The Politics of Radical Religion: The Bristol Lectures of 1795
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Coleridge’s earliest political writings developed out of a series of lectures given in Bristol in 1795. These lectures were intended to provide a source of funds for the revised pantisocratic scheme, and many of the arguments advanced in them were closely connected to that scheme. Others were tailored more closely to English circumstances than to the special conditions that emigration would make possible, but the concern with liberty and equality that lay behind the pantisocratic proposal had a marked impact on Coleridge’s view of the need for reform in contemporary society. In the extracts printed below, Coleridge is sharply critical of the political and religious establishments, condemns the war against France, and is favourably, although not uncritically, disposed towards recent political developments in that country. The three major themes that emerge from these writings are the need for reformers to act on the basis of fixed principles; the importance of enlightening those who are to be liberated; and the necessity for disinterested reformers to take a leading role in the process of enlightenment. Coleridge advances these claims in the context of analyses of the corruption and injustice which mark the structures and practices of politics and religion.
KeywordsBritish Constitution Present Bill High Priest Fixed Principle Summum Bonum
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