Revolutionary Quakers?

In the blurb for Quaker Constitutionalism and the Political Thought of John Dickinson you can read:

In the late-seventeenth century, Quakers originated a unique strain of constitutionalism, based on their theology and ecclesiology, which emphasized constitutional perpetuity and radical change through popular peaceful protest. While Whigs could imagine no other means of drastic constitutional reform except revolution, Quakers denied this as a legitimate option to governmental abuse of authority and advocated instead civil disobedience. This theory of a perpetual yet amendable constitution and its concomitant idea of popular sovereignty are things that most scholars believe did not exist until the American Founding. The most notable advocate of this theory was Founding Father John Dickinson, champion of American rights, but not revolution. His thought and action have been misunderstood until now, when they are placed within the Quaker tradition. This theory of Quaker constitutionalism can be traced in a clear and direct line from early Quakers through Dickinson to Martin Luther King, Jr.

Modern-day Quakers still meet in Friends Meeting Houses. You can find one in King’s Lynn.

Next week, the SWP is hosting a meeting:

What do we mean by revolution?
Thu 16 Apr, 7.30pm,
Friends Meeting House,
38 Bridge Street

By revolution, of course, the SWP stands for this:

Those who rule our society are powerful because they are organised — they control the wealth, media, courts and the military. They use their power to limit and contain opposition. To combat that power, working people have to be organised as well. The Socialist Workers Party aims to bring together activists from the movement and working class. A revolutionary party is necessary to strengthen the movement, organise people within it and aid them in developing the ideas and strategies that can overthrow capitalism entirely.

So Quakers in the UK who run Friends Meeting Houses are allowing people who appear opposed to their views on revolution to hold meetings in their building? Next you’ll be telling me they happily host genocidal antisemites!


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