THE QUEST OF UTOPIA
FROM the welter of unrest of the later years of the century, with its labor struggles, its agrarian bitterness, its concern over the exhaustion of the public lands and a pinching monetary system, its acute distrust of monopolies and corporate power, sprang a very natural eagerness to forecast the future and blaze new roads that might lead to the democratic Cancan. Whither the main-traveled road would lead, discerning idealists knew only too well. To bog down in a mire of plutocracy would be a sorry ending to the great experiment; yet the mud was deepening with every mile of advance and unless another highway appeared the situation was unpromising. The crux of the problem seemed to reside in an extension of the powers of the political state, converting to social ends powers that hitherto had been serving private gain. The plutocracy was pointing the way. If the political state were fairly dedicated to democratic ends, why should not society go forward toward a true commonwealth, founded on a social economy and dedicated to common justice and the common well-being? There was need only to subordinate private interests to collective interests, and substitute cooperation for the present mad scramble of selfish individualism.
In elaboration of this pregnant thought a surprising number of social romances appeared during the last quarter of the century, that were native counterparts of the greater studies in collectivism by European thinkers. A recent study lists forty-eight titles of Utopian romances written between 1884 and 1900.1 Of these several are communistic, and the rest are socialistic; yet in keeping with the American temper none openly makes use of the terms, and few apply the Marxian doctrine of the class war. Their appeal was directed primarily to the middle class of small business and professional men, and they were content to rely on political means to achieve economic ends. Troubled as was the American mind by the rise of a cutthroat exploitation, it was not yet ready to entertain ideas of direct action or trust the proletariat to enforce its will by mass strength. In one story, to be sure-Ignatius Donnelly's Caesar's Column (1890)-there is a gloomy picture of the downfall of civilization caused by the class struggles; but the temper of Donnelly had lost its genial optimism through his long immersion in under-dog contests and had grown mordant and gloomy.
EDWARD BELLAMY AND "LOOKING BACKWARD"
When in 1888 Edward Bellamy published Looking Backward he gave a huge impetus to the Utopian romance. Third in the list of titles collected by Mr. Forbes, it was to have a wide influence on the thought of the times. It made instant appeal and successive editions were issued to meet the popular demand. Not since Uncle Tom's Cabin had an American novel reached so many readers, and Bellamy became at once a national figure, the prophet of a new industrial order. There is abundant evidence to the effect produced upon thoughtful readers. E. C. Stedman, the first critic of the times, spoke of it as a "remarkable and fascinating novel"; Frances E. Willard called it "a revelation and an evangel"; and Howells remarked on "the extraordinary effect which Mr. Bellamy's romance has had with the public." More significant still, Looking Backward speedily became the source and inspiration for a series of social organizations that beginning at Boston soon spread over the country. The Nationalist was established as the organ of the movement and thousands of eager men and women threw themselves into the work of reshaping American society to conform to the new social ideal. No doubt the enthusiasm was naive, no doubt it sprang from a social inexperience that underestimated the complexity of the problem, yet the sources, clearly, were a sharp trust of private capitalism and an idealistic faith in cooperation. In a pronouncement of the Boston "Nationalist Club," 1889, the cause was rested on two fundamental truths--"The principle of competition is . . . the application of the brutal law the survival of the strongest and most cunning"; and, "The principle of the Brotherhood of Humanity is one of the eternal truths that govern the world's progress on lines which distinguish human nature from brute nature."2
It is not easy to trace the origins of Bellamy's interest in collectivism or the sources of his thought. A journalist and lawyer, he had studied in Germany, where presumably he had come in contact with Marxian socialism. Writing in the Nationalist for May, 1889, he commented thus on the origins of Looking Backward:
I never had, previous to the publication of the work, any affiliations with any class or sect of industrial or social reformers nor, to make my confession complete, any particular sympathy with undertakings of the sort. It is only just to myself to say, however, that this should not be taken to indicate any indifference to the miserable condition of the mass of humanity, seeing that it resulted rather from a perception all too clear of the depth and breadth of the social problem and a consequent skepticism as to the effectiveness of the proposed solutions which had come to my notice.
