Flora Tristan, “The Modern Utopians” (1846)

I’ve started translating a short posthumous work by Flora Tristan, “The Emancipation of Woman,” published in 1846. I’m presenting the final chapter, which includes brief appraisals of a number of prominent socialists, including Proudhon. You’ll also find a comparatively glowing paragraph on one Simon Ganneau, a Saint-Simonian heretic known as the Mapah, who believed himself the androgyne incarnation of both the Mère and Père (Ma+Pa), messiah-figures sought by Saint-Simon’s followers. He founded a religion called Evadaisme, a name combining those of Eve and Adam. The whole work is quite interesting, combining influences from various early socialist schools with Tristan’s own ideas and perspective, and relatively short (24,000 words) so I’ll be trying to work up a complete translation over the next couple of months. 


The Modern Utopians
Honor to the men of conviction who advance as scouts at the head of the humanitary caravan!
Glory to these sublime madmen, whom we killed formerly and today are content to ridicule pleasantly while they die of poverty!
Humanity has never lacked prophets, and the future that opens before us also has its revelators.
Swedenborg, through the revelation of the correspondences, has announced the unity and universality of science and has indicated to Fourier his fine system of analogies.
He has shown the celestial societies grouped by harmonious series according to the degrees of intelligence and love.
He has given heaven and hell attractions for motives, and on their antagonism he has established equilibrium.
Fourier wanted to realize the celestial dream of Swedenborg on earth, and transfigured into a phalanstery the convent of the Middle Ages.
Saint-Simon has given the initiative of the transfigurations of dogma, and has revealed the end of Christian widowhood and the great humanitary marriage by the moral emancipation of women.
A man whose name still serves as a laughing stock for the so-called sages because he still lives, Ganneau, summarizes these various systems in a magnificent orthodoxy; he justifies the emancipation of women by the cult of love and honor that he assigns to the title of mother. For him, the Emperor Napoléon is a messianic type representing the great Cain or usurper, but he reconciles him with the Christ, who is the great Abel, and from that union of obedience and strength is born the equilibrium of rights and duties.
After these great prophetic figures, who represent some general ideas, come some architects who give plans for the various parts of the social edifice.
Cabet, a man of conviction and perseverance, whose integrity took the place, up to a certain point, of ideas and talents, gave in his Icaria the plan for a great common manufacture and some rules for workshops that can have their reasonable and useful side. Proudhon, a reasoner with a serious, but overwhelming logic, takes property, such as we understand it in our time, is his stranglehold, where he crushes it. His book has not been pursued by the public prosecutor.
Victor Considérant, the regenerator of the societary school, and upholder of the work of Fourier, a man of science and talent, who will perhaps soon be called represent at the rostrum the ideas of peaceful emancipation and social organization.
That is nearly all the men of our era who are serious concerned with the future. But none of them have actively put their hand to the work, either because they lacked the means of execution, or because their plans were still not well settled, or because their faith was not keen enough.
We are told that an architect of antiquity, after having listened in silence to the details of some gigantic plans of another architect, a great maker of theories, surpassed him with a single phrase, by crying out: “What he has said, I will do!”
Oh! If courage and devotion were enough, I would, myself, this architect who speaks little, but who acts. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Here ends the manuscript dictated by Mme. Flora Tristan.


About Shawn P. Wilbur 2620 Articles
Independent scholar, translator and archivist.