedient all the markets in the world, which are now virtually closed against offering a profit to the producers of wealth, would be opened to an unlimited extent; and in each individual exchange all the parties interested would be sure to receive ample remuneration for their labour.
Before this change can be carried into effect, various preparatory measures will be necessary; the explanatory details of which will naturally succeed the development of those arrangements which your Reporter has to propose, to give all the advantages to the spade cultivation, of which that system of husbandry is susceptible.
This part of the Report naturally divides itself under the following heads, each of which shall be considered separately, and the whole, afterwards, in connec-tion, as forming an improved practical system for the working classes, highly beneficial, in whatever light it may be viewed, to every part of society.
1st. - The number of persons who can be associated to give the greatest advantages to themselves and to the community.
2nd. - The extent of the land to be cultivated by such association.
3rd. - The arrangements for feeding, lodging, and clothing the population, and for training and educating the children.
4th. - Those for forming and superintending the establishments.
5th. - The disposal of the surplus produce, and the relation which will subsist between the several establishments.
6th. - Their connection with the government of the country and with general society.
The first object, then, of the political economist, in forming these arrange-ments, must be, to consider well under what limitation of numbers, individuals should be associated to form the first nucleus or division of society.
All his future proceedings will be materially influenced by the decision of this point, which is one of the most difficult problems in the science of political economy. It will affect essentially the future character of individuals, and influence the general proceedings of mankind.
It is, in fact, the corner-stone of the whole fabric of human society. The consequences, immediate and remote, which depend upon it, are so numerous and important, that to do justice to this part of the arrangement alone would require a work of many volumes.
To form anything resembling a rational opinion on this subject, the mind must steadily survey the various effects which have arisen from associations which accident has hitherto combined in the history of the human species; and it should have a distinct idea of the results which other associations are capable of producing.
Thus impressed with the magnitude and importance of the subject, after many years of deep and anxious reflection, and viewing it with reference to an improved spade cultivation, and to all the purposes of society, your Reporter ventures to recommend the formation of such arrangements as will unite about 300 men, women, and children, in their natural proportions, as the minimum, and about 2,000 as the maximum, for the future associations of the cultivators of the soil, who will be employed also in such additional occupations as may be advantageously annexed to it.
In coming to this conclusion your Reporter never lost sight of that only sure guide to the political economist, the principle, that it is the interest of all men, whatever may be their present artificial station in society, that there should be the largest amount of intrinsically valuable produce created, at the least expense of labour, and in a way the most advantageous to the producers and society.
Whatever fanciful notions may govern the mere closet theorist, who so often leads the public mind astray from its true course, the practical economist will never come to any one conclusion that is inconsistent with the foregoing fundamental principle of his science, well knowing that where there is incon-sistency there must be error.
It is with reference to this principle that the minimum and maximum above stated (viz. 300 and 2,000,) have been fixed upon, as will be more particularly developed under the subsequent heads.
Within this range more advantages can be given to the individuals and to society, than by the association of any greater or lesser number.
But from 800 to 1,200 will be found the most desirable number to form into agricultural villages; and unless some very strong local causes interfere, the permanent arrangements should be adapted to the complete accommodation of that amount of population only.
Villages of this extent, in the neighbourhood of others of a similar descrip-tion, at due distances, will be found capable of combining within themselves all the advantages that city and country residences now afford, without any of the numerous inconveniences and evils which necessarily attach to both those modes of society.
But a very erroneous opinion will be formed of the proposed arrangements and the social advantages which they will exhibit, if it should be imagined from what has been said that they will in any respect resemble any of the present agricultural villages of Europe, or the associated communities in Amer-ica, except in so far as the latter may be founded on the principle of united labour, expenditure, and property, and equal privileges.
Recommending, then, from 300 to 2,000 according to the localities of the farm or village, as the number of persons who should compose the associations for the new system of spade husbandry, we now proceed to consider –
2nd. - The extent of land to be cultivated by such association. This will depend upon the quality of soil and other local considerations.
Great Britain and Ireland, however, do not possess a population nearly sufficient to cultivate our best soils in the most advantageous manner. It would therefore be nationally impolitic to place these associations upon inferior lands, which, in consequence, may be dismissed from present consideration.
Society, ever misled by closet theorists, has committed almost every kind of error in practice, and in no instance perhaps a greater, than in separating the workman from his food, and making his existence depend upon the labour and uncertain supplies of others, as is the case under our present manufacturing system; and it is a vulgar error to suppose that a single individual more can be supported by means of such a system than without it; on the contrary, a whole population engaged in agriculture, with manufactures as an appendage, will, in a given district, support many more, and in a much higher degree of comfort, than the same district could do with its agricultural separate from its manufac-turing population.
Improved arrangements for the working classes will, in almost all cases, place the workman in the midst of his food, which it will be as beneficial for him to create as to consume.
Sufficient land, therefore, will be allotted to these cultivators to enable them to raise an abundant supply of food and the necessaries of life for themselves, and as much additional agricultural produce as the public demands may require from such a portion of the population.
Under a well devised arrangement for the working classes they will all procure for themselves the necessaries and comforts of life in so short a time, and so easily and pleasantly, that the occupation will be experienced to be little more than a recreation, sufficient to keep them in the best health and spirits for rational enjoyment of life.
The surplus produce from the soil will be required only for the higher classes, those who live without manual labour, and those whose nice manual opera-tions will not permit them at any time to be employed in agriculture and gardening.
Of the latter, very few, if any, will be necessary, as mechanism may be made to supersede such operations, which are almost always injurious to health.
Under this view of the subject, the quantity of land which it would be the most beneficial for these associations to cultivate, with reference to their own well-being and the interests of society, will probably be from half an acre to an acre and a half for each individual.
An association, therefore, of 1,200 persons, would require from 600 to 1,800 statute acres, according as it may be intended to be more or less agricultural.
Thus, when it should be thought expedient that the chief surplus products should consist in manufactured commodities, the lesser quantity of land would be sufficient; if a large surplus from the produce of the soil were deemed desirable, the greater quantity would be allotted; and when the localities of the situation should render it expedient for the association to create an equal surplus quantity of each, the medium quantity, or 1,200 acres, would be the most suitable.
It follows that land under the proposed system of husbandry would be divided into farms of from 150 to 3,000 acres, but generally perhaps from 800 to 1,500 acres. This division of the land will be found to be productive of incalculable benefits in practice; it will give all the advantages, without any of the disadvantages of small and large farms.
The next head for consideration is –
3rd. - The arrangement for feeding, lodging, and clothing the population, and for training and educating the children.
It being always most convenient for the workman to reside near to his employment, the site for the dwellings of the cultivators will be chosen as near to the centre of the land, as water, proper levels, dry situation, etc, may admit; and as courts, alleys, lanes, and streets create many unnecessary inconveni-ences, are injurious to health, and destructive to almost all the natural com-forts of human life, they will be excluded, and a disposition of the buildings free from these objections and greatly more economical will be adopted.
As it will afterwards appear that the food for the whole population can be provided better and cheaper under one general arrangement of cooking,* and that the children can be better trained and educated together under the eye of their parents than under any other circumstances, a large square, or rather parallelogram, will be found to combine the greatest advantages in its form for the domestic arrangements of the association.
[* For Owen's attempt to introduce common kitchens at New Lanark, see infra, vol. 1, p. xx.]
This form, indeed, affords so many advantages for the comfort of human life, that if great ignorance respecting the means necessary to secure good conduct and happiness among the working classes had not prevailed in all ranks, it must long ago have become universal.
It admits of a most simple, easy, convenient, and economical arrangement for all the purposes required.
The four sides of this figure may be adapted to contain all the private apartments or sleeping and sitting rooms for the adult part of the population; general sleeping apartments for the children while under tuition; store-rooms, or warehouses in which to deposit various products; an inn, or house for the accommodation of strangers; an infirmary, etc, etc.
