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A landmark in the history of of social liberation, praised by Marx

BELLERS, John (1654–1725)
Proposals for raising a College of Industry of all useful trades and husbandry, with profit for the rich, a plentiful living for the poor; and a good education for youth. Which will be advantage to the government, by the increase of the people, and their riches.
London, printed and sold by T.Sowle 1696.
Small 4to. [II],28p. Nineteenth-century half calf, back with gilt-lettered red label, marbled sides. Mild browning, upper margin closely trimmed, just touching a few page numbers. Armorial bookplate of the Macclesfield North Library 1860.
€ 3750
   

Second edition, with some substantial alterations, first published the previous year. A famous publication in the history of social liberation. It was a source of inspiration for Robert Owen, who published a new edition of it in 1818, and was highly praised by Karl Marx.
Perhaps inspired by Plockhoy's A way propounded to make the poor in these and other nations happy (1659) Bellers here designs a complete plan for the organization of industry and labour. He proposes the founding of ‘colleges of industry', agricultural and manufacturing co-operative settlements to enable the poor to care for themselves. Colonies of at least 300 people would have collective capital and labour, and not money but labour would be the standard of value, thus giving a draught for a labour theory of value. Family life would be private - he therefore uses the term colleges rather than communities - and much attention would be paid to education. It would be beneficial to the poor, enabling them to care for themselves, as well as to the rich and the state, no longer forced to support the poor.
Marx refers to Bellers in Das Kapital several times. He calls Bellers ‘a very phenomenon in the history of Political Economy, [who] saw most clearly at the end of the 17th century, the necessity for abolishing the present system of education and division of labour, which beget hypertrophy and atrophy at the two opposite extremities of society'.
*Wing B1830. Kress 1932. Goldsmiths' 3369. McCulloch p.275.


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