Equality - Edward Bellamy - ebook
Opis

Equality” is a utopian novel, and the sequel „Looking Backward: 2000-1887.” The main character from 1897 wakes up in 2000. Everything seems unusual to him. He learns that women are free to participate in the same auction as men. Gold coins become useless. Now vegetarians, and the thought of eating meat is perceived with disgust. How now to go back and whether to return at all?

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Liczba stron: 766

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Contents

CHAPTER I. A Sharp Cross-Examiner

CHAPTER II. Why The Revolution Did Not Come Earlier

CHAPTER III. I Acquire A Stake In The Country

CHAPTER IV. A Twentieth-Century Bank Parlor

CHAPTER V. I Experience A New Sensation

CHAPTER VI. Honi Soit Qui Mal Y Pense

CHAPTER VII. A String Of Surprises

CHAPTER VIII. The Greatest Wonder Yet--Fashion Dethroned

CHAPTER IX. Something That Had Not Changed

CHAPTER X. A Midnight Plunge

CHAPTER XI. Life The Basis Of The Right Of Property

CHAPTER XII. How Inequality Of Wealth Destroys Liberty

CHAPTER XIII. Private Capital Stolen From The Social Fund

CHAPTER XIV. We Look Over My Collection Of Harnesses

CHAPTER XV. What We Were Coming To But For The Revolution

CHAPTER XVI. An Excuse That Condemned

CHAPTER XVII. The Revolution Saves Private Property From Monopoly

CHAPTER XVIII. An Echo Of The Past

CHAPTER XIX. "Can A Maid Forget Her Ornaments?"

CHAPTER XX. What The Revolution Did For Women

CHAPTER XXI. At The Gymnasium

CHAPTER XXII. Economic Suicide Of The Profit System

CHAPTER XXIII. "The Parable Of The Water Tank"

CHAPTER XXIV. I Am Shown All The Kingdoms Of The Earth

CHAPTER XXV. The Strikers

CHAPTER XXVI. Foreign Commerce Under Profits; Protection And Free Trade, Or Between The Devil And The Deep Sea

CHAPTER XXVII. Hostility Of A System Of Vested Interests To Improvement

CHAPTER XXVIII. How The Profit System Nullified The Benefit Of Inventions

CHAPTER XXIX. I Receive An Ovation

CHAPTER XXX. What Universal Culture Means

CHAPTER XXXI. "Neither In This Mountain Nor At Jerusalem"

CHAPTER XXXII. Eritis Sicut Deus

CHAPTER XXXIII. Several Important Matters Overlooked

CHAPTER XXXIV. What Started The Revolution

CHAPTER XXXV. Why The Revolution Went Slow At First But Fast At Last

CHAPTER XXXVI. Theater-Going In The Twentieth Century

CHAPTER XXXVII. The Transition Period

CHAPTER XXXVIII. The Book Of The Blind

CHAPTER I

A Sharp Cross-Examiner

With many expressions of sympathy and interest Edith listened to the story of my dream. When, finally, I had made an end, she remained musing.

“What are you thinking about?” I said.

“I was thinking,” she answered, “how it would have been if your dream had been true.”

“True!” I exclaimed. “How could it have been true?”

“I mean,” she said, “if it had all been a dream, as you supposed it was in your nightmare, and you had never really seen our Republic of the Golden Rule or me, but had only slept a night and dreamed the whole thing about us. And suppose you had gone forth just as you did in your dream, and had passed up and down telling men of the terrible folly and wickedness of their way of life and how much nobler and happier a way there was. Just think what good you might have done, how you might have helped people in those days when they needed help so much. It seems to me you must be almost sorry you came back to us.”

“You look as if you were almost sorry yourself,” I said, for her wistful expression seemed susceptible of that interpretation.

“Oh, no,” she answered, smiling. “It was only on your own account. As for me, I have very good reasons for being glad that you came back.”

“I should say so, indeed. Have you reflected that if I had dreamed it all you would have had no existence save as a figment in the brain of a sleeping man a hundred years ago?”

“I had not thought of that part of it,” she said smiling and still half serious; “yet if I could have been more useful to humanity as a fiction than as a reality, I ought not to have minded the–the inconvenience.”

