Abraham Rotstein, Weekend Notes XVII

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Weekend Notes (Overview)

Robert Owen (4)

[2] The Village of Union is an intricate thing which P. has now seen. The first Village was an utter failure and nothing happened. He was told: we don't understand it, it isn't voluntary and how do you run it without capital? Are the workers allowed to employ themselves? What would happen to their earnings? Owen never admitted that it was impracticable and doesn’t work at all.

The Poor Law was a mechanism of the Parish or Union of Parishes and was carried on by Un-ions of Villages. For example, Pickering can’t carry unemployment insurance alone. In England there were Unions of Parishes. P. has a statistic of 584 Unions in the Nortwestern counties. The first plan turns to the parishes. We will capitalize the rates and rent or buy the land and take over the paupers and include the unemployed in it. But nothing happened.

He had no response and then he put forward something entirely different maintaining the first plan. P. takes it that Owen reversed his position and not for the given reason that the first plan would be so marvelous.

Spade agriculture claimed the imagination of more than one person of the time. Also social engineering was a great fashion of the time. (cf. the G.T.) Owen thought he had a suitable idea but it doesn’t strike P. that way. That isn’t the way real money is invested in new ventures.

The 1792 depression was nothing but the first year of the outbreak of the War and after there was a war boom.

[3] We haven't given any pictures of Owen’s selflessness, his lack of vanity, the lack of any touchiness and abundance of generosity. He had a type of pride which was peculiarly noble. He refused to accept a valuable business offer because it was one-third instead of one-half. He had unlimited patience, utter insensitivity to unjust blame, physical courage and boundless strength of mind. He had an impersonal detached faith, absence of anger or fear and was unimpressed by King or Emperor. His autobiography is that of a saint who would have been shocked to be referred to that way. No one was more tactful or reversed. These are the characteristics of the self-less person which except in some novels (e.g. Dostoievski, The Idiot) doesn’t occur anywhere. He was utterly impervious to logical argument and therefore the links were missing from his discovery which wasn’t a discovery, to the conclusions that didn’t follow.

We will have therefore to make much more deliberate points taking them from our need to start on Marx, but his is not difficult. It simply means that the points will be somewhere in the Owen chapter.

Owen was enormously able but his abilities were far surpassed by the peculiarities of character. These are summed up under the rare heading of selflessness and being obsessed by practical aims of selfless character. P. thinks Owen personally was irresistible and no one could speak with him without being won over, and this was due to the selflessness. He wasn’t interested in his person and this is something very attractive to everybody.

P. sees the Owen story in a different light and we will also have to collect material from Marx’ great admiration of Owen. He was [4] the only one of the utopians he thought highly off. According to Landshut Marx almost invented the proletarian – the only force to be regarded as a mover. It is not one of the postulates but what he regards as the reality. In Owen there is no idealizing of the proletariat at all and in Marx there is an infinite capacity to idealize the proletariat.

We will have to quote four lines from Owen’s autobiography written at the age of 85 that the work he did will undoubtedly change the picture of the world, on this planet. He hadn’t the shadow of a doubt that his work was outstandingly successful in spite of its apparent failure. Owen’s autobiography should be known in a different way from Cole’s presentation. I didn’t take in Owen’s autobiography. P. was very much taken with the autobiography this time.

His autobiography P. 144 gives the two postulates under which everything can be resolved. P. 75 – he regards his work as utterly successful. You are amazed from line to line. This comes from the modesty which doesn’t really occur anywhere. P. 22 he recapitulates his belief on being a child of nature. To abandon all belief was Owen's religion to be taught to man. His real desire was to do good to the human race and he thought that religions were not only wrong but caused all the evil.

Man isn’t responsible for his falling character and here he never elaborates the position. This is a kind of absurdity which goes far to explain the whole man. It is like an obsession and he dis-covers the thought anyone have had, but he has only this one thought.

[5] With Calvinism (Grace) man isn’t responsible for a thing. Owen must have thought of something which he doesn’t say. In his school he must have produced a crowd of children which amazed the world: well-behave, cheerful and loveable and this was so much a legend that Queens came to visit and the school strikes one as even surpassing a common experience of modern times.

In his school he must have produced a crowd of children which amazed the world: well-behave, cheerful and loveable and this was so much a legend that Queens came to visit and the school strikes one as even surpassing a common experience of modern times.

Owen discovered capitalism through unemployment and was not prone to regard socialism as the solution. What does capitalism consist of and why does fighting unemployment lead you to a further discovery?

The answer was the trades depression. The sensation that staggered the country was that they had a victory in the was and then found themselves in a depression. This was an utterly perplexing thing and Owen described his reception when the Parliamentary committee heard him. It was the first time there was a great depression at all and the sentence indicating the discovery of capitalism was more shocking almost than America.

Owen put forward a theory that the machine was responsible that he said that the war is over with its great source of demand and that there were no markets.

Malthus at the time didn’t provide much in the way of economic theory and Ricardo was only famous on the bullion question in 1809. Laissez-faire does not have a strong representative and insofar as it has one, it is Malthus. For him poverty is one the preventive checks.

[6] An indication of what Owen was up against was the terrible way he was hounded and attacked and in this way learned about classes and the extent to which they make themselves felt. Why were wages low? They were low account of the unemployment. In some sense this was a discovery of capitalism i.e., not that it is low wages but he is conscious that unemployment was a phenomenon distinct from the poor. When P. was a boy it was thought that the reason for unemployment was that they didn’t try and find work. The main objection to my draft is that it isn’t serious.

Owen noticed the bitter egotism of the class war and we may need this for the Marx chapter. Owen’s conclusions however, were completely different from Marx.

There is no mention of Bellers whose problem must deal with the unemployed in the framework of the Poor Law.

Owen said that he wanted useful things and he called the market “artificial”. His heterodoxy is expressed in the ‘artificial and useless goods’. This must be mentioned in his head-on collision with capitalism.

Owen also wanted to get rid of the Speenhamland thing. There would be no supplementation of wages but there is here a subsidy to the capitalist through cheaper labour and a promise of shorter hours. It is a grandiose measure of shorter hours although no evidence is available. That would explain the whole thing.

