Charles Fourier, Utopian Socialism and Attractive Labour
This chapter examines the critique of work put forward by the early-nineteenth-century utopian-socialist Charles Fourier. It analyses the concept of ‘repugnant labour’ in Fourier and its place within a wider critique of early industrial capitalism. The analysis then turns to a discussion of the details of Fourier’s utopian proposals for a better society, in particular, his notion of an ‘attractive labour’ that would transform work into play. The chapter moves on to discuss the most problematical aspects of the critique of Fourier. It points out his Antisemitism, his colonialist mindset and his positive vision of the state. The chapter suggests these most objectionable aspects of his thought arise in part out of an affirmative, largely phenomenological and transhistorical, understanding of work.