Tuesday, October 17, 2017 Text is available under the CC BY-SA 3.0 licence.

Robert Owen (1771 – 1858)


Welsh socialist and social reformer, considered to be the father of the cooperative movement.
Robert Owen
Eight hours daily labour is enough for any human being, and under proper arrangements sufficient to afford an ample supply of food, raiment and shelter, or the necessaries and comforts of life, and for the remainder of his time, every person is entitled to education, recreation and sleep.
Owen quotes
My friends, I tell you that hitherto you have been prevented from even knowing what happiness really is, solely in consequence of the errors gross errors that have been combined with the fundamental notions of every religion that has hitherto been taught to men. And, in consequence, they have made man the most inconsistent, and the most miserable being in existence. By the errors of these systems he has been made a weak, imbecile animal; a furious bigot and fanatic or a miserable hypocrite; and should these qualities be carried, not only into the projected villages, but into Paradise itself, a Paradise would no longer be found!
Owen
It was he who first taught the people the then strange truth that Causation was the law of nature and of mind, and unless we looked for the cause of an evil, we might never know the remedy. Every man of sense in Church and State acts on this truth now, but so few knew it in Owen's day that he was accused of unsettling the morality of the world. It was the fertility and newness of his suggestions, as a man of affairs, that gave him renown, and his influence extends to us. This memorial before us would itself grow old, were we to stay to describe all the ideas the world has accepted from Owen. I will name but one more, and that the greatest.
He saw, as no man before him did, that environment is the maker of men. Aristotle, whose praise is in all our Universities, said "Character is Destiny." But how can character be made? The only national way known in Owen's day was by prayer and precept. Owen said there were material means, largely unused, conducive to human improvement. Browning's prayer was "Make no more giants, God; but elevate the race at once." This was Owen's aim, as far as human means might do it.




Owen Robert quotes
I would class Owen in a triad as one of the three men who have in this generation given an impulse to the moral world, Clarkson and Dr. Bell are the other two.
Owen Robert
They would receive the same care and attention as those who belong to the establishment. Nor will there be any distinction made between the children of those parents who are deemed the worst, and of those who may be esteemed the best members of society: indeed I would prefer to receive the offspring of the worst, if they shall be sent at an early age; because they really require more of our care and pity and by well-training these, society will be more essentially benefited than if the like attention were paid to those whose parents are educating them in comparatively good habits.
Robert Owen quotes
Moved by a generous eagerness to turn men's attention to the power which dwelt in circumstances, Mr. Owen devised the instructive phrase, that "man's character was formed for him and not by him." He used the unforgettable inference that "man is the creature of circumstances." The school of material improvers believed they could put in permanent force right circumstances. The great dogma was their charter of encouragement. To those who hated without thought It seemed a restrictive doctrine to be asked to admit that there were extenuating circumstances in the career of every rascal. To the clergy with whom censure was a profession, and who held that all sin was wilful, man being represented as the "creature of circumstances," appeared a denial of moral responsibility. When they were asked to direct hatred against error, and pity the erring who had inherited so base a fortune of incapacity and condition they were wroth exceedingly, and said it would be making a compromise with sin. The idea of the philosopher of circumstances was that the very murderer in his last cell had been born with a staple in his soul, to which the villainous conditions of his life had attached an unseen chain, which had drawn him to the gallows, and that the rope which was to hang him was but the visible part. Legislators since that day have come to admit that punishment is justifiable only as far as it has preventive influence. To use the great words of Hobbes, "Punishment regardeth not the past, only the future."
Robert Owen
To preserve permanent good health, the state of mind must be taken into consideration.
Owen Robert quotes
The Institution has been devised to afford the means of receiving your children at an early age, almost as soon as they can walk. By this means many of you, mothers and families, will be able to earn a better maintenance or support for your children; you will have less care and anxiety about them, while the children will be prevented from acquiring any bad habits. and gradually prepared to learn the best.
Owen
The lowest stage of humanity is experienced when the individual must labour for a small pittance of wages from others.
Owen Robert
It is confidently expected that the period is at hand, when man, through ignorance, shall not much longer inflict unnecessary misery on man; because the mass of mankind will become enlightened, and will clearly discern that by so acting they will inevitably create misery to themselves. As soon as the public mind shall be sufficiently prepared to receive it, the practical detail of this system shall be fully developed. For the extensive knowledge of the facts which present themselves on the globe, makes it evident to those whose reasoning faculties have not been entirely paralysed, that all mankind firmly believe, that everybody except themselves has been grievously deceived in his fundamental principles; and feel the utmost astonishment that the nations of the world could embrace such gross inconsistencies for divine or political truths. Most persons are now also prepared to understand, that these weaknesses are firmly and conscientiously fixed in the minds of millions, who, when born, possessed equal faculties with themselves. And although they plainly discern in others what they deem inconceivable aberrations of the mental powers, yet, in despite of such facts, they are taught to believe that they themselves could not have been so deceived; and this impression is made upon the infant mind with the greatest ease, whether it be to create followers of the most ignorant, or of the most enlightened systems.
Robert Owen
Thanks to the doctrine of national environment which Owen was the first to preach Knowledge is greater; Life is longer; Health is surer; Disease is limited; Towns are sweeter; Hours of labour are shorter; Men are stronger; Women are fairer; Children are happier; Industry is held in more honour, and is better rewarded; Co-operation carries wholesome food and increased income into a million homes where they were unknown before, and has brought us nearer and nearer to that state of society which Owen strove to create in which it shall be impossible for men to be depraved or poor.




