Social Organization: The Science of Man and Other Writings

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Social Organization: The Science of Man and Other Writings

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Social Organization, the Science of Man and Other Writings

haJipeR f coRchBOoks A reference-list of Harper Torchbooks, classified by subjects, is printed at the end of this volume.


benjamin nelson

Alfred Adler

PROBLEMS OF NEUROSIS, edited by H. L. Ansbacher.

Gladys Bryson

TB/1145 •MAN AND SOCIETY: The Scottish Inquiry of the Eight¬ eenth Century.

Kenelm Burridge Allison Davis and John Dollard

•MAMBU: A Melanesian Millennium CHILDREN OF BONDAGE:

The personality develop¬

ment of Negro youth in the Urban South. TB/3049 Emile Durkheim, et al.

ESSAYS ON SOCIOLOGY AND PHILOSOPHY, with appraisals of Durkheim’s life and work, edited by Kurt

Leon Festinger, Henry W. Riecken

H. Wolff. TB/1151 WHEN PROPHECY FAILS: A social and psychological

and Stanley Schachter

study of a modern group that predicted the destruction

Raymond Firth, editor

MAN AND CULTURE: An evaluation of the work of

of the world. TB/1132 Bronislaw Malinowski. TB/1133 Alvin W. Gouldner J. L. Hammond


J. L. and Barbara Hammond


Kurt Lewin


John H. Rohrer and Munro S.


retical Papers, edited by Dorwin Cartwright. TB/1135 Edmonson, editors

and Personalities of New Orleans Negroes. TB/3050

Henri de Saint-Simon


Kurt Samuelsson


and other writings, edited by Felix Markham. TB/1152 Max Weber’s The Protestant Ethic and The Spirit of Capitalism. TB/1131 John H. Schaar




The Perspectives of

Erich Fromm. TB/1155 Muzafer Sherif


Georg Simmel, et al.

•GEORG SIMMEL: 1858-1918; Translations from his writ¬

Ernest Lee Tuveson


W. Lloyd Warner

A BLACK CIVILIZATION: A Study of an Australian

W. Lloyd Warner and


ings and essays on his thought, edited by Kurt H. Wolff. ground of the Idea of Progress. TB/1134 Tribe. TB/3056 Associates

in preparation

and Inequality. TB/1129



Social Organization, the Science of Man and Other Writings Edited and Translated with an Introduction by FELIX MARKHAM


▼ The Academy Library

Harper & Row, Publishers New York and Evanston


Printed in the United States of America. This book was originally pub¬ lished in 1952 under the title henri comte de saint-simon: Selected Writ¬ ings by Basil Blackwell, Oxford, England, and is here reprinted by arrangement. First

edition published 1964 by Harper & Row, Publishers, Incorporated 49 East 33rd Street New York, N. Y. 10016

harper torchbook



Preface to the Torchbook Edition





Note on the Texts


Books for Further Reading Introduction




Selected Texts Letters from an Inhabitant of Geneva Introduction to the Scientific Studies of the Nineteenth Century


Essay on the Science of Man The Reorganization of the European Community


Letters of Henri de Saint-Simon to an American


The Organizer


On Social Organization


New Christianity









. . . . .

28 69 72 76 81

PREFACE TO THE TORCHBOOK EDITION In my Introduction of 1952 I wrote that “It cannot be a matter of chance that Saint-Simon’s ideas seem in many ways more relevant to the present day than they did to the nineteenth century.” It is possible, a decade later, to make this statement with more confidence. The problems of the “two cultures,” and the development of the social sciences, of the place of the scientist and expert in government, of European Union, of free employment in a managed industrial econ¬ omy, of under-developed countries, are all raised in Saint-Simon’s writings; and they are now current problems, familiar to every school¬ boy. Saint-Simon actively witnessed the birth of the modem world, and dimly discerned its future development. I hope that my contribution of an English edition of his more im¬ portant writings may help to make this remarkable thinker more widely known. Felix Markham

Hertford College, Oxford June 1964

PREFACE It is remarkable how often St.-Simon’s name is quoted, and yet how little is generally known, at any rate outside France, of his ideas and his writings. His influence on John Stuart Mill and Carlyle, on Comte and Marx, on St.-Simonian circles in France, and on the early radicals and socialists in Russia, entitles him to a considerable place in the history of the political thought of the nineteenth century. At a time when our view of the nineteenth century is still too much dominated by a whig interpretation of history, a study of St.-Simon gives a different, if peculiar, perspective of the development of Europe. Some readers may find that it is not without interest for the problems of the present age. St.-Simon’s writings are voluminous, chaotic, and comparatively inaccessible (see Note on Texts, p. vii). So far as I am aware, a selection from the whole range of his writings has not hitherto been translated into Enghsh. Carlyle translated Nouveau Christianisme, but it was never published, and the manuscript has disappeared. A copy of another contemporary translation by the Rev. J. E. Smith (1834) exists in the British Museum hbrary. The present selection from St.-Simon’s works is designed to show the evolution of his ideas, and, within reasonable limits of space, the various aspects of his thought. ‘The Reorganization of the European Community’ and ‘New Christianity’ are given in full, apart from the omission of some insignificant footnotes. In undertaking the translation from the French (for which I have no specialist linguistic qualifications), I have been encouraged by the fact that St.-Simon’s writings have little pretension to literary merit. On balance, therefore, familiarity with St.-Simon’s thought may be considered more important than an expert knowledge of the French language. I am indebted to Mrs. Doctorow, of the staff of the Maison Fran^aise, Oxford, for checking my translation, and advising me on doubtful points. I am grateful to Mr. I. Berlin, Fellow of All Souls College, Oxford; Mr. J. P. Plamenatz, Fellow of Nuffield College, Oxford; to Mr. John Bowie and Mr. J. H. Billington, for helpful advice and discussion in die writing of the Introduction. I should also hke to thank M. and Madame le Malher, who kindly showed me the portrait of St.-Simon by Mme. GuiartLabille, and other family relics at Le Charnay, near Nevers. F. Oxford, 1952 viii




NOTE ON THE TEXTS The text used for selection and translation is, except in the case of the Introduction aux Travaux Scientifiques du dix-neuvieme siccle, that of the Oeuvres Completes de Saint-Simon et Enfantin, Paris, 1865-76 (cited hereafter as O.C.). The writings of St.-Simon are in vols. 15, 18-23, 37-40. This edition does not contain the Introduction aux Travaux Scientifiques (see p. xviii), the extracts from which have been taken from the Oeuvres Choisies de St.-Simon, ed. Lemonnier, Brussels, 1859. The only recent editions of any of St.-Simon’s writings are those of the Lettres d’un habitant de Geneve, ed. A. Pereire, 1925, and Tcxtes Choisis, ed. C. Bougie, 1925; and Textes Choisis, ed. J. Dautry, 1951. The principal works of St.-Simon, in order of date, are as follows: Lettres d’un habitant de Geneve, 1803. Introduction aux Travaux Scientifiques du XIX Siecle, 1807-8. Memoire sur la Science de I’homme, 1813. De la Reorganisation de la Societe Europeenne, 1814. L’Industrie, 1816-18. La Politique, 1819. L’Organisateur, 1819-20. Du Systeme Industriel, 1821-22. Catechisme des Industriels, 1823-24. Quelques opinions Philosophiques, 1825. De l’Organisation Sociale, 1825. Nouveau Christianisme, 1825.

A complete bibliography of St.-Simon’s writings, and references to collections of unpublished material, may be found in the Appendices to vols. 2 and 3 of La Jeunesse d’Auguste Comte by Professor H. Gouhier.


BOOKS FOR FURTHER READING A. J. Booth, St.-Simon and St.-Simonism. London, 1871. G. Weill, St.-Simon et son oeuvre. Paris, 1894. S. Charlety, Histoire du St.-Simonisme. Paris, 1896. C. Bougie and E. Halevy (Ed.), Doctrine de St. Simon. Exposition 1829. Paris, 1924. M. Leroy, Vie de St.-Simon. Paris, 1925. E. Durkheim, Le Socialisme (Ed. M. Mauss). Paris, 1928. H. R. d’Allemagne, Les St.-Simoniens. Paris, 1930. H. Gouhier, La Jeunesse d’Auguste Comte. (Vols. 2 and 3.) Paris, 1936-41. G. G. Iggers, The Political Philosophy of Saint-Simon. The Hague, 1958. F. E. Manuel, The New World of Henri de Saint-Simon. Cambridge, Mass., 1956.


The Prophets of Paris.


Mass., 1962;

Harper Torchbook edition forthcoming. A. Gouldner, Socialism and Saint-Simon. Yellow Springs, Ohio; Collier Books paperback ed., 1962.

