Charles Fourier (1772–1837) was a French philosopher who sought to uncover universal laws which he believed governed society so that productive enterprise could be reorganized on a rational basis, production expanded, and human needs more readily fulfilled. Fourier’s ‘communitarian’ ideas were introduced in the United States in an 1840 book “Social Destiny of Man” by the American Albert Brisbane, as well as through a column by Brisbane in the pages of Horace Greeley's “New York Tribune” in 1842/43.

Albert Brisbane (1809–1890) was an American utopian socialist who was the chief populariser of Fourier's theories in the U.S., and also the author of the Fourierist periodical “The Phalanx” and founder of the Fourierist Society in New York in 1839. He backed several experimental communes (often named phalanxes) in an 1840s Fourierist ‘boom’ in Massachusetts, Michigan, Illinois, New York, Pennsylvania and Ohio. More than 30 Fourierist "phalanxes" were established in several northern and midwestern states but all of these ultimately failed as social and economic socialist models. An attempt to relaunch the model in the American state of Texas in the 1850s also failed.

This rapid failure of the utopian socialism model was partly caused by the decision of Albert Brisbane to depart for France to study Fourierism first hand. With no energetic leader to replace Brisbane, the movement's momentum quickly stalled and the U.S. flirtation with socialism came to an end.

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