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University of Wisconsin. College of Agriculture. Dept. of Agricultural Economics / Cooperation principles and practices: the application of cooperation to the assembling, processing and marketing of farm products, to the purchase of farm supplies and consumers' goods and to credit and insurance
([1937])

V. Cooperation in Great Britain,   pp. 40-47 PDF (2.3 MB)


Page 41


ing the labor of women and children for that of men. Due to lack of organiza-
tion, the English workingmen were powerless to prevent the machines they
had
perfected from being used as instruments to enslave their women and children.
The intolerable working conditions of the earlier industrial factories, the
long
working hours, and the incredibly low wages which characterized the early
industrial period resulted in forcing the laboring class down to a plane
of life
that has often been described as poverty stricken, miserable, and degrading.
    Inspirational Leadership-Robert Owen became a dominant figure In
1825-1850. He rose from the ranks to become one of the leading industrialists
of the times. The experiences of his youth convinced him that the deplorable
condition of the masses need not be inevitable, but a result of the prevailing
economic system. He was a man of great vision who demonstrated that his
theories could be put tb practical use. He resolved to improve the lot of
the
common people by gradually bettering their environment and making them
potential partners in the business enterprise he controlled. At New Lanark
he virtually established a garden city community and he developed service
institutions that were the pride of every resident. Factories were improved
with better lighting, sanitation and protective devices. Mr. Owen discovered
that his system not only improved the condition of the working people, but
that it also returned great profits to the owners of capital. Robert Owen
was
one of the first men of his country to suggest labor regulations for women
and children and to advocate compulsory education for children under a given
age. His success as a manufacturer and organizer of industry attracted in-
ternational attention. Capitalists, tradesmen, and royalty paid him their
re-
spects, and in many instances rival industrialists attempted to imitate his
methods.
     The First Communal Societies-His sincere efforts for the promotion of
 social reform was beyond reproach. The best proof is the fact that he will-
 ingly used his fortune to establish experimental cooperative communities
 designed to rehabilitate humanity. Owen decided to effect his ideas on virgin
 soil; accordingly he chose America and the first Owenite Communal Society
 was established at New Harmony, Indiana under Owen's personal supervision.
 The land in this community was to be held in common, the membership was
 open to all who were willing to work; with their own hands the laborers
were
 to create the capital necessary to sustain and establish the community on
a
 self-sufficing basis. Their industries were patterned and adjusted to the
type
 of society they were forming. The products were to be shared among mem-
 bers in proportion to the services rendered, skill of employment being con.
 sidered. The New Harmony experiment succeeded while Owen remained in the
 community, but it failed shortly after his departure. A number of similar
 communities were organized throughout England but none of them resulted
 in success.
      Labor Exchanges--Ater these attempts, Owen made other plans of a less
  ambitious character. He believed that the status of the working people
might
  be improved by eliminating profits in business. Accordingly he evolved
a new
  institution known as a labor exchange. The central idea was to make it
pos-
  sible for laborers to barter among themselves for articles they made. No
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