The Enigmatic Legacy of Charles Fourier: Joseph Charlier and Basic Income

The Enigmatic Legacy of Charles Fourier: Joseph Charlier and Basic Income History of Political Economy 33:3 (2001) presented a surprisingly modern basic income scheme as early as 1848 and then advocated it in other works over some fifty years. Despite being reticent about his intellectual ancestry, Charlier acknowledged an initial but not uncritical sympathy with Fourierism. The general affinity between the idea of a basic income and the Fourierist notion of the minimum—that is, a minimum presumably paid in kind— has been indicated in some of the limited discussions of the intellectual origins of the idea, but apparently not subjected to any sustained analysis.2 This article analyzes Charlier’s scheme and its intellectual pedigree in detail. In the first section, we consider Fourier’s view of the minimum and demonstrate that it differed considerably from a modern basic income. The next section reviews the association between the idea of the minimum and the doctrine of the right to work in the thought of Fourier’s leading disciple, Victor Considerant. We then examine Charlier’s proposals and show that they constitute a genuine basic income scheme that is distinctive and significantly different from its Fourierist precursors. Charles Fourier The suggestion that Charles Fourier was an early proponent of a basic income scheme has been http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png History of Political Economy Duke University Press

The Enigmatic Legacy of Charles Fourier: Joseph Charlier and Basic Income

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Publisher
Duke University Press
Copyright
Copyright 2001 by Duke University Press
ISSN
0018-2702
eISSN
1527-1919
D.O.I.
10.1215/00182702-33-3-459
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

History of Political Economy 33:3 (2001) presented a surprisingly modern basic income scheme as early as 1848 and then advocated it in other works over some fifty years. Despite being reticent about his intellectual ancestry, Charlier acknowledged an initial but not uncritical sympathy with Fourierism. The general affinity between the idea of a basic income and the Fourierist notion of the minimum—that is, a minimum presumably paid in kind— has been indicated in some of the limited discussions of the intellectual origins of the idea, but apparently not subjected to any sustained analysis.2 This article analyzes Charlier’s scheme and its intellectual pedigree in detail. In the first section, we consider Fourier’s view of the minimum and demonstrate that it differed considerably from a modern basic income. The next section reviews the association between the idea of the minimum and the doctrine of the right to work in the thought of Fourier’s leading disciple, Victor Considerant. We then examine Charlier’s proposals and show that they constitute a genuine basic income scheme that is distinctive and significantly different from its Fourierist precursors. Charles Fourier The suggestion that Charles Fourier was an early proponent of a basic income scheme has been

Journal

History of Political EconomyDuke University Press

Published: Sep 1, 2001

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