In a line across the centre of the parallelogram, leaving free space for air and light and easy communication, might be erected the church, or places for worship; the schools; kitchen and apartments for eating; all in the most convenient situation for the whole population, and under the best possible public superintendence, without trouble, expense, or inconvenience to any party.
The advantages of this general domestic arrangement can only be known and appreciated by those who have had great experience in the beneficial results of extensive combinations in improving the condition of the working classes, and whose minds, advancing beyond the petty range of individual parry interests, have been calmly directed to consider what may now be attained by a well-devised association of human powers for the benefit of all ranks. It is such individuals only who can detect the present total want of foresight in the conduct of society, and its gross misapplication of the most valuable and abundant means of securing prosperity. They can distinctly perceive that the blind are leading the blind from difficulties to dangers, which they feel to increase at every step.
The parallelogram being found to be the best form in which to dispose the dwelling and chief domestic arrangements for the proposed associations of cultivators, it will be useful now to explain the principles on which those arrangements have been formed.
The first in order, and the most necessary, are those respecting food.
It has been, and still is, a received opinion among theorists in political economy, that man can provide better for himself, and more advantageously for the public, when left to his own individual exertions, opposed to and in competition with his fellows, than when aided by any social arrangement which shall unite his interests individually and generally with society.*
[*See for example Adam Smith, Wealth of Nations (1776), Bk 5, ch. 2: 'It is not from the benevolence of the butcher, the brewer, or the baker that we expect our dinner, but from their regard to their own interest'.]
This principle of individual interest, opposed as it is perpetually to the public good, is considered, by the most celebrated political economists, to be the corner-stone to the social system, and without which, society could not subsist.
Yet when they shall know themselves, and discover the wonderful effects which combination and union can produce, they will acknowledge that the present arrangement of society is the most anti-social, impolitic, and irrational, that can be devised; that under its influence all the superior and valuable qualities of human nature are repressed from infancy, and that the most unnatural means are used to bring out the most injurious propensities; in short, that the utmost pains are taken to make that which by nature is the most delightful compound for producing excellence and happiness, absurd, imbecile, and wretched.
Such is the conduct now pursued by those who are called the best and wisest of the present generation, although there is not one rational object to be gained by it.
From this principle of individual interest have arisen all the divisions of mankind, the endless errors and mischiefs of class, sect, party, and of national antipathies, creating the angry and malevolent passions, and all the crimes and misery with which the human race have been hitherto afflicted.
In short, if there be one closet doctrine more contrary to truth than another, it is the notion that individual interest, as that term is now understood, is a more advantageous principle on which to found the social system, for the benefit of all, or of any, than the principle of union and mutual co-operation.
The former acts like an immense weight to repress the most valuable faculties and dispositions, and to give a wrong direction to all human powers. It is one of those magnificent errors, (if the expression may be allowed,) that when enforced in practice brings ten thousand evils in its train. The principle on which these economists proceed, instead of adding to the wealth of nations or of individuals, is itself the sole cause of poverty; and but for its operation wealth would long ago have ceased to be a subject of contention in any part of the world. If, it may be asked, experience has proved that union, combination, and extensive arrangement among mankind, are a thousand times more powerful to destroy, than the efforts of an unconnected multitude, where each acts individually for himself, - would not a similar increased effect be produced by union, combination, and extensive arrangement, to create and conserve? Why should not the result be the same in the one case as in the other? But it is well known that a combination of men and of interests can effect that which it would be futile to attempt, and impossible to accomplish, by individual exer-tions and separate interests. ?hen why, it may be inquired, have men so long acted individually, and in opposition to each other? This is an important question, and merits the most serious attention.
Men have not yet been trained in principles that will permit them to act in union, except to defend themselves or to destroy others. For self-preservation they were early compelled to unite for these purposes in war. A necessity, however, equally powerful, will now compel men to be trained to act together to create and conserve, that, in like manner, they may preserve life in peace. Fortunately for mankind the system of individual opposing interests has now reached the extreme point of error and inconsistency; - in the midst of the most ample means to create wealth, all are in poverty, or in imminent danger from the effects of poverty upon others.
The reflecting part of mankind have admitted, in theory, that the characters of men are formed chiefly by the circumstances in which they are placed; yet the science of the influence of circumstances, which is the most important of all the sciences, remains unknown for the great practical business of life. When it shall be fully developed it will be discovered that to unite the mental faculties of men for the attainment of pacific and civil objects will be a far more easy task than it has been to combine their physical powers to carry on extensive war-like preparations.
The discovery of the distance and movements of the heavenly bodies, - of the time-piece, - of a vessel to navigate the most distant parts of the ocean, -of the steam-engine, which performs under the easy control of one man the labour of many thousands, - and of the press, by which knowledge and improvement may be speedily given to the most ignorant in all parts of the earth, - these have, indeed, been discoveries of high import to mankind; but, important as these and others have been in their effects on the condition of human society, their combined benefits in practice will fall far short of those which will be speedily attained by the new intellectual power which men will acquire through the knowledge of 'the science of the influence of circum-stances over the whole conduct, character, and proceedings of the human race.' By this latter discovery, more will be accomplished in one year, for the well-being of human nature, including, without any exceptions, all ranks and descriptions of men, than has ever yet been effected in one or in many centuries. Strange as this language may seem to those whose minds have not yet had a glimpse of the real state in which society now is, it will prove to be not more strange than true.
Are not the mental energies of the world at this moment in a state of high effervescence? - Is not society at a stand, incompetent to proceed in its present course? - And do not all men cry out that 'something must be done?' - That 'something' to produce the effect desired, must be a complete renovation of the whole social compact; one not forced on prematurely, by confusion and violence; not one to be brought about by the futile measures of the Radicals, Whigs, or Tories, of Britain, - the Liberals or Royalists of France, - the Illuminati* of Germany, or the mere party proceedings of any little local portion of human beings, trained as they have hitherto been in almost every kind of error, and without any true knowledge of themselves.
[*Supposed late-eighteenth-century secret society of Enlightenment rationalists whom conserva-tives accused of fomenting the French Revolution, principally by undermining the authority of the Church.]
No! The change sought for must be preceded by the clear development of a great and universal principle which shall unite in one all the petty jarring interests, by which, till now, human nature has been made a most inveterate enemy to itself.
No! Extensive, - nay, rather, universal, - as the re-arrangement of society must be, to relieve it from the difficulties with which it is now overwhelmed, it will be effected in peace and quietness, with the goodwill and hearty concurrence of all parties, and of every people. It will necessarily commence by common consent, on account of its advantage, almost simultaneously among all civilised nations; and, once begun, will daily advance with an accelerating ratio, unopposed, and bearing down before it the existing systems of the world. The only astonishment then will be that such systems could so long have existed.
Under the new arrangements which will succeed them, no complaints of any kind will be heard in society. The causes of the evils that exist will become evident to every one, as well as the natural means of easily withdrawing those causes. These, by common consent, will be removed, and the evils, of course, will permanently cease, soon to be known only by description. Should any of the causes of evil be irremovable by the new powers which men are about to acquire, they will then know that they are necessary and unavoidable evils; and childish unavailing complaints will cease to be made. But your Reporter has yet failed to discover any which do not proceed from the errors of the existing system, or which, under the contemplated arrangements, are not easily removable.
Of the natural effects of this language and these sentiments upon mankind in general, your Reporter is, perhaps, as fully aware as any individual can be; but he knows that the full development of these truths is absolutely necessary to prepare the public to receive and understand the practical details which he is about to explain, and to comprehend those enlarged measures for the amelioration of society, which the distress of the times, arising from the errors of the present arrangements, now renders unavoidable. He is not now, however, addressing the common public, but those whose minds have had all the benefit of the knowledge which society at present affords; and it is from such individuals that he hopes to derive the assistance requisite to effect the practical good which he has devoted all the powers and faculties of his mind to obtain for his fellow-creatures.