INTRODUCTION 1. Biographical

Comte de Saint-Simon, bom in 1760, lived till 1825.1 His father was the second son of Louis-Fran^ois de St.-Simon, Marquis de Sandricourt, who was lieutenant-general of the army under Louis XIV, and a cousin of the famous author of the Memoirs, the Due de St.-Simon. He owned the seigneurie of Falvy and the chateau of Berny in Picardy on the Somme, and a family legend, recalled in Henri de St.-Simon’s Autobiography, claimed descent from Charlemagne. Like so many of the noblesse de Tepee of the eighteenth century, the father was impoverished, and lived on army pensions and sinecures, leaving nothing but debts. Henri was the eldest of nine children, most of whom disappear from view in the storm of the revolution; a nephew, Victor, was an officer in the Grande Armee, and died in 1865 as a Senator under Napoleon III. St.-Simon’s education was unsystematic; a succession of private tutors, of whom d’Alembert, the Encyclopedist, was the most impor¬ tant.2 He once paid a visit to Rousseau. The best-known anecdote of his youth is his order to his valet to call him each morning with the formidable reminder: ‘M. le Comte, remember that you have great things to do’. In 1777 he entered the Army as Second Lieutenant, and in 1779 he sailed with Rochambeau to join Lafayette and Washington in the American War of Independence. He fought with distinction in the campaigns of 1779-82, and was wounded and taken prisoner in the battle of the Saintes in 1782. From 1785, he was on indefinite leave of absence from his regiment, with the rank of Colonel, travelling in Holland and Spain; in 1787 he was working for the Spanish Minister of Finance on a project for a canal connecting Madrid with the Guadalquivir and the Atlantic. Already, in 1783, he had suggested to the Viceroy of Mexico a scheme for a canal to join the Atlantic and the Pacific. Of his attitude to 'the French Revolution, St.-Simon writes in 1808 in his Autobiography: ‘I did not wish to take part in it, because, on the one hand, I was convinced that the Ancien Regime could not Claude-Henri de Rouvroy,

1 The abbreviated spelling of the name will be used in this Introduction. * G. Hubbard: St.-Simon, sa vie et ses travaux, 1857.



be prolonged, and, on the other hand, I had an aversion from destruction’.1 The police dossier compiled on the occasion of his arrest by the Comite de Surete Generale in November, 1793, gives considerably more details of his activities from 1789 to 1793. As a liberal noble and companion-in-arms of Lafayette, he evidently followed the current of the Revolution with more enthusiasm than he afterwards admitted. He drew up the cahier of his local canton of Marchelepot for the States-General; in 1790 he formally renounced his title, and took the name of Bonhomme; he presided at the first meeting of his commune to elect a mayor. Two local certificates of ‘civisme’ issued in 1793 attest his patriotic and revolutionary views. In the autumn of 1793 he was moving in advanced radical and Hebertist circles in Paris. Thus far, his career is not wholly exceptional in the case of an enlightened noble. It is more startling to find that, at the height of the Revolution, St.-Simon had launched out as one of the most important and enterprising speculators in national lands. He was quick to see the possibilities of profitable investment in the nationalized lands of the Church and of the emigres, which were being sold on very favourable terms. For agricultural land, the initial payment was as low as 12 per cent of the purchase price, and the rest could be paid off in instalments with assignats which depreciated rapidly as inflation of the paper currency became uncontrolled. The revolutionary government was less concerned to make a profit than to attract a large number of buyers to the cause of the Revolution, and it was the bourgeois speculators who predominantly profited by the operation. St.-Simon formed a partnership with the Saxon Baron de Redem, who provided security for a loan of over 600,000 francs from Perregaux, the banker. With this working capital, St.-Simon, the active partner, purchased over four million francs’ worth of property between 1792 and 1795. According to Michelet,2 St.-Simon was arrested because he had attracted the unfavourable attention of the Government through offering to purchase from the Commune of Paris the lead roof of Notre Dame, at the time when Robespierre was attacking the Com¬ mune’s campaign of de-Christianization. The actual report of his arrest has since been found, and it is clear that he was arrested by mistake, having been confused with Henry Simon, a Belgian banker, involved 1 O.C., vol. 15, p. 66. *J. Michelet: Histoire du 19® siicle, 1872.



in die Foreign Plot.1 He escaped the guillotine, but was not released till August, 1794, after the fall of Robespierre in the crisis of Thermidor. Thanks to his financial speculations, St.-Simon was able to cut a prominent figure in the brilliant but mixed society of the Directory. Like Barras, he was a ‘grand seigneur sansculotte’, entertaining in his Paris mansion, with twenty servants and a famous chef, moderate politicians such as the Comte de Segur, Napoleon’s future Grand Master of Ceremonies, and Boissy d’Anglas, former President of the Convention and later President of the Tribunate. In 1797, St.-Simon took part, behind the scenes, in two curious political incidents. During the peace negotiations between Pitt and the Directory at Lille, Talley¬ rand, newly-appointed Foreign Minister, arranged with Malmesbury, the English plenipotentiary, that George Ellis, Malmesbury’s First Secretary, should conduct secret negotiations alongside the official conversations. St.-Simon was a friend of George Ellis, having met him through Perregaux, and he appeared at Lille as the unofficial represen¬ tative of some financial circles which were moderate and anglophil. He held out hopes of peace if the English cabinet was patient, and suggested that England might keep the Cape and Ceylon. Malmesbury explained St.-Simon’s approach in a letter to Grenville,2 and endorsed Ellis’s report of the conversations.3 The purge of the moderates in the coup d’etat of Fructidor (Septem¬ ber, 1797) led to a stiffening of the French demands, and the Lille negotiations fell through. Thibaudeau reports a conversation with St.-Simon shortly after Fructidor, in which the latter supported a scheme, proposed by the followers of Barras and Bonaparte, for revising the Constitution by strengthening the executive and the second chamber.4 1 Cf. A. Mathiez: Annales Historiques de la Revolution Franfaise, 1925, p. 571. 2 ‘The person who is alluded to in my separate dispatch is M. St.-Simon, who (though of a very great family) has lived through the whole of the revolutions at Paris, and increased very considerably his family property by the purchase of church lands. He is a shrewd, sensible, strong-headed man, and there can be little doubt but that he spoke his own genuine sentiments and those of the public in general; but you must consider what he says as the consequences more of opinion and observation than of positive information, and make allowances accordingly.’ Dropmore Papers, vol. iii, p. 445. * F.O. 27-50. Pitt commented to Grenville on the dispatch, ‘Mr. Ellis’ friend has the merit of furnishing one of the most interesting and certainly the most entertaining dialogues that ever made part of a negotiation’. The evidence of St.-Simon s part in the Lille negotiations is discussed in detail in an article by Professor H. Larrabee in La Revolu¬

tion Franfaise, 1929. * Memoires II, p. 338. Cf. A. Mathiez: Annales Historiques de la Revolution Franfaise, 1929, p. 5.



This was St.-Simon’s last excursion into politics. For 1798 marks the turning-point in his hfe, when he exchanged the role of financier for that of philosopher and prophet. De Redem had ceased to have confidence in St.-Simon’s conduct of the partnership; the expenses of the joint household were enormous, and St.-Simon had mortgaged much of their landed property to launch out into ambitious com¬ mercial and industrial ventures. De Redem insisted on the partnership being ended by arbitration, and in the final settlement of 1799, St.Simon was bought out for a capital sum of 150,000 francs. When he was reduced to extreme poverty after 1805, St.-Simon tried unsuccess¬ fully to reopen the arbitration, and conducted a pamphlet controversy with de Redem.1 Undeniably, de Redem had gained the lion’s share, retaining property which gave him 100,000 francs annual income. He had contributed the initial capital, but St.-Simon had vastly increased it by his enterprise. De Redem insisted on deducting 300,000 francs of St.-Simon’s expenses from his share, but a good proportion of this was probably necessary to retain the goodwill of the pohticians of the Directory. Possibly the determining factor which obliged St.-Simon to accept an unfavourable settlement was the Jacobin forced loan of 1799, which proposed heavy contributions on ex-nobles possessing property gained by speculation. No doubt de Redem was right in thinking that St.-Simon, with his grandiose schemes and his aristocratic carelessness about money, was an unsatisfactory associate. St.-Simon was ‘incapable of organizing anything except the future.’2 In his Autobiography, St.-Simon says that after his quarrel with de Redern in 1798, he conceived the project ‘of opening up a new path for the human mind, that of the physico-pohtical’.3 He moved to a house near die ficole Poly technique, and studied physics for three years. He subsidised promising young scientists—Prunelle, Poisson, Dupuytren. Eminent savants, including Monge, Berthollet, and Lagrange, were guests at his dinners, but St.-Simon recalled at the end of his life, ‘My scientists and my artists ate a great deal, and spoke litde’. In 1801 he married Sophie de Champgrand, but in less than a year there was a divorce by mutual agreement. Sophie was die daughter 1 O.C., vol. 15. ! Gouhier: La Jeunesse d'Auguste Comte, vol. 2, p. 152. * O.C., vol. 15, p. 68. In the ‘Memoire sur la Science de Thomme’ (O.C., vol. 40, p. 45), he recalls a conversation with Dr. Burdin on the beginning of his philosophical specula¬ tions. Writing in 1813, he put it fifteen years ago, in 1798. For Dr. Burdin, see pp. xxx and 22.



