Terrence, “A Short Introduction to the Works of Charles Fourier” (1848)

“In Nature and in State, it is easier to change many things than one.” BACON.Essay on Health.
“Entertain variety of delights rather than surfeit of them.Idem.
“ And let the main portion of the lands employed to gardens or to corn be to a common stock, and to be laid in, and stored up, and then delivered out in proportion.” BACON.On Plantations.
“Fourierism, which is diametrically opposed to Communism.”Morning Chronicle, March, 1848.


At a moment when the extraordinary and sudden events of Paris have stirred the political condition of Europe from its very foundation, and have commenced “‘hat is professedly a social revolution, the following rapid sketch of what is termed the social science, or in a wider sense, “The Theory of Universal Unity,” may not be without interest to the public, as it may help them to a clearer comprehension of what is now occurring, and enable them to distinguish between those acts of the Provisional Government which are inspired by a spirit of communism, and those which emanate from the school of Fourier.
The whole of the English press, in mentioning the tendencies of the late revolution, have attributed them to the Communist doctrines disseminated through the medium of the works of various authors, among whom they include Fourier; being, however, so little acquainted with his views, that they are even ignorant of the real orthography of his name;for they have, with few exceptions, most amusingly agreed in spelling it with two rs, thus—Fourrier. This point, though minor in appearance, is in reality most important as an argument against them; for this error originated in a ridiculous and ignorant criticism made several years back, which criticism seemingly has remained the only source of information which the guides (?) of public opinion have deigned to consult on the subject.
Now this accusation of communism arises from a very general, although most erroneous notion; for Fourier, whatever may be. thought of the practicability of his whole system, is, as we will presently prove, the only author who presents a definite, just, and unanswerable argument in favour of the existence of property, and he who alone has sought efficient because equitable means of rendering its enjoyment perpetual.
Fourier, from his earliest childhood, evinced the profoundest love for truth and justice; and though educated at a period when professions of atheism were in full vogue, he always breathed the purest religious sentiments, free however from intolerance and cant. On looking around him, he found all things subjected to a Divine Harmony, save the social relations of man, in which fraud, misery, and vice were but too much the predominant features. Yet, that such was the final destiny of mankind, his notions of divine justice would not for one instant allow him to suppose. Trusting, therefore, to the words of Christ: “Seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you;”—”There is nothing covered that shall not be revealed, neither hid that shall not be known;” and seeing how completely society, in its present form, is devoid of truth, justice, and happiness, he determined to devote his life to the research of the natural or Divine social form, in which God’s will being done on earth as it is in Heaven, these blessings should exclusively reign; and after several years of incessant labour, he produced to the world what all who have studied itproclaim a most wonderful and complete system of universal science.
The metaphysical foundation of Fourier’s theory, (and we must crave the indulgent reader’s patience for a few paragraphs that may perchance be deemed abstruse,) is as follows:—All that exists, being the work of one great Creator, must bear upon it the impress of His harmonious mind, and be therefore analogous, though never identical in its various forms; accordingly, Fourier, taking a complete survey of all the natural sciences and arts, finds a perfect analogy between the harmonies of sound, of colours, of curves, of numerical and grammatical functions, &c., distributed according to a certain series or regular distribution of parts, into groups, varieties, genera, species, orders, and classes; hence his science of Universal Analogy, the radiant spring of poetry,—and its manifestation, the serial Law, for the development of which we must refer to his works, or those of his disciples. Fourier, with this guide, arguing with true mathematical precision, from what was known to what was as yet unknown, boldly dived into the past and the future, and foretold most of the discoveries which have since shed so much glory on the scientific men of our age; among these may be numbered Levenier’s planet, instantaneous communications with all parts of the globe, painless operations, &e. &c.
Carrying out these views in his vast investigations of nature, he found that all things were formed of three principles, corresponding to the three essential functions of motion: one active or spiritual (the moving force,)—one passiveor material (the moved force,)—and one neuter or regulative (the directing force). His theory of Production may serve as an illustration of this division of parts; for Production, in its widest sense, the source of the activity and the wealth of nations, is, like all other things, a compound of these three elements, viz. :
1. Labour, the activeprinciple.
2. Capital, the passive principle, on or by which labour acts; land, buildings, money, machinery, implements, &c. &c.
3. Talent, the neuter principle, by which labour and capital are directed.
Now, if the rights of anyone of these principles remain unsatisfied, the other two are endangered, and impeded in their progress. According to Fourier, the fault of society has hitherto been in overlooking the rights of labour and talent, granting all permanent advantages to capital alone, which has in consequence indirectly but greatly suffered. The Communists, on the other hand, in their reaction against the exclusiveness of capital, commit a similar error in an opposite direction.. The exclusive reign of capital occasions unperfect production, pauperism, and revolt. Communism, or the negation of individual property, by destroying emulation, and compressing superior minds, without raising the interior, would be a death-blow to the ideal and the sublime, and both are subversive of all justice and liberty; yet both represent equally legitimate rights, which can only be satisfied by the free association of the three essential elements of production, whereby every individual may reap the fruits of the seed he has sown, by participating in the profits of the common produce, each in proportion to the amount of capital, labour, or talent employed in its creation, every member being thus personally interested in the success of the whole. The creative powers resulting from unity of purpose and action are thus substituted for the fearful and destructive antagonism which now reigns between the employers and the employed. (The practical difficulty of such an arrangement will be mentioned hereafter.) This proportionality, according to capital, time, and skill, is evidently in direct opposition to the principle of Communism, which is based on an absolute equality of rights; and Fourier is so far from denying the rights of property, that it is chiefly to large capitalists that he addresses himself, inviting them to combine freely, and carry out his views, promising them in return a new and happy social era, in which they will be the first to benefit largely; for one of his fundamental principles is, that the science of society must accept and classify all existing interests, and the social transformation be such, that those who reap the greatest advantages in our present state, shall profit still further instead of losing by the new order of things.
