F. D. (Frederic Dan) Huntington.

Human society; its providential structure, relations, and offices. Eight lectures delivered at the Brooklyn Institute, Brooklyn, N. Y online

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Online LibraryF. D. (Frederic Dan) HuntingtonHuman society; its providential structure, relations, and offices. Eight lectures delivered at the Brooklyn Institute, Brooklyn, N. Y → online text (page 10 of 17)
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and opened the ear of public fanaticism and dis-
content to any imposing vagary that promised ease,
comfort, enjoyment, with little labor, less self-restraint
and no sacrifice. It proved, however, that, both
then and in the still more favorable disorganiza-
tions of 1848, insuperable obstacles existed to the
popularizing of his works. Such as were publislied
found able expositors, defenders, and translators, in
his own country, in England, and even in America.
These digests and interpretations, however, no matter

* The most important of these to the student of his system nre enti-
tled " Traite cf Association Domestique Affricole" " Theorie des Quatres
Mouvements et des Destinees Generales,''^ and " Le Nouveau Monde Tn-
dustriel et Societaire"



how warm the spirit of championship in which
the}" were conceived, gave him little comfort. He
always maintained, even to the close of his disap-
pointed life, and with pretty good reason, that no-
body understood his ideas, and that no representa-
tion whatever, but his own, could be fairly made
of his doctrines ; and to this day, his most im-
partial and competent readers are left in doubt
whether it can be said that even his own repre-
sentation is more successful than the rest. Some
slight but fatal defect, enough to mar the unity of
the whole, clung to the ardent attempts of his best
instructed advocates. Indeed, the greater part of
his immense mass of manuscript remains unpub-
lished still, in the Phalansterian Academy at Paris.
Such a state of being as an indolent and pleasure-
loving community would delight in was certainly
promised by this prophet after their own heart.
Nothing could have prevented their hailing and
crowning him as the universal Deliverer, except
the serious inconvenience of being unable to be-
lieve what he said. His golden age was to be
the fulfilment of every sensual desire, — the com-
plete, unhindered, if not inexhaustible gratification
of every passion of human nature ; and these grat-
ifications were to be constantly, in every instance,
as intense and ecstatic as the keenest relish of


our rarest bliss hitherto.* It must be added, that
the joys of the intellect and the heart were to
be in proportion, and also that he held the pas-
sions to be sacred, as the gift of God. So per-
fectly, in the new order, would mind and body and
affections be trained, balanced and preserved, — so
marvellously would nature yield up her stores of
nutriment and energy, that humanity would be re-
juvenated, — all sweat and care and toil and disap-
pointment would cease, and the most necessary
offices, such as are now irksome and homely,
would be as fresh and inviting as the most ex-
liilarating sports. If this grand carnival of unsa-
tiated appetites required so great an innovation on
the part of Nature as the production of a new
species of animals, Fourier would not stick at that.
Who was he, to stint her prodigality, or distrust
the accommodating possibilities of her bounty ?
"What was a new natural element or two, in view
of a result so magnificent ? To accomplish a more
rapid transit to and fro, and convey the pleasant

* " M. Fourier boasts to have made the grand discovery that our varied
passions, if left to themselves, would so counteract, so supplement each
other, that the most complete harmony would result. If so, how hap-
pens it that Society did not at once arrange itself into this perfect har-
mony by the spontaneous passions of men ? Spontaneity comes before
reflection. How is it that human society was not at once complete,
like the society of bees and of ants ?" — Thorndale.


provisions of one climate to another, unprecedented
tame creatures, of the lion and the whale kind, swift
and capacious, were to make their appearance, as
transcendental beasts of burden. The planets them-
selves were to procreate their own species, and to
furnish each other their respective types of exist-
ence, in amicable interchange. The mineral, vegeta-
ble and animal kingdoms of our globe receive con-
tributions from all the moons and orbs of the solar
system ; the elephant, the oak, and the diamond
being created by the sun himself, — the horse, the
lily and the ruby by Saturn, — the cow, the jonquil
and the topaz by Jupiter, — the dog, the violet and
opal stones by the Earth.