[8][1] The Village would attract the unemployed and one would have to have similar unions for those who work. In that way the idea was to prevent unemployment by immobilizing labour. Today for example, we have the five year contract. The general measure for the social welfare of the working class during a depression which was outside the depression made no sense at all. The first scheme would attract more paupers to the Parish.

The second scheme would stabilize employment in a depression. This is very near to the 18th century view, when village workers had bonded cottages.

The real difficulty is class three, as to why, as to why should go into this. The propertyless workers would go into it if their employer did. Actually number three had no practical importance at all. They are craftsmen and artisans and these are not in danger of unemployment at all.

Under the first scheme they were subsistence farmers and it meant that they would actually grow their own food and nothing would come on the market. If they earned in spite of that, it would be for the benefit of the community. It was pretty much the same as the Bellers plan. It meant that the guardians would settle the paupers and the unemployed on the land and the rates were capitalized. It never worked because it needs capital. And also the unemployed would be stabilized permanently, but you are actually trying to get rid of them. This would institutionalize them and the poor rates would persist. He did say they would be working for the benefit of the community but you can’t have that with compulsory organizations.

[9] The first scheme therefore would increase unemployment instead of decreasing it. Owen couldn’t answer the old charge of creating paradises – oases.

The was no Poor Law reform and the poor houses were nice little buildings – almshouses and there might be six or eight paupers in them. There were usually no work houses and people weren’t compelled to work. Otherwise the would be overrun and the Act of Settlement etc. wouldn’t effective.

Also how would the working class grow up. This is under the Speenhamland regime and that was pretty widespread although it was not entirely general.

Note in the Cole edition of Owen: p. 151 – artificial law of supply and demand, p. 219 – goaded by mechanism etc., p. 227 – vociferators for freedom. The main features were that these were real depression measures. It was all later done by Roosevelt e.g., O.P.W., C.C.C., W.P.A. This actually saved them from starvation and degeneration.

The first plan meant something like the obvious – the Bellers to let them keep themselves on the rates. But the second is a far-reaching anti-depression measure of employment stabilization to prevent unemployment from breaking down by flooding in of the new unemployed. At that time if unemployment measures were successful it would increase the poor rates and make it more difficult to get rid of the poor. The must be very high safeguards and they would only embark on this scheme if it would be cheaper to keep the paupers.

[10] The problem of ancient – making the poor work, sending them around to the farmers as roundsmen etc. The Parish would assume the burden to the farmers as roundsmen etc. The Parish would assume the burden of the interest on the capital. These are the typical problems f social institutions and social legislation and market economy.

Owen refuses to discuss these. He says that if these are so successful the whole of society should be in it. Instead, he would have immobilized the population. The workers would be indentured and there would be no new enterprises and that would be the greatest loss to the economy and you can’t get workers if you need them (the market).

This scheme gives stability at the cost of efficiency, productivity and change and that’s why the economists were against it. It went head-on against this scheme which culminates in 1834. He said the capitalists were conspiring to do just the opposite and he says he thought it was revolting. The capitalists instead of planning for employment planned for unemployment and to force wages down and he fund it revolting.

After receiving 100 or 200 pounds, it meant that the class would cease to be a proletarian class.

P. had the conception from the beginning but he didn’t see that there were 3 different kinds of Unions which I pointed out, and now he sees the meaning of the whole thing. Except for the fact that the world was moving toward a labour market system it would have made a lot of sense especially since competition for labour among the capitalists would have made wages rise (this was in a boom.)

[11][2] On p. 251 he discusses labour notes and that there would be markets for everything. That’s why he said that the basic institutions needn’t change. This could be called liberal socialism where you have markets (Abba Lerner). This is not an end to profite, otherwise how would they pay the 100 or 200 pounds.

P. thinks I should read the autobiography carefully and the crucial passages and the works. P. feels that we have got somewhere on the Village of Union it is sound. One-half of the chapter is sound, interesting and to the point from our angle – not from the point of view of the usual Robert Owen reader. There is a lot missing however, in the writing of things that are the relevant to our approach to Owen. This might be written later. What is his relationship to the individual and society? We don’t have the passages on freedom nor the meaning of his social determinism nor are we criticizing it either.

P. will have to read this again have to read this again on account of the Marx then it will be quite obvious that we can’t miss some of this. We might have for instance the passage where in Owen’s view those who are writing on these subjects have no practical knowledge. This has much relevance to Marx.

One should not risk missing understanding to the full the Owen situation. He realized the problem if his first plan were a success. The problem of the Poor Law had insoluble contradictions. If you make it a success it breaks down and it gets flooded. Everybody knows that. It would break down under the rates. Even people with employment would prefer it. It didn’t get started for this reason. You would never get rid of the poor.

[13] The fact that you would have to invest the money is not in contradiction with saying that it can only be done on a bigger scale. That’s the answer, - they would stabilize employment of those who have it and end up like America looks today e.g. the long-range Reuther contracts.

The workers were promised enormous sums by the capitalist to stay in for five to ten years. The workers would have houses and land to keep themselves, (allotments) and this is the solution which saved Germany and Austria in the 1920’s and England in 1940-43. The people survived by having land and this takes only an hour or two a day with spade gardening.

All this makes a lot of sense from the capitalist point of view – cheap labour, no strikes and no troubles. In a non-depression, this means high wages and flourishing markets e.g., America in 1957. With communal kitchens and nursery it is a liberal socialist utopia. There is stability, security no unemployment, no revolution and it’ done gradually. There is no McCarthysm and the people congregate, according to their sects and parties. My understandings of sects and parties is correct.

There is no contradiction that it didn’t work and you need a bigger scale. Every socialist sys that it would be gradualist.

What would the 100 pounds be paid out of except the profits by capitalists? This is a matter which shows in more than one way how far Owen was forced to penetrate the whole problem. There is no unemployment, but accumulation of capital, distribution of capital gradually, stability of employment, subsistence farming which is subsidiary.

[14] There is no urbanization, but a return to village life flourishing markets on the purchasing power principle. The high wages mean good markets and added to this there is no totalitarian development in civil liberties and there is complete tolerance through freedom of association. This makes it possible to have pauperism separated out and to generalize the principle of the Village of Union.

