Saint-Simon Foundation

The Saint-Simon Foundation (French: Fondation Saint-Simon) was a French think tank created in 1982 by the historian François Furet. It gathered intellectuals and businessmen until its dissolving in 1999. It was a member of The Hague Club international network of think-tanks.[1] Its membership included intellectuals, journalists, high-ranking civil servants, industry leaders including businesspeople and trade unionists, and academics.[2][3] Many of its former members have now joined Le Siècle circle.


According to the political scientist Pierre Rosanvallon, the Saint-Simon Foundation was created after the 1981 turn marked by the election of the left's candidate François Mitterrand to the presidency. Its aim was to create a social exchange network completely independent from political clubs and university institutions.[4]

The Saint-Simon Foundation supported democracy and economic liberalism, opposing "totalitarianism." It wanted to create bridges between Universities, business and public administration. Pierre Nora defined it as the "meeting of people who had means [i.e. money] with those who had ideas" (« la rencontre de gens qui avaient des moyens avec des gens qui avaient des idées »).

The think-tank published various memos and studies. In the 1990s, it was increasingly subjected to criticisms, alleging an excessive and somehow covert influence on French politics. Alain Minc called this club the "circle of Reason" (le cercle de la raison), while its opponents spoke of the "circle of the single thought" (cercle de la pensée unique).


Other members included CEOs such as Jean-Louis Beffa, Antoine Riboud, Christian Blanc, Jean-Luc Lagardère, Francis Mer, journalists such as Jean Daniel, Laurent Joffrin, Serge July, Christine Ockrent, Anne Sinclair, Franz-Olivier Giesbert and Jean-Pierre Elkabbach or the intellectual Luc Ferry .


  1. The Hague Club (English)
  2. James G. McGann. Think Tanks and Civil Societies: Catalysts for Ideas and Action. Transaction Publishers, 2002. P166.
  3. A. T. Lane. Biographical Dictionary of European Labor Leaders, Volume 1. Greenwood Publishing Group, 1995. P467.
  4. La Fondation Saint-Simon, une histoire accomplie, Pierre Rosanvallon, Le Monde, 23 June 1999 (French)

External links

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