Home > Free Essays > Politics & Government > Social & Political Theory > Charles Fourier and Count Saint-Simon’ Socialism
Rate

Charles Fourier and Count Saint-Simon’ Socialism Essay

Exclusively available on IvyPanda Available only on IvyPanda
Updated: Apr 27th, 2021

One of the major ideas nurtured in the works of Charles Fourier and Count Saint-Simon is the concept of utopian socialism. Although today the majority of political thinkers are more skeptical about the idea of utopian socialism in general and versions of this ideology represented in the works of Charles Fourier and Count Saint-Simon, in particular, their ideas influenced many of the contemporary ideas. Thus, it is still important to analyze all the implications of this conception and the ways, in which it influenced political, philosophical, and social aspects of understanding the structure of society.

It is imperative to note that both Charles Fourier and Count Saint-Simon did not attempt to be associated with utopian socialism neither had they created the term. Only in the process of further development of their theories, approaches, and techniques to the solution of problems of society proposed by Charles Fourier and Count Saint-Simon were identified as socialistic and utopian[1]. In a bigger perspective, considering the historical circumstances, both philosophers merely represented their vision of the societal problems related to economy and politics[2]. The ideas expressed by Charles Fourier and Count Saint-Simon, of course, operated and were based on the notions of class and societal hierarchy, but they did not constitute their views based on socialistic political agenda as we now know it.

Although the ideas maintained by Charles Fourier were considered to be radical by his contemporaries, today some of them are among the basic principles of the societal structure. In terms of the political meaning of gender, the philosopher was the first to use the word feminism[3]. Charles Fourier also had strong opinions on the question of morals, education, and their role in society. However, the main influence produced by Charles Fourier is associated with the theoretical basics of political economy[4].

First of all, it is important to point out the fact that one of the major of Fourier’s ideas was the concept of cooperation between all the members of a particular society. In views of Fourier, only in the situation of social concern for other members of the society, it is possible to make it more effective both in terms of economic development and about the status of individuals in that society. Even though during his lifetime, the ideas of liberating the working classes and cooperating with them were not supported, they influenced the formation of various movements associated with socialism in a lot of ways[5].

Some of those ways are still considered an important part of practical implementations of political science, including the works of John Stuart Mill, whereas some of the others are more radical[6]. However, at the time, even Karl Marx regarded the ideas of Charles Fourier as utopian and unrealistic[7]. Overall, Fourier occupies a place among the most influential people in terms of shaping the views of future political economists.

As has been already mentioned, one of the main concepts of Charles Fourier’s ideas is the notion of collaboration[8]. The philosopher wanted to restructure existing society to make an economic contribution of particular individual merit of his or her reward for a job done. In some ways, such a concept corresponds to the idea of more direct economic cooperation in the society[9].

While Fourier saw a type of direct justice in his conception of the correspondence between an amount of work an individual performs and a reward for that work[10]. However, it is also important that “social economy development is at a crucial stage due to the present economic crisis which will validate or invalidate specific economic patterns; the process of social economy projects evaluation and monitoring is a priority because it allows demonstrating the need to continue the innovating initiatives that may change people and communities”[11]. For that reason, some of the ideas proposed by Charles Fourier are still inspirational if not applicable in the modern context.

As for the common ground between the works of Charles Fourier and Saint-Simon, one of the main features is that both philosophers supported the doctrine of cooperation between different classes. First of all, it is significant to point out the fact that Saint-Simon believed that more in the opposition between idling and working classes rather than cooperation[12]. Charles Fourier thought that classes should adopt one common utopian model of the economic structure whereas Count Saint-Simon’s system of new economic basis was more simplistic. The main difference between the two approaches was in the way of interpreting the relationships between different economic classes.

On the other hand, the ideas of the two philosophers are compliant in the sense that they both suggest adopting a new model of an economic and societal structure that would eliminate negative aspects of class differentiation[13]. According to a prominent sociologist Emile Durkheim, in his works, Saint-Simon promotes the system of philanthropy at different levels. The reason for that lies in the fact of societal dualism, the combination of individualism and unity in society[14].

Saint-Simon took favor of the idea that economic relationships in society should be based on the principle of individualism. That is why it is reasonable to say that the philosopher preferred the working (or industrial, as he referred to it) class over the ‘idling’ class of people who would rather exploit the fruits of someone else’s work. Asiminei suggests that “Saint-Simon praised the working class (owners, industrialists, merchants, farmers, chefs, and workers) and is critical to the useless of the military, legislators, metaphysicians and other bourgeois”[15].

