Pageclass to play a central role in the organisation of society, but had considerable long termeffects on the Irish psyche.
‘(...) when Socialism was the fad of the rich instead of the faith of the poor’.
Before any assessment can be made as to the impression that Robert Owen’s utilitarianideals made on the social, cultural and economic fabric of pre-Famine Ireland, we must firstattempt to understand what those ideals were. It is also essential, I believe, to question whythose ideals had such a degree of influence, or lack thereof, especially in relation to Ireland.
When evaluating Owen’s ideological impact on Ireland in the period preceding 1844-45, Ifelt that the best approach to take would be through breaking up the assessment into twodistinct, yet interconnected spheres; the tangible impact and the psychological impact. Theformer, by its nature, is considerably more straightforward in that there is irrefutable physicalevidence, and it relates to the construction of ‘Owenite’ co-operative communities. The latter,however, can be rather problematic. Asserting an opinion in relation to the psychologicaleffects of any movement or set of ideals on a region, or group of people, involves a certainmeasure of speculation. Nevertheless, I will endeavour to show here that while the distinctive new vision advanced by a man once termed the ‘father of Co-operation’
merely culminated in a small number of brief social experiments in Ireland, the psychological effects of his early socialist ideology –
Connolly, J., ‘
Labour in Irish History’
James Connolly: Collected Works
(Dublin, 1987), p. 121.
It is important to bare in mind that Robert Owen was not Irish, therefore there is a unique aspect to this topic ashis ideas and views would inevitably have been seen, for good or for bad, as a foreign import.
Co-op: the people’s business
(Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1994) p. 12.