of a retired colonel, who, like St.-Simon, was a speculator and sanscu¬ lotte; her second husband, M. de Bawr, was killed in 1810, and as a widow she became a successful writer of plays and children’s books. Her memoirs (1853) make no reference to her marriage with St.-Simon, but her friend Mme. Ancelot asserts that the marriage was purely one of convenience, prompted by St.-Simon’s wish for a more suitable hostess than the mistresses who had hitherto presided at his dinner parties. According to Mme. Ancelot, Sophie could not help laughing when she recalled ‘the weird arguments which he used to justify racial cross-breeding in the interests of humanity’.1 According to an oral tradition handed down by St.-Simon’s fol¬ lowers, he went, soon after his divorce, to Coppet to offer marriage to Mme. de Stael, who had lost her husband in 1802. Mme. de Stael makes no allusion to this offer; but it is not improbable, even if some of the stories attached to it are apocryphal.2 St.-Simon took advantage of the Peace of Amiens to travel—in Switzerland, Germany, and England. But by 1805 his remaining fortune was dissipated: in 1806 he asked for help from de Segur, who obtained for him the miserable post of copyist at the municipal pawnshop. Six months later he met Diard, his former servant, who took him into his house and kept him for two years. Between 1807 and 1812, St.-Simon tried unsuccessfully to obtain revision of the 1799 arbitration with de Redem, though the latter asserts he helped him with a small remittance for several years. When Diard died in 1810, St.-Simon was reduced to extreme straits, which brought on a serious illness at the beginning of 1813. On the death of his mother he surrendered his rights of inheritance in return for an annual pension of 2,000 francs from his family. The fall of Napoleon and the Bourbon restoration coincide with an improvement in St.-Simon’s fortunes. In 1814 he found Augustin Thierry to act as his secretary and collaborator; the future historian was then nineteen years old, and his first teaching post at Compiegne had been suspended owing to the allied invasion. Thanks to Thierry, St.-Simon’s ideas were for the first time presented in an orderly form, and the Reorganisation de la Societe Europeenne was the first of his writings to attract some general attention: a second edition appeared 1 Urt Salon de Paris, 1824-64 (Paris, 1866). 2 e.g. 1. ‘You are the most remarkable woman in the world, as I am the most remark¬ able man; we shall have a child who will be still more remarkable’. 2. A proposal that the wedding night should be spent in a balloon.



in December, 1814. During the Hundred Days, Carnot, as Minister of the Interior, nominated St.-Simon to the post of Sub-Librarian of the Arsenal: he was dismissed from it on Louis XVIII’s return after Waterloo. The politics of the Second Restoration were, however, favourable to St.-Simon as a pubhcist. In the struggle of the industrial and commercial bourgeoisie, who had gained greatly under the Revolution and Empire, for full political power against the reaction of the old territorial and emigre noblesse, St.-Simon’s ideas of the importance of the capitalist and manufacturer as the rulers of the new age would make valuable propaganda. During the Hundred Days, Napoleon, as part of his concession to the liberals, had set up a Council of Industry and provided for elected representatives of commerce and industry in the new parliament. St.-Simon was thus able to obtain an impressive list of subscribers to his new publication VIndustrie, the first number of which appeared in December, 1816; the list included Temaux and Chaptal, important industrialists, the Banque Perregaux-Laffitte, as well as the liberal peers Liancourt, Lafayette, Broglie. Laffitte did not appear on the list, but it seems probable that he subsidized the publication privately for the first six months.1 In August, 1817, St.-Simon launched a new subscription for the third volume of L’Industrie and reprinted with it the original fist of subscribers. Several of these, including the Due de Liancourt, found the views expressed in the third volume politically embarrassing, and disavowed them publicly. At the same time, Thierry parted from St.-Simon; he could no longer follow St.-Simon’s anti-liberal and authoritarian trend. In August, 1817, Auguste Comte replaces Thierry as St.-Simon’s secretary and ‘adopted son’. St.-Simon, with Comte as his collaborator, and with the help of a further subscription, continued periodical publication in the Politique (1819), Organisateur (1819-20), Systeme Industriel (1821-22). The Parallel2 appeared in November, 1819, in the Organisateur; its con¬ temptuous references to the Bourbon princes came just before the murder of the Due de Berry, February, 1820, and St.-Simon’s prosecu¬ tion and acquittal made him momentarily a public figure. In 1823, St.-Simon was again in desperate financial straits, and in a moment of depression over the lack of support for his ideas, tried to blow his 1 LafEtte was then Governor of the Bank of France. He played a leading part in the July Revolution, and was Prime Minister 1830-31. a See p. 72.



brains out with a pistol charged with eight slugs.1 They failed to kill him, and he survived, with the loss of an eye. To the last phase of St.-Simon’s life, 1823-25, belong three important events: his quarrel with Auguste Comte in 1824, his association with Olinde Rodrigues, and the publication in 1825 of the Nouveau Christianisme, his last and most influential work. The cause of the quarrel with Comte involves the question of the relation between St.Simon’s and Comte’s ideas; the occasion was a dispute over the form in which Comte’s first independent work, Prospectus des Travaux Necessaires pour»Organiser la Societe, also known as Systeme de Politique Positive, should be published.2 Olinde Rodrigues, a rich young Jew, met St.-Simon in 1823; he was his faithful disciple and financial backer until St.-Simon’s death in May, 1825. His intimacy with St.-Simon made him one of the most important of the group of disciples, who transformed St.-Simon’s philosophy, after his death, into the St.Simonian religion. St.-Simon’s last hours, recorded by his disciples, were edifying and philosophic to the end. Two of his last sayings are worth noting. ‘Remember that, to achieve great things, one must feel passionately’. And the second: ‘The attack on the religious system of the Middle Ages has really proved only this, that it was no longer in harmony with the positive sciences. It would be wrong to conclude from this that religion tends to disappear; only that it should adjust itself to scientific progress’. Most historians have been interested in St.-Simon simply as the forerunner of socialist thought, and have considered him only from that angle. His ideas have become known, less from his own writings than from the interpretation given to them by his followers Rodrigues, Bazard, and Enfantin, in the Producteur of 1825-26, and Exposition de la Doctrine St.-Simonienne of 1829. It was they who developed an economic theory which can be definitely called ‘socialist’ and they who canonized St.-Simon as the ‘Messiah’ of the new St.-Simonian religion. Did St.-Simon think of himself as a ‘Messiah’? Contemporary accounts of his character do not suggest a religious maniac. John Stuart Mill met St.-Simon at the house of J. B. Say in 1821. ‘I saw various 1 He left a suicide note for his friend Temaux: ‘After careful consideration, I am firmly convinced that you were right in saying that it will need a much longer time than I had envisaged for the public to become interested in the work which has for a long time been my sole occupation. I have therefore decided to bid you farewell’. 2 See p. xxxiii.



noteworthy persons while staying at his house; among whom I have pleasure in the recollection of having once seen St.-Simon, not yet the founder of a philosophy or a religion, and considered only as a clever original’.1 The great Carnot said of him: ‘I knew M. de St.-Simon; he was a remarkable man. He deceived himself in thinking that he was a man of science, but nobody has conceived such bold and new ideas’.2 Leon Halevy, who was introduced to St.-Simon by Rodrigues, described his domestic life in his last years.3 He lived with his house¬ keeper Julie (who was also his mistress and secretary), and his dog, Turc. He was a brilliant conversationalist, though a hopelessly bad writer. For relaxation he read novels, preferably of the silliest kind. He discussed philosophy on his deathbed. His portrait, painted in 1801, is that of a handsome, vigorous man, with aristocratic, well-propor¬ tioned features, intelligent, but not obviously eccentric. He appears to have remained, to the end, a typical character of the revolutionary age—a compound of eighteenth-century enlightenment and wit with the romantic and philanthropic urge to reform the world. It is true that in his writings he frequently speaks as ‘the voice of God’; but, as often, he speaks as the ‘voice’ of Bacon, Socrates, or Charlemagne.4 These passages are a literary device, rather than a serious claim to divine inspiration. In the Introduction to the Scientific Studies of the Nineteenth Century he criticizes the conception of‘God’ as ‘outworn’5; and it was precisely because of its atheism that the St.-Simonians suppressed this work in the collected edition. Probably St.-Simon never departed from this view, despite the opening words of New Christianity; certainly he never believed in a personal God. In fact, his religious views remained strongly influenced by a Voltairian, eighteenth-century attitude. He thought of religion as a political necessity for the people, but not for the enlightened philosopher.6 It is the attitude of Napoleon, when he said ‘Society cannot exist widiout inequality ofwealdi, and inequality of wealth cannot exist without religion’. St.-Simon certainly claimed to be a genius, and his intellectual pretensions verged on megalomania. Thus he was equally capable of producing ideas of extraordinary range and originality, or amateurish 1J. S. Mill: Autobiography, 1873, p. 60. 2 Hippolyte Carnot: Sur le St.-Simoriisme, 1887. 3 ‘Souvenirs de St.-Simon’, in France Litteraire, March, 1832. 1 See p. 24. 6 See p. 19. * See p. 20.



and nonsensical argument. But his extravagance remains of quite a different character from the craziness of Fourier, or the mysticism which flourished in some circles of the freemasonry of the late eighteenth century.