But this is only one branch of Fourier’s vast system of scientific and social reform. Analysing with great acuteness, the past and present history of humanity, and examining the fundamental character of the five social phases, viz., 1, Edenism; 2, Savagism; 3, Patriarcate; 4, Barbarianism; and 5, Civilization, through which it has successively passed,—he ascertained (as any unprejudiced mind might have done before him,) that Man had as yet never been placed in a social medium in accordance with his nature, though he had gradually advanced towards a superior state of society, according to the natural law of progression. Yet man, with all his passions[1] or tendencies, which according to circumstances urge him on to virtue or to vice, and which, in spite of human institutions, have maintained their dominion in all countries and all ages,—man, we say, with all his passions, is the work of God. The social form, essentially variable in its nature, differing at the beginning and at the end of the same age, differing on the opposite sides of the same mountain or river, is the work of man. If man, and the social conditions he is placed in, clash, whose is the fault, and whose work must we modify? Surely not God’s!
As well might our tailors and shoemakers propose one model of their own creation, as a standard whereby all men were to be dressed, as our philosophers and constitution-framers pretend that man, as created by God, is imperfect, and must be made to bend to fanciful and oppressive institutions of theirinvention, which centuries have proved to be inefficient in producing the desired end. This misconception of man’s nature has forced them to uphold their false institutions by means of constraint and tyranny, thus forming a lamentable scission between the lovers of order and those of liberty, and keeping the world in a constant state of turmoil and warfare.
The important point is, however, to fully understand the nature of Man, the primary element of society, and the social problem then resolves itself into the following terms:
“Man and his passions being given, to determine the social conditions in which these may be harmoniously developed, so as to produce the greatest and most beneficial results by the smallest means.”
Now man is himself, according to what we have said above, a compound of three principles;
1. The Passions, active or motive principle.
2. The Body, passive or material principle.
3. The Intellect, neuter or regulative principle.
The body is the mere instrument or tool through the medium of which the passions act; and the intellect is the principle by which man judges, ( and by which he governs and directs the other two.
The passions, again, are composed of three principles—the material or sensual; the spiritual or affective; and the directing or distributivesubdivided into twelve radical passions, summed up in one pivotal passion, which, like white and black among colours, is, in its positive form, the result of the combination of all the others, while, in its negative form, it is the result of their absence.[2]
Most of those passions, the 10th, 11th, and 12th especially, are in civilization, productive of more harm than good; for instance, the love of change, termed by Fourier la papillonneor butterfly passion, in a society where each member is chained exclusively to one profession or trade, is a vice, breeding inconsistency, fickleness, inattention, and discontent; yet nature in her goodness meant it as a preservative against monotony, and excess in the development of anyone of his faculties, moral, intellectual, or physical, at the expense of the others, by instilling into him a strong desire to give a full and harmonious development to all in their turns. For a full comprehension of this psychological analysis, we must refer to the works of Fourier, or those of his school. Musicians will, however, understand us when we say, that the four affective passions are the cardinal, corresponding to the four notes which form the main chord and the sensitive note, in the octave. The three distributive correspond to the subordinate chord, and the five sensitive to the five semi-tones.
As the different combinations of the twelve semi-tones of the chromatic scale are sufficient to produce an infinite variety of melodies and harmonies; or, as all shades are the result of the various combinations of the prismatic colours, so the different proportions and combinations of these 12, or rather (including the pivots) 14 radical passions, form the various characters or temperaments which constitute humanity; and as Providence has balanced the number of the sexes, so also has it counterpoised the various springs of action among mankind, so that unityand harmony shall be the result, as soon as man, rightly and religiously using his reason and free-will, shall, by doing for society what he has lately done for locomotion, have sought, discovered, and practically established the conditions in which these passions or springs of action may act according to the eternal laws of God, and be productive of good instead of evil. A permanent revelation is granted as a light to guide us in this research,—Good being the heavenly sign that humanity is fulfilling its destinies,—Evil the invariable sign of its deviation therefrom; and who will deny that Evil has hitherto had the ascendancy?
Fourier, by this analysis of the nature of man, which all his disciples consider as unimpeachable, seems alone among philosophers to have carried into practice that admirable maxim of the ancients, “Know thyself,” and I has therefore alone afforded us the means of organizing society in accordance with that nature.
The 14 radical passions of man, being his data, Fourier seeks, by what external or social conditions they can best be satisfied and utilized. And first, he finds it will be necessary to offer to the sensitive passions none but the purest objects of gratification so that our senses, by which we are put into communication with the outward world, may carry correct notions only, to our soul and intellect. This duty falls chiefly to the lot of industry and the fine arts. Secondly, the effective passions must find their full development, which can only be attained by opening numerous gradual posts of honour, proportionate to each individual’s peculiar merit, so as to gratify the passion of ambition; and by increasing the general wealth of the community sufficiently to ensure the right of living by one’s labour to every man, woman, and child, and thus allow in all cases of love-unions, freed from those heart-rending anxieties which now attend most parents as to the future prospects of their children. Thirdly, in order to give due satisfaction to the distributive passions now productive of so much evil, corporative rivalship must be awakened in the community, but so organized as never to degenerate into personal jealousy and hatred. The various social duties must be performed no longer by individuals, but by friendly groups in order to satisfy the noble passion of enthusiasm, which requires numbers for its full development, and which doubles and triples our energies. Above all, constant variety must be introduced into our occupations, that we may call forth and satisfy alternately all the faculties of our soul and mind. And finally, the noblest of all passions, Uniteeism, the warm fountain of religion, philanthropy, charity, and self-sacrifice, must find a constant channel to flow in, for the benefit of others, thus counteracting the chilling influence of its opposite, individualism, whose function is the mere preservation of the individual.
By the Association of many interests, forces, and abilities alone, can all these conditions be realized; and civilization, though founded on the spirit of individualism, or the “chacun chez soi, chacun pour soi” system, has instinctively felt this; for in all great works, such as canals, railways, insurances, clubs, &c., it has always recourse to the fruitful principle of association, although, till this year, strictly confining it to capital.
Seeking what was to be the main-spring of action which was to introduce life and motion in the new social medium, and finding that Attractionwas the great principle by which God gave motion and form to the materialworld, Fourier was led by universal analogy to suspect that the spiritual and socialworld might perchance be subjected to the same principle. This led him, by a succession of calculations, to the discovery Of what he called passional or spiritual Attraction, by which discovery he did for the whole range of science, including that of society, what Newton had already done for astronomy and natural philosophy, by his discovery of material or· physical Attraction, of which Locke even then said, “That admirable discovery of Mr. Newton, may be counted as the basis of natural philosophy; and how much further it could guide us in other things, if rightly pursued, is not yet known.”—(Conduct of the Understanding, § xlii.)
“The law of attraction,” says Fourier,” governs the whole universe, the plant, the insect, and the stars, accomplishing their revolutions. The animals obey a Divine law revealed by instinct, by attraction; all nature groups itself, associates in an harmonious concert, and accomplishes its destiny attractively. Man alone, ignorant of this Divine law, still struggles with his instincts, his desires, his passions, and attractions. In the midst of universal association and the harmony of worlds, human societies are sunk in discord and antagonism: their labours are repugnant; their relationships conflictive. Attraction, not being obeyed, becomes for man a source of suffering and .chastisement. His miseries are aggravated by the knowledge of enjoyments he does not possess. Like a bee, transported to a barren rock, languishing from want of flowers to call forth its industry, man, being out of his destiny, is not the less capable of fulfilling it, and suffers in proportion to the distance separating him from harmony and unity.
“Attraction in the hands of God is like a magic wand, which enables him to obtain by love and pleasure, what man can only obtain by violence. It transforms the most repugnant functions into pleasure. What can be more repugnant than the care of a new-born infant, crying, helpless, and unclean? What does God do to transform so repulsive a duty into pleasure!’ He gives the mother impassioned attraction for these unclean offices; he simply uses his magical prerogative-the impress of attraction. Thenceforth repugnant functions disappear, and are changed into pleasures.
“We see God confine himself to the simple lever of attraction to direct the planets and the stars, creatures immeasurably greater than ourselves; is man then alone excluded from the happiness of being guided to social unity by attraction? Why this interruption in the scale of the system of the universe? Why does attraction, the divine interpreter of unity in the highest and the lowest orders of creation, the law of stars and animals, sufficient to conduct them to harmony, not suffice for man, who is a creature between the planets and the animals? Where is the unity of the Divine system, if the law of general harmony, if attraction, is not applicable to societies of the human species, as well as to those of stars and animals, if attraction is not applicable to agricultural and manufacturing industry, which is the pivot of the social mechanism?
“Industry, the torment of the servant and the slave, nevertheless causes the delight of various creatures, bees, beavers, wasps and ants, wholly free to prefer idleness; but God has provided them with a social mechanism which attracts them to industry, their source of happiness. !Why should he not have granted us the same privilege? What a difference between their industrial condition and ours! A Russian, an Algerine, works from fear of the whip and the bastonade; an Englishman, a Frenchman, from fear of famine, which threatens their families; the Greeks and Romans, whose liberty has been so much vaunted among us, laboured as slaves under the fear of punishment, as the negroes do now in our colonial possessions.
“Such is the happiness of man in the absence of an attractive law of industry; such is the effect of human laws; it reduces humanity to envy the lot of the industrious animals, for whom attraction changes their labours into pleasures. What would have been our happiness had God assimilated us to these animals, had he impressed on us passional attraction for the exercise of all the labour to which we are destined? Our life would be a series of delights, whence would arise immense riches; while in ignorant subversion of attractive industry, we are nothing but a. society of galley-slaves, of whom some few escape from drudgery and maintain themselves in idleness. These are hateful to the mass, which tends, like them, to emancipate itself from labour: from thence arise revolutionary , ferments, agitators, who promise the people leisure, wealth, and happiness, “and who by some revulsion, having once obtained this for themselves, enslave the multitude anew to maintain themselves in the rank of idlers, or privileged directors of the industrious classes, which is a sort of idleness.”
According to the law of unity, the analogy of man with the creation, the Divine plan consists in a law of attractive industry, flowing from a mode of association in which all interests agree and harmonize instead of injuring each other in perpetual conflict as in the present state.
On this condition only, the unity of the creation will be demonstrated; man will be in accordance with himself, with the universe, and with God.
Armed with this knowledge, and strengthened in his researches by his implicit trust in the infinite goodness of Providence, he confidently proposes a new social order in harmony with man’s nature, or attractions, “which,” says he, “are always in proportion to his destiny;” a social order in which, however, all that is good in present or past ages is sacredly retained, but so organized as to ensure the greatest sum of happiness to the great mass of mankind; in which, through the power of association, whereby unity of interest and action, as well as vast economies and positive wealth can alone be attained: and Attractive industry, under which term he comprises all incentives to the productive energies of man, viz., agricultural, domestic, manufacturing and commercial labour, education, science and art, freed from all that now tends to make them repulsive,—the various blessings of this earth shall be so multiplied, that an abundant share of them may become the lot of the poor, allowing at the Bame time for an incredible increase in those of the rich; in which the various tastes and attractions of mankind are so admirably balanced, that the satisfaction of all prevents excess[3] in the satisfaction of each, and that the cardinal or affective passions (conjugal and parental love, friendship and ambition), nay, the very pleasures of the senses, shall, by finding legitimate satisfaction, establish the happiness of the individual, furthering at the same time the welfare of the community; for the individual and collective interests are so intimately connected, that the misery or advantage of the one invariably reflects on the other.
But instead of beginning his reforms from above, and according to constitutional customs, applying to a whole nation ideas which, if erroneous or incomplete, would be productive of the greatest evils, Fourier, considering the Commune (parish, village), with its agriculture, trades, professions, magistrates and clergy, as the primary element of society, rationally proposes to begin the social reform by a reform of the Commune, or indeed of a single commune, which, if unsuccessful, will have been productive of no considerable injury even to the shareholders; whereas its success, like that of the first steamer, the first railroad, the first electric telegraph, the first painless operation, would soon lead to new and more complete attempts in all parts of the globe, and thus peacefullyrealize that regeneration of society which he so confidently anticipated. (See a remarkable passage in chap. iii. of “Butler’s Analogy of Religion,” in which he describes the general influence such a community would have over the face of the earth.)
