Looking Backward

Topics: Utopia, Edward Bellamy, Looking Backward Pages: 3 (1189 words) Published: December 2, 2012
The novel Looking Backward by Edward Bellamy is a social commentary on the problems of late 1800’s society. Bellamy compares the negative afflictions of his time to an imagined utopia of the future year 2000 in order to open the eyes of the reader. By doing this, he hopes to create a social awareness for the poor cultural and economic values so that future generations can change for the better. One of the conditions that afflicted America in 1887 was in regards to labor. When asked what he thought was “the most prominent feature of the labor troubles of [his] day” Julian West answered that it was the fault of those laborers who were on strike. Bellamy explains that workers going on strike was an act of self-defense for those in the labor unions. When wealth and capital is small and dispersed amongst many people, all one needed to go from employee to employer was a great idea and a small amount of money. With more movement between the classes of employee and employer, there is more mutual respect and fewer instances of employers taking advantage of their employees or employees striking for higher wages in order to afford the basic necessities needed for survival (34). This leads to another problem in the society of 1887; private capital dominated while public capital was virtually nonexistent. In this type of economy, one needs money to make money and this invited large-scale monopolies while preventing the growth of small businesses. Competition was ruthless and business owners treated their workers more like machines than individuals who deserve respect. The unquenchable greed of those fortunate enough to have money created an even deeper wage gap which is not beneficial to society as a whole. When a monopoly is made out of greed, the few at the top get proportionally rich while the masses become even more impoverished. However, when a monopoly is made out of compassion, not only does it reach maximum efficiency, but everyone benefits in one way or another,...
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