Apocalyptic hopes for an imminent millenial “new age” have taken a wide variety of forms in European history, from the earlier religious manifestations to the more secular and, hence, more activist ones of the modern world. Although none of these apocalyptic expectations has been accurate, and many have had disastrous immediate consequences for those involved, they have set in motion powerful social dynamics. Western science and technology, revolutionary politics, dreams of global peace, and the realities of world wars all derive peculiar inspiration from the terrible hopes of the millennial vision.

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