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Étienne Cabet ( January 1, 1788, Dijon, Côte-d'Or – November 9, 1856) was a French philosopher and utopian socialist. He was the founder of the Icarian movement and led a group of emigrants to found a new society in the United States.

In 1831, he was elected to the Chamber of Deputies in France, but due to his bitter attacks on the government he was accused of treason in 1834 and fled to England, seeking political asylum. Influenced by Robert Owen, he wrote Voyage et aventures de lord William Carisdall en Icarie ("Travel and Adventures of Lord William Carisdall in Icaria") (1840), which depicted a utopia in which an elected government controlled all economic activity and supervised social affairs, the family remaining the only other independent unit. Icaria is the name of the fictional country and ideal society he describes.

In 1839, Cabet returned to France to advocate a communitarian social movement, for which he invented the term communisme.[1] Cabet's notion of a communal society influenced other socialist writers and philosophers, notably Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels [2] [3]. Some of these other writers ignored Cabet's Christian influences, as described in his book Vrai Christianisme (Real Christianity).

In 1848, Cabet gave up on the notion of reforming French society. He led a group of followers from across France to the United States to organize an Icarian community. They came first to Texas, then moved to Nauvoo, Illinois to a site recently vacated by the Mormons. A new colony was established in "Icaria, Iowa" (near what is now Corning, Iowa). After disputes within the Nauvoo community, Cabet was expelled and he went to St. Louis, Missouri in 1855, where he died the following year. The last Icarian colony at Corning disbanded in 1898.


  1. ^ "CABET, Etienne (1788-1856) Fondateur du communisme en France". Recherches sur l’anarchisme. Retrieved 2007-02-27. 
  2. ^ "Engels To Marx". Retrieved 2007-06-05. 
  3. ^ "Engels To Étienne Cabet 5 April 1848". Retrieved 2007-06-05. 

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