Your Reporter has stated that this happy change will be effected through the knowledge which will be derived from the science of the influence of circum-stances over human nature.
Through this science, new mental powers will be created, which will place all those circumstances that determine the misery or happiness of men under the immediate control and direction of the present population of the world, and will entirely supersede all necessity for the present truly irrational system of individual rewards and punishments - a system which has ever been opposed to the most obvious dictates of common sense and of humanity, and which will be no longer permitted than while men continue unenlightened and barbar-ous.
The first rays of knowledge will show, to the meanest capacity, that all the tendencies of this system are to degrade men below the ordinary state of animals, and to render them more miserable and irrational.
The science of the influence of circumstances over human nature will dispel this ignorance, and will prove how much more easily men may be trained by other means to become, without exception, active, kind and intelligent, -devoid of those unpleasant and irrational feelings which for ages have tor-mented the whole human race.
This science may be truly called one whereby ignorance, poverty, crime and misery, may be prevented; and will indeed open a new era to the human race; one in which real happiness will commence, and perpetually go on increasing through every succeeding generation.
And although the characters of all have been formed under the existing circumstances, which are together unfavourable to their habits, dispositions, mental acquirements, and happiness, - yet, by the attainment of this new science those of the present day will be enabled to place themselves, and more especially the rising generation, under circumstances so agreeable to human nature, and so well adapted to all the acknowledged ends of human life, that those objects of anxious desire so ardently sought for through past ages will be secured to every one with the certainty of a mathematical procedure.
Improbable as this statement must seem to those who have necessarily been formed, by existing circumstances, into the creatures of the place in which they happen to live; which circumstances, to speak correctly, and with the sincerity and honesty which the subject now demands, could not form them into anything but mere local animals; still, even they must be conscious that the time is not long passed when their forefathers would have deemed it far more improbable that the light cloudy mist which they saw arise from boiling water could be so applied, by human agency, that under the easy control of one of themselves it should be made to execute the labour of thousands. Yet, by the aid of mechanical and chemical science, this and many other supposed impos-sibilities have been made familiar certainties. In like manner, fearful as men may now be to allow themselves to hope that the accumulated evils of ages are not permanent in their nature, probably many now live who will see the science introduced, that, in their days, will rapidly diminish, and, in the latter days of their children, will entirely remove these evils.
It is now time to return to the consideration of the preparatory means by which these important results are to be accomplished.
Your Reporter now uses the term 'preparatory,' because the present state of society, governed by circumstances, is so different, in its several parts and entire combination, from that which will arise when society shall be taught to govern circumstances, that some temporary intermediate arrangements, to serve as a step whereby we may advance from the one to the other, will be necessary.
The long experience which he has had in the practice of the science now about to be introduced has convinced him of the utility, nay, of the absolute necessity, of forming arrangements for a temporary intermediate stage of existence, in which we, who have acquired the wretched habits of the old system, may be permitted, without inconvenience, gradually to part with them, and exchange them for those requisite for the new and improved state of society. Thus will the means be prepared, by which, silently and without contest, all the local errors and prejudices which have kept men and nations strangers to each other and to themselves, will be removed. The habits, dispositions, notions, and consequent feelings, engendered by old society, will be thus allowed, without disturbance of any kind, to die a natural death; but as the character, conduct, and enjoyment of individuals formed under the new system will speedily become living examples of the vast superiority of the one state over the other, the natural death of old society and all that appertains to it although gradual, will not be lingering. Simple inspection, when both can be seen together, will produce motives sufficiently strong to carry the new arrangements as speedily into execution as practice will admit. The change, even in those who are now the most tenacious supporters of 'things as they are,' though left entirely to the influence of their own inclinations, will be so rapid, that they will wonder at themselves.
This intermediate change is the one, the details of which your Reporter has in part explained, and to which he now again begs to direct your attention.
Under the present system there is the most minute division of mental power and manual labour in the individuals of the working classes; private interests are placed perpetually at variance with the public good; and in every nation men are purposely trained from infancy to suppose that their well-being is incompatible with the progress and prosperity of other nations. Such are the means by which old society seeks to obtain the desired objects of life. The details now to be submitted have been devised upon principles which will lead to an opposite practice; to the combination of extensive mental and manual powers in the individuals of the working classes; to a complete identity of private and public interest; and to the training of nations to comprehend that their power and happiness cannot attain their full and natural development but through an equal increase of the power and happiness of all other states. These, therefore, are the real points at variance between that which is and that which ought to be.
It is upon these principles that arrangements are now proposed for the new agricultural villages, by which the food of the inhabitants may be prepared in one establishment, where they will eat together as one family.
Various objections have been urged against this practice; but they have come from those only, who, whatever may be their pretensions in other respects, are mere children in the knowledge of the principles and economy of social life.
By such arrangements the members of these new associations may be sup-plied with food at far less expense and with much more comfort than by any individual or family arrangements; and when the parties have been once trained and accustomed, as they easily may be, to the former mode, they will never afterwards feel any inclination to return to the latter.
If a saving in the quantity of food, - the obtaining of a superior quality of prepared provisions from the same materials, - and the operation of preparing them being effected in much less time, with far less fuel, and with greater ease, comfort, and health, to all the parties employed, - be advantages, these will be obtained in a remarkable manner by the new arrangements proposed.
And if to partake of viands so prepared, served up with every regard to comfort, in clean, spacious, well-lighted, and pleasantly ventilated apart-ments, and in the society of well-dressed, well-trained, well-educated, and well-informed associates, possessing the most benevolent dispositions and desirable habits, can give zest and proper enjoyment to meals, then will the inhabitants of the proposed villages experience all this in an eminent degree.
When the new arrangements shall become familiar to the parties, this superior mode of living may be enjoyed at far less expense and with much less trouble than are necessary to procure such meals as the poor are now compelled to eat, surrounded by every object of discomfort and disgust, in the cellars and garrets of the most unhealthy courts, alleys, and lanes, in London, Dublin, and Edinburgh, or Glasgow, Manchester, Leeds, and Birmingham.
Striking, however as the contrast is in this description, and although the actual practice will far exceed what words can convey, yet there are many closet theorists and inexperienced persons, probably, who will still contend for individual arrangements and interests, in preference to that which they cannot comprehend.
These individuals must be left to be convinced by the facts themselves.
We now proceed to describe the interior accommodations of the private lodging-houses, which will occupy three sides of the parallelogram.
As it is of essential importance that there should be abundance of space within the line of the private dwellings, the parallelogram, in all cases, whether the association is intended to be near the maximum or the minimum in numbers, should be of large dimensions; and to accommodate a greater or less population, the private dwellings should be of one, two, three, or four stories, and the interior arrangements formed accordingly.
These will be very simple.
No kitchen will be necessary, as the public arrangements for cooking will supersede the necessity for any.
The apartments will be always well-ventilated, and, when necessary, heated or cooled on the improved principles lately introduced in the Derby Infirmary.*
[*See Charles Sylvester, The Philosophy of Domestic Economy; As Exemplified in . . . the Derbyshire General Infirmary (Nottingham, 1819), pp. 8-48. The heating system was by steam pipes built into the foundation of the building, on a design originated by William Strutt.]
The expense and trouble, to say nothing of the superior health and comforts which these improvements will give, will be very greatly less than attach to the present practice.
To heat, cool, and ventilate their apartments, the parties will have no further trouble than to open or shut two slides, or valves, in each room, the atmosphere of which, by this simple contrivance, may always be kept temperate and pure.
