The Kingdom of God as Cooperative Commonwealth: Socialist Christians, the Millennial Ideal, and the State

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This chapter is from the book Expectations for the Millennium: American Socialist Visions of the Future.

Early in the twentieth century, American socialists dared to dream of a future based on cooperation rather than competition. Socialism was a movement broad enough to encompass many points of view regarding the Red millennium. Socialist women, novelists, newspaper editors, and civil rights advocates, Christian socialists and Wobblies strained their eyes to see a future cooperative Commonwealth.

Edward Bellamy portrayed socialism in the year 2000 for millions of readers in his novels as applied Christianity. Bellamy and other utopian novelists, including Jack London and Charlotte Perkins Gilman, tried to imagine the role of women in the expected new order. Christian socialists put their faith in a future Kingdom of God on earth that honored the ideas of Karl Marx. Radical newspaper editors in Kansas, Missouri, and Texas attempted to lay out the imagined transition to socialism to their readers in simple, straightforward language that made the goal seem readily obtainable. Mormons, disappointed in the changing nature of their faith, pondered a possible socialist future. Others, such as William English Walling, worked for a time ahead that was both socialist and colorblind. Challenging the notion that they had no concrete vision, this book of essays examines the many ways in which early 20th century American socialists imagined their future.

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