Phalanstery

economic-dictionary

Within the socialist and communist theoretical sphere, this concept exists as a perfect egalitarian community model, in which production and consumption are carried out by society in an equitable and utopian way.

The concept of phalanstery was developed by the theorist Charles Fourier, who from France became one of the initial thinkers of communist theory within the sphere of utopian socialism.

These are population centers that voluntarily form a self-sufficient system, generally based on the use of agricultural resources and moving away from the purchase and sale of external goods and services.

Phalansteries are often referred to as phalanx as well. By denomination they had to suppose the union of something more than a thousand people in a community marked by solidarity and the complete distribution of resources, both productive and consumer goods.

Main characteristics of a phalanstery

This concept conceived in the beginnings of socialism and Marxism is defined by a series of distinguishable features:

  • The maximum number of members should not exceed 1600 people, as Fourier pointed out in his theory
  • The concept of private property disappears, the solidarity and equitable distribution of the means available to the community is absolute.
  • It is identified with the development of mainly agricultural activities. Thus the phalanstery would be located in a rural environment taking advantage of its resources
  • In a very simple scheme, its operation resembles that of a small autarky
  • It raised the non-existence of different social classes in the population, since individuals were able to decide their occupation within the community freely.

According to Fourier, the application and subsequent expansion of this social model would mean achieving a more just global society and a full level of well-being.

Historical experience of the concept of phalanstery

Although it is true that since its origin this socialist concept has had real representation in different parts of the world, its application has in no case achieved relevant levels of success.

Industrialization, emigration to large urban centers, and the economic phenomenon of globalization have meant clear disincentives for the expansion of these types of communities.

As an anecdote, in the 60s of the last century and with the advance of idealist left movements such as hippism, they renewed the reading of the concept of phalanstery, especially in areas of the United States that are further away from the big cities.

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