2. St.-Simon’s Ideas

St.-Simon’s many works were never widely read in his lifetime; not only were his ideas strange and novel, but they were badly presented. St.-Simon’s style was clumsy and markedly lacking in the French qualities of clarity and balance: most of his writing is in the form of open letters, dialogues, and tracts, often incomplete and fragmentary. Fie was conscious of his own lack of training, of the fact that he turned to writing late in hfe. ‘I warn the reader that I shall return often to the same ideas. ... I know that this method of composition does not make for easy or agreeable reading, and that it will displease the majority of readers; not that this matters to me, as it is not for them that I write, and literary glory is not the object of my ambition. I have learnt to think by laborious effort. ... I contest the opinion of those for whom the process of thought becomes easier the further they are advanced in hfe’.1 As a writer, he has, however, compensating merits. He is concise, and goes straight to the point; and he is free from the teutonic vice of hiding poverty or obscurity of thought behind a smoke-screen of verbiage. When he is naive, or even silly, it is transparently obvious, and there is no attempt to disguise it. He wrote as a publicist, urging reform and immediate action: philosophic detachment and thoroughness were constantly sacrificed to his feeling of urgency. By taking individual works in isolation, it would be easy to represent St.-Simon as nothing more than a publicist, exploiting the feehng of the moment: for example, the publication of the Reorganization de la Societe Europeenne was perfectly timed for the opening of the Congress of Vienna. Again, from 1814 onwards, St.-Simon was surrounded by collaborators and ‘pupils’, such as Thierry and Comte: one might attribute many of his ideas to them. But these interpretations are quite unreal if we look at what St.-Simon wrote before 1814, when he had no pupils or collaborators. Although badly written and confused, they quite clearly contain all the themes 1 Mdmoire sur la Science de I'homme, vol. 40, pp. 10-11.



developed later, including positivism, industrialism, internationalism, and a new religion. It is necessary, therefore, to survey St.-Simon’s writings as a whole, and to set them against the contemporary background of ideas. The main questions which St.-Simon discusses range over an immense field, and they are, at first sight, extremely diverse. In the first period (1800-1813), in which the most important works are the Introduction aux Travaux Scientifiques du XIX Siecle (1808) and the Memoire sur le Science de I'homme (1813), St.-Simon is primarily concerned with a philosophical and scientific problem, the search for the unity of know¬ ledge, based on the Newtonian law of gravitation, which he regarded as the purest and most successful example of scientific thinking. In 1814, he turns, in the Reorganisation de la Societe Europeenne, to the problem of constructing an international community. Between 1816 and 1825 he urges the claims of the coming industrial society in a series of periodicals. Finally, in 1825, in Nouveau Christianisme he outlines a reformed Christianity. In St.-Simon’s mind these topics are not un¬ related to each other, but aspects of one and the same problem, and it is precisely in the synthesis of these questions which he attempted that the core, and the originality, of his thought consists. It is true that his synthesis breaks down, but the fact remains that no other political and social thinker of the nineteenth century surpasses him in originality of approach to these problems, or in boldness and breadth of view. There is no essential change in St.-Simon’s ideas from the earliest to the latest writings: the same basic ideas are applied and elaborated under different aspects, and they can be stated quite briefly. The starting point of St.-Simon’s thought is the relation between ideas and institutions: ‘Politics are based on ethics, and the institutions of a people are nothing but the application of its ideas.’1

His argument, when summarized, then proceeds on the following lines. In medieval civilization, a universally accepted religion ensured the stability of society; but the growth of scientific thought, the emergence of a commercial middle class, the Protestant Reformation, and the sceptical criticism of eighteenth-century rationalists have undermined the Catholic Church and the international authority of the Papacy. The metaphysicians and the lawyers, with their negative principles of 1 Vol. 19, p. 30; cf. p. 13 and p. 30.



‘natural rights’ and ‘equality’ have completed the disintegration of the old society, but are totally unable to organize a new one. These destructive forces have culminated in the upheaval of the French Revolution. The task of the nineteenth century must therefore be to rebuild an organic society on the basis of the new ideas and new forces. ‘The philosophy of the eighteenth century has been critical and revolutionary: that of the nineteenth century will be inventive and constructive.’1 There can be no return to an order of society based on ideas which have lost their validity: and here he parts company with the theorists of the catholic revival, headed by Chateaubriand, Bonald, and Maistre. A new organic society cannot come into being until unity and coher¬ ence have been restored to the realm of thought. Human thinking has passed successively through the stages of polytheism to mono¬ theism, to metaphysics and then to positive science. Mathematics and physics have been the first to become scientific and positive: biology, physiology, and the science of human behaviour, which St.-Simon calls ‘social physiology’, must also become scientific and positive.2 Thus an encyclopedia of scientific knowledge will become possible, to replace the medieval Sumtna Theological the certainties of science will replace the dogmas of the medieval church; the scientists and captains of industry will replace the priests and feudal lords as the-> natural leaders of society.3 „_ St.-Simon admired the medieval separation of the spiritual and temporal powers, because it established an independent, international, and predominant body of the educated elite. This system would be reproduced in the future in the form of some kind of international planning, and teaching, body of scientists. If St.-Simon’s comparison of‘priests’ and ‘scientists’ appears odd and artificial, it is nevertheless important to understand how he (and later Comte) were led to hold such a view. How could St.-Simon conceive of science, which is based on freedom of thought, as a new orthodoxy, fulfilling the function of a religion? The development of the idea of ‘positivism’ throws light on this question. ‘Positivism’ may be defined as the application of scientific method to every aspect of nature and human experience. Comte defines the positive stage in human development as that period in which ‘the human spirit, recognizing the impossibility of obtaining absolute conceptions, abandons the search 1 O.C., vol. 15, p. 92.

1 Seep. 21.

8 Seep. 11.



for the origin and goal of the universe and the inner causes of things, to set itself the task merely of discovering, by reason and experience combined, the effective laws of phenomena, that is to say, their invariable relations of succession and of similarity’.1 Foreshadowed by Francis Bacon, the idea of a ‘positive’ philosophy developed naturally from the intoxicating triumphs of scientific method in the seventeenth century, culminating in Newton’s dis¬ coveries. The spirit of positivism, if not the name, is already apparent in the seventeenth century. Descartes proposed to apply his scientific method to every branch of knowledge. ‘By the Science of Morals, I understand the highest and most perfect, which, presupposing an entire knowledge of the other sciences, is the last degree of wisdom’.2 Hobbes claimed to have made political philosophy scientific by applying the method of Galileo: ‘And as the art of well building is derived from Principles of Reason, ob¬ served by industrious men, that had long studied the nature of materials, and the divers effects of figure and proportion, long after mankind began (though poorly) to build: so, long time after mankindhave begun to constitute Common¬ wealths, imperfect, and apt to relapse into disorder, there may Principles of Reason be found out, by industrious meditation, to make their constitution (excepting by externall violence) everlasting.’3 Descartes, however, left an unresolved dualism of two distinct and unrelated substances—mind and matter. French philosophy in the eighteenth century, particularly in the psychology of Condillac, Helvetius, and d’Holbach, tried to overcome this dualism by a thoroughgoing materialism and atheism. The mechanistic concepts of physical science were to be applied to every branch of experience. St.-Simon derived from his eighteenth-century predecessors this approach, which forms the basis of his conception of ‘Physicism’.4 He also inherited the Cartesian assumption that the only true knowledge is mathematical, and he constantly emphasizes the importance of a priori knowledge as opposed to the empiricist tendency of English philosophy. Therefore, for St.-Simon, the Newtonian laws of gravita¬ tion were a symbol of the ultimate goal of science, the unity of all knowledge in its most perfect, deductive, a priori form: what he calls universal science as opposed to the special sciences. This explains why 1 2 3 4

Cours de Philosophic Positive, Lecon I. Preface to The Principles of Philosophy, 1644. Leviathan, ch. xxx. See p. 20.



he sometimes writes as if the social sciences would become positive by being reduced to physics.1 It would be unprofitable to examine St.-Simon’s assumptions too strictly from the philosophical standpoint. He had neither the philoso¬ phical training nor the interest to embark on a theory of knowledge. Like Marx, St.-Simon subjected historical development to prediction and determinism, and at the same time urged the importance of individual effort to create a new society.2 He did not ask himself the question whether man, as a thinking and willing being, could be reconciled with a materialistic interpretation of experience. St.-Simon admitted in the Memoire sur la Science de I’homme (1813) that he lacked the scientific training to carry out the programme of making the physiological, biological, and social sciences positive, and needed collaborators.3 His appeals to the French scientists were unheeded. After 1813, St.-Simon abandons, or rather postpones as premature, the attempt at a scientific synthesis, and turns to the political and social aspects. Newton’s law of gravitation as the key to the unity of knowledge is hardly mentioned again. It is this change of emphasis (but not of principle) which has misled commentators on St.-Simon; they distinguish a ‘liberal’ phase of his thought 1814-17, when he was influenced by his anglophil and liberal secretary, Augustin Thierry, a ‘socialist’ phase after he had broken with his capitalist patrons, 1821, and, finally, a deathbed religious conversion represented by the Nouveau Christianisme. Though St.-Simon abandons his attempt to unify the sciences, he still retains his conception of science in its ultimate, perfected form, as a stable, certain body of beliefs which can take the place of a religion. For St.-Simon, the essential feature of religion is that it is a coherent body of ideas, explaining every aspect of the world and of human experience.4 For the educated elite, these ideas will be scientific truths, intellectually grasped: for the ignorant masses, they will take the form of mysteries, beliefs, and a cult.5 A conflict between science and 1 St.-Simon was not alone in his preoccupation with the laws of Newton. Laplace suggested as the ultimate, hypothetical ideal of science ‘a single law governing the action of the greatest planets of the universe, and those of the smallest atom’. Morelly, Cabanis, and Fourier attempted to apply the principle of gravitational attraction to human behaviour. * See p. 70. 3 Sec p. 27. 4 ‘Religion is the sum of the applications of general science by which enlightened men govern the ignorant’. Introduction aux Travaux Scientijitiues du XIX Siicle. * Mdmoire sur la Science de I'homme, O.C., vol. 40, p. 310: ‘an institution, which, according to the degree of enlightenment of the individual, will appear to him to be either scientific or religious’.



