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By Charles Fourier, Jonathan Beecher, Richard Bienvenu

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Extra info for The Utopian Vision of Charles Fourier: Selected Texts on Work, Love, and Passionate Attraction

Example text

His indictment of commerce began with catechetical in­ nocence : "Now, what is Commerce ? "31 These are the crimes that F ourier singled out as the black­ est mercantile sins. Because he knew commerce at first hand his critique was merciless. Standard zoological epithets such as "bloodsuckers," "vultures," 11nd "parasites," were not strong enough to express the horror that this Bisontine salesman felt; he conj ured up more grisly images. 3 2 Even when the com­ mercial classes were not engaged in the crimes of commerce, Fourier felt, they constituted a burden on society.

This experience, together with introspection into his own desires and needs, was the raw material out of which he fashioned his utopia. Fourier's first attempt to draw attention to his theory came at the end of 1 803. The unlikely vehicle which he chose for this purpose was the Bulletin de Ly on, a j ournal read mainly by state functionaries and village mayors and primarily devoted to the publication of government dispatches, exchange quotations, and odes to Napoleon. " He announced that the practical application of his "astonishing dis­ covery" was going to rouse mankind from the "frightful dream of civilization" and usher in an era of universal happiness.

Without delving too deeply into the more subtle refinements, one can say that each of Fourier's passions could be divided into a host of nuances, each had its own "exponential scale" of degrees of intensity, and each was en­ dowed with particular "subversive" tendencies which would be­ come manifest whenever the "harmonic" tendency was denied gratification. Thus when ambition was perverted or repressed it could express itself in destructive competition, and the aural pas58 See below, pp . 2 1 7-2 1 9 and 2 28-2 3 2 .

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