chapter  VII
19 Pages

Historic Origins of the Industrial System and the Doctrine of Saint-Simon

We find the new science limited to a single and unique problem, whose interest is more practical than speculative. But at least Saint-Simon undertakes to treat it according to the scien­ tific and positive method whose fundamental rules we saw him formulate earlier. It is not a question of inventing a new system, created out of many pieces-as do Utopians of the eighteenth century and other periods-but merely of discovering by obser­ vation what is in process of being worked out. “One does not create a system of social organization. One perceives the new chain of ideas and interests which has been formed, and points it out-that is all.” (Organisateur, IV, 178-180.) Saint-Simon often returns to a notion of spontaneous social organization, especially in relation to the role of banks. (Catéchisme industriel, passim; Système industriel, V. 46-47.) All one can do is to be aware of the direction the development is taking; next, to dis­ tinguish, among the elements of which the present is made up, those which are developing more and more-and developing more completely-and those which more and more are ceasing to be; finally, to recognize the future behind the survivals of the past which conceal it. To do these things, it is necessary to study the growth of our societies since they were definitively established. According to our author, it is in the Middle Ages-the eleventh and twelfth centuries-that they were formed with all their essential characteristics. That epoch is consequently “the most suitable point of departure” for “that philosophic observation of the past” which alone can enlighten the future. Let us see what societies were like at that time and how they evolved since.