Étienne Cabet


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Étienne Cabet
Birthday
BirthplaceDijon, Côte-d'Or
Died
Occupation
philosopher
Known for founder of the Icarian movement

Cabet, Étienne

 

Born Jan. 1, 1788, in Dijon; died Nov. 8, 1856, in St. Louis, USA. French publicist, writer, lawyer, utopian communist.

Cabet, the son of an artisan, was a participant in the Carbonari movement and the Revolution of 1830. As a historian of revolution, he wrote the Popular History of the French Revolution 1789-1830 (vols. 1-4, 1839-40). In 1833 he became the publisher of the journal Le Populaire. Because of repression he emigrated to Belgium. In 1834, Cabet went to live in Great Britain, where he became acquainted with R. Owen. In 1940 he wrote the book How I Became a Communist and the novel Voyage to Icaria (Russian translation, vols. 1-2, 1935). In the novel, Cabet depicted communism as an association founded on social equality, brotherhood, unity, and democracy in accordance with the principles of reason and the demands of nature.

Cabet’s Utopia had petit bourgeois features, such as the equalization of consumption, the preservation of privately owned agricultural enterprises, and the preservation under communism of a pantheistic kind of religion. He believed that communism could be achieved through persuasion and peaceful reforms. As a whole his Utopia has much in common with the views of 18th-century Utopian communists. In comparison with the teachings of the most important socialist thinkers of the first half of the 19th century, Cabet’s Utopia represented a step backward. However, because of the undeveloped class consciousness of the proletariat at that time, his Icarian Communism was widely accepted by French artisans and workers. K. Marx characterized him as being France’s “most popular, although the most superficial, representative of communism”(K. Marx and F. En-gels, Soch., 2nd ed., vol. 2, p. 146). In 1843, Cabet began publishing The Icarian Almanac… With the assistance of R. Owen in 1848 he obtained a plot of land in Texas and organized a colony of Icarians there. Dissension among the members led to a crisis, which resulted in the exclusion of Cabet from the colony. In 1856, shortly before his death, he founded another community.

REFERENCES

Lux, H. E. Kabe i ikariiskii kommunizm. St. Petersburg, 1906. (Translated from German.)
Hepner, A. Ikariitsy o Severnoi Amerike. St. Petersburg, 1906. (Translated from German.)
Volgin, V. P. Frantsuzskii utopicheskii kommunizm. Moscow, 1960. Pages 207-38.
Istoriia frantsuzskoi literatury, vol. 2. Moscow, 1956.
Bonnaud, F. Cabet et son oeuvre. Paris, 1900.
Prudhommeaux, J. Icarie et son fondateur, E. Cabet. Paris, 1907.
Angrand, P. E. Cabet et la République de 1848. Paris, 1948.
Cretinon, J. F., and F. M. Lacour. Voyage en Icarie. … Paris, 1952.

I. I. ZIL’BERFARB

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