[Samuel Taylor] Coleridge and [Robert] Southey believed that contemporary society and politics were responsible for cultures of servitude and oppression. Having abandoned these corrupting influences along with personal property for a fresh start in the wilderness, the Pantisocrats hoped that men might be governed by the “dictates of rational benevolence.”
As spelled out by Southey, the utopian community he and Coleridge planned was to be built on two principles: “Pantisocracy” (meaning government by all) and “Aspheterism” (meaning general ownership of property). The scheme called for a small group of educated individuals to give up their possessions and labor together for the common good. Few regulations would be necessary to govern the colony and decisions would be made so as to avoid one man having more power than another. Coleridge envisioned Pantisocracy as a way to minimize the greed among men. Additionally, Coleridge and Southey hoped to enjoy a more relaxing existence than was possible in England, and expected that each member of the community would have to work just two to three hours per day to sustain the colony.
The Pantisocrats viewed their attempt as not only a search for personal domestic peace, but also as an attempt to change the status quo in England. One influence on the plan was disillusionment with the French Revolution and with the current politics of England, from which Coleridge may have sought solace through an utopian escape. Coleridge viewed the utopian scheme as an experiment that, if successful, might be gradually extended to a larger citizenship. Coleridge also hoped that through a more active, natural lifestyle he would live a healthier and more wholesome existence with his family.