One stove of proper dimensions, judiciously placed, will supply the apartments of several dwellings, with little trouble and at a very little expense, when the buildings are originally adapted for this arrangement.
Thus will all the inconveniences and expense of separate fires and fireplaces, and their appendages, be avoided, as well as the trouble and disagreeable effects of mending fires and removing ashes, etc, etc.
Good sleeping apartments looking over the gardens in the country, and sitting-rooms of proper dimensions fronting the square, will afford as much lodging-accommodation, as, with the other public arrangements, can be useful to, or desired by, these associated cultivators.
Food and lodging being thus provided for, the next consideration regards dress.
This, too, is a subject, the utility and disadvantages of which seem to be little understood by the Public generally; and, in consequence, the most ridiculous and absurd notions and practices have prevailed respecting it.
Most persons take it for granted, without thinking on the subject, that to be warm and healthy it is necessary to cover the body with thick clothing and to exclude the air as much as possible; and first appearances favour this conclusion. Facts, however, prove, that under the same circumstances, those who from infancy have been the most lightly clad, and who, by their form of dress, have been the most exposed to the atmosphere, are much stronger, more active, in better general health, warmer in cold weather, and far less incom-moded by heat, than those who from constant habit have been dressed in such description of clothing as excludes the air from their bodies. The more the air is excluded by clothing, although at first the wearer feels warmer by each additional covering he puts on, yet in a few weeks, or months at most, the less capable he becomes of bearing cold than before.
The Romans and the Highlanders of Scotland appear to be the only two nations who adopted a national dress on account of its utility, without however neglecting to render it highly becoming and ornamental. The form of the dress of these nations was calculated first to give strength and manly beauty to the figure, and afterwards to display it to advantage. The time, expense, thought, and labour now employed to create a variety of dress, the effects of which are to deteriorate the physical powers, and to render the human figure an object of pity and commiseration, are a certain proof of the low state of intellect among all classes in society. The whole of this gross misapplication of the human faculties serves no one useful or rational purpose. On the contrary, it essen-tially weakens all the physical and mental powers, and is, in all respects, highly pernicious to society.
All other circumstances remaining the same, sexual delicacy and virtue will be found much higher in nations among whom the person, from infancy, is the most exposed, than among those people who exclude from sight every part of the body except the eyes.
Although your Reporter is satisfied that the principle now stated is derived from the unchanging laws of nature; and is true to the utmost extent to which it can be carried; yet mankind must be trained in different habits, dispositions, and sentiments, before they can be permitted to act rationally on this, or almost any other law of nature.
The intermediate stage of society which your Reporter now recommends, admits, however, of judicious practical approximations towards the observance of these laws.
In the present case he recommends that the male children of the new villagers should be clothed in a dress somewhat resembling the Roman and Highland garb, in order that the limbs may be free from ligatures, and the air may circulate over every part of the body, and that they may be trained to become strong, active, well-limbed, and healthy.
And the females should have a well-chosen dress to secure similar important advantages.
The inhabitants of these villages, under the arrangements which your Reporter has in view, may be better dressed, for all the acknowledged purposes of dress, at much less than the one-hundredth part of the labour, inconveni-ence, and expense, that are now required to clothe the same number of persons in the middle ranks of life; while the form and material of the new dress will be acknowledged to be superior to any of the old.
If your Reporter should be told that all this waste of thought, time, labour, and capital is useful, inasmuch as it affords employment for the working classes; he replies, that no waste of any of these valuable means can be of the slightest benefit to any class; and that it would be far better, if superior occupations cannot be found for human beings, to resort to a Noble Lord's expedient, and direct them to make holes in the earth and fill them up again, repeating the operation without limit, rather than suffer a very large proportion of the working classes to be immured all their lives in unhealthy atmospheres, and toil at wretched employments, merely to render their fellow-creatures weak and absurd, both in body and mind.
The new villagers having adopted the best form and material of dress, permanent arrangements will be made to produce it with little trouble or expense to any party; and all further considerations respecting it will give them neither care, thought, nor trouble, for many years, or perhaps centuries.
The advantages of this part of the Plan will prove to be so great in practice, that fashions will exist but for a very short period, and then only among the most weak and silly part of the creation.
Your Reporter has now to enter upon the most interesting portion of this division of the subject, and, he may add, the most important part of the economy of human life, with reference to the science of the influence of circumstances over the well-being and happiness of mankind, and to the full power and control which men may now acquire over those circumstances, and by which they may direct them to produce among the human race, with ease and certainty, either universal good or evil.
No one can mistake the application of these terms to the training and education of the children.
Since men began to think and write, much has been thought and written on this subject; and yet all that has been thought and written has failed to make the subject understood, or to disclose the principles on which we should proceed. Even now, the minds of the most enlightened are scarcely prepared to being to think rationally respecting it. The circumstances of the times, however, require that a substantial advance should now be made in this part of the economy of human life.
Before any rational plan can be devised for the proper training and education of children, it should be distinctly known what capabilities and qualities infants and children possess, or, in fact, what they really are by nature.
If this knowledge is to be attained, as all human knowledge has been acquired, through the evidence of our senses, then is it evident that infants receive from a source and power over which they have no control, all the natural qualities they possess, and that from birth they are continually sub-jected to impressions derived from the circumstances around them; which impressions, combined with their natural qualities, (whatever fanciful specula-tive men say to the contrary), do truly determine the character of the indi-vidual through every period of life.
The knowledge thus acquired will give to men the same kind of control over the combination of the natural powers and faculties of infants, as they now possess over the formation of animals: and although, from the nature of the subject, it must be slow in its progress and limited in extent, yet the time is not perhaps far distant when it may be applied to an important rational purpose, that is, to improve the breed of men, more than men have yet improved the breed of domestic animals.
But, whatever knowledge may be attained to enable man to improve the breed of his progeny at birth, facts exist in endless profusion to prove to every mind capable of reflection, that men may now possess a most extensive control over those circumstances which affect the infant after birth; and that, as far as such circumstances can influence the human character, the day has arrived when the existing generation may so far control them, that the rising generations may become in character, without any individual exceptions, whatever men can now desire them to be, that is not contrary to human nature.
It is with reference to this important consideration that your Reporter, in the forming of these new arrangements, has taken so much pains to exclude every circumstance that could make an evil impression on the infants and children of this new generation.
And he is prepared, when others can follow him, so to combine new circumstances, that real vice, or that conduct which creates evil and misery in society, shall be utterly unknown in these villages, to whatever number they may extend.
Proceeding on these principles, your Reporter recommends arrangements by which the children shall be trained together as though they were literally all of one family.
For this purpose two schools will be required within the interior of the square, with spacious play and exercise grounds.
The schools may be conveniently placed in the line of buildings to be erected across the centre of the parallelograms, in connection with the church and places of worship.
The first School will be for the infants from two to six years of age. The second for children from six to twelve.
It may be stated, without fear of contradiction from any parry who is master of the subject, that the whole success of these arrangements will depend upon the manner in which the infants and children shall be trained and educated in these schools. Men are, and ever will be, what they are and shall be made in infancy and childhood. The apparent exceptions to this law are the effects of the same causes, combined with subsequent impressions, arising from the new circumstances in which the individuals showing these exceptions have been placed.
One of the most general sources of error and of evil to the world is the notion that infants, children, and men, are agents governed by a will formed by themselves and fashioned after their own choice.
It is, however, as evident as any fact can be made to man, that he does not possess the smallest control over the formation of any of his own faculties or powers, or over the peculiar and ever-varying manner in which those powers and faculties, physical and mental, are combined in each individual.
Such being the case, it follows that human nature up to this period has been misunderstood, vilified, and savagely ill-treated; and that, in consequence, the language and conduct of mankind respecting it form a compound of all that is inconsistent and incongruous and most injurious to themselves, from the greatest to the least. All at this moment suffer grievously in consequence of this fundamental error.
