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Identical amounts are deposited by the U. Different people consume different combinations of goods and services. When excess demand or supply occurs, prices or production levels are adjusted. When funds are needed for investment purposes, government officials remove the required amount from the pool to be distributed among the citizens.

Each credit card includes an amount sufficient to live comfortably in society. Any unused credit is returned to the government. In addition, individuals could will personal possessions freely to their descendents, but because most needs are met by the government the majority of these possessions revert to the state. The government uses such excesses to make improvements that are shared by all. The credit cards can only be used at government-owned distribution centers with each center carrying the same products. Edith Leete takes Julian to see one of these centers where sample rooms display the various commodities.

There are no wars or other international conflicts. International trade is accomplished by accounting procedures with balances being settled every few years by an international trade council. There is free trade and free emigration as people have the freedom to select and change their nationality. In addition, each person speaks a native language and a universal language. Leete explains that crime is nearly nonexistent because everyone receives the same credit and, therefore, there is no need to steal and there is virtually no need for prisons.

There are no crimes involving monetary gains because there is no money.

No people are involved in financial operations. Crime faded away among the educated except for the mentally ill who were treated in hospitals. There exists no military, few police, few prisons, no Internal Revenue Service, no charity, no government debt, no political parties, no banks, no strikes, no jury system, no attorneys legal decisions are made by judges appointed by the President , and no churches, denominations, sects, or clergy.

However, individuals are permitted to broadcast their religious views in sermons delivered over a type of radio or telephone system.

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Without greed there is no government corruption. A small group of bureaucrats run the entire economy. Higher bureaucratic positions are filled by, and elected by, individuals who have retired from the industrial army and are past 45 years of age. The job of the government is to provide economic abundance and a social welfare system. Democracy exists with voting at various levels. A President serves for a term of five years.

The government provides public kitchens with central public and private dining rooms. This system does not allow for the individuality of food, but does permit social interaction and eliminates the need for the individual to prepare meals. Housework is mechanical and washing is done in public laundries. Electric power has replaced fossil fuels, thus eliminating the pollution of coal furnaces. Healthcare is socialized. Medical care is provided by the state with doctors selected individually but paid by the government.

The message of Looking Backward is that everyone shares equally because all people alive at a particular time have received the aggregated technological accomplishments of preceding generations of men, and every person alive at a certain time has a right to an equal share of what has been accumulated. It is argued that a program of equalization would eliminate social ills, bring about a feeling of solidarity, and transform the nation into a brotherhood of man.

Rawls contends that individuals do not deserve the genetic or other assets they are born with. He explains that, from a moral perspective, the level of effort people are willing to put forth is, to a great extent, influenced by their natural endowments. Consequently, those who are more productive due to their greater natural abilities have no moral right to greater rewards, because the abilities and motivations that make up their work cannot be morally considered to be their own.

He considers the distribution of natural talents as a common asset and argues that people should share in the fruits of this distribution. Rawls also maintains that individuals who are not fortunate enough to have wealthy parents do not merit worse starting points and, consequently, worse life prospects than those who were so fortunate. He contends that society should equalize the prospects of the least well off by taxing the undeserved inherited gains of children of rich persons, and using the tax proceeds to aid the least well off. Julian hears a sermon by Mr.

Barton on the evils of the 19th century and the immeasurable advances that have been made since then. He becomes depressed because he realizes that he was once part of that inhumane and barbaric system. He has changed and now realizes how bad the 19th century was. Toward the end of the novel, Julian has a nightmare in which he is back in Boston. As he wanders around town, he sees misery, waste, filth, and the gap between the many struggling poor and the privileged few. In his dream, he tries to explain to his friends including Edith Bartlett the horrendous nature of the 19th century and the joys of 20th-century society.

They become furious with him and will not listen. When he awakens, he finds that he is still in the year Bellamy claimed that all people voluntarily conformed to the new society of equality based on solidarity and camaraderie. He maintained that everyone is perfectly satisfied with an arrangement of the equal distribution of property. Based on an understanding of human nature, it is improbable, unrealistic, and absurd that people living in a capitalist system would surrender to this new arrangement that eliminates money, the profit motive, social status, individualism, and materialism. No details are provided regarding how this change occurred.


