The Forging of American Socialism: Origins of the Modern Movement

By Howard H. Quint | Go to book overview
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III. Bellamy Makes Socialism Respectable

THE CHRISTIAN Socialist Reverend W. D. P. Bliss wrote in 1898: "It is doubtful if any man, in his own lifetime, ever exerted so great an influence upon the social beliefs of his fellow beings as did Edward Bellamy."1Bliss's views coincided with those of Henry Demarest Lloyd, who stated: "There is no writer of modern times who has done as much as Mr. Bellamy to awaken the world to the necessity of justifying its inheritance from the progress of the past by making a little progress of its own along the lines of economic brotherhood."2 Dr. H. P. Pbebles, who was active in the reform movement in California, wrote of Bellamy: "History teaches that every special cataclysm finds a master mind . . . and Bellamy may have come to answer the cries of oppressed humanity . . . . Bellamy is the Moses of today."3

Vida D. Scudder declared that under the impact of Looking Backward "the fading emotions of the old Abolitionist era flamed again . . . with the incandescence of a social hope reaching beyond the Negro, to the working classes,--to all the children of men."4 Even one of Bellamy's severest critics conceded that "until Looking Backward appeared many thoughtful Americans did not fully realize the utter chaos with which production is at present conducted; the almost hideous struggle for an existence everywhere prevailing, and the advantages to be derived from cooperation."5 The ordinarily taciturn Thorstein Veblen waxed enthusiastic over Looking Backward and

American Fabian, IV ( June, 1898), 1.
Lloyd to Frederick Bellamy, Nov. 12, 1898. Lloyd Papers.
H. P. Peebles, "The Utopias of the Past Compared with the Theories of Bellamy," Overland Review, XV ( 1890), 574, 576.
Vida D. Scudder, On Journey, ( New York, 1937), p. 165.
Arthur H. Dodge, Socialist-Populist Errors: An Exposition of Popular Political Theories ( San Francisco, 1894), p. 39. Also see Nicholas P. Gilman, Socialism and the American Spirit (Brooklyn, 1893), p. 200; Carlos Martyn, "Churchianity vs. Christianity," Arena, II ( 1890), 154; "The Success of Looking Backward," Journal of the Knights of Labor, Feb. 6, 1890.


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