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To the idealists, To the Humble, To the oppressed,  
This article was proposed for the Fair Trade International Symposium as a preparatory article in a thesis work that we
wish to realize between the French Fédération Artisans du Monde and the laboratory IRG of Paris Est as well as the
laboratory COMSOL of the university Blaise Pascal of Clermont-Ferrand. Josiah Warren is someone very inspiring, his
papers, his testimonies, his experiments and invention make this person more than a missing link, he was the first one to
speak about fair or equitable movement and his messages are universal. To lead more ample researches on Josiah Warren
it is suggested to join the working group so that his work wont falls into oblivion, out of a sense of duty of Memory, by posthumous
tribute also.
This article is dedicated to Colette Maas of the gallery Arts et Société without we can say goodbye to her, Roger
Dickinson Brown (Author and Poët) disappeared recently, my aunt farmer Marie Thérèse left too early as many of close
relations, in particular to my GrandMother who continues to inspire me by her transmission of searching the Truth and for
the desire of Freedom and Love which shone in her and inspired me. I am convinced that the Original Equitable Commerce would
allow us maybe to live longer, otherwise, more in harmony with the Others and the Nature. I would like to particularly thanks Thierry
Gillyboeuf for the huge work on the original translation of the book "Équitable Commerce" (éditions mille et une nuits – Paris – 2008).  
Special thanks to him for his valuable re-reading and for our multiple interviews to understand and explain over the Life of Josiah
Warren, his intellectual and philosophical thoughts. Greetings to our dear Ndongo Samba Sylla author, economist and researcher at
the Rosa Luxemburg Foundation in Senegal for introducing me to this great man and so many others, for encouraging me, supported
and advised, to have known maintain my curiosity for what is a highly credible solution Humanist face of countless deaths and
destruction caused by the single thought of capitalism ideology.
Special thanks to my family who participated in this article and which in one way or another gave me the energy to carry out
this first approach on the great work of Josiah Warren. Many thanks to Francois Baudoux and Philppe de Belsunce for
their help and advice for writing and graphism of the Poster.
I am grateful to Cyril Garrech (student in a public business school) for the work of translation and re-reading in English as
well as Julie Rachel Ferrier (co-president of Ekitinfo-Futur Equitable).

Thank you to the Federation Artisans du Monde and more particularly to its director Gerald Godreuil for his wise
counsel and his desire for collaboration
Artisans du Monde is a in international French association involved solidarity, working since 1974 for sustainable development, through fair
trade promotion .A committed vision of fair trade. In the associations and shops of Artisans du Monde, the general public can buy products
which all come from fair trade; these places also provide information or educational programs, and allow to get committed for more fairness in
world trade. Artisans du Monde claims a demanding fair trade, noticeable through 3 means of action which are thecornerstones of the movement
: > sales of products coming from fair trade, which allow producers, craftsmen, orpeasants from southern countries to live with dignity, and
become the actors of their own development. Artisans du Monde is developing its own commercial networks, independent of any supermarket
corporation. In these places which foster exchanges and provide information, a new type of north-south solidarity is being built.> education for
fair trade allows consumers to become active citizens in their consumption choices, and in the development of solidarity economy. The network
of Artisans du Monde offers interventions in schools, training programs and pedagogic tools. Thus citizens can view the dysfunctions of
international trade with a critical eye and make their own decisions.> public awareness and citizen advocacy campaigns : locally they provide
information to citizens; at a more global level, they contribute to changing the rules and habits of international trade. Artisans du Monde invites
consumers and citizens topass the message from these campaigns towards the economic actors and authorities, so as to change the rules of
international trade . A militant network of associations. The movement Artisans du Monde mainly relies upon the voluntary work of over 6500
members. Their commitment is necessary to keep the shops alive, heighten public awareness, take militant actions. However, voluntary help is
not exclusive of job creation: indeed Artisans du Monde is in France the first fair trade employer, with more than one hundred of employees
within its integrated supply chain (Cf. opposite article). The Fédération Artisans du Monde. The federation is the representative of the
movement Artisans du Monde in national and international organizations; it supports the movement for its development, its communication, the
organization of events; maintains its information and training; supports its actions about public advocacy and education,offering many tools.

