Attempted Utopian Society Fourier Phalanx Movement Part 2

About the attempted utopian society Fourier Phalanx Movement founded by Charles Fourier, history, population, economic and social structure.


Political and Social Structure: In his collected works Fourier described 60 "malevolent characteristics" that had transformed the world into a "sink of corruption." To correct this situation Fourier proposed the phalanx, where society could be reorganized so that every man, woman, and child could be ascribed a place on the social scale in accordance with their worth.

The phalanx was to be organized so that it held 1,620 members, who were to reside in a phalanstery, a 6-story building with a long body and 2 wings. In front of the building there was to be a parade ground and, on the inside of the 3-sided building, inner courtyards were to be constructed. The phalanstery was to stand on a 3-sq.-mi. tract of land, and was to contain apartments for members, general purpose rooms, and a dining room. The apartments were to be rented at various prices, depending on size and accommodations.

Once at the phalanx, spontaneous associations of people, called groups, would form to do particular tasks. These groups would contain 7 people, 2 at each extreme and 3 in the center in respect to attitudes toward the work engaged in at the phalanx. Five groups would constitute a series, which, like the group, would have 2 wings and a center. Each series would be involved in specific work areas--for example, a garden series, an education series, and so on, until these series united to form a phalanx. Individuals eventually would belong to 30 or 40 groups, so as to fulfill themselves.

Property and Distribution of Goods: The phalanx would be set up like a joint-stock company, though it was not necessary for stockholders to be members, or members stockholders. The phalanx would keep accounts for members, charging for room, board, and general expenses, and giving credit, at a fixed rate, for work done at the phalanx.

Fourier's phalanx was not to be communistic; he firmly believed in capitalism and in the profit motive; in fact, he hoped that the phalanxes would operate at a profit. These profits were to be divided among members and stockholders in the following way: 5/12 to laborers, 4/12 to capital (the phalanx's stockholders), and 3/12 to the talented (writers and artists). As part of his economic plan he hoped to provide incentive for members to work harder by having the phalanstery provide both humble and sumptuous apartments, meals, and clothes. Those that produced more would earn more and thereby be able to afford more.

Family/Marriage/Sex: Though highly critical of family life in the present social structure, Fourier avoided being too specific about family life in the future. He did claim that before the phalanx could succeed, a change in traditional sentiments toward marriage would be necessary. One-third of the membership would need to remain celibate, and the remaining members would be permitted only a few children.

Fourier felt that the family concentrated all its affections within its own boundaries, and neglected those on the outside. He claimed that "the life of married households, or couples, is unsociality reduced to its lowest form," and that "civilized love, in marriage, is, at the end of a few months, or perhaps the 2nd day, often nothing but pure brutality, chance coupling, induced by the domestic tie..." and that "individuals, considered separately, seek nothing but to escape the sweet household." While families were to retain their individuality and live in separate apartments when 1st entering the phalanx, Fourier felt that the associative life would end family exclusiveness.

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