Claude Henri de Saint-Simon
Claude Henri de Saint-Simon (1760 - 1825) was a complex and influential figure in the late 18th and early 19th centuries. Born as Count Henri de Saint-Simon, he should not be confused with the Duke of Saint-Simon, a famous chronicler at the court of Louis XIV.
Henri de Saint-Simon led a life marked by adventure and transformation. He participated in the American Independence War, showcasing his adventurous spirit. During the tumultuous times of the French Revolution, he dabbled in speculation but later found himself imprisoned and emerged with a newfound pacifist perspective.
In the circles of Paris, he established himself as a wealthy patron of the arts and a brilliant orator. His salon gatherings were known for their intellectual vibrancy. However, his life took a turn in 1802 with a financial collapse, which led him to employ numerous secretaries, among whom Comte was notable.
In his later years, Saint-Simon's beliefs evolved into religious fervor, and he passed away in 1825. He left behind a group of followers known as "Saint-Simonists," who propagated a form of socialism. Within this circle, new terms such as class, socialism, communism, egoism, altruism, industry, individualism, positivism, bourgeoisie, and proletariat circulated.
Saint-Simon's impact extended beyond his immediate followers. He commented on the early stages of industrialization, emphasizing the dichotomy between industrious individuals and idlers, entrepreneurs, and workers, all within the same industrial class. Similar to Marx, Saint-Simon believed in class struggle as a defining aspect of human societies, but his division of classes centered on those who worked and those who did not, rather than the bourgeoisie and proletariat.
Claude Henri de Saint-Simon's life and ideas played an important role in shaping early socialist thought and contributing to discussions on social classes and industrialization.