Starting with the comj)laint that Society in its
present competitive condition is a "universal state of
war," Fourier claimed to have discovered the secret
of its restoration to harmony. The key to the uni-
verse is the "law of attraction." In the grand whole
of nature there are four " movements," in an ascend-
ing scale, viz., the material, the organic, the ani-
mal, the social. To these he afterward added a
fifth, the aromal, which is to be the consummation
of all perfect order and joy, corresponding to the
Christian millennium. Even i:>revious to this aromal
stage, marvellous ameliorations and novelties are to
appear. So ecstatic and transcendant^ in fact, will


be the felicities of that period, produced by the
new social organization, that great precaution is
necessary in announcing them to mankind, lest a
too sudden disclosure should bewitch the world
into a general delirium. The Prophet reveals only
a few features of that ineffable glory. The word
toil will lose its meaning. Work will be play,
and play will be more productive of solid use
than work was ever known to be. Slavery will
cease. Woman will be elevated out of all her dis-
abilities. The duration of man's life will be a
hundred and forty years. His period of love will
be a hundred and twenty years. Changes in the
material world will correspond to those in the moral.
The Arctic climate will soften. The ocean will be
sweet. Four moons will accompany the earth,
which is the third planet. Death will introduce
man to the aromal life. And when the course of
the world itself is finished, the earth-life will be
handed over to the planet Mercury.

The chief agent of this social regeneration was
to be the phalange, or phalanstery ; or rather, the
perpetual society of man must exist in that form,
• — a series of groups. Each of these was to con-
sist of four hundred families, averaging four and a
half persons each, making eighteen hundred in all.
The word family is not used here in the ordinary


sense ; the family founded in marriage, consisting of
parents and children, is an evil to be got rid of.
The financial value was to be held in eleven hun-
dred and twenty-eight shares, determined by a
very nice mathematical computation ; and of these
shares five twelfths were to accrue to labor, four
twelfths to capital, and three twelfths to skill.
Ultimately the whole world was to be covered with
phalanges. All necessities were to be provided by
them, but commercial interchange was not recog-
nized. The head of all the phalanges was to be
an omniarch, located at Constantinoj^le. Each group
was to be composed according to passional attrac-
tions and affinities. As there is harmony between
every passion and its object, so there is harmony
between the passions and all necessary labor. Some
kind of work is pleasant to all. Some children love
dirt; this shows that there are some people made
for dirty employment. All the passions of which
human nature is capable will be represented by
sixteen hundred and twenty persons, rightly chosen.
Consult the proper adaptations, and all the pro-
ductive industries would be carried forward, while
mankind should not suspect they were doing any-
thing but amuse themselves. Everybody should be
able to do only what he pleases, meet only peo-
ple that are agreeable, eat only what he likes, obey


nothing but his propensities. No discord ; no of-
fence ; no crosses ; no fatigue ; no unsatisfied want ;
no indigestion ; no plague, or pain, or fear, or
tediousness, from social collisions, or lack of sym-
pathy. Of course morality is quite dissolved, or
superseded. Constancy is forgotten. The offset to
this is, that, in this higher condition, the passions
are purified ; they do not chafe nor surfeit ; the
appetites lose their grossness ; and there is no

Fourier held that his system of the social econ-
omy would come, historically, next after Christi-
anity, advancing beyond that, and would be the third
grand dispensation. Hitherto, he taught, man is in
a state only of civilization — civilizee. Now, civiliza-
tion is only the fifth of thirty-two possible states
of Society ; the rest are to come. Civilization is
for the rich, who are only a twentieth part of the
race. Its principle is the " war of all against all."
Competition is anarchy. Property is an evil. In
rejecting civilization the instincts of savages and
barbarians are right. The only relief to its greedi-
ness is self-denial, which, after all, is another prin-
cipal misery. From - civilization the transition into
the harmonial society will not be less remarkable
than the metamorphosis of the worm into the but-
terfly. " The passions and their gratifications will