A series of calculations led him to consider that in an assemblage of 400 families of different ranks and fortunes, (about 1800 or 2000 individuals of all ages,) all the varieties of character and tastes necessary to fulfill the various industrial, artistic, and social functions, would be found united. Such, therefore, is the number he fixes on for his model community, which, from its being associated, like the famous Macedonian legion, by ties of affection and interest, he terms a Phalanx. The collective property of the Phalanx consists of about one league square, indivisible in itself, but represented by transferable shares, on the principle of railroads, canals, water-works, and other joint-stock concerns. Instead, however, of covering the land with 400 small and uncomfortable houses or huts, all more or less deficient in water, fire, and light; 400 , kitchens, 400 cellars, 400 barns, a number of ill-constructed stables, &c. >&c.; a sumptuous palace, termed a Phalanstery, (abode of the Phalanx,) is, at a far less cost, erected near the centre, in which onekitchen, divided !!into compartments, as at a restaurant, or a club-house, and in which a few professed cooks, with every convenience at their command, is substituted for the 400 small or miserable kitchens employing as many hands, thus withdrawn from productive labour. This palace, of an imposing and varied aspect, in which beauty is no where neglected, nor utility sacrificed, and consisting of various suites of apartments of all prices, to suit all fortunes and tastes, is imposed throughout of a double row of buildings, to prevent its extending over too long a space, which , would necessarily render communications difficult and it encloses within its circuit vast courts adorned with trees and fountains. In the centre, from which rises a majestic tower, containing the observatory, the clock, the industrial flags and signals, &c., are placed the public halls, saloons, and libraries, the seat of the Government, and the apartments of the wealthy. This part of the building surrounds a spacious garden, in which are placed the green houses for the cultivation of the rarest species of plants and flowers, and which serves as a winter promenade, especially for the aged and the infirm. On the right and on the left there extend two wings, gracefully recoiling on themselves, and which contain apartments gradually diminishing in price as they remove further from the centre, yet all combining neatness and comfort; and the extreme ends of the wings are appropriated to noisy occupations, assemblages of children, and all that might otherwise disturb the rest of the population.
The internal communications are managed by a wide and covered gallery on the first floor, winding round the whole extent of the building, and extending over the courts in colonnades. This gallery, which communicates with all parts of the Phalanstery, and is warmed in winter, ventilated in summer, is as it were the street, and at the same time the pictureand statue galleryand museum of the Phalanx. (The Long-gallery at Windsor may give some slight notion of what is here meant.) By means of tubes concealed in its flooring and walls, it distributes to all parts cold and warm water, heat and light; it also communicates by subterraneous passages with the workshops, stables, farm-yards, storehouses, dairies, barns, &c., which are, for convenience sake, placed at the other side of the road; and thus the population are never exposed to those sudden changes of temperature which, in our ill-constructed, filthy towns, are productive of so many colds and coughs, and pleurisies, and inflammations of the lungs, from which even the noble lady leaving the ballroom to enter her carriage is not exempt. Thus arrangement does away immediately with the need of those nuisances of civilization, the umbrella, the comforter, the clog. The constant out-door activity of the population will ensure their robust health, and the street gallery will, on minor occasions, free them from the annoyances and injurious influences of our muddy, comfortless streets.
In all the arrangements of the Phalanstery, comfort and convenience are always combined with elegance. Thus, the large public banquet or dining-rooms have several smaller ones adjoining them, for the accommodation of private parties of friends or industrial groups; and each family or individual may, moreover, without increase of expense, take their meals as at present in their private apartments. But for a full description of all the various details of this noble building we must again refer to Fourier’s own works, or Victor Considerant’s “Destinee Sociale.” (See also People’s Journal, Nos. 12 and 14.)
The Church—the temple of Spiritual Harmony, and the Opera—the school of Material and Artistic Harmony, complete the centre of Phalansterian Unity.
The same principles of unity are carried out in the distribution of the soil. Instead of covering the land with ditches and enclosures, and deadwalls,—instead of forcing it to produce what the nature of the soil is not suited for, at a vast expense of labour, and money laid out on manure, often brought from far,—instead of leaving waste fine tracts of land which a small outlay might soon cover with verdant crops, or luxuriant groves, the body of agriculturists analyse every portion of the common estate, and distribute the agricultural, horticultural, and agricultural labours according to the natural qualities of the soil and various expositions. The force of association allows of all these works being carried out on a large scale, the most perfect instruments of tillage being substituted for the paltry and imperfect ones still so much in use, from the poverty or prejudice of the farmers; besides every facility being offered by the unitary stables, for the collecting, classifying, and proper distribution of manure, without the present ruinous expense. Soiling, the rotation of crops, and judicious irrigation, can likewise be carried to the highest pitch of perfection, on an estate of 5,000 or 6,000 acres in extent, to the cultivation of which nearly 2,000 persons devote Rome portion, however small, of their time; and no portion of the soil is subjected, as at present, to the caprices of ignorance, or the necessities of individual poverty. Thus it is already easy to see that the profits of association are two-fold: negative, consisting in economies of time, labour, and produce; and positive, from an actual increase in the produce, consequent on the concentration of power, and the superiority of the methods and implements which a large body can command; for the bounteous earth asks only to be courted, and is prodigal in her gifts to those who bestow on her some portion of their attention, but often barren and cheerless as an abandoned lover, when neglected by man. Great however, as the increase of the general wealth of the community would already be, it might not still allow of a sufficiency for all, nor would the happiness of the individual yet be complete, for man is a creature compounded of matter and spirit, and the mere gratification of his material wants cannot satisfy him. Fourier would have only done a small portion of his duty towards man if, after having so acutely analysed his nature, he had not sought the means of satisfying his seven spiritual as well as his five sensitive or materialpassions, which latter he considered as the subordinate; nor would he have been true to the system of nature, had he not sought in all things to substitute attraction for constraint.
