The first utopia was the Garden of Eden, but since no person knew what it was like, anyone may create it in their own image, the reason being an unhappiness with the world as it exists, pushing efforts to imagine as it might become, except those utopian visions have become increasingly dystopic over time…
( see link at end) …Charles Fourier (1772-1837) saw manual labor as degrading and irksome, whether in the factory or the field. He believed that all work could be turned into play—made desirable and satisfying, physically and mentally. He designed a self-contained community, housing 1,620 members, called a phalanx after the Greek term for a unit of tightly linked fighting men. He believed men had twelve fundamental passions–the five senses, four of the soul (friendship, love, ambition and parenthood) and three related to work (love of variety, rivalry, and conspiracy). People were to be organized in squads according to “passionate attraction” thus ensuring their happiness at work….
( see link at end) …Albert Brisbane (1809-1890), a wealthy student from upstate New York, became Fourier’s disciple in 1832 and returned to the United States from France hoping to start the first American Fourierist community. He began Association, the communitarian socialist movement, gaining publicity and supporters among the social reformers of the country. Brisbane stressed the compatibility of the phalanx plan with American ideals of self-government, personal freedom, equity, and social progress.
The first American phalanx, the Social Reform Unity, was founded in 1842 in Pennsylvania, and two years later Brook Farm in Massachusetts, discovering the teachings of Fourier, converted to Fourierism. Before the Civil War, 28 phalanxes were founded in the United States, and the movement encompassed dozens of Fourierist clubs in cities across the country as well. Cooperative socialism proved versatile and attractive even to those unprepared to commit to the absolute communalism of phalanx living.Read More:http://americancivilwar.com/Fourierism.html
In one way, Fourier was the most unfortunate of utopian thinkers, for people made a major and fatal attempt to put his ideas into practice. The experiments were carried out particularly in the United States during the 1840′s, when hundred of utopian “associations” sprang up, many of them directly inspired or influenced by Fourier.
One of the most typical experiments was Brook Farm. it was set up near Boston by two noted Unitarian clerics, George Ripley and Ellery Channing, to show among other things that work need not mean industrial degradation but could go hand in hand with joy, dignity, and culture. In part, the idea was that intellectuals would do manual labor to free laborers to intellectual pursuits. To the regret of the founders, Ralph Waldo Emerson refused to join; he had tried physical labor and decided that it was not ordained “that a writer should dig.” The Brook farmers adopted Fourier with reservations, particularly concerning his sexual theories, but their reputation suffered. After all, the press could scarcely ignore the fact, regardless of what actual conditions were like, that in his ideal communities Fourier had provided for the entertainment of men by “Corps of Bacchae and Bayaderes.”
Brook Farm dissolved amid a series of misfortunes and fires, sharing the fate of a similar well known community in Oneida, founded by a sometime clergyman named John Humphrey Noyes who moved it from Vermont to Oneida, New York in 1848. Noyes had been struggling to reach a life of Perfection, but ha
uctuated between evangelical success and sordid scandal; in part because he often tried to convert prostitutes and was seldom as successful with them as they with him. On one occasion, he asked two respectable young ladies to come to bed with him in order to test their virtue. They both failed the test. He developed a system of “complex marriage” based on the notion that the foundation of Christianity is the ultimate selflessness of sharing mates.
All the “association” utopias were inevitably doomed, not because of eccentric doctrines, amateur administration and questionable devotees, but because essentially, they were trying to flee, or hide, from the reality of the machine age.