be so multiplied by each other as to produce
square or cubical quantities of felicity, rational and
several, — without frailty or reaction." In following
out this conception, Fourier was led into exposures
of unhealthy and unreasonable modes of living, the
neglect and filth and inconvenience of great cities
especially, and other errors in the economic and
industrial habits of different nations, which have a
real sanitary value, and are adapted to prepare the
way for reforms more practicable than he proposed.
Indeed, the term practicability can scarcely be
used in connection with his splendid ideal fabric,
except in irony. It has been justly said that the
one formidable enemy he had to meet was the put-
ting of his own theory to experiment : though it
was curious that he, by a secret prognostication
wiser than his brain, expected it would fail. A
phalanx was started at Eambouillet, not far from
Paris. The cost of the fruitless trial was estimated
at £20,000. The fate of the little undertakings
suggested by him in our own neighborhood is too
well known to need remark. Notwithstanding, Fou-
rier seems to have been a bigot for his own
notions, to the last. Six years before his death,
which happened in 1837, he wrote a severe and
bitter treatise against the folhes and impostures of
two speculators everyway as sound as himself, and


called it, The Tricks and Charlatanry of two Sects,
St. Simon and Oiven.^'

Claude Henry, St. Simon, was twelve years older
than Fourier, and died just twelve years before
him. He was of a very different social position
from his fellow-countryman, was born of an aristo-
cratic family, descended from noble blood, indeed
claiming descent from Charlemagne. The best ac-
count of him is that he was properly a victim
of scientific ambition. Whether as the cause or
the effect of that ambition, he appears to have
fostered a foolish rumor that his royal ancestor ap-
peared to him in a dream and told him that their
house, having produced a great monarch, was des-
tined to produce a great philosopher. Acting on
this nocturnal hint, the young scion of the old
noblesse united his resources as a gentleman and a
student to earn the reputation he coveted. He
took a residence near the Polytechnic School and
threw open his private hospitalities to a series of
brilliant meetings of the savans and forcible men
of his time, — reserving to himself the high office
of generalizer and judge upon the results of their
investigations. When Napoleon proposed to the In-
stitute to make a formal estimate of the achieve-
ments of science, St. Simon undertook to conduct

* " Pieo-es et Charlatanisme des deux Sectes, — St. Simon et Owen."


the answer. His travels and extensive researches
were all made to bear on his philosophical fame.
Even when he was a youthful soldier in the cavalry
h^ervice, taking a hint from Philip, with a varia-
tion, he kept up the flattery of a great destiny
by bidding his servant call him every morning :
'•AAvake, Sir Count, you have great things to do."'-'
He impoverished himself in his ostentatious and
luxurious patronage of letters, and then made light
of his penury, as an interesting phase of human
experience, which it became a philosopher, like him,
to pass through. Carrying out this idea, he com-
mitted himself, in succession, not only to all the
other situations of life, but to the unprincipled
practice of the whole catalogue of vices, — as a
simple experiment in physics and ethics. Even
suicide was included in this list of amateur mani-
pulations, though for some reason or other he car-
ried that only so far as to blow out one of his
eyes. With extravagant and profane laudations his
admirers celebrated this escape. "His hour," they
said, '^ was not . yet come. God raises him from
the abyss ; sheds over him a religious inspiration
which animates, sanctifies and renews his whole
being ; a hymn of love is poured forth from that

'■'' " Luvez-voiis, Monsieur le Comte, vous avez de grandes clioses a


mutilated body ; the divine man is manifested ;
the new Christianity is sent to the world ; the
kingdom of God is come upon earth."

The St. Simonian Socialism was an attempt to
carry out the definite and regular relations of
physical science into the government or rather the
arrangement of Society; which it was believed, by
a false analogy, could be done with abstract cer-
tainty, by rule. The author of the system called
it " Physico-political." Property, competition, mar-
riage, were to be summarily abolished. Inclination
was to govern. Christianity was caricatured. The
system was a " carnal hierarchy," — the proposed
leaders were a priesthood. The originator was him-
self, during life, and after that his foremost disciple,
to be the great hierophant. In fact, he claimed
the character of divinity, — profanely ranking him-
self with Moses and the Saviour, saying that
" Moses had promised to men universal fraternity,
Jesus Christ had prepared it, St. Simon had real-
ized it."

IMutual and natural human love is here made
the organizing principle. Industry is the working
power of life. " Sanctify yourselves by joy and
labor," says the new Christianism. This (" New
Christianism") is the title of his religious specula-
tions. Other parts of his system were pubhshed un-


der the titles of " The Reorganization of European
Society," " The Industrial System," " Catechism of
Industrial Methods," "Political, Moral, and Philo-
sophical Discussions," and " Opinions."

