This article establishes a conversation between the work of materialist socialist Charles Fourier and Marxist social reproduction theory (SRT). SRT has laid the ground to explore who produces the producer, in order to analyze and integrate the role of reproductive labor into a comprehensive Marxist view of the capitalist economy. In the context of the critical re-appraisal of the labor of social reproduction, Fourier offers a key materialist perspective which is also present in Marx: the identity between labor and desire in the socialist project. Fourier's materialism, I show, greatly influenced both Marx and Engels, for whom labor was also to be re-organized in order to fulfil human passions, according to our natural inclinations and needs, and not the other way around. Revisiting reproductive labor from a Marxist and Fourierist lenses is thus also reconnecting with our bodies and desire in a Spinozist manner, and envisioning that any social transformation will also be the result of a dialectical revolution initiated from below, at the level of the living infrastructure or affect. In Fourier, the continuity between production and consumption (and between humanity and nature) is a guiding principle for the socialist society to come. This article argues that in addition to the critique of existing power structures and forms of alienated labor that must be materially and strategically replaced, Marxism also needs to cultivate forms of labor and modes of the labor process where pleasure is affirmed, and where desire can find fertile grounds to re-imagine a different society and push back against the rule of capital.
"Fourier, Marx, and Social Reproduction."
CLCWeb: Comparative Literature and Culture
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