It gives you the sense of the forwardness of history as well as the backwardness.
A palpable desolation—and the feeling of what the Chinese call luohou, or backwardness—hangs in the air.
To some, this will look like progress, a move away from the backwardness of rural life.
c.1300, from abakward, from Old English on bæc (see back (adv.)) + -weard adjectival and adverbial suffix (see -ward). Old English had the adverb bæcling. As an adjective, from 1550s. Meaning "behindhand with regard to progress" is first attested 1690s. To ring bells backward (from lowest to highest), c.1500, was a signal of alarm for fire or invasion, or to express dismay. Another Middle English word for "backward, wrongly" was arseward (c.1400).