2-9: “Workers of the World Unite”


“Workers of the World Unite!

While Karl Marx and Freidrich Engels get all the credit, they were not the only ones who tried to improve the economic plight of the masses in the 19th century. Robert Owen tried to create a utopia or perfect society at New Harmony. His ideas were so appealing that dozens of utopian communities were founded across the United States. It was believed, in typical Enlightenment fashion, that a solution could be found to the problems created by industrialization if reason and logic were applied.They were organized around a wide range of ideas and religions. Each thought they could reinvent society from the ground up and create a “heaven on earth.” Many of these communities broke up after a short time because they failed to address the practical demands of survival on the frontier.

Part 1 of 1: Design a new community like Robert Owen’s New Harmony and present it to Congress. All over the United States during the 19th century, small groups of Americans founded “utopian” communities.   Come up with a name and draw a simple map of the layout of your community. Answer the basic questions below to determine how your community will be governed and how the economy will function.

  1. Who owns property, the individual, the state, or the community?
  2. How are decisions made about prices, production, and the availability of commodities?
  3. How would you provide and distribute basic necessities like food and clothing?
  4. What skills would the residents need? What encourages them to work?
  5. What products would the community make?
  6. Is there a central belief system or religion that the community would be organized around and what happens if people disagree?


Today only a handful of countries are communist, notably China, Cuba and North Korea, and at that China is capitalist in many ways. Why do think Karl Marx’s idea of communism has failed in the modern world? Reference ideas contained in the Communist Manifesto. Excerpts can be found by clicking the link Communist Manifesto Excerpts.