It is also fair to assume that some core individualism, seeking a personal benefit from the work would, according to Saint-Simon, eliminate exploitation[16]. In this regard, there are some similarities between Saint-Simon and Fourier’s approaches to defining classes and class relationships.

On the other hand, such conceptual framework proposed by the philosopher would undermine any intervention of the government in the economic process[17]. In other words, such position, although it is classified as an example of utopian socialism, has some tendencies of self-regulated civil society, in which the role of the government cannot restrict the rights of citizens[18]. Due to the possibility of such interpretation, the political economy of Saint-Simon can be considered an influence on the contemporary liberal theories. Also, if the ideas of Count Saint-Simon are interpreted more radically, they can be considered as an inspiration for a variety of anarchic ideologies[19]. The reason for that also is in the disapproval of hierarchical structure.

However, about the control of the society, the views of Saint-Simon and those of Fourier differ in several ways. The system of regulating society suggested by Charles Fourier still included some elements of hierarchical control[20]. Moreover, in the societal model, according to which, in Charles Fourier’s opinion, all the members of a particular society should live, the hierarchy was quite literate, it was implemented in the very structure of the building of such utopian society[21].

According to Charles Fourier, those who were superior in their work should live above the others, both in terms of location in of their flats and about their social status[22]. Such severe distinction was not typical for Count Saint-Simon, who explicitly disapproved of superior and idle behaviors of the upper classes[23]. Thus, in such a way, despite several similarities between the approaches suggested by Charles Fourier and Count Saint-Simon, there are still some crucial differences.

Also, it is important to note that Saint-Simon disapproved of the very idea of a hierarchical structure of any society. Economic development, in his view, is a result of free interaction between working people, where those who use different capacities can achieve more reward. In terms of relating to the modern political economy, such conception is useful for different interpretations of a free market. Considering that, in the modern context, the models suggested both by Charles Fourier and Count Saint-Simon would be even harder to implement practically than it was in their time, the ideas of two philosophers should be used as a theoretical basis rather than direct instruction.

In conclusion, there are some common features and differences between the ideas of Charles Fourier and Count Saint-Simon. Firstly, while Charles Fourier supports the idea that relationships between different classes merely need harmonizing that the best model for a new society should be based on collaboration between different classes, Count Saint-Simon believes that classes are in opposition to each other, in which working classes are deprived, and idling classes are overindulged.

On the other hand, they both support the idea of an entirely new economic model and societal structure, based on the idea of reward corresponding to the amount and quality of the job. Of course, in the modern context, the models suggested by the two philosophers would hardly be used since they would result in the deprivation of the vulnerable groups of society. Meanwhile, the theoretical basis provided by Charles Fourier and Count Saint-Simon is still actively used in many modern theories of sociology, economics, and political economy.

Bibliography

Charles Fefferman, Robert Fefferman, and Stephen Wainger. Essays on Fourier Analysis in Honor of Elias M. Stein, Princeton, 2014.

Charles Fourier, Ian Patterson, and Gareth Stedman Jones. The Theory of the Four Movements. Cambridge, 1996.

Emile Durkheim. Socialism and Saint-Simon, Routledge, 2009.

Jane Levi. “Charles Fourier Versus the Gastronomes: The Contested Ground of Early Nineteenth-Century Consumption and Taste.” Utopian Studies: London, 2015, pp. 41-57.

Jon Van Til. “Utopian Conceptions of Society’s Third Sector.” Viable Utopian Ideas: Shaping a Better World: Shaping a Better World, 2015.

Michael Newman. Socialism. New York, 2010.

Romeo Asiminei. “Social Economy a conceptual framework.” Journal of Social Economy: New York, 2009, pp. 23-39.

Thomas Oatley. International political economy. Routledge, 2015.

Thomas Winterbottom. Educational Ideas of Charles Fourier 1772-1837: Zeldin. Routledge, 2013.

Victor Nicolaescu. “Importance of financing the social economy projects.” Journal of Community Positive Practices: New York, 2012, pp. 520-551.

