Charles Fourier (1772-1837)

“The Phalanx at Dawn”

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: La Phalange 1845-49.
Transcribed: by Andy Blunden.

Every meal has a character of its own, a tone which is the same in all three classes. I will limit myself to describing the character of the anthem[32] or first meal which is served in the very early morning before anyone has left the palace. The anthem is not a very orderly meal; it is marked by a pleasing confusion. Since people get up at different times, it is divided into three stages: there is the first anthem for a few groups who go out to work very early; then there is the big central anthem for the majority of the groups, which set off an hour later; finally there is the post-anthem for late-risers... .

The central anthem, which takes place around five o'clock in the morning is gay and attractive in all respects. It provides an occasion for the presentation of distinguished travellers who have spent the night at the Phalanx. As people arrive for this meal, they are able to read reports and news dispatches which have arrived during the night; they learn about the plays to be performed in neighbouring Phalanxes, about the movements of caravans and industrial armies, the voyages of the various paladins of the globe. In addition they find the various newspapers which have arrived during the night either from the Congress of Unity, which is located on the Bosphorus, or from the secondary congresses of the Amazon, the Chesapeake, etc.

The anthem also serves as a second Exchange; it is an occasion at which the negotiations of the previous day may be modified if necessary. The news which has arrived during the night may necessitate some changes in the arrangements made earlier, and it is at the anthem that such matters are settled. This task is confided to special acolytes who serve as peripatetic negotiators during the course of the meal.

All of these distractions make the anthem a very chaotic meal, a most satisfying imbroglio including many other surprises of which I will refrain from speaking since they do not coincide with our customs. I might add that all by itself the anthem would suffice to get the most sluggish individual out of bed by five in the morning, were he not already excited by the desire to participate in the sessions of his groups. Thus by the end of the central anthem, it would be unusual to find one-eighth of the Phalanx still in bed.

In warm weather the central anthem concludes with the little morning parade which I will now describe. I will assume that it is held at five o'clock in the morning.

Shortly before five the peals of a carillon announce the little parade and the hymn to the dawn. Those who are finishing their meal make ready; the musicians get their instruments, the priests and parade officers adjust their decorations, etc. The clocks strike five. The Athlete Conradin, who is fourteen years old and ranks as a Major on the parade staff, gives the command to form groups. I have already said that the officers for the little parade come from the choir of Athletes. Thus Conradin’s adjutants are also thirteen or fourteen years old; they are Antenor and Amphion for the groups of boys, and Clorinde and Galatea for the groups of girls. Amphion and Galatea set about bringing together the members of the orchestras, while Antenor and Clorinde start to place people in proper marching order. Ranks are formed in the following manner:

I will suppose that the procession consists of 400 people — men, women and children — and that they make up twenty groups which are all ready to set out into the country. The twenty standard-bearers form a line facing the colonnade. The whole throng is divided like an orchestra into separate vocal and instrumental sections, each of which is headed by its own priest or priestess. Before the priests there are basins of burning incense tended by the Tots. A hierophant or high priest stands between the lines of men and women; the drummers and trumpeters are next to the colonnade; and the animals and wagons are drawn up in the rear. At the center of the entire gathering stands the young Major Conradin. His adjutants are at his side, and he is preceded by four children from the choir of the neophytes. These children carry signal torches which they wave when there are orders to be transmitted to the watch tower. The tower in turn relays the orders to the domes of adjacent castles, to neighbouring communities, and to those groups which have already gone out into the countryside.

When all is ready, the drums roll, the crowd falls silent, and the Major orders everyone to bow to God. Then the drums and trumpets sound a mighty fanfare and the carillons peal in unison. Incense rises, flags wave, and the colours are hoisted on the spires of the Phalanstery. The groups which are already in the fields pause to join in this ceremony as do passing travellers and the members of visiting caravans.

When a minute has passed, the hierophant calls for the hymn by striking its first three bars on the tuning fork. The ritornelle is chanted by the priests and priestesses directing each of the vocal and instrumental sections. Then the hymn is sung by all the groups together.

When the hymn is over, the Little Khan sounds the call to the colours. Everyone puts away his instrument and takes his place under the banner of his work group. Each group then marches freely, and not in perfect ranks, toward its animals and wagons. (Since the work groups are made up of people of all ages, they would be ill-advised to march in strict parade order.) Pushing its wagons, each group then parades before the great colonnade where the dignitaries are standing. If the parade is just a small one, one of the king’s paladins may be there, but on the days of big parades a paladin of the Emperor of Unity will attend. As each group passes the reviewing stand, it receives a salute equal to its rank. The groups of plowmen and masons, who come first, are given a fine fanfare, and then they proceed to their work.

The salute to God circles the earth along with the sun. At the equinox, a big parade is held at sunrise in every Phalanx’ Thus the dawn is greeted by a moving ribbon of Phalanxes which stretches for thousands of leagues, and as the day advances, the hymn to the dawn is sung over the length and breadth of the earth. On the two solstices the hymn is sung simultaneously by the whole human race at the moment which corresponds to noon at Constantinople.