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By Thomas Linehan

Thomas Linehan deals a clean standpoint on overdue Victorian and Edwardian socialism by way of interpreting the socialist revival of those years from the viewpoint of modernism. In so doing, he explores the modernist venture as extending past the worries of the literary and inventive avant-garde to include political and social movements.

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These two aspirations, the desire for greater equality in social and economic matters and the urge to aspire to a higher realm of spiritual ‘Being’ based on an awareness of the unity of all, would fuse in contemporary socialism. It should be emphasised here that this fusing of the social with the spiritual was distinctly modern. It was characteristic of a 24 The Spiritual and Epiphanic Modernism of British Socialism 25 more widespread modernist reaction in late Victorian and Edwardian Britain to some of the problems inherent in modern life under conditions of modernity.

It is highly likely that the late Victorian period was an acute liminoid moment. 10 In such a situation of acute liminoid stress, a need was felt to revitalise society and the self, to replenish that store of metaphysical energy or ‘transcendence’ that had run dry during the years of decadence and spiritual blight. This revitalisation was necessary in order to overcome the spiritual and cultural crisis and effect the passage to a new state. This new state was to be a higher realm, spiritually and culturally superior to that which had gone before.

49 Socialists who found in Theosophy a spiritual supplement to their political views could be found in all areas of the revival. 52 It was the desire to combat the de-sacralising tendencies of modern life and capitalism and develop a spiritualised form of socialism that led these socialists to embrace Theosophical ideas. Along with many non-socialists at the fin de siècle, they considered it entirely in keeping with the contemporary mood to go in search of hidden sources of spiritual reality beyond the immediate range of visual perception in order to regenerate the times.

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