the good life

Robert Owen built his own commune only to learn that transcendental ideals and prayer and sometimes group sex, are not in itself sufficient to weld a community together. Owen, a cotton mill owner in Scotland of progressive ideals dreamed of better things: a paradise where private property and greed would be abolished, where nobody would work more than three hours per day, and where everyone would be healthy, well-educated and blissfully happy. Since Owen was an agnostic and socialist it was hard getting financing so he did it himself, buying a property from George Rapp in Harmonie, Indiana; a communal village of German separatists. Rapp felt his people were getting too fat and prosperous and needed to move back to the wilds of Pennsylvania in order to revive the pioneer hardihood.

By George Cruikshank click image for more...

Owen renamed it “New harmony” and thought the existing town, a bargain at $135K was a decent “half-way house”. They arrived in large numbers, about a thousand of them, well educated, refined and elegant for the most part, but with no idea how to plough, mend, fix or repair. He then took off to Europe and brought back a collection of savants so brilliant they were called “the boatload of knowledge”. Between the radicals and the sharpers and the honest and the dissenters, the New World Order soon split apart. Owen , to his crdit closed the project and soldiered on, eventually dying at eighty-seven in the midst of a lecture, ” The Human race Governed Without Punishment.”

Read More: ---John Humphrey Knowles, whom many people were pleased to hear died April 13, 1886, had preached and practised Free Love. In 1848 Knowles established the Oneida Community near New York. Here, according to his teachings, everybody was married to everybody else ('Complex Marriage'). The community elders had first choice when it came to deflowering the young boys and girls (beginning at 14, 'Ascending Fellowship'). Ideas taken from eugenics (Stirpiculture) were important in the efforts to keep down the number of pregnancies. By prohibiting men from ejaculating ('Male Continence'), the birth rate was somewhat controlled. Although the Oneida Community, even at its height, had no more than 200 members, it was considered an immense threat to morals. An example is the fierce and elaborate (502 pp.) accusation in a book called 'Free love and its votaries; or, American socialism unmasked, being an historical and descriptive account of the rise and progress of the various Free Love associations in the United States, and of the effects of their vicious teachings upon American Society' by John B. Ellis(1870).---

Notwithstanding the failure of New Harmony, the venture excited enormous interest among America’s idealists. Brook Farm with George Ripley was an example and Nathaniel Hawthorne enthusiastically joined the transcendental experience only to leave after six months of pitching hay and hoeing potatoes . ” labor is the curse of the world and nobody can meddle with it ¬†without becoming proportionately brutified,” he remarked….

Read More:/2010/09/utopian-dreams-schemes-and-in-betweens/

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