views updated


SAINT-SIMONISM , a 19th-century social reform philosophy and movement, inspired by Claude-Henri de Rouvroy, Comte de Saint-Simon (1760–1825). It had prominent disciples of Jewish descent. Its ultimate goal was a technologically oriented industrial society, under a dictatorship of competent scientist-technicians and property-owning businessmen and bankers, inspired by the bizarre ideology of a "New Christianity" shorn of other-worldliness and asceticism. In a non-violent fashion, caste privileges would be surrendered, work provided for all, rewards allocated according to merit, inheritance abolished, and equality of both sexes established. Saint-Simonism displayed an elective affinity toward the compassionate social messianism of the Hebraic prophets. Revivalist exaltation–upon which the sect eventually foundered–included the expectation of the woman-messiah "Mother," a Jewess from the Orient, who would formulate the new morality and whom the disciples must go out and find. Saint-Simon's earliest apostle was Benjamin Olinde Rodrigues (1795–1851), who was of Jewish origin. He nominated the two "supreme fathers" of the Saint-Simonian temple, Bazard (1791–1832) and Erefantin (1796–1864), and published Saint-Simon's and the disciples' collected writings. Among those Rodrigues introduced into the fold were his brother, Eugene, and his cousins, Emile and Isaac *Péreire with whom, later, he promoted French railway construction and corporate banking. Other eminent Saint-Simonians were Léon *Halévy, Gustave d'*Eichthal, and Jules *Carvallo. The active presence of the Jewish element sparked the violent reaction of both the Socialist Fourier and Catholic Church spokesmen, who denounced Saint-Simonism as a Jewish plot to subvert civilization. After due consideration it was rejected by Marx and Engels, together with all other pre-Marxist doctrines. However, among the contemporaries who were impressed by the doctrine were the historians Carlyle and Michelet, the sociologist Comte, the composers Berlioz and Liszt, and the author George Sand, in addition to such German Jewish intellectuals as Eduard *Gans, Heinrich *Heine, Rahel *Varnhagen, and Moritz *Veit.


C.H. de R. Saint-Simon, Oeuvres de Saint-Simon et d'Enfantin, 47 vols. (1865–78; repr. 1963– ); G. Weill, in: rej, 31 (1895), 261–73; Z. Szajkowski, in: jsos, 9 (1947), 33–60; F.M.H. Markham (ed.), Selected Writings of Saint-Simon (1952); J. Talmon, in: Commentary, 26 (1958), 158–72.

[Hanns G. Reissner]

About this article


Updated About content Print Article