North American Phalanx, New Jersey, USA
Utopian Socialists
1842 - 1858

1 Common Room 2 Apartments 3 Kitchen

1843 North American Phalanx Plan: Drawn from Communes in the New World by L. and O.M. Ungers
Between 1842 and 1858 more than forty phalanxes were established in the USA. To many Americans, at the time experiencing the first bitter consequence of industrialization, the idea of co-operation without any radical communist tendencies, seemed to be a perfect solution. The North American Phalanx, considered the most successful American phalanstery, was founded in New Jersey in 1843 as a test case for Fourierism in America and was used to promote the philosophy in Europe and America. While a phalanstery resembling Versailles was never built, the community implemented a number of key aspects of Fourierism including: farming with an emphasis on fruit growing; labour divided into groups; and payment arranged according to the work. The community flourished and grew to 100 members.

Living in a single building was seen as an antidote to the isolation and miserable conditions of the world. The North American Phalanx contained a common room for meetings and two-room apartments accessible via shared entrances. The phalanx had to be enlarged several times to accommodate the growing population. Fourierism was attacked by the American press and public as revolutionary, immoral and irreligious. The population slowly dwindled and disbanded when a fire destroyed mills and workshops in 1854.

 1972 North American Phalanx Photo: US National Park Service Historic American Buildings SurveyNam semper semper ex
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Annie Schneider

Communes in the New World

The question of how to live together—of how best to live together—is the foundation of any society. The last few years have exposed the fault lines in our current system: climatic catastrophe, economic crisis, supply chain collapse, civil unrest, rampant inequality, and a global pandemic. We live in congested cities and in potentially dangerous proximity, yet remain isolated. In light of these mounting pressures, it’s time to revisit the fundamentals. How to Live Together offers alternative ways of being, thinking, dwelling, and living. It calls into question every basic assumption and prevailing social norm: belief, sex, the nuclear family, property ownership, our relationship to land, production, and consumption. It is both a critique and a roadmap.