To those who possess any knowledge on this subject it is known, that 'man is the creature of circumstances,' and that he really is, at every moment of his existence, precisely what the circumstances in which he has been placed, combined with his natural qualities, make him.
Does it then, your Reporter would ask, exhibit any sign of real wisdom to train him as if he were a being who created himself, formed his individual will, and was the author of his own inclinations and propensities?
Surely if men ever become wise - if they ever acquire knowledge enough to know themselves and enjoy a happy existence, it must be from discovering that they are not subjects for praise or blame, reward, or punishment; but are beings capable, by proper treatment, of receiving unlimited improvement and knowledge; and, in consequence, of experiencing such uninterrupted enjoyment through this life as will best prepare them for an after-existence.
This view of human nature rests upon facts which no one can disprove. Your Reporter now challenges all those who, from imagined interest, or from the notions which they have been taught to suppose true, are disposed to question its solidity, to point out one of his deductions on this subject which does not immediately follow from a self evident truth. He is satisfied that the united wisdom of old society will fail in the attempt.
Why, then, may your Reporter be permitted to ask, should any parties tenaciously defend these notions? Are they, although false, in any manner beneficial to man? Does any party, or does a single individual, derive any real advantage from them?
Could your Reporter devise the means effectually to dispel the impressions so powerfully made on the human mind through early life, by the locality of the circumstances of birth and education, he would be enabled thoroughly to convince those who now suppose themselves the chief gainers by the present popular belief on those points and the order of things which proceeds from such belief, that they are themselves essential sufferers in consequence, - that they are deceived and deceive others greatly to their own cost. Superior knowledge of the subject will one day convince all, that every human being, of every rank or station in life, has suffered and is now suffering a useless and grievous yoke by reason of these fallacies of the imagination.
Your Reporter is well aware that for ages past the great mass of mankind have been so placed as to be compelled to believe that all derived incalculable benefits from them. Yet there is no truth more certain than that these same individuals might have been placed under circumstances which would have enabled them not only to discover the falsehood of these notions, but to see distinctly the innumerable positive evils which they alone have inflicted upon society. While these fallacies of the brain shall be taught and believed by any portion of mankind, in them charity and benevolence, in their true sense, can never exist. Such men have imbibed notions that must make them, whatever be their language, haters and opposers of those who contend for the truth in opposition to their errors; nor can men so taught bear to be told that they have been made the mere dupes of the most useless and mischievous fantasies. Their errors, having been generated by circumstances over which they had no control, and for which, consequently, they cannot be blameable, are to be removed only by other circumstances sufficiently powerful to counteract the effects of the former.
From what has been said it is obvious that to produce such a total change among men as the one now contemplated by your Reporter will require the arrangement of new circumstances, that, in each part, and in their entire combinations, shall be so consistent with the known laws of nature, that the most acute mind shall fail to discover the slightest deviation from them.
It is upon these grounds that your Reporter, in educating the rising genera-tion within his influence, has long adopted principles different from those which are usually acted upon.
He considers all children as beings whose dispositions, habits, and senti-ments are to be formed for them; that these can be well-formed only by excluding all notions of reward, punishment, and emulation; and that, if their characters are not such as they ought to be, the error proceeds from their instructors and the other circumstances which surround them. He knows that principles as certain as those upon which the science of mathematics is founded may be applied to the forming of any given general character, and that by the influence of other circumstances, not a few individuals only, but the whole population of the world, may in a few years be rendered a very far superior race of beings to any now upon the earth, or which has been made known to us by history.
The children in these new schools should be therefore trained systematically to acquire useful knowledge through the means of sensible signs, by which their powers of reflection and judgment may be habituated to draw accurate conclusions from the facts presented to them. This mode of instruction is founded in nature, and will supersede the present defective and tiresome system of book learning, which is ill-calculated to give either pleasure or instruction to the minds of children. When arrangements founded on these principles shall be judiciously formed and applied to practice, children will, with ease and delight to themselves, acquire more real knowledge in a day, than they have yet attained under the old system in many months. -They will not only thus acquire valuable knowledge, but the best habits and dispositions will be at the same time imperceptibly created in every one; and they will be trained to 611 every office and to perform every duty that the well-being of their associates and the establishments can require. It is only by education, rightly understood, that communities of men can ever be well governed, and by means of such education every object of human society will be attained with the least labour and the most satisfaction.
It is obvious that training and education must be viewed as intimately connected with the employments of the association. The latter, indeed, will form an essential part of education under these arrangements. Each associa-tion, generally speaking, should create for itself a full supply of the usual necessaries, conveniences and comforts of life.
The dwelling-houses and domestic arrangements being placed as near the centre of the land to be cultivated as circumstances will permit, it is concluded that the most convenient situation for the gardens will be adjoining the houses on the outside of the square; that these should be bounded by the principal roads; and that beyond them, at a sufficient distance to be covered by a plantation, should be placed the workshops and manufactory.
All will take their turn at some one or more of the occupations in this department, aided by every improvement that science can afford, alternately with employment in agriculture and gardening.
It has been a popular opinion to recommend a minute division of labour and division of interests. It will presently appear, however, that this minute division of labour and division of interests are only other terms for poverty, ignorance, waste of every kind, universal opposition throughout society, crime, misery, and great bodily and mental imbecility.
To avoid these evils, which, while they continue, must keep mankind in a most degraded state, each child will receive a general education, early in life, that will fit him for the proper purposes of society, make him the most useful to it, and the most capable of enjoying it.
Before he is twelve years old he may with ease be trained to acquire a correct view of the outline of all the knowledge which men have yet attained.
By this means he will early learn what he is in relation to past ages, to the period in which he lives, to the circumstances in which he is placed, to the individuals around him, and to future events. He will then only have any pretensions to the name of a rational being.
His physical powers may be equally enlarged, in a manner as beneficial to himself as to those around him. As his strength increases he will be initiated in the practice of all the leading operations of his community; by which his services, at all times and under all circumstances, will afford a great gain to society beyond the expense of his subsistence; while at the same time he will be in the continual possession of more substantial comforts and real enjoyments than have ever yet appertained to any class in society.
The new wealth which one individual, by comparatively light and always healthy employment, may create under the arrangements now proposed, is indeed incalculable. They would give him giant powers compared with those which the working class or any other now possesses. There would at once be an end of all mere animal machines, who could only follow a plough, or turn a sod, or make some insignificant part of some insignificant manufacture or frivolous article which society could better spare than possess. Instead of the unhealthy pointer of a pin, - header of a nail, - piecer of a thread - or clodhopper, senselessly gazing at the soil or around him, without understanding or rational reflection, there would spring up a working class full of activity and useful knowledge, with habits, information, manners, and dispositions, that would place the lowest in the scale many degrees above the best of any class which has yet been formed by the circumstances of past or present society.
Such are a few only of the advantages which a rational mode of training and education, combined with the other parts of this system, would give to all the individuals within the action of its influence.
The next object of attention is,
4th. - The formation and superintendence of these establishments.
These new farming and general working arrangements may be formed by one or any number of landed proprietors or large capitalists; by established companies having large funds- to expend for benevolent and public objects; by parishes and counties, to relieve themselves from paupers and poor's rates; and by associations of the middle and working classes of farmers, mechanics, and tradesmen, to relieve themselves from the evils of the present system.
As land, capital, and labour, may be applied to far greater pecuniary advantage under the proposed arrangements than under any other at present known to the public, all parties will readily unite in carrying them into execution as soon as they shall be so plainly developed in principle as to be generally understood, and as parties who possess sufficient knowledge of the practical details to direct them advantageously can be found or trained to superintend them.
