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The Sentimental Socialist

 "The sentimental Socialist, though not necessarily Christian, retains essentially the introspective attitude of the Christian ethics. He forms societies, the members of which are supposed to pledge themselves to indefinitely high aims, aims that tower above the clouds from which it requires the practised eye to distinguish them. These aims ‘won from the void and formless infinite’ seem to be won only for the sake of being handed over to the equally formless indefinite. The only shape approaching articulation into which they wreath themselves, is that of resolutions and letters. The young people of the well-to-do middle-class, for whom sentimental Socialism possesses attractions, think human nature susceptible of higher aims than the current ones, and meet in drawing rooms for the apparent purpose of passing resolutions to that effect. The sentimental Socialist desires above all things to be broad and comprehensive.

Book Review: 'The English Rebels'

Radical history

'The English Rebels', by Charles Poulsen, (Journeyman, 1984)

This book is a commemoration of popular radical movements and a celebration of the spirit and ideals underlying those movements. It begins with the Peasants' Revolt of 1381 and plots history through the Lollards, Jack Cade, Kett's Rebellion, the Civil War, the Industrial Revolution, the Naval Mutinies of 1797, the Luddites, the Trade Unions, the Reform Bill, Chartism and the Emancipation of Women. It is intended as a popular history, redressing the balance from a consideration of the antics of Kings and Queens to an analysis of movements arising out of the discontent of ordinary people.

Book Review: 'Towards Democracy'

The simple life

'Towards Democracy' by Edward Carpenter. £5.95

After nearly forty years of neglect, the works of Edward Carpenter have been re-issued, attracting considerable interest. Towards Democracy draws together all four parts of the series of Whitmanesque prose poems originally published between 1883 and 1902 and may reasonably be regarded as his manifesto.

Carpenter's work defies categorisation: a sincere and compassionate man, he was identified with nearly every Left Wing and reformist movement of his time from Christian Socialism to anarchism; from vegetarianism to women's suffrage; from penal reform to pollution control, with oriental mysticism thrown in for good measure.

Revolting Peasants of 1381

In the midst of the most apparently solid and unchanging social structures, the cry for change is ever present. Six hundred years ago this month, in a feudal English society which gave legal and moral backing to the omnipotence of a mighty king and his ruling class of baronial landlords, a movement of resistance emerged to take on the established relationships of power. The existence of such a movement proves the essential contention of Marxist historical materialism: where there is a division between those who own and control the means of wealth production and distribution and those who do not there must be a class struggle.

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