History of Utopian Founder Charles Fourier Part 2

About utopian founder Charles Fourier, history and biography of the creator of the utopia Phalanxes.



His attitude toward children was not so egalitarian. In his ideal society, "children are always up and about at 3 o'clock in the morning, cleaning the stables, attending to the animals, working in the slaughterhouses.... The Little Hordes have as one of their duties the incidental repairing of the highways...." The Little Hordes were also in charge of snake control.

Fourier expounded his ideas in other books, including an eight-volume series published between 1829 and 1836, and he soon had an enthusiastic following, first in France, then in the U.S., where Fourierism (also called Associationism) became a craze with a peak membership estimated at 200,000 people.

His Utopias: PHALANXES

Ralph Waldo Emerson and Henry David Thoreau were against Fourierism because they felt it suppressed individualism. But other intellectuals fell hard for the idea. Among them was Albert Brisbane, "the Great Apostle," a tall, bearded, big-browed man with piercing eyes, who had met Fourier in Europe in 1828 and who came back to the U.S. in 1840 to write The Social Destiny of Man, which outlined Fourier's ideas. Impressed with Brisbane, Horace Greeley gave him space in his New York Tribune for articles on Fourierism.

Fourieristic societies formed everywhere, and in 1843 a convention was held in which a drive to organize phalanxes was made.

Only three of the 40 phalanxes in the U.S. lasted more than two years, and most did not follow Fourier's ideas very closely.

The most famous phalanx was Brook Farm in Massachusetts, which converted from transcendentalism to Fourierism in 1844. However, its members, like those of most other phalanxes, refused to adopt Fourier's concept of "passionate attraction" (free love) and remained monogamous.

The North American Phalanx in Red Bank, N.J., was one of the most successful experiments, although, in spite of its initial funding of $100,000, it became so poor that meals often consisted of only buckwheat cakes and water. It lasted 13 years.

The Clermont Phalanx in Ohio was housed in a steamboat like building, with staterooms on either side of a long hall. And there were the Sylvania Phalanx, the Trumbull Phalanx, the Integral Phalanx, and Le Reunion in Texas, begun by a Frenchman, Victor Considerant.

All failed--either because the members couldn't get along, or because of poor management, or, as one member said, "for love of money and want of love for association."

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