Looking Backwars by Edward Bellamy

Looking Backwars by Edward Bellamy - Looking Backward An...

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Looking Backward: An Argument for Cooperation Edward Bellamy’s Looking Backward 2000-1887 can best be described as a persuasive work of fiction. The novel tells the story of a 19 th century man, Julian West, who wakes up on the sunset of the 20 th century only to find that the world he once knew no longer exists. The competitive capitalistic society of Boston in which he came of age has been replaced with a cooperative socialist system. The narrator and 19 th century gentleman Julian West is walked through the new society and its benefits by Dr. Leete, a proponent of the new social order. West acts as a stand in for the reader throughout the novel, bantering the positives and negatives of each society and asking questions that the reader him or herself may have. Each concern and question is answered by Dr. Leete and Julian and hopefully the reader eventually realizes the true benefits of the new utopian society that embraces true equality. To fully understand Bellamy’s thought process during the development of Looking Backwards , one must first become familiar with the social and economic dynamic of 19 th century America. The end of the Civil War gave rise to a time of great economic instability with ever fluctuating “dizzying heights and depressing lows” (7). With the beginning of the Long Depression, which lasted from 1873 to 1896 and lead to the failure of 10,500 businesses, curtailed wages, and nearly 8% unemployment, people began to look for what was causing such terrible economic conditions and many middle class workers believed there to be a correlation between the economic downturn and the rise of industrialization and the large corporation (7). A constantly widening gap between the rich and the poor became more and more obvious. While “pre-industrial America was far from an economic paradise…enough people possessed some property to
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This note was uploaded on 09/13/2008 for the course HIST 171 taught by Professor Sociology during the Spring '08 term at Vanderbilt.

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Looking Backwars by Edward Bellamy - Looking Backward An...

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