Flora Tristan: the outcast rebel

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* The Ideology of Flora

* Concepts of Subject, Society, Education and God

* Bibliography


Flora Tristan’s life was very complex, has been described as a socialist, positivist, romantic, feminist, etc. It is the job of this work holistically meet the life and work of this controversial woman, and through his writings and writings, to know each of the approaches and ideologies present in their works and then, consequently, to know their thinking, understanding their reality and form the conceptions of society and subject to Flora was through his short but not easy existence.

* Biography

The Pariah Pilgrim

By Nelson Mendez. (Professor UCV)

The official story is often little or nothing to deal with rebellions unshakeable, thoughts bold and free women, let alone someone who fully meets these three conditions result. Is that the case of this extraordinary woman, because they can not be ignored, wished to be reduced to a purely anecdotal, to the category of scholarly dissertation topic, or even aborted present as the star of best-sellers, when in fact his lucid ideas, their proposals for action and example remain fully vital value for those who aspire to true freedom and equality.

The story of the life of Flora Tristan (1803-1844) is filled with circumstances that seem torn from the romantic novels of the time to taste and are irresistible reference. Born in Paris, eldest daughter of Mariano Tristan Peruvian wealthy aristocrat, and Leisner Therese, commoner emigre who had lived in Spain. At home are regulars some American travelers as the young Simon Bolivar (whose friendship with Therese made rivers of ink historic chismografo) and his teacher Simon Rodriguez. Then came the Napoleonic wars and the death of the father (in 1808), lost contact with the Peruvian parentage and ceasing to send money, which began a period of poverty for the widow and two children, mitigated by the hope of the future access to family fortune when they could travel to America.

Among hardships, the mother tries to give them a decent education level, but must be imposed and in 1820 the already beautiful girl to work as a laborer in a lithography workshop, whose young owner-Andre Chazal-camera to catch it. Fleeing poverty and maternal under pressure, agrees to marry Flora in 1821, are 2 sons and 1 daughter, Aline, mother of the famous painter Paul Gauguin, “but in 1826 no longer supports this loveless union and conventional, leaving home and starting a bitter legal and personal dispute that extends the next 12 years until Chazal nearly kills and is sentenced to 20 years hard labor.

This personal experience will undoubtedly be a stimulus to bring out the thinking and action that will be important reference for the feminist movement, it is a figure of emergency complaint with the heartfelt sensitivity the plight of women of their time, raising claims which follow still present.

Hope for the paternal inheritance will be broken forever when Flora trip to Peru in 1833-34, still being cared for by relatives, the answer is cool to ask for a fair distribution of household wealth, yielding only in the provision of a modest pension year, which will be removed after the evident political commitment. Returns to Europe, reaffirming the radical egalitarian convictions is maturing from 1825, with the reading of authors such as Saint-Simon, his disciple Aurora Dupin, Fourier, Considerant, Owen and direct contacts with the labor movement on both sides of the Channel La Mancha, as have several extended stays in Britain.

In addition, the trip to America serves to perceive their personal roots and objectives of his later fights in a different way, comes to identify itself as “The Peruvian” and, indeed, as “The Pariah” in a proclamation international pioneer of socialism and its struggles.

In 1835 he published his first pamphlet, dedicated to the situation of poor foreign women in France, in 1837 comes the second in favor of divorce in 1838 are followed by two volumes of his daily trip to America, dedicated to the Peruvian and signed by “your friend and fellow”, its title is Peregrinations of a pariah and gives great popularity in Parisian literary circles, reaffirmed months after the novel Mephis or the proletariat, as a writer raised to the category of rival famous George Sand. Continues in 1839 with a selection and translation into French of letters of the Liberator, and in 1840 his critical views of British capitalist society give rise to Walks in London. At the same time, the woman whose beauty and talent dazzled to writers and journalists, deepen their active engagement with radical social struggles of that time, first by the real emancipation of women and working class but also by the abolition of the death penalty and slavery, against religious obscurantism and many other causes, always emphasizing its full dedication and sharp ideas.

As sensing the approaching death, the last two years of Flora Tristan are fully in work and thought, being an imaginative influence perceived even in the texts unromantic Karl Marx, who is known in those days.

It then writes the Workers ‘Union (published in 1843) and the emancipation of women (unpublished until 1846), works that make intellectual and political maturity, in addition, throughout France undertakes the task of organizing the Workers’ Union which reflected the experience English of the Trade Unions, but with an emphasis internationalist and radical socialist who make just the appreciation of those who see it as the forgotten forerunner of the First International, as his biographer Peruvian Luis Alberto Sanchez, who says: “That was International Workers’ Association the old Workers’ Union, amplified, ecumenical and virile, changed into a logic-perhaps therefore less penetrating-male brains to pass, emerging from the impetuous fervor of a woman. Nobody remembered the famous pioneer in the assembly of Albert Hall. But she, with his thought and example, was headed from afar, from eternity or anything. Maybe if someone is identified more his spirit was that of a bearded man burning confusing and verb, which used to rudely disagree Marx: Michael Bakunin. “* The Ideology of Flora

Undoubtedly, Flora Tristan was a somewhat controversial character and versatile, it went from being the daughter of one of the most powerful aristocratic families of Peru to extremely poor youth in France. It has been known for being one of the most significant women concerning the European feminist movement, is known as a rebel and revolutionary part of his work was dedicated to the dignity of the labor sector. It is considered utopian socialist. Karl Marx referred to it as “a precursor to high noble ideals.” Several anarchists took it as a flag for his extensive experience in the struggle for the emancipation of women, labor union drive and heartbreaking critique prevailing capitalist system. He has also been ranked as one of the main representatives of the illustration in feminist, their ideology of freedom and equality. Its literary form is listed under the romantic, and the way in which observed and studied the world, was designated as positivist. Some of these terms seem contradictory to each other. But certainly, Flora Tristan, listed as a character in transition, met each of these facets. In which then exploited only one, the positivist. One of the many faces that could play this fighting and suffering wife.

Flora had three great misfortunes that marked his life: to be illegitimate, being poor and being female. Being a woman in a world of defense that has not incorporated the struggles of women … there very rightly calls itself “Paria”. When referring to Flora imagine their hard life directly, or perhaps we imagine his work as a political ideologue of both the unions and feminism. But from the positivist view might have been missing a key role in its existence: the travel writer.

Flora books are chronic and social analysis, it is interesting how how flora through their observations and experiences makes a form of sociology, analytical trend then become more serious and profound in his later work: “London Walks “. But what are these traits positivists

In “Peregrinations of a Pariah” Flora explains the social situation in Peru as a product of backwardness and barbarism. Your prospect signs a recalcitrant positivism whereby people less “evolved” must necessarily pass through the social stages to reach a scientific society and positive. Explains a definition of “other” (non Europe) just from a positivist perspective, is the representation of the barbarian. Quoting the statement made by a fragment of the work (Description of Praia, Cape Verde “):

“The whole population was in the streets, breathing the fresh in front of their houses. So, feel smell of black that can not be compared with nothing, nauseous and pursues her everywhere. You go into a house and instantly feel an emanation offensive. If one approaches the children to see their games has to leave quickly so disgusting is the smell they exhale! […] felt unwell so unbearable that we were obliged to hasten the march to find out the reach of those African exhalations. ”

Vargas Llosa in his text “The paradise of the other corner,” explains that these words “referred to the smell of misery and cruelty for the fate of Africans in the hands of European traders.” It should be noted that expressing Llosa is the interiority of a woman in a plausible and there is no document conveying the rectification of Flora and the novel can not be classified as an official document.

This contempt for the savage is instituted on positivism and on a Eurocentric ideological politics, where the customs of non-Westerners are viewed with contempt and no virtue is found in them. Also, the customs of the people of Arequipa are seen as a product of the backwardness of such a society. Just read the description of a religious holiday to realize that these people are included in the despicable barbarity which both referred to:

“It was a new thing for me, I, daughter of the nineteenth century, newly arrived from Paris, the representation of a mystery under the portico of a church in the presence of a huge crowd of people. But the show was more full of lessons brutality , the coarse and ragged garments of the same people whose extreme ignorance and superstition retrotraian stupid imagination to the Middle Ages. All those white faces, black, brown expressing a savage ferocity and fanaticism exalted. ”

Of course, the perception is that the festival could only belong to Europe’s past. The party as such is most conspicuous feature their backwardness, “if I had to place it in its place in European history would be in a period exceeded.” Without that great vehemence of the religious, as errant.

In fact, endorsed the core beliefs of positivism: science is the only speech that must be taken into account and societies “evolve” in a “progressive.” Comte’s welfare states are the first step of a theological state to a metaphysical state and from there to a positive state. In this journey, there is a change not only of beliefs and institutions, but actors. As just raised the positivist ideal is not yet known. It was the time. The impression of the illustration results in a vision that is a good development in positivism. Flora endorses the progress: “The gradual progress from century to century is easily verifiable by historical documents that we have the social status of people in earlier times. To deny it is necessary not want to see and the atheist in order to be consistent with himself, is the only one interested in doing ”

Then there is Flora who dismisses other peoples, and their late evolution, and their barbaric customs, but it is an intellectual consensus pre-set according to which non-Western cultures are measured against Western standards of development.

Moreover, in the case of London Walks, which makes is to confirm, in part, said so far. As a distinction of “others” within Europe itself, the other “others” are those who do not fit into the ideal of individual expected, this is not a European respectful, virtuous, knowledgeable and rational, but a European exploits, which demeans, excludes, abusive, without virtue, without moral.

Another aspect that can be positivist scrutinize a little on the work of Tristan, in Tour of London, may be the sharpness of its quantitative record of almost all institutions. Surprisingly, we see that there is an exact figure on the people who are dedicated to looting or prostitution. This initial review of the English working class yields an entirely positive.

It is difficult to speak of positivism in the work of Flora Tristan. Difficult because it is very obvious that you have read its founder, Auguste Comte. However, many of the principles developed by Comte found in embryonic form in the works of Saint Simon, who knows very little about Flora.

Flora Tristan was heir to the enlightened and, like the Enlightenment, believed in the ideal of progress. As noted above the idea of progress has been present in the approach that primitive communities. Progress appears to be something obvious’ to those who review the history and compare the evolution of nations.

In addition, Flora is sensitive to one of the fundamental principles of the Enlightenment according to which knowledge makes us better. Illustrated the theory behind Owen, who admires Flora therefore, is the idea that individuals can change and a better society if properly educated. Politically, Latin America, Flora is not thinking about social systems that enable the fulfillment of justice but in systems that promote development.

Not that Flora Tristan is contradictory, that of being a socialist, positivist, rebellious, feminist enlightened and romantic at the same time, you just have to take into account that it was a transitional figure, elements of different types, which both contribute in one speech. Surprised to read paragraphs in which contemplates the possibility of a good dictator who orders things or capitalist values that are internalized into the Indians.

What these perspectives have to do with the idyllic propagandist of the labor movement Nothing or very little. All these apparent contradictions are understandable if we see a character in transition Flora. And in that way he would understand an excess of Eurocentrism, racism, contempt.

That way we would understand that according to an early positivism could write those pages, the pages most insulting, contemptuous and contemptible that ever written about Peru, that although it was said by her, was conditioned by the context in which unfolded.

* Concepts of Subject, Society, Education and God

Man and Woman

By way of introduction, it should be pointed out that it can be an arduous task to study each design individually or separately, because the entire length of the work of Flora Tristan conglomerate may be reflected each of these thoughts, linked. It is also worth noting that Flora for being a transition and moving in large part, no one can speak of a conception of man, society and education, but talk of “concepts” of Tristan in these areas, as Flora not handle a single category, but several, according to idealism, historical time and context. Hence for example, may reflect a certain conception of man, society and education “Peregrinations of a Pariah, very different from what can be handled in” London Walks “or” Workers’ Union. ”

First we start the study from his work “Peregrinations of a Pariah,” where one can envision certain conception of Man. In principle we see an Ideal of Man in which you want to be: the European, because it belongs to the most advanced society, a producer of knowledge, skills and economic development. From there you can envision what would later develop Comte in the three states of society. As then, this way of seeing the man, one might say that this ideal was the man’s positive. So marked is this conception of evolution of man, that even in all the work of Flora, Indians, blacks and mestizos will not be appointed by name but always referred to together as dough. Let linking this with the above, through the removal of this text:

[…] In the evening my uncle insisted on staying in the convent. I spent the night at home with no company but that of my song. This girl told me: “Miss you anything if you do not fear or truancy soldiers come to steal, I’m your language India as they are mine. I’ll tell you: my mistress is French, not Spanish, not hurt, I’m sure that then do not do anything, because they do not attack but their enemies. ” That was from a slave of fifteen years. But at any age, the slave has loved their masters and they are sweet. […]

Note the use of the noun “my song” to refer to the slave who accompanied her for almost the year he spent in Peru. Vargas Llosa in his novel “Paradise of the other corner,” notes this situation and for purposes of his novel, calling themselves “Dominga”. But what does it mean that Flora never appoint blacks, Indians and mestizos

Its absence tells us that the process of individuation is absent. When we have only one common name is that our individuality has no consistency, no visibility. The social sectors are not even class (as was the European proletariat Flora Tristan), individuals make the dough: is an amorphous entity that lacks individuality.

Following this is linked to what is said in the beginning. Flora which is not speech, but speech is the beginning of implanted positive. Where science is the only speech that must be taken into account and societies evolve in a progressive sense. (Note how this conception of human dependently we will fly directly to the conception of society). Then we see the conception of man (and society) from a Eurocentric view and at the same time, racist. If the West has evolved, their status of superiority becomes better than Western men.

The case of the “Tour of London” is similar, and do not study the “other” culture, but the other “other” in the same culture. He no longer speaks of evolution or progress, but with an air more enlightened, are the terms of Freedom, Justice and Equality ideals that first come to light to the fore, but focusing directly on women. We do not see a conception of man, but a conception of gender, men and women separately, making distinctions, as women have been dominated, scorned and censured, and demanding women.

The innovation of the time Flora was his perception of women, thanks to his qualities which are peculiar, can play an important role in social progress in France and abroad. Is aware that you can not compete with men in the domain of science, but it can in retaliation contribute to the advancement of society in regard to customs and morals. For the same design, Tristan will do everything in his work to make women out of its pariah status and involve them into active life in the evolution of society.

You could say that the conception of man (in general) to Flora illustrated part of feminism, because from the study of gender, the fight for the vindication of women (in particular, also of women and foreign workers) out of the premise of a political project which can only be articulated from the idea that all human beings are born free, equal and with equal rights and equally to both men and women well educated, can work jointly for the benefit of the development social.

To complete this aspect, it is clear that Tristan does not distinguish precisely whether the man is born instinctively good or bad, but if you look at “Walking in London” detail that distinguishes it from man who framed toward selfishness, but if we refer to “Peregrinations of a Pariah” note that she does not speak of good or bad, but a mass of wild or primitive, ie, a less evolved society should progress. This means that the first condition of man that selfish, individualistic context of the English capitalist society, the mother of great human aberrations, but if there is a link in Peregrinations of a pariah in the chapter “to the Peruvians” Flora says:

“I said, after it found that in Peru the upper class is deeply corrupt, and selfishness takes to satisfy their desire for profit, his love of power and her other passions, the more antisocial attempts …” This may demonstrate that they are the conditions and even society itself, which shapes the man becomes good and selfish people, corrupt and despotic.


to have us a bit about the concept. The ideal that handles Flora Tristan refers to the ideal of progress and reach a positive state of society (not in terms of their own, but if you want to achieve). That will be accomplished through the development of science and education of women (which we’ll get deep into the paragraph on education). We note that the ideal of European society and non-Western peoples are classified as wild, barbaric and primitive. Science is what should govern the development of society and not the Catholic church because the people praised in patterns of brutality and fanaticism.

Analyzing the book “Tour of London, we see a very different conception of society, following the study of” other “Europe, a concept that reflects the deterioration of modern society in the era of industrialization that drags man to individualism, she does not hesitate to call selfishness. A critique of the capitalist system that draws attention to the social ideal that she hopes to do someday. A just society, equal and non-exploitative.

