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May 30, 2007



This reminds me of an extract from W.H. Smith's diary I once saw (yes, there was a W.H. Smith). Smith was a devout Christian and a very successful businessman; he squared the circle by praying for divine guidance and humbly admitting that he had no way of knowing what God's purpose for him might be. What this meant in practice was, of course, that he was under no obligation to actually put his religion into practice - other than by praying for guidance and trusting that God's influence would somehow permeate his everyday life. It's a weird kind of hollowed-out Calvinism - faith without the burden of religion.

Igor Belanov

Surely the reason why left-wing thought in the 17th century seemes more religious is that in those pre-enlightenment days most discourse took place in a religious framework? Most left-wing groups were radically against the religious establishment, and some were almost openly irreligious, ie the seekers and ranters, and the Diggers in a more sociopolitical sense.


Well yes, but it was more than just a framework. requiring liberty of conscience for themselves led dissenters to call for its extension to all and from that you get the notion that all arecreated equal, etc. Obviously, you have to be a member of a dissenting religion for it to work like that.

Igor Belanov

I think, though, that the groups we would regard as 'left-wing' cannot really be defined as puritanical and were 'dissenters' in the wider social sense. Put very simply, Puritanism led to political liberalism, the Diggers, radical Levellers, Ranters, etc were the roots of socialism.

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