Equality by Edward Bellamy
February 14, 2016 3:21 AM   Subscribe

Equality [internet archive] was first published in 1897: "The story takes up immediately after the events of Looking Backward with the main characters from the first novel, Julian West, Doctor Leete, and his daughter Edith. West tells his nightmare of return to the 19th century to Edith, who is sympathetic. West's citizenship in the new America is recognized, and he goes to the bank to obtain his own account, or 'credit card', from which he can draw his equal share of the national product... " (previously 1,2)

Choice quotes on...
  • Power: "It was not till the kings had been shorn of power and the interregnum of sham democracy had set in, leaving no virile force in the state or the world to resist the money power, that the opportunity for a world-wide plutocratic despotism arrived."
  • Distribution of labor: "There was absolutely no social organization by which labor could be shared on any principle of justice. There was no possibility of co-operation. We had to choose between taking advantage of the economic system to live on other people or have them take advantage of it to live on us."
  • Property: "If you own the things men must have, you own the men who must have them."
  • Old economics: "Their maxim that demand governed supply, and supply would always meet demand, referred in no way to the demand representing human need, but wholly to an artificial thing called the market, itself the product of the profit system."
  • Private [crony] capitalism: "...the profit system, by its necessary nature, operated to stop limit and cripple production at the point where it began to be efficient... The whole acknowledged art of wealth-making on a large scale consisted in devices for getting possession of other people's product without too open breach of the law."
  • New economics: "You see economic science in your day was a science of things; in our day it is a science of human beings... Any economic proposition which can not be stated in ethical terms is false. Nothing can be in the long run or on a large scale sound economics which is not sound ethics."
also btw, re: early science fiction...
The Perils of Prophecy 2: The Great Indifference of the World - "The most ambitious work of futuristic fiction written in the eighteenth century was L'Enclos et les oiseaux [The Enclosure and the Birds] by Nicolas-Edmé Restif de la Bretonne, written between January and May 1796. There was, admittedly, not a lot of competition. L'An deux mille quatre cent quarante (1771; tr. as Memoirs of the Year 2500) by Restif's friend Louis-Sébastien Mercier, got all the publicity then and still gets it now although its snapshot vision of the future merely consists of imagining the worst atrocities of contemporary Paris tidied up. The immortal hero of L'Enclos et les oiseaux, by contrast, witnesses the entire future history of the Earth until the planet is swallowed by the Sun hundreds of thousands of years hence." (via)
posted by kliuless (3 comments total) 19 users marked this as a favorite
Funny this turned up - Fallout 4 has a tongue-in-cheek nod to Bellamy's works. In the game, your character also ends up in a futuristic Boston with a chance to own a charge card, but not without a catch or two...
posted by Smart Dalek at 3:46 AM on February 14, 2016 [1 favorite]

Interesting side-note: Edward Bellamy had a younger cousin named Francis Bellamy, a Christian Socialist minister, who is best known for writing America's Pledge of Allegiance and developing the salute (later dropped because of similarity with the Nazi salute) that went with it. It was no accident; Francis was strongly influenced by the writings of his (at the time) much more famous cousin.
posted by mystyk at 6:05 AM on February 14, 2016 [5 favorites]

I went to Edward Bellamy middle school (Chicopee, Mass., Bellamy's hometown). It always seemed perverse to name a middle school after a utopianist.
posted by gregglind at 11:21 AM on February 14, 2016

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