As yet, labour, the destiny of man, has been looked upon as an evil, and only resorted to through the compulsion of law or necessity; and this has I led to the general belief that repose, or inertion, is the state man is most inclined to. Yet man is essentially an active being; and generally none are more so than the professedly idle. For behold a group of children in their hours of recreation, when perfectly free, if so inclined, to indulge in sloth and indolence. How active are they in the pursuit of pleasure! how laborious the occupations to which they voluntarily subject themselves! And how great their courage and endurance in overcoming difficulties of their own choice or creation! What also can be more fatiguing, more laborious than a fox-hunt or a steeple-chase? and what more monotonous, more tedious than fishing? Yet these occupations are the delight of many. It is not, therefore, labour in itself that is repulsive, since on the contrary it is so frequently resorted to as a source of supreme pleasure, for voluntary labour is ever attractive. We must therefore seek for its repulsiveness in the form in which it presents itself, in its mere accessories. We have already seen that there are implanted in man three distributive passions-the spirit of rivalry, or emulation; enthusiasm, or blind zeal; and the love of change. These passions not having had as yet a legitimate development, have generally been proscribed by our philosophers, who presumed to correct these works of God, while their duty was to seek how they might be properly directed to ultimate good. Now labour, as it has hitherto been constituted, gives satisfaction to none of these. The spirit of rivalry has found development only in the various forms of gambling (cards, dice, racing, stock-jobbing, &c.) or in religious, political, and legal discussions, which have generally led to bloodshed and ruin. Enthusiasm, which is chiefly awakened by large masses, united by some common interest or sentiment, finds, alas! its most complete development in a body whose chief function is destruction—the army. And the satisfaction of the love of change, so essential to the full development of an our faculties, is the privilege of a few rich only, who, using it in the mere pursuit of unproductive and egotistical pleasure, often find it an insupportable burthen.
But let us enter into the field of civilized labour. What do we see? A man, a woman, or a child spending a whole day in a solitary field, ploughing, digging, or weeding incessantly; or a human being, changed into an animated machine, spending whole days, years, a life, in making the eighteenth part of a pin, or feeding with flax a spinning machine, which performs the really creativepart of the work! What enthusiasm can be awakened in the workman’s breast, and renew his energy, in the performance of such duties? What spirit of rivalry can call forth his ingenuity? and by what means can he develop the faculties of his head, of his heart, the several talents which perchance lay dormant in his bosom? If we add to this the poverty of the workman’s fare and dress, the unsightliness and impurity of the generality of workshops, and the offensiveness of their atmosphere, we cannot wonder that labour should be considered a hardship, and only resorted to through the dread of starvation. Yet these conditions, not being inherent to labour, can and should be removed, and perhaps attraction, or the pleasure men feel in exercising their various faculties in occupations of their own choice, may, by a change in its mechanism, give to production an impetus which society has been in vain striving for three thousand years to attain by violence. Fourier, to satisfy these three passions or impulses implanted in us by the hand of God, proposes what is only feasible in an association of 1500 or 2000 persons of every age, rank, and fortune, viz., that all the branches of human activity, agricultural, domestic, manufacturing and commercial labour, education, science, and art, shall, as is already the case in most manufactures, be subdivided into classes, species, varieties, sub-varieties, &c., until the minutest subdivision be reached; but instead of condemning a few individuals to adopt exclusively one of these subdivisions, which makes life dwindle down to the limits of thirty or forty years of moral and physical misery, he leaves them all open to the free choice of the population, who, following the true bent of their nature, or their attractions, form friendly groups for the accomplishment of any particular variety or sub-variety. As these groups are formed of persons who have a liking for their occupation, they work with enthusiasm and zeal, as is the case when men assemble for their pleasure, however laborious it may be in itself (racing, cricket, rowing, &c.). If at the same time, rivalryor emulation can be excited between two groups engaged in almost identical occupations, the exertions of both will become extraordinary, and the work will be incomparably more joyously, more quickly, and more perfectly performed, than if the members of each group had undertaken a small share of the work, and accomplished it alone.
But enthusiasm, from its very intensity, is of short duration, rarely exceeding the limits of two hours. Once this fire extinguished, the attention lags, energy fails, and indifference ensues; and unless some fresh occupation arouse the spirits anew, they fall into a torpor which borders on stupidity. An opera of four hours’ duration would become tedious. How much more so a mere material occupation! With the exception therefore of the sciences and fine arts, few employments will last more than two hours; nor in this new organization is it likely they could be of a much longer duration; for groups of workmen are always substituted for individuals, and it is evident that the work which would employ one mall for twelve hours, would only employ six men for two hours, independently of the influence of enthusiasm and rivalry, which more than double the active energies of man, and cannot be awakened in solitary and long-continued labour. After two hours’ work, more or less, the group breaks up, and each member proceeds to join some other group of his own choice, which he again quits for another, and so on in succession through the course of the day. This breaking up of the groups prevents any jealousy, however strong, between any two industrial bodies, from turning, as at present, into hatred between persons; for it may happen that the very individuals who were corporatively opposed in the morning, may in the afternoon be amicably leagued together in the pursuit of some common occupation. The simplicity of the work entrusted to each group being, in consequence of its extreme subdivision, very great, it will require no long apprenticeship; so that every individual, man, woman, or child, may, after having given satisfactory proofs of competence, belong to twenty o thirty different groups, and yet attain more or less excellence in each. The gardens and orchards are placed, as nearly as the nature of the soil, will allow, in the immediate vicinity of the Phalanstery, the remoter portions of the domain being reserved for fields, pastures, and woods; and as all the manufactories and workshops arc on the opposite side of the road, but little time will he lost in moving from one group to another. Conveyances are moreover provided for those groups whose occupations may require their presence at the limits of the domain, the greatest distance of which from the Phalanstery is always under two miles.
Our abilities can only be justly and soundly appreciated by our peers; hence to each group belongs exclusively the right of electing its director or chief. Thus, mathematicians must be elected exclusively by mathematicians, agriculturists by agriculturists, and musicians, painters, or architects by those who are alone competent judges, from their pursuing similar avocations. The election of the most talented is thus ensured in each particular group; for ever) member is personally interested in the perfect fairness of the choice, as the placing of an incompetent person at the head of the group would injure it materially, by diminishing its productive powers, and morally, by calling down upon it the criticisms and jeers of rival groups, The chiefs of the groups elect from among themselves the chiefs of the varieties to which they belong. These again choose the chief of the species; and thus, by a series of progressive elections, we arrive at the chiefs or ministers of the principal branches of human activity (agriculture, manufactures, education, commerce, &c.), who form the general council or Regency of the Community.
