How 19th Century Communists Formed a Secret Society to Promote American Public Education

By:  Sam Blumenfeld
11/30/2012
       
How 19th Century Communists Formed a Secret Society to Promote American Public Education

Most Americans are under the impression that communism as an ideology was invented by Marx and Lenin and first practiced in the Soviet Union. The truth, however, is quite different.

Most Americans are under the impression that communism as an ideology was invented by Marx and Lenin and first practiced in the Soviet Union. The truth, however, is quite different.

Communism as an economic and political philosophy was invented by Robert Owen (1771-1858), a British manufacturer, who believed that all of man's ills were caused by religion. He became a social messiah when he "discovered" what he considered to be the basic truth about human character: that a man's character is made for him by society through upbringing, education and environment and not by himself as the religionists taught. Children in a cannibal society grow up to be adult cannibals. Children in a selfish, competitive society grow up to be selfish and competitive. No one is innately depraved or evil. An infant is a glob of plastic that can be molded to have whatever character society wishes him to have.

Owen started publishing his ideas in 1813, and in 1816 to prove that he was right, he established his famous Institution for the Formation of Character at New Lanark in Scotland. Through a secular, scientific curriculum coupled with the notion that each pupil must strive to make his fellow pupils happy, Owen hoped to turn out little rational cooperative human beings, devoid of selfishness, religious superstition, and all of the other traits found in capitalist man.

In 1825, Robert Owen came to America to establish his communist colony at New Harmony, Indiana. The experiment received a great deal of newspaper publicity and attracted a large number of utopian followers. It was called "an experiment in social reform through cooperation and rational education." But in less than two years it failed. The problem, Owen decided, was that people raised and educated under the old system were incapable of adapting themselves to the communist way of life, no matter how much they professed to believe in it.

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Sam Blumenfeld (photo)

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