What made people no longer care about money, wealth, and property? Bellamy simply said that it was the equal distribution of property that led to tremendous moral improvement and to the elimination of crime and wickedness. He presented this situation as an accomplished fact that occurred early during the 20th century.

Hamlet: looking backwards - The British Library

This certainly goes against what we know about human nature. Crimes are committed no matter what system is in effect. What about the problem of incentives and motivation in a socialist economy? This is a great difficulty for Looking Backward and for Bellamy. How and why will people do things without incentives? Bellamy has a hard time explaining why people work hard when their material circumstances will not be affected. His system of prizes, deprivations, and love of country is certainly not adequate or persuasive. People are motivated differently and some are not motivated at all.

Bellamy puts a great deal of faith in centralized government and very little in individual initiative. Knowledge and opportunities are constantly changing, highly local, and individuated. Individuals may seek to attain their goals and values, to better the conditions of their lives, to accomplish something outstanding, and so on. Capitalism offers freedom and a variety of goods and services. Socialism, on the other hand, stifles incentives, discourages originality, fosters political corruption, eliminates the diversification and differentiation of goods and services and encourages people to act in the same ways.

There are also problems in Looking Backward with respect to deciding what to produce and how to allocate what is produced. Bellamy emphasizes the distinction between production and distribution. However, he has bureaucrats make both production and allocation decisions rather than relying on market responses as would be done under a capitalist system. There are just too many details in complexities to be grasped by Utopian planners who are much more concerned with wholes than with particulars. According to Austrian economist Ludwig von Mises, it is impossible to have rational central planning under socialism.

Without market-based prices, decision-making by central planners would be irrational and arbitrary. Because of the elimination of market-based prices, a centralized planned economy would be unable to allocate resources rationally. Socialism is inherently unworkable, destroys individual motivation, and suppresses the means of economic calculation. Monetary calculation is a tool of action. It is prices, articulated through the common denominator of money, that make economic calculation possible.

Socialism destroys the incentives of profits and losses, private ownership of property, and the benefits of competition. Without market prices to convey information to decision-makers, there would be no competition and no profit-or-loss system. Competitively determined market prices permit individuals to assess the relative values of scarce means in competing applications.

Market prices are used to discover relative values of alternative uses of goods and services. The social function of the price system is to promote the use of knowledge in society by making calculations possible.

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Calculation is necessary for a person to determine the best allocation of his scarce resources. Rational economic calculation depends on the shorthand signals of market prices to make decisions regarding the alternative uses of scarce resources. Looking Backward is the story of an overweening state that supplies too much. The novel portrays a world in which it is permissible to obtain things from a government agency but not from an individual producer or seller.

Such buying and selling is thought to be antisocial. Bellamy likes the notion of conscious design, appreciates the need to organize and administer production, and calls for public ownership and management of the means of production, an industrial army, equal income, and a welfare system. He apparently condemns the market system because it does not result from deliberate design.

He does not understand that something can be useful, and even be superior, even if it is not the result of the articulated rationality of central planners. Or is it his inscrutable sanctioning of it perhaps in the first scene? Robert and Jerry are homosocial rather than gay, but there are undercurrents. Peeling back strips of time layer by layer, the piece takes three friends — a composer, a lyricist, and a magazine writer — from embitterment and compromise in back to the tingling hope of youth in when the world lay all before them and they gathered on a New York rooftop to watch Sputnik.

A run-of-the-mill composer might have registered the passage of time through changing fashions in music. Instead, Sondheim unforgettably communicates it by reversing the principles of reprise and quotation that are conventional in musical scores. As emotionally stirring as it is ingenious. I thought it unlikely. Now I am not so sure.

You finish off as an orgasm. I thought you were the result of one possibly two. So far, so graphic. How much memory are you allowed of the future you have already experienced as you march forward into your ineffable past. The film alternates between a black and white strand that proceeds chronologically and one in colour whose reverse sequence one step forward, two steps back is designed to give you a taste of the perplexity experienced by the protagonist. Leonard was an insurance man whose job was to uncover fraud.