According to this form of Socialism, the distri-
bution of property was to he determined by the
relative capacity of men ; whereas, according to
Fourier, capacity had to divide with labor and
capital. At the death of an individual his prop-
erty reverts to the Simonian community — the secu-
lar church. A general education was to be pro-
vided for all children till they were old enough to
show their capacity, and then cliacun a sa capacite.

About a quarter of a century since, there emerged
from the confused and motley people known as St.
Simonians three several parties, under as many
leaders — Enfantin, Rodriguez, and Basard. Each at-
tempted his own organizations, or families, but they
quarreled with each other. At last the two former
were brought to trial for misdemeanors, and under-
went a temporary punishment. Enfantin appeared
in the streets of Paris, and pointing to his hand-
some face, demanded homage on the score of his
personal beauty. When some of the leaders ap-
plied for exemption from military duty, on the
impudent pretence that they were ecclesiastics, the
courts ruled that they were not a religious order.


but otherwise let their extravagances and sensual
carousals pass unnoticed, till finally the whole
scheme fell to pieces, and disappeared.

These projects have not been confined to France.
They have struck root, for a short and sickly
growth, in practical Great Britain and America.
The same year that Fourier was born brought
also his English competitor, — a Socialist whose
scheme was far less daring, less presumptuous,
and less visionary than that of the Frenchman
who so violently assailed it for its absurdity. Rob-
ert Owen became a cotton-machinist at Manches-
ter, and afterwards entered upon the manufacturing
experiment at New Lanark, on the Clyde, in
Scotland, which proved an interesting comment
upon his theories. Actuated by a sincere and
humane desire to better the condition of the de-
pendent and laboring classes, especially in the pe-
culiar exposures incident to British manufacturing
towns, he undertook so to arrange that whole com-
munity, as to lighten their expenses and increase
their conveniences. Noticing how much the appli-
cation of superior energy and intelligence, in im-
proving the circumstances of a people, assists their
culture and development, he was fallaciously led to
suppose that all human reform must consist in
changing these external circumstances, and so, from


a peculiar instance, fell into a Mse generalization.
Because one shrewd and active manager like liiin-
self, having capital to start with, in a special branch
of productive industry, already brought elsewhere to
great perfection, could organize a successful local
settlement, keeping np a constant commerce with
Society in its normal forms, and mider a stable
government, he seems to have supposed that all
populations must contain in them the means of first
rising above and so ruling their own conditions,
with mixed employments, comphcated interests, and
a thousand other specific modifying causes. A town
is laid out in the form of a parallelogram, with
buildings for two or three thousand souls, with
gardens and farms and agricultural edifices on each
side, land enough to furnish all the necessary pro-
duce of that climate, — the dwelling houses forming
one side of the oblong square, a general residence
and schools for the boys at one end, similar pro-
visions for the girls at the other end, — the children
being taken from their parents and boarded together
in their second year, a common eating-house or or-
dinar}^ in the centre, play grounds and gardens in
the area, laundry and bleaching grounds behind the
school houses. There is a suitable alternation of
labor and recreation. The working hours are from
six in the morning to seven in the evening. The


school is held from eight in the evening till ten.
Amusements are provided by system, as being fa-
vorable to morality. The community of goods is
only partial, but the plan of industrial cooperation
is distinct.

Whatever Mr. Owen may have borrowed from
the Moravians, or United Brethren, it is very clear
what he left out, viz., their religion. With him a
happy and correct social state here is the ultimate
object of man's aspirations. All systems of faith
and worship he refers to prejudice, superstition and
ignorance. The sanctions of a future life are set
aside as not only chimerical but mischievous. Chris-
tianity is superseded.