In undertaking to write Looking Backward I had, at the outset, no idea of attempting a serious contribution to the movement of social reform. The idea was of a mere literary fantasy, a fairy tale of social felicity. There was no thought of contriving a house which practical men might live in, but merely of hanging in mid-air, far out of the reach of the sordid and material world of the present, a cloud-palace for an ideal humanity.3
That the impulse did not come from the Marxians is sufficiently clear from his explanation of the idea of an industrial army. "The idea of committing the duty of maintaining the community to an industrial army, precisely as the duty of protecting it is entrusted to a military army," came to him, he said, from the object-lesson of European militarism. But however little he owed to the Marxians it is clear that Bellamy-the literary amateur who had dabbled in Hawthornesque fantasies-possessed a warm social conscience and a vigorous inquiring mind; and once his attention had been drawn to the evils of industrialism he would respond with the same direct competence that marked the thinking of Henry George. Nine years before Looking Backward he had dealt with a sociological theme. In 1879 he wrote The Duke of Stockbridge, A Romance of Shay's Rebellion, for the Berkshire Courier, which was reissued in book form in 1900. It was a hasty piece of work that falls off greatly in the latter part; yet in its sympathy for the agrarian rebels and its probing of the economic sources of the post-Revolutionary unrest, it was far removed from the temper of Federalist historians. It is an account of the tyranny of property rule-of the exploitation of the debtor farmer by the creditor gentleman made possible by the economic maladjustments resulting from the war. A bitter discontent is in the hearts of the common people. Hatred of lawyers and courts and process-servers, has taken the place of hatred of Tories. Soldiers who had conquered Cornwallis were returning home only to be conquered by writs and imprisoned by sheriffs. The exactions of a brutal law fell upon helpless victims; taxes outran incomes and there was no money to pay. Economic injustice was daily whetting the edge of class bitterness. The animus of Shays's Rebellion is compressed into a few paragraphs that suggest how clearly Bellamy had analyzed the social struggle.
"I use ter think ez there wuzn't no sech varmint ez a tory; but I didn't know nothin' 'bout lawyers and sheriffs them times. I calc'late ye could cut five tories aout o' one lawyer an' make a dozen skunks aout o' what wuz left over."
"I heam as haow Squire Woodbridge says taxes is ten times what they wuz afore the war, an' its sartin that there ain't one shillin' inter folks' pockets ter pay 'em with where there wuz ten on 'em in them days. . . It seems dam curis, bein' as we fit ag'in the red coats jest ter git rid o' taxes."4
So felt the agrarian. Now for the gentleman:
"That is the trouble nowadays, . . . these numskulls must needs have matters of government explained to them, and pass their own judgment on public affairs. And when they cannot understand them, then, forsooth, comes a rebellion. I think none can deny seeing in these late troubles the first fruits of those pestilent notions of equality, whereof we heard so much from certain quarters, during the late war of independence. I would that Mr. Jefferson and some of the other writers of disturbing democratic rhetoric might have been here in the State the past winter, to see the outcome of their preaching."5
Nine years after Looking Backward Bellamy published Equality, a critical examination of economic history with a view to creating an adequate social economics. The earlier work had drawn the outlines of the democratic society of the future, the later supplied a justification and a commentary. The great theme involved a twofold problem: an analysis of the failure of social justice private capitalism, and a defense of the working of social capitalism. The two threads are closely interwoven, and the effect heightened by the contrasts resulting from setting the two social orders over against each other. Innumerable questions, touching diverse phases, are propounded and answered. The apologist of private capitalism is pursued into every stronghold of his logic; he is assailed by a hundred vivid analogies which seek to lay bare the folly of a social system that breeds waste only to breed poverty," that puts a premium upon greed and yet takes away the security of possession, that bids the workers fight each other instead of uniting for the common welfare. But men must see a better before they will leave a worse, and so there is drawn the picture of another commonwealth that must arise when men shall put off the ass's head from their shoulders, and set intelligently to work. America is moving towards such a commonwealth, Bellamy is persuaded, and yet how slow it is to grasp the meaning of democracy! It holds back from its own good, loath to probe the depths of the revolutionary philosophy of liberty, equality, fraternity. Julian West awakes in this new world; his eyes are opened; the ass's head is gone; he knows for the first time the goodness of life in a rational society. And when in a hideous nightmare he returned to the old Boston he had lived in before he fell asleep, he tasted for the first time the full iniquity of the old pigsty arrangement. "I have been in Golgotha," he cried, "I have seen Humanity hanging on a cross!" It is knowledge of the good that must destroy the evil.
