Cahiers

2008 / n° 19

Victor Considerant, 1808-2008

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Editorial

Thomas Bouchet
Michel Cordillot
About a Bicentenary
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Etudes

Jonathan Beecher
« Victor, Charles, Désirée and the Others » : an Interview with Jonathan Beecher

The well known American historian specialist of Fourier and the École sociétaire revisits the reasons that led him to write a biography of Victor Considerant, stressing the differences between the latter and the biography he devoted to Fourier, anlyzing Considerant’s « humanitarian idealism » and « romantic socialism », recalling some figures of l’École sociétaire who would be well worth a biography, questioning the usage by Considerant of Fourier’s ideas, and eventually giving the main lines of the book that he is writing right now.

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Marc Vuilleumier
About Considerant’s Conferences in Geneva (october 1946)

After a brief analysis of the emergence of Fourierist ideas in Geneva and the setting up of a phalansterian group, one will endeavor to examine the impact of the presentations given by Considerant in October 1846 on the basis of local and archival sources. These presentations took place immediately after a revolution, and Considerant decided then to send to those assembled to draft a Constitution his proposals for holding true elections, which was subsequently refused by the radicals as well as by the conservatives.

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Michel Cordillot
Considerant’s Political Evolution on the Eve of the 1848 Revolution. About Joseph Rey’s "Appel au ralliement des socialistes"

While the general circumstances of Considerant’s political evolution prior to 1848 are well known, his debate with Joseph Rey (an old timer of democracy, who had introduced in France Robert Owen’s ideas, and was preaching a form of syncretic communism) documents his radical evolution towards republicanism. Considerant makes clear his acceptation of the notion of social and democratic Republic. The efforts of the Fourierists in the fall of 1848 in favor of unity, which largely contributed to the birth of the démoc-soc party were accordingly the logical consequence of Considerant’s stance in the summer of 1847.

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Thomas Bouchet
The School and the Parliament

During a whole year, Considerant was at once the leader of the École sociétaire and a representative of the people in the Parliament assembled to draft a constitution for the Second Republic. The point here is to analyse his experience, at the same time of paramount importance and a bitter one. Convinced that his two commitments were complementary, Considerant invested much energy in the Assemblée, but his dream of fourierism as a republic spawned anger, amusement, or indifference. In spite of his failure, he constinued to call himself a « phalansterian, [...] a member of European democracy, a French citizen, and a Representative of the People ».

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Martin Stohler
Considerant, Bürkli et la création d’un espace politique, 1846-1850

In a modern, participatory democracy, citizens cannot assemble like they would in Athens or in ancient Sparta to adopt political decisions. There are too many of them, and their territory is too vast. To go further than a mere representative democracy, it becomes necessary to create a political sphere with instruments that make it possible to participate in the decisions of the government or parliament. Victor Considerant, together with the Swiss socialist Karl Bürkli took an active part in the debate about such democratic instruments. Their contribution is analysed in the present article.

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Federico De La Torre
Socialist Ideas in mid-19th Century Mexico

As of the end of the XVIIIth Century, the theoreticians of utopian socialism started to pay a growing interest for the American continent, which was at the origin of diverse traditions. This article focuses specifically on the emergence in the city of Guadalajara of one of those traditions, influenced by fourierism, around the middle of the XIXth Century. It can be accounted for by the links established by some of its members with the leaders of fourierism, and first of all with Considerant.

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Bruno Verlet
From one Texas to Another. French Utopians in the American West

What role did Considerant play in the experiment at La Reunion ? A close reading of his Au Texas (two versions published in 1854 and 1855) seems to indicate that his analyses were hardly rigorous, far too optimistic, and that he remained largely indifferent to the concrete conditions in which the experiment was to take place. By describing an idealized Texas, did he not contribute from the beginning to the ultimate failure of La Reunion ?

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Louis Ucciani
Under the Sign of the Indian

Considerant’s failure with his colony at La Reunion is addressed at several levels, where the facts pertaining to Considerant’s personal trajectory, his acceptation of Fourier’s system of destinies, and the fate of utopias in general repeatedly collide. Using the image of the Indian as an imaginary red thread, the purpose of this paper is to define the conditions making possible a concrete achievement. Taking failure as a starting point means to try and understand its causes, endeavouring at the same time not to repeat them. One of the most remarkable aspects of this experience was its anticipation of the theoretical depreciation of space. However surprising this might sound, especially today when space seems to have become a well-appreciated object of theory, it nevertheless was an actual attempt. This leads us to the following insight for the present time : how can one think while simultaneously neutralizing space.

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Bernard Desmars
Forget Texas ? The Fourierists and Victor Considerant from the End of the 1850s to the Beginning of the 20th Century

Around 1860, as the Fourierists were attempting to reorganize the Societary School, they submited Considerant’s past action to a highly critical examination. More that the Texas failure, they denounced his authoritarian management of the phalansterian movement and his commitment to political struggle. Yet, Considerant returned to France in 1869 to the acclaim of his friends, who tried in vain to persuade him to take back the School leadership. In the course of the following years, he was repeatedly urged to take part in the activities and manifestations inspired by fourierism. Yet, by the end of the 1880s a new group had constituted itself without him. And after his death, what was left of the Fourierist movement placed the memory of Fourier above that of Considerant.

