Melton prior Institut


Linton- Life in the Collections

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9) The Religion of Organization. An Essay read to Friends in Boston.

New Haven 1869 / 1892

This is a separate print of a lecture Linton held in The Boston Radical Club on January 27th, 1869. The club, an association of social reformers, which had been founded in 1867, convened a special meeting “to hear him speak on republican organization. The audience included the cream of New England advanced thinkers, John Greenleaf Whittier, Wendell Philipps, Bronson Alcott, Mrs. Abby Kelly Foster, and Robert Dale Owen. They warmly received Linton’s impassioned call for a united, brotherly nation of white and black that would transcend the existing faithless American democracy.” (F.B. Smith) Linton bemoans the political state of American democracy, which in his view was a democracy in name only, but in fact a corrupt oligarchic system. In a wider context he appeals to transcend the system of selfishness and narrowed nationalism to a global vision of democracy. “The whole shape and framework of society,” he said, “needs new modeling.” “Linton’s political philosophy makes him most like our contemporary communitarians: concerned with the balance of responsibility and right, `liberty and duty´, in which liberty fosters aspiration, and `Aspiration gives birth to Duty´.” (Anne F. Janowitz) The essay fuses Chartist agitation with Mazzinean expansiveness of thought, and Lamennaisian emotionality with a rather abstract Unitarian creed. It represents the most consistent manifestation of Linton´s idea of a spiritual revision of Utilitarianism. But, as Shirley Dent & Jason Whittaker state, his “closing remarks to The Religion of Organization are shorn of mystical intonation, and the political theory espoused is based on social reality rather than mystical conundrums.” Here the Romantic vision of the Universal Republic in Dent & Whittacker’s view would reach “the apex of articulation.”