It was as a political economist that Bellamy attacked the problems of a democratic society, and his radicalism begins and ends with the interpretation he puts on the phrase. He was far from being a political economist of the schools. His contempt for the older classical dogmas was measureless. Manchesterism with its fetish of laissez faire he reckoned no better than a pseudo-science. " `There were no political economists before the Revolution,' " remarks one of the scholars of the later age.6 Such books as the Wealth of Nations, properly speaking, should be called "Examinations into the Economic and Social Consequences of trying to get along without any Political Economy." Before we shall get forward we must examine our terms.
Economy . . . means the wise husbanding of wealth in production and distribution. Individual economy is the science of this husbandry when conducted in the interest of the individual without regard to any others. Family economy is this husbandry carried on for the advantage of a family group without regard to other groups. Political economy, however, can only mean the husbandry of wealth for the greatest advantage of the political or social body, the whole number of the citizens constituting political organization. This sort of husbandry necessarily implies a or political regulation of economic affairs for the general interest before the Revolution there was no conception of such an economy, nor any organization to carry it out. All systems and doctrines of economy previous to that time were distinctly and exclusively private and individual in their whole theory and practice. While in other respects our forefathers did in various ways and degrees recognize a social solidarity and a political unity with proportionate rights and duties, their theory and practice as to all matters touching the getting and sharing of wealth were aggressively and brutally individualistic, antisocial, and unpolitical.7
A social arrangement based on an individual economy must necessarily result in such monstrosities as the system of private capitalism with its cash nexus. It is no other than an organized system of social warfare, with all the appalling waste of war. Habit has blinded our eyes or we should see the utter bankruptcy of individual competition, that prides itself on its "famous process for beggaring a nation." "Were these serious men I saw about me," cried Julian West as he watched the folly of Washington Street, with its thousand shops madly bidding against each other, its vulgar advertising and cheating and swindling, "or children, who did their business on such a plan? Could they be reasoning beings, who did not see the folly which, when the product is made and ready for use, wastes so much of it in getting it to the user? If people eat with a spoon that leaks half its contents between bowl and lip, are they not likely to go hungry?"8 What is it but such folly which prevents society from doing the thousand things which cry aloud to be done? So long as men must fight each other for individual subsistence how shall they be able to join forces to fight the common enemies, cold, hunger, disease? Our individualism keeps us poverty-stricken; we are too poor to destroy the social squalor, too poor to save our own lives.
If competition entails irretrievable waste, he points out, the system of competitive profit involves economic suicide. It pistol which private industrialism points at its own head. The struggle for profit is the hidden cancer that is eating out the heart of modern society, and Bellamy examines it searchingly in the chapter, "Economic Suicide of the Profit System."9 Under private industrialism profits are the oil to the wheels of industry, which turn in response to the market. By the market is meant those who have money to buy with; and demand is brisk or slack according to the diffusion of economic means. When the buyers are satisfied and abstain from further purchases, the market becomes glutted and the wheels of production cease to turn "though starving and naked mobs might riot in the streets." Profits, however, must come out of somebody's pocket; and the greater they are the more the pocket that pays is emptied; unless replenished by other profits, taken from still other pockets, it ceases to be able to buy in like proportion. In consequence the market slacks off and the wheels of industry run slower. The manufacturer takes his profits out of his workmen, the merchant takes his out of the public-which is another term for the workman; he who takes most grows rich fastest and is most successful. Obviously, however, such riches are acquired at the expense of the public capacity to buy; and such lessening capacity is ominous of gluts and crises to ensue, with losses which must be made good by greater profits when the wheels turn again. It is only too clear that society is suffering from a chronic dyspepsia of its industrial system; it cannot digest its food. The current maxim that a fair exchange is no robbery-so confidently urged cannot apply to the profit system, for if the exchange is fair there is no profit, and if there is no profit there will be no exchange. The further maxim that demand governs supply and supply keeps pace with demand, refers only to the profit-market, and quite overlooks the important detail of social need.
