Utopian Socialists Essay
Robert Owen was one of the founders of socialism ad cooperative movement, which in later years, Karl Marx had named as Utopian Socialist.
Utopian ideals were derived from the three pillars his thought: (1) “no one was responsible for his will and his actions because his whole character is formed independently of himself”; this idea however, has earned him as a pioneer in the promotion of human capital; (2) he believed that “all religions were based on the same absurd imagination”; and though he did embrace spiritualism at the end of his life, still he was one amongst those who opposed religion; and (3) he supported the cottage system, and disliked the factory system.
His first of his pillars of thought, the notion of environmentalism wherein he believed that all humans are product of the environment and that our human nature could not be changed, has become a cornerstone of all socialist theories. On his second idea, he rejected Christianity and its customs, and instead he relied on the guidance of Reason and Nature. And the third of his pillars, Owen revolutionized the factory system. As such he believed that factory system encouraged social responsibility, heartless individualism and destructive competition.
Contrastingly, he recommended that a plain and simple plan will contain less danger to the society and individuals which will encourage the poor to become independent and self-supporting. Further, he instituted the establishment of villages and communities as a possible way of alleviating poverty. He also adopted the idea of private ownership and profit motivation despite of other humanistic measures that he had. And until his dying days, he proceeded on organizing the working classes in England (The History Guide). Saint-Simon Saint Simon was the founder of the French Socialism.
His thoughts have greatly influenced the theories of industrialization and the realities of industrialism. In contrast to other socialist theorists, Saint Simon welcomed industrialization and capitalist growth. Further he found expertise and enterprise on the grounds of industrialism. One of his ideas “the Hand of Greed” described the basic avarice of the human beings. He believed that in the simplest form of society, man will always find a way to survive. Thus, he believes that all men strive to attain a higher place in the society’s innate hierarchy.
Thus, his idea in achieving his utopian socialism, is for the society to eliminate this greed and way of thinking of human beings. The French Revolution became a starting point of his thoughts, when the opposition against destructive liberalism was strong, he advocated for a fresh social revolt and made appeals to the king to bring a new social order. Moreover, he found the dangers of uncontrolled individualism, thus he propagated the ideas towards an increase in productivity, organization, innovation, efficiency and technological discovery.
Though, still he was not complacent enough to think that these ideas are to be achieved in a free market economy. Further, he was an elitist in nature. While he condemned kings, nobles and clergies as useless and parasitical, he placed the highest of glory, prestige and authority towards the technocrats. He believed that kings and nobles only should serve at a necessary and limited role, he distinguished technocrats with the role to lead and direct the development of the society (The History Guide).
Charles Fourier was regarded as the “most utopian” amongst all the Utopian Socialists. He was aware of all that was happening in England after the Industrial Revolution. Further, he rejected the ideas of industrialization, laissez faire, and the factory system, due to what these can cause to the human society. And although he rejected the ideals behind industrialism, he made no actions to rectify the dangers incorporated in industrialism, his only action against it was to ignore it. But nonetheless, he had his own share of his philosophical writings.
His ideas had told tremendous ideas for the future. His parable of the Four Apples, reflected a certain type of Enlightenment theme, wherein he used reason and nature as the main tenets of his writings. He also criticized bourgeoisie society for creating an “unnatural civilization”, and consequently added his paradigm for a “non-repressive society” wherein it shall provide an avenue for the expression and cultivation of human growth. For he believed, human nature was God-created, and that it must follow that the society should respect all avenues for human development rather than fighting it.
Moreover, his idea of social success is attainable through concern and cooperation amongst humans – this also prompted him to organize “phalanxes” which he believed shall nurture cooperation among human. He also blamed poverty and inequality as the principal culprit for disorder in the society, thus bringing into the light the proposal to raise wages into sufficient level in order to eradicate poverty. His main concern was to liberate all individuals through education and the liberation of human passion (The History Guide).
John Stuart Mill’s works were often perceived as works in contradiction. He was a proponent of classic liberalism, utilitarianism and held a utopian socialist aspect. He wrote “utility” as the greatest happiness principle, at which he regarded that actions are proportionately translated into happiness or its reverse accordingly. He also proposed for the hedonistic concept of happiness, as he equated it with the absence of pain. In his discourse of society growth, he consequentially failed to incorporate the process of human development, but rather extensively focused on his pleasure principle.
Although he considered individual liberty as only secondary values, he admittedly related the problematic concepts of individual liberty in the course of economic entities. He regarded restrictions on trade and production as “evil” restraints, and consequently, he regarded the works of free trade as “one sided freedom”. He also believes that at any point in time wherein individual liberty clashes with liberty of economic entity, economics shall always prevail because it shall always provide for the greatest amount of happiness.
And though he believes that given the chance, the best of human nature shall prevail, still he felt that individual liberty was only a secondary option and their needs are only second to be fulfilled. Further, he also developed an elitist mentality and formed his utopian concept rooted from his utilitarianism. He explicitly expressed contempt against the masses and expressed his doubt in the principles of democracy and instead suggested the rule of intellectual aristocrats (Galloway, 1996)