Étienne Cabet Archive

Icarian Communism, or the
Community of Icaria

Source: L’Almanach Icarien, 1843;
Translated: for marxists.org by Mitch Abidor;
CopyLeft: Creative Commons (Attribute & ShareAlike) marxists.org 2005.

Icaria is a great country, like France, and was originally organized like it; but when it regenerated itself, it transformed its former social organization into a Community. It isn’t a monastery, a convent, a small Community like that of the Essenes or the Moravian Brothers, but a great community: civilized, rich, agricultural, and industrial such as has never before existed. And in all its details this great Community is organized using all the progressive elements of current civilization, i.e., its organization is communitarian in all its aspects: territories, provinces, cities, villages and farms; roads and railroads, canals and rivers; agriculture, industry and labor; education, health, and medicine, food and clothing, and housing and furniture; marriage and family; the sciences and the arts, the pleasures of society, of spectacles and feasts; powers either sovereign or constituent , legislative and executive, administrative and judicial, etc. etc.

And this Community of Icaria, what is it? Is it, as the anti-communists claim, despotism and slavery, ignorance and brutishness, the abolition of the family and bestiality? No, no! It is a real association, a true society in which all its members are associated and act in solidarity for their common interest. And that communitarian association has as its basis the sovereignty of the people, freedom, equality, fraternity, and unity.

The Community of Icaria has as its basis the sovereignty of the people, for in no other system does democracy have more reality, more force and activity, since all citizens are voters and members of the popular assemblies; since these assemblies are extremely frequent and regular; since all precautions are taken so that everyone has the education necessary for the perfect knowledge of his duties and his rights, with all the independence and all the facilities needed to fulfill and exercise them without ever missing civic meetings; finally, since it is the entire people that prepares, discusses and adopts its constitution and its laws.

The Community of Icaria has liberty as its basis, for everything is ruled by the law, which is truly the expression of the general will. Every citizen cooperates in its making and only obeys the laws he has made. And these laws, discussed by a well-informed people, are always the work of the national intelligence and reason, and always made in the interests of the people themselves. No other system is capable of presenting a more real and perfect liberty.

The Icarian Community has equality as its basis, but not mathematical and absolute equality, but equality proportional to needs and means: equality of rights and duties, real equality. Equality in everything: in education, food, clothing, housing, in the ability to marry; in labor, eligibility for office, etc.

It has fraternity as its basis, the love preached by the gospels and by Christianity, fraternity that doesn’t allow rivalry with one’s brothers or the desire, for privileges or a better lot; fraternity in action; fraternity imbedded and living in all its laws, all its institutions, in all its customs, in all the acts of social life.

It is based on unity in everything, unity in territory or property, on unity in the nation or people; on unity in education common for all; on unity in industry (all industries forming but one great industry); on unity in agriculture (all the territory forming but one domain and one field).

The Community of Icaria is thus the realization of all that the human spirit has imagined under the names of society, or association, public or general interest, democracy, liberty, equality, fraternity, and unity.

And that community also takes as its basis marriage and the family, purified and perfected, without celibacy, without domesticity. It develops human intelligence to its ultimate limits; it admits the fine arts and the joys of civilization without any limits but reason and equality; it admits an infinite number of machines and proposes as its goal the reducing of the labor of man to that of the labor of intelligence, to the labor of a creator and director of machines. It extirpates all vices and crimes either through education or by removing their reason or cause; it realizes order and concord. Finally, opening the way to progress it leads humanity to the destiny that a beneficent nature promised the intelligence of the most noble of its creatures.

This, in substance and summary, is Icarian Communism or the community of Icaria. All the reticence or the alterations of critics can neither change nor arrange things so that M. Bastard de l’Estang didn’t call it a SEDUCTIVE system.

This system is doubtless far from being perfect, and wouldn’t it be an unheard of feat if it were? But its perfecting will be the work of time and the future, of philosophical writings, of the people arranging their constitution, and of future generations improving and ceaselessly perfecting it through the progress of experience and reason. Let those who find defects in communism point them out and demonstrate them seriously, loyally, and philosophically, recognizing the good and frontally attacking the bad, without avoiding any true questions or real difficulties. It’s their right and their duty towards humanity; it’s a service that deserves the esteem and the recognition of the people. But it is slandered, falsified, twisted. What good are the ruses, the suppositions, the omissions, the alterations? Are not all these miserable methods just so much puerility unworthy of philosophy? And if the Community of Icaria is nothing but an ERROR, would not honesty, logic, and truth suffice to pulverize it? And if it is the TRUTH, could lies, slander, insults, sarcasm, affected disdain, sophistry, disputatiousness, persecution or anything in the world have the power to prevent its more or less imminent triumph through the irresistible force of public opinion?