Now P. understands why Marx was so appreciative of Owen and he must have understood how many problems he was trying to solve.

The labour notes would have replaced the gold standard but he didn’t understand that setting the labour hours on commodities is insoluble. He was misled by the labour theory of value that Ricardo had been teaching.

Owen was a man of enormous practical ability and he thought it out. He would have get around the whole obstruction of the church if e.g. the Catholics all kept together etc. They probably taunted him to find an answer to the sectarian question so he said let them have their sects. It has nothing to do with the question and was for example like female fashions.

There are few cases of humour. On the other hand having that many sects and parties is on the same level as a whimsical thing and it means you can’t take it seriously or know why it was there. It was an answer to things he was bothered about on all sides. e.g. let them have left-handed and right-handed Villages of Union etc. We might say for instance that one shouldn’t get confused by the whimsical things – these were an answer to the vociferators for [15] freedom, the freedom cryers and we don’t know tec. We needn’t follow this up in a conventional trivial fashion and we are not permitted to this or that completeness. We are called upon to understand what is being suggested.

I overlooked that this is in the framework of the market. In the first plan there are no markets only exchange between Unions.

P. made the mistake of not noting that there are separate and distinct types of villages and that he would have all the classes in it. That was a very realistic objection.

The question is only what points what points do we make on the reality of society. He accepted the challenge that if more cannot be done man would have to accept the unavoidable without whining. He never accepted marketless planning. But with this he said there would be no basic institutional change unless necessary.

On the spade, he was talking about it under the wrong heading. He meant England’s 60 millions areas.

I don’t know what to do with the Village of Union because it wasn’t thought through.

Even though the trade union movement and the Rochdale pioneers came every much later, he really said good-by to socialism with this plan. He didn’t make any statements after 1821 as important as the ones between 1813 and 1821. But in his autobiography he had one statement of the world being transformed more and more. Of course, he could know nothing of Mao-Tze-Tung.

[16] Capitalism made quite a success of it 30 years later.

It is a simple idea to include all the points (2 and 3) where he was stopped – the owners, the church, parishes and the circumstances of the Village of Union. Apart from America (which doesn’t prove anything) their attack should be regarded as a consistent pattern. This needn’t be said but it would give the paper a more meaningful pattern.

The writing is too smooth and one shouldn’t allow the reader to skate over without taking it in. It is important for such a plan that one makes it plastic so the reader realizes the Village of Union is a planned settlement. Otherwise one imagines that in some old village people are simply more friendly. We should use our imagination to map what Owen meant and do it freely. Bare bones are misleading. This wasn’t a bare bones affair. It is quite obvious that it is an employment stabilization matter. This is why it is impossible to persuade them. They are comfortable. There is a distribution of capital. (cf. Chesterton) and property is more widely distributed.

From the second class people would move into the third class and this is a typical distribution idea – that everybody should end up wit capital. If you take people today etc. Levittown you get a picture of the Village of Union or some enormous Kodak or Eastman plan of 2000 to 6000. There are also the Reuther contracts and education and insurance schemes. P. doesn’t know where I see the importance of the book.

[17] P. has the feeling that we should take the line that the first village plan must be corrected. The point is that the number of poor was increased by those out of work. I should get more material on the poor law questions and those were not new apart from the Seller proposals.

No action was taken and since the depression continued unemployment continued to grow. Broader action seemed to be called for that helped to stabilize unemployment and reduce the unemployed. It was logical to enlarge the action and one should credit him with the intention of making the first plan possible by relieving the threat of further unemployment and at the same time he may have had in mind an anti-depression measure. Pruchasing power would be maintained, markets created and demand increased. This grew into a measure of general scope and would have introduced an entirely new organized development and this might have served all the purposes. Nobody know how enormous was the scope of depression. This wouldn’t be in the realm of naivete, although nothing came of it.

This was however, extremely prophetic and a number of features 140 later (today) became features of capitalism e.g. the indenture features were carried into the long-range contrast and anti-depression features of today are thought of as the dispersal of capital holdings, distributivism. We must say therefore, that these are some of the features of a much later development. He was right, that all this would happen without basic institutional transformation.

For workers who are at present working and who are in danger [18] of being dismissed, why not help them to be partly self-subsistent on land and then them commit themselves to remaining there and if they promise to stay they would receive a bounty. In this at the same time life is continued and people are not unemployed and social hygienism proved.

The Owen will give us a basis for the Marx, and because it was utopian it doesn’t mean that there was no interest.

P.’s Speenhamland discussion was vitiated by the fact that there were patches above the Speenhamland scale. There was a Speenhamland law but it applied only if the judges of the county decided for it. Under the Elizabethan Poor Law there was no subsidy to wages. This wages contrary to the Elizabethan Poor Law. You were poor only if you decided to go on the rates. It is not like today where everybody goes to claim the pension or payment.

It worked only while employment was on the increase and English trade was on the increase for centuries. They also couldn’t have national insurance. Speenhamland worked only because not everybody went on the rates. If they had, wages would have fallen to zero. Even the employers didn’t want the workers to work for nothing. In that case they wouldn’t work.

Today by comparison there is General Motors and Ford Corp. and Eastman-Kodak and the A.F.L. and C.I.O etc. There were no trade unions behind Owen’s plan. Such considerations are entirely permissible if one knows the matter well enough. It was his optimism which was the substitute for General Motors and it would have worked if the institutions had rationalized them.

[19] P. is not as rigid in his views of Owen in the earlier remarks above. It is less clear than he thought what the writings of Owen really say about the relationship of these two Villages of Union. There is no doubt that in the second scheme the first remains intact as the Poor Law. But when he came out with the first, it is not clear the extent to which he had the second in mind.

In an 1813 paper to his workmen he said that he would come back to this subject (1816). Already there was a depression and this is important. In reading his first report of the Village of Union although he had the unemployment in mind he developed the subject of the machines and the new crisis of mankind which consists of two things. That is the whole early capitalism condition and the generally wretched condition and this merges as the problem of the unemployed. It was neither the depression alone nor the unemployed alone. In spite of the fact that his first Village of Union was a Poor Law Village the unemployment is there. He says “the poor and unemployed”, “the unemployed poor adults”, or “the unemployed poor”.

