While these conditions exist an enormous amount of waste is generated in the world. Whether we purchase a tooth pick or a town house, we pay for services which add nothing to those commodities. When we need medical care we would never go to an insurance agent, yet insurance companies profit off of our need for health care. When we purchase a house we don’t rely on bankers to build the house, yet banks collect enormous sums in interest payments for the purchase of homes. When we turn on the television we see advertising which adds nothing to the quality of the programming, yet we pay more for commodities because of advertising. These few examples show how there are enormous resources which could be used to make dramatic improvements in the standard of living throughout the world.
Looking Back From 2101 is a novel which imagines what the world might look like if human needs were the top priority, and the primary motivating force of society was human solidarity. This book has a similar theme as Looking Backwards by Edward Bellemy which was written in 1887 and sold millions of copies throughout the world. Harry Goldberg is a factory worker in the year 2001. One night he goes to sleep and doesn’t awaken until the year 2101. In this world of the future Harry discovers that poverty has been eliminated, yet people are only asked to work for twenty hours per week. The government strives to eliminate alienation from the workplace, and to organize industrial production in a way that is harmonious with the environment. Everyone who is born into this world has many rights which they can use throughout their lifetimes. These include the right to food, clothing, housing, health care, education, communication, transportation, and exposure to the arts or recreational activities. Everyone is also encouraged to offer their opinions concerning any and all topics.
From the perspective of this future world Harry proceeds to have a series of conversations with African Americans, women, a Puerto Rican, a Native American, a farmer, a garment worker, a doctor, and a student where they explore how and why the world was transformed. Harry begins to realize that all the advances which he is witnessing in this new world were indeed possible in the twentieth century. These changes didn’t occur because of scientific achievements or brilliant political leaders. The transformation of society came about because of the determination of the masses of people to construct a world where human needs are more important than profits, and human solidarity is the best way of motivating working people.
Looking Back From 2101 is an attempt to contrast the world as it exists from the world as it might be. While politicians and media pundits tell us what we can’t achieve, this book makes an attempt to look at what is possible.