Fourier, Charles

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Fourier, Charles

(shärl fo͞oryā`), 1772–1837, French social philosopher. From a bourgeois family, he condemned existing institutions and evolved a kind of utopian socialism. In Théorie des quatre mouvements (1808) and later works he developed his idea that the natural passions of man would, if properly channeled, result in social harmony. To achieve this goal, many of the artificial restraints of civilization were to be destroyed. The social organization for such development was to be based on the "phalanx," an economic unit composed of 1,620 people. Members would live in the phalanstère (or phalanstery), a community building, and work would be divided among people according to their natural inclinations. Fourier was not ready to discard capitalism completely; basically his ideal was an agricultural society, systematically arranged. His writings anticipated the 20th-century social problems resulting from mechanization and industrialization. Fourierism obtained a number of converts in France, and several newspapers spread the doctrines, but followers failed to establish any lasting colony there. After Fourier's death his principal disciple, Victor Prosper ConsidérantConsidérant, Victor Prosper
, 1808–93, French socialist; follower of Charles Fourier. In 1837, at the death of Fourier, he became the acknowledged leader of Fourierism.
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, tried to found a colony in Texas. Albert BrisbaneBrisbane, Albert
, 1809–90, American social theorist, b. Batavia, N.Y. After studying with Charles Fourier in Paris, he returned to the United States as an enthusiastic advocate of Fourierism.
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 and Horace GreeleyGreeley, Horace,
1811–72, American newspaper editor, founder of the New York Tribune, b. Amherst, N.H. Early Life

His irregular schooling, ending at 15, was followed by a four-year apprenticeship (1826–30) on a country weekly at East Poultney, Vt.
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 were the principal figures in the sudden and wide development of colonies in the United States. Brook FarmBrook Farm,
1841–47, an experimental farm at West Roxbury, Mass., based on cooperative living. Founded by George Ripley, a Unitarian minister, the farm was initially financed by a joint-stock company with 24 shares of stock at $500 per share.
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 was for a time Fourierist. The most successful of the communities was the North American Phalanx at Red Bank, N.J.


See studies by N. V. Riasanovsky (1969), D. Zeldin (1969), and J. F. Beecher (1987).

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