As I’ve been immersing myself in Bolton Hall’s work lately, I’ve been finding that nearly half of the book-length works consist of parables of one sort or another. The parable form is fairly common among radical writers in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Before he wandered off into anti-semitism and eugenic speculation, Morrison Isaac Swift, the anti-imperialist, wrote a collection of entertaining short fictions, nearly all of which amount to radical parables. A number of Mary Marcy’s books published by Charles H. Kerr took the form of socialist parables. Of course, these latter works were a bit more doctrinaire than those of Hall, who is nothing if not ecumenical. Someone like William Batchelder Greene would draw on a variety of discourses and rationales, from the Christian critique of usury to the theories of Proudhon and Beck, in his successive editions of Mutual Banking. But Hall is hard at work speaking all of these languages together, returning to the same issues again and again, mixing the elements in slightly different ways. The result may seem a bit naive to us – cynical lot that we are – but the point is clear enough, and clear without a lot of direct pleading. Equity and the Kingdom of Heaven are one, and neither is to be put off until later.
Cynical lot or not, it’s hard not to respond to that. . .
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