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Tractarians and the 'Condition of England'The Social and Political Thought of the Oxford Movement$
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S. A. Skinner

Print publication date: 2004

Print ISBN-13: 9780199273232

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2010

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199273232.001.0001

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Political Economy: ‘The philosophy of Antichrist’

Political Economy: ‘The philosophy of Antichrist’

(p.222) 5 Political Economy: ‘The philosophy of Antichrist’
Tractarians and the 'Condition of England'

S. A. Skinner (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

Aside from commercialism, another major theme within tractarian commentary was the distinct conviction that social ills in England at the time were, ultimately, unamenable to purely legislative remedies. This was reinforced by a wider rejection of the state's usurpation of duties and capacities which were supposedly hitherto the province of the church. Tractarians bitterly assailed political economy — the ‘philosophy of Antichrist’ — and the workings of its spawn, the 1834 Poor Law Amendment Act. They criticised the removal of charity from an individual and parochial to a civic and statist basis, and debated reforms to the administration of parish relief with a precision which confounds traditional representations of the movement's disengagement from contemporary social debate. Clarity came from the periodical broadsides of Thomas Mozley and Samuel Bosanquet against the intellectual premises of political economy and the new poor law. Tractarian commentators proposed a simple alternative: a reassertion of the duties as well as the rights bestowed by property, and the relocation of charity from a national to a parochial basis.

Keywords:   political economy, Poor Law Amendment Act, charity, Thomas Mozley, Samuel Bosanquet, parish

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