Marxism is a term that came about in the mid-to-late 19th century. It was inspired by the German philosophers Karl Marx and Friedrich Engles. Marxism takes into account economic, sociological, philosophical, and a revolutionary view. The foundation of this theory is built off of a materialist understanding of societal development. Basically a capitalist world brought to a revolution will result in socialism. Then, that socialism mixed with the advancing of technology will leave the world in communism. Marxism recognizes economic crises, potential crises, and provides different possible outcomes for each. Morris’s novel was integrated with this idea of Marxism. There is not one defining moment where this is most apparent, but rather it is subtly shown continuously. During the time this book was being written, in the Victorian Era of the late 1800’s, this idea by Marx and Engles was beginning to spread. Morris took their idea and gave it life within his novel by providing readers with a guide and an actual scenario in the form of a story to apply this theory.
A few examples where this can be found in the text is during Old Hammond’s explanation to Guest about his world. “..we have ceased to be artificially foolish” (54). In the novel the word artificially is italicized to emphasis that the social construction and expectations of the educational system in place is not particularly useful to those in the school systems. Another example where Morris really challenges the normal and accepted idea of the world is when Guests comments “I haven’t seen any poor people about- not one” (24), and in response Dick reply’s “No, naturally; if anybody is poorly, he is likely to be within doors, or at best crawling about the garden: but i don’t know of any one sick at preset. Why should you expect to see poorly people on the road?” (24). This complete confusion of poor people is a good example of how Morris takes away the familiarity of the world from the reader. In this new world, there is not poor people because money is not an issue. Everyone is happy with what they have and work for pleasure. This idea was coming about rapidly during the late 19th century and Morris’s novel captures Marxism perfectly.
Hirsch, E.D, Joseph F. Kett, and James Trefil. The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy/ What Every American Needs To Know. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 2002. Print.
Morris, William. News From Nowhere. London: Reeves and Turner, 1891. Print.