Back cover of book

Introduction to Victor Considerant’s Principes du Socialisme:
Manifeste de la démocratie au XIX siècle

Translated by Joan Roelofs

Why is this document important?

First, as a matter of curiosity. There have been persistent rumors by scholars and activists that the 1848 Communist Manifesto of Marx and Engels was in large part plagiarized from Victor Considerant’s Principes du Socialisme: Manifeste de la démocratie au XIX siècle, first published in 1843 as an introduction to his new journal, La Démocratie pacifique. [1] In 1847, it was reprinted in pamphlet form (henceforth referred to as Manifeste). There is evidence from their own diaries that both Marx and Engels were familiar with the Manifeste. On the other hand, Considerant probably never met Marx, and in 1843, had not even heard of him. Jonathan Beecher concluded:

In the course of his own study Marx almost certainly read Considerant’s Manifeste politique et sociale de la démocratie pacifique (published shortly before Marx’s arrival in Paris), parts of Destinée sociale, and probably other works as well. In these readings Marx seems to have been particularly engaged by Considerant’s critique of bourgeois society and the capitalist economy. [2]

Paris in the 1830s and 1840s was the locus of radical émigré activity and the seedbed of Marxism. There German philosophical concepts of alienation derived from G. W. F. Hegel and Ludwig Feuerbach were combined with the French socialist critics of “political economy,” such as J. C. L. Simonde de Sismondi, Henri-Claude de Saint-Simon, and Charles Fourier. The latter, rejecting the “utopian” notions of Adam Smith and Jean Baptiste Say, maintained that the “free market” resulted in class conflict, anarchic competition, monopolization, overproduction, “new feudalism,” and rule by property owners, regardless of political institutions. It is clear that the Communist Manifesto emerged from these roots, with some inspiration from the British Robert Owen.

Rondel V. Davidson has made an extensive comparison of the texts and found striking similarities in the critique of capitalism offered by both documents. [3] The great difference lies in their conclusions, for Considerant warns that revolution will occur if social reform is not instituted; he advocates peaceful social transformation, without revolutionary violence or the total abolition of private property.

Although brief excerpts of the Considerant Manifeste have been translated into English, there is no evidence of any previous English translation of the entire document. [4] Therefore, this publication will help readers to make their own judgments about plagiarism; the French text is available online for verification. [5]

The document is also inherently interesting, especially since scorned ideas are currently being re-evaluated. In France, disillusionment with Marxism and the revival of anarchism brought Charles Fourier’s theories back onto the stage in 1968. Skepticism about the “revolutionary project” and indications of a shrinking proletariat have led to searches for a “third way,” or at least, a different way. [6] Marxism was also challenged by the Green movement that arose in the 1970s, calling attention to feminist, ecological, and multicultural concerns neglected by traditional radical parties.

Post-modernism and post-Marxism disturbed the rigid categories and boxes into which ideas and ideologies have been stuffed by scholars and activists. “Utopian socialism” was a label that had stuck. It was used first by capitalists and then by Marx and Engels, loyal bedfellows in this conspiracy at least, to discredit early socialists. Today there are more people willing to admit that both “the invisible hand” of capitalism and the “proletarian revolution” of Marxism could fit into the “utopian” box, while the so-called “utopians” were brimming with practical suggestions and experimental, rational, and peaceful methods for healing society’s woes. [7] Even their visionary, imaginative, and rather fantastic aspects had the very practical effect of serving as recruitment tools.

Similarly, distinctions between the terms “rationalist” and “romantic” need to be revisited. By the 1840s, both socialist and communist doctrines were a blend of many elements. The Fourierists, despite a “romantic” glorification of diversity, were also “rationalist” in their proposal for a minimum of civilized existence for all, the use of social science to attain the major social goal—human happiness, the testing of all institutions against that goal, and the overarching requirement of peace. Marxian Communism claimed to be the only scientific socialism, yet it appealed to heroic figures and especially the heroic class of proletarians to reach its rather vague goals. When specified, these goals generally led back to Fourierism, e.g.: “ . . . an association in which the free development of each is the condition for the free development of all.” [8]

Similarly, the politically significant phenomenon of Freemasonry during this period expressed, on the one hand, fascination with science, and ideals of brotherhood, peace, and rational organization; on the other, occultism, ritual, and spectacle.

The two inspirations for this translation are related. Many prefer to see socialist camps as mutually hostile, cultish outcroppings, yet socialism has had considerable co-operative development, with shared ideas, slogans, and even plagiarized theoretical writings. The concept of plagiarism, closely related to the idea of private property, is currently undergoing revisionism, especially when applied to socialist doctrine. In addition, many of our heroes among artists, composers, writers, and scientists might be culpable if we applied today’s standards of attribution to earlier cultural productions. Here is a situationist view:

“The new revolutionary theory,” the situationist Mustapha Khayati wrote in 1966, “cannot advance without redefining its fundamental concepts. ‘Ideas improve,’ says Lautremont. ‘The meaning of words participates in the movement. Plagiarism is necessary. Progress implies it. It embraces an author’s phrase, makes use of his or her expressions, erases a false idea, and replaces it with the right idea.’ To salvage Marx’s thought it is necessary continually to make it more precise, to correct it, to reformulate it in the light of a hundred years of reinforcement of alienation and the possibilities of negating it.” The situationists, in their attempts to develop a coherent critique of society as it really is, plagiarized the writings of Marx, Hegel, Fourier, Lewis Carroll, Sade, Lautremont, the surrealists, Henri Lefebvre, Georg Lukacs – in short, from anyone whose basic impulse was to theorize the totality of society. Yet, unlike nearly all of the theorists and artists from whom they plagiarized, the situationists critiqued society without the pull of allegiances or the fear of reprisals. The SI never pretended to have a monopoly on intelligence, but on its use. [9]

Accusations are plentiful among the socialists and their forebears, and they are not without merit. Pierre Leroux, a Saint-Simonian, claimed that Fourier plagiarized Diderot, Restif de la Bretonne, and Saint-Simon. [10] Engels pooh-poohs this latter charge. Flora Tristan, a feminist inspired by Fourier, argued that his work drew heavily on Francesco Doni’s (1513-1574). Doni’s utopian writings were produced after he served as the printer for the Italian translation of Thomas More’s Utopia. Similarly, Proudhon, as a printer in Besançon, had close acquaintance with Fourier’s work.

The readers of the present translation can decide whether the ideas or the phrases of the Communist Manifesto were plagiarized from Considerant. If so, does it matter, and from whom did Considerant plagiarize?

This issue opens up a long trail of exploration, which may be fun for detectives. It also alerts one to the treasure house, from ancient Greece, to the darkest of the dark ages, the Renaissance, early modern times, and the Enlightenment, of parody and outrageous critique of powerful and respectable institutions, sometimes in writing, sometimes in pageantry and theater. The participants in this counterculture included all ranks and classes; Peter the Great’s mockeries and spectacles may have inspired scenes in Fourier’s Nouveau Monde Amoureux. The streams entering the pool of French socialism of the 1840s – including Fourierism and freemasonry, which is in a sense a parody of the Catholic Church – may not then have seemed so strange to people who were aware of this continuous tradition.