W. Seay, “The Origins of Political Economy” ECON101/ INTL102, Virginia Commonwealth University, 2015.

Footnotes

  1. Charles Fefferman, Robert Fefferman, and Stephen Wainger. Essays on Fourier Analysis in Honor of Elias M. Stein, Princeton, 2014, p. 13.
  2. Thomas Oatley. International political economy. Routledge, 2015, p. 75.
  3. Jon Van Til. “Utopian Conceptions of Society’s Third Sector.” Viable Utopian Ideas: Shaping a Better World: Shaping a Better World, 2015, p. 24.
  4. Charles Fourier, Ian Patterson, and Gareth Stedman Jones. The Theory of the Four Movements. Cambridge, 1996, p. 21.
  5. W. Seay, “The Origins of Political Economy” ECON101/ INTL102, Virginia Commonwealth University, 2015.
  6. Jon Van Til. “Utopian Conceptions of Society’s Third Sector.” Viable Utopian Ideas: Shaping a Better World: Shaping a Better World, 2015, p. 16.
  7. Thomas Winterbottom. Educational Ideas of Charles Fourier 1772-1837: Zeldin. Routledge, 2013, p. 103.
  8. Charles Fourier, Ian Patterson, and Gareth Stedman Jones. The Theory of the Four Movements. Cambridge, 1996, p. 29.
  9. Thomas Winterbottom. Educational Ideas of Charles Fourier 1772-1837: Zeldin. Routledge, 2013, p. 102.
  10. Charles Fefferman, Robert Fefferman, and Stephen Wainger. Essays on Fourier Analysis in Honor of Elias M. Stein, Princeton, 2014, p. 77.
  11. Victor Nicolaescu. “Importance of financing the social economy projects.” Journal of Community Positive Practices: New York, 2012, p. 534.
  12. Romeo Asiminei. “Social Economy a conceptual framework.” Journal of Social Economy: New York, 2009, p. 30.
  13. Charles Fourier, Ian Patterson, and Gareth Stedman Jones. The Theory of the Four Movements. Cambridge, 1996, p. 40.
  14. Emile Durkheim. Socialism and Saint-Simon, Routledge, 2009, p. 193.
  15. Romeo Asiminei. “Social Economy a conceptual framework.” Journal of Social Economy: New York, 2009, p. 31.
  16. Michael Newman. Socialism. New York, 2010, p. 111.
  17. Charles Fefferman, Robert Fefferman, and Stephen Wainger. Essays on Fourier Analysis in Honor of Elias M. Stein, Princeton, 2014, p. 89.
  18. Emile Durkheim. Socialism and Saint-Simon, Routledge, 2009, p. 66.
  19. Michael Newman. Socialism. New York, 2010, p. 112.
  20. Jane Levi. “Charles Fourier Versus the Gastronomes: The Contested Ground of Early Nineteenth-Century Consumption and Taste.” Utopian Studies: London, 2015, p. 41.
  21. Emile Durkheim. Socialism and Saint-Simon, Routledge, 2009, p. 194.
  22. Romeo Asiminei. “Social Economy a conceptual framework.” Journal of Social Economy: New York, 2009, p. 25.
  23. Victor Nicolaescu. “Importance of financing the social economy projects.” Journal of Community Positive Practices: New York, 2012, p. 534.
This essay on Charles Fourier and Count Saint-Simon’ Socialism was written and submitted by your fellow student. You are free to use it for research and reference purposes in order to write your own paper; however, you must cite it accordingly.
Removal Request
If you are the copyright owner of this paper and no longer wish to have your work published on IvyPanda.
Request the removal

Need a custom Essay sample written from scratch by
professional specifically for you?

Writer online avatar
Writer online avatar
Writer online avatar
Writer online avatar
Writer online avatar
Writer online avatar
Writer online avatar
Writer online avatar
Writer online avatar
Writer online avatar
Writer online avatar
Writer online avatar

certified writers online

Cite This paper
Select a referencing style:

Reference

IvyPanda. (2021, April 27). Charles Fourier and Count Saint-Simon' Socialism. Retrieved from https://ivypanda.com/essays/charles-fourier-and-count-saint-simon-socialism/

Work Cited

"Charles Fourier and Count Saint-Simon' Socialism." IvyPanda, 27 Apr. 2021, ivypanda.com/essays/charles-fourier-and-count-saint-simon-socialism/.

1. IvyPanda. "Charles Fourier and Count Saint-Simon' Socialism." April 27, 2021. https://ivypanda.com/essays/charles-fourier-and-count-saint-simon-socialism/.


Bibliography


IvyPanda. "Charles Fourier and Count Saint-Simon' Socialism." April 27, 2021. https://ivypanda.com/essays/charles-fourier-and-count-saint-simon-socialism/.

References

IvyPanda. 2021. "Charles Fourier and Count Saint-Simon' Socialism." April 27, 2021. https://ivypanda.com/essays/charles-fourier-and-count-saint-simon-socialism/.

References

IvyPanda. (2021) 'Charles Fourier and Count Saint-Simon' Socialism'. 27 April.

More related papers
Psst... Stuck with your
assignment? 😱
Hellen
Online
Psst... Stuck with your assignment? 😱
Do you need an essay to be done?
What type of assignment 📝 do you need?
How many pages (words) do you need? Let's see if we can help you!