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The Alchemy of Revolution

Gerrard Winstanley's Occultism and Seventeenth-Century English Communism

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David Mulder

This pioneering study in the history of revolutionary thought presents a reinterpretation of the development of communism among the lower classes during the English Revolution of the 1640s. The subject of the study is the revolutionary ideology of Gerrard Winstanley, the leader of the Diggers, a group of rural laborers who in 1649 founded a communistic colony and challenged conservative revolutionary leaders like Oliver Cromwell. The main principle of reinterpretation is what the author terms «chronological realism», a method that seeks to analyze Winstanley's ideology on its own terms without reference to modern socialism. Primary among the conclusions of this study is that hermeticism, or the theory of alchemy, formed the basis of what was genuinely revolutionary in Digger ideology.
Contents: Winstanley and the Diggers in relation to the English Revolution - Winstanley's occult approach to communistic revolution - Winstanley's ideology functioning within the context of a rural English setting.