www.artisansdumonde.org

My thanks to the FTIS organizor particularly Martina Dal Molin and attendees.  
My Thanks to all the reseachers of FAIRNESS FRANCE
http://fairnessfrancophone.wordpress.com

To Professor Eric Dacheux of Blaise Pascal University in Clermont and laboratory ComSol.
The research unit Communication and Solidarity brings together teachers and researchers in Information and
Communication Sciences, Foreign Civilizations (Anglo-Saxon studies, Arabic, German, Hispanic) and Management
Sciences (sector management specialist of the social economy).http://comsol.univ-bpclermont.fr/rubrique60.html
To ProfessorAmina Béji Bécheur du laboratoire IRG université Paris Est.

 The IRG Institute for Research in Management, is labeled a host team (EA 2354) Unit attached to the
Graduate School OMI (Organizations, Markets, Institutions) East Paris University
This research unit has about 75 faculty and 50 doctoral students..

http://www.irg.univ-paris-est.fr/les-membres-de-lirg/les-membres-de-lirg-de-la-lettre-a-a-c/beji-becheur-amina/

If you want to join the working group about the unknow Josiah please feel free to contact me :
didier.reynaud@gmail.com phone (fr): + 33 6 72 76 59 24
I am a student, entreprenor, photograph and I am co-president of the association Ekitinfo-Futur Equitable
(information, education, activities). I am involved in the Fair Trade Movement for 10 years. My various
initiatives are all linked to fight against all forms of injustice and for the rights of all minorities.
www.didier-reynaud.com
I am hoping to be a PHD Working Student for the Federation Artisans du Monde, IRG and ComSol Laboratories.

More information : www.futurequitable.org & www.ekitinfo.org
Merci pour votre attention, votre intérêt et le temps que vous consacrerez à vouloir comprendre la démarche de
Josiah Warren, qui dès 1827 expérimenta avec succès l’Équitable Commerce avec une volonté de non-violence.

Josiah Warren the missing link of the incredible story of fair trade ? by Didier Reynaud, for Fédération Artisans du Monde.

 

Josiah Warren, the missing link of Fair Trade?
Ignored character of Fair Trade, Josiah Warren (1798-1874) is still the one who coined this term whose
idealogocial inheritance should deeply inspire us, especially since it was preceded by numerous experiments.
Let us go back to a great man’s life whose examplarity should be written in History as a Memory duty.
Students, experts, researchers, relevant actors, neophytes or even activists for a Fair
World: the work we are introducing to you in this article is about to change your
perception of the possibility of a fair society. And we shall notice that its original
definition, although quite similar under many aspects and principles, would be very
useful in the way we currently practice the Fair Trade. Warren had successfully tested it
several times and current Fair Trade will end up being much stronger or even much
flattered.
What if a Fair society was really no Utopia? What if its philosophical impact was
underestimated? What if Fair Trade was truly another system before being an
economical alternative?