Why is this important? It gives you a handle to a much more serious treatment of Owen's outlook. We have said that he discovered the machine and its productivity but we do not say that the machine was threatening the whole of society.

He said that the condition of the working class is much worse and this is catastrophic. Here the criticism of society is made explicit in two places: what it should go on producing boundlessly.

[20] We should give this precisely otherwise we haven't developed the problem. The fact that he gave wrong answers must be played down but not left out. The great misery caused by the machine is because labour has become worthless. However he linked this with a different matter, that only work on the land will help. He says it must be on the land and that means subsistence. A Village of Union does mean subsistence. In the 1920's Vienna and in the 1940's in England there was a tremendous allotment movement. Everyone went working over the weekends and evenings and everyone had food. People had enough food because there was waste. (The allotment problem is the Great Transformation. The squires were against allotments in Speenhamland.)

Four or five things are now important. One can't leave out Christianity and he said he wasn't a Christian but in charity and morality he was a Christian (or perhaps he might have been a Hindu with the charity).

P.'s assumption is that nothing happened between the first and second report i.e. March to September. The New Lanark Report must be regarded as an elaboration of the September report. There is no proof that he didn’t have the whole plan in mind in March. Our problem however is not exactly what happened because the scheme of the villages did not depend upon the motivation no matter how strong.

Already the first plan had been put forward in answer to the general problem of the machine without institutional change, and the plan is stronger with the second plan. It was formulated in order to get the capitalists in and he couldn’t say that they would be slowly extinguished, and so there was no financial harm to anyone. (Viz. his [21] total mentality).

His answer on religion is illogical. Mankind has always had a society and people are generally impatient intolerant, irritable and wretched. One understands this but how was this error incorporated in all the religions? How is this the cause of man's misfortune? P. doesn't understand it.

We must be explicit in presenting Owens' essential contribution to the problem of the machine in society and in our paper there are only vague references but the thing is left out.

“The new era begins” is another connotation - a pessimistic one. If the machine goes on it will become even worse - there will be a cataclysmic revolution. This is very important with regard to Marx He prophesied that this is only the beginning of what we called mechanism.

The condition of the workers was quite independent of the unemployment, cf. the G.T. which showed how it was a problem of unemployment at all. This was in the dislocation which occurred with more people being brought in and more sent back and becoming uprooted at home.

Suddenly unemployment came up as a Poor Law question (see also the passage where he says that the Poor Law could work) and he was answering Malthus (p. 198?) He said that the problem was not on account of Malthus discovery but was on account of the social dislocation. That settled Malthus, and everyone would grow his own food. That is why he tells them half a dozen times that the land is the only solution. The Village of Union is not a new settlement but it is the land.

[22] The effect of mechanism is the lowering of standards all the way. He says to the manufacturers however, that we can't drop the machine.

The social catastrophe caused by the machine needs an answer. He says that it is in low wages and the worker cannot be restored except on the land. (We don't play up his economics but just understand it).

Unemployment was growing and the first type of Village had to be protected against the avalanche and anti-depression on measures had to be instituted. He may have had no response to his first Village of Union plan.

We don't know if the second plan means a great concession and a change of mind. There is nothing to go upon. He was secretive and was a very great man. He could go ten years without saying a word about the subject. This obstacle with Christianity he saw for 17 years and he knew he would have to come out with it one day.

Although the plan for sect and party was whimsical, it was essential to the generalization of the plan because one couldn't disregard an important feature of the situation. In the first plan voluntariness didn't arise and in the second plan it stood in the forefront. The Parishes would do it for the first group but no one would for the second. That is why “voluntary” comes in. For the paupers you could interpret it as compulsion because he gets no food, by you can’t move beyond that for the worker who is threatened by unemployment. He had to build on economic classes as organize to the whole plan and he really hid the stark fact in this way that classes [23] were basic to the whole thing. He thought that apart from the question of classes people would combine in the Villages. The function of the classes is very different from sect and party. He was diabolically clever (c.f. p. 227) because he avoided discussion of a fact. Nothing comes up in the first Village of Union plan of forcing people together. However, on the broader scheme…

We leave out the moral implication of this matter. It didn't turn on sect and party but on class. He never had any other concept.

The idea that he now had to make his peace with reality is a mistaken idea. Not even a single step can be taken and he must have seen it when he had the earlier concept. It is essential to the plan. Owen planned for production while he referred to those economists who don't. P. tends to the thought that the important matters were there, while many important matters were left undecided.

The Village of Union is used in contrast to the term “individualized” which turns out to mean the cottage. The basic feature that Owen suggested is that people should live together in communities, in Villages, not in cottages.

There is nowhere any sign that Owen noticed the ambiguity and two-sidedness of his use of the term “individualized”.

The might have abundance in the future but in the meantime at least they wouldn't starve.

The whole problem of transition is contained in his attitude to gradualism when he says that even the best measures unless gradually applied are worse than the worst conditions, e.g. The Gotha Program.

[24] The very fact these ideas go back to Owen is startling but for educated people it is interesting. They ought to know about it. The Owen chapter will be much improved by his improved by his not being treated so much as an odd figure. His was a superb lack of vanity and wonderful good taste.

At Gotha there was the Union of the Lasallians and the Eisen-achians. It is the basic law of what the Russians regard as the program for the future. Owen doctrines which the Trade Union movement took up included the very different forms of self-help and productive associations to produce a Village of Union.

On the machine, he said that a new age was beginning and that it cannot be dropped on account of the national interest. There was a necessity of allowing for this being an infinite development and there was the need of doing something actively. He said it would take the heavy work from all. He didn't say that the machine would produce any amount of anything but there would be an abundance of all the necessaries, which was possible. This was in terms of markets. Each of the above can be substantiated by a famous passage.

One must bring out the hard tough character of the thought. There was the certainty of a new age and a new epoch with inconceivable things happening. As to society that is our difficulty.

