Karl Marx and Comte de Saint-Simon

Author: Comte de Saint-Simon

– Born October 17th, 1760 in France and died May 19th 1825 in Paris.

– Belonged to a poor aristocratic family, had a bumpy education, and joined the army at 17.

– Aided the Americans in the Revolutionary War.

– Gained wealth due to the Reign of Terror, but quickly became bankrupt and attempted to take his own life.



– Wrote during a very tumultuous time in France’s history, before industrialization.

– Witnessed the hight of the French Revolution, and the rise of Napoleon.



– He often uses a fairly sarcastic tone to mock society and its views.

– He uses casual speech, and attacks certain parties in his essay.

– He has a very jaded view and it is present in his work, most likely caused by the state of his life (see above).



-He most likely seems to be speaking to his peers, since he does not speak in an explanatory tone, but a casual one.



-He is trying to convince his peers that something is amiss in society.

-He is trying to show that the economy is broken.



Laissez-faire, laissez-passer! does not help the common people.

– “Will they bear their misery patiently because statistical calculations prove that in future years they will have food to appease their hunger?”


Author:  Karl Marx

– Born May 5th, 1818 in Trier, died March 14th 1883 in London.

– Born into a wealthy middle-class family, was educated at the universities of Bonn and Berlin.

– Moved to France, but was later exiled to England.

-Briefly wrote fiction, as well as nonfiction.



– His views and works were extremely liberal at the time, and he had issues publishing his works.

– Was active during the rise of Communism, and wrote in its favor.

-His works quickly started dramatic changes in Europe (especially after publishing the Communist Manifesto in 1848).



– Can be rather poetic at times, with repetition commonly seen in poems.

– Use of philosophical rhetoric commonly seen in Plato and Socrates’ work.

– Very explanatory, often repeating points.



– Most likely geared towards a lower demographic (such as laborers), because of the repetition and explanatory tone.



– To show that Capitalism cheapens the worth of the lower-class worker, by forcing them to produce more and better products with no regard for themselves.



-Laborers are being alienated by their work, and are becoming more barbaric because of this.


Comte De Saint-Simon, The Incoherence and Disorder of Industry


Author:(1760-1825), Also known as Claude Henri de Rouvroy, comte de Saint-Simon was a French economist who challenged his nation’s traditional economic composition.  He believed that the economy should be strategically industrialized eather than run it a Laissez-faire manner.  This was one of the earlier writings advocating socialism.  His thinking that the common man was a hard worker demonstrates his positive reflxtion on human nature.

Context:  France had always had a capitalist economic structure.  Comte de Saint-Simon was a rising political figure in France.  He believed that it was more beneficial to society to fit the needs of the working class rather than the wealthy or “idle” class.  He felt that through an enlightened industrial class, products could be raised to fit the needs of the poor.  

Language: Comte de Saint-Simon uses a persuasive tone that is design to appeal to the reader’s sense of emotion.  He uses words that attempt to convice the audience that people should be hard workers dedicated to the betterment of society rather than their own interests.

Audience:  Saint-Simon is addressing the common people of France.  Wants to convince the majority of society that his new economic system is better than the old Laissez-fair system.  He realizes that the wealthiest class will not support his system so he does not attempt to reach them.  In fact, he even blames their own greed for the flaws in French society.

Intent:  The essay is intended to create support for his alternative to France’s existing economic structure.  He intends to spread his belief in the common man’s hardworking nature to the middle class in French society.  He believes this composition as opposed to the existing capitalist structure would raise the standard of living for society.  Likewise, he realizes that if his political system is implemented, he will likely be viewed as the face of French economics.

Message:  The message of the essay is that society be tailored around the working man.  He asserts that the working class is the cornerstone of the economy, however, the elite, or idle class, benefits the most from it.  He advocates an economy that is based around virtues rather than the cut-throat nature of capitalism and he believes that it would make society better as a whole.



Comte De Saint-Simon


Author: Author’s name is Comte de Saint-Simon.  Saint-Simon is considered to be a French social theorist (Comte de Saint-Simon 1).  He was not in support of a Laissez-faire economy.  Instead, Saint-Simon wanted “an industrialized state directed by science,” (Comte de Saint-Simon 1).  Furthermore, Saint-Simon wanted industrialists to become enlightened and after their enlightenment, for he felt that they could help the poor.  He also fought in the American Revolution.

Context: The article does not say when exactly it was written, but on Encyclopedia Britannica they make mention of many of his works.  A few of his successful works were in 1803, 1814, and  1816-18.  It claims that his work in 1803 spoke to the importance of science, which this piece does. ((Encyclopedia Britannica, Henri de Saint-Simon)).

Language: Saint-Simon seemed to be challenging the way Europe currently stood economically when he wrote this piece.  The tone of his voice could be characterized as frustrated, for he was not happy with the way Europe continued to use this Laissez-faire attitude.

Audience: He claims that Europe relies on this Laissez-faire attitude and that it is considered to be “the inevitable solution,” (Comte de Saint-Simon 2).  Saint-Simon disagreed with this point and wants Europe to change their ways.  Due to the fact that St. Simon disagreed with this Laissez-faire mentality and constantly mentioned “honest and hard-working men,” (Comte de Saint-Simon 2) as “innumerable victims,” (Comte de Saint- Simon 2) it seems as though Saint-Simon was speaking to the masses, as he wanted them to change their line of thinking and stop going along with the Laissez-faire attitude.

