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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



French 18th-century Utopian communist. There is no reliable biographical information about him.

Morelly’s views were most thoroughly developed in the narrative poem Basiliada (1753) and the treatise Code of Nature, or The True Spirit of Its Laws, published anonymously in French in Amsterdam in 1755 (most recent Russian translation, 1956). He believed that the system founded on private property contradicts both reason and nature and should be replaced with a communist order which, he assumed, would be to some degree a return to a lost natural condition. However, he observed that although the communism of the past had been unconscious, the communism of the future would be conscious. Unlike T. More and T. Campanella, whose views influenced him, Morelly postulated his ideas of the future communist society not in a description of an imaginary country but in legislative projects. He formulated three “basic and sacred” laws, with the promulgation of which the restructuring of society along communist lines would begin. The first law abolishes private property, the second secures for all citizens the right to work and guarantees compensation from society, and the third obliges each citizen to engage in socially useful labor “in accordance with his strength, talent, and age.”

Morelly assumed that communism would be realized not in small, separate communes, as earlier Utopians had believed, but in an entire country, with centralized planning and distribution of labor and its products. Of all the Utopian thinkers of the 16th through 18th centuries, Morelly came closest to the idea of eliminating the antithesis between physical and mental labor under communism. Nonetheless, his views are historically limited, revealing that he was, to a great degree, a product of his time. For instance, leveling tendencies are strong in his teachings. Although he was almost unknown to his contemporaries, Morelly influenced the development of the views of G. Babeuf, as well as those of French Utopian socialists of the first half of the 19th century (E. Cabet, C. Fourier, and, to some extent, T. Dézamy).


Essai sur l’esprit humain. Paris, 1743.
Essai sur le coeur humain. Paris, 1745.


Volgin, V. P. Frantsuzskii utopicheskii kommunizm. Moscow, 1960.
Reverdy, A. Morelly: Idées philosophiques, économiques et politiques. Poitier, 1909.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
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