Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Edouard Silberling, Entries from the Dictionary Of Phalansterian Sociology


There was apparently a little flurry of Fourierist publication in France in 1911, which the American Economic Review characterized as "the farewell attempt of a passing school." I came across Edouard Silberling's Dictionnaire de sociologie phalanstérienne while trying to answer some questions regarding a translation that Joan Roelofs and I have been working on, and although it didn't actually help me much at that moment I promised to myself that I would return and explore the work more fully. Political dictionaries are strange things, full of words which might not have much political significance to most people, displayed as occasions for explorations of the application of the political ideology in question. (See, for example, Claude Pelletier's definition of "quarry," from his own socialist dictionary.) This Fourierist dictionary certainly has some of that character, but it also functions a something like a concordance to Fourier's works. Here, as a first taste of what Silberling was up to, are the first three

Entries from the
DICTIONARY OF PHALANSTERIAN SOCIOLOGY

ABANDONMENT.—The abandonment of the weak, of children and of the elderly is one of the characteristics that civilization has borrowed from savagery. New Industrial World. 109, 407, 424.—The civilized order can only produce evil and hypocrisy. It is powerless to ensure the effective protection of the weak. Support for children quickly degenerates into exploitation, under the mask of charity, and assistance for the infirm and elderly degenerates into abuse.

BEE.—The beehive and the hornets’ nest depict the two political orders of harmony and civilization. Q. 429.—The hive depicts the three functions of unitary industry: production, distribution, consumption. III. 215.
— A bee transported to an island furnished only with bare rock will nonetheless be attracted to flowers. II. 315. — Attraction is a primordial impulse, indestructible in all the beings in creation. Attraction is the divine impetus.

ABUNDANCE.—Abundance will result from the organization of the passional series, or societary regime, which will multiply the pastures, the orchards, the poultry-yards, etc. It will increase the cultivated land in all zones, along with industry and all the sources of wealth.  Q. 243. III. 564, 567, 568, 571. L. 19.
— In civilization we see the abundance of products alongside poverty and hunger, and if the people of civilization do not die of the urgent need for food, they die of hunger slowly through privations, surrounded by products in superabundance. N. 29, 30. — We see entire peoples,  like the Irish in 1822, die of hunger in times of perfect peace and abundance. IV. 362. Haven’t we seen recently, in India, whole populations dying beside piles of wheat?
— In civilization poverty is born from abundance itself. N. 35. — It is an economic monstrosity endemic in advanced civilization. We have a recent example of it in France, where the surplus production of wine has caused the poverty of the producers.