Intent: As stated above, it seems that Saint-Simon’s intent was to encourage the masses to look around and see how they were being manipulated by the Laissez-faire economy and his piece showed a way in which they could improve the European economy.

Message: Laissez-faire is defined as, “policy of minimum governmental interference in the economic affairs of individuals and society,” ((Encyclopedia Britannica, laissez-faire)).  However, while many Europeans found this to be “inevitable solution,” Saint-Simon disagreed and stated that a Laissez-fair economy created a “struggle to the death,” (Comte de Saint-Simon 2) mentality amongst Europeans.  Furthermore, by creating this mentality, Saint-Simon claimed that while some individuals may be successful, “the price is the complete ruin of innumerable victims.”  In fact, because many working men become “innumerable victims,” Saint-Simon claimed that this caused people to go to the endth measure, for “more than honesty and hard work are needed,” (Comte de Saint-Simon 2).  Saint-Simon concludes that when working men see that hard work does not get enough done, they resort to deceitful tactics and become “lost to humanity,” (Comte de Saint- Simon 2).  Therefore, because working men, seeing that there hard-work was useless, turn to drastic measures and lose their humanity.  This, Saint-Simon argued, is a major problem occurring in Europe and will only be fixed if the Laissez-faire economy is done away with.

His solution to this, was, as the introduction stated, “an industrialized state directed by science, and an enlightened class of industrialists to address the needs of the poor,” (Comte de Saint-Simon 1).  While this solution had flaws, for Saint-Simon acknowledges these very flaws in his introduction, he believed that a state which was directed by science could not be any more flawed than a Laissez-faire economy, which continuously hurt the humanity of Europe and brought chaos to Europe.


*Once again, I had trouble with footnoting.  Below are the sources I used for the Context section and Message section.*

“Henri de Saint-Simon”. Encyclopedia Britannica. Encyclopedia Britannica Online.       Encyclopedia Britannica Inc., 2015. Web. 05 Feb. 2015 (context section)

“laissez-faire”. Encyclopedia Britannica. Encyclopedia Britannica Online.Encyclopedia Britannica Inc., 2015. Web. 05 Feb. 2015. (message section)

The Dangers of a Laissez Faire Economy

Owen, Comte de St. Simon, and Marx share similar disdain for laissez faire economies. All three vilify the effects of a free market, in stark contrast to the beliefs of Adam Smith. Owen and Comte de St. Simon are most explicit in their attacks on the free market, blaming its systems and its supporters for the overwhelming decadence of industrial Europe. They argue that laissez faire economies rewards those who exploit others while punishing those with any shred of decency or respect for their fellow man. This compels men to become more selfish and deceitful, or else face monetary destitution, the latter being the more appealing option to most. By this process, men aspiring to the same goal are forced into competition and rivalry, turned against each other by their economic situation. Owen pleads with the people of England to recognize this unnatural animosity, but the proponents of laissez faire economies are firm in their conviction that the interests of the individual and the interests of the society are intertwined. But as Owen elucidates, the laborers who manufacture the products which benefit society are often deprived of the fruits of their labor. The benefits of a free market economy are only immediately realized by those who are selfish and shameless, while the honest working people are left to trudge through fiscal turmoil.

While the United States’ economy is not a completely free market, the ideals of capitalism are still held in high regard by many U.S. citizens. However, as these authors have made obvious, a laissez fair economy is often only advantageous to a minority of the population. Do the pros of capitalism outweigh the cons? Is equality of opportunity more important than equality of outcome? Would we be a better nation if we were more fiscally equal? Or are we a better nation under the ideals of capitalism?

Competitive Industry

In Comte de Saint-Simon’s The Incoherence and Disorder of Industry, Saint-Simon disapproves and criticizes laissez-faire capitalism for its brutal competitive nature. He views industrialists as self-centered and vain. He claims, “the industrialist is very little concerned about society’s interests.” Saint-Simon has a Hobbesian view on the Industrial Revolution. He suggests that when two men pursue the same career, they inevitably become enemies; their lives become nasty, short, and brutish as they seek glory over each other’s career. Saint-Simon reasons that when masses of people charge into production, the result is disastrous with few industrialists succeeding and the majority victimized and suffering. The hardworking men that lose in these crises become broke and dismayed. These men assume new roles of dishonest characteristics in order to prevent capsizing in the laissez-faire capitalism. In Saint-Simon’s words, these men are “lost to humanity.” Saint-Simon supports an industrialized system where its leaders view society as the primary component and work to settle the needs of the poor.

While Saint-Simon views the laissez faire capitalism competition as disastrous, Adam Smith in his Inquiry into the Nature and Cause of the Wealth of Nations, believes that through division of labor, laissez faire will increase productivity resulting in a higher standard of living. Smith focuses on the value production as the means to success whereas Saint-Simon emphasizes the ill will of man. Saint-Simon’s position assumes that personal and social interests do not coincide and thus government intervention is required to protect the poor. Saint-Simon in his Hobbesian view has little faith in the ability of men to work together for society’s interests rather than personal interests.