It does not shock me that Barack Obama was reelected. It does not shock me that states are legalizing homosexual marriage. It does not shock me that America is rapidly moving from capitalism to socialism. Why? Well take a look at the education the vast majority of Americans receive, and you shouldn’t be shocked either. That’s why during this legislative session, I’ll be helping the Texas Home School Coalition fight for the right to home school, and that’s why I wrote this following speech last year as a Biographical Narrative for NCFCA.
“How do you communize the richest, most capitalistic nation in the world? How do you communize such a country?” I’m sure at one time or another we’ve all asked ourselves this question, we’ve all wondered how the a country like the United States of America could reach its current stage. Well my friends, the answer to this question originally asked by Dr. Samuel Blumenfeld, goes way back to a sleepy little welsh village, from which in 1771 a man by the name of Robert Owen, was born. Few know the truth about this man. Most have never even heard of him. But in the words of an organization by the name of American Atheists, “He could well be the greatest, but least-known, social redeemer in the world.” Our goal today, is to trace the life of Robert Owen and by doing so, hopefully answer that question posed by Dr. Bloomenfeld.
Robert grew up working hard. At the age of nine, he was already earning his own living by working for a grocer, and haberdasher. During this time of his life, he began in depth to think about religion. As he listened to the minister of one congregation declare why they were right, and others were wrong, he came to the conclusion that “our opinions are made for us, not by us.” Not wanting to be forced into believing anything other than what he wished, Robert rebelled against “Religion.” As an atheist, Owen rejected the belief that man is inherently sinful. Instead, he accounted for the world’s evil through ignorance, poverty, and social injustice. His idea of salvation was his new science called the science of human circumstance, which taught that a person’s character is determined by his surroundings, and therefore, through proper education, you could transform the human character. Owen was such an ardent believer in this new science, that he called it the Second coming of the truth. In fact, Gareth Jones a professor from Cambridge University pointed out that, Owen “really did believe he was the second Messiah that unlike Jesus who could only tell the truth in parables, he could actually say the literal truth because he had the science.” As his aspirations continued to grow, these views began to manifest themselves.
In 1799, Owen purchased four textile factories in New Lanark England. The conditions of his workers were terrible. 500 orphans had been sent there, the streets were sewers, and the homes were shacks. Robert set out to reform it. Chief among his solutions was the goal of educating the children. This was because as John Simkin observed; “Owen was convinced that if he created the right environment, he could produce rational, good and humane people.” In 1816, Owen opened the first preschool, in Britan. It was proudly labeled the “Institute for the Formation of Character.” Among his other reformatory ideas, were these. You may recognize them as something we take as a part of our daily life. A universal, uniform system of schools, with training colleges for teachers; restriction of adult labor to ten hours per day, with no reduction of pay; and the forbiddance of child labor. To the England of the 19th century however, these reforms were foreign, and Owen’s ideas had very little traction, so he began to look elsewhere for a place to begin his new society.
An opportunity was not long in presenting itself. George Rapp, a religious fanatic, offered Owen his 30,000 acre village in Posey Indiana. Robert jumped at the opportunity and in 1824 he set sail for a new world on a journey that was destined to change the course of American history. Upon arrival at his new settlement, long before Karl Marx, and Frederic Engels, Owen began to construct the first communistic society, right in the heartland of America. He called it “New Harmony.” During this time, America celebrated her 50th anniversary, but Owen wasn’t interested in that. Rather, he issued a new declaration called the “Declaration of Mental Independence.” It claimed that humanity was now free from what he called “The trinity of evils responsible for all the world’s misery and vice:” namely “Traditional religion, conventional marriage, and private property.” Sounds kind of familiar doesn’t it? At this very time in our country, a war is being waged against the exact same so called “Evils.” After extensive research, Dr. John Coleman pointed out the specifics of this new declaration. The goal was to establish Socialism; destroy the family as a unit; create boarding schools to separate children from their parents; and institute “free love” as a norm, along with abortion to “get rid of an inconvenience.”
These were the ideals that New Harmony was founded upon. Initially, three hundred settlers joined the community, and Owen began to test his ideas. The property was communally owned, with the interesting exception of his own, and the society was controlled paternalistically. There were fines for drunkenness, and illegitimate children. Trade schools were instituted for practical character building. It seemed like the beginning of Utopia, but it wasn’t long before the community, contrary to its name became rather unharmonious. It began with the irked parents whose children were kept away for many hours at school by Owen who wished to as he stated, “Shield children from the unwanted negative influence of their parents.” The most significant issue however was that there were too many thinkers, and not enough doers. The work simply didn’t get done. By 1827, only three years after its conception, New Harmony had collapsed.
Owen began to ask himself “why?” In the end, he blamed the people of America, saying they were a poor type of people for a communistic society. You see these were individuals whose parents and great grandparents had built a nation on the ideals of the declaration, and crafted a government defined by the constitution. They had been educated to believe the polar opposite of what Owen wished to establish, namely Biblical Christianity and free market individualism. Thus, they were non-compatible with socialism. Robert set out to change this. He knew that the adults could not be swayed from their views, so he set his sights on the children, for as Abraham Lincoln observed, “The Philosophy of the school room in one generation will be the philosophy of government in the next.” Owen’s new goal became the push to establish uniform public schools in America; These schools that every child was required to attend, would be designed to transform their character, so they would accept his ideas. Dr. Blumenfeld in his book “Is Public Education Necessary?” made the extent of Owen’s purposes very clear. “To the Owenites in 1828, it was clear that national public education was the essential first step on the road to socialism, and that this would require a sustained effort of propaganda… over a long period of time.” This wasn’t something that was going to happen overnight. In fact, Robert stated rather prophetically that “We won’t see any results from this for 100 years, but then we will see results.” So, what happened in the 1930’s, 100 years after Owen? Franklin Roosevelt came up with the new deal, and 30 years later, Lyndon Johnson implemented the great society. Both were progressive presidents with socialistic goals and America, instead of rejecting them like we would have in the past, embraced them. Is this simply a coincidence? I don’t think so.
At the time that Owen began the push for public schools, he was so disliked by Christians and Americans in general, that he couldn’t be in the forefront of this new mission. Instead, he became invisible by putting forward others such as Horace Mann to implement his ideas, for him. Today no one knows about Robert Owen, but we sure do know about his ideas, because it was meant to be that way.
So, how do you communize a country like the U.S.? Dr. Bloomenfeld had an answer. “You take control of the educational system and you dumb down the public to the point that they don’t know the difference between capitalism and socialism.” That’s exactly what Owen did and today like clockwork, we are seeing the fruits of his labor. From the socialism, destruction of marriage, and a godless society, down to college trade schools, 8 hour work days, and no child labor, Robert Owen’s ideas have transformed America.
I tell you this today, not so you’ll come away thinking we’re all doomed, but rather to inform you, for the only way we can combat the tide of socialism, is by knowing the socialists tactics. Adolf Hitler was unfortunately able to accomplish what he did, because he realized that “He alone who owns the youth, gains the future.” Robert Owen set us on the road to socialism via education, but we can turn that around, and restore America to her former greatness, by reclaiming our youth.