In Looking Backward, the writer Edward Bellamy lays out the blueprint of his idea of the utopian world. He has tried to elucidate readers of the nineteenth-century about his ideas regarding social and economic reform and warns them of the perceived evils in the existing social and economic systems. Several themes were brought by Bellamy in his novel which were an epitome of the 20th century. I personally feel the labor issue that he describes in the novel is very similar to one based on the communist ideology that was flourishing in Europe at that time. In the novel, the narrator, Julian West wakes up in his native Boston after a hundred years in the year 2000 (Bellamy 3). He is found by Dr. Leete in his underground chamber who explains him the egalitarian wage system and the factors such as distribution of jobs according to one's aptitude and rewards for fulfilling jobs to which the public have responded well.
Dr. Leete and Julian talk about the contemporary wage system which is totally different to the wage system of the 1880's based on capitalistic ideas. Being skeptical of the system, Julian asks, "How, I ask once more, can you adjust the comparative wages or remuneration of the multitude of avocations, so unlike and so incommensurable, which are necessary for the service of the society?" (Bellamy 43). To this question, Dr. Leete gives Julian an insight to the current world explaining that work is considered equal for everyone and thus has brought universal harmony. The motivation to work could be considered another important aspect of the labor system. Julian expresses his dissatisfaction by saying "Some men do twice the work of others! Are the clever workmen content with a plan that ranks them with the indifferent?" (Bellamy 45). Julian is astonished that those who do not work can still claim an equal share of the nation's wealth as a right. Dr. Leete explains that jobs are distributed according to one's aptitude and even those who are handicapped are given tasks that suit their abilities.