Chapter

Demotic Millennialism

Richard Landes

in Heaven on Earth

Published in print August 2011 | ISBN: 9780199753598
Published online September 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780199897445 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199753598.003.0008
Demotic Millennialism

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This chapter lays out a conceptual framework in which to understand demotic millennialism as a fundamental challenge to (agrarian) “prime-divider” societies (characterized by a profound gap between commoners and elites) and argues that civil polities (characterized by equality before the law and individual freedom) are expressions of a millennial project. Thus, the Enlightenment represents a secular form of demotic millennialism, and the American and French Revolutions were apocalyptic episodes that attempted to transform this world into a just society based on that vision.

Keywords: demotic; prime-divider society; egalitarianism; dignity of manual labor; Enlightenment; Kant; Reason; secular millennialism

Chapter.  17746 words. 

Subjects: East Asian Religions

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