Anarres 2 cooperative community

April 17, 2022

Interesting article on Charles Fourier

Filed under: Uncategorized — Ed @ 3:44 am

Charles Fourier was a French utopian socialist who came up with an elaborate (and somewhat nutty) plan to build giant, multi-floor buildings called phalanxes that were arranged hierarchically by floors, according to social class. His major contribution to socialism was the idea that people should do work that they find interesting and pleasant, and that by having people take on the work they naturally found to be attractive, somehow everything that needed to be done would get done. This may be true to some extent, but I doubt it would actually work because there are far more people who want to be ballerinas, astronauts, fashion designers, professional athletes, performers and novelists than there are who want to be dishwashers, plumbers, janitors, wastewater treatment workers, farm workers or dentists, but these less glamorous jobs are really a lot more necessary for society.

Anyway, this is a good article on Fourier that spins him as more of a socialist and a feminist, and he’s reportedly the person who coined the word ‘feminism’ back in the early 1800’s.

At the Dawn of Capitalism, Charles Fourier Imagined a Socialist-Feminist Utopia

“After his death, Friedrich Engels credited [Charles Fourier] with the idea of alienation, that under capitalism we lack a personal connection to our work because it profits someone else…. Fourier understood the ideal of freedom, and… what a hollow notion it was for most people under capitalism….

‘…in civilized societies liberty is illusory if the common people lack wealth. When the wage-earning classes are poor, their independence is as fragile as a house without foundations. The free man who lacks wealth immediately sinks back under the yoke of the rich. The newly freed slave takes fright at the need of providing for his own subsistence and hastens to sell himself back into slavery in order to escape this new anxiety that hangs over him like Damocles’ sword.’

Along with liberty, he found the other two buzzwords of the French Revolution, equality and fraternity, equally ridiculous as long as people suffered from economic precarity [i.e., insecurity] and were forced to endure hunger or wage-slavery.”

——

By the way, Fourier and other socialists are often accused of being ‘antisemitic’ because they were opposed to the market economy. Due to historical circumstances, Jewish people in Europe had been relegated to being merchants and bankers, which is explained here:

“In the Christian tradition, the only noble labor was physical labor, and so earning wealth from the manipulation of money was seen as inherently ignoble. In the somewhat more prosperous and market-driven medieval period, Thomas Aquinas helped make private property and commerce more acceptable, but he did not fundamentally break with the Aristotelian view that trade was suspect and the pursuit of wealth was sinful…. In the medieval mind, Jews were seen as a kind of stand-in for mercantile and usurious sinfulness. Living outside the Christian community, but within the borders of Christendom, they were allowed to commit the sin of usury on the grounds that their souls were already forfeit…. The Jews were used as a commercial caste the way the untouchables of India were used as a sanitation caste.”

Ironically, after European society was transformed by the industrial revolution and capitalism, things have now been turned completely on their head. The pursuit of wealth through commerce (aka business) has become the modern west’s religion, and becoming a millionaire or billionaire through trade and industry is considered by our culture to be the greatest thing that a person can achieve or aspire to. It’s the purpose of almost all of our economic activity, which is focused like a laser beam on making as much money was humanly possible, no matter what the cost to society. In fact, companies that fail to focus exclusively on making as much money as possible for their shareholders are often accused of mismanagement.

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