Born 1798; died 1850. English petit bourgeois economist and Utopian socialist; follower of R. Owen.
In the pamphlet Lecture on Human Happiness (1825) and in his primary work, Social System (1831), Gray exposed capitalist exploitations, asserting that the producing classes receive only an insignificant part (one-fifth) of their labor, while the rest is appropriated by the nonproducing classes. He defended small private enterprises and holdings operating by the labor of their owner. He saw socialization of exchange as the solution to all social problems. In that, he differed from Owen, who advocated the socialization of all production and distribution. According to Gray, exploitation could be destroyed through the creation of a national bank that would issue so-called workers’ money, supposedly capable of ensuring equivalent exchange and the right of the working masses to the full product of their labor. The weakness of these ideas and their petit bourgeois character were exposed by Marx in the work Contribution to the Critique of Political Economy (see K. Marx and F. Engels. Soch., 2nd ed., vol. 13. pp. 67–70).