Sociology Index


François Marie Charles Fourier

François Marie Charles Fourier (7 April 1772 – 10 October 1837) was a French philosopher, an influential early socialist thinker and one of the founders of utopian socialism. Fourier is credited with having originated the word feminism in 1837. Some of Fourier's social and moral views, held to be radical in his lifetime, have become mainstream thinking in modern society. Fourier believed that all important jobs should be open to women on the basis of skill and aptitude rather than closed on account of gender. He spoke of women as individuals, not as half the human couple. Fourier saw that "traditional" marriage could potentially hurt woman's rights as human beings and thus never married. François Marie Charles Fourier argued that all sexual expressions should be enjoyed as long as people are not abused, and that "affirming one's difference" can actually enhance social integration. - Fourier, Charles (1967).

Fourier's social views and proposals inspired a whole movement of intentional communities. Among them in the United States were the community of Utopia, Ohio; La Reunion near present-day Dallas, Texas; Lake Zurich, Illinois; the North American Phalanx in Red Bank, New Jersey; Brook Farm in West Roxbury, Massachusetts; the Community Place and Sodus Bay Phalanx in New York State; Silkville, Kansas, and several others. François Marie Charles Fourier figures among eminent sociologists of the world.

François Marie Charles Fourier characterized poverty, and not inequality, as the principal cause of disorder in society. Fourier proposed to eradicate it by sufficiently high wages and by a "decent minimum" for those who were not able to work. Fourier used the word civilization in a negative sense and therefore "Fourier's contempt for the respectable thinkers and ideologies of his age was so intense that he always used the terms philosopher and civilization in a pejorative sense. In his lexicon civilization was a depraved order, a synonym for perfidy and constraint ... Fourier's attack on civilization had qualities not to be found in the writing of any other social critic of his time."

François Marie Charles Fourier believed that there were twelve common passions which resulted in 810 types of character, so the ideal phalanx would have exactly 1620 people. One day there would be six million of these, loosely ruled by a world "omniarch", or (later) a World Congress of Phalanxes. - Fourier, Charles (1971). Beecher, Jonathan; Bienvenu, Richard (eds.). The Utopian Vision of Charles Fourier Selected Texts on Work, Love and Passionate Attraction. Beacon Press. p. 220. ISBN 9780807015384.

According to Herbert Marcuse: "The idea of libidinal work relations in a developed industrial society finds little support in the tradition of thought, and where such support is forthcoming it seems of a dangerous nature. The transformation of labor into pleasure is the central idea in Fourier's giant socialist utopia." - Marcuse, Herbert (1955). Eros and Civilization. Boston: Beacon Press.

Hakim Bey describes Fourier's ideas as follows: In Fourier's system of Harmony all creative activity including industry, craft, agriculture, etc. will arise from liberated passion—this is the famous theory of "attractive labor." Fourier sexualizes work itself—the life of the Phalanstery is a continual orgy of intense feeling, intellection, & activity, a society of lovers & wild enthusiasts. - "The Lemonade Ocean & Modern Times" (1991).

Walter Benjamin writes: "To have instituted play as the canon of a labor no longer rooted in exploitation is one of the great merits of Fourier", and notes that "Only in the summery middle of the nineteenth century, only under its sun, can one conceive of Fourier's fantasy materialized."