The Dream of Christian Socialism: An Essay on Its European Origins

The Dream of Christian Socialism: An Essay on Its European Origins

The Dream of Christian Socialism: An Essay on Its European Origins

The Dream of Christian Socialism: An Essay on Its European Origins

Excerpt

In 1848 the flames of revolution threatened to consume the entire continent of Europe. Old regimes were tumbling; powerful new forces were struggling onto the stage of history. The cry everywhere was for social transformation--at any cost, by any means--and the price of progress was most often paid in blood. Karl Marx, whose Communist Manifesto appeared in that year, issued the battle call by urging support "for every revolutionary movement against the existing social and political order of things."

France, as had become her custom, was the center of the revolutionary spirit. On February 24, 1848, Parisians took to the barricades once more. The clever but fumbling Louis Philippe was forced to abdicate. A new republic was proclaimed that was more sympathetic to democratic demands. The socialist Louis Blanc was given a cabinet position in the new government and on his initiative national workshops (associations ouvrières) were instituted to create more jobs for the working classes. Idealism was again let loose in the land, emotions glowed, and trees of liberty were planted in the parks. Fittingly, the poet Lamartine headed the Second Republic--the Lamartine who had written La Chute d'un ange [the fall of an angel]. But on June 23 the people staged yet another insurrection, and Lamartine was out of office. In those unsettled times, angels fell rapidly.

One of the keenest observers in the streets of Paris during the February Revolution was a young Englishman named John Malcolm Ludlow. He had been born in India and had spent his youth in France before returning to England in 1838. He was nine when the Revolution of 1830 overthrew the last of the Bourbons. Early in life Ludlow developed strong religious convictions, which he combined . . .

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