In 1830s and 1840s France: “Socialist ideas appealed to all social groups: artisans, peasants, middle classes and some nobles.” [11] Later socialist ideas and practice were also considerably more eclectic than is realized, although after 1917 partisans emphasized “purity” and distinctiveness. For example, Fourier influenced nearly all 19th century socialist movements, including the Russian. By the late 19th century, Shakers in the United States considered themselves part of the “communist” movement. Lenin studied the proposals of the Fabians; he lived in London during their heyday. The United States Socialist Party was catalyzed by Edward Bellamy’s Looking Backward, a novel that includes Marxist analysis of working class organization, Engels’ scenario for non-violent revolution, a Fourierist phalanstery, and Saint-Simonian technocratic “industrial armies.”

Some scholars have argued that neither Henri-Claude de Saint-Simon nor Fourier was a socialist, and that Considerant’s bland blend wasn’t socialist either. This is based on two criteria for socialism: equality, and abolition of private property. However, there is no technical definition of socialism, and rigid divisions among “socialist,” “capitalist,” “anarchist,” even “fascist,” are often insupportable. Jonathan Beecher informs us that the word “socialism,” first used in the 1830s, was intended as a contrast to egoism and individualism. [12] A defensible definition of socialist might be: one who seeks to replace laissez-faire capitalism (including its props and epicycles) with a system of social and economic planning that aims to increase equality in status, resources, freedom, power, and all the good things that are socially distributed (the latter might include nose jobs, even though noses themselves may be naturally distributed). This concept distinguishes socialism from both fascism and anarchism, and it acknowledges the Enlightenment ideal that all institutions must serve human happiness. A concern for ecology might be added today, providing for long-term well being of the human species.

That said, the compartments need to be broken down, for many features of ideology and practice are common among different isms. Socialism may claim that it alone stands for egalitarianism, yet even its ideals, including Marxism, admit various forms of hierarchy. For a different example, both the philanthropic ethos and its institutions (e.g., self-perpetuating endowment boards) are essentially feudal, yet United States capitalism could hardly function without their services in ameliorating the slips of the invisible hand. Corporatism, in the form of interest group representation, was important to feudalism, fascism, and United States capitalism. Communist systems, like capitalist ones, idealize the traditional family and profess meritocratic allocation of status.

Pre-Marxian Socialism

Socialism’s roots are ancient; its elements are found in almost all major religions. Furthermore, the practical examples of medieval monastic communities and those of the Protestant Reformation’s left wing were important inspirations for socialism. British contributions were substantial, especially Gerard Winstanley’s Digger ethic and Robert Owen’s communitarian and cooperative theories. Nevertheless, the French were perhaps the most fertile in early communism and socialism.

The Enlightenment and the French Revolutionary period witnessed a critique of all institutions, and a radical wing took flight. Perhaps best known was Francois-Noël Babeuf (Gracchus):

In November [1795] Babeuf published the first in the new genre of social revolutionary manifestos that would culminate in Marx’s [sic] Communist Manifesto of 1848. Babeuf’s Plebeian Manifesto was both a philosophical inventory (a manifest of what was needed to bring about “equality in fact” and “the common good”) and a call for a popular uprising (a manifestation, “greater, more solemn, more general than has ever been done before”). [13]

He evoked the image of the Greek (military) “phalanx” as the revolutionary agent, denied any

right to private property, and called for the equalization of wealth. These were his principles:

Take from him who has too much, to give to him who has nothing.
The aim of Society is general happiness.
The fruits of the earth belong to all, the land to no one. [14]

These ideas exemplified 18th century communism; the word “communism” has been attributed to Restif de la Bretonne, a prolific utopian-pornographic writer of the 1780s. [15] In this early period, “communism” implied a total transformation of institutions, but did not have a special focus on urban working-class struggles.

Freemasonry, in addition to its general influence on the American and French Revolutions, had links with both the revolutionary communist and socialist movements. [16] Felippo Buonarroti, an Italian participant in the Babeuf conspiracy, used the lodges of Geneva as recruiting grounds for communist revolution.

Henri-Claude de Saint Simon (1760-1825) shows the influence of both Jean-Jacques Rousseau and scientific-enlightenment currents; he had close associates in the “Philadelphians” Masonic lodge. [17] He was an important influence throughout the 19th century on the French socialist camp, but can best be seen as a harbinger of “technocracy.” The word “socialist” was first used by Owenites in 1827; in French it appeared only in 1832, in the Saint-Simonian newspaper, Le Globe.

Saint-Simon claimed to have discovered the science of society. He argued that those who produced wealth should rule, to further the supreme goal of history: the mental and physical betterment of the poorest and most numerous class. Although he regarded this progress to be inevitable, he thought it important to help the process along to insure that it would be orderly and non – violent:

The supreme law of the human spirit’s progress leads and dominates all; men are only instruments of it. ... All that we can do is obey this law (our true Providence) with knowledge of the cause, understanding the direction it prescribes to us, instead of being pushed blindly by it... [18]

His elite would include industrialists, scientists, and artists, as the latter had the role of propagandists for the new system. They were to portray the glories of the future earthly paradise, just as they had formerly depicted the Christian heaven, to remind men of the proper moral direction. Yet Christianity still had a role in promoting industrialization, by creating church-directed enterprises and inspiring the workforce. Saint-Simon had no interest in communitarianism; his utopia was to be the land of abundance, where government would wither away, becoming only the “administration of things,” not the control over persons. Exploitation of nature, according to a national plan, would absorb hostile or competitive energies. To avoid war, the European countries should together create great international public works projects, “civilize” and Christianize the “inferior races,” and make the world “habitable like Europe.”

Saint-Simon’s ideas prefigured France’s later “state capitalism” practice; his historical theories also influenced the socialist tradition, for example:

This [feudal-theological] social system had been born during the preceding system [Graeco-Roman] at the very time when that system had attained its highest development. Similarly, when the feudal-theological system was firmly established during the Middle Ages, the germ of its destruction was born, and the elements of the system that must today replace it had just been created. [19]

Charles Fourier, born in 1772 in Besançon, was a brilliant and hilarious critic of post-revolutionary France and just about every institution and theory found therein. [20] Here is Engels’ appraisal of him:

French nonsense is at least cheerful, whereas German nonsense is gloomy and profound. And then, Fourier has criticised existing social relations so sharply, with such wit and humour that one readily forgives him for his cosmological fantasies which are also based on a brilliant world outlook. ...

