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The Evils of Capitalism in Looking Backward by Edward Bellamy - Book Report/Review Example

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The focus of this paper is on the response to the problems in American industrial society criticized by Edward Bellamy in Looking Backward. Capitalism was the root of all problems in the American industrial society. He pointed to competition, corruption, and all the inequitable distribution of wealth…
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The Evils of Capitalism in Looking Backward by Edward Bellamy
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Download file to see previous pages Progressivism was a period of American history in which reforming working conditions, improving the way of life, exposing corruption, and expanding democracy rose from the city slums to Washington D.C. The lower and middle classes joined together to demanded changes in areas such as businesses and trusts, labor, and social conditions. Although the name and many of its goals make it appear as if it were a liberal and forward-looking movement, the Progressive movement actually championed conservatism and return to pre-industrialization political and social systems. The capitalist society that developed during this time seemed to squander the basic rights and social relations that it depended on. Its massive growth accompanied by the explosion of the city and the growing gap between the rich and poor made it seem like the industrial system was heading off the deep end.
the stories of Horatio Alger gave the poor a sense of false hope that they could escape the chains of poverty and become rich and powerful. These parables were not true given the fact that the upper class did almost everything possible to keep them as poor as possible in order to profit personally. John Rockefeller realized that by reducing wages and working conditions, his own pocketbook swelled to a tremendous amount. Child labor and terrible working conditions were of the two most notable results of capitalism and self-motivated profit. Likewise, Cornelius Vanderbilt and Andrew Carnegie created monopolies and trusts that squeezed out competition from the market to be able to control and set a high price for the consumer. While Bellamy identified competition as one of the most negative aspects of capitalism, the "robber baron" or "captain of industry" alternative was no better. (Manuel, 215)
The distinction was where the profit went to. In the early nineteenth century, the private individual reaped the profit while in the utopian world of the future; the profit was everyone to share. In return for twenty-five years of labor in the Industrial Army, each American receives an equal share of the nation's production every year of his or her life. Service to society guarantees full support by society. When West goes to talk to his fiancée’s family about the problems of society he proclaims, "Do you not know that close to your doors a great multitude of men and women, the flesh of your flesh, live lives that are one agony from birth to death?" (Bellamy, 210) By throwing him into the street, the family tries to eliminate anything that might threaten their system of materialistic gain. Bellamy also, most notably, points out the waste inherent in competition. Producers when working for their own profit do it at the expense of the community.
The combination and the resultant efficiency created when the government took control of the economy for the public welfare seemed to solve every social ill imaginable from crime to corruption. ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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