religion is, therefore, a contradiction in terms; if it appears, it means that a religious system has broken down. A complete scientific explanation of experience will constitute a new religion, and restore a stable condition of society, in which the scientists fulfil the function performed by priests in the medieval civilization. Thus, for St.-Simon, every aspect of the problem is simultaneously religious, political, economic, and philosophic; there are no watertight compartments in his mind. The scientific speculations of his first period have a political and social aim, while the Nouveau Christianisme is a social and economic programme, as much as a religious tract. His first appearance in print was in his correspondence with the Societe du Lycee of Paris. He proposed to lecture to the Society. ‘I have some views on a general metaphysics. I will speak about the various metaphysics in the following order: Mathematics, Physics, Chemistry, Physiology, Literature, Art. Then I will present my views on a general metaphysic’. St.-Simon’s attempt ended in rebuff and ridicule: the Society refused his offer to lecture, and, when he tried to speak after a lecture given by the fashionable Laharpe, he was ruled out of order and ejected.1 The Lettres d’un habitant de Geneve (1803) introduce St.-Simon’s leading ideas in an embryonic form. He divides society into three classes—-the haves and have-nots, and the men of science: the crisis of the French Revolution is due to the fact that the haves can no longer control the have-nots, because the traditional rulers—kings, nobles and priests—are no longer superior in culture and intelligence. The spiritual authority of die Papacy must be replaced by a ‘Council of Newton’, composed of men of science, who must bring physiology into line with the physical sciences, and unify scientific doctrine on the basis of the Newtonian law of gravitation. Thus the ‘spiritual power will be in the hands of the scientists, the temporal power in the hands of property-owners’.2 These ideas are developed in a much more substantial form in the

Introduction aux Travaux Scientifiques du 19e siecle (1808) and the Memoire sur la Science de I'Homme (1813). Starting from Condorcet’s Esquisse d’un Tableau Historique des Progres de I’Esprit Humain, St.-Simon produces a highly original philosophy of history. Whereas Condorcet 1 This correspondence, dated March, 1802, was published in a pamphlet which has only recently been discovered by J. Dautry in the Bibliotheque Nationale—see Annales Historiques de la Revolution Franfaise, 1948, p. 289. 2 See p. 11.



had retained the stock eighteenth-century denunciation of the Middle Ages as a period of barbarism and superstition, St.-Simon appreciates the medieval Church. He regards it as the rule of an intellectual elite, with a unified doctrine, which was responsible both for the intellectual and the social progress of the period. Moreover, it was the Middle Ages which saw the beginnings of modem science, introduced into Europe from the Arabs. But St.-Simon equally rejects the attempts of the theocratic writers—Maistre and Bonald—to restore the social order by reviving an outworn catholic theology. This has been irretrievably ruined by tire development of modern science, though a compromise between the old religion and science has been patched up by means of the Cartesian dualism of mind and matter. The task of nineteenthcentury thought is to transcend this dualism by the conception of ‘Physicism’, in which Deism is finally discarded, matter and mind are regarded as aspects of the same unity, and all phenomena, mental as well as material, are explicable by scientific laws.1 The history of the human race, as a collective being analogous to an individual, is suscep¬ tible of scientific study: and St.-Simon relates the changes in human history to changes in religious ideas, considered as the sum of human beliefs and knowledge at a given time. Through his interpretations of history as the successive phases of polytheism, theism, and then physicism, St.-Simon shows how the sciences pass from the conjec¬ tural to the positive stage. By an examination of the works of the leading contemporary physiologists—Vicq d’Azyr, Cabanis, Bichat, and Condorcet—he seeks to show that physiology and the science of human behaviour are now ripe to pass into the positive stage. St.Simon’s excursions into physics and physiology are worthless,2 but it is clear that he had conceived not only the name, but the programme of the positive philosophy, later carried out by Comte.3 The Reorganisation de la Societe Europeenne is obviously tinged with Thierry’s anglophil and hberal views, but the most interesting part of the argument lies in the direct application of St.-Simon’s basic ideas to the problem of an international community—his insistence on a 1 See p. 20. 2 He argues at some length that the industrious beaver, not the idle monkey, is the highest in the animal creation, next to man. 3 Turgot, in his Plan of a Discourse on Universal History (1750), develops, but very sketchily, to the idea of the three stages—theological, metaphysical, and positive. Con¬ dorcet had written of an ‘art social’. But St.-Simon is the first to state the ‘positive’ programme, in terms of historical evolution. The ‘Law of the Three Stages, pompously announced by Comte as an original discovery, is merely a precise formulation of St.Simon’s argument, which goes back to the Letters from an Inhabitant of Geneva.



new organization to replace the role of the medieval papacy, and on the need for an intellectual foundation for an international govern¬ ment. These arguments are by no means lacking in interest to-day, when St.-Simon’s dream of a united Europe is painfully struggling into actuality. The Parallel of 18191 is the most concise and vivid expression of the theme of an industrial society, contrasted with the outworn govern¬ ment of nobles and lawyers, which St.-Simon developed between 1815 and 1821. The contrast he draws is always between ‘producers’ and ‘idlers’; the producers include bankers, entrepreneurs, scientists, managers, and manual workers, whose interests are assumed to be identical. There is no attack on the rights of property: the only change in the law of property which he advocates is compensation for improvements by tenants of land. He condemns the idea of equality, which he rather curiously labels ‘turkish’. At first sight, St.-Simon’s views at this period appear to be the purest economic laissez-faire, as taught by the classical economists; govern¬ ment should be reduced to the minimum, and the economic system will flourish automatically.2 But there are important points on which St.-Simon differs from the liberal economists, and these differences became more marked after he had parted from his liberal collaborator, Augustin Thierry, and had quarrelled with his capitalist backers in 1821. In the first place, he approaches the economic system from the point of view of die producer, and not, like the classical economists, from that of the consumer; and he regards production, not as an end in itself, but as a means of promoting social well-being. With his hierarchical and organic view of society, St.-Simon was bound to conceive his ‘industrial system’ as a planned economy. In the Organisateur3 he outlined an industrial parliament. It would consist of three chambers—invention, examination, and execution. The first, com¬ posed of scientists, artists, and engineers, would plan the annual programme of public works and festivals; the second, composed of scientists only, would examine their projects, and control education; the third, composed of leaders of industry, would carry out the projects and control the budget. Nor did he accept the fundamental assumption of the classical economists that the interests of the individual 1 First Extract from Organiser, p. 72. * See p. 71. * O.C., vol. 20, p. 46 ff.



automatically coincided with the general interest. He insisted that a new ‘ethic of this world’ was required to restrain the anti-social egoism of the rich, and an anarchic uprising of the poor. In this view he was confirmed by Sismondi’s Nouveaux Principes d’liconomie Politique (1819), which traced the effects of slumps on the working class, and concluded that it was ‘not true that the pursuit of individual interests produces the greatest good of all’. Hence the emphasis in the Systeme Industriel on the need to improve the lot of the poorest class, and to found the industrial system on the Christian principle of brotherly love. St.-Simon now gives the artists a role, as important as that of the scientists, in the moulding of sentiments and opinions. The Nouveau Christianisme, which expounds the formula for the new positive religion, based on an ‘ethic of this world’, is thus fore¬ shadowed in the Systeme Industriel. The question naturally arises—why did not St.-Simon, who had grasped so clearly the conception of a bourgeois class superseding the feudal nobility, take a further step, and predict, before Marx, the ultimate rise and triumph of the working class? To St.-Simon, such an idea would be meaningless, for it would contradict one of his fundamental views on historical development, that society is always governed by an educated elite. The natural leaders of the working class can only be the industrialists and the scientists. On this point, surely, St.-Simon is the realist, and Marx the utopian and romantic. St.-Simon’s conception of the relation between capital and labour is much nearer to American technocracy than to Russian socialism. Henry Ford, with his productivity and his ‘peace-ship’, has a distinctly St.-Simonian flavour. St.-Simon foresaw the danger of a conflict between the workers and the capitalists, but he did not consider it either as natural or inevitable. His aim was to forestall, and avert it, by creating a new organic state of society. ‘The preservation of property is the main object of politics. The only barrier which the property-owners can put up against the proletariat is a system of ethics’.1 In this respect, St.-Simon was not a socialist, still less a marxist: he was a socialist, only if socialism means the conscious direction and planning of the economic system from the centre. But it is easy to see how his attack on the ‘idlers’, contrasted with the ‘producers’, could be rapidly expanded, as, in fact, it was by his followers, into an attack on the laws of inheritance, and the substitution of a planned economy for the anarchy of free competition. 1 ‘L’lndustrie’, O.C., vol. 18, p. 221.



