The Hierarchies of Cuckoldry and Bankruptcy

The Hierarchies of Cuckoldry and Bankruptcy

Charles Fourier

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Translated, with an introduction, by Geoffrey Longnecker / October 2011 / 4.5 x 7, 72 pp. / 978-0-9841155-5-6

In this zoological guidebook to cuckoldry and commerce, Fourier offers a caustic critique of the bankruptcy of marriage and the prostitution of the economy, and the hypocrisies of a civilization that over-regulates sexual congress while allowing the financial sector to screw over the public. Gathered together here for the first time are Fourier’s two “Hierarchies”—humorously regimented parades of civilization’s cheated and cheated-on in the domestic sphere of sex and the economic sphere of buying and selling commodities. “The Hierarchy of Cuckoldry”—translated into English for the first time—presents 72 species of the male cuckold, ranging from such “common class” cases as the Health-Conscious Cuckold to the Short-Horned Sympathetic, Optimist and Mystical Cuckolds, and the Long-Horned varieties of the Irate, Disgraced and Posthumous Cuckolds. For Fourier, these amount to 72 manifestations of women’s “secret insurrection” against the institution of marriage. “The Hierarchy of Bankruptcy” presents 36 species of the fraudulent bankrupt: a range of Light, Grandiose, and Contemptible shades of financial manipulators who force creditors, cities and even nations to bail them out of ultimately profitable bankruptcies. In these attacks on the morality of monogamy and the perils of laissez-faire capitalism, Fourier’s “Hierarchies” resonate uncannily with our contemporary world.

Admired by Marx and Engels, the Surrealists, the Situationists, Walter Benjamin and Roland Barthes, the great utopian socialist Charles Fourier (1772–1837) has been many things to many people: a proto-feminist, a Surrealist ancestor, a cantankerous cosmologist, a social critic and humorist and to this day one of France’s truest visionary thinkers. He was also, as this volume demonstrates, a maniacal taxonomist.


“Fourier is not our contemporary—he’s weirder and more challenging than that. Nevertheless, his work has something cryptic and discomforting to tell our faulty contemporary world.”
—Karl Whitney, 3:AM Magazine

“Reading a document as removed from modernity as The Hierarchies is like viewing a map of a forgotten country, labeled according to an indecipherable legend. Left to wander the foreign landscape, we are freed from the puzzle of the historical Fourier, and left only with the strange, exceptional human being that Fourier undoubtedly was.”
—Dylan Suher, The Review of Contemporary Fiction

“These are good times to read The Hierarchies of Cuckoldry and Bankruptcy. [...] One imagines it protruding from the suit pockets of politicians meeting to decide the economic fate of Europe; or, well thumbed, from Frau Merkel's purse.”
—Mike Mosher, Leonardo

“The haunting thing about this little book is that much of it remains quite timely.”
—Sophie Grimes, Anobium

“This excellent translation of two of Charles Fourier’s jokes should disabuse any student of socialism who still imagines that Fourier was serious when he wrote about pink lemonade seas and anti-lions.”
—Pamela Pilbeam, The English Historical Review

“Fourier, no fan of monogamy or marriage, believed the only hope for civilization was for women to liberate themselves. That would make him a cuck by many standards—in which case, let’s look to the cucks. They might just be the future of manliness.”
—Jessica Crispin, The Baffler

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