By John Morrow (auth.)
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Extra resources for Coleridge’s Political Thought: Property, Morality and the Limits of Traditional Discourse, 1st Edition
How shall we reconcile this apparent contradiction? 95 If Coleridge had merely adopted the political views of leading Unitarians such as Priestley, this would have been sufficient, in terms of contemporary usage at least, to make him a 'radical'. Coleridge, however, advanced beyond such a position and was critical of its shortcomings. His early political thought contained a far-reaching critique of contemporary political and social institutions, and demands for their reformation. In the context of the pantisocratic settlement, Coleridge proposed a restructuring of social and political relationships, necessitating the end of private property and the substitution of benevolent interaction for governmental regulation.
However, Godwin's understanding of enlightened benevolence was secular, while that of Coleridge was based upon a distinctly Christian perspective. This relied heavily on Coleridge's contemporary interest in Priestley and Hartley, who are likely sources for such general features of Coleridge's position as his belief in human perfectibility and progress. They also contributed an alternative, and specifically religious, set of justifications for positions which Godwin advanced without the aid of theology.
This work, 30 Coleridge's Political Thought first published in 1656, contained a model of a free commonwealth which was intended to promote a republican form of government in England based upon an extensive body of independent freeholders. 62 Harrington was one of a galaxy of seventeenth-century upholders of republican and/or democratic values who were called upon in the 1790s to support the aspirations of contemporary radicals. 63 Coleridge made a couple of hortatory references to Harrington in the Bristol lectures, and the pantisocratic scheme and his analysis of the Jewish constitution included a number of features which also appeared in Oceana.