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Utopian Communities


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Utopian Communities

  1. 1. Utopian Communities
  2. 2. Emergence• Utopias emerged from utopian spirit of the age• Various reformers from high-minded to “lunatic fringe”
  3. 3. New Harmony, Indiana
  4. 4. New Harmony, Indiana• Founded by Robert Owen, 1825• Communal society of about one thousand• Education and social equality would flourish
  5. 5. The Result• Little harmony prevailed• Dissolved in 1827 with conflict and inadequacies
  6. 6. Brook Farm, Massachusetts
  7. 7. Brook Farm, Massachusetts• 200 acres of grudging soil• Started in 1841• Brotherly/sisterly cooperation of about 20 intellectuals
  8. 8. Committed to Transcendentalism• Truth “transcends” senses• Knowledge from inner light that illuminates highest truth
  9. 9. Beliefs of Transcendentalism• Social and religious individualism• self-reliance, self-culture, self-discipline• Bred hostility to authority, formal institutions, conventional wisdom• Dignity of the individual  humanitarian reforms
  10. 10. The Result• Prospered until 1846• Large communal building lost by fire• Collapsed in debt
  11. 11. Oneida Community, New York• Established 1848• Flourished for 30 years due to economic foundation
  12. 12. Oneida: Basics• Free love and “complex marriage”• Birth control• Eugenic selection of parents for superior offspring
  13. 13. Founder John Humphrey Noyes• Believed: – Benign deity – Sweetness of human nature – Possibility of perfect Christian community on Earth• Contrasted with Puritan doctrines
  14. 14. Noyes’s Doctrines• Key to utopia/happiness: suppression of selfishness – No private property…
  15. 15. …no exclusive emotional relationships• Which bred jealousy, quarreling, covetousness…
  16. 16. …material things and sexual partners shared• free to love in “complex marriages”
  17. 17. Practices• Men and Women shared all tasks• Children raised communally after age 3• Selective breeding program: – Gave permission/orders to procreate (which horrified neighbors)
  18. 18. Its Rise (1850s)• Swell Newhouse, inventor of steel animal traps – Gave Oneida solid financial footing by… – Manufacture of his traps and other products
  19. 19. Its “Fall”• Horror from neighbors over sexual practices•  gave up “complex marriage” in 1879•  gradually gave up all practices•  shifted into a joint-stock silverwarecompany in 1880
  20. 20. Shakers• Among longest-living sects• Founded in England 1747• Brought to America 1774 by Mother Ann Lee (to New York)
  21. 21. Shakers: The Origin• Name derived from ectastic form of worship• Dissenting Quaker church
  22. 22. Shakers: Doctrines• Personal communication w/ God (who was both male and female)• Simplicity and ingenuity• Self-sufficiency
  23. 23. Shakers: Practices• Segregated the sexes• Came together to work and pray• Practiced celibacy and prohibited marriage• virtual extinction by 1940