Fourier inexorably exposes the hypocrisy of respectable society, the contradiction between its theory and its practice, the dullness of its entire mode of life; he ridicules its philosophy, its striving for perfecting the perfectibility which is in process of becoming perfect and august truth, he ridicules its “pure morality,” its uniform social institutions, and contrasts all this with its practice, le doux commerce, which he criticises in a masterly manner, its dissolute delights which are no delights, its organisation of adultery in marriage, its general chaos. [21]

Fourier was moved by an acute awareness of starvation amongst plenty, the sight of merchants dumping grain into the sea to raise its price, and the corruption he daily witnessed in his own unchosen occupation as a traveling salesman of silk. His bachelor life permitted him to become an autodidact after his collège (academic high school) education, and he devoted himself to the study of just about everything, without any of the inhibitions that weigh down respectable scholars. His observations of the working of “free enterprise” were brilliant (as Engels acknowledged). For example, even in his day, agribusiness was imposing a new feudalism on farmers:

[M]onopolists ... could reduce all those below them to commercial vassalage, and achieve control over the whole of production by their combined intrigues. The small landowner would then be forced indirectly to dispose of his harvest in a way that met with the monopolists’ agreement; he would in fact have become an agricultural agent of the commercial coalition. The final result of this would be the renaissance of an inverse feudalism, founded on mercantile leagues rather than leagues of nobles. [22]

He was also an acute observer (or voyeur) of the contemporary loosening of morals, especially among the presumed respectable classes.

Fourier’s studies led him to believe that he had discovered the true science of society – he compared himself to Newton – that would enable everyone to enjoy full expression of all talents, passions, and manias. At the same time, all necessary work would be done and a good time would be had by all. This was because “passionate attraction,” the psychological equivalent of gravitation, would motivate both work and play, and harmony (also the name of his ideal society) would result from the unfettered expression of instincts. Even the nastiest of human desires would become harmless through sublimation and playful outlets. For example, the “world war of petits pâtés” would enlist 60 armies of men and women on a European battleground, where they would compete to make the best array of these pastries. One million bottles of champagne would be in readiness for the victory party. Excitement would mount as alliances changed daily. [23]

To implement his system, it would be necessary to abandon individual households (which were in any cases arenas of boredom and oppression) for self-sufficient communities (phalansteries) enrolling all classes and dispositions – variety was essential. These would provide a generous minimum of food, clothing, lodging, education, entertainment, medical and dental care, and sex. Communards would engage in voluntarily chosen and frequently varied occupations. There would be trade, wild partying, and joint ventures among phalansteries.

Fourier’s communitarianism dispenses with nations, armies, bureaucracies, corporations, marriage, and institutionalized religion. Still, there would be some rules and gentle non-violent punishments within the phalanstery. Organization was necessary to insure that everyone shared not only in subsistence, but also in such essentials of the good life as sex, love, and self-esteem. The community would replace the family and provide a humane, enlightened, and secure environment for children. Fourier believed that women could be neither free nor equal in the marriage institution; he was the most feminist of early socialists.

Fourier did not call for the total abolition of private property. He presumed that the phalanstery would be super-productive, as it eliminated waste and duplication and released tremendous energy by passionate attraction. Profits would then be distributed on the basis of capital (3/12), talent (4/12), and labor (5/12). Thus, he didn’t project an egalitarian future. However, three factors should be noted about Fourier’s concept of distribution. First of all, he insisted that even the poorest in his “Harmony” would enjoy a standard of living, both material and cultural, far higher than the typical middle-class person of his day. Second, his radical hedonism noted that some people derived great pleasure from conspicuous consumption, or bringing off a sharp deal. His system would permit these, on the condition that no one would be hurt by such activities. Third, Fourier’s imagination encompassed inequalities far broader than those denounced by most socialists of his day, or even ours. He was concerned about the creative outlets and sex lives of the elderly; the sexual and social deprivations of the unattractive and nerdy; everyone’s self-esteem needs; the boredom of much work, regardless of its status or remuneration; the mean treatment of children, not just those of the poor; and even the inequalities that exist between capital and provincial cities. He devised institutions to attack all these problems; a brilliant first draft unfortunately rarely followed up by later socialists.

Fourier also eschewed all violence in bringing about socialism. His methods were persuasion, through the written word, speakers, and demonstration communities. He hoped to convert those of all classes, believing that everyone would be better off under his system. In addition to the romantic “utopian” dreams of human happiness, Fourier walked the road of the Enlightenment rationalist tradition. For example, he did not think that an agricultural laboring class was compatible with democracy. Without slavery, peonage, or a peasantry, no one would willingly engage in full time farm service (unlike, e.g. locksmithing or topiary, for which some might have a passion). His rational solution was to have everyone do a little of it, and furthermore, to adopt a diet that avoided the drudgery of field crops or cattle raising. This, based on legumes, vegetables, fruits, and small animals, is perhaps the most healthful anyway. Similarly, the democratic solution for menial work was not to construct a meritocracy, but to make it as attractive as possible through play and flirting opportunities, to employ those with psychological affinities for such work, who could indulge without status considerations, and to share any leftover dangerous or repugnant essential jobs in small doses. Rotation in work would also allow for the full expression of the human personality. He did not abolish expertise; rather, he assumed that those who were highly skilled at some tasks would occupy novice positions when they rotated to other work.

From today’s perspective, Fourier was perhaps most prescient in suggesting that in a socialist society, or even any system with democratic pretensions, menial work cannot be the lifelong daily work of a class, a race, a gender, or the unlucky. Our capitalist societies find peons through immigration and female guilt labor; this bounty may not last. Already there are shortages of health care workers, teachers, nurses, and carpenters, and few young people want to be fishmongers, furnace repairpersons, or tailors. The invisible hand is not dealing us what we need. Paradoxically, the Fourierist system, while providing a remedy for unemployment, also serves well for labor shortages.

In addition, demographic changes illuminate the practicality of Fourierism. Declining birth rates (already in evidence in 1840s France) leads to a shortage of laborers; modern medicine and social factors result in a surplus of mate-seeking women, insofar as pairs are still required. Now there are predictions that soon unimaginable numbers of people will live to be 100. Who will take care of them? Their 80-year-old children, if they have any, or any left? Evidence from communitarian societies of the 19th century indicates that the elderly were well cared for in community, as part of the work shared by all. Unfortunately, Fourier’s schemes for sharing work were soon laundered out of the socialist ideal.

Fourier believed that marriage, even among the wealthy and well-servanted, was incompatible with women’s freedom and equality and must be replaced with more functional institutions. His observations of the real world led him to believe that monogamy was a rare mania – to be permitted, of course, in his phalanstery – but inappropriate as a norm. He was also concerned with the harm inflicted on children in most traditional, as well as disintegrated families. Today, worldwide, the “traditional” family is a minority configuration, yet our informal alternatives may not incorporate the security, or fun, that the phalanstery was designed to provide, to say nothing of the enormous burden that still falls on women.