Carried away by the prosperity of his village at
New Lanark, which, after all, appears to have been
due about as much to the practical sagacity and
benevolence of his predecessor and father-in-law,
David Dale, as to his own theory, which ought
certainly to be tested by a trial of more than
one or two generations before a strong argument
can be built upon it, — this amiable unbeliever sup-
posed he had struck upon a universal cure for so-
cial evils. To prove this on a larger scale, he
began a parallelogram at Orbiston ; but the design
fell through for want of funds, after one angle of
the structure was erected. The inmates of this


angle, while they stayed, were not lovely and
pleasant in their lives ; the country peoj^le called
the place Babel, for reasons. In 1825 he pur-
chased the place known as New Harmony, in In-
diana, planted a colony of nearly a thousand peo-
ple, turned the churches into workshops, substituted
singing and dancing for public prayer, proclaimed
marriage a temporary, dissoluble relation, removed
the obstacle to a separation of husband and wife
that exists in the children by putting them into a
common charge, published a Declaration of Mental
Independence, July 4th, 1826, but soon found he
had to manage discontent and disorder, was dis-
gusted, and returned across the ocean, escaping
from a broken-down enterprise.*

The neighboring State of Illinois was to see, still
nearer to our own time, another of these abortive
undertakings, — • that conducted by Cabet, another
creature of the modern revolutionary spirit in
France. To carry out his preposterous project, a
compound of financial and political speculation, this
plausible adventurer, in whom it is difficult to draw
the line between honest self-delusion and villainous
imposture, gave out that he had bought a million

* See his " Observations on the Manufacturing System," " New
View of Society," and " Memorial to the Governments of England and


acres of American land, at Icaria, on the Red
River. There he proposed to plant a community,
on the socialist plan, holding out the promise of
a luxuriant soil, delightful scenery, and everything
favorable to an easy mastery of the means of liv-
ing. By a newspaper, called La Populaire, and
other devices, he succeeded in alluring some five
hundred emigrants to embark, in 1848, for this
gorgeous western Paradise, — having first gained
assent to the incredible regulation that all their
individual property should be unconditionally commit-
ted to their leader, himself, — a stupendous stretch
of communistic confidence. Landing at New Or-
leans, they met rather appalling accounts of the
Icarian Eden from some returning pioneers, but
still pressed hopefully up the Mississippi ; tra-
versed a land route of two or three hundred miles,
— many perishing by the way, some dropping out
of the party and going back, fleececi and dejected,
to their native country, — the persevering survivors
arriving at last at the promised land, to find there,
in the expressive language of the record, " a des-
ert, a few ruined huts, and an abundance of
graves." " There is no slavery," wrote one of
them, " so hard as Communism in action."* In a

* " Les Socialistes depuis Fourier^ Par M. Jules Breynat. Paris,



short time, Cabet, gathering up as many of the frag-
ments of resolution and baggage as he could find,
left, passed up to Nauvoo, then recently vacated by
the Mormons on their removal to Utah, and there
remained just long enough to foil utterly, and to
subject himself to a criminal prosecution, on the
charge of obtaining goods on false pretences.

In 1840, a petition was sent to the British House
of Lords, with forty thousand signers from the single
city of Birmingham, praying that measures might
be taken for the suppression of Socialism. Nothing
effectual was done by Parliament ; indeed, a brief
reaction took place in favor of the Socialists. But
it soon subsided ; the pubhcations ceased ; and the
cause in all England died out.

These repeated miscarriages of Communism, re-
garded in the light of the moral principles of So-
ciety, are not surprising ; and yet, considering the
tact and ability of some of the projecters of
these systems, the credulous constitution of hu-
man nature as respects schemes of pecuniary profit,
and the natural effect of glowing descriptions of a
leisurely and novel mode of subsistence, there is
room for some surprise that their victims should
have been so few, and their Me so uniform, so
prompt, and so decisive. In 1848 a flood of com-
munistic literature broke loose over Europe, and for


a while was thirstily drunk up, especially in Ger-
many and France. Now, there is scarcely such a
literature visible, outside of the libraries, on the

Of the three contemporary authors who are best
known as Socialists in their philosophy, though
without heading any actual communities, the first,
in point of intellectual power, is Auguste Comte, — /
a writer who by his frigid temperament, his unsym-
pathetic doctrines of man, and his atheism, not
less than b}^ his arrogant erudition, is separated

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Online LibraryF. D. (Frederic Dan) HuntingtonHuman society; its providential structure, relations, and offices. Eight lectures delivered at the Brooklyn Institute, Brooklyn, N. Y → online text (page 10 of 17)