Context: From the Declaration of the Rights of Men and of Citizens to
the Manifesto by Josiah Warren, the first nonviolent individualistic anarchist.
In 1798, Josiah Warren’s birth year, Napoleon was about to have a stranglehold on what we would call later
“an Empire”. The French Revolution was losing its momentum, its ideals seemed to be manhandled, broken,
even forgotten.
It was without counting on the libertarian spirit which had utterly charmed America. This very year a Man,
who remained so far ignored, was born in Boston.
He was about to unknowingly conceptualize this term so frequently used without people knowing where it
truly comes from: Fair Trade1.
In the United States of that time, dream was already praised, idealistic hopes encouraged, autonomy and
independence of the individuals challenged, even glorified: Liberty had rarely been that much experimented.
Unlike today when “zapping, porn, junk and food” culture appears to be displayed as an ideal in an
“entertainment society with huge financial capacities”, perfect illustration of our based-on-desire system,
directly inheriting from Bernays’ propaganda and marketing studies (1917)2 and from the libidinal economy
influenced by Freud3.
At Warren’s times, some people were also proposing other models of societies, other forms of electricity, of
machineries, of organization of cities, of structures, of productions, of media…They needed to build a new
World on bloody lands which became pure again.
Thus, in North America, over many decades, plenty of inventors and idealists became utopists. They only
wanted Humanity to live in harmony, especially with Nature, in more creative villages and towns, even more
accessible to everyone. America was a new welcoming country where possibilities seemed endless.
Most of people simply envisioned a break with the society and the conventional system, designing
disconnected
systems
from
society,
autonomous
(or
almost)
communities.
In these utopias, education, work, social relationships, food, production or even dressing habits were
questionned. Some people hoped to live like that for generations in order to offer their children other models
of societies, without forgetting their ideals and risking to fall in the trap of an already predominant unique
thought at the time.
                                                                                                                       
1
2
3

 Equitable Commerce: A New Development of Principles as Substitutes for Laws and Governments, for the Harmonious Adjustment and Regulation of the Pecuniary,
Mario Vargas Llosa, who won the Nobel prize in literature in 2010 with his book “Entertainment Civilization”, Alfaguara Editions, 2012.
concerning this, see “Marketing, Cure or poison” directed by Patrick Bourgnes, EMS Management et Société Editions, 2013

 

1

Josiah Warren the missing link of the incredible story of fair trade ? by Didier Reynaud, for Fédération Artisans du Monde.

 
A large majority of those societies ended for different reasons: by
military force, sanitary urge, economical rationality, political conflict,
even because of a natural disaster or a religious matter4. A plethora of
those Humanists were categorized, some as anarchists, other as
revolutionaries, sometimes as tyrants, liberal entrepreneurs or even as
collectivists-communists (in a pejorative sense).
Still one of them remains unclassifiable: Josiah Warren. Thus he was
seen as the first nonviolent individualistic anarchist given his ideals and
experiments were both varied and numerous, and will reveal themselves
as fascinating for the Humanists. He is, in any case, considered as the
first one of a long (frequently untold) lineage of this current anarchist
specifically American, the first theorist of which he would be and among
which Benjamin Tucker or Henry David Thoreau are the heirs and the
most famous characters among those who will follow one another.

A Memory and Truth duty.
This article aims at explaining why Josiah Warren is ignored and at reminding us our
individual duty of remembrance against collective History’s forgetting.
Ask again the 19th century in order to find Humanist’s identity and experimentation
which had enabled the emergence of ideas of Fair Trade, will be of a great interest
and it will at least allow us to be reminded that Fair Trade’s first roots have transcent
ages : from Aristotle5 to Rousseau6, from Warren to l’Abbé Pierre7.
Looking for our collective History, our essence, will be synonymous with a revival,
all the more in a network, which “in F.I.N.E.8” seems to seek an identity, which puts
into question its legitimacy and its validity.

Some works essential to the understanding of Josiah Warren’s mind and experimentation. The perfect translation
and multiple interviews with Thierry Gillyboeuf french translator of the original Book “Equitable Commerce” of Josiah
Warren by Member of the working group about Josiah Warren. Also Josiah Warren, the practical and first american anarchist
by William Bailie. Many writing de Stephen Paul Andrews about Warren and the original version of Equitable Commerce also
A New Development of Principles, as Substitutes for Laws and Governments, Equitable Commerce: A New Development of
Principles for the Harmoneous Adjustment and Regulation of the Pecuniary, Practical Details in Equitable Commerce…

                                                                                                                       
4

“Utopias” directed by Eric Létonturier, Les Essentiels d’Hermés Collection, CNRS Edition, 2013

