Brotherly Tomorrows: Movements for a Cooperative Society in America, 1820-1920

Brotherly Tomorrows: Movements for a Cooperative Society in America, 1820-1920

Brotherly Tomorrows: Movements for a Cooperative Society in America, 1820-1920

Brotherly Tomorrows: Movements for a Cooperative Society in America, 1820-1920

Excerpt

Brotherly Tomorrows examines a significant chapter in American social and cultural history. During the century after 1820 numerous groups of Americans attempted to transform what they saw as an excessively individualistic society into a cooperative one. Their efforts have often been labeled "utopian," but this term is a prejudicial one if we take Utopia in its usual meaning, a state of unrealizable perfection. The preferred term here is radical social idealism, since these American cooperationists did not seek perfection--which is the absence of life-- but a new form of society which would nurture the better side of human nature.

Although this book gives some attention to various religious communities, it is not another study of sectarian societies set against "the world." Rather, it emphasizes essential secular efforts guided by secular ideologies and formed into organized movements for the transformation of the whole society. Many of these movements attempted to promote the formation of communities as the way to reorganize society, and others sought a social reorganization through national means. Whatever their specific design, they shared the common hope that cooperation could replace competition as the governing influence over human social behavior.

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