In addition to his many brilliant suggestions, Fourier had weird ideas about planets copulating, seas turning into lemonade, and anti-lions, to which Engels had referred. Both his chief United States popularizer, Albert Brisbane, and Considerant did their best to suppress these as well as his wild (but non-violent) sexual schemes. Fourier in person was also a public relations liability, and his disciples tried to maneuver him out of sight. When Considerant, one year before the master’s death, became the full-time interpreter of Fourierism, it underwent a major transformation.

Etienne Cabet (1788-1856), was influenced by Owen and Chartists during his exile in England, and shared the French communists’ goals of abolishing of private property and equalizing wealth, yet he rejected violent revolution. The major exposition of his doctrine, Voyage en Icarie (1840) describes a communitarian utopia; he had a large working-class following. Another important figure in the French 1840s radical scene was Pierre-Joseph Proudhon (1809 – 1865). Born in Besançon, like Fourier, he had come across Fourier’s Nouveau Monde Industriel et Sociétaire (1829) as its typesetter, and read it with great interest. Yet his ideas were more in the tradition of Jean-Jacques Rousseau. He envisioned a social system that would be a federation of small patriarchal farms and workshops, along with cooperative commercial establishments. Although he is well known for his slogan “Property is theft,” he aimed at only certain types of property: that of big capitalists and banks.

Considerant and Fourierism

Victor Considerant was born in Salins (Jura) in 1808, and attended the same collège in Besançon as had Fourier. During these years he learned of Fourierism from two local followers: Just Muiron, a local government official, and Clarisse Vigoureux, a wealthy widow, his future mother – in-law. Considerant continued his education at the École Polytechnique in Paris, where he studied engineering. Here the ideas of Henri-Claude de Saint-Simon were in vogue, and Considerant became well acquainted with them. Like many of his fellow students, he joined the military engineering corps upon graduation in 1830. By then, he was already a Fourier publicist, and in 1836 he gave up his career to become Fourier’s full-time disciple and interpreter.

Considerant followed his master in seeking harmony and class collaboration, and rejecting violence and radical equalization of property. They were both outraged at the consequences of a “free enterprise” system, which was creating poverty among rural and urban workers, constant insecurity for the middle class, and a new aristocracy of monopolists and speculators. It was not coincidental that Considerant was an engineer; those so trained were receptive to planning and formed an important core of nineteenth century French socialism.

Although Considerant revered science, he also had faith in human goodness and Jesus’ message of love. In contrast, Fourier’s religion had been his own version of deism: passionate attraction was God’s plan for humanity’s salvation. Understanding this, as Fourier did, “social scientists” could transform disruptive passions into harmony. Considerant suggests a Christian socialist approach, one of his radical emendations of Fourier.

Considerant continued to publish detailed expositions of the phalanstery, which had been an important recruitment tool. Nevertheless, in his popular presentations, he increasingly de-emphasized all but its economic virtues. This eliminated the shocking and fantastic elements, but also much of Fourier’s brilliant social criticism. Socialism as a product of the Enlightenment aimed at all the institutions stifling human happiness and well being, including war, status distinctions, slavery, political oppression, organized religion, marriage, and fashion, in addition to irrational and oppressive economic systems. Much of Fourier’s oeuvre parodies these institutions; hardly any of this remains in the sober Considerant. Perhaps the most striking omission was his evisceration of Fourier’s radical feminism. Considerant did support women’s suffrage, yet his heart does not seem to have been in it.

The strange twist that gave Fourierism its opportunity was that in the 1820s some self-proclaimed leaders of the originally technocratic Saint-Simonian movement adopted cultish and bizarre practices and notions, such as a search for a female Messiah. Saint-Simonianism had a large following by 1831 (approximately 40,000) when massive defections to Fourierism began, especially among the engineers and other practically minded adherents. [24] What they saw of Fourierism, thanks to the way it had been pitched by Considerant and other publicists, was the phalanstery as a practical plan for the amelioration of poverty and unemployment. “. . . [T]he phalanstery seemed more like a model farm or an agricultural colony founded by a philanthropic association rather than the basic building block of Harmony.” [25] It is possible that the transformation of Fourierism was abetted by technological changes. Just as Ebenezer Howard’s late 19th century charming and rational Garden City schemes were ultimately derailed by the

private automobile, the thrill of railroads in the 1840s sidetracked the phalanstery in favor of national planning bureaucracies.

During the 1830s and 1840s, Fourierist societies (latitudinarian in doctrine) gained thousands of followers in France, Belgium, and Switzerland. There were headquarters in Paris, many provincial branches, a daily newspaper, a theoretical journal, pamphlets, a bookstore, and regular banquets, including special ones on Fourier’s birthday. “Finally, on April 7, 1847, Fourier’s seventy-fifth birthday was celebrated in thirty-four French cities and towns (also New York City, Rio de Janeiro, and Mauritius).” [26] “Under Considerant’s leadership, the École sociétaire, the official Fourierist society, organized branch societies in almost every major city in Europe and in the United States and disseminated propaganda throughout the world.” [27]

Why did so many join this movement? They were professionals (lawyers, doctors, architects, engineers), military officers, students, small businesspeople, artists, musicians, journalists, and artisans. They probably had adequate food (or excellent in France, where restaurants had been recently invented because when aristocrats lost their heads, their cooks no longer had mouths to feed), sex (also possibly better in France due to widespread use of birth control), and warm houses. In the United States, an “American Union of Associationists” was formed, comprising local and regional groups, and at least 100,000 interested followers. [28]

Socialism provided a new worldview to replace Catholicism. Fourierism’s claim to be a “social science” gave it Enlightenment credentials; paradoxically, its newly acquired Christian socialist perspective offered religious inspiration and consolation. Although the new capitalists attributed poverty and increasing economic distress to “laziness and immorality,” many people believed that something was wrong with the economic system. The advent of large-scale industrial capitalism was seen especially threatening to small businesses, farmers, and skilled craftspeople. Unlike Icarian communism, Fourierism was a “cross-class” solution, promising to unite rich, middle, and poor. This characteristic was especially attractive to recruits from freemasonry, which had similar goals.

As with all radical movements, there were personal reasons for adherence. The Fourierists recruited from the disintegrating Saint-Simonians, which drew a large number of engineers, who, like Considerant, had discussed these doctrines while at the École Polytechnique. For them, social engineering in accordance with Fourier’s complex numerical formula had a particular attraction. In addition, many shared the experience of Nicolas Lemoyne, who, upon graduation, was assigned to supervise rather boring provincial road building projects. These engineers believed themselves part of an elite, yet they had no power or status, and lacked even the exciting conversations of their school days. [29] Other Saint-Simonians moving on to Fourierism were Jews – Considerant avoided publicizing Fourier’s anti-Semitism—and women, often highly educated, but lacking status in French society. Considerant himself had been recruited by his future mother-in-law, Clarisse Vigoureux.

Doctors and educators were impressed with Fourier’s quite rational medical and educational theories. Labor organizers and people in the incipient “helping professions” were interested. Some wealthy philanthropists liked the idea of engaging in “social engineering” rather than simply giving their money to charity. [30] Finally, there were those who thought creating overseas Fourierist communities would be a useful instrument of colonialism; this was true of British Fourierists as well.