The chief difficulty lies in the latter part of the business. The principles may be made plain to every capacity. They are simple principles of nature, in strict unison with all we see or know from facts to be true. But the practice of everything new, however trifling, requires time and experience to perfect it. It cannot be expected that arrangements which comprehend the whole business of life, and reduce to practice the entire science of political economy, can at once be combined and executed in the best manner. Many errors will be at first committed; and, as in every other attempt by human means to unite a great variety of parts to produce one grand general result, many partial failures may be anticipated.
In all probability in the first experiment many of the parts will be out of due proportion to the whole; and experience will suggest a thousand improvements. No union of minds previously to actual practice can correctly adjust such a multiplicity of movements as will be combined in this new machine, which is to perform so many important offices for society.
A machine it truly is, that will simplify and facilitate, in a very remarkable manner, all the operations of human life, and multiply rational and permanently desirable enjoyments to an extent that cannot be yet calmly contemplated by ordinary minds.
If the invention of various machines has multiplied the power of labour, in several instances, to the apparent advantage of particular individuals, while it has deteriorated the condition of many others, THIS is an invention which will at once multiply the physical and mental powers of the whole society to an incalculable extent, without injuring any one by its introduction or its most rapid diffusion.
Surely when the power of this extraordinary machine shall be estimated, and the amount of the work shall be ascertained which it will perform for society, some exertions may be made to acquire a knowledge of its practice.
The same class of minds that can be trained to direct any of the usual complicated businesses of life, may be with ease rendered competent to take a part in the management and superintendence of these new establishments.
The principal difficulty will be to set the first establishment in motion; and much care and circumspection will be requisite in bringing each part into action at the proper time, and with the guards and checks which a change from one set of habits to another renders necessary.
Yet, the principles being understood, a man of fair ordinary capacity would superintend such arrangements with more ease than most large commercial or manufacturing establishments are now conducted.
In these there is a continual opposition of various interests and feelings, and extensive principles of counteraction, among the parties themselves, and between the parties and the public.
On the contrary, in the new arrangements each part will give facility to all the others, and unity of interest and design will be seen and felt in every one of the operations. The mental, manual, and scientific movements will all harmonise, and produce with ease results which must appear inexplicable to those who remain ignorant of the principles which govern the proceedings.
In the first instance men must be sought who, in addition to a practical knowledge of gardening, agriculture, manufactures, the ordinary trades, etc, etc, can comprehend the principles on which these associations are formed, and, comprehending them, can feel an interest and a pleasure in putting them into execution. Such individuals may be found; for there is nothing new in the separate parts of the proposed practice - the arrangement alone can be considered new.
When one establishment shall have been formed, there will be no great difficulty in providing superintendents for many other establishments. All the children will be trained to be equal to the care of any of the departments, more particularly as there will be no counteraction between those who direct and those who perform the various operations.
Let the business be at once set about in good earnest, and the obstacles which now seem so formidable will speedily disappear.
The peculiar mode of governing these establishments will depend on the parties who form them.
Those founded by landowners and capitalists, public companies, parishes, or counties, will be under the direction of the individuals whom these powers may appoint to superintend them, and will of course be subject to the rules and regulations laid down by their founders.
Those formed by the middle and working classes, upon a complete reciproc-ity of interests, should be governed by themselves, upon principles that will prevent divisions, opposition of interests, jealousies, or any of the common and vulgar passions which a contention for power is certain to generate. Their affairs should be conducted by a committee, composed of all the members of the association between certain ages - for instance, of those between thirty-five and forty-five, or between forty and fifty. Perhaps the former will unite more of the activity of youth with the experience of age than the latter; but it is of little moment which period of life may be fixed upon. In a short time the ease with which these associations will proceed in all their operations will be such as to render the business of governing a mere recreation; and as the parties who govern will in a few years again become the governed, they must always be conscious that at a future period they will experience the good or evil effects of the measures of their administration.
By this equitable and natural arrangement all the numberless evils of elec-tion and electioneering will be avoided.
As all are to be trained and educated together and without distinction, they will be delightful companions and associates, intimately acquainted with each other's inmost thoughts. There will be no foundation for disguise or deceit of any kind; all will be as open as the hearts and feelings of young children before they are trained (as they necessarily are under the present system,) in compli-cated arts of deception. At the same time their whole conduct will be regulated by a sound and rational discretion and intelligence, such as human beings trained and placed as they have hitherto been will deem it visionary to expect, and impossible to attain, in every-day practice.
The superior advantages which these associations will speedily possess, and the still greater superiority of knowledge which they will readily acquire, will preclude on their parts the smallest desire for what are now called honours and peculiar privileges.
They will have minds so well informed -their power of accurately tracing cause and effect will be so much increased, that they must clearly perceive that to be raised to one of the privileged orders would be to themselves a serious evil, and to their posterity would certainly occasion an incalculable loss of intellect and enjoyment, equally injurious to themselves and to society.
They will therefore have every motive not to interfere with the honours and privileges of the existing higher orders, but to remain well satisfied with their own station in life.
The only distinction which can be found of the least utility in these associations is that of age or experience. It is the only just and natural distinction; and any other would be inconsistent with the enlarged and super-ior acquirements of the individuals who would compose these associations. The deference to age or experience will be natural, and readily given; and many advantageous regulations may be formed in consequence, for apportion-ing the proper employments to the period of life best calculated for them, and diminishing the labour of the individual as age advances beyond the term when the period of governing is concluded.
5th. - The disposal of the surplus produce, and the connection which will subsist between the several establishments.
Under the proposed system the facilities of production, the absence of all the counteracting circumstances which so abundantly exist in common society, with the saving of time and waste in all the domestic arrangements, will secure, other circumstances being equal, a much larger amount of wealth at a greatly reduced expenditure. The next question is, in what manner is this produce to be disposed of?
Society has been hitherto so constituted that all parties are afraid of being over-reached by others, and, without great care to secure their individual interests, of being deprived of the means of existence. This feeling has created a universal selfishness of the most ignorant nature, for it almost ensures the evils which it means to prevent.
These new associations can scarcely be formed before it will be discovered that by the most simple and easy regulations all the natural wants of human nature may be abundantly supplied; and the principle of selfishness (in the sense in which that term is here used,) will cease to exist, for want of an adequate motive to produce it.
It will be quite evident to all, that wealth of that kind which will alone be held in any estimation amongst them, may be so easily created to exceed all their wants, that every desire for individual accumulation will be extinguished. To them individual accumulation of wealth will appear as irrational as to bottle up or store water in situations where there is more of this invaluable fluid than all can consume.
With this knowledge, and the feelings which will arise from it, the existing thousand counteractions to the creation of new wealth will also cease, as well as those innumerable motives to deception which now pervade all ranks in society. A principle of equity and justice, openness and fairness, will influence the whole proceedings of these societies. There will, consequently, be no difficulty whatever in the exchange of the products of labour, mental or manual, among themselves. The amount of labour in all products, calculated on the present principle of estimating the prime cost of commodities, will be readily ascertained, and the exchange made accordingly. There will be no inducement to raise or manufacture an inferior article, or to deteriorate by deceptious practices, any of the necessaries, comforts, or luxuries of life. Every one will distinctly see it to be the immediate interest of all, that none of these irrational proceedings shall take place; and the best security against their occurrence will be the entire absence of all motives to have recourse to them. As the easy, regular, healthy, rational employment of the individuals forming these societies will create a very large surplus of their own products, beyond what they will have any desire to consume, each may be freely permitted to receive from the general store of the community whatever they may require. This, in practice, will prove to be the greatest economy, and will at once remove all those preconceived insurmountable difficulties that now haunt the minds of those who have been trained in common society, and who necessarily view all things through the distorted medium of their own little circle of local prejudices.
It may be safely predicted that one of these new associations cannot be formed without creating a general desire throughout society to establish others, and that they will rapidly multiply. The same knowledge and principles which unite the interest of the individuals within each establishment, will as effec-tually lead to the same kind of enlightened union between the different establishments. They will each render to the others the same benefits as are now given, or rather much greater benefits than are now given to each other by the members of the most closely united and affectionate families.
In their original formation they will be established so as to yield the greatest reciprocity of benefits.
The peculiar produce to be raised in each establishment, beyond the general supply of the necessaries and comforts of life, which, if possible, will be abundantly created in each, will be adapted to afford the greatest variety of intrinsically valuable objects to exchange with each other; and the particular surplus products which will serve to give energy and pleasure to the industry of the members of each association will be regulated by the nature of the soil and climate and other local capabilities of the situation of each establishment. In all these labour will be the standard of value, and as there will always be a progressive advance in the amount of labour, manual, mental, and scientific, if we suppose population to increase under these arrangements, there will be in the same proportion a perpetually extending market or demand for all the industry of society, whatever may be its extent. Under such arrangements what are technically called 'bad times' can never occur.
These establishments will be provided with granaries and warehouses, which will always contain a supply sufficient to protect the population against the occurrence even of more unfavourable seasons than have ever yet been experi-enced since agriculture has been general in society. In these granaries and storehouses proper persons will be appointed to receive, examine, deposit, and deliver out again, the wealth of these communities.
Arrangements will be formed to distribute this wealth among the members of the association which created it, and to exchange the surplus for the surplus of the other communities, by general regulations that will render these trans-actions most simple and easy, to whatever distance these communities may extend.
A paper representative of the value of labour, manufactured on the principle of the new notes of the Bank of England, will serve for every purpose of their domestic commerce or exchanges, and will be issued only for intrinsic value received and in store. It has been mentioned already that all motives to deception will be effectually removed from the minds of the inhabitants of these new villages, and of course forgeries, though not guarded against by this new improvement, would not have any existence among them; and as this representative would be of no use in old society, no injury could come from that quarter.
But these associations must contribute their fair quota to the exigencies of the state. This consideration leads your Reporter to the next general head, or, 6th. - The connection of the new establishments with the government of the country and with old society.
Under this head are to be noticed,- the amount and collection of the revenue, and the public or legal duties of the associations in peace and war.
Your Reporter concludes that whatever taxes are paid from land, capital, and labour, under the existing arrangements of society, the same amount for the same proportion of each may be collected with far more ease under those now proposed. The government would of course require its revenue to be paid in the legal circulating medium, to obtain which, the associations would have to dispose of as much of their surplus produce to common society for the legal coin or paper of the realm, as would discharge the demands of government.
In time of peace these associations would give no trouble to government; their internal regulations being founded on principles of prevention, not only with reference to public crimes, but to the private evils and errors which so fatally abound in common society. Courts of law, prisons, and punishments, would not be required. These are requisite only where human nature is greatly misunderstood; where society rests on the demoralising system of individual competition, rewards, and punishments; - they are necessary only in a stage of existence previous to the discovery of the science of the certain and overwhelming influence of circumstances over the whole character and conduct of mankind. Whatever courts of law, prisons, and punishments have yet effected for society, the influence of other circumstances, which may now be easily introduced, will accomplish infinitely more; for they will effectually prevent the growth of those evils of which our present institutions do not take cognizance till they are already full-formed and in baneful activity. In time of peace, therefore, these associations will save much charge and trouble to government.
In reference to war also, they will be equally beneficial. Bodily exercises, adapted to improve the dispositions and increase the health and strength of the individual, will form part of the training and education of the children. In these exercises they may be instructed to acquire facility in the execution of combined movements, a habit which is calculated to produce regularity and order in time of peace, as well as to aid defensive and offensive operations in war. The children, therefore, at an early age, will acquire, through their amusements, those habits which will render them capable of becoming, in a short time, at any future period of life, the best defenders of their country, if necessity should again arise to defend it; since they would, in all probability, be far more to be depended upon than those whose physical, intellectual, and moral training had been less carefully conducted. In furnishing their quotas for the militia or common army they would probably adopt the pecuniary alternative; by which means they would form a reserve, that, in proportion to their numbers, would be a great security for the nation's safety. They would prefer this alternative, to avoid the demoralising effects of recruiting.
But the knowledge of the science of the influence of circumstances over mankind will speedily enable all nations to discover, not only the evils of war, but the folly of it. Of all modes of conduct adopted by mankind to obtain advantages in the present stage of society, this is the most certain to defeat its object. It is, in truth, a system of direct demoralisation and of destruction; while it is the highest interest of all individuals and of all countries to remoralise and conserve. Men surely cannot with truth be termed rational beings until they shall discover and put in practice the principles which shall enable them to conduct their affairs without war. The arrangements we are considering would speedily show how easily these principles and practices may be introduced into general society.
From what has been stated it is evident that these associations would not subject the government to the same proportion of trouble and expense that an equal population would do in old society; on the contrary, they would relieve the government of the whole burthen; and by the certain and decisive influence of these arrangements upon the character and conduct of the parties, would materially add to the political strength, power, and resources of the country into which they shall be introduced.
Your Reporter having now explained as much of the separate details of the measures which he recommends, to give permanent beneficial employment to the poor, and, consequently, relief to all classes, as this mode of communica-tion in its present stage will admit, now proceeds to take a general view of these parts thus combined into an entire whole; as a practical system purposely devised, from the beginning to the end, to ameliorate materially the condition of human life.
He concludes that the subject thus developed is new both to theorists and to practical men. The former, being ignorant of the means by which extensive arrangements, when founded on correct principles, can be easily carried into execution, will at once, with their usual decision when any new measures at variance with their own theories are proposed, pronounce the whole to be impracticable and undeserving of notice. The others, accustomed to view everything within the limits of some particular pursuit, - of agriculture, or trade, or commerce, or manufactures, or some of the professions, - have their minds so warped in consequence, that they are for the most part incapable of comprehending any general measures in which their peculiar trade or calling constitutes but a small part of the whole. With them the particular art or employment in which each is engaged becomes so magnified to the individual, that, like Aaron's rod ,* it swallows up all the others; and thus the most petty minds only are formed. This lamentable compression of the human intellect is the certain and necessary consequence of the present division of labour, and of the existing general arrangements of society.
[*See Exodus 7: I2.]
So far, however, from the measures now proposed being impracticable, a longer continuance of the existing arrangements of society will speedily appear to be so; one and all now reiterate the cry that something must be done.
Your Reporter begs leave to ask if this 'something' to be effectual for the general relief of all classes, is expected to come from the mere agriculturist, or the tradesman, or the manufacturer, or the merchant, or the lawyer, or the physician, or the divine, or the literary man; - or from radicals, Whigs, or tories; - or from any particular religious sect? Have we not before us, as upon an accurately drawn map, most distinctly defined, all the ideas and the utmost bounds within which this exclusive devotion to particular sects, parties, or pursuits, necessarily confines each mind? Can we reasonably expect anything resembling a rational 'something' to relieve the widely extending distress of society, from the microscopic views which the most enlarged of these circles afford? Or, rather, does it not argue the most childish weakness to entertain such futile expectations? It can never be that the universal division of men's pursuits can create any cordial union of interests among mankind. It can never be that a notion which necessarily separates, in a greater or less degree, every human being from his fellows, can ever be productive of practical benefit to society. This notion, as far as our knowledge extends, has ever been forced on the mind of every child, up to this period. Peace, good will, charity, and benevolence, have been preached for centuries past - nay, for thousands of years, yet they nowhere exist; on the contrary, qualities the reverse of these have at all times constituted the character and influenced the conduct of individuals and of nations, and must continue to do so while the system of individual rewards, punishments, and competition, is permitted to constitute the basis of human society.
