Edward Bellamy's Looking Backward

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Biography and Background Information
Edward Bellamy was born on March 26, 1850, in Chicopee Falls, Massachusetts as the son of a Baptist minister. Growing up in the Gilded Age from the end of the Civil War up to the late 19th century, he saw the rapid economic growth and corrupt business practices with the vast railroad expansions and industrialization and the poverty and inequality especially among the worker class and immigrants. He first realized the troubles of the urban poor while spending extensive time in Germany at age 18, briefly studying law but quickly abandoning the field for journalism. During his career at New York Post and later Springfield Union, although Bellamy published several novels and essays, he became best known for
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Deeply disturbed, he warned that any “man’s inhumanity toward man,” would all lead to social collapse (“Looking Backward” 31). As a utopian fiction, the book was an antithesis to his current society, anticipating a future America in the year 2000 of nationalized industry, equal distribution of wealth, and the disappearance of class divisions. This was made possible after, in his story, a “Great Trust” would “absorb all rivals until all business…was under one roof,” which then citizens would enroll in the “industrial army” for service to the country’s need(“Looking Backward” 51). Mutual cooperation, not individuality, would be the centrality of the state that holds the society together. Thus, by realizing the complexity of the situation and the potential benefit of industrial growth and rational lower-class men, he initially did not support nor denounce either side, only opposing their violence or monopolistic nature. With this perspective, Bellamy suggested that all in the nation to contribute actively to the society’s welfare and economy as the soul of America perhaps influencing future Socialist Party members such as Eugene V. …show more content…
Citizens in this utopia’s “industrial army” would offer up their self-interests and share the labor willingly among themselves to “earn equal credits annually”, which could be used to draw goods from public storehouses (“Looking Backward” 51). Similarly to Walter Rauschenbusch who presented his disgust for the troubling times due to capitalism and individualism, the new order would build on the assumption that a well-managed society would run with machine-like efficiency that can ensure equality and improvement in human condition. In addition, minorities such as middle class women could freely join the workforce to escape the drudgery of housekeeping, which was an idea considered “radical” for his time. Although incorporating many elements of socialism, he named his works under “Nationalism, defending himself in an 1888 letter to literary critic Howells which explained how his “radicalness” should not be associated with the “red flag” or “German or France reformers. Therefore, although attempting to limit individualism through socialism, Bellamy did not completely deviate from

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