Attempted Utopian Society Modern Times Part 1
About the attempted utopian society Modern Times founded by Josiah Warren, history, population, economic and social structure.
Name of Utopia: MODERN TIMES
Founder: Josiah Warren (1799-1874). Warren, an inventor and manufacturer of considerable success, devised a lard-burning lamp that proved less costly than tallow, as well as a process by which sunburned bricks could be manufactured from lime and gravel. He believed that the wealth he had gained could be significant only if shared by many, and as a result joined Robert Owen's community at New Harmony. When that failed he blamed it on the suppression of individuality, and said that it was wrong for men to readjust to society. "Man seeks freedom as the magnet seeks the pole or water its level, and society can have no peace until every member is free."
Where and When: In 1847, after the collapse of New Harmony, Warren established his 1st commune, Equity, in Tuscarawas County, O., but the area proved uninhabitable, and many of his followers developed diseases, particularly malaria. In 1851 Warren purchased between 700 and 800 acres in "the Garden of New York, the center of Long Island," and moved his followers there. He called the new community "Modern Times."
Political and Social Structure: Warren based the political and social structure of his commune on 2 principles, "individual Sovereignty" and "Equitable Commerce." Individual sovereignty meant a community without government, laws, institutions, rules, organizations, or regulations, except those an individual might wish to make for himself. Equitable commerce meant that, in exchange for goods, an individual could issue a promissory labor note, thereby allowing him to establish the rate of exchange for his own labor.
All of this meant that Modern Times was an experiment in communal anarchy, and though Warren and his chief disciple, Stephen Pearl Andrews, never used that word to describe their community they did say, "We protest against all laws which interfere with individual rights. . . . We believe in perfect liberty of will and action--hence we are liberals. We have not compacts with each other save the compact of human happiness, and we hold that every man and every woman has a perfect and inalienable right to do and perform . . . as he or she may choose now and hereafter."
Life at Modern Times was described thus by one visitor: "Broad avenues, tree-shaded streets, pretty cottages, surrounded by strawberry beds and well-tilled gardens, formed the outward appearance of Modern Times. The occupants were honest, industrious, and had learned to mind their own business, while readily cooperating with their neighbors for mutual advantage. They were free from sectarian dissensions, courts of law, policemen, jails, rum shops, prostitutes and crime. No one acquired wealth save by his own industry."
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