In Pursuit of Utopia – “New Harmony” with Brett Veinotte and Daniel McCarthy (Episode 1 of 3)

Hello everyone,

I recently joined Brett Veinotte and Daniel McCarthy for the 7th episode of “In Pursuit of Utopia” (School Sucks Project) to discuss the “New Harmony” Utopian experiment created by Robert Owen in Indiana in the early 1820s, social planning, scientific management and the influence of Pestalozzian Education in the United States.  This conversation evolves into a much larger discussion on marketing, objectivity, modern movements, ideologies, and puritanism vs. practicality.   After this discussion, we decided that this would likely go three shows.  Episode 2 was recorded on Monday and should be available in the next few days.  I highly recommend checking it out, especially in view of recent events.

Stay safe out there.

Thanks as always for your interest, encouragement, and your support!   – Kevin

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(AUDIO, 135 minutes) with Danny McCarthy and Kevin Cole. The New Harmony story includes interesting and largely unknown roots of both American compulsory schooling and socialism. In the Richard Grove/John Gatto clip that opens the show, you’ll notice some nice tie-ins to our previous podcasts this week .


  • How does Robert Owen’s system (called by Marx and Engels “utopian socialism”) compare to Marx and Engel’s system (called by them “scientific socialism”)? How are they similar?
  • Was Owenite socialism consistent with the ideals of the Enlightenment? In other words, is it fair to say that socialism is just as much a product of Enlightenment rationalism as is American republicanism?
  • Just as the religious utopias are reminiscent of the Puritan colonies, New Harmony is reminiscent of More’s and Bacon’s fictional societies.Specifically, New Harmony was divided into sectors just as More’s Utopia was. “Reason” was the highest ideal, as in Bacon’s New Atlantis.
  • How did the experiment at New Harmony influence compulsory schooling in the United States?  What was the impact and relevance of Pestalozzian pedagogy?
  • The downfall: The degrees of conformity that were necessary for New Harmony to work was simply unattainable. Ultimately, individualism overtook the experiment in social homogeneity.
  • How does this experiment in secular socialism relate to the Progressive Era? Is there a meaningful connection to be made between the isolated colony of New Harmony and the national and international projects of late 19th and early 20th century Progressives?

Brett’s Work:

Danny’s Work: