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Claude Henri de Rouvroy, Conde de Saint-Simon

17th October 1760 - 19th May 1825

 

Nationality: French



Henri of Saint-Simon was one of the most important French thinkers of the 19thcentury and one the founding figures of modern socialism. His ideas had great influence throughout the whole century, especially in the study of Philosophy of Science and Sociology.

 

Saint-Simon’s Utopian vision focused on the total re-structuring of French society, with an emphasis on industrial organisation. He argued that instead of having a government, France should have an administration, similar to that of large factories which aren’t necessarily managed by those who own them. Saint-Simon trusted that scientific and technological progress would make a decisive contribution to the transformation of society while his socialism was described as technocratic given his reasoning that the economy should be managed by industrial and technical experts who, in turn, would occupy leading positions achieved through merit. Furthermore, despite his aristocratic origins, Saint-Simon argued strongly against his contemporary society, governed as it was by a privileged and influential political class.

 

According to his Utopian vision, in this transformed society in which notions such as merit and co-operation prevailed, there would be no place for poverty.  Equally, progress would extend in all directions and through all aspects of life; thus leading to development not only in scientific and intellectual spheres, but also on a social, economic and human level.

 

 

A “utopian socialist”, as he came to be labelled, he was criticised by Karl Marx for not having understood that a socialist society required class struggle rather than simply the ideas of “geniuses”. Despite this, Saint-Simon’s clear vision of a more just society, free of poverty, remains strong to the current day. 

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