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Radicalism And Reverence: The Political Thought Of Gerrard Winstanley

by George M. Shulman

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Book Description
One of the most undeservedly neglected political theorists of the seventeenth century, Gerrard Winstanley is a fascinating figure who wrote broadly and creatively on issues that appear surprisingly modern to his present-day readers. His theoretical approach to the English revolution knit together such diverse concerns as Puritanism, the emerging market economy, and the dilemmas of radical politics. His strong commitment to both personal autonomy and collective action led him towards an alternative to the Puritanism, market institutions, and political violence that he analyzed.
In his incisive new book, George Shulman examines the life and work of this important thinker. He traces Winstanley's movement from theorizing about God and the "rebirth" of the self to active leadership of the "diggers," a group of radical activists who occupied not yet enclosed common lands. As Winstanley both used and moved beyond his own Puritan heritage, he was able to confront the social and political realities of his time in a language that related them to psychological experience. His richly metaphoric language, and the vision of freedom it embodied, joined psychological, social, and political dimensions of life.
By imaginatively reconstructing Winstanley's unified approach to the 1640s, this book seeks to illuminate what was at stake at that time and relate it to contemporary debates about the self, politics, and language. Shulman creates a conversation across time about questions that still animate thinkers today.

About the Author
George Shulman is Assistant Professor of Political Science at Yale University.



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