 

 
5

definition of equity in Nicomachean Ethics
see Discourse on Inequality written in 1754
7
in the aftermaths of l’Abbé Pierre’s call in 1972, Artisans du monde’s network has been founded to respond to the urgency of hunger in Bangladesh due to a natural disaster
(flooding) and a weak response from the international community to help these suffering people. The first Fair Trade shop opened in 1974 in Paris 9, rue de Rochechouart.
The network has just celebrated his 40 years and is considering its prospects. See about this the tribune of the co-director the association, Jean Huet – 40 years of Fair Trade,
what about now
8
F.I.N.E is the acronym for the 4 main fair international organizations which met in 2001 in order to propose a conventional definition of Fair Trade: “Fair Trade is a trading
partnership, based on dialogue, transparency and respect, that seeks greater equity in international trade. It contributes to sustainable development by offering better
trading conditions to, and securing the rights of, marginalized producers and workers – especially in the South. Fair Trade organizations have a clear commitment to Fair
Trade as the principal core of their mission. They, backed by consumers, are engaged actively in supporting producers, awareness raising and in campaigning for changes
in the rules and practice of conventional international trade”.
6

 
 

2

Josiah Warren the missing link of the incredible story of fair trade ? by Didier Reynaud, for Fédération Artisans du Monde.

 

I-His life and his greatest realizations.
In 1818 he started his career as a musician near Boston. A year later he got married and moved to Cincinnati.
After two years of work, he applied for a patent of a tallow-burning lamp, which will be commonly used later.
In 1824 he took part in New Harmony’s experimentation, the well-known utopist community built by Robert
Owen. At that time the two men were on the same page, to such an extent that Warren became the music
director of the community. The story could have ended there and his ideas could have never emerged.
Conceptualizing his ideas is the reason why he left New Harmony so as to experiment a new trading way,
more adapted to individuals from any horizons. So he opposed frontally Robert Owen, an emblematic utopist,
blaming him for his lack of direct democracy in his communities, underlining the wrong notes concerning the
elitist reproduction, which seemed to predominate.
a) The Time store: the historical ancestor of Time to Labor Cooperative, an economical event which
redefined the essence and the reasons of exchange.
In 1827 he opened the first Time store, a special supply store with a simple principle. The goods were
exchanged against a work ticket: it is the principle of “Time to Labor” or “Labor to Labor”. For three years
the store ran very well until its shutting-down, which was surprising given its success. Some think that he shut
down the store to go further, beginning other projects elsewhere. This very deliberate shutting down could
explain Warren’s words when he told that no experiment has to last for a long time to avoid sinking and
falling in a shape of vanity peculiar to any success he noticed. Warren might also have wanted to pass on his
own experiences and inspire other people to reproduce et improve them.
In any case, this was a rare economical event since his store was based on exchanges which were limited to
the real cost of the products (raw materials, labor force, rarity of knowledge, weather, resources). No profit is
made: neither from the production nor from the sales. Only the working hours are paid and not paid on a
common way like today… Indeed workers are paid with “working hours”.
Josiah Warren, who intended to challenge capitalism and all its tools, refused the dollar. “You want
something in return? So give me something which required the same number of working hours, of resources,
etc.”: here are the words that Warren must have said more than once in his store. It is easy to picture him
patiently explaining to every new member his system.
Josiah Warren created a new way to trade and this very form of trading not only charmed new adepts but
was also a real success. Let us notice too that this system was totally legal and authorized by the federal
institutions.
The store functioning encompassed the fairest purchase price as possible, the cost for storage and the salesman
wage. The store also differentiated itself by the way it displayed the products and prices: Josiah Warren
wanted purchasers to consider a product like something humanized (you can see in the image of the labor to
labor bill a representation of the Atlas Myth). More than a goods swap or a values swap, the store consisted
of a fair judicious addition of time and required resources for production. This simple calculation tended to

One of the
numerous advantages of this exchange form is that it can work both inside and
outside the system since it is the fairest and the more adaptable exchange form
itself.
highlight the pertinence of such a system in the frame of the trading system of that time.