At the present time the Owen chapter is divided as follows: there is the introduction of two pages, then Owen the Man, four and a half pages. Here add the simplicity, modesty and selflessness of [25] his character. His mind was a health of paradoxy. Then there is the New Lanark section, seven pages, and then the Philosophy. At this point we give the machine and discovery of society. With the machine give the episode with Colquhoun and then that he felt responsible for the machine. Its consequences had proved disastrous but its possibilities were infinite for the good. At this point add five or so things on the machine to the material. (This is not gestures – write quietly). The reader doesn’t believe that someone saw the machine for the first time and recognized it for what it was. Don’t present this a confusing picture. He knew it had infinite possibilities and terrible evils but it could be dealt with. He said that unless government action would be taken, “permanent evils will come about”. He wasn’t a Tolstoyan one day, and a Technocrat the next. He had a steady view. What makes him so utterly amazing is that peculiar obsession. He was full of “society” but if one makes this a function of his obsession you get something unsound.

Then there is society. He discovered all the things individually that operationally make up society. Start with New Lanark and give the other things afterwards.

When Owen wrote “something would have to be done” he wrote the brief of his itinerary through life. He knew the machine had to be counteracted. There is the idea in The Great Transformation that unless something is done it will destroy society. That was the market.

Don't distinguish between the discovery of capitalism and society. Society was capitalist and capitalism and unemployment come here.

In the end society is gradually, patiently and completely transformed [26] and we don't know if we solve all of man's complaints. Only someone who deals with reality in this fashion can conceive that there are limits. He is faced with this all the time. Add as well Owen's social pacifism. At the end give his philosophy, a conscious and deliberate formulation.

Our conclusion is that his position was expressed through his life and not his writing. We needn't trouble that his philosophy isn't convincing because the known story of his life bears out our conclusion. But there is a limite to what society would permit.

A naturalistic ida was abroad at the time. In Malthus the population presses on the means of subsistence or the law of diminishing returns of the soil are both naturalistic not humanistic. An economist called Anderson pointed to this. Only Ricardo's rent theory did it become known and accepted as valid and there you have a price theory that accounts for rent.

Owen entirely and completely rejected the point of view of the religions, although he gave as his grounds something irrelevant. No church was an intolerant as he, yet, he thought he could determine right ideas. His ideas of man's duties were dogmatically Christian to the point of rejecting any kind of punishment which is as far as Christ won't and he wasn't responsible for New Lanark.

The socialist influence in legislation and the social determinism was supported by statistics. In Quetelet's work there was the idea that crime, divorce, prostitution, were determined by social changes. This was prophetic although how and why this would him [27] an exponent of the reality of society became of decisive importance for his ethical orientation (and anthropology). Owen says that what he is teaching could never have been done before (p. 111). Like Marx he wanted to unite all the separate principles which is a highly Marxist idea.

The point which wasn't in Owen was that the Gotha Program had a distinction from each according to his ability. The Gotha Program was made by the Eisenachians (Liebknecht and Lebel, and the others were Lasalle etc.) The critique by Marx makes the distinction between socialism and communism. Later on Erfurt retained this distinction. From Owen comes the idea that there will be an intermediate stage and human beings will be educated. He anticipates the Gotha Program.

This will be an authentic view. Neither Cole nor the Russians nor Marx refer to it. We have acquired the wretched habits of the old system. The natural death of the old system will not be lingering (p. 274).

We must get some of the pedestrian starting points of the latest Marxist position into Owen. Perhaps we will bring in the trade union movement, Chartism. I could mention Chartism and mention that Owen was absolutely anti-political. The idea is that he had a twist of mind which is not at all usual. This is not an economic twist of mind: to produce goods because part of it won’t do it.

It was only in 1891 that the next o the Gotha Program was [28] published because that was when the critique was published although it happened in 1875. In my text the word “combined” with the fourth class is a bad word and I should use precise words to describe social organization of economic character. Owen’s was a gripping imaginative conception.

On “the spade” it comes in in quite a diletantic way and the impression is that is isn't serious.

The economies from the house and communal arrangements should not be put together with abundance because this is impermissible. We must take the matter seriously from our own angle and judge it. To call the thing an economy of abundance frightens P. because it has a definite meaning. Than the task of the writer is to make it clear.

The sentence: profits are not reduced, is curious. It is not a description of the Village of Union. This falls under grave criticism. It should be in the general section.

The reference to gradualism belongs where we develop this concept earlier. The passage on “the machine would be his backer and ally” should be put in with the machine. Here it is destructive, and loose. It should all be built as a monument.

He was regarded as the founder of the labour movement even though he became the leader against his will.

The labour time was a work of utter genius. He thought that everyone would hand it all the goods that they produced but these goods deteriorate and only the pick of them is saleable. In a market [29] where there is competition individuals take the losses. Here they can’t take the losses and the organizations go bankrupt. There might for example be produced 240 lamp-shades but no lamps. Things therefore become dirty and stale and out of fashion. In some places in London the notes were accepted without difficulty. Proudhon tried the same thing and he imitated Owen.

Note rational: p. 146 abundance for all at all times.

(See also The Early Marx for points in common, and Freedom and Technology.)

The Early Marx (4)

Text in English to type

[30] There is a new edition of the early writings of Marx. The original edition was issued in 1932 edited … […]

In the introduction Landshut takes up the subject of the world of thought of Marx in the light of the 1932 publication and shows … […]

There has been a playing down of these writings by the Russians and others.

When Marx grew up and attended University from 1817 to 1822 religion and philosophy were the only subjects around which thought revolved. He joined in the admiration of Hegel but he did not say his criticism that this … philosophy as […] [32] philosophy” (i.e., as understood by the philosopher in the narrow sense).

At that time the first … […]

Landshut then discusses the main stages of Marx … […]

In the course of this he already met Engels who was already writings on political economy and whose experiences were those of Manchester and the textile industry … […]

Marx general criticism of Hegel as a philosopher of the State wasn’t … […]

[34] He said that in philosophy the things which are predicates are made into subjects … […]

Hegel had made ideas and modalities … […]

Marx’ philosophy of the state is only part of the philosophy and Law. It was meant only to justify the Prussian State and tells nothing about the real world. Everything was derived from theology etc.

Reversing the form of the Hegelian statements … […]

Hegel wrote a book … […]

[35] Marx said what a deep a brilliant idea of Hegel … […]

Hegel produced the concepts of alienation and identification.