The stupidity of such a system Bellamy never tires of pointing out. His striking analogy of the stage-coach has become a classic; the less known parable of the water-tank10 is equally vivid; a hundred other shafts are directed at the profit-theory which underlies our individual economy. Until the sway of such anarchy is broken, until society learns to regulate its industrialism on the principles of a wise political economy, there can be no hope of betterment. To create and apply this wise political economy is the urgent business of democracy if it is not to perish. It must be such an economy as shall satisfy both our ethical ideals and our material needs. It must embody the spirit of democratic solidarity and it must look beyond the demands of the profit-market to the wellbeing of all. It must substitute cooperation for competitive warfare. The criminal waste which keeps the gray wolves forever snarling at the threshold of society, must cease; the specter of poverty which disorders the lives of men and distempers their hopes, must be banished by the united strength of all. If democracy cannot achieve such a democratic political economy it must flounder through deepening bogs until finally it sinks in the morass of plutocracy.
The fatal mistake of democracy heretofore has been the insufficiency of its program. It is incredible how limited has been its vision and how few and how minor have been its greatest revolutions. To overthrow monarchy was excellent, but it did not in democracy; rather, the unchecked sway of plutocracy. "'The people, indeed, nominally were sovereigns; but as these sovereigns were individually and as a class the economic serfs of the rich, and lived at their mercy, the so-called popular government became the mere stalking-horse of the capitalists.'"11 Political revolutions have proved heretofore to be mere flashes in the pan; not until the economic revolution has been effected will the old tyranny be blown to pieces:
The second phase in the evolution of the democratic idea began with the awakening of the people to the perception that the deposing of kings, instead of being the main end and mission of democracy, was merely preliminary to its real programme, which was the use of the collective social machinery for the indefinite promotion of the welfare of the people at large. . . . Which amounts to saying . . . that there never was a democratic government properly so called before the twentieth century. called republics of the first phase we class as pseudo-republics or democracies. . . . Regarded as necessary steps in the evolution of society from archy to pure democracy, these republics of the negative phase mark stage of progress; but if regarded as finalities they were a type far admirable on the whole than decent monarchies. In their susceptibility to corruption and plutocratic subversion they were worst kind of government possible. . . . How could intelligent men lude themselves with the notion that the most portentous and ary idea of all time had exhausted its influence . changing the title of the executive of a nation from king to President, the name of the national Legislature from Parliament to Congress? . . The American people fancied that they had set up a popular when they separated from England, but they were deluded. In conquering the political power formerly exercised by the king, the people had but taken the outworks of the fortress of tyranny. The economic system which was the citadel and commanded every part of the social structure remained in possession of private and irresponsible rulers, and so long as it was held, the possession of the outworks was of no use to the people, and only retained by the sufferance of the garrison of the citadel. The Revolution came when the people saw that they must either take the citadel or evacuate the outworks."12
The significance of the title of Bellamy's supplementary volume should now be clear. The problem of democracy always and everywhere is the problem of achieving economic equality. Without that all talk of liberty and fraternity, all equality before the law, is empty and sinister mockery. How can a man call himself citizen who must beg a fellow citizen to become his master? How shall the wage-taker treat his boss as a brother? Of what worth is equality before the law to one without a job? Democracy and servitude cannot lie down together. Wage-slavery debases the dignity of man; it puts upon him the greatest of indignities, servitude to things; it cheats him of his right to life, liberty, and happiness; it is the evil thing which degrades human society to the level of the pigsty, and puts a premium upon the hoggish instincts of men. It sows suspicion and hate between equals, changes the unsuccessful into cringing sycophants, sets its heel upon the weak and the helpless. The thing were too monstrous to be conceivable were it not the everyday fact of life-more than that, were it not the ideal of a supposedly democratic society, apologized for by our plutocratic culture, defended by all that accounts itself respectable, buttressed by the formidable turrets of the law, written down as a major premise in our treatises on political science: and all in the sacred name of individual enterprise. It is familiarity that blinds us to its evils, and makes its victims only callous or sullen. And it endures because men are deceived by its half-truths, seduced by its specious freedoms, led astray by its fatuous promises. Being taught to set the privilege of fighting above the privilege of helping, how should they not account their egoism more sacred than their altruism?
When men shall leave off bounding their democratic horizons by the old political economy and the old law, Bellamy was persuaded, they will see more clearly. The political science of private property conceived of government as a police power to safeguard the stake of the individual in society. Very well, democracy needs only to redefine the terms "stake-in-society" and "police power" to arrive at a competent philosophy. The definition of the former is ready to hand in the familiar words of the Declaration of Independence-the stake of every man in society is no less than his life, his liberty, and his happiness. To secure him in this stake is the primary function of government. The property interpretation of the stake-in-society principle was sound in its assumption of the economic as the determining basis; we need only to democratize the interpretation to arrive at our end.
"The primal principle of democracy is the worth and dignity of the individual. That dignity, consisting in the quality of human nature, is essentially the same in all individuals, and therefore equality is the vital principle of democracy. To this intrinsic and equal dignity of the individual all material conditions must be made subservient, and personal accidents and attributes subordinated. The raising up of the human being without respect of persons is the constant and only rational motive of the democratic policy. Contrast with this conception that precious notion of your contemporaries as to restricting suffrage. Recognizing the material disparities in the circumstances of individuals, they proposed to conform the rights and dignities of the individual to his material circumstances instead of conforming the material circumstances to the essential and equal dignity of man."
"In short. . . while under our system we conformed men to things, you think it more reasonable to conform things to men?"
"That is, indeed," replied the doctor, "the vital difference between the old and the new orders."13
As a preliminary to this necessary end of conforming things to men there must be a reinterpretation of the functions of the state. Here again Bellamy's political economy gives a surprising twist to the current police theory of government.
"In my day . . . it was considered that the proper functions of government, strictly speaking, were limited to keeping the peace and defending the people against the public enemy, that is to the military and police powers."
"And in heaven's name, who are the public enemies?" exclaimed Dr. Leete. "Are they France, England, Germany, or hunger, cold, and nakedness?"14
The plutocratic interpretation of the police power signifies no other than the protection of the individual in the enjoyment of the fruits of his exploitation-that his right to keep and use what he has got must be held more sacred than the welfare of society; that the law, the military, the police, shall defend him in his right to do with his winnings as he will. The democratic interpretation of the police power, on the other hand, holds that the state must intervene to the end that property shall serve a social and not a private interest; that the weak shall not be exploited by individual enterprise; that all shall be protected in their right to life, liberty, and happiness. It demands an ethical basis for the social economy. The legal maxim that a man may do as he will with his own, is open to question. The matter of ownership ceases to be a legal question of title, and becomes a moral question of right and justice. Land, the machinery of production, the profits of organized industry, coal, ores, oil, lumber-are such things justly subject to private preemption? Shall the complex structure of society be bottomed on the law of contract, or on the ethics of social justice? Substitute one for the other and a revolution is accomplished.
