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Looking Backward

Edward Bellamy

Chapters 15-22

Chapters 8-14

Chapters 15-22, page 2

page 1 of 2

Summary

Leete explains that the government does not regulate the production of art. An author simply has to pay for the first printing of his book. The government then places the book on sale at a price determined by the author. The author's work hours are reduced according to the amount his work earns in royalties. Therefore, people with literary talent can devote themselves entirely to writing, but no one is prevented from trying his or her hand at it. It is much the same with other creative endeavors.

If a group of people wants to publish a magazine or newspaper, they gather enough annual subscriptions to cover the cost of printing it. The subscribers elect an editor, who is then released from other service for the duration of his term. The subscribers, who pay for the editor's maintenance, periodically choose to re-elect or oust the editor. Contributors are compensated from the publication's general credit, and their hours of labor are reduced accordingly. If a man cannot be freed from the nation's service through artistic or literary means, he can retire at age thirty-three, but he will receive only one-half of the yearly credit of other citizens.

The nation can accurately calculate the expected demand for any good or service because it is the sole producer and distributor. Even goods with very small markets are produced, as long as consumers are willing to pay the price for them. Citizens can also petition the nation to produce goods that are not already in production. The price of any product is determined by the value of the labor needed to produce it.

The leaders of trade guilds, workers who have the rank of "general" in the industrial army, are elected by retired members of the guild. Guilds for the same trade are further organized into "departments," headed by "lieutenant generals" elected by retired workers for the same trade. The President of the nation is elected from among retired lieutenant generals by the members of the "liberal professions"--doctors, teachers, artists, and so on--not by the industrial army. The President serves five years, and if Congress is pleased with him, he is then elected to serve the nation on the international council for five more years.

The abolishment of private capital has removed most of the incentives for crime. Because everyone is equal with regard to possessions, neither poverty nor luxury can tempt individuals to commit crimes for material gain. All citizens are now well-educated, so violent crimes, unrelated to material gain, are also nearly non-existent. Those arrested for crimes usually plead guilty because lying is so strongly discouraged in modern society. If an alleged criminal pleads not guilty, two judges argue, one for each side of the case, and a third judge delivers the verdict. The President appoints judges from the pool of retired citizens, and the judges elect the members of the Supreme Court. There is no longer any need for special training to understand law, as the law has been greatly simplified. There are no longer any state governments, and there is very little legislation passed by Congress.

Education, devoted to furthering physical and intellectual development, is free and compulsory until a citizen reaches twenty-one years of age. The greater efficiency of well-educated workers makes such education cost-effective. Moreover, an education makes a citizen's company more agreeable and interesting to his neighbors.

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Stagecoach analogy

by callmeklutchkid, February 16, 2014

I think it's important to include the stage coach analogy in the summary because I think it plays a big role in the set up of the story and it's just overall a big point in the book.

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