 

3

Josiah Warren the missing link of the incredible story of fair trade ? by Didier Reynaud, for Fédération Artisans du Monde.

 

b) Time to Labor or Labor to Labor : the forerunner of the local exchanges systems (L.E.S).

Without knowing it Josiah had invent a new form of labor remuneration and therefore
exchange. The symbol could change: the dollar based on speculation and the debt would be obsolete.
Josiah Warren was unaware at that time that he would thus become the initiator against his basic
principles of local exchange systems

Limits of price = Real product cost







Bones and muscles used for production: labor force
Manual force: “grip”
Used Talents/ Natural resources
Capital/ Product cost ownership – no shareholder
Expertise, know-how, rarity of goods: Can every one do it?
Price expressed with 2 time equivalents: Pound of corn or Work Hour (of a given
function, example : 10 hours of carpentry or 300 pounds of corn ) in order to
come up with an alternative to “pay one’s owing”)

• Non-transferable

 

4

Josiah Warren the missing link of the incredible story of fair trade ? by Didier Reynaud, for Fédération Artisans du Monde.

 

c) An experimental fair School: autonomous individuals vs. one individual for public service.
In 1830 Warren decided to apply the Labor to Labor principles to an experimental class of 25 pupils. He
played an individual among 25 autonomous individuals. A year later he founded a fair village on the edge of a
river before rushing to Boston in 1832 where, to face an epidemic Cholera, he printed Health brochures which
were sold on the principle of equivalent value to upper cost limit and real price.
He kept structuring the polytechnic school of Spring Hill while adapting his system of tickets. Pupils paid for
their courses (example : 3 minutes for an one-hour long art course, 6 minutes for an one-hour long cooking
course,…) by taking part to a production activity, cleaning, etc. He thus created the well-known “Trees of
knowledge”: an intricate form of popular education.
What can those principles and experiments teach us? Would Fair Trade have forgotten its story? Would Fair
Trade try to express today what its ignored founder demonstrated, learned, experimented, and transmit?

Built in 1857, this octagonal building served as the school house first for Modern Times and then for Brentwood until 1906. Today it’s
listed on the National Register of Historic Places. [Photo courtesy Brentwood Historical Society]

d) The Peace Full Revolutionist Newspaper: the first useful, informative, nonviolent independent
anarchistic newspaper!
He launched the Peace Full Revolutionist newspaper, the first anarchistic newspaper in the United States as he
was the head of a sawmill which was ruled by the Labor to Labor principles like he wanted to prove it was
possible to undertake and succeed in business without money.
He went back to New Harmony in 1834 then he attempted again to found an equitable village with 6 families
and opened a new time store in New Harmony’s community. He also published “Equitable Commerce” in
New Harmony, before it became “Herald of Equity”.
 

5

Josiah Warren the missing link of the incredible story of fair trade ? by Didier Reynaud, for Fédération Artisans du Monde.

 
At the time when he thought about it, the majority of the American press, embodying one of the rare sources
of writing information, was already owned by some rich capitalists, whose heirs show every day how much
the press has to allow to “sell available human brain time to advertisers”9.

e) Fair communities: the Fair Utopia and Modern Time!
In 1847 he founded Utopia in
Ohio within a village which
had welcomed a Fourier’s
phalanstery10. Utopia was
based on private ownership
and market economy in which
labor was the cornerstone of
exchange. Labor to Labor
principles had a new
momentum! The colony lasted
without any problem until
1875.
While creating ties with
Stephen Pearl Andrews, with
whom he founded a colony of
3 square kilometers on the
Long Island in New York : Modern Time colony ( which existed until 1860), Warren gave plenty of lectures
in the United States. He had the honor of seeing his principles explained in the book of Stephen Pearl
Andrews (an anarchist too): “Science of Society”, which also depicted the thesis of Comte and Fourier.
Besides his “periodical letter of equitable principle” was given out in Modern Times.
It is said that some ties between Warren, Henry David Thoreau and other French anarchists11 would have
existed but not corroborated. Likewise none of their supposed exchanges, their contents and their reciprocal
influence have been since known and acknowledged. Here there is a track to investigate.

