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Modern History Sourcebook:
Charles Fourier:
from Theory of Social Organization, 1820

Charles Fourier's, later called a "utopian socialist" by Marx, was one of the earliest to realize that while industry could produce wealth, its methods of work were intensely alienating. His proposal was for a type of work unit - called a Phalanx - in which work was distributed on a rational and rotating basis. Several phalanxes were set up in the United States, although none succeeded for long. They idea, however, bore more significant fruit in the institution of the kibbutz among Zionist settlers in Palestine/Israel.
The spectacle of the wonders which the trial of The Phalanx will produce such as (1) he tripling of he products of industry; (2) industrial attraction; and (3) concord of the passions, ill suffice to ransform the rich and great into active cooperators. . . In the course of a few years he entire globe could be organized into Phalanxess. . .They will be effected by the Passional Series substituted in place of the present individual and incoherent system, from which the human race has reaped only indigence, fraud, oppression and carnage. . .There exists for Man a unitary destiny--a Divine social order to be established on the earth for the regulation of the social and domestic relations of the human race. . . It is the height of folly to wish to improve a system which is radically defective in its nature! It is only reproducing the same evil under other forms. The real task of political economy is to seek an outlet from civilization, not to perfect it. There is then but a very small minority who accept and adhere to the civilized state as now organized. This minority is composed of men of leisure and fortune. As to social liberty, the poor classes are wholly deprived of it. . .If, then, civilization pretends to elevate men to liberty combined with industry, it must insure him a satisfactory equivalent for the loss of his natural rights. . .
Liberty, unless enjoyed by all, is unreal and illusory. . .to secure liberty a Social Order is necessary which shall (1) Discover and organize a system of industry; (2) Guarantee to every individual the equivalent of their natural rights; and (3) Associate the interests of rich and poor. It is only on these conditions the masses can be secured a minimum of comfortable subsistence and enjoyment of all social pleasures. Man has seven natural rights: (1) Gathering of Natural Products; (2) Pasturage; (3) Fishing; (4) Hunting; (5) Interior Federation (association with others); (6) Freedom from care; (7) External marauding (to pillage others).
The present system of Commerce was the growth of circumstance and accident. Never did such a system better deserve condemnation as being vicious and corrupt. What is the power to intervene to repress this fraud? Government. To elevate Nature Humanity must create and organize a perfect system of industry, discover and perfect the physical sciences, and establish on a peaceful and industrial basis an order of Society that will direct its labors to the work of terrestrial cultivation and improvement. To elevate itself Humanity must create the Fine Arts, discover the Sciences and establish an order which will lead to social harmony. Under a true organization of Commerce, property would be abolished, the Mercantile classes become agents for trade of industrial goods and Commerce would then be the servant of Society.
We are amazed when we calculate the benefits which would result from a union of 1600-1800 persons occupying a vast and elegant edifice in which they would find apartments of various sizes, tables at different prices, varied occupations and everything that can abridge, facilitate and give a charm to labor. . .The Phalanx will produce an amount of wealth tenfold greater then the present. The system allows for a multitude of economies of operations and sales which will increase the return enormously. . .The officers are chosen from among the experienced and skillful members--men, women and children, each elected from the members of the Phalanx. . .By means of short industrial sessions everyone will be enabled to take part in seven or eight different attractions with industry not now done, and will eliminate discord of all kinds. A refinement of taste will be cultivated. Minute division of labor will increase production and lower costs. It requires a tract of land three miles square, well-watered, flanked by a forest. The personal and real estate of the Phalanx will be represented by stock divided into shares. Each Phalanx will engage in both agriculture and industry. Meals will be in common but there will be at least three different tables with different prices and children will have their own tables, separate from the adults. The Phalanx will construct a vast and regular edifice suited to material and social needs, modified only by topography, climate and national experience. The only buildings not connected being the stables, barns, factories, kitchens, and warehouses. The aim is to be self-sufficient in both the agricultural and industrial spheres. Plus there will be laid-out gardens, grounds for physical exercise, and so forth, all, including the edifice logically laid out. We shall see people engaged in attractive occupations, giving no thoughts to material wants, free from all pecuniary cares and anxieties. As women and children all work, there will be no idlers, all will earn more than they consume. Universal happiness and gaiety will reign. A unity of interests and views will arise, crime and violence disappear. There will be no individual dependence---no private servants, only maids, cooks, and so forth all working for all (when they please). Elegance and luxury will be had by all. The Phalanx will be devoted to the service of useful labor, of the sciences, the arts, and of the culinary department. They will render Industry attractive and end the evil distinction between Producers and Consumers. Unity of manners and civility will reign, acquired by universal free edcuation---but study in the schools should occupy a subordinate place, connected with labors in the gardens and workshops. To secure the execution of uncleanly and offensive labors a body of youths--those attracted to much dirty work (youngsters aged nine to sixteen, composed of one-third girls, two-thirds boys)--what we shall call the Juvenile Legion--who shall perform them all. The young love to wade in the mire and play in dirt, are self-willed, rude, daring, and fond of gross language. From a sense of honor the Juvenile Legion will do the dirty jobs--highway repair, cleaning the stables, feeding and slaughtering animals, maintaining the buildings, and so forth.

Source: Charles Fourier, Theory of Social Organization (New York: C. P. Somerby, 1876).
Scanned by Jerome S. Arkenberg, Dept. of History, Cal. State Fullerton

This text is part of the Internet Modern History Sourcebook. The Sourcebook is a collection of public domain and copy-permitted texts for introductory level classes in modern European and World history. Unless otherwise indicated the specific electronic form of the document is copyright. Permission is granted for electronic copying, distribution in print form for educational purposes and personal use. If you do reduplicate the document, indicate the source. No permission is granted for commercial use of the Sourcebook. (c)Paul Halsall May1998
halsall@murray.fordham.edu