[OPE] FW: Edward Bellamy

From: Paul Cockshott <William.Cockshott@glasgow.ac.uk>
Date: Sat Jan 01 2011 - 06:03:44 EST

I have been reading Edward Bellamy's book 'Looking backwards 2000-1887' published in 1888.
Reading it I realise what an important book it must have been in the socialist movement and how much the 20th century view of socialism derives from Bellamy as much as from Marx.
Its influence is clearly there in the sorts of ideas Lenin put forward in Imperialism, and it must have influenced Beveridge and Atlee in establishing the welfare state.

Consider the following passage : "In your day,[Pg 90] men were bound to lay up goods and money against coming failure of the means of support and for their children. This necessity made parsimony a virtue. But now it would have no such laudable object, and, having lost its utility, it has ceased to be regarded as a virtue. No man any more has any care for the morrow, either for himself or his children, for the nation guarantees the nurture, education, and comfortable maintenance of every citizen from the cradle to the grave."

That phrase 'from the cradle to the grave' became the defining idea of the welfare state from the 40s to the 60s. I am not sure who introduced it into popular political discourse. It clearly comes from Bellamy, but was it a standard utterance on socialist platforms in the first half of the 20th century.

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Received on Sat Jan 1 06:05:58 2011

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