Hegel does what Parsons does – he developed categories and said that men and things are distributed in these categories. We do this too in sociology. … […]

P. had been right in taking up freedom and technology but not only in Owen is the Machine and society the two poles but also Marx. Society is the subject of Hegel’s philosophy but as far as the machine is concerned there is no technology to speak of in Germany and he wasn’t interest-ed in the economy. He was neither a socialist nor an economist but a philosopher.

P. is enormously supported … […] [36] Marx he did see that it links with the Owen.

In P.’s pamphlet “The Early Writings of Karl Marx” the appendix on Marx’ life was done by Kenneth Muir.

Landshut says that the central problem is one of anthropology, the nature of man and ethics: in what sense is man free, … […] In the total philosophy of Marx, … […]

The main idea is to present it as simply as possible even though … […]

According to Landshut the way to socialism was simple. Since Hegel regarded the human mind as the form of the spirit in history, Marx applied … […] the [37] religious way of dealing with things. When he criticizes the economist … […]

We should find three or four points characteristic in Owen’s thinking that we need later on.

First, there was his … […]

Secondly, Owen turns … […]

In Marx what he calls the human is distinctly personal: the relationship of individuals to individuals. … […]

The idea that he did his life’s work in conditions of humiliating destitution is absurd. Every biography of the last 30 years shows that they lived on the full bourgeois level and spent terrific [38] amounts … […]

Engels wrote … […]

The Marx work would … […]

The opposite is 1934. That is a shameful event and we must restore some unity. … […]

Our interpretation follows Landshut … […]

[39] In his famous letter to his father at age 17, … […]

There is his attachment … […]

P. thinks that the meaning … […]

If Owen was pressed … […]

[40] anthropological interest he developed a new concept of man.

Adams points out that Marx … […]

Adams didn't even suspect … […]

P. once saw an announcement in a Hungarian paper that was evidence that Marx never saw the Anti-Duhring before publication … […]

[41] P. know beforehand … […]

The Adams chapter … […]

P. may take up the phrase … […]

My question: … […]

He tried to be less … […]

This book shows … […]

The Landshut is … […]

My question: What is the role of the economy in Marx?

[42] With Marx it is an … […]

This is all pre-sputnikian … […]

This one most now leave … […]

The new concept in which Marx … […]

This is a conversation … […]

[43] best thing is to keep … […]

The Hegelian jargon is the more remarkable because Hegel invented the words and Marx uses them. […]

To the existentialists and the communists … […]

What Marx did, the mistake … […]

It is the person, and personality exists only as the contact between human beings. That would be atomism which is meaningless and P. accepts the Christian position of the person. As an individual [44] you can't exist in isolation. This is Marx which he was derived from Christianity.

After all, the Hobbesian … […]

Religious and philosophical questions dominated the period through the activities of Kant, Schiller, Goethe, Hegel, Schelling. Engels in his old age … […]

In Marx the idea … […]

[46] life was directed to this one world historical taskstarting from religious and philosophical questions which dominated the period through Kant, Schiller etc. (Above translated from Landhsut p. 2)

Marx had the famous … […]

William James says that Hegel reminds him of a circus … […]

P. thinks we should … […]

P.'s calculation is that the Russians will fall back on a philosophical contemplation and therefore on the Early Marx.

Owen discovered society but he … […]

(See also Freedom and Technology).

Freedom and Technology (9)

[48] The content to the answer is the freedoms, but this answer doesn't stand on its own feet. How do you becomes the person for which this is the answer? That is the same thing as the answer.

When P. was a boy the working class was in misery, destitute with uncertainty, without culture and immoral. The system produced freedom, normalcy and decency only for the ruling class.

But today it is not so. The problem has shifted and the whole thing has to be looked at again. Almost all our concepts come from that period which was entirely different.

That is why it it is priceless that Owen called supply and demand artificial: because it needed an elaborate, carefully constructed institutional system to produce it. But this doesn't mean that there shouldn't be artifacts. Like the Sputnik they have their advantages.

We start from freedom as the problem of our time - why we seem to have less freedom and complain of its loss. There is a thesis and it has something to do with a technological civilization (the machine) but what on heart does it have to do with it?

Owen discovered the machine. (This has to be shown more deliberately with greater precision). He thought there was a lot wrong with society. He didn't discover the science of society but he just put the blame for immorality on it. It is one of the greatest climatic changes in the history of human consciousness. Man had said wasn't used in this fashion.

[49] P.'s idea of the presentation is to have in the Owen chapter a few fairly inconspicuous things which turn up in Marx, and are not inconspicuous there. There is "practical business life" - they know nothing about practice. There is also the bitter out-burst against class and the conspiracy of the rich. Owen knew less economics then the economists and he was wrong all the time.

There wasn't the slightest interest at the time in the goings-on in Manchester and the city hadn't even existed before 1750. No person of repute lived in Manchester. These things don't occur in Jane Austin for instance.

P.'s idea of presentation is to begin this with a thorough anti-climax. That is to mention some of the things that Owen had remarked on but the future of which lay in Germany, and were heard of only very much later. That s the reform of Hegel.

P. thought of the importance of the practical side of factory organization, then classes and the role of classes as an immediate problem of legislation and good government because these things didn't come up again in England nor before the left wing of the Chartists was there anything of this kind mooted.The Chartists were no socialists. The socialists took no interest in the no-class movement and the no-class movement took in interest in the socialists. That is how Owenites and the Chartists are related. The radicals in parliament were anti-socialist and that was England from 1800 to about 1860. The socialism came from Europe.

When Marx in London organized an international, the English Trade Union movement gave money and thought that the continent should [50] have such a movement - Appleton etc. regarded Marx and Bakunin as clever people. Not before the Fabians however, was socialism heard of again.

The chapter thus begins with a thorough anti-climax. We then show how the rediscovery of the machine and society took place leading to the Marxist working class movement. This was outcome of a kind of humanistic and idealistic philosophical movement of the outmost intensity and the vehemence. It is only then one can start like I do saying Owen was pretty much unusual. Marx was also pretty unusual. Hess said that there was Saint-Simon, Heine, Fourier, Hegel etc. rolled into one.

