A new, somewhat astonishing, statue was inaugurated yesterday, close to Place de Clichy. It replaces a statue of Charles Fourier (1772-1837), which, in 1942 together with a multitude of other Paris statues disappeared during the Nazi occupation; the bronze was needed for other purposes.
Charles Fourier was what you may consider as a predecessor to socialism, utopian socialism, well before Marx, Engels… He was also the creator of the word “feminism” and defended the liberty of women. He claimed poverty to be the major cause of “disorder in society”, that work should be correctly paid and even those who could not work should receive a decent minimum. Every man, woman and child should be offered the chance to education. He proposed an – utopian - kind of society where workers of both sexes should be recompensed according to their contribution and where their work should be adapted to their interest and desires. This could take place in what he called “phalanstères”, grand “hotels” where people would live together in total and self-contained community. Some experiences were made in Europe and in the States, even after his death, but they did not survive as such. Some buildings are still there (e.g. at Guise, an hour’s drive north of Paris).
His ideas were perhaps utopian, but they are still referred to and several societies are there to defend them or at least keep them in memory.
Why an apple? Why what he called “the fourth apple”? Fourier was of course against the then beginning capitalism, the commercialism… He noted that an apple in Paris could cost 100 times more than where it was produced. He made this to a symbol. The three preceding symbolic apples were the one Eve gave to Adam, the “apple of discord” that was given to Venus / Aphrodite, and the apple that was supposed to have dropped on Newton’s head. (Without a plate explaining this and giving a brief story about Charles Fourier I guess unfortunately that most people passing by will wonder why this apple is here.)
So, instead of trying to remake the original statue, the Paris authorities decided to go for an apple. Created by Franck Scurti it was then placed on the original base (surrounded by coloured, transparent “windows”) and thus now officially inaugurated by the mayors of the 9th and 18th arrondissements. (It stands just on the border).
Charles Fourier is buried at the nearby Montmartre cemetery.
If you are interested... here is another post I wrote about this, some three years later.