Monday, 19 March 2012 08:39

Robert Owen: Men of Ideas

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Robert Owen (1771-1858) was a British industrialist turned philanthropist and utopian socialist. Owen made money running factories and apparently took pity on the workers laboring in his factories and sought ways to ameliorate their plight. He came up with ideas on having workers work in a cooperative manner where they jointly owned the factories and jointly made management decisions on how to run the factories. He also sought ways to improve the workers living conditions and saw cooperative, communal living, as one way to go about this.

Owen built communal communities where folk lived and worked together. He called his cooperative New Lanark (Lanark was where one of his old factories was located). His utopia became a model for those seeking similar living and working arrangements.

Owen came to the United States and bought land in Indiana and sought to implement his utopia there. The capitalist forces of America, of course, determined that he should fail and fail he did.  American workers continued working sixteen hour days, making money for the factory owners, and been paid stipends.

In sum, Robert Owen saw poverty and sought ways to alleviate it. He tried his best but he was up against mighty entrenched forces, economic and political, and in the end was defeated. But his efforts were not in vein for even communists like Karl Marx, though derisively calling him utopian socialist, built on him.


Robert Owen.  Life of Robert Owen. London: 1857.

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Ozodi Osuji Ph.D

Ozodi Thomas Osuji is from Imo State, Nigeria. He obtained his PhD from UCLA. He taught at a couple of Universities and decided to go back to school and study psychology. Thereafter, he worked in the mental health field and was the Executive Director of two mental health agencies. He subsequently left the mental health environment with the goal of being less influenced by others perspectives, so as to be able to think for himself and synthesize Western, Asian and African perspectives on phenomena. Dr Osuji’s goal is to provide us with a unique perspective, one that is not strictly Western or African but a synthesis of both. Dr Osuji teaches, writes and consults on leadership, management, politics, psychology and religions. Dr Osuji is married and has three children; he lives at Anchorage, Alaska, USA.

He can be reached at: (907) 310-8176