Although Edward Bellamy's twentieth century society in Looking Backward appears to be the perfect utopia, it could never exist. The very factors that Bellamy claimed contributed to the society's establishment and success are, in reality, what would lead to its failure. The twentieth century society lacked the possibility for advancements in technology while at the same time lacking competition and appropriate incentives. Even if we ignore these faults, we observe that when Bellamy created his society for Looking Backward, he made several false assumptions about human behavior and failed to realize that the only way his society could be imposed would be involuntarily.
Technology definitely has played a role in shaping the utopian society of Looking Backward: "The purposeful, positive use of technology--from improved factories and offices to new highways and electric lighting systems to innovative pneumatic tubes, electronic broadcasts, credit cards--is, in fact, critical to the predicted transformation of the United States from a living hell into a heaven on earth" (Segal 91). Even though technology made "hell into a heaven on earth," Bellamy does not seem to leave much room for further advancements in technology. The regimentation of the twentieth century society does not allow for it. In Bellamy's society, a strict path is laid out for the citizen to follow at a very early age. In fact, this path is the law: "We require, indeed by law, that every man shall serve the nation for a fixed period. . ." (Bellamy 100). From age six to twenty-one, the young child attends school. School, among other things, teaches about specific trades and their histories and ...
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...technology, competition, and incentives would prevent it from being successful. Even after reading this novel, it still is quite clear that the capitalist system is a far better method for running a nation's economy.
Edward Bellamy, Looking Backward. Editor Cecelia Tichi. New York: Penquin Books USA Inc., 1986.
Gerald Gutek, "Analysis of Formal Education In Edward Bellamy's Looking Backward." In History of Education Quarterly. Volume IV. Number 1. March 1964.
James D. Gwartney, and Richard L. Stroup ed. Economics:
Private and Public Choice. Fort Worth: Harcourt Brace College Publishers, 1995.
Howard P. Segal, "Bellamy and Technology: Reconciling Centralization and Decentralization." In Looking Backward 1988-1888: Essays on Edward Bellamy. Edited by Daphne Patai. Amherst: The University of Massachusetts Press, 1988.
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