Ménilmontant to Montplaisir: A Study of Michel Chevalier and Saint-Simonism
Mount Saint Vincent University
Excerpt From Introduction: "That the capitalist system functions badly is not a new phenomenon. In 1867, Karl Marx wrote in the Preface to the first German edition of Capital that “Perseus wore a magic cap that the monsters he hunted down might not see him. We draw the magic cap down over our eyes and ears as a make-believe that there are no monsters.” Michel Chevalier (1806-1879) made a career out of hunting down monsters. Both authors no doubt disagreed on who and what these were, however.3 This thesis is a study of Chevalier the Saint-Simonian, and the ideology born from the works of Saint-Simon (1760-1825) known as Saint-Simonism. Understood within the context of mounting criticism concerning the ideas and real consequences inherent to industrial systems of production, a general theme exists throughout the paper, and this is the idea that the capitalist system functions badly, that industry is disorganised. Discussion of Saint-Simonism gravitates around this notion, with a particular emphasis on the treatment of capital and social welfare as understood in the works of Chevalier. So two threads run through this thesis. The first and most obvious is the discussion of his thoughts. The second, very much interwoven with the former, is the interrogation of his involvement with the Saint-Simonian movement. The point is to consider him as part of a social intellectual network that existed in the nineteenth century. The focus of this paper spans from 1806 to 1879 and is purposefully kept broad to match his perspective. I hope that this approach is useful to gain an appreciation of the various concepts born out of the long nineteenth century that influenced his thoughts on European society and the globe, before attempting more in depth analyses of specific periods of Chevalier's career; and to advance an alternate view regarding the length and breadth of Saint-Simonism. My intention is to argue that Chevalier was a Saint-Simonian all his life; that it is problematic to confine his involvement with the Saint-Simonian movement (and thus its impact) to the dates 1825 to 1832; and that Saint-Simonism is more aptly characterised as an ideology spanning the lives of Saint-Simon and Chevalier the Saint-Simonian".
Undergraduate Honours Thesis written for HIST 4499.
Michel Chevalier , Saint-Simonism , Saint Simon