Charles Fourier (1772-1837)


Source: The Utopian Vision of Charles Fourier. Selected Texts on Work, Love, and Passionate Attraction. Translated, Edited and with an Introduction by Jonathan Beecher and Richard Bienvenu. Published by Jonathan Cape, 1972;
First Published: Analyse du mecanisme d'agiotage, La Phalange, VII (1848).
Transcribed: by Andy Blunden.

To unveil the intrigues of the stock exchange and the brokers is to undertake a Herculean task. I doubt that the demi-god felt as much disgust in cleaning the Augean stables as I feel in probing the sink of moral filth which is called the bordel of exchange and brokerage. This is a subject that science has not even touched upon. To discuss it you need a practitioner grown grey in the service and raised in the mercantile pen, as I have been since the age of six. At that age I began to notice the contrast which exists between commerce and truth. I was taught at catechism and at school that one must never lie; then they took me to the store to accustom me to the noble trade of deceit or the art of selling. Shocked by the cheating and deception which I witnessed, I began to take the merchants aside and tell them what was being done to them. One of them, in his complaint, made the mistake of betraying me, and this earned me a hard spanking. My parents, who saw that I was addicted to the truth, exclaimed reproachfully: “This child will never do well in commerce.” In fact, I conceived a secret aversion for commerce; and at the age of seven I swore an oath like that which Hannibal swore against Rome at the age of nine: I swore myself to an eternal hatred of commerce.

They got me into commerce against my will. I was lured to Lyon by the prospect of a trip; but at the very door of Scherer’s banking house where they were taking me, I deserted, announcing that I would never be a merchant. It was like backing out of a marriage on the altar steps. They took me to Rouen where I quit a second time. In the end I bent to the yoke, and I lost the best years of my life in the workshops of deceit. Everywhere I went I heard echoes of the sinister prophecy: “What a fine, honest lad! He will never do well in commerce.” In fact, I have been duped and robbed in all my undertakings. But if I have no talent for the practice of commerce, I am quite able to unmask it.