Now he is suffering from chronic short-term memory loss as a result of a blow to the head from the thugs who raped and killed his wife. His obsessive mission to run them down is hampered by his condition; to keep track of what has just happened, he has to resort to taking Polaroid photos and preserving information in indelible tattoos on his body. The structure allows us to see twice and to reassess sequences that leave him bewildered about who to trust.

Insurance policies tend to backfire in most drama, but in backwards-moving plays particularly. We have seen the future and it does not work. Memento finds an arresting metaphor for the worrying evaporation of memories in Polaroid photos. Time is not reversible. Except that that makes it seem facile whereas prodigious technical powers have gone into the book. A sickening exercise in misplaced faux-sublimity? To my ear, this category of writing has produced some really impressive feats.

Harold Pinter gave his friend, Samuel Beckett , Betrayal to read a copy was by the bed where he died. You can find our Community Guidelines in full here. Want to discuss real-world problems, be involved in the most engaging discussions and hear from the journalists? Try Independent Premium free for 1 month. Independent Premium Comments can be posted by members of our membership scheme, Independent Premium.

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Subscribe Now Subscribe Now. Final Say. Long reads. Lib Dems. US Politics. Theresa May. Jeremy Corbyn. Robert Fisk. Mark Steel. Janet Street-Porter. John Rentoul. Chuka Ummuna. Shappi Khorsandi. Gina Miller. Our view. Sign the petition. Spread the word. Steve Coogan. Rugby union. Motor racing. US sports. Rugby League. Movers List. Geoffrey Macnab. Tech news. Tech culture. News videos. Explainer videos.

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The predicament of the young prince, Segismundo, calls to mind the Chinese sage's story of the man who dreams he is a butterfly and wakes to wonder whether he is actually a butterfly dreaming he is a man. This youth is at the mercy of political fluctuation: he's been imprisoned in a dark tower from birth because of a horoscope that predicted he would usurp the throne.

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Then, when there are anxieties about the succession, his father has him drugged, brought to the Palace, and bafflingly treated like a prince. A poetic piece that tackles deep metaphysical, political matters in a dazzlingly theatrical way. A play of astonishing breakthroughs. There had been plenty of soliloquies in Elizabethan drama beforehand. But no-one had ever talked to an audience like Hamlet. He doesn't just let you into his confidence, he lets you into his consciousness; the best portrayals make you feel that you are soul-to-soul with this figure.

It's his capacity for searching introspection that gets in the way and disqualifies Hamlet as a revenge hero: he's rather wonderfully miscast. Hamlet is brilliantly self-reflexive, constantly probing its own theatricality. Feminism and expressionism collide in US playwright Sophie Treadwell's extraordinary vision of a mechanised, dehumanising metropolis. She's a stenographer, a sensitive cog in the machine who is blackmailed by her mother into marriage with a boss who revolts her, and ends up condemned to the electric chair for murdering him.

Backwards: Returning to Our Source for Answers

Treadwell's nagging dialogue, with its jangly staccato and syncopated telegraphese, uncannily anticipates Harold Pinter and David Mamet. In Gogol's great phantasmagoric farce, an impecunious clerk newly arrived from St Petersburg is mistakenly assumed to be the eponymous inspector by the corrupt mayor and officials of this provincial town. Panic drives these paranoid locals to project a false identity onto this stranger.

That would have been a good enough joke. Gogol, though, gives it an inspired, twist. His penniless nonenity turns out to be driven by an equivalent dread of being recognised as one of life's losers. So when he twigs to their exploitable mistake, he treats their absurd respect not to mention their bribes as long-overdue recognition of his true worth and becomes airborne with grandiosity. It's the interlocking lunacies that generate the comic delirium in this Russian masterpiece.

One of Pinter's most haunting and unnerving pieces. A married couple, Kate and Deeley, play games of power and possessiveness with the wife's former flatmate, Anna, who comes to visit for the first time in 20 years. The piece is horribly preoccupied with the use people make of selective — and conceivably invented — memories as weapon or way of gaining the upper hand.

The best Jacobean tragedy outside Shakespeare, The Changeling also seems to anticipate film noir. The heroine hires a shady type to bump off her fiance. This villain has a facial disfigurement, but the piece is alert to how perversely attracted we are to what repels us. The assassin demands her virginity as his blood-money and the slide into shadowy corruption becomes inexorable. There is a subplot in a madhouse that is designed as a distorted mirror of the main action in its obsession with disguise, lunacy, and sex. This Pulitzer-winning American playwright explores the history of her great-grandmother in early 20th century New York.

Esther is a black seamstress — unmarried and illiterate — who sews ravishingly beautiful garments for other women to wear on their wedding nights. She gets what could be a last chance of happiness but it's destroyed in circumstances that are never sentimentalised. The sensual feel of fine fabric her means of supporting and expressing herself is conveyed with gorgeous descriptive power. Intimate Apparel manages to be uplifting without ever losing its irreverent humour. Sophocles's play is still the most powerful ever written about the conflict between our obligations to the state and our duty to the ties of kinship.

Antigone defies her uncle Kreon, the new ruler of Thebes, by burying her brother Polyneikes. He had brought an army against his native city and Kreon, in these politically volatile times, wants his corpse left for the dogs as an exemplary desecration. The philosopher Hegel saw this as the quintessence of true tragedy: not a conflict between good and evil, but between right and right. In fact, productions nowadays tend to come down in favour of Antigone and her self-sacrificing intransigence.

Richard Bean had the inspired idea of transposing Goldoni's 18th century commedia dell'arte romp from Venice to Brighton in Our jack-the-lad hero — frantically trying to hold down a pair of jobs, unbeknownst to either boss — is a failed skiffle player. The complications are deliciously warped. One character does a bunk to Brighton disguised as her psychotic twin brother who has been bumped off by her posh twit of a boyfriend in a gangland brawl. Still with me? The dialogue is naughty and knowing, but there's a terrific innocent joy to the physical clowning which peaks in the delirious sequence where our hero has to dish up lunch to the two masters at the same time.

A supreme example of how a writer can make a play by putting together a triptych of miniatures. Holman was brought up in the pacifist tradition and Making Noise Quietly looks at the long-range effects of war in three chance encounters. In the first, set in a Kent field in , a northern Quaker and an uninhibited London aesthete discuss their reasons for not fighting. The third is set in the Black Forest in An English private, gone AWOL with his disturbed eight-year-old stepson, come into testing collision with a rich German businesswoman who survived the Holocaust.

Writing of rare sensitivity and cumulative power. He wrote it as a vehicle for himself and Gertrude Lawrence, with indecent speed. The play centres on two divorcees who, five years after their split, bump into each other on adjacent hotel balconies while on the first night of honeymoons with their new spouses. An elegantly contrived coincidence followed by a pattern of cheekily reversed expectations: most comedies end in marriage; this one begins with nobbled nuptials as the couple unceremoniously ditch their second partners and abscond to Paris together.

Elyot and Amanda are the kind of flighty egotistical couple that can neither live together nor apart. The word AIDS was never mentioned by the President, and the struggle to find a cure was hampered by a lack of government recognition. Kushner retaliated by putting gay men centre stage in an epic that shows them fighting to forge their private and public destinies.

The piece rages from Antarctica and the damaged ozone layer to a baroque heaven that god has abandoned. Prophetic angels crash through ceilings. The presiding demon of the piece is one of drama's greatest monsters: the incorrigible and shameless Roy Cohn was a real-life Republican fixer and mentor to the young Donald Trump. A middle-aged woman is buried in a mound of earth first up to the waist then, after the interval, up to the neck. It is a sight that has never lost its capacity to startle. Except that his texts are great and this one is superb beyond belief.

This enormous autobiographical drama is so raw and unremitting in its revelations about his dysfunctional Irish-Catholic family that the author left instructions — mercifully disobeyed by his widow — that the play was not to be performed until 25 years after his death. You can understand the trepidation. Long Day's Journey plunges deep into the tortured heart of the Tyrones — James, the acclaimed actor who sold out to commercial success, his wife Mary who has recently relapsed into morphine addiction, and their two sons.