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"Looking Backward By Inspecting Now" A Critical Reading Of Edward Bellamy's "Looking Backward: 2000 1887"

1363 words - 5 pages

Looking Backward: 2000-1887, written by Edward Bellamy, was a demonstration of what America could eventually become. Addressing a society that struggled with troubling times, both social and economic, Bellamy painted the picture of a utopia, void of war, hunger, hatred, greed, and all other cultural defects. Although the story follows Julian West from his awakening after a 113 year long nap to Boston in the year 2000, most of the book is dedicated to the explanation of the 20th/21st Century world he now has to learn to live in. Through Dr. Leete, Bellamy's ideological twin, we learn along with Julian about a post-revolutionary society that has been freed of the shackles of capitalism and transcended in to a vision of utopic beauty. But beneath every utopia is a dystopia waiting to claw its way to the surface. While Boston 2000 may seem to be the pillar of socialist perfection, cracks are showing in the marble and they can not be filled in.The first thing Julian West questions Dr. Leete about is the problem of labor strikes and with his explanation, the first fracture is uncovered. Dr. Leete explains that before monopolies occured employers and employees had a close relationship seeing that, "... when a little capital or a new idea were enough to start a man in buisness for himself, workingmen were constanly becoming employers and there was no hard and fast line between the two classes" (Bellamy 74). During this period of time the need for unions and strikes had yet to even cross through the minds of employees because working conditions were controlled by employers who knew what it felt to be employees and more than likely worked side by side with their own. Leete continues on to say that the problems started when the economy changed from dealing with many, small concentrations of capital to only a few, large concentrations. With this transformation, employees lost their importance to the employer due to a growing void between the two. As corporations bought up more and more smaller buisnesses the void only grew larger and the working conditions grew worse. This, of course, is the reason labor unions and strikes began. Workers needed a way to protect their rights, a way to keep from being exploited and the only thing they could hold above the ever growing corporations was the threat to stop working and halt production. Eventually the government decided to take over all industry, making it the biggest, and only, monopoly. The problem here is the assumption that a government would treat its workers any better than a large corporation. Governments have proven themselves again and again over the decades to be just as fallable as any other organization, and just a susceptable to greed and corruption. "All forms of government are susceptible to political corruption... In some nations, corruption is so common that it is expected when ordinary businesses or citizens interact with government officials. The end point of political corruption is a...

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