The Dame House, now occupied by the Sisters of St.
Joseph, is one of Modern Times’ two remaining
octagonal buildings in Brentwood. [Photo Spencer
Rumsey/Long Island Press]

                                                                                                                       
9

A famous and no less ambiguous expression stated by Patrick Le Lay, at the head of TF1, 2004
Utopias – edited by Eric Letonturier, Les Essentiel d’Hermés Collections, CNRS editions, 2013, P.77-80
In particular Anselme de Bellgarigues in touch himself with Louis Philippe (the last King of the French-people)

10
11

 

6

Josiah Warren the missing link of the incredible story of fair trade ? by Didier Reynaud, for Fédération Artisans du Monde.

 

II-A system outside of the systeme and inside
the system?
Warren’s ideas had the advantage of fitting into the system of that time and to create another one in the
meantime. A unique one, the one which could allow every individual to live in a perfect sovereign way: just
like a despot on one’s self, like a time master. The subversive integration into the system, isn’t that what is
current Fair Trade trying to do?
This new system was neither outside the set system nor inside it, but the improvement of this letter in order to
ensure the most efficient, subtle, nonviolent transition as possible.
Besides when Warren’s works are analyzed, he turned out to be non-technophobic and thought about
Humankind’s future. Would it have made him a non-violent but also futurist anarchist?
Progress, optimism, undertaking were the foundations of Warren’s ideas and it allowed to explain why the
communities he founded had lasted so long. His purpose was to respond to vital needs in order to build a
sustainable fair world.According to him, each individual represented a business and the sum of all the
individuals constituted society.Remunerations were thought as fair as possible, which went along with some
authors’ ideas tackling work subordination, ownership and inheritance12.
According to Warren, problems could be locally solved and if some global predicaments could have had an
impact on the life of “Poor Folk”13, that thus meant that the system was not the good one since the people
were not master in their own house: the system had to be replaced by another one until finding the good one.
And again, according to Warren, one had to think locally then to act locally but anonymously. Otherwise
Humanity risked the auto-destruction, in a hurry because of the lack of time: which is a necessary element of
the sovereignty of thought and individual action,
leading to a good working society.
Mankind is naturally good according to Warren. He
sees in Mankind an inexhaustible source of talents
and creations. In that way Warren is close to plenty
of Utopists. Time is seen as a real value inseparable
from Life and that is why he was attached to
preserve it, to quantify it and to measure it in the
frame of exchanges.
He quickly refused to conform to an “utopist” spirit, which he qualified as “bourgeois and elitist” developed
by a group of intellectuals of the time14. The ideas they praised were expensive to implement and not
accessible to simple people; worst of all, those intellectuals demanded to be recognized. He then wrote an
anonymous “Manifesto” by his own, in which he expressed his fairest and the most genuine vision of what he
hopes Humanity would become, a vision that everyone could have or understand. Since then plenty of
Manifesto have been written and certain anarchists were convinced of the thought that a Manifesto could
represent a social contract but an individual one.
What could explain that Josiah Warren, this unique character, has fallen in oblivion? What could explain that
his name is nowhere mentioned in History, more particularly in the History of current Fair Trade? Are we in
denial? This very man, who spent his life proceeding to experiments on communities and in order to make his
vision pragmatic, would he have caught something which could suddenly make us focus on Humanity and on
what is the most beautiful? Is that a coincidence that he named it as “Equitable Commerce”?
                                                                                                                       
12
13
14

 

The Saint-Simonians, Marx or even Proudhon
To paraphrase Dostoïevski
“Not humble enough to sacrifice their lives to apply them”

7

Josiah Warren the missing link of the incredible story of fair trade ? by Didier Reynaud, for Fédération Artisans du Monde.

