Philip Lockley (University of Oxford)
“Millenialism, Communalism and the Origins of Socialism: Transatlantic Theologies of Transformation Before 1848”
Brownbag Presentation: January 10, 2014 / Noon / Tolley 304 / SU Humanities Center
Between the1790s and 1840s, convictions about an approaching millennium and a strengthening religious impulse to communalism shaped significant elements of European and American Christianity. These developments had a complex yet compelling relationship with the earliest arguments for socialism expounded soon after on both sides of the Atlantic. Generations of scholars have viewed early socialism as a “secularized” Christian millennium; religious groups such as the Shakers and Harmony Society have, in turn, been seen as “utopian” forebears to “real socialism.” Such readings notably rely on simplistic understandings of millennialism, radical Protestant asceticism, and the secularism of socialism. How then should we make sense of the interactions between communal societies and socialist communities, between millennial ideas and transatlantic movements for dramatic social reform? This talk will explore this field with the help of theology: by considering the resonance of religious ideas and practices, can we make more sense of socialist hopes as they were imagined and realized before the revolutionary year of 1848?
Philip Lockley is British Academy Postdoctoral Fellow in the Faculty of Theology and Religion, University of Oxford. He received his doctorate in Modern History from Oxford in 2010. He is the author of Visionary Religion and Radicalism in Early Industrial England: from Southcott to Socialism (Oxford University Press, 2013)—a study of the dynamic relationship between popular millennial religion and forms of social radicalism in early nineteenth-century England. His next book will explore the role of religious ideas such as pietism, millennialism, and revivalism in the emergence of socialism in Britain, Germany, and the United States.