Thursday, July 14, 2011

The Making of British Socialism


No subject now appears immune to a reference of Blavatsky. Mark Bevir’s new book, The Making of British Socialism, contains the passing nod.

Evolutionary theory unsettled many Victorians not only because the language of development raised the possibility of backsliding but also because scientific discoveries provided a contrast to older religious truths.…The age included extensive discussions of the apparent conflict between faith and reason and of how the two might be reconciled with one another. The attempt to bridge faith and reason energized quasi-scientific approaches to the soul, death, the afterlife, and the divine. The Theosophical Society, founded by Madame Blavatsky, was just one of many organizations to use the language of science and evolution to discuss paranormal and mystical experiences.

Mark Bevir, professor of political science at the University of California, Berkeley, where he teaches political theory and philosophy, and public policy and organization, is no stranger to Blavatsky having authored of a number of previous articles mentioning her, including “The West turns Eastward: Madame Blavatsky and the Transformation of the Occult Tradition,” Journal of the American Academy of Religion, 1994; “Annie Besant's Quest for Truth: Christianity, Secularism and New Age Thought,” The Journal of Ecclesiastical History, 1999; “In Opposition to the Raj: Annie Besant and the Dialectic of Empire,” History of Political Thought, 1998, “Theosophy and the Origins of the Indian National Congress,” International Journal of Hindu Studies, 2003. His book, The Making of British Socialism, will be published September 4 by Princeton University Press.

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