If we analyze the book “Workers Union” we can nurture a determinate conception of society to Flora, because she has matured even more daring to point out feminist ideal “all the misfortunes of the world come from the neglect and contempt which until now has been made from natural and inalienable rights of womanhood. ” In explaining that all the misfortunes that have covered the world comes from non-recognition of women as the same man, with the same rights and opportunities, a critique of the patriarchal system and acceptance of the false principle that affirms the inferiority of nature of women compared to male. This ideological discourse, made from the law, science and the church marginalizes women of sound education and intended to be the slave of his master. Following this principle, born more momentous contributions to education Plants, which will shed light on what his view on this subject, which will mention below.


Can be handled in the work of Flora Tristan various features of what is education, but all lead to one goal. The positive development of society.

In “Peregrinations of a Pariah” states: “… He also said that the brutalization of the Peruvian people is extreme in all races that comprise it. The brutalization of a people gives rise to immorality in the upper classes and this immorality spreads and reaches with all the power gained during his career, the rungs of the social hierarchy. When all the individuals can read and write when the papers to enter the Indian hut, then, finding the people whose confidence you shall judge fear and whose votes must seek, will acquire the virtues that I lack. ” (Extract from “The Peruvians”)

Flora does point to this To the extent that citizens are educated, the more difficult for them to master their superiors and that half will reach the virtues that are missing. Something similar can be seen in “Workers Union” when Flora says that all the misfortunes of the world come from the distinction between men and women. Noting how denying education to women is related to economic exploitation, “Do not send girls to school because they are removed best game in the chores, whether to cradle the children, run errands, care for the food, etc.. “and then” In the twelve years the apprentice, there is still operated by the patron and often abused as when I was at home with their parents. ”

Indeed, Tristan runs his speech to the analysis of women in the village, the workers. And his trial can not be more blunt: the unjust and humiliating treatment of these women suffer from birth, together with its no education and forced servitude to man, creates in them a brutal character, and even evil. Well, for Tristan, the moral degradation of the utmost importance, as women in their multiple roles as mothers, lovers, wives, daughters, etc. “It’s all about the life of the workers’ influence over their lifetime. This “core” of the woman has no equivalent in the upper class, where money can provide educators and public servants and other distractions.

Consequently, well educated women (working) is the principle of intellectual improvement, moral and material of the working class. Tristan, as a good “utopian”, relies heavily on the power of education, and as a feminist calls for female education, also maintains that the rational education for women’s emancipation depends on men. Which may result in three key areas:

* By educating society women are not wasting “their intelligence and their work”

* The argument of moral competence: the workers well paid, well educated and able to educate their children as it is in the “free men”

* The companion argument, the argument that men benefit from the emancipation of women in that they cease to be his mere servants and become true partners, “because nothing is more pleasing, softer for human heart, that the conversation with the women when they are educated, good and chat with discernment and benevolence. ”


In this section you can pick up all conceptions of Flora. In the following paragraph from “The Tour de France” to be published many years after his death, where you can see the views (the ideal) of man, society and education waiting Plants reach humanity. Like the conception of God himself:

“Give you all the right to work, the possibility of trade, the right to education, ability to live by the spirit,” the right to pan-able to live independently of all mankind today and so vile, so disgusting, so hypocritically vicious, will be transformed into the act and become noble, proud, independent, free!, beautiful! and happy! ”

This expression refers to a bloodless revolution, inspired by love for humanity and infused with a Christian spirit (as he wanted to Saint Simon) rescue the generosity and solidarity with the poor of primitive Christianity that the Catholic Church then betrayed and corrupted identified with the powerful.

The revolution will not be nationalistic spill over borders and on an international scale. (Already in his first pamphlet, Flora proclaimed: “Our country must be the universe.”) The instrument of social transformation will be the army of secular and peaceful, the Workers’ Union, where men and women participate on a basis of absolute equality and, by persuasion, social pressure and use of legal institutions, will transform the roots of the society.

* Bibliography

* Flora Tristan, Peregrinations of a Pariah, Empresa Editora El Comercio, Lima, 2005.

* Flora Tristan, London Walks. Lima 1972

* Mario Vargas Llosa. The Odyssey of Flora Tristan. Letras Libres (Mexico) N ^0 30 October 2002.

Mario Vargas Llosa * Paradise in the other corner, Santillana, Lima, 2003

* Flora Tristan: traveling, positivist and romantic. In:

* Nelson Mendez. The outcast pilgrim. In: