Civil Polities and the Dismantling of the Prime Divider
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.
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