Charles Fourier was a philosopher in France. Some of his views, deemed unacceptable in his time, have become mainstream in today's society. He also inspired the founding of several communities in the United States.
Fourier was born on April 7, 1772 in Besancon, France. Upon his father's death in 1781, Fourier received an inheritance that enabled him to travel throughout France. He often changed businesses and residences due to his passion for seeking knowledge in all aspects of life.
One of Fourier's main ideas was based around a community he called a "phalanx". In these four level apartment complexes, rich people lived on the top floors and poor ones on the lower levels. Wealth was determined on what job a person had; a job was assigned to a person based on their wants and desires in life. However, poverty was eliminated by paying poor people sufficient wages and even giving those unable to work a sort of minimum wage. In Fourier's view, a society that cooperated like this would operate with high levels of productivity. Communities that were inspired by these ideas include Utopia, Ohio; La Reunion near what is now Dallas, Texas; the North American Phalanx in New Jersey and Community Place and Sodus Bay in New York.
Charles Fourier also held abstract views (at the time) on many other aspects of life. He believed that homosexuality was a personal preference. He was also a strong supporter of women's rights, believing that women should be considered for all jobs based on their abilities and skills rather than just their gender. He felt that every human being could be liberated through education and liberation of passion.
Fourier's writings focused on a new world order based on unity of action and harmonious collaboration. After his death in 1837, his ideas were carried on by followers such as Victor Considerant.