Our ethics of wealth is . . . extremely simple. It consists merely in the law of self-preservation, asserted in the name of all against the encroachments of any. It rests upon a principle which a child can understand as well as a philosopher, and which no philosopher ever attempted to refute namely, the supreme right of all to live, and consequently to insist that society shall be so organized as to secure that right.15
Thus in the political science of democracy the old police theory of government merges in an all-embracing trustee theory. To a paternal state is entrusted the protection of the interests of society. That the welfare of all shall be faithfully served, it is essential that the common will control and direct the machinery for the production and distribution of wealth. The anarchy of individualism must give place to an ordered regimentation, under a centralized authority. The social meaning of property must be probed to the bottom and the exact line between public and private rights be marked off. This brings Bellamy to his fundamental principle-the collectivistic organization of industry as the sine qua non of a democratic society. How effectively such a centralized state must wage war upon poverty, how adequately it must protect the citizen against the common enemies of cold, hunger, and nakedness, it was the purpose of Looking Backward and Equality to picture. "A horrible cockney dream," William Morris called Looking Backward, and by way of answer sketched his News from Nowhere, loveliest of Utopias with its anarchistic freedom set in country fields. Morris was an artist with an ample share of Ruskinian prejudice against the machinery that Bellamy so greatly developed; nevertheless Bellamy was far more modern and realistic in his understanding of the part the machine will play in the society of the future. To socialize the machine-to put upon it the slave-work of society, surely means much to human freedom.
Looking Backward is a brief for no particular school of socialism, although it inclines somewhat to Fabianism. Not through strikes, boycotts and lockouts, was the great change brought about, but in consequence of the spread of social intelligence and social ethics. Unionism was not the father of the Revolution, nor agrarianism its mother. Direct action and violence in any form rather hindered than helped. Class propaganda was too narrow and too selfish. The anarchists with their "red flag and talk about burning, sacking, and blowing people up," retarded the Revolution by frightening the timid and making "a thousand enemies of their professed cause to one friend." "The labor parties, as such, never could have accomplished anything on a large or permanent scale."
It was not till a rearrangement of the industrial and social system on a higher ethical basis, and for the more efficient production of wealth, was recognized as the interest, not of one class, but equally of all classes, of rich and poor, cultured and ignorant, old and young, weak and strong, men and women, that there was any prospect that it would be achieved. Then the national party arose to carry it out by political methods."16
To wait for the consent of all would seem to the impatient a long postponement of the millennium; yet the postponement, Bellamy argued, need not be long. The overreaching greed of private capitalism was daily hastening it. The new order must come about speedily as a necessary consequence of two forces; the compulsion of economic fact, and the stimulus of ideas. As the monopolistic tendencies of private capitalism open the eyes of the dullest to the growth of a plutocratic power beyond the control of the majority, a quick fear of the impending tyranny must lead men to question the larger scope and ultimate significance of the whole system. Under the lash of this fear their minds will open to ideas which have long been knocking in vain for admission. The sources of monopolistic power will be examined, and the successive steps by which the few have gained control of the machinery of production will become clear. Already the fertile idea of the unearned increment which the land-taxers have got hold of and are spreading widely, has prepared the way for the revolutionary doctrine of the social fund. Let the common man once understand how small a portion of wealth is produced by his private effort, and how large a portion by the agency of social organization with its heritage of experience and invention, and he will understand how unjustly private capitalism appropriates what it has not earned. The conclusion that wealth should belong to him who produces it, is a deduction of the most elementary ethics; and since the production of wealth in quantity is a consequence of the social organization and social heritage, the conviction becomes irresistible that such wealth belongs to society and cannot justly be appropriated by the individual.17 Let such an idea spread widely and the way is prepared for the taking over by the state of the machinery of production, and the assumption by it of the obligation of universal trusteeship. Then will come the Revolution. Cooperation will take the place of competition; production and distribution for the common well-being will destroy the malevolent trinity of rent, interest, and profit, which have so long held the world in poverty; the intelligent strength of all will stand between the individual and cold, hunger, and nakedness. The noble words of the Declaration of Independence will no longer be a catch-vote and a mockery to the exploited multitude, but a reality. The democratic ideal, with its social philosophy summarized in the phrase, "the only wealth is life," will destroy the last vestiges of ancient tyranny and men will be free. Rooted in economic equality the fine flower of individualism will expand as it cannot now in unfertile soil; a generous and unstinted culture will spread the spirit of kindliness through society, and a new and nobler art and religion will go hand in hand with the new fellowship.