To ensure a just equilibrium between all the labours essential to the welfare of the Community, a larger share of artificial attraction, such as honours, privileges, superior remuneration, &c., will be superadded to those functions which of themselves are less attractive. But this rule is subject to some exceptions, in order to leave a scope for the satisfaction of the passion of Uniteeism, or social charity and self-sacrifice.
Thus labour, now so repugnant, is rendered attractive by the mere fact of every man, woman, and child being enabled to follow the true bent of their inclination in the choice of their several occupations and industrial companions; and of giving due satisfaction to the three distributive passions, viz., those of rivalry, enthusiasm, and variety, or discord, concord, and modulation. Add to these spiritual attractions to activity, the material charms offered by a participation in the fruits of the united exertions of the members of each group, and above all, the substitution of airy, comfortable, neat, and even handsome workshops, enlivened by various artistic ornaments and the delights of music, for the filthy, cheerless, dark dens in which so many emaciated and demoralized human beings now perform their monotonous and health-destroying duties j and we think that all unprejudiced minds will freely admit that industry may become attractive, yea attractive, when, by a good and natural organization, every useful occupation shall have become a pleasure, and every pleasure a useful occupation.
In the division of profits among the three elements of production, the rights of capitalare, as at present, proportionate to the original investments. Those of labour are calculated upon the number of hours each member has worked; and those of talent are determined by the rank held in the industrial hierarchy. Thus, an operation which may at first sight have appeared of a most complicated nature, is, from the admirable organization of Phalansterian society, reduced to a simple arithmetical problem, termed Fellowship, or Partnership, which any school boy may solve.
It is needless to say that, enriched as the Phalanx would be by both positive and negative wealth, (increased produce and economies of all sorts,) it could easily afford to advance to every man, woman, or child, a minimum in food, lodging, and clothing, as a substitute for the natural rights of hunting, fishing, pasturage, gathering, &e., enjoyed by, the savage, but which are incompatible with an organized society. That this advance of the first necessaries of life would be no inducement to idleness where industry is rendered more attractive than pleasures are in civilisation, will be evident to all those who have examined a group of idlers, for, as we have already stated, idlers are often the most active of men, and in order to become most useful members of society, and more than repay the advance made to them, only require labour to be presented in an attractive form, with a constant change of occupation; for they have generally the love of varietyas their dominant passion. Should such an anomaly as a perfectly inert man present itself, the Phalanx will consider him as a madman, and as such he will, like the infant, the aged, and the sick, have an incontestable right to their assistance.
We must however admit that this minimum can only be ensured where labour is attractive, for were it guaranteed to every member of civilised society, in which labour takes its most repulsive forms, the whole population would soon fall into the most complete idleness. The English poor laws, which constitute a sort of minimum, tacitly acknowledging in all men the rights of subsistence, though most inadequate even to the first wants of nature, have however had a decidedly pernicious effect on the population. There is no liberty without the minumum; there is no minimum without attractive industry.
Such is a rapid and most imperfect sketch of Fourier’s system of organizing labour, in which attraction is substituted for the compulsion of law or want, and by which the produce may be increased ten fold without injury to the labourer. It may be summed up in the following terms:
Collective labour universally substituted for individual labour; and its natural consequence:
Shortand varied occupations substituted for long-protracted and tedious occupations.
It is manifest that in a society where all its members, men, women, and children, are guaranteed a respectable maintenance through their own industry, the condition of woman will be materially altered, and that the gentler half of humanity will cease to be held in thraldom by the physicallystronger. But there would be so much to say on this subject, that we prefer reserving it for a special article. Suffice it to say, that even in marriage, woman would still retain her individuality and independence, and no longer be absorbed in the person of her husband, and often brutalized by his power. Her property, her earnings, her inheritances, all would remain indisputably her own, and be subject to no marital influences. The great equalizer, Love, would of course make all things common between those whose union originated in the heart; and in the Phalanstery there would be no other unions; but the law would not step in and say to the wife, “All that was yours belongs henceforth to your husband; your duty is for the future resignation and obedience to his will and his caprices.” And let it be observed, that every step towards the complete emancipation of woman is likewise a step in the progress of humanity; and that, were civilised nations suddenly to exchange monogamy and the civil rights of the wife for polygamy, or the seraglio, they would in a short period relapse into barbarianism. Independence and the general education of the mind and heart of woman will do more towards the extirpation of vice than all the moral treatises that were ever penned by hoary-headed men; and modesty and virtue will reign universally, when woman, the protecting angel of our infancy, the fairest dream of our youth, the companion of our life, being fully emancipated and conscious of her supreme worth, shall universally receive that esteem, love, and reverence, to which she is so eminently entitled.
Then will the chivalrous sentiments which cast such a charm and lustre over the early parts of modern times, and which were, alas! rather the creation of poetic minds than a genuine picture of the social habits, be in truth realised; for when woman, becoming free, no longer depends upon marriage to obtain a certain standing in life, a feeling which but too often induces her to form a union against the inspirations of her heart, man will be aware that to obtain her, he must win her affections, deserve her esteem, and far from commanding and tyrannising in what is essentially the dominion of woman, must in Love subject himself to her will. These principles will no doubt seem far from orthodox to the stronger sex, who in framing the laws of marriage, have been careful to reserve for themselves the lion’s share; but let them consider well that they may yet be the gainers by the change; for woman, restored to her rights and dignity, will no longer have recourse to the cunning and duplicity by which she now but too frequently regains the influence of which she has been so unjustly deprived. If any man doubt this influence. obtained by double dealing and deceit, let him but examine attentively the domestic circle of his neighbours and friends, though it were better he shut his eyes against his own.
