For sheer rage, Edmund Randolph's Catholic social satire Mostly Fools: A Romance of Civilization (1886) takes some sort of extremely tasteless cake. Except for his hero, heroine, and a couple of other decent folk (take "couple" literally here: there are two others), Randolph loathes everything and everybody. The novel practically soaks in Randolph's revulsion. Randolph doesn't like Protestants. He doesn't like contemporary Catholics (in some respects he seems to like them even less than the Protestants). He doesn't like Catholic public schools. He doesn't like Catholic alternatives to Oxford and Cambridge. He doesn't like the military. He doesn't like women, especially New Women (this is one of those novels where the "good" woman is good, in part, because she doesn't like other women). He doesn't like South Asians or Africans (although he doesn't like how they're treated by the English, either). He doesn't like Jews. He doesn't like politicians. He doesn't like authors. He does like the Irish, at least in the abstract. In theory, he also likes the poor, but again, only in the abstract. Randolph's nausea is palpable: there's absolutely nothing right about modernity, and all of modernity's inhabitants are repulsive, greedy, and frequently oversexed.
What is going on? In its antagonism to the entirety of modern English culture--here cloaked under the guise of an alternate universe with some quasi-SF moments, with the action concluding in the early twentieth century--Mostly Fools undoes Disraeli's "Young England" trilogy of the 1840s and substitutes a "Senescent England" instead. Although our hero, Roland Tudor, lacks the full aristocratic status of Disraeli's first two protagonists, he does come from an ancient line, as his kingly last name implies, and he has a crusading bent, as his knightly first name does. The plot echoes Harry Coningsby's from Coningsby, with Roland eventually developing a new Catholic party instead of reimagining the Tories, and yokes it to Charles Egremont's romance with Sybil Gerard in Sybil--indeed, Roland falls in love with his very own Sybil, Sybil Grey, a young and irreligious woman of mysterious parentage. But nothing works, including the romance. Sybil is the sort of character who, in a Catholic novel, is destined either to die or become a nun, and she opts for the latter option, leaving Roland with virtually no human feelings except his political ambitions. He concludes the novel as the "Dictator," ruler of a united South America, who dies randomly when his horse falls (vanity, vanity &c.); she, in tune with his spirit, dies in a tiny convent in some far-away land. Whether they are to be reunited in the next life is not, in fact, altogether clear. And that would be in tune with the disappointment and failure that haunts everything the most ardently social-minded characters undertake.
If you're interested in mining novels for references to contemporary social movements, this one may actually be useful to you, as it really does take a whack at just about everything. I, obviously, was primarily interested in it as a Catholic novel, and there are some unusual aspects of its approach worth noting. Despite Sybil Grey's presence in this otherwise pretty misogynistic narrative, the novel tracks the shaping of an explicitly Catholic attitude to male citizenship and service--or, rather, the unshaping of it--in what it represents as a post-persecution culture. Roland tells an American with the somewhat unfortunate name of Solomon A. Skump that in modern England, the only "careers" of any note are "[t]o raise Ireland from the dust, to 'place' modern Catholicism, to save the Church of England, to direct the on-coming popular flood into a true groove" (I.135). That is, Roland understands "career" not in terms of the professions, but in terms of public service, in which the true man puts himself at the head of various movements for national unification, healing, and redemption. Which, as I've said, doesn't happen; as Brian Sudlow notes of the novel's conclusions, "Catholic involvement in politics does not necessarily exclude a fundamental cynicism about its outcomes, nor despair about Catholics' ability to maintain a united front in the secular political arena" (160). Roland aspires to be a Great Man in the classic mid-Victorian, Carlylean sense of the term, but he is trapped in a novel in which the Great Man is ultimately frustrated, thwarted, and undermined at every turn by the very people who ought to be his most loyal supporters. He emerges not from late-Victorian English Catholic culture, but in spite of it, beginning with what Randolph represents as the community's persecution complex. The novel associates anti-Catholicism with literal Catholic childishness, either playacting ("but there's the fireplace," says one child to Roland early on at school, "where they have the penances, and sometimes, you know, a martyrdom" [I.41]) or fantasies of Protestant mayhem ("By the way," says another, "did you hear that the Prince of Wales told the Archbishop of Canterbury that he had vowed to make England swim with Catholic blood before he'd been six months on the throne?" [I.44]). While Protestants mouthing traditional anti-popish rhetoric put in an occasional appearance, the novel otherwise insists that modern Catholic fears of anti-Catholic terror are effectively infantile--an act of self-victimization, quite literally in the case of the fireplace martyrdoms. Randolph reiterates this point more concretely when it comes to the Oxbridge schools, which, as he correctly points out, "were absolutely closed to them, not by the law of the land, but by their own authorities" (I.69). The result, Randolph argues, is a partly-deliberate program of self-inflicted mediocrity, which both at school and in later years "prevented boys, and in consequence men, from competing on equal terms with their fellow men" (I.70). Thus, while Randolph represents Catholicism as one possible route for national union in a pluralist culture--the novel never argues for the reconversion of England, rather understandably given its contempt for the temporal Church--he also insists that Catholics have engaged in self-sabotage to such an extent that the Catholic "public man," as such, cannot exist. Roland himself tells his friend, the radical aesthete Lord St. Maur, that "[w]e are absolutely without a single man to give an impulse in any direction that can be considered seriously" (II.68). Even when Roland finally does manage to get a serious Catholic party going in Parliament, he finds himself undone, once again, by the institutional Church's sheer uselessness. The possibility of a Catholic Great Man of History implodes under the weight of ecclesiastical incompetence.