3. Background and Sources It has been necessary to summarize St.-Simon’s main ideas before setting them in their contemporary background, and tracing them to their source, in order to distinguish what is novel and what is derivative in them. He regarded himself as the architect of a system, drawing his materials from other thinkers and fashioning them into a ‘general theory’. He borrowed many of his ideas from his predecessors and contemporaries, as he freely acknowledges. Thus from Dupuis, author of the Origine de tous les cultes (1795), he derived the idea that early religion and science are intimately connected; from Oelsner, author of Des Effets de la Religion de Mohammed (1810), the emphasis on the Arabs as the source of modem science. He was personally acquainted with J. B. Say, the leading French laissez-faire economist, from whose Traite d’economie politique (1801), as well as from the contemporary economists, Sismondi, Charles Comte, and Dunoyer, he drew much of his conception of ‘industrialism’, as contrasted with a feudal society. There is hardly a single element in St.-Simon’s thought which cannot be traced to another source: but the peculiar synthetic quality of his mind transforms these elements into something new. They emerge as ideas of positivism, authoritarian socialism, technocracy, historicism, which recognizably belong to the nineteenth—and in some cases to the twentieth—century, but certainly no longer to the eighteenth, or to the age of transition in which he lived. St.-Simon’s ideas were being formed at the turn of the century, when the movement of the Enlightenment was being challenged by the romantic movement and the religious revival. This explains why, in the Restoration period, he was in the odd position of having a foot in both camps, that of the theocratic school, which inspired the legitimist and clerical reaction, and that of the liberal bourgeoisie, who were fighting to preserve and extend the predominant position which they had gained under the Revolution and the Empire. If St.-Simon’s ideas momentarily allied him with the liberal bourgeoisie, they repudi¬ ated him after 1820, because of his theocratic tendencies. St.-Simon absorbs and reflects the influence both of the Enlighten¬ ment and die counter-revolution. His debt to the Enlightenment is obvious. From his tutor, d’Alembert, one of the authors of the Encyclopedia, and from Condorcet, he derived his optimism, his cosmopolitan outlook, and his faith in the power of human reason to change the world. Though the degeneration of the revolutionary



movement into the Terror was a shock to the ideals of the Enlighten¬ ment, it still seemed to be continuing its triumphant march at the end of the century. The dominant school of French philosophy in the last decade of the century was that of the Ideologues, led by Condorcet, Destutt de Tracy, and Cabanis.1 After Brumaire, Napoleon used the name ‘ideologue’ and ‘metaphysician’ as a term of abuse; but this was due to his dislike of their political opposition to the autocracy rather than objection to their philosophical principles. The Ideologues were, in fact, hostile to metaphysics and scientific in their approach. Destutt de Tracy gave the name of ‘ideology’ to the movement, meaning by it simply the scientific study of the human mind, and its ideas, begun by Condillac. The Ideologues showed considerable interest in the critical philosophy of Kant. They welcomed his repudiation of dog¬ matic metaphysics, and his explanation, in the Critique of Pure Reason, of the triumphant progress of scientific method in mathematics and physics, but to a large extent they ignored his heroic attempt in the Critique of Practical Reason, to rescue the ethical self from the tyranny of scientific determinism, by pointing out the limits to the application of scientific method. Thus the first effect of the Kantian philosophy in France was to increase the trend towards positivism. St.-Simon’s denunciation of ‘the metaphysicians’ may well be an echo of Kant’s critical philosophy. He mentions Kant once by name in the Project for an Encyclopedia, but there is no evidence that he had read him. Simi¬ larly, the work of St.-Simon’s contemporary, Maine de Biran, in refut¬ ing the psychology of Condillac, and reasserting the spiritual autonomy of the will, was only known and influential at a much later date. Destutt de Tracy and Cabanis share Condorcet’s—and Bentham’s— assumption that the ‘moral and political sciences’ will be developed by the application of the scientific, Newtonian method. The Ideologues were in close touch with scientific research, and the organization of scientific education after the Revolution, in which France was pre-eminent in Europe at this period. The names of Laplace and Lagrange in mathematics, of Monge, Lavoisier, Berthollet, Ampere, and Gay-Lussac in physics and chemistry testified to the march of science. The Institute, founded in 1794, was described as ‘a living Encyclopedia’. The ficole Poly technique, founded in 1795, through the initiative of Monge and Carnot, had a high standard of purely scientific education. Science had been harnessed to the French war effort. Monge and Berthollet had developed new steel processes 1 See A. Picavet: Les Ideologues, 1891.



for the manufacture of artillery. The signal telegraph and observation balloons were developed for military purposes in 1794. Medicine and physiology were also making rapid strides. The work of Vicq d’Azyr, Cabanis, Bichat, and Burdin, cited by St.-Simon in the Memoire sur la Science de I’homtne, had laid the foundations of scientific physiology. The significance of St.-Simon’s early connections with Dr. Burdin and with the ficole Polytechnique, and the fact that Comte and most of the St.-Simonians were products of the Ecole Polytechnique is clear. St.-Simon’s conception of positivism is an extravagant and overenthusiastic interpretation of the aims and aspirations of contemporary French scientific circles.1 On the other hand, St.-Simon departs from the spirit of the En¬ lightenment in his denunciation of the ‘negative’ aims of the Revolu¬ tion, and his appreciation of the merits of medieval civilization. Here he was affected by the Romantic Movement, which is discernible from the middle of the eighteenth century, particularly in the work of Burke, Rousseau, and Herder. After the Revolution, this movement combines with the religious revival to produce the theory of the counter-revolution, which gains the ascendancy over the Enlighten¬ ment in the period of the Restoration. But this ascendancy is already foreshadowed by the publication of Burke’s Reflections on the French Revolution in 1790, of Maistre’s Considerations sur la France, and Bonald’s Theorie du Pouvoir Politique in 1796, of Mme. de Stael’s De la Litterature consideree dans ses rapports avec les institutions sociales in 1801, and of Chateaubriand’s Genie du Christianisme in 1802. The ideas of the counter-revolution were given practical expression in the Concordat of 1802, and the clerical reaction gathered strength under the Empire. St.-Simon was acquainted with the writings of Burke, which had immense influence on the counter-revolutionary movement on the continent, and in the Introduction aux Travaux Scientifiques du XIX Siecle he compares his own ideas with those of Maistre and Bonald, who had already developed the idea that the international anarchy of the Revolution could only be cured by a return to the medieval unity of Christendom under the Pope, which had been destroyed by the revolt of Luther.2 For political theory, the most important effect of the Romantic 1 For the influence of the ficole Polytechnique on the formation of St.-Simonism and positivism see F. von Hayek, ‘The Counter-Revolution of Science’, Economica, 1941. * See R. Soltau: French Political Thought in the Nineteenth Century; F. Baldensperger: Mouvement des Ide'espendant Immigration; H. Michel: LTde'e de Vital.



Movement and the religious revival was to develop a genuine sense of historical development which was lacking to the Enlightenment. With the exception of Montesquieu and Turgot, the philosophers of the Enlightenment were superficial and propagandist in their attitude to history: they denounced the Middle Ages as barbarous and super¬ stitious. Rousseau and Herder inspired a genuine interest in primitive societies; Burke emphasized respect for the past, and transformed abstract, natural rights into an organic, mystical conception of society. Chateaubriand, Maistre, and Bonald, sought in the medieval Christian doctrine of original sin and divine authority an antidote to revolution¬ ary theory. This striking change of attitude towards the Middle Ages was, more than anything, responsible for the immense advance in historical research in the nineteenth century; as it was also responsible for the characteristic intellectual vice of the age—historicism, and the multiplication of artificial philosophies of history. To this development, St.-Simon both owed and contributed much. His philosophy of history is an advance on Condorcet’s, and compares favourably with that of the theocratic writers. It was overshadowed by the later and more imposing structures raised by Hegel, Comte, and Marx, and by the fact that Vico, the most original of all, who wrote in the early eighteenth century, was not known till Jules Michelet pub¬ lished a French translation of his work with the title of Principes de la Philosophic in 1827. Nevertheless, St.-Simon remains one of the most important sources of nineteenth-century historicism, through the wide diffusion of his ideas, and, in particular, his influence on Comte and Marx. Even if many of St.-Simon’s leading ideas reflect the general intellec¬ tual trends of his time, it still remains true that the most important source of his ideas was his own first-hand experience of the French Revolution. The religious experiments of the Revolution, such as Robespierre’s Cult of the Supreme Being and La Revelliere’s Theophilanthropy had accustomed him to the idea of a ‘New Christianity’. These experiments illustrate, as M. Ande Siegfried has pointed out, the ineradicably catholic habit of the French mind, which makes it impossible for Frenchmen to separate religion from politics, and keeps them catholic in outlook even when they are most anti-clerical. This characteristic is noticeable in St.-Simon’s thinking. St.-Simon had also been an eye-witness of the incipient classstruggles in Paris under the Terror and the Directory, culminating in the Babeuf conspiracy of 1796. Babeuf’s ‘Conspiracy of the Equals’



is remarkable as being the first attempt to overthrow the existing political and social order by force, and substitute a thorough-going system of economic socialism. The Manifesto of the Equals proclaimed that the ‘French Revolution is only the forerunner of another revolu¬ tion far greater, far more solemn, which will be the last’. It demanded the nationalization of the means of production, and the abolition of inheritance, and laid down the principle that ‘nature has imposed on each man the duty to work: no one can, without committing a crime, abstain from working’. There is no direct evidence that St.-Simon had studied Babeuf, but his references to ‘equality’ and his adoption of the principle that ‘all men must work’ are so strikingly reminiscent of Babeuf, that it is reasonable to suppose that the conspiracy had influenced his thought.1 Yet there are certain elements of socialism which are still lacking in Babeuf: his ideas were derived, not from a criticism of industrial wage-slavery, but from the utopian communism which is to be found in eighteenth-century writers such as Morelly and Mably, and from the agrarian communism stimulated in the Revolution by the abolition of feudal rights and the nationalization of the lands of the Church and the emigres. His followers were drawn less from the artisan class than from middle-class radicals who were not interested in socialist theory, but simply disgruntled by the government of the Directory. Nothing is more striking in the history of the French Revolution than the absence of a distinct or conscious working-class movement: the people of Paris were moved to act, either through sheer hunger, or for purely political aims. The workers accepted without protest the drastic Chapelier Law of 1791, which forbade trade unions. Large-scale industrial enterprise was only just beginning in France in the last two decades of the eighteenth century. During the Consulate and Empire, Napoleon had no difficulty in keeping the workers quiet, by providing adequate food supplies and employment. As late as the period of the July Monarchy, Guizot was quite unable to perceive any class struggle, and de Tocqueville in 1847 warned the French parliament in vain when he said ‘Do you not see that the passions of die working class have become economic instead of political?’2 St.-Simon was thus far in advance of his age in divining the coming social problem, and interpreting the French Revolution in terms of 1 St.-Simon and Babeuf came from the same part of the country—Picardy, and they may well have met as local radical leaders in the early years of the Revolution. a de Tocqueville: Souvenirs, ch. i.