While on this subject we will briefly state that the few pages in which Fourier treats of matrimonial doctrines have called forth the most bitter and no doubt virtuous animadversions of our modern Tartuffes, who instead of attentively studying the system as a whole, in order to be able to judge fairly, even though unfavourably, of its parts, act like boys with a book of medical or natural science, seeking out certain passages with the help of the index, and then, taking their own impure minds and our corrupt civilisation as a standard, build thereon a system of turpitude and vice by which they alarm innocent and unsuspecting minds, and thus deter them from the study of a science which bears in it the germs of the future regeneration of mankind. But, to pacify the pure minded, thus alarmed by mere sophisms, we will simply assert that Fourier has striven to introduce into the relations of love that same truthfulness and sincerity which he makes the basis of all-our other relations in life; and though he foresaw that in a purer state of society, in which all impediments are removed from genuine unions of the heart, and in which that monstrous legal prostitution, that infamy of infamies, the “mariage de convenance” is utterly unknown, some modifications may without danger take place in matrimonial institutions. Though he foresaw this, still, unlike Plato, Owen, and St. Simon, he always strenuously maintained that the present conjugal institutions should be most religiously preserved for three or four generations after the general establishment of harmony upon earth; and even then only altered when all those whom the question most vitally interests, viz., husbands, fathers, magistrates, and the clergy, shall have agreed, after due consideration, that a change would be desirable and unattended with peril. Still, unlike the above-named philosophers, he lays down no positive or dogmatic rule on this subject, but merely states that such and such forms of conjugal relations, which he describes, may possibly, and in all probability will be, the result of the serial or natural organization of labour, which is alone proposed by him as an absoluterule. The pertinacity with which all his opponents-attack him on this point only betrays their utter ignorance of his works; and more than one has been surprised in perusing them carefully, neither to find as the rule of this new social order the polygamy of the Patriarchs, nor the revolting community of women paired off yearly by lots, proposed by the divine Plato.
The most beautiful and interesting part of the economical portion of I’ Fourier’s Theory is perhaps his system of Education, of which we will also make a separate article. The tender care with which he seeks out and awakens the tastes and talents of children from their earliest infancy, and directs them to the beautiful and the good—the paternal solicitude with which he keeps from them all that might corrupt their innocent minds, or awaken dangerous passions before the naturalage of puberty (17 or 18),—measures which are impracticable in the incoherence of civilisation, where everything, books, pictures, conversations, bad examples, and legions of human beings living chiefly by the corruption of youth, tends daily, hourly, to awaken in the child’s mind ideas which are pollution and death to body and soul, but which become possible and easy in association; and finally, the social use he makes of the activity, talents, and propensities, of what he so quaintly and profoundly, but alas! in civilisation, so satirically terms the neuter sex, are well deserving- of the attention of all philanthropists and thinkers, and above all, of mothers, the only competent judges in matters of infantine education.
We will not enter either into any details respecting the balance of population, a question which Fourier has treated with truly scientific, humane, : and religious sentiment, vastly distinct from that which presides over the cheerless, cruel, heartless theory of Malthus, who makes all the nobler feelings of the soul subservient to the mere materialnecessaries of life (and these how scanty!); who subjects spirit to matter, and finds no other means of keeping population on a level with the means of subsistence, than moral restraint, or a prudential restraint from marriage, which is nothing short of an absolute crushing of the heart, an abstaining from the two gentler affective passions, love and familism; neither will we show how several phalansteries, grouping round a phalanstery of the second degree or borough, form a canton,—several cantons grouping round a phalanstery of the third degree or town, form a shire,—several shires a province, several provinces a nation, several nations a continent, and finally, all the continents grouping round the Capital of the globe, (probably Constantinople, from its favourable position,) the superior centre of all the social relations of spherical unity, which, being the brain and the heart of the globe (to assimilate it to the human frame), will receive life from, and distribute it to, all parts through the means of its nerves (the electric telegraph), and of its vast arteries (lakes, rivers, canals, railways); neither will we speak of the amelioration of climates, through the gradual cultivation of the deserts, and reclaiming of unwholesome marshes, by means of industrial armies substituted for those numerous armies of destruction which society, as yet unable to organize labour and production, has displayed so much ingenuity in organizing; for the reader will find all these questions admirably treated in the works of Fourier and of his now numerous disciples. But we will close this short sketch of so vast a subject by saying, that Fourier’s system, unlike the Commonwealth of Plato, More’s Utopia, Cabet’s Icaria, and all other social schemes, is not the offspring of a blind though well-meaning imagination; it is the genuine discovery of Nature’s laws, the bearing out of what Newton so wonderfully began; it carries the precision of the mathematical and natural sciences, the warmth of feeling and beauty of the fine arts, the elegancies of refined life, and more than the aspirations of the democrat into our social relations: it acknowledges that all parties, however opposite, are founded on a partial truth, a legitimate right, only unjustbecause exclusive, but to which a well organized society should and could give entire satisfaction, and it seeks the law by which these partial and contending truths may be combined in one sublime and harmonious unity. In it, all the vital questions of the day—the rights of property, the rights of labour, universal suffrage, the extinction of pauperism, general sanatory measures, public education, protection of women, universal peace, &c. &c.—find their only logical, only complete solution; and by its means alone can the struggle between capital and labour cease, or rather be converted into a friendly and beneficial emulation—a struggle which may otherwise burst forth into a fearful conflict, equally destructive to both parties; for, says Bacon, “The matter of seditions is of two kinds: much poverty and much discontent;” and again, “The rebellions of the bellyare the worst,”
The free association of the three essential elements of production, whereby every individual, man, woman, or child, may participate in the produce, each in proportion to the Capital, Labour, or Talent employed in its creation; and the Organization of Labour, in which attraction or pleasure is the great incentive to activity, developing at the same time, the physical, moral, and intellectual faculties of every member of society, each in proportion to his or her natural endowments:—such are the two leading features of Fourier’s Model Community or Phalanx, the experimental establishment of which on one square league, is the great hope and final object of the most ardent endeavours of his school.
