Monday, April 12, 2010

New Harmony

Although short lived, New Harmony had a significant impact on Utopian communities in the early 19th century.  The first Harmonists, led by Father Rapp, were a lot like the Shakers, but for whatever reasons gave up their idyllic venture after a few short years.  Robert Owen bought the small town and planned to build a much bigger Utopian community, but it dissolved pretty quickly.  Today you can visit the old Rappite community and its modern Atheneum, designed by Richard Meier, that preserves the history of the place.  It has become a popular retreat in recent years with a great campground and very nice accommodations and restaurants.


  1. I found this blurb which may explain to some extent why it failed:

    "The experiment was established in 1825 and dissolved in 1829 due to constant quarrels. The town banned money and other commodities. Individualist anarchist Josiah Warren, who was one of the original participants in the New Harmony Society, asserted that the community was doomed to failure due to a lack of individual sovereignty and private property. He wrote of the community: "It seemed that the difference of opinion, tastes and purposes increased just in proportion to the demand for conformity. Two years were worn out in this way; at the end of which, I believe that not more than three persons had the least hope of success. Most of the experimenters left in despair of all reforms, and conservatism felt itself confirmed. We had tried every conceivable form of organization and government. We had a world in miniature. --we had enacted the French revolution over again with despairing hearts instead of corpses as a result. ...It appeared that it was nature's own inherent law of diversity that had conquered us ...our 'united interests' were directly at war with the individualities of persons and circumstances and the instinct of self-preservation... and it was evident that just in proportion to the contact of persons or interests, so are concessions and compromises indispensable." (Periodical Letter II 1856)."

    A utopian community that supposedly encouraged individuality but imposed conformity?

  2. Here's more on Robert Owen,