an economic class struggle. It is true that Fourier published his first important work, Theorie des Quatre Mouvements, in 1808, in which he criticized the working of the laissez-faire capitalist system. But St.Simon and Fourier never had any contact with each other, and do not appear to have read each other’s work, though there was much mutual influence among their followers. It is remarkable that, owing to these two isolated and eccentric thinkers, sociahst theory in France was formulated before a pohtical movement of the working class had taken shape. It was not, however, an accident. The French Revolution was a dress-rehearsal of the pohtical and social movements of nine¬ teenth-century Europe, and it was possible to read from it some of the developments that lay in the future. 4. Comte and the St.-Simonians

The synthesis of religion and science, of reason and sentiment, which St.-Simon attempted, broke down in the hands of his followers, partly because of its own inner contradictions. Auguste Comte took up the task of constructing the positive philosophy which St.-Simon had abandoned in 1813. In the quarrel between St.-Simon and Comte in 1823, one of Comte’s complaints was that St.-Simon was in too much of a hurry to apply his principles to contemporary politics before laying the intellectual foundations, while St.-Simon complained that Comte ‘dealt only with the scientific part of my system, and had not expounded the sentimental and religious part’.1 By 1830, Comte had quarrelled violently with the St.-Simonians, and tried to suppress all evidence of the great influence which St.-Simon had had on his thought. In the Cours de Philosophic Positive (1830-42) he ungenerously described St.-Simon as ‘a depraved charlatan’. How¬ ever, it is significant that in his later work, Politique Positive (1851-54), the religious and sentimental factor prevailed, and Comte felt impelled to proclaim himself the ‘Pope’ of the new positive religion. The question of Comte’s originality as the founder of sociology, and his intellectual debt to St.-Simon, has been endlessly debated. Comte’s supporters were on a good wicket, until St.-Simon’s Memoire sur la Science de I'homme of 1813 was pubhshed for the first time in 1859, which established that St.-Simon had stated the ‘positivist’ programme before he met Comte.2 Comte wrote a substantial part of the Organisateur, and he himself regarded the Systeme de Politique Positive, which 1 O.C., vol. 38, p. 5.

2 See p. 21.



appeared as the third cahier of St. Simon’s Catechisme des Industriels (O.C. 38) as the basis of his philosophy. It expounds St.-Simon’s leading ideas much more lucidly and systematically than St.-Simon himself, but it is difficult to detect any fundamental difference between the master and the pupil, after allowing for the fact that St.-Simon was an amateur in philosophy and Comte a trained professional. ‘Comte was a St.-Simon who had been through the fkole Poly¬ technique’.1 Comte did refine and clarify St.-Simon’s ideas in two important respects. St.-Simon was still dominated by the seventeenthand eighteenth-century assumption that the only true knowledge was mathematical: hence he sought for a universal concept, such as the law of gravitation, to unify the sciences, and sometimes argued that the social sciences would become positive by being reduced to physics. Comte was free from this error, and believed that the only unifying concept is the scientific method itself; social science is autonomous, and becomes positive by applying scientific method to the discovery of its own laws.2 3 Secondly, Comte uses the term ‘capacity’ to describe the role of the scientists and industrialists in the positive society, in contrast to the spiritual and temporal ‘powers’ of the medieval society. The ‘sentimental and religious’ part of St.-Simon’s system, as expounded in the New Christianity, was developed by Bazard and Enfantin, founders of the St.-Simonian religion in the years 1825-35. Olinde Rodrigues, the pupil and disciple of St.-Simon at his death, was joined by Bazard, one of the leaders of the abortive Carbonarist revolt in France during the years 1819-22, and by Enfantin, a former Polytechnic student, and son of an unsuccessful banker. In a new journal, the Producteur, which appeared in 1825-26, and then lapsed through lack of money, they expounded the St.-Simonian principles. 1 G. Brunet: Mysticisme Social de St.-Simon (1925). 2 ‘The idea of treating social science as an application of mathematics, in order to make it positive, arises from the metaphysical assumption that there is no real certainty except in mathematics’. (Systeme de Politique Positive, O.C., vol. 38, p. 179.) 3 ‘The division of society and all its relations into temporal and spiritual should remain in the new society, as in the old. . .. Only, this division, in the new system, is no longer between two powers, but between two capacities’. (Organisateur, O.C., vol. 20, p. 85.) The latest and most detailed study of the relationship between St.-Simon and Comte is in Gouhier, La Jeunesse d’Auguste Comte. Prof. Gouhier is a whole-hearted supporter of Comte, and dismisses St.-Simon as ‘not a man of learning in quest of the truth, but a nobleman with a taste for grandiose scenes’. The opposite view that Comte systematized the original ideas which he derived from St.-Simon, is upheld, in varying shades of emphasis, by the main historians of ideas—e.g. Janet, Bury, Hoffding, Haldvy. E. Durkheim, the most important French successor of Comte in the field of sociology, has written the most penetrating and sympathetic study of St.-Simonism in his Sodalisme.



The liberal press reacted violendy, and Benjamin Constant denounced them as ‘priests of Thebes and Memphis’. But ‘St.-Simonism was not yet a theology, nor a Church; it was simply an attitude of mind’.1 At first, Enfantin was hesitant about the interpretation of St.-Simon’s religious teaching. In 1826 he wrote: ‘What are the preachers to say, in order to preach philanthropy? What means should one use at the present day to rouse the feelings of the people for this sublime religion? Do they still need mysteries, beliefs, faith? That is what I cannot decide’. Eugene, younger brother of Olinde Rodrigues, passionately advocated the idea of a new religion. In his Lettre sur la Religion et la Politique (1829), he wrote: ‘The sacred fire of enthusiasm is not lit in the cold hearth of philan¬ thropy’. During 1828, regular meetings were held in Paris to discuss and formulate doctrine, and through the influence of Resseguier, a new convert, an important branch of the movement was established in south-eastern France. At the end of 1828, a College of six ‘Apostles’ was formed, and Bazard dehvered a series of public lectures on the ‘Exposition de la Doctrine St.-Simonienne’. Bazard was a lucid and forceful speaker, and his lectures often present St.-Simon’s ideas in a clearer and more systematic form than St.-Simon ever achieved. The content of the lectures was the joint product of the whole group, but the main influence on the religious and economic doctrine must be attributed to Enfantin. The ‘Exposition’ develops certain implications in St.-Simon’s thought to such an extent that it amounts to a new theory, in its own right. It attacks the laws of inheritance, because they give no guarantee that capital will be in the hands best able to use it, and demands that it shall go instead to the State as the ‘social institution’ which will then allocate it, through a system of central and industrial banks, to those best able to use it productively. ‘Each man will be placed according to his capacity, and rewarded according to his work’.2 The bankers, entrepreneurs, and managers are thus entitled to the higher profits and salaries, if they are doing their job properly. It condemns the 1 S. Charlety: Le St.-Simonisme, 1896. 2 ‘The object of our examination, on this occasion, will be the exploitation of man by his fellow-man, exploitation which continues to-day and is represented by the relations of owner and worker, master and wage-earner. We shall find it in the fundamental fact, which is the immediate cause of this situation—the distribution of property, the trans¬ mission of wealth by family inheritance’. (Exposition de la Doctrine St.-Simonienne, ed. C. Bougl6 et E. Halevy, p. 243.)



anarchy of free competition, and compares the ‘exploitation of man by man’ with the slavery of the ancient world; and contrasts with it the principle of ‘association’. In all but the name this is a completely mature socialist doctrine. ‘St.-Simonism seems to us to be indubitably the first, the most eloquent, and the most profound expression of the sentiments and ideas which comprise the socialism of the nineteenth century’.1 St.-Simon’s antithesis of a ‘critical’ or ‘revolutionary’ state of society and an ‘organic’ state is expanded by Bazard into a systematic philo¬ sophy of history in terms of cycles of ‘organic’ and ‘critical’ periods. ‘An organic state preceded the era of the Greeks, which is called the philosophic era, but might be more justly called a “critical” epoch. Later, a new doctrine appeared, was gradually elaborated and per¬ fected, and finally established its political power over the whole of the West. The establishment of the Church constituted a new organic period which ended in the fifteenth century, when the reformers gave the first sign of the criticism which has continued to our own day’.2 But he goes on to give a new and crucial twist to the idea, when, in rebutting Comte’s insistence on the law of the three stages, theological, metaphysical, and positive, he asserts that the positive stage is the last stage of the ‘critical’ period, before the appearance of a new religion introduces the final ‘organic’ period. Bazard proclaims that humanity has ‘a religious future’. ‘The classification put forward against us is applicable only to a given stage of civilization; it is only the explanation of the movement of the human spirit, in the transition from an organic period to the critical period which follows it’.3 This is an open abandonment of St.-Simon’s synthesis of religion and positive science, and the religious doctrine of the Exposition ends up in a vague, sentimental pantheism. Here the influence of Ballanche, who in his Palingenesie Sociale (1827) combined Christian mysticism with pro¬ gressive, democratic humanitarianism, and of Hegel’s doctrine or the Absolute, can be detected. In January, 1830, Bazard and Enfantin were installed as the twin ‘Peres’ of the new religion. Although the St.-Simonians took no part in the July Revolution of 1830, and adopted a neutral attitude towards it, the general ferment of opinion in Paris gave a considerable impetus 1 Gide and Rist: History of Economic Doctrines. * Ibid., p. 128. It is probable that Bazard and Enfantin had read the French translation of Vico which appeared in 1827, and had been influenced by Vico’s theory of recurring cycles of historical periods. 8 Doctrine St.-Simonienne, ed. C. Bougie et E. Hal6vy, p. 436.