Robert Owen quotes
Thou needest to be very right, Robert, for thou art very positive.
Robert Owen
He carried no dagger in his mouth, as many reformers have done. He cared for no cause that reason could not win. There never was a more cautious innovator, a more practical dreamer, or a more reasoning revolutionist. Whatever he commended he supported with his purse. It was this that won for him confidence and trust, given to no compeer of his time.
Owen quotes
My life was not useless; I gave important truths to the world, and it was only for want of understanding that they were disregarded. I have been ahead of my time.
Owen Robert
This was the angerless philosophy of Owen, which inspired him with a forbearance that never failed him, and gave him that regnant manner which charmed all who met him. We shall see what his doctrine of environment has done for society, if we notice what it began to do in his day, and what it has done since.
Men perished by battle, by tempest, by pestilence, Faith might comfort, but it did not save them. In every town, nests of pestilence co-existed with the churches, who were concerned alone with worship. Disease was unchecked by devotion. Then Owen asked, "Might not safety come by improved material condition?" As the prayer of hope brought no reply, as the scream of agony, if heard, was unanswered, as the priest, with the holiest intent, brought no deliverance, it seemed prudent to try the philosopher and the physician.
Then Corn Laws were repealed, because prayers fed nobody. Then parks were multiplied because fresh air was found to be a condition of health. Alleys and courts, were begun to be abolished-since deadly diseases were bred there. Streets were widened, that towns might be ventilated. Hours of labour were shortened, since exhaustion means liability to epidemic contagion. Recreation was encouraged, as change and rest mean life and strength. Temperance thought of as self-denial was found to be a necessity, as excess of any kind in diet, or labour, or pleasure means premature death. Those who took dwellings began to look, not only to drainage and ventilation, but to the ways of their near neighbours, as the most pious family may poison the air you breathe unless they have sanitary habits.
Owen Robert quotes
Believe me, my friends, you are yet very deficient with regard to the best modes of training your children, or of arranging your domestic concerns.
Robert Owen
He was the first to advocate that eight hours a day in the workshop was best for industrial efficiency. The best employers in the land are now of that opinion. He did not fail there. Who can tell the horrors of industry which children suffered in factories at the beginning of the last century? Were not the Factory Acts acts of mercy? The country owed them to Robert Owen's inspiration. ... He was the first who looked with practical intent into the kingdom of the unborn. He saw that posterity the silent but inevitable master of us all if left untrained may efface the triumphs, or dishonour, or destroy the great traditions of our race. He put infant schools into the mind of the world. Have they been failures? He, when it seemed impossible to anyone else, proposed national education for which now all the sects contend. Has that proposal been a failure?
Robert Owen quotes
There is but one mode by which man can possess in perpetuity all the happiness which his nature is capable of enjoying, that is by the union and co-operation of all for the benefit of each.
Union and co-operation in war obviously increase the power of the individual a thousand fold. Is there the shadow of a reason why they should not produce equal effects in peace; why the principle of co-operation should not give to men the same superior powers, and advantages, (and much greater) in the creation, preservation, distribution and enjoyment of wealth?
Robert Owen
What ideas individuals may attach to the term "Millennium" I know not; but I know that society may be formed so as to exist without crime, without poverty, with health greatly improved, with little, if any misery, and with intelligence and happiness increased a hundredfold; and no obstacle whatsoever intervenes at this moment except ignorance to prevent such a state of society from becoming universal.
Owen Robert
It is said by parrot-minded critics that Owen was "a man of one idea," whereas he was a man of more ideas than any public man England knew in his day. He shared and befriended every new conception of moment and promise, in science, in education, and government. His mind was hospitable to all projects of progress; and he himself contributed more original ideas for the conduct of public affairs than any other thinker of his generation. ... Because some of his projects were so far reaching that they required a century to mature them, onlookers who expected them to be perfected at once, say he "failed in whatever he proposed." While the truth is he succeeded in more things than any public man ever undertook. If he made more promises than he fulfilled, he fulfilled more than any other public man ever made. Thus, he was not a man of "one idea" but of many. Nor did his projects fail. The only social Community for which he was responsible was that of New Harmony, in Indiana; which broke up through his too great trust in uneducated humanity a fault which only the generous commit. The communities of Motherwell and Orbiston, of Manea, Fen, and Queenwood in Hampshire were all undertaken without his authority, and despite his warning of the adequacy of the means for success. They failed, as he predicted they would. Critics, skilled in coming to conclusions without knowing the facts, impute these failures to him.


© 2009–2013Quotes Privacy Policy | Contact