Charles Fourier and Fourierism

Fourier, Charles

Charles Fourier (shärl fōōryā´), 1772–1837, French social philosopher. From a bourgeois family, he condemned existing institutions and evolved a kind of utopian socialism. In Théorie des quatre mouvements (1808) and later works he developed his idea that the natural passions of man would, if properly channeled, result in social harmony. To achieve this goal, many of the artificial restraints of civilization were to be destroyed. The social organization for such development was to be based on the "phalanx," an economic unit composed of 1,620 people. Members would live in the phalanstère (or phalanstery), a community building, and work would be divided among people according to their natural inclinations. Fourier was not ready to discard capitalism completely; basically his ideal was an agricultural society, systematically arranged. His writings anticipated the 20th-century social problems resulting from mechanization and industrialization. Fourierism obtained a number of converts in France, and several newspapers spread the doctrines, but followers failed to establish any lasting colony there. After Fourier's death his principal disciple, Victor Prosper Considérant, tried to found a colony in Texas. Albert Brisbane and Horace Greeley were the principal figures in the sudden and wide development of colonies in the United States. Brook Farm was for a time Fourierist. The most successful of the communities was the North American Phalanx at Red Bank, N.J.

See studies by N. V. Riasanovsky (1969), D. Zeldin (1969), and J. F. Beecher (1987).

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright© 2013, The Columbia University Press.

Selected full-text books and articles on this topic

Harmonian Man: Selected Writings of Charles Fourier
Mark Poster.
Doubleday, 1971
FREE! Selections from the Works of Fourier
Julia Franklin; Charles Fourier.
Swan Sonnenschein, 1901
French Political Thought in the 19th Century
Roger Henry Soltau.
Russell & Russell, 1959
Librarian’s tip: "Fourier and Fourierism" begins on p. 150
French Feminism in the Nineteenth Century
Claire Goldberg Moses.
State University of New York Press, 1984
Librarian’s tip: "Fourierism" begins on p. 90
The Socialist Tradition: Moses to Lenin
Alexander Gray.
Longmans, Green, 1946
Librarian’s tip: Chap. VII "Charles Fourier"
History of American Socialisms
John Humphrey Noyes.
Hillary House, 1961
Librarian’s tip: Includes discussion of Charles Fourier and Fourierism in multiple chapters
A Season in Utopia: The Story of Brook Farm
Edith Roelker Curtis.
Thomas Nelson & Sons, 1961
Librarian’s tip: Chap. V "The Change to Fourierism"
America's Communal Utopias
Donald E. Pitzer.
University of North Carolina Press, 1997
Librarian’s tip: "Brook Farm and the Fourierist Phalanxes: Immediatism, Gradualism, and American Utopian Socialism" begins on p. 159
Brotherly Tomorrows: Movements for a Cooperative Society in America, 1820-1920
Edward K. Spann.
Columbia University Press, 1989
Librarian’s tip: Chap. V "Fourierism"
The Communitarian Moment: The Radical Challenge of the Northampton Association
Christopher Clark.
Cornell University Press, 1995
Librarian’s tip: "Interest in Fourierism" begins on p. 173
Feminist Conversations: Fuller, Emerson, and the Play of Reading
Christina Zwarg.
Cornell University Press, 1995
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 4 "Fuller, Fourier, and the Romance of the Second Series" and Chap. 7 "Representative Others: Uses of Fuller and Fourier in Representative Men"
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