There are many similarities and differences between Looking Backward and News From Nowhere. The two societies vary in several ways including their attitude towards labor and education. Ultimately the government’s control of its people or lack thereof would allow the societies to fall. The societies lack the ability to advance and grow due to the two extreme versions of government displayed in the works. While having traits that create a peaceful, working society, both have at least one characteristic that highlights a flaw. This flaw would create a society in today’s world that would fail.
Both, the society in News From Nowhere and the society in Looking Backward, possess a strong attitude towards the work force. In News From Nowhere the people possess an unheralded love for the work force. Morris portrays a society in which the people appear to love manual labor more than anything else in their world. It is stated in Morris’s work, “he laughed loud and merrily, as if the idea of being paid for his work was a very funny joke” (Morris 8). The people of this world do not feel a desire to be paid. They have a genuine love for work and manual labor.
In this society, it is described as a much more rural society than the previous world William Guest had lived in. The lack of industry helps in the development of the love for manual labor. The love for work is stressed through all age groups. Morris describes how even younger children contribute to the work force. A contributing factor to the early start in the work force is the past. It is stated, “‘ It is said that in the early days… many people who were hereditarily afflicted with a disease called Idleness… these Idleness- stricken people used to serve booths all their time, because they were fit for so little” (Morris 34).
The people of this world look to avoid “Idleness” described in the book. To avoid this so called disease, the children begin doing easy work early on in their lives. While the attitude toward work differs between the two works, either attitude could produce a productive society. In Bellamy’s work, Looking Backward, the society portrayed possesses a polar difference in attitude toward the work force. Instead of the work force being centered around manual labor, the people of Looking Backward are allowed to choose their profession. Allowing the people to choose their profession only creates a more equal society.
In News From Nowhere. The people are driven to work by a love, but in Looking Backward, because everyone receives the same wage, the drive to work is created in hope of achieving honor. It is stated, ‘“The coarser motives, which no longer move us, have been replaced by higher motives wholly unknown to the mere wage earners of your age’” (Bellamy 63). Living in an honor driven society creates a different kind of love than the love that is seen in News From Nowhere. Instead of life being centered around manual labor, the people of this world feel driven by honor.
The idea that people can be driven to perform their best is great in theory, but human nature tells us otherwise. Performance driven by honor is found primarily in the military. In everyday society, the drive is created by wage, just as Guest describes the earlier days to be like. Both societies from Looking Backward and News From Nowhere have a love for the work force, but they are for different incentives. The attitude towards labor in these works are different, but both could still manage to produce productive societies.
While the attitude toward the work force differ in Looking Backward and News From Nowhere, the education system differs far more. In News From Nowhere, there is no formal schooling. While they possess textbooks, schooling for any age group of people is not required. It is said, “‘ we are no longer hurried, and the information lies ready to each one’s hand when his own inclinations impel him to seek it” (Morris 57). History and Human Nature tell us that allowing a child to choose when he learns is setting the child up for failure.
Without a primary and secondary school education the children of this society cannot advance through the work force. Therefore, leads to the explanation of the society being centered around manual labor. Although there is a lack of education in this world, Morris makes the society work. In Looking Backward, the stance of education is a polar opposite from the attitude in News From Nowhere. In Bellamy’s work, a society that requires education is portrayed. It is said, “‘ we should not consider life worth living if we had to be surrounded by a population of ignorant, boorish, coarse, wholly uncultivated men and women’” (Bellamy 144).
This idea is one that directly opposes the attitude toward education in Looking Backward. Both ideas could work, but each working in separate ways. Bellamy is creating a much more educated and advanced society. While Bellamy is doing such, Morris’s society centers around manual labor and lacks much industry. The world displayed in Looking Backward is much more capable of advancing as a society than the world seen in News From Nowhere. Without educating the people of the world, the world becomes very stagnant. News From Nowhere lacks the industry seen throughout Looking Backward, but they possess a different view on labor.
While the two worlds display different views on education, they both contain functioning societies. The two books differ greatly in most aspects, but if actual worlds, their downfall is the involvement of the Government. In Looking Backward, the government controls everything. There is no such thing as a private market. The government has control of the money people are given, the goods produced, and the hours people work. It is stated, ‘“ The equal wealth and equal opportunities of culture which all persons now enjoy have simply made us all members of one class”’ (Bellamy 103).
In theory this would form a perfect society, but it would ultimately, if it were a real world, create the downfall of Looking Backward. One goal of communism is to create a society where all citizens are equal. Very similar to the society of News From Nowhere, communism ultimately fails. It is said, “‘ Until this equality of condition had come to pass, the idea of the solidarity of humanity, the brotherhood of all men, could never have become the real conviction”’ (Bellamy 103). Reinforcing the communist beliefs, Bellamy’s government has too much control over its people.
Without freedoms, the people of Looking Backward lose certain individualities that they would have with less government control. While Looking Backward has an overbearing government that controls everything, In News From Nowhere, there is no government. Since there is no government, the world portrayed in News From Nowhere is a true free market and society. It is stated, “‘ it is true that a man no more needs an elaborate system of government, with its army, navy, and police, to force him to give way to the will of the majority of his equals’” (Morris 67).
The world of News From Nowhere possesses a stance on the government’s involvement in everyday life that greatly opposes the stance displayed in Looking Backward. It is said, “‘Now tyranny has come to an end, and we no longer need such machinery; we could not possibly use it since we are free”’ (Morris 70). If the world displayed in News From Nowhere were a real society, having a totally free market/ society, would create a world incapable of success. As opposed to a communist society, Morris displays characteristics of a fascist society.
Throughout history, we have seen societies similar to both News From Nowhere and Looking Backward. William Morris responded to Edward Bellamy’s work by creating a polar opposite world. Creating societies with extreme levels of government involvement has led to the downfall of numerous societies and would lead to the collapse of these two. The two societies contain several similarities and differences, but having governments that go to extreme measures to have control or lack thereof handicaps their cultures from advances.