But I replied that I greatly feared no amount of opportunity to help mankind in general would have reconciled me to life anywhere or under any conditions after leaving her behind in a dream–a confession of shameless selfishness which she was pleased to pass over without special rebuke, in consideration, no doubt, of my unfortunate bringing up.

“Besides,” I resumed, being willing a little further to vindicate myself, “it would not have done any good. I have just told you how in my nightmare last night, when I tried to tell my contemporaries and even my best friends about the nobler way men might live together, they derided me as a fool and madman. That is exactly what they would have done in reality had the dream been true and I had gone about preaching as in the case you supposed.”

“Perhaps a few might at first have acted as you dreamed they did,” she replied. “Perhaps they would not at once have liked the idea of economic equality, fearing that it might mean a leveling down for them, and not understanding that it would presently mean a leveling up of all together to a vastly higher plane of life and happiness, of material welfare and moral dignity than the most fortunate had ever enjoyed. But even if the rich had at first mistaken you for an enemy to their class, the poor, the great masses of the poor, the real nation, they surely from the first would have listened as for their lives, for to them your story would have meant glad tidings of great joy.”

“I do not wonder that you think so,” I answered, “but, though I am still learning the A B C of this new world, I knew my contemporaries, and I know that it would not have been as you fancy. The poor would have listened no better than the rich, for, though poor and rich in my day were at bitter odds in everything else, they were agreed in believing that there must always be rich and poor, and that a condition of material equality was impossible. It used to be commonly said, and it often seemed true, that the social reformer who tried to better the condition of the people found a more discouraging obstacle in the hopelessness of the masses he would raise than in the active resistance of the few, whose superiority was threatened. And indeed, Edith, to be fair to my own class, I am bound to say that with the best of the rich it was often as much this same hopelessness as deliberate selfishness that made them what we used to call conservative. So you see, it would have done no good even if I had gone to preaching as you fancied. The poor would have regarded my talk about the possibility of an equality of wealth as a fairy tale, not worth a laboring man’s time to listen to. Of the rich, the baser sort would have mocked and the better sort would have sighed, but none would have given ear seriously.”

But Edith smiled serenely.

“It seems very audacious for me to try to correct your impressions of your own contemporaries and of what they might be expected to think and do, but you see the peculiar circumstances give me a rather unfair advantage. Your knowledge of your times necessarily stops short with 1887, when you became oblivious of the course of events. I, on the other hand, having gone to school in the twentieth century, and been obliged, much against my will, to study nineteenth-century history, naturally know what happened after the date at which your knowledge ceased. I know, impossible as it may seem to you, that you had scarcely fallen into that long sleep before the American people began to be deeply and widely stirred with aspirations for an equal order such as we enjoy, and that very soon the political movement arose which, after various mutations, resulted early in the twentieth century in overthrowing the old system and setting up the present one.”

This was indeed interesting information to me, but when I began to question Edith further, she sighed and shook her head.

“Having tried to show my superior knowledge, I must now confess my ignorance. All I know is the bare fact that the revolutionary movement began, as I said, very soon after you fell asleep. Father must tell you the rest. I might as well admit while I am about it, for you would soon find it out, that I know almost nothing either as to the Revolution or nineteenth-century matters generally. You have no idea how hard I have been trying to post myself on the subject so as to be able to talk intelligently with you, but I fear it is of no use. I could not understand it in school and can not seem to understand it any better now. More than ever this morning I am sure that I never shall. Since you have been telling me how the old world appeared to you in that dream, your talk has brought those days so terribly near that I can almost see them, and yet I can not say that they seem a bit more intelligible than before.”

“Things were bad enough and black enough certainly,” I said; “but I don’t see what there was particularly unintelligible about them. What is the difficulty?”

“The main difficulty comes from the complete lack of agreement between the pretensions of your contemporaries about the way their society was organized and the actual facts as given in the histories.”

“For example?” I queried.

“I don’t suppose there is much use in trying to explain my trouble,” she said. “You will only think me stupid for my pains, but I’ll try to make you see what I mean. You ought to be able to clear up the matter if anybody can. You have just been telling me about the shockingly unequal conditions of the people, the contrasts of waste and want, the pride and power of the rich, the abjectness and servitude of the poor, and all the rest of the dreadful story.”

“Yes.”

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