Conclusion: Land, Commerce and the Limits of Tradition

  • John Morrow


Property was important in Coleridge’s political theory because he regarded it as a crucial factor accounting for the existence of power, for the ways in which it was distributed, and the manner in which its exercise should be institutionalised and structured. Over the course of his lifetime, however, Coleridge’s understanding of the political and moral implications of property underwent significant changes. Having initially believed that the relationship between property and political power made both property and the state morally problematic, he nevertheless argued in favour of the equalisation of power and influence by means of the erosion of property differentials and the diffusion of property throughout society. These aspirations were closely related to the participatory ideals associated with classical republican theory, but by 1800 Coleridge had reverted to a more conservative use of these discourses, one that made political participation dependent upon existing patterns of ownership. He now regarded a divorce between property and political power as a major threat to the stability and to the moral usefulness of European polities. Regimes that were not grounded on property generated political systems based on personal power, not on the institutionalisation of social forces connected with proprietorship.


Political Power Political Theory Personal Power European Polity Platonic Conception 
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Copyright information

© John Morrow 1990

Authors and Affiliations

  • John Morrow
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PoliticsVictoria University of WellingtonNew Zealand

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