Considerant lectured, wrote, and edited publications; popularizations of Fourier’s ideas sold well, even among working class readers. However, he showed little enthusiasm for creating a trial phalanstery, although other Fourierists attempted this in France (1832 and 1841) and Algeria (1845), without much success. The United States was a more fertile ground, and scores of experiments in Fourierism ensued, stimulated especially by Brisbane’s expositions in The Social Destiny of Man, or Association and Reorganization of Industry (Philadelphia, 1840), pamphlets, and a purchased front-page daily column in the New York Tribune (1842-1843). [31] By the mid-1830s, Considerant began to regard working class movements and electoral politics as the paths to reform. His journalism and practical activities were moving in this new direction; nevertheless, he continued to work on his massive exposition of Fourier doctrine: Destinée sociale, published in three volumes between 1834 and 1844. In 1843 he was elected to the Parisian local government council, and in the same year, he transformed the Fourierist journal, La Phalange, into a new daily newspaper, La Démocratie pacifique. This was designed as an organ for a political socialist movement, shorn of all Fourierist peculiarities. Considerant wrote his Manifeste for the 1843 introductory issue of the newspaper; it was reprinted as a pamphlet in 1847.

La Démocratie pacifique was a general newspaper, with advertisements, theater listings, crime reports, and much commentary on current news; its circulation reached 2,200. [32] At that time, such newspapers were a new development, and their survival depended on donations from enthusiasts. It still championed the idea of “association,” yet the phalanstery as the road to socialism was soft-pedaled in favor of broad “New Deal-like” state action, including guarantees of the right to work, public works projects, and central economic planning. Even the term phalanstery was omitted in favor of “commune,” meaning “town” (without any of the later hippie connotations). [33]

The 1848 Revolution lent Considerant great hope that his theories might be realized; he contested and won a seat in the National Assembly. He then served on committees devoted to the unemployment crisis, yet he had no success in either advancing reformist goals or spreading the Fourierist word. His continued condemnation of the Communist tendency, for both its methods and goals, kept him apart from the working class.

Considerant played a major role in an 1849 protest action against the Government’s plan to engineer a regime change for the Roman Republic. The insurrection was put down, some violence ensued, and he was forced to flee, becoming an exile in Belgium. There he decided that it might be a propitious time for a trial phalanstery. After meeting with Brisbane, he went to the United States and visited the North American Phalanx and Oneida communities. In 1852, he arrived in Texas, a land he found promising.

In 1855, Considerant bought land near Dallas, intending to create a colony that would host various communal experiments, not only Fourierist ones. The preparation had been inadequate, and the environment hostile both physically and politically. Nevertheless, colonists began arriving from France, including children, elderly, and inappropriately skilled. Considerant was inept as an administrator, despite his military engineering education, and the colony disintegrated amidst acrimony and lack of hominy (malnutrition). He then moved to San Antonio, where he farmed, collected cacti, and sat out the Civil War. Upon his return to France in 1869, he was still celebrated by the surviving Fourierists. By then he had been influenced by Social Darwinism, and advocated a federated Europe, in concert with the United States, to serve as a benevolent world government. He kept his faith in socialism and pacifism.

The Tradition of “Manifestos”

Babeuf’s, Considerant’s, and The Communist Manifesto (in English translation) are now available in full text online, including Engels’ early drafts of the CM. Considerant shares with Babeuf one major premise: “The aim of society is general happiness.” However, he rejects Babeuf’s demand to confiscate property, abolish property rights, legislate absolute equality, and use violent means to bring about the communist realm.

Considerant’s Manifeste begins with a reminder of Saint-Simon’s periodization of history, and his idea that the economically dominant group writes the laws and dominates all aspects of society. This is surprising because Considerant’s master, Charles Fourier, had a totally different concept of historical stages, not at all materialist but based on the degree of self-knowledge attained. The Manifeste is indeed heavily imbued with Saint-Simonianism, and is intended to unite “all men of good will” in an eclectic moderate socialist movement. Considerant argues that all classes are hurt by capitalism; thus, all should work for its demise. He describes the growing class war, but rejects it as an instrument of salvation. Rather, he insists on the urgent need for reform and replacement of the laissez-faire system. This must be accomplished while preserving unequal property, rights to inheritance, a social Christianity, and the traditional family.

The Communist Manifesto was written partly in response to Considerant’s. [34] The initial premises of both are similar, with references to the Saint-Simonian materialist periodization of history. The depredations of capitalism and the growing class struggle are described. However, unlike Considerant, Marx and Engels find many virtues in capitalism’s “civilizing” march through the earth. Considerant is happy to be rid of feudalism, but believed that a new system had to be put in its place; capitalism destroys all, even the capitalists themselves. The Communist Manifesto notes the role that the bourgeoisie play in educating the proletariat to their revolutionary task; this creates some inconsistency with their other assertions that consciousness is determined by class position. On the other hand, Considerant has no doubt that an enlightened elite must lead the way and serve as the people’s guardians until they are adequately educated for full political participation.

There is a vast difference between his advocacy of peaceful reform, initiated perhaps by parliament or king, and the call to violent revolution of the Communist Manifesto. The latter document also seeks to discredit all competing parties and ideologies, while Considerant revels in eclecticism, and pays homage to all, even proponents of the Ancien Régime.

Despite the self-identification of Marx and Engels with the “communist” movement, their practical proposals for social reconstruction owed more to the utopians. At the end of Section II of the Communist Manifesto Marx and Engels sketch an immediate post-revolutionary program; in items 5-10, we can see Considerant’s influence:

5. Centralization of credit in the banks of the state, by means of a national bank with state capital and an exclusive monopoly.
6. Centralization of the means of communication and transport in the hands of the state.
7. Extension of factories and instruments of production owned by the state; the bringing into cultivation of waste lands, and the improvement of the soil generally in accordance with a common plan.
8. Equal obligation of all to work. Establishment of industrial armies, especially for agriculture.
9. Combination of agriculture with manufacturing industries; gradual abolition of all the distinction between town and country by a more equable distribution of the populace over the country.
10. Free education for all children in public schools. Abolition of children’s factory labor in its present form. Combination of education with industrial production, etc.

In the later works of Marx and Engels, although socialist goals are quite vague, there is little support for the Babouvian vision of an austere, agrarian, egalitarian future, or the abolition of progress, enlightenment, and meritocracy that it implied.

Freemasonry and Socialism

In early 19th Century France, many regarded socialism as a logical extension of the Enlightenment and democratic reform. These were mainly middle class, with roots in provincial France, who eschewed class struggle and violent revolution. Often, men with such views were Freemasons, and some lodges designated themselves Fourierist or Saint-Simonian.

