The Rise And Fall Of Charles Fourier

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The Rise And Fall Of Charles Fourier Essay, Research Paper A new craze swept France, as well as most of Europe, in the early nineteenth century. The oppressed society was exhausted from its continual battle against itself. The people sought change; they sought relief from the socio-economic labyrinth they had been spinning themselves dizzy in for their entire lives, and the lives of their fathers, and their fathers before them. Their minds wandered from the monotony of changing spools of thread in a textile mill or hauling buckets of water in that same mill to a land of liberty and equality– their land of perfection. Then suddenly a door opened. And above that door, in block letters, read the word "SOCIALISM". And standing beside, beckoning to all to enter, stood

François Marie Charles Fourier. Charles Fourier was born on April 7, 1772, in Besançon, France. The son of a prosperous cloth merchant, he was encouraged from an early age to pursue commerce. His father died when Charles was nine, leaving him an estate valuing in excess of 80,000 francs. Upon the advice of his family, Fourier entered the business world, despite his personal interests in the arts and sciences. He pursued an apprenticeship in Lyons’s commercial system for four years, returning to Besançon in early 1793. He had spent his years wisely, traveling through much of France and exploring the "cultural and social diversity" of the places he visited. However, due to the turmoil and unstable state of France at the time, the Fourier family lost all their

property. These unfortunate circumstances brought Fourier’s return to Paris. (Taylor 100) It was here where he founded the basic principles of his socio-economic beliefs. He was given a first-hand view into the functioning of the economy, and he was disgusted by the corruption and deceit he discovered. Throughout his childhood, and adolescence, then carried into adulthood, he witnessed the severity of the distinctions between classes. He matured in the aftermath of the French Revolution, perhaps the most "socially incorrect" period in history. He witnessed the havoc the guillotine wreaked on the aristocracy while watching the chaos created by the poverty that resulted from over- taxation of the peasant class. He saw these two diametrically opposed groups as the root

of all evil and sought to weaken the force that drove them apart. An enormous chasm existed between the upper and lower classes, and Fourier believed that if he could find a way to eliminate that, he would find true Utopia. He gradually began to develop an alternative social order. In 1808 a book was published. It was appropriately titled Théorie des Quatre Mouvements et des Destinées Générales, or Theory of the Four Movements and the General Destinies. Fourier was announcing to the world his discovery: not only were there natural laws, and laws of physics or science, there were social laws. He described the four "spheres", his name for divisions of activity– the social, animal, organic and material, each governed by strict mathematical laws. (Taylor 101) However,

the only sphere that any discoveries had been made in so far was the material sphere, and this is where the fault in civilized society lay. If we could uncover the remaining three, some of this chaos may be remedied. His second book was a deeper version of his first, in which he precisely described the stages of evolution, ranging from the formation of man to the day of reckoning. Another followed, Traité de l’Association Domestique-Agricole. In this work he introduced the Phalanx, from the Greek word meaning an orderly body of persons, and his theory that "mankind could begin to establish conditions of social harmony in small scale communities organized according to the scientific principles of human association which Fourier claimed to have discovered." (Taylor