By Claude-Henry Saint-Simon, 1803
Critique by Punkerslut
Claude-Henry Saint-Simon has been regarded as most as one of the early Socialists. However, according to the modern accepted definition of "Socialist," he might only slightly fit this picture. He believed in reorganizing society in a way that was beneficial to everyone involved. In this work, by "everyone involved," he meant three classes: inventors, industrialists, and laborers (the last who he justly calls the largest group of society). Mostly, he believed in regarding the inventors, scientists, and artists as the most prominent members of society. In support of these innovators, he suggested a subscription, where members would pledge their money to a fund, and then the members collectively voting on their three most favored artists or scientists, and then donating the money to these individuals. The primary criticism that I have of his is the disregard for the right of workers to govern themselves.
Workers of the World
The problem with Saint-Simon's idea of the industrialist class being allowed to have more rights than the laboring class is unfounded. Society does not suffer from the ailment of lacking scientists, or artists, or others. The greatest evil in society is wealth being concentrated in the hands of the few. To confound this evil, the few are those who do not create the wealth, while those who create the wealth have none of it. That is the greatest evil to society, and creating a subscription for scientists or artists will do nothing to change this. Robert Owen, an Industrialist and Utopian Socialist of the early 1800's, wrote that in one particular incident, a factory owner had employed children ages 6, 7, and 8. They worked for thirteen hours a day. Their work was so grueling and difficult for such tender bodies, a great deal of them became permanently deformed. ["A New View of Society," by Robert Owen, essay 2.] Thomas Malthus also noted the same, "Boys that you would guess to be fourteen or fifteen are, upon inquiry, frequently found to be eighteen or nineteen." ["An Essay on the Principle of Population," by Thomas Malthus.] So one can see, the problem is not a lack of scientists or artists, but rather it is the inability to be fed without consenting to the brutal conditions of an employer.
The capitalists are not more "enlightened" than the working man. At least the working men of all nations have the common sense to know that they deserve the wealth of their labor, though a great deal of them are convinced of the lies told to them by the media and the governments. Capitalists do have some enhanced skills, though. They know how to exploit. They know how to treat children to get them to make soccer balls for sixty cents a day. They know that the whip and the chain are the only way to harness the workers under slavery, so that they are debilitated. The industrialist class cannot be recognized as an advantage to any nation. To argue that they are enlightened, or better, or more intelligent, is to perpetrate the greatest lies against humanity, and I cannot see how Saint-Simon could believe such utter absurdities.