In Marx this word "society" became a byword. He used it for everything from sausages to the moon. Everything was "social"from the social individual to social labour.

What are the main points here from the development of the argument of the book? P. doesn't know. He will have to get the key to Marx. How did socialism and the working class get going at all? It will lead to freedom and technology and man's destiny which he formulated as a humanistic problem of man and his technology. Otherwise how do you get to the means of production? It is not economistic or materialistic - competition, price etc.

Where does it leave P.? It leaves him with an unresolved question - how and why societal production? This socialism should safeguard the autonomy of the individual in society.

[51]Socialism came not from England - came from {Ecryze}

[52] Marx missed this problem. He thought that the only limit to the humanistic ideal is private property and profit. But there is something inherent in a technological civilization which he overlooked.

My question: Was this in his realm of interest?

His problem was, how does a socialist organization fulfill the destiny of man? (the fulfillment of his human nature). He overlooked that the technoogical character of civilization may be the greatest obstacle.

The absolute idea of Hegel fulfills itself in history and that is why the Communist regards this as absolute - to serve the purposes of history.

Marx overlooked what the technological character of society would imply.

From our angle, Marxism leads to a maximum criticism of society while there is 100% insistence on the human side of existence. There is a maximum of optimism on human destiny and it is a foregone conclusion that human existence will change all the way.

The A.J.M. Smith poem on the atom explosion is near our motto. It was written in 1954 and we had ten years of the atom bomb.

My question: Can we say that the Nazi is also pursuing his freedom?

Kant represents the moral autonomy of the personality. The [53] person is responsible to norms he himself has freely accepted. If my question is whether in Kant's view all human beings possess the capacity for freedom, the answer is yes. They possess the capacity for following the commands of the laws they have themselves accepted.

In discussing the destiny and nature of man Marx wouldn't start from freedom but from anthropology that relates man to mankind, insofar as he has consciousness of the human race. (These were Feuerbach's lines of starting from man and not from God).

It depends on the conent of the paper as to whether we regard as humanistic. Marx argues that art, law and culture of man are as typical as his economy. Marx did not maintain this position however and he put the references on the means of production on which our thoughts did differ.

Marx measures man's achievements as a human characteristic. This makes him a humanist and if I say that there is no specific insistence on freedom then this is true. However, according to the way he argues the ideal state, he makes freedom important.

Like the Greek polis which identifies the individual and the citizen and also Rousseau's volonté de tous, Marx isn't interested in the individual but in personality. This is the individual conscious of his humanness and his relationship to his fellows. (This is already very Marxist). This makes the individual more closely related to social relations and in Marx there is a strong insistence on social characteristics. The individual doesn't have a language or a concept and the whole of the individual's intellect is regarded as social.

[54] In Owen there is only one way in which man's character is shaped by society. This is a strong point of contact between Owen and Karl.

P. agrees with me that the problem of freedom is not self-evident.

The idea that Marx, apart from dialectical materialism, is materialistic has no validity and is only one of the points which is explained by strong and deep-seated partiality. There is no person of any seriousness (except perhaps the Pope) who says that Marxism is materialistic. It is the materialistic interpretation of history in which Marx gives the decisive influence to the means of production.

French materialism denied the existence and validity of ethical values or an interpretation of man's personality and nature in terms of moral values. Here at the postulate of man, self-fulfillment is dominant in the analysis. French philosophical materialism starts in the second half of the 16th century. There is Helvetius and part of the Encyclopedistes which denied specific phenomena of consciousness and regarded them all as matter.

In the term materialistic interpretation of history the word in this case means economic.

Today it is easy to argue the whole position. P. doesn't agree with Marx and is not prepared to defend his position and can say he did have special views on a number of questions e.g.,the organization of socialism. This would not be true of Engels who thought [55] that the labour theory of value should be the organizing principle of the economy. There is not much sense in that.

The troubles which developed in socialist society (Russia) may not have a connection with all this and P. wouldn't be able to say where and how the Communists developed the idea of ideological discipline. This change came very suddenly in the Russian Communist Party from fee intellectual life to the opposite.

P. would write the Marx chapter and we would bring the Owen up to the mark gradually.

(On the Marx question, for the first time in 20 years Karl got excited about something that P. was doing).

P. never found the Mannheim book (Reconstruction of Society). There is a definition there of democracy and Marx had it - that human beings become activated.

Behind the complaints of the criticism of society there is the absence of freedom. If we take the complaints and investigate them the actual trouble is the loss of freedom which is not realized. That would mean that our book has a substance.

Freedom is defined in a way in which it has nothing to do with justice. The freedom question is something utterly different.

The argument then runs that after this period of the criticism of society there is an actual stopping of the criticism of society and then there is a pessimistic criticism of human existence.

[56] It is worth considering how the criticism of existence is linked with the stopping of the criticism of society. What kind of simple link is there?

The present very vocal complaint against existence is that it is impossible because of the freedom problem. This is a continuation of the complaint against a technological civilization. It is the thesis which coming from the socialists, induced us to take up the subject of the beginnings of both the technological civilization and socialism e.g. Owen. (It is not the Communists who don't complain of the loss of freedom).

The whole thing is like an investigation and is not sufficiently clarified and is really a kind of intuition that this is so. It is also very interesting and more than striking that is no freedom at all in a complex society. This is Owen who said that man is simply compelled to believe what he is told and has no chance of bringing forth his own views. In society, the newly born has no chance of forming a character of his own. Owen almost went mad over this and said this was determined by social conditions. Up to a point this has relevance, but how much it actually has, only the total investigation will show.

We are discovering all the time what the position really was and it seems to P. that the greater part of what we are saying is new to us and the greater part of what we are going to say about Marx is new. The introduction in the Landhsut is tremendously exciting where he says two things: that for Marx the world was full of philosophic interest which originated in Germanic idealism concerning [57] man's autonomy, while at the same time there was a suspicion of something new. In Owen you get that something new and Marx was born practically in the year when Owen started (1815).

P. has the idea that we should have a big introductory chapter. I wrote a new introduction which isn't an introduction but a minimum show of an introduction. It may become a full and long first chapter. The first chapter cannot be written before the material is there. It would be helpful if it developed the thesis completely.