In recent years Freemasonry has received attention from social scientists, which makes its study more accessible and respectable. A major question in the current debate is whether Freemasonry has promoted democracy, or rather has been racist and sexist, repressive to working class organization, and/or an accessory to imperialism. [35] Such issues matter, as Masonry has had a great impact on history and politics worldwide, and has occupied, along with cognate organizations, large areas of “civil society.” Masonic influence was also significant in United States communitarian socialism, including Mormonism, which has been regarded as a derivative of Freemasonry.

Freemasonry had been an important component of the Enlightenment and the French Revolution. It rivaled and sought to displace the discredited Catholic Church, supplying its own ethics, rituals, and buildings. The lodges were male-only clubs, despite a few examples of “androgynous Masonry.” [36] For ruling class Masons, such as Frederick the Great, Napoleon Bonaparte, and Louis-Philippe (the “bourgeois” King of the French July Monarchy), it was a vehicle for anti-clericalism and modernization. The French Masonic-socialist connection was fostered by a convergence of ideology. In addition, government repression of openly political organizations during the 1840s made the lodges convenient places to foment socialism.

Political discussion in the French Masonic lodges of the 1840s was mostly about socialism of one type or another, with the principles of “sociabilité and association” receiving general approval as the bases for social reform. [37] Many of the leading socialists were Masons, including Considerant, François Cantagrel, and Proudhon. [38]

Going back to the 1840s, Fourierism has been an important player in converting French revolutionists into reformist freemasons. In France of that period, relatively many radical and progressive people were joining freemasonry, converting it into a political voluntary organization and fixing its grand view as fighting for the democratization of France by non-violent methods. [39]

However, in addition to the socialists, there were freemasons concerned about poverty who held a traditional charitable approach, and saw “model farms” as a solution for the poor, rather than “phalansteries” changing all classes’ entire ways of life.

Fourier was not a Freemason, although he was clearly influenced by Masonry. There had been a French lodge called Harmonie, and throughout Europe, “androgynous” lodges, some with risqué rituals that would not have been surprising in Fourier’s Nouveau Monde Amoureux. In Theory of Four Movements, Fourier suggested that Freemasonry could become the transitional form to his ideal society. It had a network, religious trappings, secret meetings, and a well-off membership, which made it attractive to the aspiring classes, and all it needed was the introduction of “women and sensual pleasure.” [40] Notwithstanding, Freemasonry developed as an all – male institution, with “ladies’ auxiliaries,” thereby reinforcing the marginalization of women in both modern democracies and French socialism. One Masonic – inspired organization that came close to Fourierist prescriptions was the United States Granger movement (Patrons of Husbandry) organized in 1868 by Oliver Kelley. The Grange had social, educational, and political aspects; it was the first farm organization in which women participated as full members. Kelley, a Mason, incorporated rituals and solidarity values into the Grange. While sex orgies may or may not have been common, to Fourier, a fine Granger apple pie would have been a major pleasure.

French Politics in the 1840s

A variety of governmental forms followed the French Revolution of 1789, unsatisfactory to both those who wanted to increase democratization and those who wanted to restore the ancien régime. In addition, there was increasing concern about rural and urban economic problems that governments had failed to address. For example, the industrialization of the textile industry was causing considerable distress. In Lyons, convent-workshops operated by the Catholic Church used children to weave silk; skilled artisans could not compete with this arrangement. [41]

In July 1830, the reign of the reactionary Bourbon Charles X was ended by revolution, and Louis Philippe, of the Orleanist line, was installed as a constitutional monarch. From 1830 to 1848, the government was known as the “July Monarchy.” Although there was an elected Chamber of Deputies, the franchise was very limited. Only one in 30 or 40 (depending on sources) adult males could vote, and the government was essentially a plutocracy, amenable to the bribery of the canal and railway corporations and large banks. There were no formal political parties; however, there were several factions in the legislature. The opposition included both republicans and monarchists desiring a broader franchise, and those seeking restoration of the Bourbons and Catholic Church; no socialists were in parliament during this period. The majority faction was headed by François Guizot, who accepted the general results of the French Revolution, but did not want democratization beyond the 1830 arrangements; he was usually identified as a conservative. His policies favoring big business, frequent bribery scandals, and non-recognition of widespread social and economic distress aroused Considerant’s ire, although he had some sympathy with Guizot’s belief that the suffrage should be based on capacity. Nevertheless, Considerant thought far more should be done to educate the masses for political competence. He also shared Guizot’s reluctance to engage in democracy promotion through violent intervention in other countries, which many republicans were demanding.

By 1848, the Orleanist monarchy had lost much support, and the opposition, consisting of republicans seeking political reform, middle and working class socialists (especially in Paris and Lyons), and generally disgruntled workers and peasants, ignited another revolution. Considerant was elected to the Chamber of Deputies in the ensuing short-lived Second Republic, ended by a coup of Louis Napoleon in 1851. Socialism continued as an underground movement, often in the Masonic lodges, and had some influence on policies of the Third Republic, proclaimed in 1870. [42]

Considerant’s “Peaceful Socialism” and Feminism, Environmentalism, Colonialism, and Atheism.

The Manifeste gives no comfort to feminism; it is addressed to men only. In other writings of this period, Considerant argued for women’s rights in marriage, divorce reform, educational and professional opportunities, and even the right to vote. However, he abjures the radical feminism of Fourier, who posited the intellectual superiority of women, advocated their total sexual liberation, and desired the abolition of the family because it restricted sexual choice, confined women (even rich ones) to domestic tasks, and wasn’t even good for the children. When his opponents reminded Considerant of Fourier’s shocking doctrines, he dodged the issue, claiming that it was a ridiculous charge. He retorted that his perspective was the moral one: that the greatest immorality was forcing people to stay married when they either never loved each other, or no longer did so. This yoking is “slavery of the heart,” itself the worst form of adultery, and causes all the miseries, abandoned seduced women, abandoned children, false paternity, lies and hypocrisy. [43] Essentially, he was upholding the system of “serial monogamy” that Engels later advocated, which works like “laissez-faire” in the sexual marketplace.

Fourier had extolled the economic and liberatory benefits of collective households; Considerant makes only a casual reference to them in an 1848 publication [44]. However, as early as 1838, he referred to marriage in his ideal society as a freely entered contract, in place of “infeudation” of the wife to the husband. Economic guarantees were to be based in “communes” (towns); phalansteries were already fading from the picture. [45]

Women were never accepted as equals in the Fourierist movement; their writings were published in the journals, but they were not invited to be speakers on Fourierist platforms. Flora Tristan was even excluded from the annual Fourierist banquet on account of her sex. [46] Although apparently a faithful husband, Considerant didn’t share the intellectual or organizational work with the two very intelligent Fourierist women in his household: his wife and his mother-in-law (who was the moneybags).

