Edward Bellamy Looking Backward Summary

1711 Words7 Pages
The turn of the twentieth century in America marked the beginnings of the progressive era and with it, a redefinition of freedom as it was known. Much pressure was exerted on the government to adopt socialist policies and books such as Edward Bellamy’s Looking Backward showed the masses the benefits of socialist solutions to the issues of the industrial era. However, instead of following many European countries into becoming socialist, the solutions of modern liberalism prevailed in America. They aimed to solve the social inequalities that Bellamy observed in America, while preserving the spirit of American individualism. The next four decades would celebrate landmark policy changes that redefined the definition of freedom and the role of…show more content…
Although Bellamy’s book depicts a much more radical view of utopian socialism, it was not intended as the blueprint for a society, but rather a platform to highlight the shortcomings of the free-market society. If he were to visit Boston today, one could safely speculate that he would not be completely satisfied with our remedies to his issues, yet he would be sufficiently pleased with the direction our country is headed in. The social reforms of the progressive era that made the average American “freer” than he was a century or so ago. To properly assess this claim, the ideological difference in politics must first be addressed. In societies, both new and old, there exists or has existed a fundamental, philosophical difference of opinions regarding human nature, and thus it follows that there is a fundamental difference of opinions on how to govern and control them. Thomas Paine’s beliefs are centered on the idea that at birth, men are individuals with…show more content…
As Ryan eloquently puts it, “whatever else modern liberal democracies are, they are not the dictatorship of the proletariat or heading toward the abolition of the coercive state.” The modern liberalism approach in America garnered the best of both worlds from laissez-faire and socialist ideals. The policies were created with the principle that they should protect freedoms and liberties enough to allow the individual to not be suppressed, but at the same time not policies that create a long-term dependency on the government, for one who relies on a central government cannot truly be free. Given that Bellamy only wrote his book to highlight the inequalities in society and to inform his readers, and not as a manifesto of sorts, it could be foreseen that Bellamy would be somewhat content with the direction of the country and the policies of modern liberalism that have been put into place to rectify the malfunctioning’s of society that Bellamy highlighted. Today’s America is quite a stark contrast to the one Bellamy critiqued back in 1887, and as a result of the reforms that were instituted, the freedoms and liberties of American citizens have been vastly

More about Edward Bellamy Looking Backward Summary

Open Document