P. is clearer in how he would keep the book in hand and not go over our heads. P. would do the main passages and develop the argument and he thinks I would urgently take up the Owen.

The 1932 Landshut was a great event and now something should come of it, what with the Sputnik about and the Russians having the worst conscience in the world about their own deeds. Previous to this every word would have been wasted. They have the worst conscience in the world and enormous problems on how to educate what with Marxist indoctrination being bad while their science is excellent and philosophy childish.

With the West somewhat staggered by the dimensions of tis idiotic complacency and cheap thoughts about everything it's now time. The great thing would be to write it in the most cool and measured way as if one were a pure idiot.

To what extent is it tenable that the criticism of society may have ceased because the market delivered the goods and the working class ceased to be the leader of mankind. Communism did make a [58] tremendous case against capitalism but now problems of socialism come up our book will include a criticism if this kind of socialism.

Rousseau Paradox

[59] P. has a passing idea of the resolution of the Rousseau paradox. […]

That was a strange paradox of Rousseau: that man s born free and … […]

Kant took the autonomy of the personality … […]

P. accepts the Kant position and the more think about it it is … […]

In Aristotle freedom is the right way of giving tips - the Nichomachian ethics - it is liberation and the attitudes of a gentleman (Chapter 4?) - eleutheria means freedom. […]

P. points out that no one seems to know what it's all about. He knows as much as others.

All these question … […]

[60] One seeks an empirical not a conceptual or … […]

In a Parsonian way … […]

But, this is the third question, if P. has a different form of integration … […]

Hegel said that the absolutes ideal is elaborating itself and the state has developed into families, communities while the persons is one type of organisation but later there is the city and the state. Hegel said the idea has its transformation and rejuvenation. He doesn't care where you take the people. Like Parsons you get persons independent of roles and personality structure. Hegel had a concept of society that first you have the people and procreate children and the family principle is filled with parents and children.

There is a deep analogy here. If Ayres says that Parsons gets away from the atomistic and so does Hegel, he is organistic and corporatistic.

[61] Marx is against this but gets into exactly the same difficulty as Hegel. Marx was a democratic socialist and an atomist and starts from true democracy. Marx had a complete theory of fascism and it is a criticism of the Hegel theory of Fascism (Medieval and pre-capitalist). Marx has a criticism which is a criticism of democracy but it isn't based on the individual. It is a theoretical criticism found in his critique of Hegel's theory of the state. Marx's work is about 200 pages (Kritik der Hegelschen Staatsphilosophie, 1841-42). This also shows Marx very atomistically inclined. This work he should write this up and it should not die with him. There are many manuscripts he has which he didn't publish. Also he didn't like to criticise Marx and involve himself in writing a Marx critique all his life. His distinct told him it isn't this kind of criticism on which things depend.

Shaw (3)

[62] The third figure in addition to Owen and Marx is Shaw.

P. developed the following picture of his dealing with the world of values: particular human values – values of personal existence. He criticizes the superficial picture of fashionable conventional lies which are the surface phenomena of values in social life and asserts against this the traditional basic virtues all the way against which these are hypocritical lies. But he never asserts them in traditional form: patriotism, thrift, loyalty but goes behind and below because they are the traditionally distorted form of basic elements of existence. These are the pedestrian values, not the ones that are glorified but the basic operational reliable elements of man’s being. There is for example, being accustomed to something, preferring the known to unknown, a secret hobby which you cherish. He says there is no difference in what is part of your integrity or secret happiness. There is the ultimate safeguard of the sanity of society and traditional virtues. That is why you can’t catch him with his paradox when he argues against the traditional virtues. He shows up the glamourous distortion but plays up the traditional everlasting human situations which are the foundation of recognized form. e.g. patriots, good husbands, good children, parents generals, entrepreneurs, beggars etc.

What makes this entrepreneur or that wife successful or effective is that that person is a saint. We deny this as a human [63] possibility but there are such people as a matter of fact and this makes them effective in unsaintly situations. He seems to establish almost anything and then contradicts himself but that’s only a semblance. He is not contradicting himself at all.


[64] In the book The Fall … […]

It is the … […]

To P. suche a person is not possible … […]

[65] There is a book by Stirner, Die Einzige (The only one) … […] Hamlet

Interdisciplinary Project (5)

[66] Sylvia Thrupp says she considers having a special issue with articles from P.’s project. It might contain 5 or 6 articles on money.

My question: … […]

P.: What … […]

These articles together … […]

P. thinks that the articles … […]

There is an article … […]

We are introducing this faction … […]


Money (2)

[68] P. had this idea on money … […]

Knies of the German Historical School … […]

Previously when economics had … […]

(Above section from memory).


This page contains question(s)
that we should discuss
in the Talk Page!

Sumner nurtured the present fathers of American thought. He said that the trouble with primitive m[a]n was that he was lazy, and gave no forethought and was greedy. He had all the bad qualities of economistic premises and no good ones.

[69] Man's original endowment is poverty - it is nature surviving in society. Therefore pauperian and the needy require no explanation. This view was valid until 25 years ago in America.

It was only Malinowski who followed up the opposite. The New Deal was head-on collision with Sumner of Yale. Therefore, the Great Transformation was banned from Penn. State (it was removed from the library) and a number of men were made to leave, including the head of department. Keyes then published a reader, and put P.'s Commentary article into it. Keyes appointed two of P.'s students.

America (2)

The humiliation of the U.S. by … […]

(From memory)

The original U.S. … […]

The Yalta decision setting … […]

The Great Transformation (5)

[70] The G.T. is out in England. […]

The G.T. attracted … […]

My question: … […]

If a book … […]

That is why … […]

P. was asked to write reviews for Commentary on Mises book on Economics and History and … […]

Canada (3)

Canada's history … […]

Canadian Poets

Of the six Montreal … […]

The poems are very different and so many show the Eliot influence but this doesn't mean it is secondary. It is a recreation.

Text Informations

Date: October 12, 1957
KPA: 45/12

  1. P. 7 is
  2. P. 12 is just a small sheet of paper where "Abba Lerner + liberal socialism” is written.