Considerant’s normalizing of Fourier eliminated the environmental benefits of Fourier’s largely self-sufficient communities, employing appropriate technology, and producing for need (not jobs or profits). The collective household was expected to permit vast savings in resources and energy use, along with a greatly improved quality of life. “[T]hree hundred families of associated villagers need have only one well-ordered granary, instead of three hundred ill-kept ones; only one wine-vat instead of three hundred . . .” [47] The benefits of combined creativity and knowledge would also be considerable even for the rich:

In the current order [it is necessary] for every head of household to know about oenology, knowledge which is not easy to acquire. Three-quarters of rich households lack this knowledge, and consequently are very poorly stocked with wine; they spend a lot of money on drink, but have nothing but adulterated and badly kept wines because they have to rely on wine-merchants who are the most adept swindlers, and on hired cellarmen whose only skill is cheating. [48]

Today, we may not be so concerned with wine-vats or butlers, but socialists must face the question of how to universalize a “Western” standard of living. Is every household in the world to possess a SUV, HDTV, exercise bicycle, and all the other delights of modern technology? If not (for environmental as well as economic reasons), how can we deny them these pleasures, while we are wallowing in Viking King ranges, spray-steam irons, and Jacuzzis? The Fourierist solution is to live lightly but well on the earth by sharing luxuries, in contrast to the austere visions of most other “utopians.” Another argument for collective households is that today, despite modern gadgets, managing a household for maximum health and well being requires time and knowledge. For example, preparation of nutritious and delicious meals, avoidance of toxic materials, and non-oppressive child raising are still great challenges. Standards have been declining in many departments, because most information about how to live comes from advertising, and competing sources have been weakened: traditional wisdom, home economics classes, and even the influence of savvy servants and cellarmen. With all adults working outside the home, the core – heart or hearth – may soon rot.

Considerant gradually departed from the Fourierist vision, very much in the spirit of Saint-Simon, and argued that transforming nature is the way to provide for well being, eliminate poverty, and discharge aggressions. Not unexpectedly considering his engineering background, he also admired massive projects as expressions of human genius. Nevertheless, he did not share Saint-Simon’s endorsement of colonialism or the exploitation of the non-European world. (True to his theory but inadvertently, his colony in Texas hardly transformed anything.) In this regard, he was more anti-colonialist than Marx and Engels, whose Manifesto tends to regard these developments as progressive.

Considerant proposed a federation of European nations employing international law and conciliation to preserve the peace; his pacifism was also important protection for the environment. One commentator on Fourier’s “industrial armies” (international work brigades) noted:

The expenditure, he points out with the logic of a commercial traveller, would be much smaller for a productive army; and besides the saving in slaughtered men, burnt cities, devastated fields, we should have the saving of the cost of equipment, and the benefit of the work accomplished. [49]

Considerant evolved into a Christian socialist, not an unusual stance for the mid-19th century, when Deism among radicals and socialists was being replaced by something like liberation theology. He increasingly identified socialism with the “spirit of Jesus,” and although this was probably a sincere conversion, it also made his doctrines far more appealing to both working and middle classes. Engels complained that even the Communists (i.e., Icarians) in France were Christians, who insisted that “Christianity is Communism.” [50]

Implications for “Third Way” Theory

What can today’s searchers for alternatives to Marxism, capitalism, and globalism learn from the Considerant Manifeste, and early French socialism more generally?

A. Economic and political democracy are not necessarily aligned; universal suffrage may co-exist with plutocracy, military adventurism, imperialism, and demagoguery. The experience of the Athenian democracy may still be valid. A popularly based imperialism can exploit the world’s resources for the benefit of capitalists and proletarians in the wealthier nations.

Considerant was concerned that electorate would destroy democracy without resolving the economic crisis; the election of Louis Napoleon confirmed his fears.

B. The proletariat as agent for communist revolution has shrunk in the capitalist nations. This occurred not only because of automation, but also because to some extent, Marx’s was a self-denying prophecy. Unemployment was seen as dangerous, and consequently, work has been provided through government employment (as Roberto Michels suggested), including warriors directly hired and subcontracted, and a large non – profit sector (especially in the US, where many social services have long been privatized). Even in manufacturing industries, many blue collar jobs have been supplanted by service occupations: government relations, public relations, athletic director for staff, real estate dealer, art director for headquarters building, environmental manager, sensitivity trainer, etc. Those actually unemployed may be mollified by government benefits or help from the non-profit sector; they may also undertake small businesses, legal or illegal, often off the books. So where are the troops for the working class revolution?

C. It is not easy to interest the industrial working class in socialism. As in Considerant’s day, private property remains attractive to many, not only in the form of home ownership (as in the United States), but also small businesses and farms, however inefficient and oppressive. Even in the most solidly Communist enclave in the capitalist world, Bologna, Italy, for decades loyal Communist voters were happy owners of small businesses, such as food processing and equipment, which may have involved peppers, but were neither green nor red.

D. Socialist and communist movements have been important components of national liberation struggles, but in the developed West, they have been weak on political sociology and psychology. European working class socialists were often motivated by the desire for a decent life, and when Keynesian measures appeared to provide some security, they became less interested in abolishing capitalism. On the other hand, middle class socialists were often attracted to “romantic” or “utopian” aspects of socialism, the need for a comprehensive worldview to replace Christianity, or the desire for a just, rational, and more ecological economic system. They were uncomfortable with a prosperity that was dependent on international exploitation or risked world war, and weren’t acting to improve their economic status, although low social status may have been a spur – as with women, Jews, the disabled, and underemployed intellectuals.

Too much faith has been placed in Marxist assumptions in regard to agency, and too little critique has been directed at Marxist prescriptions for transforming the earth, or its suggestion that imperialism is progressive (i.e., is helping to move nations towards the ultimate revolution). Violent revolution in well-fortified capitalist democracies is not only unlikely to succeed; its consequences may be disastrous. Victory of the proletariat through election is now nearly impossible; in any case, capital flight would occur as soon as such a development became a possibility. It may be that the only way to attain any system change is through negotiation and compromise among all classes, and/or by means of small-scale cooperative ventures that might possibly survive in a world of megacorporations.


1. Among those who have made such accusations are George Sorel and W. Techerkesoff. Reported in Rondel V. Davidson, “Reform versus Revolution: Victor Considerant and the Communist Manifesto,” Social Science Quarterly 58 (1): 74-85, 1977.

2. The Manifeste referred to in the quotation is the 1843 edition, appearing as the introduction to Considerant’s new journal, Démocratie pacifique. Jonathan Beecher, Victor Considerant and the Rise and Fall of French Romantic Socialism (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2001), 163.

3. Davidson, “Reform.”

4. There has been an Italian translation, and a Spanish translation is online:

5. Available at Of course, for an accurate appraisal, the French Manifeste should be compared to the original German Communist Manifesto.

6. See the work of André Gorz, e.g., Farewell to the Working Class (Boston: South End Press, 1982); Laclau/Mouffe, “Post-Marxism without Apologies,” New Left Review No. 166, Nov/Dec 1987: 79-106.

