History 12 Reading Guide

Secular Communities:  Fourierism and “Communitarian Socialism”

  • Carl Guarneri, “Brook Farm and the Fourierist Phalanxes:  Immediatism, Gradualism, and American Utopian Socialism,” in Pitzer, America's Communal Utopias, 159-180.

Documents:

  • Albert Brisbane, “Social Waste and the Benefits of Association,” from Social Destiny of Man:  or, Association and Reorganization of Industry (1840), in The Annals of America, vol. 6, 544-548.  (e-reserve)
  • Albert Brisbane, “Exposition of Views and Principles,” The Phalanx I (Oct. 7 1843), in David Brion Davis, Antebellum American Culture (1979), 450-452.  (e-reserve)

Further reading:

  • Roger Wunderlich, “The Three Phases of Modern Times:  Communitarian, Reform, and Long Island,” Communal Societies 6 (1986), 50-60.
  • John Calvin Spurlock, “Anarchy and Community at Modern Times, 1851-1863,” Communal Societies 3 (1983), 29-47.

Questions:

  • How did Fourier’s 1808 utopian socialist vision, and more particularly Brisbane’s 1840 revision of Fourier’s model of community and social relations in the United States, compare and contrast to the Robert Owen’s vision and the experience of Owenite communities, especially at New Harmony in the mid-1820s?
    What visions and models did the secular communitarians share?
    What did they keep and what did they change?
    Where did they differ, and what were the implications of those differences?
  • What tensions and problems developed out of Fourier’s (and Brisbane’s) vision and model? What common patterns of development emerged in the 28 American phalanxes?
  • What lasting contribution did Fourierism and the American phalanxes make to American society, in their commitment to innovation and reform?