 

III/ Why do we know so little about Josiah
Warren?
a) A Humility by action
To explain the oblivion of Josiah Warren, you have to notice that he was both humble and anonymous: he
just implemented ideas, looked if it worked and eventually allowed himself to correct them as Owen did all
his life.
Ideas of a “pictured reality” were developed and some
very famous ideas reached us nearly untouched.
However Fair Trade ideas highlight Individual before
Collective. Josiah could not bear the idea of an
Individual standing as a player without initiative,
serving a “perfect” community that would be
duplicated everywhere without taking in account the
people, their number, their natural talents.
He wanted to proceed to experiments and to avoid
being a hackneyed orator. According to him, expression without action doesn’t express an experimented
reality but only an individual empirical interpretation. There are too many sources of disagreements between
intention and listening.
Here was his definition of Humility: defining it as the action of doing something. Humility was frequently
a form of value which the elitist bourgeois hijacked. From then it prevented from acting, it gagged
speech or made it purely mercantile and lucrative.

b) Why did Josiah Warren stand so much apart from the Utopists?
It is easy to understand if we analyze his nervous relationship with Owen. He displayed individual positions
and did not want a pyramidal social organization even if it was called a Utopia. According to him a Utopia
was an organization deliberately built without vertical power in which people would be responsible for their
own fate. He thus wanted each individual to belong to society. His different experiments showed the
pertinence15 of some of his ideas and led to ask questions about this forgotten and unknown memory. Who
currently knows that the main Robert Owen’s ideas, an utopist, had inspired Josiah Warren and were also
criticized by him?

c) An end of life based on Transmission: from communities in Jamaica and in Central America to
Benjamin Tucker’s initiation.
In 1866 he founded communities in Jamaica and in Central America. At just 22, Benjamin Tucker (who was
busy to translate Proudhon’s ownership book) met Josiah Warren in 1872. In Tucker’s request, Warren
published a last book explaining how to use equitable principles in daily life in a thorough way. It was an
irony of fate that in 1872, exactly one century before l’Abbé Pierre’s call, Josiah took part for the last
time to the meeting of the Americans anarchist and asked them to make their works useful, nonviolent
and accessible to everyone.
He died in 1874 and was paid many tributes, in particular from the anarchist stream. His works have remained
accessible and certain communities keep existing and some « Time Stores » as well, for instance in New
York.
                                                                                                                       

15
Like famous work tickets “Labor to Labor” he implemented in some of his experimentations. This one was an exchange method permitting to remunerate exactly time cost,
resources, know-how, etc.

 
 

8

Josiah Warren the missing link of the incredible story of fair trade ? by Didier Reynaud, for Fédération Artisans du Monde.

 

IV. Capitalism at the center of his thoughts.
a) Why did Warren think about a new form of remuneration?
He wanted to take a stand against capitalist economy and above all against its mortal pecuniary principles.
According to him, workplace could not be a place in which workers are exploited. Quite the contrary, this
would lead relentlessly to violence: the victims of a system are often the first torturers of the others.
Thus, thanks to a valuation of labor and a direct link between producer and consumer (via “Labor to Labor”
principles), conflicts would tend to vanish naturally and everyone would look for how to contribute towards
society. Everyone would have one’s place, even speculators who would have no possibility of taking
advantage of it to the detriment of the individuals or of the collective.
His vision of “machinery” and “technology” was not like the one of a “purist” environmentalist however. He
considered that those tools were not used correctly. They should normally create Life and Art but they are
used to beget violence, useless things; they plunder resources that we risk missing later. In the experimental
communities Josiah founded, intricate objects were made and art seen as a rarity. Hoped-for future was
wonderful and embedded in noble sciences, biology, astronomy, literature, mathematics, etc.