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Michel Vernus
Quelques aspects de la postérité politique du fouriérisme dans le Jura (fin du XIXe-début du XXe siècle)
A few aspects of the Political Posterity of Fourierism in Jura (end of the 19th - beginning of the 20th Century)

Concerning the Jura, rather than the presence of a Fourierist tradition at the turn of the XXth Century, one should speak of a persisting memory, of references, of some diffuse influence through emergent farmers’ unionism, or the cooperatives producing wine and cheese. Two congressmen from Jura kept the flame alive. Victor Poupin (1838-1906), who was close to the Ligue de l’enseignement (The Education League) and to Wladimir Gagneur, published in La Démocratie jurassienne possibly the last text written by Considerant, entitled « Le problème social » (“The Social Problem”). Georges Trouillot (1851-1916), who presented in 1901 before the French Parliament the law pertaining to associations, presided the association for the erection of a statue of Considerant in Salins. Favoring both a secular state, they possibly saw in this reference made to Considerant a moral and social dimension which was needed in building a secular Republic.

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Jean-Claude Dubos
The Origins and the Family of Considerant

Considerant’s family had been living in Salins for the past four generations. His great grandfather, Jacques, was a bookbinder and used clothes dealer in Salins. His grandfather Claude was a bookdealer. His father Jean-Baptiste was a professor of rhetorical Art at the local high school ; he married Suzanne Courbe, the daughter of a public notary and a first degree cousin of Désiré Adrien Gréa, who numbered among Fourier’s very first disciples, and was later to be elected representative in Parliament for the Doubs department (1828-1834), and then for the Jura department (1848). Victor Considerant maintained close links with his Gréa cousins, whereas he does not appear to have maintained any with the Belgian branch of the family.

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Marcel Cerf
The Architect Joseph Louis Delbrouck (1819-1871), Fourierist and Communard

Not well known, the architect Louis Delbrouck, one of the signatories of the « Manifeste électoral » (“Electoral Manifesto”) published by Considerant in April 1848, together with Félix Cantagrel, Allyre Bureau, Victor Hennequin, or César Daly, was also an enthusiastic forty-eighter. In 1871, this uncommon Fourierist offered his services to the Paris Commune, while consistenly refusing to bear arms.

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Patrice Rolland
Considerant and the Debate on the European Federation

As regards the question of peace in Europe, Considerant isn’t really Fourier’s disciple. In the 1840s, the idea of a European federation spread in many European circles, but in very approximate forms. Considerrant perceived quite early the link existing between the emergence of a « pacific and industrious Europe » and the new conditions required for safeguarding peace. He saw the forthcoming international legal developments. Back from the USA, he pronounced himself long before many others in favour of an American type of federalism : his thought concerning harmonian Unity thus became more precise, losing at the time part of its originality.

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Chantal Guillaume
Victor Considerant, un fouriériste en politique ?
Victor Considerant, a Fourierist in Politics ?

Considerant was not just the curator of the Fourierist doctrine. This becomes obvious when one examines his work or his political commitment in the light of XIXth Century historical turmoils. He tried to usher fourierism into politics by making it consistent with the exigencies of the newborn Republic. His phalansterian socialism, whose specificities need to be grasped, was part and parcel of the political struggle of his times. Thus his analyses eventually bear witness to the difficulty of finding the right « socialist formula », of adapting theory to practice, of formulating a political theory adjusting to social experience.

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Sources

Thomas Bouchet
« Cette science sociale qui fait toute ma vie » : une lettre de Considerant à Charles Magnin, 6 février 1830 (fonds Magnin, Salins)
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Loïc Rignol
Les Bases de la Politique positive, ou Normes d’un vitalisme socialiste chez Victor Considerant (extraits)
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Edward Castleton
Les manuscrits inédits de Pierre-Joseph Proudhon : une critique des idées fouriéristes (observations préliminaires)
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Illustrations

Considerant par l’image
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Expérimentations

Chantal Guillaume
At the Peasant Market in Millau
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Chantal Guillaume
Marcel Barbu
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Louis Ucciani
The Babayagas
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Chantal Guillaume
Slow Food : Gastrosophy Rediscovered
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Notes de lecture

Thomas Bouchet
BREMAND Nathalie : Les socialismes et l’enfance. Expérimentations et utopie 1830-1870 (2008)
Rennes, Presses universitaires de Rennes, 2008, 365 p.
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Bernard Desmars
GODIN Jean-Baptiste André : Lettres du familistère (2008)
textes choisis, établis et annotés par Frédéric K. PANNI, photographies de Hugues Fontaine, Guise, Les Editions du Familistère, 2008, 160 p.
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Thomas Bouchet
GRANVILLE Jean-Ignace-Isidore Gérard, dit : La meilleure forme de gouvernement (2008)
Paris, Abstème et Bobance, 2008, 19 p.
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Jean-Claude Dubos
GUENGANT Jean-Yves : Brest et la franc-maçonnerie. Les Amis de Sully, des origines à nos jours (2008)
Brest, Armeline, 2008, 477 p.
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Thomas Bouchet
CHARLOT Patrick , GASPARINI Eric (dir.) : La femme dans l’histoire du droit et des idées politiques (2008)
Dijon, EUD, 2008, 240 p.
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Laurence Bouchet
SCHERER René : Pour un nouvel anarchisme (2008)
Paris, éditions Cartouche, 2008
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Gaston Bordet
WEY Francis : Notre Maître-Peintre Gustave Courbet (2008)
La Rochelle, Rumeur des âges, 2007, 60 p., avec une introduction, des notes et une édition critique par Frédérique Desbuissons
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Actualités

Informations diverses
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