Henri de Saint-Simon
Who was he: Henri de Saint-Simon was an early French socialist whose ideas heavily influenced the foundations and birth of 19th Century Marxism. Saint-Simon believed the growth of the new industrial society in Europe would require a new type of politics founded on the neutralization of power he called "non-power politics."
This would be linked to science and a new religion, which would establish an improved utopian society. Although in hindsight we know this didn't take place, this was still an underlying theme of all socialist and communist movements during the period.
Background: Henri de Saint-Simon (Claude Henri de Rouvroy, comte de Saint-Simon) was born on October 17, 1760 into an aristocratic family in Paris, France. As a young man, Saint-Simon actually traveled to America during the Revolution and served under General George Washington in the battle of Yorktown. He was also very ambitious and told his valet to wake him every morning saying, "Remember, Monsieur le Comte, that you have great things to do."
Today Saint-Simon would be characterized as a "dreamer" and at the time of the French Revolution he attempted to raise funds through land speculation and entered into a brief but unhappy marriage to obtain a salon. Saint-Simon was put in prison during the reign of terror period of the revolution but was later released. By age 40, Saint-Simon was impoverished and remained so for the rest of his life.
Henri de Saint-Simon continued to advance his socialist ideas of replacing the existing military and feudal systems with a form of state-technocratic socialism designed to eliminate the poverty of the poor. Most of Saint-Simon's writings had limited appeal and attracted few adherents during his lifetime. Saint-Simon became so depressed that he attempted suicide by shooting himself in the head six times but even failed at that.
This failed utopian socialist died in 1825, but his many writings later grew in popularity as the socialist movement gained support. These ideas and writings, in the end, were a major contribution to French socialism as well as the socialist theories of both Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels.