GUEST WORDS--Edward Bellamy wrote one of the top selling books, Looking Backward: 2000-1887, in 1888. He was the brother of Francis Bellamy, the socialist minister who wrote the original American Pledge of Allegiance.
Looking Backward created a mass movement against the growing concentration of power and economic control held by monopolies, oligopolies and trusts — a phenomenon that had been growing since the Civil War. It was a utopian science fiction novel about a wealthy man who fell into a comatose state in 1887 and miraculously wakes up more than a100 years later to a world completely changed. In many ways, the book was prescient in regards to some of the of the changes that would take place. But one change that happened within Bellamy’s lifetime was government regulation of monopolies under the Sherman Antitrust act, which passed in 1890.
The post-Civil War era of American history is often neglected in current arguments over racism, tax reform and economics as the Republican congressional majority cuts the taxes for corporations and the wealthy — a rehash of trickle-down economics made popular by President Ronald Reagan. It seems that we are once again destined to see history repeat itself for our lack of memory. Bellamy’s book may be as relevant today as it was then — perhaps more so.