Only too clearly Edward Bellamy was an incorrigible idealist. He looked into the future with more confident eyes than most of us; he saw in the East the quickening of a new day where we see only darkness. A child of the Enlightenment, he put his trust in the natural goodness of men. They are not inherently base and ignoble, but the victims of an evil system that breeds what is base and ignoble. "The folly of men, not their hard-heartedness, was the great cause of the world's poverty. It was not the crime of man, nor of any class of men, that made the race so miserable, but a hideous, ghastly mistake, a colossal world-darkening blunder." is In an arid land shall we waste the little store of water, or shall we regulate it strictly, that the desert may be brought to bloom as a garden?
The labor of men, I explained, was the fertilizing stream which alone rendered earth habitable. It was but a scanty stream at best, and its use required to be regulated by a system which expended every drop to the best advantage, if the world were to be supported in abundance. But how far from any system was the actual practice! Every man wasted the precious fluid as he wished, animated only by the equal motives of saving his own crop and spoiling his neighbor's, that his might sell the better. What with greed and what with spite, some fields were flooded while others were parched, and half the water ran wholly to waste. In such a land, though a few by strength or cunning might win the means of luxury, the lot of the great mass must be poverty, and of the weak and ignorant bitter want and perennial famine.
Let but the famine-stricken nation assume the function it had neglected, and regulate for the common good the course of the life-giving stream, and the earth would bloom like one garden, and none of its children lack any good thing. I described the physical felicity, mental enlightenment, and moral elevation which would then attend the lives of all men. With fervency I spoke of that new world, blessed with plenty, purified by justice and sweetened by brotherly kindness, the world of which I had indeed but dreamed, but which might so easily be made real. But when I had expected now surely the faces around me to light up with emotions akin to mine, they grew ever more dark, angry, and scornful. Instead of enthusiasm, the ladies showed only aversion and dread, while the men interrupted me with shouts of reprobation and contempt. "Madman!" "Pestilent fellow!" "Fanatic!" "Enemy of society!" were some of their cries, and the one who had before taken his eyeglass to me exclaimed, "He says we are to have no more poor. Ha! ha!"
"Put the fellow out!" exclaimed the father of my betrothed, and at the signal the men sprang from their chairs and advanced upon me."19
Like Henry George's noble study of social poverty, Looking Backward is a suggestive document of a generation that saw its finer spirits repelled by the vulgar individualism of the Gilded Age. In the long run, no doubt, its influence was slight and the hopes of the Bellamy Nationalists, like the hopes of the Single-taxers, were doomed to disappointment. Nevertheless it remains as a testimony to the fact that in a blatant world of preemption, exploitation, and progress, were some who were concerned for a juster social order than the Gilded Age dreamed of-a true commonwealth that free men might build if they would.*
*The first chapter of this section was to have been "Plutocracy and the Workingman," the second "The Rise of the Left." For the contents see p. xxxv. --Publisher
1 Allyn B. Forces, The Literary Quest for Utopia, 1880-1900. "Social Forces, Vol. VI, No. 2, December, 1927.
2Nationalist, Vol. I, p. 18.
3Ibid., Vol. I, p. I.
4The Duke of Stockbridge, Chapter 11, pp. 22, 28.
5Ibid., Chapter XXVI, p. 349.
6Equality, Chapter XXII, p. 189.
7Ibid, p. 189.
8Looking Backward, Chapter XXVIII, p. 314.
9Equality, Chapter XXII
10Equality, Chapter XXIII, p. 195.
11Equality, Chapter II, p. 21.
12Ibid., Chapter II, pp. 19, 20, 21, 22.
13Ibid., Chapter III, p. 26.
14Looking Backward, Chapter VI, p. 59.
15Equality, Chapter XI, p. 74.
16Looking Backward, Chapter XXIV.
17See Equality, Chapter XIII-"Private Capital Stolen from the Social Fund."
18Looking Backward, Chapter XXVIII, p. 328.
19Ibid, pp. 328-9.
*At this point was to come a second section entitled "After Bellamy; ' Naturalism; Tourgee's Murvole Eartman."--Publisher.