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Heaven on EarthThe Varieties of the Millennial Experience$
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Richard Landes

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780199753598

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199753598.001.0001

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Demotic Millennialism

Demotic Millennialism

Civil Polities and the Dismantling of the Prime Divider

(p.215) 8 Demotic Millennialism
Heaven on Earth

Richard Landes

Oxford University Press

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

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