b) Josiah, an unclassifiable man?
He was unclassifiable indeed. This man was neither
anarchist, nor communist, nor even a typical utopist.
Besides he never managed to classify himself since
he thought that labelling someone was dangerous
and led to discrimination or elitism.
He was a great cultured man and close to people, an
artist, a great inventor, a musician and an
entrepreneur, a philosopher and a writer: a person
whose seeing was undoubtedly enriching.
Humanity was the heart of his experimentations and he considered that value of something only depended on
how much a man would have worked on it. He was not opposed to ownership, except ownership of production
factors. Those productions factors had to be managed by workers in a collective way; otherwise they risked
being exploited by speculators. Ownership could not be used to make profits: lands, buildings, tools,
machines, resources or even labor force had to follow this rule.
However he was opposed to inheritance and intellectual property. In fact it would allow people to make ideas
their own. He decided not to sign all his works, and let accessible the patents he bought. (Tallow-burning
lamp, universal typography, printing press)
What is left of this odd character? What was the influence of his works at his time? Can we draw a parallel
between his time and ours? Would we be still able to offer an alternative to the system by inspiring ourselves
from his brilliant experiences?
His leitmotiv: “If an idea is not working, it means that it is not a good one”:
Warren’s equation for a equitable (fair) society:

Individuality + individual sovereignty + real labor cost (resources and labor) = limit of
price = currency of exchange based on the real labor cost in resources and time =
adjustment of supply to demand = Society founded on the need and not on desire.

 

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Josiah Warren the missing link of the incredible story of fair trade ? by Didier Reynaud, for Fédération Artisans du Monde.

 
c) Analogy of the wooden stick – in order to demonstrate the imposture of Money as an usurpation of the
Reality.
Humanity has never known any rational circulating means, any “representative” of propriety defined on fair
principles. Every big financial transaction in the world, every bank and banking transaction, every speculation,
every financial flow, every corporation, every financial system and everything related to money in the world
are based on shells, metals and images which are no more appropriate to be means than a wooden stick is
appropriate for delimiting a space of land.

Conclusion:
A Myth was born!
Modest and discreet, Josiah Warren, whose first name comes
from the Hebrew meaning “backing up”, has fallen in a relative
oblivion he denounced during some parts of his life. However his
works would certainly allow today to help questioning society in
a nonviolent way. Apparently his ideas worked. And as we are
still looking for a way to duplicate and improve the L.E.S, we can
imagine to learn from Warren’s experimented principles in order
to find out the missing elements for the main political message
transmission of Fair Trade: “Trade not AID”16.
Could the fair trade network, essentially based on shops, enjoy a
new momentum by learning from the experiments of the
Anarchist of the Peace? The debate is still opened.
At last and because that is always useful, let us recall who Fair
Trade is made for: “the oppressed people, the humble ones, they
who do not aspire to live by being upon the others, whether they
are rich or poor, they who thanks to their moral or their higher intellectual qualities succeed in enjoying the
unsuspected benefits from the condition of the Human existence.”
We can now call Josiah Warren as the father of the Fair Trade or Equitable Commerce, the one who invented
the way to achieve both a transition and implement a new peaceful, open and progressive.
Through the work of Warren we can now imagine a Utopia apply as was the case in the city of Utopia, which
was real and functional well. Can everyo can consider taking a little time to wonder about the importance of
his Work, that of a Life that he has seen fit to use the service of the search for greater humanity so that "each
can be his/her own despot and his/her own sovereign "?
Bagnolet (93) France, 2015, Didier Reynaud.
Milan-Fair Trade International Symposium – Mai 2015

www.didier-reynaud.com / didier.reynaud@gmail.com

                                                                                                                       
16

 

Lecture of UNCTAD in 1964 where several NGO called for “Trade Not Aid”

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