On this day in labor history, the year was 1888
That was the day novelist, Edward Bellamy published his futuristic, utopian novel, Looking Backward, 2000-1887.
The protagonist, Julian West, wakes up in the year 2000, to find that industry has been nationalized and wealth, goods and services have been equitably distributed.
People work less, retire early and enjoy greater leisure.
Looking Backwards was so popular that by 1900 only Uncle Tom’s Cabin and Ben-Hur had sold more copies.
Bellamy’s utopia solved problems of capitalism through development of a socialistic society.
Bellamy denied he was a socialist and instead referred to his vision as Nationalist.
The novel sparked a political movement virtually overnight.
Bellamyites, as they were called, formed Nationalist Clubs across the country.
They attempted to organize a Peoples’ Party around these clubs, which soon dissolved into the Populist movement of the 1890s.
Looking Backwards was a response to the Gilded Age world of monopolies and trusts, depressions and often-violent class convulsions.
Bellamy was quick to indict the banks, the railroads and the corrupt political system that served them.
Sociologist Arthur Lipow argues in his book, Authoritarian Socialism in America: Edward Bellamy and the Nationalist Movement, that while Bellamy may have expressed anti-capitalist sentiments, his future is one in which there is no democratic public life or political process.
For Lipow, Bellamy’s particular collectivist view is militaristic and bureaucratic, and does away with representative bodies of any kind.
However, Socialist Party leader Eugene V. Debs credited his own political development in part, to reading Looking Backwards.
He noted that, regardless of whether Bellamy considered himself a socialist, his novel generated popularity and enthusiasm for socialist ideas, causes and politics.
March 2 - The Greyhound Bus Strike Begins
March 1 - The Hoover Dam Goes Public
February 28 - Fighting for Equal Pay
February 27 -The 1937 Woolworth Sit-Down
February 26 - The Battle at Bethlehem
February 25 - The Paterson Silk Strike Begins
February 24 - Muller v. Oregon Decided
February 23 - Black Food Workers Lead Historic Strike at UNC
February 22 - Labelling Teachers as Terrorists
February 21 - The First Female Telegraph Operator
February 20 - Angelina Grimke is Born
February 19 - Philly Streetcar Workers Spark General Strike
February 18 - Anti-Slavery Begins in America
February 17 - Standing Up By Sitting Down
February 16 - The Wisconsin Uprising Begins
February 15 -The Uprising of the 20,000 Comes to a Close
February 14 - Kansas City Laundresses Walk Off the Job
February 13 - Martial Law Declared to Crush Workers
February 12 - The NAACP is Founded
February 11 - Cutting Corners on Safety At Sequoyah I
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