Tuesday, June 13, 2006


So -- I'm in a class called Capitalism in Lit and I've been reading "Looking Backward" by Edward Bellamy. In spite of its consistent dryness, it is an interesting novel. Actually, I would hardly call it a novel I think he should have just written a long essay, but then he was famous in his day and I am not in mine.

Bellamy writes, "Individualism, which in your day (the guy who came forward in time from the 19th cent.) was the animating idea of society, not only was fatal to any vital sentiment of brotherhood and common interest among living men, but equally to any realization of the responsibility of the living for the generation to follow" (192).

This is my favorite quote from the book so far b/c it's one of the few that I come close to understanding. This book is strongly socialistic and I'm inclined to agree with Bellamy even though I've been taught in my entire education history that socialism is faulty and socialists are evil (case in point: people who call Hillary Clinton a socialist aren't doing it nicely).

In this novel the nation has ownership of all of the means of production. The people are all paid equal wages (the doctor and the musician and the housewife all get an equal amount yearly.) This dispels any prejudice over employment and frees the people to choose what they are the most skilled in rather than what they feel pressured to do. If I had lived in this fictional place, I wouldn't be going to school to be a teacher but I'd probably be a gardener or a cook instead and I would only read for pleasure.

Do you have any thoughts about this kind of society or about the quote I posted?



Aunt Susie said...

I wonder if most people would take the easier jobs since they all pay the same. What would happen when all those stress-free jobs were filled? There would be no physicians, no policemen, no firemen, no soldiers...

Pretty scary to me.

EmilyAnne said...

Thanks for blogging!

The jobs in the novel hold hours equal to their difficulty, risk, and desirability. Therefore, miners work only two hours a day where a store clerk may work six hours a day. And apparently this society didn't need very many policemen since the main drive for crime is money and everyone is given the same wage and it is more than enough. And since everyone had a job and an education all the work needed to run a country was done so people retired at 45. Does it still sound scary?