The conduct of mankind may, not unaptly, be compared to that of an individual who, possessing an excellent soil for the purpose, desired to raise grapes, but was ignorant of the plant. Having imbibed a notion, which had taken deep root in his mind, that the thorn was the vine, he planted the former, watered, and cultivated it; but it produced only prickles. He again planted the thorn, varying his mode of cultivation, yet the result was still the same. A third time he planted it, applying now abundance of manure, and bestowing increased care on its cultivation; but, in return, his thorns only produced him prickles stronger and sharper than before. Thus baffled, he blamed the sterility of the ground, and became convinced that human agency alone could never raise grapes from such a soil; - but he had no other. He therefore sought for supernatural assistance, and prayed that the soil might be fertilised.
His hopes being now revived, he again planted the thorn, applied himself with redoubled industry to its culture, and anxiously watched the hourly growth of his plants. He varied their training in every conceivable manner; some he bent in one direction, and some in another; he exposed some to the full light of day, and others he hid in the shade; some were continually watered, and their growth encouraged by richly manured soil. The harvest, looked for with so much interest, at length arrived, but it was again prickles of varied forms and dimensions; and his most sanguine hopes were disappointed.
He now turned his thoughts to other supernatural powers, and from each change he anticipated at least some approximation of the prickle towards the grape. Seeing, however, after every trial, that the thorns which he planted yielded him no fruit, he felt his utmost hope and expectation exhausted. He concluded that the power which created the soil had ordained that it should produce only prickles, and that the grape would one day or other, and in some way or other, be an after production from the seed of the thorn.
Thus, with a perpetual longing for the grape, and with a soil admirably adapted for the cultivation of vines that would produce the most delicious fruit with a thousandth part of the anxiety, expense, and trouble which he had bestowed upon the thorn, he now in a dissatisfied mood endeavoured to calm his feelings, and, if possible, to console himself for the want of present enjoyment, with the contemplation of that distant better fortune which he hoped awaited him.
This is an accurate picture of what human life has hitherto been. Possessing in human nature, a soil capable of yielding abundantly the product which man most desires, we have, in our ignorance, planted the thorn instead of the vine. The evil principle which has been instilled into all minds from infancy, 'that the character is formed by the individual,' has produced, and so long as it shall continue to be cherished will ever produce, the same unwelcome harvest of evil passions, - hatred, revenge, and all uncharitableness, and the innumer-able crimes and miseries to which they have given birth; for these are the certain and necessary effects of the institutions which have arisen among mankind in consequence of the universally received and long coerced belief in this erroneous principle.
'That the character is formed for and not by the individual,' is a truth to which every fact connected with man's history bears testimony, and of which the evidence of our senses affords us daily and hourly proof. It is also a truth which, when its practical application shall be fully understood, will be of inestimable value to mankind. Let us not, therefore, continue to act as if the reverse of this proposition were true. Let us cease to do violence to human nature; and, having at length discovered the vine, or the good principle, let us henceforward substitute it for the thorn. The knowledge of this principle will necessarily lead to the gradual and peaceful introduction of other institutions and improved arrangements, which will preclude all the existing evils, and permanently secure the well-being and happiness of mankind.
The system, the separate parts of which have been explained in this Report, will lead to this improved condition of society by the least circuitous route that the present degraded state of the human mind and character will admit. But to understand the nature and objects of these several parts the whole attention and powers of the mind must be called in to action.
Can the use or value of a time-piece be ascertained from a knowledge only of the spring, or of some of the separate wheels, or even of all its parts with the exception of one essential to its movements?
If, then, a knowledge of the whole is absolutely requisite before a simple piece of mechanism to mark time can be comprehended, surely it is far more necessary that a system which promises to impart the greatest benefits ever yet offered to mankind should be so thoroughly examined, in its several parts and entire combination, as to be well understood, before any party ventures to decide whether or not it is competent to produce the effects intended.
The result of such an examination will show, that each part has been devised with reference to a simple general principle; and that there is a necessary connec-tion between the several parts, which cannot be disturbed without destroying the use and value of this new mental and physical combination.
It may be further opposed, as every other very great beneficial change in society has been: but what avail the puny efforts which the united ignorance of the world can now make to resist its introduction in this and other countries, when it may be easily proved, by experiment, to be fraught, with the highest benefits to every individual of the human race? Even the strong natural prejudices in favour of all old established customs will contend against it but for a time.
There does not exist an individual who, when he shall understand the nature and purport of this system, will anticipate from it the slightest degree of injury to himself, - or rather, who will not perceive that he must derive immediate and incalculable advantages from its introduction. Circumstances far beyond the knowledge or control of those whose minds are confined within the narrow prejudices of class, sect, party or country, tow render this change inevitable; silence will not retard its progress, and opposition will give in-creased celerity to its movements.
What, then, to sum up the whole in a few words, does your Reporter now propose to his fellow-creatures?
After a life spent in the investigation of the causes of the evils with which society is afflicted, and of the means of removing them, - and being now in possession of facts demonstrating the practicability and the efficacy of the arrangements now exhibited, which have been the fruit of that investigation, aided by a long course of actual experiments, - he offers to exchange their poverty for wealth, their ignorance for knowledge, their anger for kindness, their divisions for union. He offers to effect this change without subjecting a single individual even to temporary inconvenience. No one shall suffer by it for an hour; all shall be essentially benefited within a short period from its introduction; and yet not any part of the existing system shall be prematurely disturbed.
His practical operations will commence with those who are now a burthen to the country for want of employment. He will enable these persons to support themselves and families, and pay the interest of the capital requisite to put their labour in activity. From the effects which will be thus produced on the character and circumstances of this oppressed class, the public will soon see and acknowledge that he has promised far less than will be realised; and when, by these arrangements, the vicious, the idle, and the pauper, shall be made virtuous, industrious, and independent, those who shall be still the lowest in the scale of old society may place themselves under the new arrangements, when they have evidence before them that these offer greater advantages than the old.
Upon this principle the change from the old system to the new will be checked in its progress whenever the latter ceases to afford decided induce-ments to embrace it; for long established habits and prejudices will continue to have a powerful influence over those who have been trained in them. The change, then, beyond the beneficial employment of those who now cannot obtain work, will proceed solely from proof, in practice, of the very great superiority of the new arrangements over the old. Unlike, therefore, all former great changes, this may be effected without a single evil or inconvenience. It calls for no sacrifice of principle or property to any individual in any rank or condition; through every step of its progress it effects unmixed good only.
Acting on principles merely approximating to those of the new system, and at the same time powerfully counteracted by innumerable errors of the old system, he has succeeded in giving to a population originally of the most wretched description, and placed under the most unfavourable circumstances, such habits, feelings, and dispositions, as enable them to enjoy more happiness than is to be found among any other population of the same extent in any part of the world; a degree of happiness, indeed, which it is utterly impossible for the old system to create among any class of persons placed under the most favourable circumstances.
Seeing, therefore, on the one hand, the sufferings which are now experienced, and the increasing discontent which prevails, especially among the most numerous and most useful class of our population, and, on the other, the relief and the extensive benefits which are offered to society on the authority of facts open to inspection, - can the public any longer with decency decline investigation? Can those who profess a sincere desire to improve the condition of the poor and working classes longer refuse to examine a proposal, which, on the most rational grounds, promises them ample relief, accompanied with unmixed good to every other part of society?
Your Reporter solicits no favour from any party; he belongs to none. He merely calls upon those who are the most competent to the task, honestly, as men valuing their own interests and the interests of society, to investigate, without favour or affection, a 'Plan (derived from thirty years' study and practical experience,) for relieving public distress and removing discontent, by giving permanent productive employment to the poor and working classes, under arrangements which will essentially improve their character and ameliorate their condition, diminish the expenses of production and consumption, and create markets co-extensive with production.'