7. See Michèle Riot-Sarcey, Le réel de l'utopie: Essai sur le politique au XIXe siècle (Paris: Albin Michel, 1998); Louis Ucciani, “Un Regard moderne sur la philosophie de Fourier,” (Review of François Dagognet, Trois philosophies revisitées: Saint-Simon, Proudhon, Fourier [Hildesheim: Georg Olms, 1997]), Cahiers Charles Fourier No. 8, 1997: 91-101.

8. Karl Marx and Frederick Engels, The Communist Manifesto (New York: International Publishers, 1948), 31.

9. “An Introduction to the Situationist International,” NB! #6, 1984. Available:

10. Beecher, Victor Considerant, 150.

11. Pamela Pilbeam, French Socialists Before Marx (Montreal: McGill-Queen’s University Press, 2000), 6.

12. Beecher, Victor Considerant, 2.

13. James H. Billington, Fire in the Minds of Men: Origins of the Revolutionary Faith (New York: Basic, 1980), 74-5.

14. “Ôter à celui qui a trop, pour donner à celui qui n'a rien.
Le but de la Société est le bonheur commun.
Les fruits sont à tous, la terre n'est à personne”

Manifeste des Plébéiens, in Le Tribune du Peuple, 1795, p. 256, available at Gallica:

15. Billington, Fire, 7.

16. Billington, Fire, 87.

17. Billington, Fire, 211.

18. “. . .la loi superiéure des progrès de l'esprit humain entraîne et domine tout; les hommes ne sont pour elle que des instruments. ... Tout ce que nous pouvons, c'est

d'obéir à cette loi (notre véritable Providence) avec connaissance de cause, en nous rendant compte de la marche qu'elle nous prescrit, au lieu d'être poussés aveuglément par elle...” Henri-Claude de Saint-Simon, L'Organisateur, 1819-1820, In Oeuvres de Saint-Simon, Vol. XX, (Paris, 1869), 119. Available:

19. “Ce système social avait pris naissance pendant la durée du système precedent et même à l'époque où celui-ci venait d'atteindre son développment intégral. Pareillement, lorsque le système féodal et théologique s'est constitué au moyen âge, la germe de sa destruction commençait a naître, les éléments du système qui doit le remplacer aujourd'hui venaient d'être créés.” Saint-Simon, 80.

20. Developments in the publishing and scholarly world have also encouraged a new appraisal of Fourier. Between 1966-8, Éditions Anthropos, Paris, published the Oeuvres complètes of Fourier in 12 volumes, which included the first publication of Le nouveau monde amoureux, now available as a separate paperback edited by Simone Debout-Oleszkiewicz (Paris: Éditions Stock, 1999). Selections from these volumes were translated and introduced in The Utopian Vision of Charles Fourier: Selected Texts on Work, Love, and Passionate Attraction, by Jonathan Beecher and Richard Bienvenu (Boston: Beacon, 1971). Beecher went on to write a masterful biography of Fourier, Charles Fourier: The Visionary and His World (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1986); and then of Considerant, Victor Considerant and the Rise and Fall of French Romantic Socialism (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2001). Another selection from the OC was translated by Susan Hanson and edited by Mark Poster, Harmonian Man: Selected Writings of Charles Fourier (Garden City: Anchor Books, 1971). In 1996, Gareth Stedman Jones and Ian Patterson produced a new edition and translation of Fourier’s The Theory of the Four Movements (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1996). Cahiers Charles Fourier (an annual review) began publication in 1990. Edited in Besançon, Fourier’s birthplace, this publication unites the small international group pursuing Fourier studies. A brief exposition of Fourierism from a Red-Green perspective appears in Joan Roelofs, “Charles Fourier: Proto-red-green,” in David Macauley (ed.), Minding Nature: The Philosophers of Ecology (New York: Guilford, 1996). Currently, the writings of Fourier and Considerant are available for free download from the BNF’s Gallica web site.

21. Frederick Engels, “A Fragment of Fourier’s on Trade,”: Marx Engels Collected Works, Vol. 4, 613, 1846

22. Charles Fourier, The Theory of the Four Movements, translated and edited by Gareth Stedman Jones and Ian Patterson (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1996), 264.

23. Charles Fourier, Le Nouveau Monde Amoureux, ed. Simone Debout-Oleszkiewicz (Paris: Éditions Stock, 1999), 347ff.

24. Billington, Fire, 217.

25. “... la phalange apparaît parfois davantage comme une ferme-modèle ou comme une colonie agricole fondée par une association philanthropique que comme l'unité élémentaire d'Harmonie.” Bernard Desmars, “Être Fouriériste en province: Nicolas Lemoyne, propagandiste du phalanstère,” Cahiers Charles Fourier, No. 7, 1996, 59.

26. Beecher, Victor Considerant, 108.

27. Davidson, “Reform,” 76.

28. Carl Guarneri, The Utopian Alternative: Fourierism in Nineteenth-Century America (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1991), 60, 76. See this work for more information on motives in the United States.

29. Desmars, “Être Fouriériste,” 48.

30. Guarneri, Utopian, 88.

31. Guarneri, Utopian.

32. Beecher, Victor Considerant, 105.

33. The United States New Deal also had its phalanstery aspects. The Resettlement Administration created communities for the displaced and unemployed, staffed by salaried doctors and traditional crafts instructors. The best known was Jersey Homesteads (later renamed Roosevelt, NJ), which was certainly full of combinations and manias. See Paul Conkin, Tomorrow a New World: The New Deal Community Program (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1959).

34. Billington, Fire, 261.

35. See Mary Ann Clawson, Constructing Brotherhood: Class, Gender and Fraternalism (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1989).

36. For a description of androgynous Masonry of the 18th and 19th centuries, see Charles William Heckethorn, The Secret Societies of All Ages and Countries, Vol. II (New Hyde Park: University Books, 1965), 84-90.

37. Avner Halpern, The Democratisation of France (London: Minerva, 1999). Available:

38. Philip Nord “Republicanism and the Utopian Vision: French Freemasonry in the 1860s and 1870s,” Journal of Modern History 63, 1991: 213-29.

39. Personal correspondence, e-mail, Nov. 26, 2003 from Avner Halpern.

40. Theory of Four Movements, 197.

41. Laura S. Strumingher, “ ‘A Bas les Prêtres! A Bas les Couvents!’: The Church and the Workers in 19th Century Lyon,” Journal of Social History 11 (4), 1978: 546-553.

42. Nord, “Republicanism,” 229.

43. Victor Considerant, Le Socialisme devant le vieux monde, ou les vivant devant les morts (Paris: Librairie Phalanstérienne, 1848), 113. Available:

44. Considerant, Le Socialisme devant, 73.

45. Considerant, Destinée sociale, Vol. 1 (Paris: Bureau de la Phalange, 1838), 214-216. Available:

46. Beecher, Victor Considerant, 157.

47. Theory of Four Movements, 11.

48. Theory of Four Movements, 123.

49. David Zeldin, The Educational Ideas of Charles Fourier (New York: Kelley, 1969), 109.

50. Frederick Engels, “Progress of Social Reform on the Continent,” 18.