Edward Bellamy= With a tear for the dark past, turn we then to the dazzling future, and, veiling our eyes, press forward. The long and weary winter of the race is ended. Its summer has begun. Humanity has burst the chrysalis. The heavens are before it.”
In Edwards Bellamy’s Looking Backward A young Boston gentleman is mysteriously transported from the nineteenth to the twenty-first century–from a world of war and want to one of peace and plenty. This brilliant vision became the blueprint of utopia that stimulated some of the greatest thinkers of our age.
At the end of the 19th century Bellamy creates a picture of a wonderful future society. Bellamy’s protagonist is Julian West, a young aristocratic Bostonian who falls into a deep sleep while under a hypnotic trance in 1887 and ends up waking up in the year 2000 (hence the novel’s sub-title). Finding himself a century in the future in the home of Doctor Leete, West is introduced to an amazing society, which is consistently contrasted with the time from which he has come. As much as this is a prediction of a future utopia, it is also a scathing attack on the ills of American life heading into the previous turn of the century. Bellamy’s sympathies are clearly with the progressives of that period.
Unfortunately he didn’t see the Reagan era and the Conservative Revolution. No Socialist or Communist of the past thought the world would turn out this way. With the lack of Solidarity of the people, no paradym of hope in this generation. Looking Backward is all we can do and see when the world was filled with hope.
The world has changed for the worse, Revolutions in Communism had been betrayed and the Social Democrats in Europe have moved to the Right. Even socialist who wish for change cannot due so because the system is owned by Wealthy Millionaires and Billionaires.
The principles in Bellamy’s book are hopeful, though I can disagree with a few issues. There seems to be a little leaning away from Democracy and too much government control. It influenced movements of democratic socialism wherever they appeared it positions echo and re-echo on George Bernard Shaw, Veblen, Debs, Norman Thomas.
There are good portions of Bellamy’s book that are redeemable. Best of all a Universal Income and no poverty.
Our generation needs new visionaries, though preserving the old ones.
The Future should entertain:
1. The Global Ecovillage Network is a global association of people and communities (ecovillages) dedicated to living “sustainable ” lives by restoring the land and adding more to the environment than is taken. Network members share ideas and information, transfer technologies and develop cultural and educational exchanges.
New Architecture and Eco-futurist Cities and towns should be created.
2. Freedom, Liberty, and Democracy where people could have free choices with free and open elections. People should have the Liberty to be who they are and should have free choices with out government approval or direction. 0 dictatorship.
3. End of Poverty, with a Universal income and Affordable Housing for All. No gentrification.
4. Although Bellamy’s novel did not discuss technology or the economy in detail, commentators frequently compare Looking Backward with actual economic and technological developments Debs did bring up the notion that Automation should replace the dirty jobs so people can enjoy their lives. That means either meaningful jobs and freedom from jobs.
5. Getting rid of the Industrial Complex’s and the dangers they impose will be top priority. Plum Island was founded by Nazi Eric Traub and that is where Lyme Disease was created, amongst other germs. The USA has 13,000 germ labs. One mistake and millions could be wiped off the planet. Perpetuating a human government is the goal.
Star Trek and its later TV shows have all displayed that the world could be a better place. There where many shows displaying the issues of classism, labor, greed, war. Of Course a Social society where people did not have poverty, inopportunity, and people where treated more humanely.
These ideals can only be perpetuated by people who are not afraid of the future. The idea of the Intentional Community is an inclusive term for eco-villages, cohousing communities, residential land trusts, communes, student co-ops, urban housing cooperatives, intentional living, alternative communities, cooperative living, and other projects where people strive together with a common vision.
There should be enough room for individualism, yet enough for a social society where we can have a livable nation, continent, and planet.