Front Page Titles (by Subject) Feminism, the Saint-Simonians & Fourier - Literature of Liberty, Spring 1980, vol. 3, No. 1
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Feminism, the Saint-Simonians & Fourier - Leonard P. Liggio, Literature of Liberty, Spring 1980, vol. 3, No. 1 
Literature of Liberty: A Review of Contemporary Liberal Thought was published first by the Cato Institute (1978-1979) and later by the Institute for Humane Studies (1980-1982) under the editorial direction of Leonard P. Liggio.
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Feminism, the Saint-Simonians & Fourier
“The Philosophical Bases of Feminism: The Feminist Doctrines of the Saint-Simonians and Charles Fourier.” Philosophical Forum 7 (Spring 1976):277–293.
The feminist doctrine of Saint-Simon (1760–1825) has been extended and distorted by his disciple, Prosper Enfantin (1796–1864), and thus has been considered somewhat of a mockery. However, the actual basis of his doctrine was a radical precept of modern day feminism.
Saint-Simon developed his world view in the aftermath of the great Protestant and French revolutions, when abrupt changes in social customs brought an age of optimism to a constricted civilization. Saint-Simon saw this new age as the opening of an “organic” period of harmony and productivity; a new society unified by a motivating purpose where work becomes a virtue in itself. With this development, women (like all citizens) should be given the opportunity to develop their capacities beyond their traditional roles as domestics.
From this suggestive legacy, Enfantin created a new doctrine whereby the stereo-typed feminine characteristics of love and affection—generally considered non-essential skills to survival—became the foundation of his system for reorganizing society. The couple pretre Pere and Mere would serve as the earthly representatives of an androgynous God, ruling over the morality of the future age.
Enfantin espoused the emancipation of women as the only method to inaugurate this new era of history based on love, cooperation, and production. This movement was shocking to this age, but did awaken interest in the emancipation of the working class, and particularly in the liberation of women.
Charles Fourier (1772–1837), considered the first renowned feminist, advocated the absolute equality of the sexes in moral behavior as well as political. Fourier was not particularly sympathetic to women and their plight, but based his liberating philosophy on the call of God towards a cosmic, harmonic balance. Fourier described true individual liberty as the full development and satisfaction of all the “passions” (opulence, truth, harmony, etc.) which he saw as reflections of God’s nature.
The philosophies of Saint-Simonians and Charles Fourier did not advocate egalitarianism, but they did agree that all individuals should have the opportunity to develop their unique talents and capacities. Both sought firmer grounds than natural rights arguments to justify the emancipation of women.
Saint-Simonians saw the necessity of the “new morality” to usher in an age of “peace & plenty.” This change would be automatically instigated by the nature of women in their properly esteemed place in society.
Fourier sought harmonic equilibrium, and viewed women as a force of passionate attraction in this reorganized society.
On a practical level, the goals of both doctrines were concerned with producing material abundance necessary for the greatest happiness and health of all members of society. Secondly, they sought to make the conditions of labor more satisfying for the workers.
Two unique points of Fourierism and Saint-Simonianism are that they both declared a need for the radical transformation of society through education and natural wealth, rather than revolutionary means. Secondly, the emancipation of women was placed as the very center of their doctrines.