We have, of course, in this short pamphlet, given a most incomplete and unsatisfactory view’ of this vast subject; tut our aim was merely to clear the Phalansterian. doctrines from the accusation of communism and immorality. For further information, we must refer all who have the happiness of mankind at heart, to the various publications of the “Ecole Sociétaire.” Though Fourier’s own works might be considered too voluminous and abstruse to begin with, there are many concise and popular views of his theory, the perusal of which would amply repay the few hours spent on them, and probably add as many converts in different degrees as there were readers. By these simple means the Phalansterian ranks are daily increasing, drawing their chief recruits from among scientific and literary men and artists. The central school at Paris which twenty years ago consisted of a deaf man, a lady, and a child, has lately been enabled to publish a daily paper, “La Démocratie Pacifique,” which has within the last six weeks increased its daily sale from 1,500 to 25,000; a monthly review, “La Phalange,” in which Fourier’s principles of universal unity are applied with great success to the higher questions of religion, science, literature, and art; and the works continually issued by them are sufficiently numerous and varied to suit every degree of knowledge and satisfy every taste.
We should, indeed, advise every student of Fourier, to begin by some of the simpler works of his disciples; for Fourier’s own writings, like those of Newton, are, from their inherent abstruseness, and the novelty of the doctrines they present, difficult to be understood and appreciated without some preparation. The following works are among those we chiefly recommend:—
l.Exposition Abrégée, by Victor Considerant, 9d.;
or, Organisation du Travail, by M. Briancourt, 10d.
or, Exposition de Victor Hennequin.
2.Solidarité, by R. Renaud, 1s. 3d.;
or, Notions Élémentaires, by H. Gorsse, 1s. 6d.
3.—Destinée Sociale, by V. Considerant, 14s.
4.—Le Fou du Palais Royal, Cantagrel, 4s.
5.—Visite au Phalanstere, by M. Briancourt.
6.—Vie de Fourier, Ch. Pellarin, 5s.
7.—Nouveau Monde Industriel, Ch. Fourier, 6s.
8.—Théorie de L’Unité Universelle,       20s.
9.—Théorie des Quatre Mouvements,     6s.
10.—La Phalange, a Monthly Review, publishing Fourier’s numerous manuscripts.
Fourier’s doctrines had made but little progress in England, till within the last month, owing no doubt to their abstruseness, and the dread entertained in this country of what is termed socialism. But be it remembered, that Newton’s sublime doctrines were long held up to public odium by Leibnitz, as subversive of true religion, and that the same accusations of absurdity, immorality, or imposture have always been the lot of great and glorious novelties; nor were the first Christians themselves dealt With more ceremoniously at the hands of the pagans of antiquity.
However this may be, the English sketches of the Phalansterian system are few and imperfect, being limited, we believe, to the following:—
“Attractive Industry,” by Abel Transon; with a sketch of Fourier’s Life, by H. Doherty. “Fourier and his System,” translated by T. Wood, which though good in parts, is imperfect as a whole. Four brief articles, in Vol. I. of People’s Journal, by Tito Pagliardini. A Translation of “Exposition Abrégée,” in the Topic, June 1st, 1847. The article, “Fourier,” in supplement to Penny Cyclopedia, and “Morell’s History of Modern Philosophy,” 2nd edition, 1847, though it is evident from the concluding remarks, Vol. II., page 388 and 389, that the author had taken but a hurried and incomplete view of the subject, which is the more to be regretted, in consequence of his general tone of impartiality.
The Morning Chronicle which, from being the most retrograde and shortsighted paper in London, has, since it recently changed hands, become one of the most enlightened, has also given, in its numbers of 29th and 31st March and 1st April, a short but impartial summary of the practical portion of Fourier’s views. A Society termed the Phalansterian Association, is however formed with a view to translating and publishing Fourier’s works and those of his disciples. All communications, on this subject, are received at 55, Rupert Street, Haymarket, and at P. Rolandi’s, Bookseller, Berners Street, where also the above-named works can be obtained.

[1] By Passion, Fourier means any motive, or spring of action whatever—the source of all our virtues as well as of our vices; for, like all other movements in nature, the passions are subjected to a twofold. development (Dualité de mouvement): one harmonic or direct, the other subversive or indirect. The action of the passions is harmonic when in accordance with, and subversive when opposed to, the Divine will. But as all the social conditions in which man has hitherto been placed, have been opposed to his real nature and tendencies, his passions have in general taken the subversive direction; hence the exclusively unfavourable acceptation in which the word passion is at present generally taken.
[2] Before we continue our account of his views, we must warn the reader that Fourier, like all inventors, has presumed to adopt a few new words in order to express new ideas; and carrying mathematical precision into the science of society, has even ventured to use mathematical formulae. This boldness on his part has, however, called forth the censure of many plain, straight-forward, practical men, and has even, we areassured, deterred many from paying due attention to his system. We have more reasons than one for supposing that the same practical men have avoided, on a similar plea, the study of algebra, geometry, astronomy, and especially of chemistry, natural history, and botany; for these sciences, though already overladen with hard and barbarous words, to wit—dodecahedron, megatheridae hypogenous, caspidate, pinnatifid, papiilionaceous—are daily adding to their stock. We confess ourselves, however, at a loss to account for the immunity granted on this point to the inventors of steam-engines, railways, and pomatums, as well as to the reporters of the money-market and city-news. The chief sins of Fourier in this respect, are the terms of Phalanstery, Cabalist, Composite, Unitecism, aroma!, pivotal, serial law, binivers, with about a dozen others, together with a peculiar use of the letters X, Y, and K, (in imitation of algebraists,) which, however, we must confess, add greatly to the precision and clearness of his formulae. We must likewise in justice to him state, that all these terms are as clearly defined in his works as the geometrical terms are in the books of Euclid, and that his formulae and tables are wonderfully clear and concise even for those whose scientific education has been neglected.
[3] How frequently does a repast, from being too much prolonged, degenerate into an orgia! Yet if, when the necessities of nature were duly satisfied, any important or attractive occupation were immediately to follow the banquet, such ns a religious or political meeting, a ball, an opera, or any scientific or artistic pursuit, this excess would be presented, to the great advantage of each individual, as also of the moral and physical condition of society in general; hence tile utility of the alternating passion, and the need of so arranging society as to give it due satisfaction.
About Shawn P. Wilbur 2628 Articles
Independent scholar, translator and archivist.