The following points highlight the top three economic ideas of Saint Simon. The economic ideas are: 1. St. Simon’s Parable 2. Industrial Order 3. Industrial Government.
Economic Idea # 1. St. Simon’s Parable:
St. Simon’s leading ideas, contained within the compass of a few striking pages, have since become known as “Saint-Simon’s Parable”.
“Let us Suppose”, says he, that France suddenly loses fifty of her first-class doctors, fifty first class chemists, fifty first-class physiologists, fifty first-class bankers, two hundred of her best merchants, six hundreds of her foremost agriculturists, five hundred of her most capable ironmasters, etc. (enumerating the Principal of industries).
Seeing that these men are its most indispensable producers,makers of its most important products, the minute that it loses these the nation will degenerate into a mere soulless body and fall into a state of despicable weakness in the eyes of rival nations and will remain in the subordinate position so long as the loss remains and their places are vacant.
From the above parable it is clear that the official Government is a mere facade. Its action is wholly superficial. Society might exist without it and life would be none the less happy. But the disappearance of the servants, industrial leaders, bankers and merchants would leave the community crippled.
The very sources of wealth would dry up, for their activities are really fruitful and necessary. They are the true governors who wield real power. Such was the parable. St. Simon wanted to reform the social organisation, he wanted to create an industrial society.
Economic Idea # 2. Industrial Order:
To provide equality and opportunity the society was to be organized. The main feature of industrialism was that the material resources of the country would be fully utilised. The main citizens of the country would be Industrials – manufacturers, scientists, engineers, workers, agriculturists, artists, bankers, etc.
The noblemen had no room in the industrial society as they did not produce; but who dependent upon others. Everyone was to earn according to his productive capacity. He held the view that industrial equality consisted in each drawing from society benefits which is proportional to his share in the state.
St. Simon stressed the point in new social order that private property should be abolished but there should not be any class distinctions. He divided the society in to two classes – national party comprising industrials and anti-national party comprising idlers. He wanted the latter to disappear.
Economic Idea # 3. Industrial Government:
To Saint Simon, the function of the government would be limited to “defending workers from the unproductive sluggard and maintaining security and freedom for the producer. Therefore, to maintain peace in a factory, he thought, that it could even be undertaken by men of secondary level. “France was to be turned into a factory and the nation organised on the model of a vast workshop”, which would not require any government.
The main task assigned to the government was to organise forces rather than to govern men. He wanted politics to be transformed into a positive science of productive organisation. To Simon, under the old system, the tendency was to increase the power of government by establishing the ascendancy of the higher classes over the lower.
Under the new system the aim must be to combine all the forces of society in such a fashion as to secure the successful execution of all these works which tend to improve the lot of its members either morally or physically. The factory would be run by the government, the executive power would be in the hands of a chamber of deputies recruited from the representatives of commerce, industry,manufacture and agriculture.
This novel concept of government distinguished St. Simon’s industrialism from economic liberalism. To him, the main function of the government was not the provision of justice and defence as is done by the modern governments, but the preparation of public works, provision for the defence of industrials, and that of employment so that it might carry out the enterprises of Industrial development and national prosperity.
St. Simon was not a socialist but a collectivist. He never proposed the abolition of private property. He wanted knowledge and industry to govern social order, based on universal association. On the one hand, he wanted collectivism and on the other, he defended private property.His industrialism and collectivism greatly influenced French writers like G. Sorrel, Louis Blanc and Anton Menger.His industrial society was intended to secure the greatest advantage for the greatest number.
The deciples of Saint-Simon or the Saint Simonians as they were called evolved a collectivist doctrine from the philosophy of their great teacher. They made everything subordinate to the end of maximum social utility and hence would not allow any right of inheritance, opposed private property and advocated state ownership of everything.