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Orbiston –The New Babylon

Since the beginning of civilisation, men have repeatedly attempted to build better societies than the ones they have known. The industrial revolution had changed both the prospects and livelihoods of the majority of workers, and rather than increasing their opportunities, they had led to greater uncertainties. The earliest communitarian movements attempted to transform this by forming religious and secular communities with participatory governments and to produce an equilibrium between the private and common ownership of property and work.
The word ‘socialism’ originates with the followers of Robert Owen who is still popularly regarded as “the father of British socialism”. It is not always remembered, however, that the socialism he advocated was co-operative or community socialism. Owen did not think along the lines of the later socialists. His approach was basically apolitical and he rejected the notion of class struggle as a means of social change. Instead, he believed in communitar…

Co-ops Hopes

Work is set to begin which could transform this former potato farm in Lanarkshire's Douglas Valley, into Britain's first new garden city for nearly a century. Owenstown is named after the visionary philanthropist Robert Owen whose New Lanark model village, now a Unesco World Heritage Site, is close by. Owenstown, could one day be home to 5,000 co-operative pioneers drawn by the promise of living and working in a society that is being described as "a new international benchmark for utopian living".  It is hoped that the £500m project will eventually yield more than 4,000 jobs – helping revitalise an area ravaged by the decline of coal mining and other traditional industries.

One of the objectives of the town is to provide affordable housing, with the community founders hoping to offer high-quality, environmentally friendly homes – many built at a factory on site – at 60 per cent of the market value. Bill Nicol, the project director, said this would be achieved by ad…

Robert Owen money

MSPs will debate a motion by Labour MSP Bill Butler calling for Robert Owen to feature on Scottish bank-notes in time for the United Nations Year of Co-operatives in 2012.

Socialist Courier is reminded of one of Robert Owen’s claim to fame. Labour vouchers (or labour cheques, labour certificates, labour-time vouchers) are a device suggested to govern demand for goods in “socialism”, much as money does today under capitalism. Originally proposed by Robert Owen in 1820, they were later taken up by Marx in 1875, to deal with the immediate and temporary shortages remaining from capitalism, if socialism had been established at that time.
Robert Owen attempted to rectify "unequal exchange" by establishing a number of producer and consumer co-operatives around the country, linked by labour exchanges. The guiding principle of these labour exchanges was that goods were exchanged according to their value as measured by labour time, with non-circulating labour notes used to facilitate th…