Utopia Theory in History Harmony

About the theoretical utopian society Harmony devised by Charles Fourier, about the social, political, and economic structure.

Name of Utopia: HARMONY

Who Created: Charles Fourier (1772-1837). As a child, Fourier noticed "the contrast which exists between commerce and truth." Shocked, he naively began to take the merchants aside and "tell them what was being done to them." This earned him a hard spanking. Later, against his will, he was apprenticed to a cloth merchant and embarked on a career in commerce. "I lost the best years of my life in the workshops of deceit." He wrote voluminously and made many attempts to attract a benefactor who would finance his utopian scheme. He approached Napoleon, the Czar, the Duke of Bedford, the U.S. Congress, Chateaubriand, and Lady Byron, among others. He would wait in his lodgings every day at noon in case his "candidate" should appear. But none came. He spent most of his life alone, his books were ridiculed, and only late in life did he attract some disciples.

Described in: Theorie des quatre mouvements (1808). Traite de l'association domestique agricole (1822). Le Nouveau Monde industriel (1829-1830).

Population: 1,620 in each Phalanstery.

Physical Layout: In the center of a territory, or Phalanx, is the Phalanstery, or palace, consisting of 3 wings; one for noisy industry and noisy children, one for quiet activity, and one for banquet halls and grand salons. At opposite ends of the Phalanstery are 2 temples, one for music, gymnastics, and poetry, the other for celebrating man's unity with the universe. On the summit is an observatory, telegraph, and signal tower.

Political and Social Structure: A complex hierarchical arrangement but no coercive measures. For example, the declarations of the supreme industrial council, composed of high-ranking officers from each work group, are not binding, but the wishes of the work groups do not differ from those of the council, whose opinion is held in high esteem. Each Phalanx is governed by a "regency," or council composed of those contributing the most capital and knowledge. The general intent is not the abolition of classes, but class harmony.

Property and Distribution of Goods: The concept of private property is retained, but everyone is guaranteed a minimum income. Production is "associated," or cooperative. Each shares in the total profit on the basis of his contributions of capital, labor, and talent. There is commercial exchange between Phalanxes.

Production: Economy based on agriculture supplemented by "necessary" industries. A system of "attractive labor" connects people with the jobs most appropriate to their "passional types." People from work groups, or "series," being drawn together by personal affinity and common predisposition to particular types of work. Eventually, every Harmonian tries 40 or more occupations. He moves from work group to work group, finding friends everywhere and passion and gaiety in work. Workshops are clean and elegant. Dirty work is done by "Little Hordes" of young boys naturally attracted to filth. Great public projects are undertaken by "industrial armies" made up of industrial athletes.

Family/Marriage/Sex: In Harmony, marriage naturally disappears. Love being a "compound passion," monogamy is rare. Social institutions are charged with making sure that no one capable of love is ever frustrated in his or her desires. First, everyone receives a "sexual minimum." Erotic saints administer to the less appealing of the community. Beyond this, everyone can pursue his or her desires in an open manner. A place is made for every so-called perversion. Only "inauthenticity"--not adhering to the rules of the game one has freely chosen--is punishable. There is no limit to the games one can choose; some even choose chastity or fidelity, at least for a time. A Court of Love decides whether people are playing according to the rules, and its officials organize festivals and orgies, keep records of each individual's sexual proclivities, and match like with like. Persons with rare manias meet at international conventions.

Education and Culture: Common education creates a common culture among rich and poor, which eliminates class differences. Every child participates in the opera so as to gain an understanding of unity. A combination of parental support--largely ignored--and the reprimands and jeers of peer groups spurs the child's development.

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