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A critical examination of two "socialist" utopias: "Looking Backward" and "News From Nowhere"

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2008
Koç, Yasemin
This study examines two ‘socialist’ utopias of the late 19th century: W. Morris’s News from Nowhere and E. Bellamy’s Looking Backward. The major concern is to question the validity of title ‘socialist’ for these two texts. The reference points for such an analysis are: modernity, Marxism of the late 19th century and the practice of discipline. In this context, the intention is to find out ruptures and continuities with respect to the central ideas of socialism and basic premises of modernity. The study explorates that there are serious points of rupture in these two texts with respect to the major premises of modernity, because in Morris’s utopia there is a romantic search for restoring communism of the 14th century, in Bellamy’s text there are typical reactionary modernist suggestions concerning the nature of typical socialist societies. In that sense, due to the disassociation between socialism and modernity in these two texts, it is very problematic to classify these utopias as socialist. The study also questions whether the sources of such disassociation are embedded in Marxism itself. In response to such question, the study argues that this is the case to a great extent.