to the movement. Their public lectures in the Salle Taitbout attracted great interest. The ‘apostles’ established a community-house in the Rue Monsigny, and adopted a distinctive costume of blue tunic and trousers. ‘Everything conspired to make the propaganda active and irresistible. The family, established in the Rue Monsigny, was like a burning hearth which had the double power of attraction and of brilliance. Doctrine was formulated amid the sound of revelry and of feminine inspiration. Abandoning their pro¬ fessions, hopes of wealth, family ties, engineers, artists, doctors, lawyers, poets, gathered to contribute their most generous aspirations. Some brought their books, others furniture. They took their meals in common; the cult of fraternity was ardendy practised.’1

Between November, 1830, and April, 1832, they controlled the important newspaper, the Globe, as their organ of propaganda. Some 200 disciples were recruited among the Paris workers and housed in community centres. Missions were sent, not only to the French provinces, but to Belgium, Germany, and England. In southern Germany, Heine and Lorentz von Stein reported their views sympa¬ thetically: in England, they made contact with the Owenites, as well as John Stuart Mill and Carlyle. But their religious pretensions repelled English public opinion, and Carlyle, while sympathetic to their ideas, put his finger on the weak point: ‘You call yourselves a Church, and you claim to be founders of a new religion, but this religion, I confess, I look for so far in vain’.2 At this critical stage, when the movement appeared to be on the crest of a wave, Enfantin proved himself to be its evil genius. He was intellectually much inferior to Bazard, but an able and energetic organizer (he was later to be an important railway director in France under the Second Empire). He was also extremely handsome, and a showman of genius. He bewitched the younger members of the movement, and surrounded them with an unhealthy atmosphere of emotional excitement and adulation of the ‘Pere Enfantin’. In 1829, Enfantin had raised the question of the status of women in the new religion. ‘Let us say it boldly, the St.-Simonian epoch will be marked by the complete emancipation of women’. In October, 1830, Bazard and Enfantin wrote an open letter to the Chamber of Deputies, denying rumours that the St.-Simonians believed in communism of property or of women. But Enfantin privately maintained that the Christian 1L. Blanc: Histoire de Dix Arts, vol. 3, p. 3. * Letters to Eichtal, published in Revue Historique, 1903, vol. 82, p. 292 ff.



law of marriage was only provisional, and in the summer of 1831 the College of Apostles was rent by a prolonged controversy over Enfantin’s views on the relations of the sexes. According to Enfantin: ‘Man and woman—that is the first religion of love; the same man and woman together for life, is one of the forms of this religion. Divorce, and a new union with a new husband, is another form of this religion’. He asserted the principle that the paternity of children should be estab¬ lished on the word only of the mother, and that sexual relations between the St.-Simonian ‘priests’ and ‘priestesses’ and their disciples should be encouraged as a means of promoting mutual sympathy. In January, 1832, a letter in the Globe sought to explain Enfantin’s views thus: ‘We may see men and women united by a love unknown before, since it will neither grow cold, nor bring jealousy in its train; men and women giving themselves to several without ceasing to be united as a couple; whose love, on the contrary, will be like a divine banquet increasing in magnificence, in proportion to the number and choice of the guests.’

It is not surprising that Enfantin’s father protested in a letter that: ‘Your doctrine is a regulation of adultery; it is not by organizing prostitution and adultery that you will succeed in destroying them’. Bazard vigorously combated this dangerous nonsense elaborated by Enfantin, and the issue, debated for several weeks, developed into a trial of strength between the two ‘Fathers’. Bazard maintained that Enfantin’s views rested on a false interpretation of St.-Simon’s principle of the ‘rehabilitation of the flesh’. (In fact, St.-Simon had hardly mentioned the question of the emancipation of women, and it was an idea borrowed from Fourier, who had developed it in his Theorie des Quatre Mouvements of 1808.) So strenuous was the controversy that Bazard had a stroke, and insisted on seceding from the movement. He died the following year, after publishing an able account of the controversy,1 in which he accused Enfantin of ‘so abusing the religious idea that it is nothing but a masquerade’. An important minority of the apostles followed Bazard in his secession, and a few months later Olinde Rodrigues seceded, proclaim¬ ing himself the only true heir of St.-Simon. However, Enfantin vigorously rallied his followers, and announced that the question of the relation of the sexes would be settled when the ‘female Messiah’ appeared. In the meantime, Enfantin ruled as sole ‘Father’, and in 1 Discussions Morales et Politiques, 1832.



July, 1832, withdrew with forty of the apostles to Menilmontant, a large suburban property belonging to the Enfantin family, where they adopted a monastic regime of austerity, chastity, and poverty. The new apostolic costume, designed by Enfantin, consisted of a blue tunic with open neck, a white vest with red neckband, white trousers, and a red beret. On the front of the vest, the apostle’s grade in the hierarchy was printed in large letters: it was also made to button at the back, in order, as Enfantin explained, to ‘emphasize the fraternal dependence of the apostles on each other’. In the intervals allowed from manual labour, the apostles discussed the project of a St.-Simonian ‘Bible’ and a St.-Simonian temple, to be built largely of iron. The gardens of Menilmontant were opened twice a week, and drew thousands of curious sightseers from Paris. Meanwhile, the government and the police were watching the activities of the St.-Simonians with some apprehension, particularly of the effect they might have on the working class. There were reports that they had been involved in the working-class revolt in Lyons in 1831—the first purely proletarian rising in France, and a foretaste of the civil war in Paris in June, 1848. In March, 1832, the police closed down their lecture-hall in Paris, and instituted a prosecution. In August, 1832, Enfantin and two of his followers appeared at the Assizes, and after a spirited defence, were condemned to a year’s imprisonment and fine for offences against public order and morality. The St.-Simonian association was declared illegal. It was by now heavily in debt; a million francs had been spent on the movement, provided by contributions from the private fortunes of the members. In December, 1832, Enfantin went to serve his prison sentence, and abdicated his authority as ‘Father’. With the end of the Menilmontant regime, the apostles dispersed, some to ordinary life and bourgeois clothes, some to industrial centres, where they took manual jobs in factories, and attempted, without success, to form an ‘armee pacifique des travailleurs’, others on missions to the East. Barrault, one of the apostles, formed a new sect, the ‘association des compagnons de la femme’, and set out for Constantinople to find the ‘female Messiah’ in the East. On his release from prison, Enfantin sailed for Alexandria in September, 1833, with the idea of undertaking the construction of the Suez Canal. He rejoined in Egypt two of his followers, Fournel and Lambert, both engineers, who discussed with Mehemet Ali’s govern¬ ment the projects of a railway from Cairo to Suez, a Canal, and a Nile



barrage. Mehemet Ali decided in favour of the Nile barrage: Foumel considered it impracticable and returned to France. Between 1834 and 1836, Enfantin, with Lambert and a few followers, worked on die Nile barrage. It proved a failure, and Enfantin returned to France in October, 1836. The religious extravagance of the movement, and its collapse, does not mean that the St.-Simonians were unintelligent: nor were they very young. The average age of the apostles at Menilmontant was not less than twenty-seven. Like the rest of their generation, they were intoxicated by the two powerful stimulants of the romantic movement and the Napoleonic legend. In 1830 there was the first performance of Victor Hugo’s Hernani: in 1831, that of Hector Berlioz’ Symphonie Fantastique. Paris experienced an orgy of grandiose and romantic ideas. Many of the St.-Simonian recruits came from the £cole Poly¬ technique, and among them were exceedingly able men, who proved their practical ability in later life; they were mostly from well-to-do bourgeois families. Of such were Michel Chevalier, Professor of Political Economy at the College de France from 1840, the future negotiator, with Cobden, of the Anglo-French free-trade treaty of 1860; Henri Fournel, who in 1830 resigned from the important post of manager of the Creusot works to join the movement, and later became Inspector-General of Mines; the brothers £mile and Isaac Pereire, who promoted the first French railway from Paris to St. Germain between 1832 and 1835, and founded the Credit Mobilier in 1852 (the most important commercial bank in France under the Second Empire) and the Compagnie Generale Transatlantique;1 Buchez, one of the founders of Christian socialism and workers’ co-operatives, and President of the Constitutional Assembly, May, 1848 ;2 Pierre Leroux, one of the most influential socialist writers in the ’thirties and ’forties. Enfantin himself, after a painful readjustment to civilian life, turned to practical affairs. After a visit to Algeria in 183