The integration of the old Adam into a disciplinary association -- church and state combined -- would be the beginning at least of salvation. Calvin's views took their final form while he was still a young man, and he promptly engaged in a sharp polemic against the Anabaptists, whose goal was not so much the reconstruction as the dissolution of the political world. Anticipating this goal, many of the Anabaptist saints refused to go to court or serve in the army or associate themselves in any way with the political order. They sought an immediate blessedness and reunion with God.
In his attack upon this sort of Christian radicalism, the future reformer of Geneva [now the European headquarters of the UN] insisted that the mitigation of anxiety and alienation could only be achieved in a Christian commonwealth. He seemed to forego any suggestion of other-worldliness. Calvinism was thus anchored in thisworldly endeavor; it appropriated worldly means and usages: magistracy, legislation, warfare. The struggle for a new human community, replacing the lost Eden, was made a matter of concrete political activity.
Finally, Calvin demanded of his followers wholehearted participation in this activity. They presumably shared the anxiety and alienation: they must join in the work of reconstruction. It was this demand which established ideology as a new factor in the historical process. Although initially made only upon the king, it was subject to gradual extension until finally every man (or at least every saint) was called upon to do his share for the holy cause. This "devolution" (as Richard Hooker called it) was possible because Calvin was not searching, in the manner of medieval writers, for a moral king, but rather for a man, *any man*, ready to be God's instrument. It was not reverence, but cold practicality which led him to start with the French Monarch. Eventually, he could hardly help but light upon himself, and upon the others like himself.
At the same time, however, he was never willing to rely on individual instruments, however high their social status or great their inspiration. He relied above all on organizations, and imparted to his followers an extraordinary organizational initiative and stamina. There have been few men in history who loved meetings more. Hence the plethora of new associations in which the discipline of the holy commonwealth was previewed. The enlisted members of these groups were drawn into all sorts of new activities -- debating, voting, fighting for a cause -- and were slowly taught the new forms of order and control that were intended to free them from Adam's sin and its worldly consequences.
Medieval Catholics had also organized the faithful, but they had done so without removing them in any way from the existing political and feudal worlds, or from the complex bonds of local and patriarchal connection. Only in the clergy and in monastic orders were men exposed to a radically new organizational life. Calvinists sought to make this exposure universal. To be sure, their early congregations sometimes looked like the *eigenkirche* of some powerful nobleman. The saints, whatever the extent of their alienation, were forced into all sorts of compromises with the world. In theory, however, and to a considerable extent in practice as well, Calvinism was not compatible with feudal organization. Its forms of association and connection already existed, so to speak, at a considerable distance from the old order and appealed to men who had in some way been set loose from that order.
The impact upon individuals of such a new and disciplined organizational life was obviously various. Upon many the effects were minor: an order and control gratefully accepted, quietly circumvented or fearfully and covertly resisted. For some, the Calvinist organizational system provided a new method of social advance. For some, its offices brought an enhancement of uneasy prestige -- the mitigation of a different sort of anxiety than that which Calvin was primarily concerned. But there were others who reacted more intensely; they became the saints. Of them it seem fair to say that they were the creations of an ideology, that they were somehow reshaped, their energy channeled and controlled by the new disciple. The pious and rigorous routine of their lives brought them a sense of self-assurance, which was the end of alienation and which in politics often looked very much like fanaticism.
[Michael Walzer (1935-) is a famous political scientist and this is his Harvard PhD. He is typically associated with the "communitarian" movement, is the co-editor of Dissent and a professor-emeritus at Princeton's Institute for Advanced Studies.]
[The "revolution of the saints" he writes about resulted in the 17th century English Revolution, in which Oliver Cromwell &al became the "saints." This, in turn, led to the large-scale emigration to North America, forming the English colonies that are now the United States as well as Canada, where Marshall McLuhan spent his life dealing with the 20th century version of these "radicals," particularly those involved in what he termed the "freemasonry of the arts."]