Charles Fourier’s oceans of lemonade

It may be thought that if the blasts of winter can be so far reduced in the northern temperate zone temperatures near the equator will become intolerably hot, but this will not be the case; other factors will contribute to making the equator more temperate, making summer in Senegal less enervating than summer now is in France. A benign and moderate range of temperatures will take the place of the storms and hurricanes which extend from the equator to the temperate zones and new climates will appear at the middle of the globe as at its poles. I shall not say anything here about the causes of this correction of the equatorial temperature, as they do not have anything to do with the creation of the northern crown. To sum up, when these various principles of moderation are operating on the earth’s atmosphere, the worst climate—such as that at Okhotsk and Yakutzk—will be able to rely on eight or nine months’ fine weather and a sky free of fogs and hurricanes, which will become almost unheard of on the continental land masses, and occur only very rarely in areas near the sea.

It goes without saying that these improvements will not affect high mountains and areas close to the sea to the same extent, particularly the three continental extremities near the south pole, which will not have a crown and will always be shrouded in ice and fog. This however will not prevent areas close to that pole sharing in different ways in the crown’s influence, which among other benefits will change the taste of the sea and disperse or precipitate bituminous particles by spreading a boreal citric acid. In combination with salt, this liquid will give the sea a flavour of the kind of lemonade known as aigresel. It will thus be easy to remove the saline and citric particles from the water and render it drinkable, which will make it unnecessary for ships to be provisioned with barrels of water. This breaking down of sea water by the boreal liquid is a necessary preliminary to the development of new sea creatures, which will provide a host of amphibious servants to pull ships and help in fisheries, replacing the ghastly legions of sea-monsters which will be annihilated by the admixture of boreal fluid and the consequent changes in the the sea’s structure. The sudden death of all of them will rid the Ocean of these vile creatures, images of the intensity of our passions which are represented by the bloodthirsty battles of so many monsters. Death will strike them all at the same moment, just as we shall see the hateful customs of civilized man, barbarians and savages disappear in an instant, to give way to the virtues which will be honoured triumphantly in the combined order because they will become the way to wealth and pleasure.

SOURCE: Fourier, Charles (1772-1837). The Theory of the Four Movements, edited by Gareth Stedman Jones and Ian Patterson; translated by Ian Patterson. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press. 1996. (Cambridge Texts in the History of Political Thought). This excerpt: First part: Exposition of some branches of the general destinies; Phases and periods of the social order in the third planet namely the earth; footnote “d” (excerpt); p. 50. Original French publication: Théorie des quatre mouvements et des destinées générales, 1808.

Note: Boldface added by RD. There are other mentions of lemonade and other sweet delights people will enjoy in this utopia, but this is the passage that gained Fourier much notoriety and ridicule.

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