Friday, March 7, 2008

Considerant's Politics

Although Considerant’s analysis of nineteenth-century society was almost identical with that of Marx, their solutions were radically different. According to Considerant, the answer could be found I a pacific and evolutionary reorganization of society. He believed that Fourier’s phalanstery was the social and economic unit which would provide the solution. In the phalanstery approximately three hundred families would combine their efforts to provide sufficient food, clothing, housing, education, and social enrichment. Although everyone would be required to work, all vocational endeavors would be rotated among various inhabitants according to preference and natural aptitude. The principal activities would be those of agriculture, manufacturing, commerce, and domestic economy; art, science, and education: self government and social intercourse. Regarding the political structure, Considerant propounded a system of pure democracy based on universal suffrage and direct legislation.

Considerant made it clear that Fourier’s system was not a form of communism. He believed in the equality of opportunity but not in equality of remuneration. These communes were to depend upon private capital, and private property holdings could be retained. The phalanstery would serve simply as the tenant. Profits would be distributed through a system of dividends allocated to the members in proportion to the amounts of capital, skill, and labor contributed to each. At the end of the year, the value of all production would be divided three-twelfths for skill, four-twelfths for capital, and five-twelfths for labor.

Source: Rondel V. Davidson, "Victor Considérant and the Failure of La Réunion," Southwestern Historical Quarterly 76 (January 1973).

No comments: