The New World Order, by H. G. Wells

That's French for "the ancient system," as in the ancient system of feudal privileges and the exercise of autocratic power over the peasants. The ancien regime never goes away, like vampires and dinosaur bones they are always hidden in the earth, exercising a mysterious influence. It is not paranoia to believe that the elites scheme against the common man. Inform yourself about their schemes here.

The New World Order, by H. G. Wells

Postby admin » Sat Oct 12, 2019 12:11 am

The New World Order: Whether it is attainable, how it can be attained, and what sort of world a world at peace will have to be
by H. G. Wells
January, 1940



Table of Contents:

1. The End of an Age
2. Open Conference
3. Disruptive Forces
4. Class-War
5. Unsalted Youth
6. Socialism Unavoidable
7. Federation
8. The New Type of Revolution
9. Politics for the Sane Man
10. Declaration of the Rights of Man
11. International Politics
12. World Order in Being
Site Admin
Posts: 31752
Joined: Thu Aug 01, 2013 5:21 am

Re: The New World Order, by H. G. Wells

Postby admin » Sat Oct 12, 2019 12:12 am


IN THIS SMALL BOOK I want to set down as compactly, clearly and usefully as possible the gist of what I have learnt about war and peace in the course of my life. I am not going to write peace propaganda here. I am going to strip down certain general ideas and realities of primary importance to their framework, and so prepare a nucleus of useful knowledge for those who have to go on with this business of making a world peace. I am not going to persuade people to say "Yes, yes" for a world peace; already we have had far too much abolition of war by making declarations and signing resolutions; everybody wants peace or pretends to want peace, and there is no need to add even a sentence more to the vast volume of such ineffective stuff. I am simply attempting to state the things we must do and the price we must pay for world peace if we really intend to achieve it.

Until the Great War, the First World War, I did not bother very much about war and peace. Since then I have almost specialised upon this problem. It is not very easy to recall former states of mind out of which, day by day and year by year, one has grown, but I think that in the decades before 1914 not only I but most of my generation - in the British Empire, America, France and indeed throughout most of the civilised world - thought that war was dying out.

So it seemed to us. It was an agreeable and therefore a readily acceptable idea. We imagined the Franco-German War of 1870-71 and the Russo-Turkish War of 1877-78 were the final conflicts between Great Powers, that now there was a Balance of Power sufficiently stable to make further major warfare impracticable.
A Triple Alliance faced a Dual Alliance and neither had much reason for attacking the other. We believed war was shrinking to mere expeditionary affairs on the outskirts of our civilisation, a sort of frontier police business. Habits of tolerant intercourse, it seemed, were being strengthened every year that the peace of the Powers remained unbroken.

There was indeed a mild armament race going on; mild by our present standards of equipment; the armament industry was a growing and enterprising on; but we did not see the full implication of that; we preferred to believe that the increasing general good sense would be strong enough to prevent these multiplying guns from actually going off and hitting anything. And we smiled indulgently at uniforms and parades and army manoeuvres. They were the time-honoured toys and regalia of kings and emperors. They were part of the display side of life and would never get to actual destruction and killing. I do not think that exaggerates the easy complacency of, let us say, 1895, forty-five years ago. It was a complacency that lasted with most of us up to 1914. In 1914 hardly anyone in Europe or America below the age of fifty had seen anything of war in his own country.

The world before 1900 seemed to be drifting steadily towards a tacit but practical unification. One could travel without a passport over the larger part of Europe; the Postal Union delivered one’s letters uncensored and safely from Chile to China; money, based essentially on gold, fluctuated only very slightly; and the sprawling British Empire still maintained a tradition of free trade, equal treatment and open-handedness to all comers round and about the planet. In the United States you could go for days and never see a military uniform. Compared with to-day that was, upon the surface at any rate, an age of easy-going safety and good humour. Particularly for the North Americans and the Europeans.

But apart from that steady, ominous growth of the armament industry there were other and deeper forces at work that were preparing trouble. The Foreign Offices of the various sovereign states had not forgotten the competitive traditions of the eighteenth century. The admirals and generals were contemplating with something between hostility and fascination, the hunger weapons the steel industry was gently pressing into their hands. Germany did not share the self-complacency of the English-speaking world; she wanted a place in the sun; there was increasing friction about the partition of the raw material regions of Africa; the British suffered from chronic Russophobia with regard to their vast apportions in the East, and set themselves to nurse Japan into a modernised imperialist power; and also they "remembered Majuba"; the United States were irritated by the disorder of Cuba and felt that the weak, extended Spanish possessions would be all the better for a change of management. So the game of Power Politics went on, but it went on upon the margins of the prevailing peace. There were several wars and changes of boundaries, but they involved no fundamental disturbance of the general civilised life; they did not seem to threaten its broadening tolerations and understandings in any fundamental fashion. Economic stresses and social trouble stirred and muttered beneath the orderly surfaces of political life, but threatened no convulsion. The idea of altogether eliminating war, of clearing what was left of it away, was in the air, but it was free from any sense of urgency. The Hague Tribunal was established and there was a steady dissemination of the conceptions of arbitration and international law. It really seemed to many that the peoples of the earth were settling down in their various territories to a litigious rather than a belligerent order. If there was much social injustice it was being mitigated more and more by a quickening sense of social decency. Acquisitiveness conducted itself with decorum and public-spiritedness was in fashion. Some of it was quite honest public-spiritedness.

In those days, and they are hardly more than half a lifetime behind us, no one thought of any sort of world administration. That patchwork of great Powers and small Powers seemed the most reasonable and practicable method of running the business of mankind. Communications were far too difficult for any sort of centralised world controls. Around the World in Eighty Days, when it was published seventy years ago, seemed an extravagant fantasy. It was a world without telephone or radio, with nothing swifter than a railway train or more destructive than the earlier types of H.E. shell. They were marvels. It was far more convenient to administer that world of the Balance of Power in separate national areas and, since there were such limited facilities for peoples to get at one another and do each other mischiefs, there seemed no harm in ardent patriotism and the complete independence of separate sovereign states.

Economic life was largely directed by irresponsible private businesses and private finance which, because of their private ownership, were able to spread out their unifying transactions in a network that paid little attention to frontiers and national, racial or religious sentimentality. "Business" was much more of a world commonwealth than the political organisations. There were many people, especially in America, who imagined that "Business" might ultimately unify the world and governments sink into subordination to its network.

Nowadays we can be wise after the event and we can see that below this fair surface of things, disruptive forces were steadily gathering strength. But these disruptive forces played a comparatively small role in the world spectacle of half a century ago, when the ideas of that older generation which still dominates our political life and the political education of its successors, were formed. It is from the conflict of those Balance of Power and private enterprise ideas, half a century old, that one of the main stresses of our time arises. These ideas worked fairly well in their period and it is still with extreme reluctance that our rulers, teachers, politicians, face the necessity for a profound mental adaptation of their views, methods and interpretations to these disruptive forces that once seemed so negligible and which are now shattering their old order completely.

It was because of this belief in a growing good-will among nations, because of the general satisfaction with things as they were, that the German declarations of war in 1914 aroused such a storm of indignation throughout the entire comfortable world. It was felt that the German Kaiser had broken the tranquillity of the world club, wantonly and needlessly. The war was fought "against the Hohenzollerns." They were to be expelled from the club, certain punitive fines were to be paid and all would be well. That was the British idea of 1914. This out-of-date war business was then to be cleared up once for all by a mutual guarantee by all the more respectable members of the club through a League of Nations. There was no apprehension of any deeper operating causes in that great convulsion on the part of the worthy elder statesmen who made the peace. And so Versailles and its codicils.

For twenty years the disruptive forces have gone on growing beneath the surface of that genteel and shallow settlement, and twenty years there has been no resolute attack upon the riddles with which their growth confronts us. For all that period of the League of Nations has been the opiate of liberal thought in the world.

To-day there is war to get rid of Adolf Hitler, who has now taken the part of the Hohenzollerns in the drama. He too has outraged the Club Rules and he too is to be expelled. The war, the Chamberlain-Hitler War, is being waged so far by the British Empire in quite the old spirit. It has learnt nothing and forgotten nothing. There is the same resolute disregard of any more fundamental problem.

Still the minds of our comfortable and influential ruling-class people refuse to accept the plain intimation that their time is over, that the Balance of Power and uncontrolled business methods cannot continue, and that Hitler, like the Hohenzollerns, is a mere offensive pustule on the face of a deeply ailing world. To get rid of him and his Nazis will be no more a cure for the world’s ills than scraping will heal measles. The disease will manifest itself in some new eruption. It is the system of nationalist individualism and uncoordinated enterprise that is the world’s disease, and it is the whole system that has to go. It has to be reconditioned down to its foundations or replaced. It cannot hope to "muddle through" amiably, wastefully and dangerously, a second time.

World peace means all that much revolution. More and more of us begin to realise that it cannot mean less.

The first thing, therefore that has to be done in thinking out the primary problems of world peace is to realise this, that we are living in the end of a definite period of history, the period of the sovereign states. As we used to say in the eighties with ever-increasing truth: "We are in an age of transition". Now we get some measure of the acuteness of the transition. It is a phase of human life which may lead, as I am trying to show, either to a new way of living for our species or else to a longer or briefer dégringolade of violence, misery, destruction, death and the extinction of mankind. These are not rhetorical phrases I am using here; I mean exactly what I say, the disastrous extinction of mankind.

That is the issue before us. It is no small affair of parlour politics we have to consider. As I write, in the moment, thousands of people are being killed, wounded, hunted, tormented, ill-treated, delivered up to the most intolerable and hopeless anxiety and destroyed morally and mentally, and there is nothing in sight at present to arrest this spreading process and prevent its reaching you and yours. It is coming for you and yours now at a great pace. Plainly in so far as we are rational foreseeing creatures there is nothing for any of us now but to make this world peace problem the ruling interest and direction of our lives. If we run away from it it will pursue and get us. We have to face it. We have to solve it or be destroyed by it. It is as urgent and comprehensive as that.
Site Admin
Posts: 31752
Joined: Thu Aug 01, 2013 5:21 am

Re: The New World Order, by H. G. Wells

Postby admin » Sat Oct 12, 2019 12:13 am


BEFORE WE EXAMINE WHAT I have called so far the "disruptive forces" in the current social order, let me underline one primary necessity for the most outspoken free discussion of the battling organisations and the crumbling institutions amidst which we lead our present uncomfortable and precarious lives. There must be no protection for leaders and organisations from the most searching criticism, on the plea that out country is or may be at war. Or on any pretence. We must talk openly, widely and plainly. The war is incidental; the need for revolutionary reconstruction is fundamental. None of us are clear as yet upon some of the most vital questions before us, we are not lucid enough in our own minds to be ambiguous, and a mumbling tactfulness and indirect half-statements made with an eye upon some censor, will confuse our thoughts and the thoughts of those with whom we desire understanding, to the complete sterilisation and defeat of every reconstructive effort.

We want to talk and tell exactly what our ideas and feelings are, not only to our fellow citizens, but to our allies, to neutrals and, above all, to the people who are marshalled in arms against us. We want to get the same sincerity from them. Because until we have worked out a common basis of ideas with them, peace will be only an uncertain equilibrium while fresh antagonisms develop.

Concurrently with this war we need a great debate. We want every possible person in the world to take part in that debate. It is something much more important than the actual warfare. It is intolerable to think of this storm of universal distress leading up to nothing but some "conference" of diplomatists out of touch with the world, with secret sessions, ambiguous "understandings." . . . Not twice surely can that occur. And yet what is going to prevent its recurring?

It is quite easy to define the reasonable limits of censorship in a belligerent country. It is manifest that the publication of any information likely to be of the slightest use to an enemy must be drastically anticipated and suppressed; not only direct information, for example, but intimations and careless betrayals about the position and movements of ships, troops, camps, depots of munitions, food supplies, and false reports of defeats and victories and coming shortages, anything that may lead to blind panic and hysteria, and so forth and so on. But the matter takes on a different aspect altogether when it comes to statements and suggestions that may affect public opinion in one’s own country or abroad, and which may help us towards wholesome and corrective political action.

One of the more unpleasant aspects of a state of war under modern conditions is the appearance of a swarm of individuals, too clever by half, in positions of authority. Excited, conceited, prepared to lie, distort and generally humbug people into states of acquiescence, resistance, indignation, vindictiveness, doubt and mental confusion, states of mind supposed to be conductive to a final military victory. These people love to twist and censor facts.
It gives them a feeling of power; if they cannot create they can at least prevent and conceal. Particularly they poke themselves in between us and the people with whom we are at war to distort any possible reconciliation. They sit, filled with the wine of their transitory powers, aloof from the fatigues and dangers of conflict, pulling imaginary strings in people’s minds.

In Germany popular thought is supposed to be under the control of Herr Dr Goebbels; in Great Britain we writers have been invited to place ourselves at the disposal of some Ministry of Information, that is to say at the disposal of hitherto obscure and unrepresentative individuals, and write under its advice. Officials from the British Council and the Conservative Party Headquarters appear in key positions in this Ministry of Information. That curious and little advertised organisation I have just mentioned, the creation I am told of Lord Lloyd, that British Council, sends emissaries abroad, writers, well-dressed women and other cultural personages, to lecture, charm and win over foreign appreciation for British characteristics, for British scenery, British political virtues and so forth. Somehow this is supposed to help something or other. Quietly, unobtrusively, this has gone on. Maybe these sample British give unauthorised assurances but probably they do little positive harm. But they ought not to be employed at all. Any government propaganda is contrary to the essential spirit of democracy. The expression of opinion and collective thought should be outside the range of government activities altogether. It should be the work of free individuals whose prominence is dependent upon the response and support of the general mind.

In 1928, the leading British Round Table strategist, H.G. Wells, wrote The Open Conspiracy: Blue Prints for a World Revolution (New York: Doubleday, Doran and Company). The Open Conspiracy is Wells' Mein Kampf -- a recipe for how to establish a world government that would, over time, perhaps even over generations, recruit individuals and set up institutions to create a world "directorate" to run a "new world order."

Wells does not stand in opposition to fascism or communism, he merely sees these forms as experiments or immature expressions of the "new order" which will be replaced by his vision of the new order.

"The Open Conspiracy is not so much a socialism," says Wells, "as a more comprehensive scheme that has eaten and assimilated whatever was digestible of its socialist forebears." He even suggests that "young people" be incorporated into the Open Conspiracy through organizations like "the Italian fasci." ....

By the time the first edition of Wells' Open Conspiracy bible had appeared, institutions like the Rhodes Trust, the Round Table, the British Fabian Society, the Royal Institute of International Affairs, and its New York City adjunct, the Council on Foreign Relations, were already engaged in the process of recruiting successive generations of agents, agents-of-influence, and agents provocateurs, to the One World banner. Wells' The Open Conspiracy gave focus to the effort, stating bluntly the long-term objectives, and highlighting the critical importance of selecting and recruiting the best and the brightest, albeit corrupted, minds -- what Wells called the "serious minority."

-- 'The Open Conspiracy': H.G. Wells Plots The World Empire, by Michele Steinberg

But here I have to make amends to Lord Lloyd. I was led to believe that the British Council was responsible for Mr. Teeling, the author of Crisis for Christianity, and I said as much in The Fate of Homo Sapiens. I now unsay it. Mr. Teeling, I gather, was sent out upon his journeys by a Catholic newspaper. The British Council was entirely innocent of him.

It is not only that the Ministries of Information and Propaganda do their level best to divert the limited gifts and energies of such writers, lecturers and talkers as we possess, to the production of disingenuous muck that will muddle the public mind and mislead the enquiring foreigner, but that they show a marked disposition to stifle any free and independent utterances that my seem to traverse their own profound and secret plans for the salvation of mankind.

Everywhere now it is difficult to get adequate, far-reaching publicity for outspoken discussion of the way the world is going, and the political, economic and social forces that carry us along. This is not so much due to deliberate suppression as to the general disorder into which human affairs are dissolving. There is indeed in the Atlantic world hardly a sign as yet of that direct espionage upon opinion that obliterates the mental life of the intelligent Italian or German or Russian to-day almost completely; one may still think what one likes, say what one likes and write what one likes, but nevertheless there is already an increasing difficulty in getting bold, unorthodox views heard and read. Newspapers are afraid upon all sorts of minor counts, publishers, with such valiant exceptions as the publishers of this matter, are morbidly discreet; they get Notice D to avoid this or that particular topic; there are obscure boycotts and trade difficulties hindering the wide diffusion of general ideas in countless ways. I do not mean there is any sort of organised conspiracy to suppress discussion, but I do say that the Press, the publishing and bookselling organisations in our free countries, provide a very ill-organised and inadequate machinery for the ventilation and distribution of thought.

Publishers publish for nothing but safe profits; it would astound a bookseller to tell him he was part of the world’s educational organisation or a publisher’s traveller, that he existed for any other purpose than to book maximum orders for best sellers and earn a record commission - letting the other stuff, the highbrow stuff and all that, go hang. They do not understand that they ought to put public service before gain. They have no inducement to do so and no pride in their function. Theirs is the morale of a profiteering world. Newspapers like to insert brave-looking articles of conventional liberalism, speaking highly of peace and displaying a noble vagueness about its attainment; now we are at war they will publish the fiercest attacks upon the enemy - because such attacks are supposed to keep up the fighting spirit of the country; but any ideas that are really loudly and clearly revolutionary they dare not circulate at all. Under these baffling conditions there is no thorough discussion of the world outlook whatever, anywhere. The democracies are only a shade better than the dictatorships in this respect. It is ridiculous to represent them as realms of light at issue with darkness.

This great debate upon the reconstruction of the world is a thing more important and urgent than the war, and there exist no adequate media for the utterance and criticism and correction of any broad general convictions. There is a certain fruitless and unproductive spluttering of constructive ideas, but there is little sense of sustained enquiry, few real interchanges, inadequate progress, nothing is settled, nothing is dismissed as unsound and nothing is won permanently. No one seems to hear what anyone else is saying. That is because there is no sense of an audience for these ideologists. There is no effective audience saying rudely and obstinately: "What A. has said, seems important. Will B. and C., instead of bombinating in the void, tell us exactly where and why they differ from A.? And now we have got to the common truth of A., B., C., and D. Here is F. saying something. Will he be so good as to correlate what he has to say with A., B., C., and D.?"

But there is no such background of an intelligently observant and critical world audience in evidence. There are a few people here and there reading and thinking in disconnected fragments. This is all the thinking our world is doing in the face of planetary disaster. The universities, bless them! are in uniform or silent.

We need to air our own minds; we need frank exchanges, if we are to achieve any common understanding. We need to work out a clear conception of the world order we would prefer to this present chaos, we need to dissolve or compromise upon our differences so that we may set our faces with assurance towards an attainable world peace. The air is full of the panaceas of half-wits, none listening to the others and most of them trying to silence the others in their impatience. Thousands of fools are ready to write us a complete prescription for our world troubles. Will people never realise their own ignorance and incompleteness, from which arise this absolute necessity for the plainest statement of the realities of the problem, for the most exhaustive and unsparing examination of differences of opinion, and for the most ruthless canvassing of every possibility, however unpalatable it may seem at first, of the situation?

Before anything else, therefore, in this survey of the way to world peace, I put free speech and vigorous publication. It is the thing best worth fighting for. It is the essence of your personal honour. It is your duty as a world citizen to do what you can for that. You have not only to resist suppressions, you have to fight your way out of the fog. If you find your bookseller or newsagent failing to distribute any type of publication whatever - even if you are in entire disagreement with the views of that publication - you should turn the weapon of the boycott upon the offender and find another bookseller or newsagent for everything you read. The would-be world citizen should subscribe also to such organisation as the National Council for Civil Liberties; he should use any advantage his position may give him to check suppression of free speech; and he should accustom himself to challenge nonsense politely but firmly and say fearlessly and as clearly as possible what is in his mind and to listen as fearlessly to whatever is said to him. So that he may know better either through reassurance or correction. To get together with other people to argue and discuss, to think and organise and then implement thought is the first duty of every reasonable man.

This world of ours is going to pieces. It has to be reconstructed and it can only be effectively reconstructed in the light. Only the free, clear, open mind can save us, and these difficulties and obstructions on our line of thought are as evil as children putting obstacles on a railway line or scattering nails on an automobile speed track.

This great world debate must go on, and it must go on now. Now while the guns are still thudding, is the time for thought. It is incredibly foolish to talk as so many people do of ending the war and then having a World Conference to inaugurate a new age. So soon as the fighting stops the real world conference, the live discussion, will stop, too. The diplomats and politicians will assemble with an air of profound competence and close the doors upon the outer world and resume - Versailles. While the silenced world gapes and waits upon their mysteries.
Site Admin
Posts: 31752
Joined: Thu Aug 01, 2013 5:21 am

Re: The New World Order, by H. G. Wells

Postby admin » Sat Oct 12, 2019 12:13 am


AND NOW LET US come to the disruptive forces that have reduced that late-nineteenth-century dream of a powerful world patchwork of more and more civilised states linked by an ever-increasing financial and economic interdependence, to complete incredibility, and so forced upon every intelligent mind the need to work out a new conception of the World that ought to be. It is supremely important that the nature of these disruptive forces should be clearly understood and kept in mind. To grasp them is to hold the clues to the world’s present troubles. To forget about them, even for a moment, is to lose touch with essential reality and drift away into minor issues.

The first group of these forces is what people are accustomed to speak of as "the abolition of distance" and "the change of scale" in human operations. This "abolition of distance" began rather more than a century ago, and its earlier effects were not disruptive at all. It knit together the spreading United States of America over distances that might otherwise have strained their solidarity to the breaking-point, and it enabled the sprawling British Empire to sustain contacts round the whole planet.

The disruptive influence of the abolition of distance appeared only later. Let us be clear upon its essential significance. For what seemed like endless centuries the swiftest means of locomotion had been the horse on the high-road, the running man, the galley and the uncertain, weather-ruled sailing ship. (There was the Dutchman on skates on skates on his canals, but that was an exceptional culmination of speed and not for general application.) The political, social and imaginative life of man for all those centuries was adapted to these limiting conditions. They determined the distances to which marketable goods could conveniently be sent, the limits to which the ruler could send his orders and his solders, the bounds set to getting news, and indeed the whole scale of living. There could be very little real community feeling beyond the range of frequent intercourse.

Human life fell naturally therefore into areas determined by the interplay between these limitations and such natural obstacles as seas and mountains. Such countries as France, England, Egypt, Japan, appeared and reappeared in history like natural, necessary things, and though there were such larger political efforts as the Roman Empire, they never attained an enduring unity. The Roman Empire held together like wet blotting-paper; it was always falling to pieces. The older Empires, beyond their national nuclei, were mere precarious tribute-levying powers. What I have already called the world patchwork of the great and little Powers, was therefore, under the old horse-and-foot and sailing-ship conditions, almost as much a matter of natural necessity as the sizes of trees and animals.

Within a century all this has been changed and we have still to face up to what that change means for us.

First came steam, the steam-railway, the steamship, and then in a quickening crescendo came the internal combustion engine, electrical traction, the motor car, the motor boat, the aeroplane, the transmission of power from central power stations, the telephone, the radio. I feel apologetic in reciting this well-known story. I do so in order to enforce the statement that all the areas that were the most convenient and efficient for the old, time-honoured way of living, became more and more inconveniently close and narrow for the new needs. This applied to every sort of administrative area, from municipalities and urban districts and the range of distributing businesses, up to sovereign states. They were - and for the most part they still are - too small for the new requirements and far too close together. All over the social layout this tightening-up and squeezing together is an inconvenience, but when it comes to the areas of sovereign states it becomes impossibly dangerous. It becomes an intolerable thing; human life cannot go on, with the capitals of most of the civilised countries of the world within an hour’s bombing range of their frontiers, behind which attacks can be prepared and secret preparations made without any form of control. And yet we are still tolerant and loyal to arrangements that seek to maintain this state of affairs and treat it as though nothing else were possible.

The present war for and against Hitler and Stalin and Mr. Chamberlain and so forth, does not even touch upon the essential problem of the abolition of distance. It may indeed destroy everything and still settle nothing. If one could wipe out all the issues of the present conflict, we should still be confronted with the essential riddle, which is the abolition of the boundaries of most existing sovereign states and their merger in some larger Pax. We have to do that if any supportable human life is to go on. Treaties and mutual guarantees are not enough. We have surely learnt enough about the value of treaties during the last half-century to realise that. We have, because of the abolition of distance alone, to gather human affairs together under one common war-preventing control.

But this abolition of distance is only one most vivid aspect of the change in the conditions of human life. Interwoven with that is a general change of scale in human operations. The past hundred years has been an age of invention and discovery beyond the achievements of the preceding three millennia. In a book I published eight years ago, The Work, Wealth and Happiness of Mankind, I tried to summarise the conquest of power and substances that is still going on. There is more power expended in a modern city like Birmingham in a day than we need to keep the whole of Elizabethan England going for a year; there is more destructive energy in a single tank than sufficed the army of William I for the conquest of England. Man is able now to produce or destroy on a scale beyond comparison greater than he could before this storm of invention began. And the consequence is the continual further dislocation of the orderly social life of our great-great-grandfathers. No trade, no profession, is exempt. The old social routines and classifications have been, as people say, "knocked silly". There is no sort of occupation, fisheries, farming, textile work, metal work, mining which is not suffering from constant readjustment to new methods and facilities. Our traditions of trade and distribution flounder after these changes. Skilled occupations disappear in the general liquefaction.

The new power organisations are destroying the forests of the world at headlong speed, ploughing great grazing areas into deserts, exhausting mineral resources, killing off whales, seals and a multitude of rare and beautiful species, destroying the morale of every social type and devastating the planet. The institutions of the private appropriation of land and natural resources generally, and of private enterprise for profit, which did produce a fairly tolerable, stable and "civilised" social life for all but the most impoverished, in Europe, America and East, for some centuries, have been expanded to a monstrous destructiveness by the new opportunities. The patient, nibbling, enterprising profit-seeker of the past, magnified and equipped now with the huge claws and teeth the change of scale has provided for him, has torn the old economic order to rags. Quite apart from war, our planet is being wasted and disorganised. Yet the process goes on, without any general control, more monstrously destructive even than the continually enhanced terrors of modern warfare.

Now it has to be made clear that these two things, the manifest necessity for some collective world control to eliminate warfare and the less generally admitted necessity for a collective control of the economic and biological life of mankind, are aspects of one and the same process. Of the two the disorganisation of the ordinary life which is going on, war or no war, is the graver and least reversible. Both arise out of the abolition of distance and the change of scale, they affect and modify each other, and unless their parallelism and interdependence are recognised, any projects for world federation or anything of the sort are doomed inevitably to frustration.

That is where the League of nations broke down completely. It was legal; it was political. It was devised by an ex-professor of the old-fashioned history assisted by a few politicians. It ignored the vast disorganisation of human life by technical revolutions, big business and modern finance that was going on, of which the Great War itself was scarcely more than a byproduct. It was constituted as though nothing of that sort was occurring.

This war storm which is breaking upon us now, due to the continued fragmentation of human government among a patchwork of sovereign states, is only one aspect of the general need for a rational consolidation of human affairs. The independent sovereign state with its perpetual war threat, armed with the resources of modern mechanical frightfulness, is only the most blatant and terrifying aspect of that same want of a coherent general control that makes overgrown, independent, sovereign, private business organisations and combinations, socially destructive. We should still be at the mercy of the "Napoleons" of commerce and the "Attilas" of finance, if there was not a gun or a battleship or a tank or a military uniform in the world. We should still be sold up and dispossessed.

Political federation, we have to realise, without a concurrent economic collectivisation, is bound to fail. The task of the peace-maker who really desires peace in a new world, involves not merely a political but a profound social revolution, profounder even than the revolution attempted by the Communists in Russia. The Russian Revolution failed not by its extremism but through the impatience, violence and intolerance of its onset, through lack of foresight and intellectual insufficiency. The cosmopolitan revolution to a world collectivism, which is the only alternative to chaos and degeneration before mankind, has to go much further than the Russian; it has to be more thorough and better conceived and its achievement demands a much more heroic and more steadfast thrust.

It serves no useful purpose to shut our eyes to the magnitude and intricacy of the task of making the world peace. These are the basic factors of the case.
Site Admin
Posts: 31752
Joined: Thu Aug 01, 2013 5:21 am

Re: The New World Order, by H. G. Wells

Postby admin » Sat Oct 12, 2019 12:14 am


NOW HERE IT IS necessary to make a distinction which is far too frequently ignored. Collectivisation means the handling of the common affairs of mankind by a common control responsible to the whole community. It means the suppression of go-as-you-please in social and economic affairs just as much as in international affairs. It means the frank abolition of profit-seeking and of every devise by which human+beings contrive to be parasitic on their fellow man. It is the practical realisation of the brotherhood of man through a common control. It means all that and it means no more than that.

The necessary nature of that control, the way to attain it and to maintain it have still to be discussed.

The early forms of socialism were attempts to think out and try out collectivist systems. But with the advent of Marxism, the larger idea of collectivism became entangled with a smaller one, the perpetual conflict of people in any unregulated social system to get the better of one another. Throughout the ages this has been going on. The rich, the powerful generally, the more intelligent and acquisitive have got away with things, and sweated, oppressed, enslaved, bought and frustrated the less intelligent, the less acquisitive and the unwary. The Haves in every generation have always got the better of the Have-nots, and the Have-nots have always resented the privations of their disadvantage.

So it is and so in the uncollectivised world it has always been. The bitter cry of the expropriated man echoes down the ages from ancient Egypt and the Hebrew prophets, denouncing those who grind the faces of the poor. At times the Have-nots have been so uneducated, so helplessly distributed among their more successful fellows that they have been incapable of social disturbance, but whenever such developments as plantation of factory labour, the accumulation of men in seaport towns, the disbanding of armies, famine and so forth, brought together masses of men at the same disadvantage, their individual resentments flowed together and became a common resentment. The miseries underlying human society were revealed. The Haves found themselves assailed by resentful, vindictive revolt.

Let us note that these revolts of the Have-nots throughout the ages have sometimes been very destructive, but that invariably they have failed to make any fundamental change in this old, old story of getting and not getting the upper hand. Sometimes the Have-nots have frightened or otherwise moved the Haves to more decent behaviour. Often the Have-nots have found a Champion who has ridden to power on their wrongs. Then the ricks were burnt or the châteaux. The aristocrats were guillotined and their heads carried on exemplary pikes. Such storms passed and when they passed, there for all practical purposes was the old order returning again; new people but the old inequalities. Returning inevitably, with only slight variations in appearance and phraseology, under the condition of a non-collective social order.

The point to note is that in the unplanned scramble of human life through the centuries of the horse-and-foot period, these incessantly recurring outbreaks of the losers against the winners have never once produced any permanent amelioration of the common lot, or greatly changed the features of the human community. Not once.

The Have-nots have never produced the intelligence and the ability and the Haves have never produced the conscience, to make a permanent alteration of the rules of the game. Slave revolts, peasant revolts, revolts of the proletariat have always been fits of rage, acute social fevers which have passed. The fact remains that history produces no reason for supposing that the Have-nots, considered as a whole, have available any reserves of directive and administrative capacity and disinterested devotion, superior to that of the more successful classes. Morally, intellectually, there is no reason to suppose them better.

Many potentially able people may miss education and opportunity; they may not be inherently inferior but nevertheless they are crippled and incapacitated and kept down. They are spoilt. Many specially gifted people may fail to "make good" in a jostling, competitive, acquisitive world and so fall into poverty and into the baffled, limited ways of living of the commonalty, but they too are exceptions. The idea of a right-minded Proletariat ready to take things over is a dream.

As the collectivist idea has developed out of the original propositions of socialism, the more lucid thinkers have put this age-long bitterness of the Haves and the Have-nots into its proper place as part, as the most distressing part, but still only as part, of the vast wastage of human resources that their disorderly exploitation entailed. In the light of current events they have come to realise more and more clearly that the need and possibility of arresting this waste by a world-wide collectivisation is becoming continually more possible and at the same time imperative. They have had no delusions about the education and liberation that is necessary to gain that end. They have been moved less by moral impulses and sentimental pity and so forth, admirable but futile motives, as by the intense intellectual irritation of living in a foolish and destructive system. They are revolutionaries not because the present way of living is a hard and tyrannous way of living, but because it is from top to bottom exasperatingly stupid.

But thrusting athwart the socialist movement towards collectivisation and its research for some competent directive organisation of the world’s affairs, came the clumsy initiative of Marxism with its class-war dogma, which has done more to misdirect and sterilise human good-will than any other misconception of reality that has ever stultified human effort.

Marx saw the world from a study and through the hazes of a vast ambition. He swam in the current ideologies of his time and so he shared the prevalent socialist drive towards collectivisation. But while his sounder-minded contemporaries were studying means and ends he jumped from a very imperfect understanding of the Trades Union movement in Britain to the wildest generalisations about the social process. He invented and antagonised two phantoms. One was the Capitalist System; the other the Worker.

There never has been anything on earth that could be properly called a Capitalist System. What was the matter with his world was manifestly its entire want of system. What the Socialists were feeling their way towards was the discovery and establishment of a world system.

The Haves of our period were and are a fantastic miscellany of people, inheriting or getting their power and influence by the most various of the interbreeding social solidarity even of a feudal aristocracy or an Indian caste. But Marx, looking rather into his inner consciousness than at any concrete reality, evolved that monster "System" on his Right. Then over against it, still gazing into that vacuum, he discovered on the Left the proletarians being steadily expropriated and becoming class-conscious. They were just as endlessly various in reality as the people at the top of the scramble; in reality but not in the mind of the Communist seer. There they consolidated rapidly.

So while other men toiled at this gigantic problem of collectivisation, Marx found his almost childlishy simple recipe. All you had to do was to tell the workers that they were being robbed and enslaved by this wicked "Capitalist System" devised by the "bourgeoisie". They need only "unite"; they had "nothing to lose but their chains". The wicked Capitalist System was to be overthrown, with a certain vindictive liquidation of "capitalists" in general and the "bourgeoisie" in particular, and a millennium would ensue under a purely workers’ control, which Lenin later on was to crystallise into a phrase of supra-theological mystery, "the dictatorship of the proletariat". The proletarians need learn nothing, plan nothing; they were right and good by nature; they would just "take over". The infinitely various envies, hatreds and resentments of the Have-nots were to fuse into a mighty creative drive. All virtue resided in them; all evil in those who had bettered them. One good thing there was in this new doctrine of the class war, it inculcated a much needed brotherliness among the workers, but it was balanced by the organisation of class hate. So the great propaganda of the class war, with these monstrous falsifications of manifest fact, went forth. Collectivisation would not so much be organised as appear magically when the incubus of Capitalism and all those irritatingly well-to-do people, were lifted off the great Proletarian soul.

Marx was a man incapable in money matters and much bothered by tradesmen’s bills. Moreover he cherished absurd pretensions to aristocracy. The consequence was that he romanced about the lovely life of the Middle Ages as if he were another Belloc and concentrated his animus about the "bourgeoisie", whom he made responsible for all those great disruptive forces in human society that we have considered. Lord Bacon, the Marquis of Worcester, Charles the Second and the Royal Society, people like Cavendish and Joule and Watt for example, all became "bourgeoisie" in his inflamed imagination. "During its reign of scarce a century", he wrote in the Communist Manifesto, "the bourgeoisie has created more powerful, more stupendous forces of production than all preceding generations rolled into one . . . . What earlier generations had the remotest inkling that such productive forces slumbered within the wombs of associated labour?"

"The wombs of associated labour!" (Golly, what a phrase!) The industrial revolution which was a consequence of the mechanical revolution is treated as the cause of it. Could facts be muddled more completely?

And again: " . . . the bourgeois system is no longer able to cope with the abundance of wealth it creates. How does the bourgeoisie overcome these crises? On the one hand, by the compulsory annihilation of a quantity of the productive forces; on the other, by the conquest of new markets and the more thorough exploitation of old ones. With what results? The results are that the way is paved for more widespread and more disastrous crises and that the capacity for averting such crises is lessened.

"The weapons" (Weapons! How that sedentary gentleman in his vast beard adored military images!) "with which the bourgeoisie overthrew feudalism are now being turned against the bourgeoisie itself.

"But the bourgeoisie has not only forged the weapons that will slay it; it has also engendered the men who will use these weapons - the modern workers, the proletarians."

And so here they are, hammer and sickle in hand, chest stuck out, proud, magnificent, commanding, in the Manifesto. But go and look for them yourself in the streets. Go and look at them in Russia.

Even for 1848 this is not intelligent social analysis. It is the outpouring of a man with a B in his bonnet, the hated Bourgeoisie, a man with a certain vision, uncritical of his own sub-conscious prejudices, but shrewd enough to realise how great a driving force is hate and the inferiority complex. Shrewd enough to use hate and bitter enough to hate. Let anyone read over that Communist Manifesto and consider who might have shared the hate or even have got it all, if Marx had not been the son of a rabbi. Read Jews for Bourgeoisie and the Manifesto is pure Nazi teaching of the 1933-8 vintage.

Stripped down to its core in this fashion, the primary falsity of the Marxist assumption is evident. But it is one of the queer common weakness of the human mind to be uncritical of primary assumptions and to smother up any enquiry into their soundness in secondary elaboration, in technicalities and conventional formulæ. Most of our systems of belief rest upon rotten foundations, and generally these foundations are made sacred to preserve them from attack. They become dogmas in a sort of holy of holies. It is shockingly uncivil to say "But that is nonsense". The defenders of all the dogmatic religions fly into rage and indignation when one touches on the absurdity of their foundations. Especially if one laughs. That is blasphemy.

This avoidance of fundamental criticism is one of the greatest dangers to any general human understanding. Marxism is no exception to the universal tendency. The Capitalist System has to be a real system, the Bourgeoisie an organised conspiracy against the Workers, and every human conflict everywhere has to be an aspect of the Class War, or they cannot talk to you. They will not listen to you. Never once has there been an attempt to answer the plain things I have been saying about them for a third of a century. Anything not in their language flows off their minds like water off a duck’s back. Even Lenin - by far the subtlest mind in the Communist story - has not escaped this pitfall, and when I talked to him in Moscow in 1920 he seemed quite unable to realise that the violent conflict going on in Ireland between the Catholic nationalists and the Protestant garrison was not his sacred insurrection of the Proletariat in full blast.

To-day there is quite a number of writers, and among them there are men of science who ought to think better, solemnly elaborating a pseudo-philosophy of science and society upon the deeply buried but entirely nonsensical foundations laid by Marx. Month by month the industrious Left book Club pours a new volume over the minds of its devotees to sustain their mental habits and pickle them against the septic influence of unorthodox literature. A party Index of Forbidden Books will no doubt follow. Distinguished professors with solemn delight in their own remarkable ingenuity, lecture and discourse and even produce serious-looking volumes, upon the superiority of Marxist physics and Marxist research, to the unbranded activities of the human mind. One tries not to be rude to them, but it is hard to believe they are not deliberately playing the fool with their brains. Or have they a feeling that revolutionary communism is ahead, and are they doing their best to rationalise it with an eye to those red days to come? (See Hogben’s Dangerous Thoughts.)

Here I cannot pursue in any detail the story of the Rise and Corruption of Marxism in Russia. It confirms in every particular my contention that the class-war idea is an entanglement and perversion of the world drive towards a world collectivism, a wasting disease of cosmopolitan socialism. It has followed in its general outline the common history of every revolt of the Have-nots since history began. Russia in the shadows displayed an immense inefficiency and sank slowly to Russia in the dark. Its galaxy of incompetent foremen, managers, organisers and so forth, developed the most complicated system of self-protection against criticism, they sabotaged one another, they intrigued against one another. You can read the quintessence of the thing in Littlepage’s In Search of Soviet Gold. And like every other Have-not revolt since the dawn of history, hero worship took possession of the insurgent masses. The inevitable Champion appeared. They escape from the Czar and in twenty years they are worshipping Stalin, originally a fairly honest, unoriginal, ambitious revolutionary, driven to self-defensive cruelty and inflated by flattery to his present quasi-divine autocracy. The cycle completes itself and we see that like every other merely insurrectionary revolution, nothing has changed; a lot of people have been liquidated and a lot of other people have replaced them and Russia seems returning back to the point at which it started, to a patriotic absolutism of doubtful efficiency and vague, incalculable aims. Stalin, I believe, is honest and benevolent in intention, he believes in collectivism simply and plainly, he is still under the impression that he is making a good thing of Russia and of the countries within her sphere of influence, and he is self-righteously impatient of criticism or opposition. His successor may not have the same disinterestedness.

But I have written enough to make it clear why we have to dissociate collectivisation altogether from the class war in our minds. Let us waste no more time on the spectacle of the Marxist putting the cart in front of the horse and tying himself up with the harness. We have to put all this proletarian distortion of the case out of our minds and start afresh upon the problem of how to realise the new and unprecedented possibilities of world collectivisation that have opened out upon the world in the past hundred years. That is a new story. An entirely different story.

We human+beings are facing gigantic forces that will either destroy our species altogether or lift it to an altogether unprecedented level of power and well-being. These forces have to be controlled or we shall be annihilated. But completely controlled they can abolish slavery - by the one sure means of making these things unnecessary. Class-war communism has its opportunity to realise all this, and it has failed to make good. So far it has only replaced one autocratic Russia by another. Russia, like all the rest of the world, is still facing the problem of the competent government of a collective system. She has not solved it.

The dictatorship of the proletariat has failed us. We have to look for possibilities of control in other directions. Are they to be found?


A friendly adviser reading the passage on p.47 protests against "the wombs of associated labour" as a mistranslation of the original German of the Manifesto. I took it from the translation of Professor Hirendranath Mukherjee in an Indian students’ journal, Sriharsha, which happened to be at my desk. But my adviser produces Lily G. Aitken and Frank C. Budgen in a Glasgow Socialist Labour Press publication, who gave it as "the lap of social labour", which is more refined but pure nonsense. The German word is "schoss", and in its widest sense it means the whole productive maternal outfit from bosom to knees and here quite definitely the womb. The French translation gives "sein", which at the first glance seems to carry gentility to an even higher level. But as you can say in French that an expectant mother carries her child in her "sein", I think Professor Mukherjee has it. Thousands of reverent young Communists must have read that "lap" without observing its absurdity. Marx is trying to make out that the increase of productive efficiency was due to "association" in factories. A better phrase to express his (wrong-headed) intention would have been "the co-ordinated operations of workers massed in factories".  
Site Admin
Posts: 31752
Joined: Thu Aug 01, 2013 5:21 am

Re: The New World Order, by H. G. Wells

Postby admin » Sat Oct 12, 2019 12:24 am


WE HAVE NOW TO examine these disruptive forces a little more closely, these disruptive forces which are manifestly overstraining and destroying the social and political system in which most of us have been reared. At what particular points in our political and social life are these disruptive forces discovering breaking-points?

Chief among these breaking-points, people are beginning to realise more and more clearly, is the common, half-educated young man.

One particular consequence of the onrush of power and invention in our time, is the release of a great flood of human energy in the form of unemployed young people. This is a primary factor of the general political instability.

We have to recognise that humanity is not suffering, as most animal species when they suffer to do, from hunger or want in any material form. It is threatened not by deficiency but by excess. It is plethoric. It is not lying down to die through physical exhaustion; it is knocking itself to pieces.

Measured by any standards except human contentment and ultimate security, mankind appears to be much wealthier now than in 1918. The qualities of power and material immediately available are much greater. What is called productivity in general is greater. But there is sound reason for supposing that a large part of this increased productivity is really a swifter and more thorough exploitation of irreplaceable capital. It is a process that cannot go on indefinitely. It rises to a maximum and then the feast is over. Natural resources are being exhausted at a great rate, and the increased output goes into war munitions whose purpose is destruction, and into sterile indulgences no better than waste. Man, "heir of the ages", is a demoralised spendthrift, in a state of galloping consumption, living on stimulants.

When we look into the statistics of population, there is irrefutable proof that everywhere we are passing a maximum (see for this Enid Charles’ The Twilight of Parenthood, or R. R. Kuczynski’s Measurement of Population Growth) and that a rapid decline is certain not only in Western Europe bur throughout the world. There is sound reason for doubting the alleged vast increase of the Russian people (see Souvarine’s Stalin). Nevertheless, because of the continually increasing efficiency of productive methods, the relative pressure of this new unemployed class increases. The "mob" of the twentieth century is quite different from the almost animal "mob" of the eighteenth century. It is a restless sea of dissatisfied young people, of young men who can find no outlet for their natural urgencies and ambitions, young people quite ready to "make trouble" as soon as they are shown how.

In the technically crude past, the illiterate Have-nots were sweated and overworked. It was easy to find toil to keep them all busy. Such surplus multitudes are wanted no more. Toil is no longer marketable. Machines can toil better and with less resistance.

These frustrated multitudes have been made acutely aware of their own frustration. The gap of their always partly artificial disadvantage has been greatly diminished because now they all read. Even for incidental employment it has been necessary to teach them that, and the new reading public thus created has evoked a press and literature of excitement and suggestion. The cinema and the radio dazzle them with spectacles of luxury and unrestricted living. They are not the helpless Hodges and factory fodder of a hundred years ago. They are educated up to what must have been the middle-class level in 1889. They are indeed largely a squeezed-out middle class, restless, impatient and as we shall see extremely dangerous. They have assimilated almost all of the lower strata that were formerly illiterate drudges.

And this modernised excess population has no longer any social humility. It has no belief in the infallible wisdom of its rulers. It sees them too clearly; it knows about them, their waste, vices and weaknesses, with an even exaggerated vividness. It sees no reason for its exclusion from the good things of life by such people. It has lost enough of its inferiority to realise that most of that inferiority is arbitrary and artificial.

You may say that this is a temporary state of affairs, that the fall in population will presently relieve the situation, by getting rid of this surplus of the "not wanted". But it will do nothing of the sort. As population falls, consumption will fall. Industries will still be producing more and more efficiently for a shrinking market and they will be employing fewer and fewer hands. A state of five million people with half a million of useless hands, will be twice as unstable as forty million with two million standing off. So long as the present state of affairs continues, this stratum of perplexed young people "out of it" will increase relatively to the total community.

It is still not realised as clearly as it should be, how much the troubles of the present time are due to this new aspect of the social puzzle. But if you will scrutinise the events of the past half century in the light of this idea, you will see more and more convincingly that it is mainly through this growing mass of unfulfilled desire that the disruptive forces manifest themselves.

The eager and adventurous unemployed young are indeed the shock troops in the destruction of the old social order everywhere. They find guidance in some confident Party or some inspired Champion, who organises them for revolutionary or counter-revolutionary ends. It scarcely matters which. They become Communists or they become Fascists, Nazis, the Irish Republican Army, Ku Klux Klansmen and so forth and so on. The essence is the combination of energy, frustration and discontent. What all such movements have in common, is a genuine indignation at the social institutions that have begotten and then cold-shouldered them, a quasi-military organisation and the resolve to seize power for themselves embodied in their leaders. A wise and powerful government would at any cost anticipate and avert these destructive activities by providing various and interesting new employment and the necessary condition for a satisfying successful life for everyone. These young people are life. The rise of the successful leader only puts off the trouble for a time. He seizes power in the name of his movement. And then? When the seizure of power has been effected, he finds himself obliged to keep things going, to create justification for his leadership, exciting enterprises, urgencies.

A leader of vision with adequate technical assistance might conceivedly direct much of the human energy he has embodied into creative channels. For example he could rebuild the dirty, inadequate cities of our age, turn the still slovenly country-side into a garden and play-ground, re-clothe, liberate and stimulate imaginations, until the ideas of creative progress became a habit of mind. But in doing this he will find himself confronted by those who are sustained by the pre-emptions and appropriations of the old order. These relatively well-off people will bargain with him up to the last moment for their money and impede his seizure and utilisation of land and material resources, and will be further hampered by the fact that in organising his young people he has had to turn their minds and capacities from creative work to systematic violence and militant activities. It is easy to make an unemployed young man into a Fascist or gangster, but it is hard to turn him back to any decent social task. Moreover the Champion’s own leadership was largely due to his conspiratorial and adventurous quality. He is himself unfit for a creative job. He finds himself a fighter at the head of a fighting pack.

And furthermore, unless his country is on the scale of Russia and the United States, whatever he attempts in order to make good his promises of an abundant life, has to be done in face of that mutual pressure of the sovereign states due to the abolition of distance and change of scale which we have already considered. He has no elbow-room in which to operate. The resultant of these convergent difficulties is to turn him and his fighting pack releasing flux of predatory war.

Everywhere in the world, under varying local circumstances, we see governments primarily concerned with this supreme problem of what to do with these young adults who are unemployable under present conditions. We have to realise that and bear it constantly in mind. It is there in every country. It is the most dangerous and wrong-headed view of the world situation, to treat the totalitarian countries as differing fundamentally from the rest of the world.

The problem of reabsorbing the unemployable adult is the essential problem in all states. It is the common shape to which all current political dramas reduce. How are we to use up or slake this surplus of human energy? The young are the live core of our species. The generation below sixteen or seventeen has not yet begun to give trouble, and after forty, the ebb of vitality disposes men to accept the lot that has fallen to them.

Franklin Roosevelt and Stalin find themselves in control of vast countries under-developed or so misdeveloped that their main energies go into internal organisation or reorganisation. They do not press against their frontiers therefore and they do not threaten war. The recent Russian annexations have been precautionary-defensive. But all the same both Russia and America have to cater for that troublesome social stratum quite as much as Europe. The New Deal is plainly an attempt to achieve a working socialism and avert a social collapse in America; it is extraordinarily parallel to the successive "policies" and "Plans" of the Russian experiment. Americans shirk the word "socialism", but what else can one call it?

The British oligarchy, demoralised and slack with the accumulated wealth of a century of advantage, bought off social upheaval for a time by the deliberate and socially demoralising appeasement of the dole. It has made no adequate effort to employ or educate these surplus people; it has just pushed the dole at them. It even tries to buy off the leader of the Labour Party with a salary of £2000 a year. Whatever we may think of the quality and deeds of the Nazi or Fascist regimes or the follies of their leaders, we must at any rate concede that they attempt, however clumsily, to reconstruct life in a collectivist direction. They are efforts to adjust and construct and so far they are in advance of the British ruling class. The British Empire has shown itself the least constructive of all governing networks. It produces no New Deals, no Five Year Plans; it keeps on trying to stave off its inevitable dissolution and carry on upon the old lines - and apparently it will do that until it has nothing more to give away.

"Peace in our time", that foolishly premature self-congratulation of Mr Chamberlain, is manifestly the guiding principle of the British elder statesman. It is that natural desire we all begin to feel after sixty to sit down comfortably somewhere. Unprogressive tranquillity they want at any price, even at the price of a preventive war. This astonishing bunch of rulers has never revealed any conception whatever of a common future before its sprawling Empire. There was a time when that Empire seemed likely to become the nexus of a world system, but now manifestly it has no future but disintegration. Apparently its rulers expected it to go on just as it was for ever. Bit by bit its component parts have dropped away and become quasi-independent powers, generally after an unedifying struggle; Southern Ireland for example is neutral in the present war, South Africa hesitated.

Now, and that is why this book is being written, these people, by a string of almost incredible blunders, have entangled what is left of their Empire in a great war to "end Hitler", and they have absolutely no suggestion to offer their antagonists and the world at large, of what is to come after Hitler. Apparently they hope to paralyse Germany in some as yet unspecified fashion and then to go back to their golf links or the fishing stream and doze by the fire after dinner. That is surely one of the most astounding things in history, the possibility of death and destruction beyond all reckoning and our combatant governments have no idea of what is to follow when the overthrow of Hitler is accomplished. They seem to be as void of any sense of the future, as completely empty-headed about the aftermath of their campaigns, as one of those American Tories who are "just out against F.D.R. Damn him!"

So the British Empire remains, paying its way down to ultimate bankruptcy, buying itself a respite from the perplexing problems of the future, with the accumulated wealth and power of its past. It is rapidly becoming the most backward political organisation in the world. But sooner or later it will have no more money for the dole and no more allies to abandon nor dominions to yield up to their local bosses, and then possibly its disintegration will be complete (R.I.P.), leaving intelligent English people to line up at last with America and the rest of the intelligent world and face the universal problem. Which is: how are we to adapt ourselves to these mighty disruptive forces that are shattering human society as it is at present constituted?

In the compressed countries which have little internal scope and lack the vast natural resources of the Russian and Atlantic communities, the internal tension makes more directly for aggressive warfare, but the fundamental driving-force behind their aggressiveness is still the universal trouble, that surplus of young men.

Seen in this broader vision, the present war falls into its true proportions as a stupid conflict upon secondary issues, which is delaying and preventing an overdue world adjustment. That is may kill hundreds of thousands of people does not alter that. An idiot with a revolver can murder a family. He remains an idiot.

From 1914 to 1939 has been a quarter of a century of folly, meanness, evasion and resentment, and only a very tedious and copious historian would attempt to distribute the blame among those who had played a part in the story. And when he had done it, what he had done would not matter in the least. An almost overwhelmingly difficult problem has confronted us all, and in some measure we have all of us lost our heads in the face of it, lost our dignity, been too clever by half, pinned ourselves to cheap solutions, quarrelled stupidly among ourselves. "We have erred and strayed . . . . We have lest undone those things that we ought to have done and we have done those things which we ought not to have done and there is no health in us."

I do not see any way to a solution of the problem of World Peace unless we begin with a confession of universal wrong-thinking and wrong-doing. Then we can sit down to the question of a solution with some reasonable prospect of finding an answer.

Now let us assume that "we" are a number of intelligent men, German, French, English, American, Italian, Chinese and so forth, who have decided in consequence of the war and in spite of the war, while the war is still going on, to wipe out all these squabbling bygones from our minds, and discuss plainly and simply the present situation of mankind. What is to be done with the world? Let us recapitulate the considerations that so far have been brought in, and what prospects they open, if any, of some hopeful concerted action, action that would so revolutionise the human outlook as to end war and that hectic recurrent waste of human life and happiness, for ever.

Firstly then it has been made apparent that humanity is at the end of an age, an age of fragmentation in the management of its affairs, fragmentation politically among separate sovereign states and economically among unrestricted business of organisations competing for profit. The abolition of distance, the enormous increase of available power, root causes of all our troubles, have suddenly made what was once a tolerable working system - a system that was perhaps with all its inequalities and injustices the only practicable working system in its time - enormously dangerous and wasteful, so that it threatens to exhaust and destroy our world altogether. Man is like a feckless heir who has suddenly been able to get at his capital and spend it as though it were income. We are living in a phase of violent and irreparable expenditure. There is an intensified scramble among nations and among individuals to acquire, monopolise and spend. The dispossessed young find themselves hopeless unless they resort to violence. They implement the ever-increasing instability. Only a comprehensive collectivisation of human affairs can arrest this disorderly self-destruction of mankind. All this has been made plain in what has gone before.

This essential problem, the problem of collectivisation, can be viewed from two reciprocal points of view and stated in two different ways. We can ask, "What is to be done to end the world chaos?" and also "How can we offer the common young man a reasonable and stimulating prospect of a full life?"

These two questions are the obverse and reverse of one question. What answers one answers the other. The answer to both is that we have to collectivise the world as one system with practically everyone playing a reasonably satisfying part in it. For sound practical reasons, over and above any ethical or sentimental considerations, we have to devise a collectivisation that neither degrades nor enslaves.

Our imaginary world conference then has to turn itself to the question of how to collectivise the world, so that it will remain collectivised and yet enterprising, interesting and happy enough to content that common young man who will otherwise reappear, baffled and sullen, at the street corners and throw it into confusion again. To that problem the rest of this book will address itself.

As a matter of fact it is very obvious that at the present time a sort of collectivisation is being imposed very rapidly upon the world. Everyone is being enrolled, ordered about, put under control somewhere - even if it is only in an evacuation or concentration camp or what not. This process of collectivisation, collectivisation of some sort, seems now to be in the nature of things and there is no reason to suppose it is reversible. Some people imagine world peace as the end of that process. Collectivisation is going to be defeated and a vaguely conceived reign of law will restore and sustain property, Christianity, individualism and everything to which the respectable prosperous are accustomed. This is implicit even on the title of such a book as Edward Mousley’s Man or Leviathan? It is much more reasonable to think that world peace has to be the necessary completion of that process, and that the alternative is a decadent anarchy. If so, the phrase for the aims of liberal thought should be no Man or Leviathan but Man masters Leviathan.

On this point, the inevitability of collectivisation as the sole alternative to universal brigandage and social collapse, our world conference must make itself perfectly clear.

Then it has to turn itself to the much more difficult and complicated question of how.
Site Admin
Posts: 31752
Joined: Thu Aug 01, 2013 5:21 am

Re: The New World Order, by H. G. Wells

Postby admin » Sat Oct 12, 2019 12:25 am


LET US, EVEN AT the cost of a certain repetition, look a little more closely now into the fashion in which the disruptive forces are manifesting themselves in the Western and Eastern hemispheres.

In the Old World the hypertrophy of armies is most conspicuous, in America it was the hypertrophy of big business. But in both the necessity for an increasing collective restraint upon uncoordinated over-powerful business or political enterprise is more and more clearly recognised.

There is a strong opposition on the part of great interests in America to the President, who has made himself the spear-head of the collectivising drive; they want to put the brake now on his progressive socialisation of the nation, and quite possibly, at the cost of increasing social friction, they may slow down the drift to socialism very considerably. But it is unbelievable that they dare provoke the social convulsion that would ensue upon a deliberate reversal of the engines or upon any attempt to return to the glorious days of big business, wild speculation and mounting unemployment before 1927. They will merely slow down the drive. For in the world now all roads lead to socialism or social dissolution.

The tempo of the process is different in the two continents; that is the main difference between them. It is not an opposition. They travel at different rates but they travel towards an identical goal. In the Old World at present the socialisation of the community is going on far more rapidly and thoroughly than it is in America because of the perpetual war threat.

In Western Europe now the dissolution and the drive towards socialisation progress by leaps and bounds. The British governing class and British politicians generally, overtaken by a war they had not the intelligence to avert, have tried to atone for their slovenly unimaginativeness during the past twenty years in a passion of witless improvisation. God knows what their actual war preparations amount to, but their domestic policy seems to be based on an imperfect study of Barcelona, Guernica, Madrid and Warsaw. They imagine similar catastrophes on a larger scale - although they are quite impossible, as every steady-headed person who can estimate the available supplies of petrol knows - and they have a terrible dread of being held responsible. They fear a day of reckoning with their long-bamboozled lower classes. In their panic they are rapidly breaking up the existing order altogether.

The changes that have occurred in Great Britain in less than a year are astounding. They recall in many particulars the social dislocation of Russia in the closing months of 1917. There has been a shifting and mixing-up of people that would have seemed impossible to anyone in 1937. The evacuation of centres of population under the mere exaggerated threat of air raids has been of frantic recklessness. Hundreds of thousands of families have been broken up, children separated from their parents and quartered in the homes of more or less reluctant hosts. Parasites and skin diseases, vicious habits and insanitary practices have been spread, as if in a passion of equalitarian propaganda, the slums of such centres as Glasgow, London and Liverpool, throughout the length and breadth of the land. Railways, road traffic, all the normal communications have been dislocated by a universal running about. For a couple of months Great Britain has been more like a disturbed ant-hill than an organised civilised country.

The contagion of funk has affected everyone. Public institutions and great business concerns have bolted to remote and inconvenient sites; the BBC organisation, for example, scuffled off headlong from London, needlessly and ridiculously, no man pursuing it. There has been a wild epidemic of dismissals, of servants employed in London, for example, and a still wilder shifting of unsuitable men to novel, unnecessary jobs. Everyone has been exhorted to serve the country, children of twelve, to the great delight of conservative-minded farmers, have been withdrawn from school and put to work on the land, and yet the number of those who have lost their jobs and cannot find anything else to do, has gone up by over 100,000.

There have been amateurish attempts to ration food, producing waste here and artificial scarcity there. A sort of massacre of small independent businesses is in progress mainly to the advantage of the big provision-dealing concerns, who changed in a night from open profiteers to become the "expert" advisers of food supply. All the expertise they have ever displayed has been the extraction of profits from food supply. But while profits mount, taxation with an air of great resolution sets itself to prune them.

The British public has always been phlegmatic in the face of danger, it is too stout-hearted and too stupid to give way to excesses of fear, but the authorities have thought it necessary to plaster the walls with cast, manifestly expensive, posters, headed with a Royal Crown, "Your courage, your resolution, your cheerfulness will bring us victory."

"Oh yus," said the London Cockney. "You’ll get the victory all right. Trust you. On my courage, my resolution, my cheerfulness; you’ll use up ‘Tommy Atkins’ all right. Larf at ‘im in a kindly sort of way and use him. And then you think you’ll out him back again on the dust-heap. Again? Twice?"

That is all too credible. But this time our rulers will emerge discredited and frustrated from the conflict to face a disorganised population in a state of mutinous enquiry. They have made preposterous promises to restore Poland and they will certainly have to eat their words about that. Or what is more probable the government will have to give place to another administration which will be able to eat those words for them with a slightly better grace. There is little prospect of Thanksgiving Services or any Armistice night orgy this time. People at home are tasting the hardships of war even more tediously and irritating than the men on active service. Cinemas, theatres, have been shut prematurely, black-outs have diminished the safety of the streets and doubled the tale of road casualties. The British crowd is already a sullen crowd. The world has not seen it in such a bad temper for a century and half, and, let there be no mistake about it, it is far less in a temper with the Germans than it is with its own rulers.

Through all this swirling intimidating propaganda of civil disorder and a systematic suppression of news and criticism of the most exasperating sort, war preparation has proceeded. The perplexed and baffled citizen can only hope that on the military side there has been a little more foresight and less hysteria.

The loss of confidence and particularly confidence in the government and social order is already enormous. No one feels secure, in his job, in his services, in his savings, any longer. People lose confidence even in the money in their pockets. And human society is built on confidence. It cannot carry on without it.

Things are like this already and it is only the opening stage of this strange war. The position of the ruling class and the financial people who have hitherto dominated British affairs is a peculiar one. The cast of the war is already enormous, and there is no sign that it will diminish. Income tax, super tax, death duties, taxes on war profits have been raised to a level that should practically extinguish the once prosperous middle strata of society altogether. The very wealthy will survive in a shorn and diminished state, they will hang on to the last, but the graded classes that have hitherto intervened between them and the impoverished masses of the population, who will be irritated by war sacrifices, extensively unemployed and asking more and more penetrating questions, will have diminished greatly. Only by the most ingenious monetary manipulation, by dangerous tax-dodging and expedients verging on sheer scoundrelism, will a clever young man have the ghost of a chance of climbing by the old traditional money-making ladder, above his fellows. On the other hand, the career of a public employee will become continually more attractive. There is more interest in it and more self-respect. The longer the war continues, the completer and more plainly irreparable will be the dissolution of the old order.

Now to many readers who have been incredulous of the statement of the first section of this book, that we are living in the End of an Age, to those who have been impervious to the account of the disruptive forces that are breaking up the social order and to the argument I have drawn from them, who may have got away from all that, so to speak, by saying they are "scientific" or "materialistic" or "sociological" or "highbrow", or that Providence that has hitherto displayed such a marked bias in favour of well-off, comfortable, sluggish-minded people is sure to do something nice for them at the eleventh hour, the real inconveniences, alarms, losses and growing disorder of the life about them may at last bring a realisation that the situation in Western Europe is approaching revolutionary conditions. It will be a hard saying for many people in the advantage-holding classes, and particularly if they are middle-aged, that the older has already gone to pieces can never be put back. But how can they doubt it?

A revolution, that is to say a more or less convulsive effort at social and political readjustment, is bound to come in all these overstrained countries, in Germany, in Britain and universally. It is more likely than not to arise directly out of the exasperating diminuendos and crescendos of the present war, as a culminating phase of it. Revolution of some sort we must have. We cannot prevent its onset. But we can affect the course of its development. It may end in utter disaster or it may release a new world, far better than the old. Within these broad limits it is possible for us to make up our minds how it will come to us.

And since the only practical question before us is the question of how we will take this world revolution we cannot possibly evade, let me recall to your attention the reasons I have advanced in the second section of this book for the utmost public discussion of our situation at the present time. And also let me bring back to mind the examination of Marxism in the fourth section. There it is shown how easily a collectivist movement, especially when it is faced by the forcible-feeble resistances and suppressions of those who have hitherto enjoyed wealth and power, may degenerate into an old-fashioned class-war, become conspiratorial, dogmatic and inadaptable, and sink towards leader worship and autocracy. That apparently is what has happened in Russia in its present phase. We do not know how much of the original revolutionary spirit survives there, and a real fundamental issue in the world situation is whether we are to follow in the footsteps of Russia or whether we are going to pull ourselves together, face the stern logic of necessity and produce a Western Revolution, which will benefit by the Russian experience, react upon Russia and lead ultimately to a world understanding.

What is it that the Atlantic world finds most objectionable in the Soviet world of to-day? Is it any disapproval of collectivism as such? Only in the case of a dwindling minority of rich and successful men - and very rarely of the sons of such people. Very few capable men under fifty nowadays remain individualists in political and social matters. They are not even fundamentally anti-Communist. Only it happens that for various reasons the political life of the community is still in the hands of unteachable old-fashioned people. What are called "democracies" suffer greatly from the rule of old men who have not kept pace with the times. The real and effective disapproval, distrust and disbelief in the soundness of the Soviet system lies not in the out-of-date individualism of these elderly types, but in the conviction that it can never achieve efficiency or even maintain its honest ideal of each for all and all for each, unless it has free speech and an insistence upon legally-defined freedoms for the individual within the collectivist framework. We do not deplore the Russian Revolution as a Revolution. We complain that it is not a good enough Revolution and we want a better one.

The more highly things are collectivised the more necessary is a legal system embodying the Rights of Man. This has been forgotten under the Soviets, and so men go in fear there of arbitrary police action. But the more functions your government controls the more need there is for protective law. The objection to Soviet collectivism is that, lacking the antiseptic of legally assured personal freedom, it will not keep. It professes to be fundamentally a common economic system based on class-war ideas; the industrial director is under the heel of the Party commissar; the political police have got altogether out of hand; and the affairs gravitate inevitably towards an oligarchy or an autocracy protecting its incapacity by the repression of adverse comment.

But these valid criticisms merely indicate the sort of collectivisation that has to be avoided. It does not dispose of collectivism as such. If we in our turn do not wish to be submerged by the wave of Bolshevisation that is evidently advancing from the East, we must implement all these valid objections and create a collectivisation that will be more efficient, more prosperous, tolerant, free and rapidly progressive than the system we condemn. We, who do not like the Stalinised-Marxist state, have, as they used to say in British politics, to "dish" it by going one better. We have to confront Eastern-spirited collectivism with Western-spirited collectivism.

Perhaps this may be better put. We may be giving way to a subconscious conceit here and assuming that the West is always going to be thinking more freely and clearly and working more efficiently than the East. It is like that now, but it may not always be like that. Every country has had its phases of illumination and its phases of blindness. Stalin and Stalinism are neither the beginning nor the end of the collectivisation of Russia.

We are dealing with something still almost impossible to estimate, the extent to which the new Russian patriotism and the new Stalin-worship, have effaced and how far they have merely masked, the genuinely creative international communism of the revolutionary years. The Russian mind is not a docile mind, and most of the literature available for a young man to read in Russia, we must remember, is still revolutionary. There has been no burning of the books there. The Moscow radio talks for internal consumption since the Hitler-Stalin understanding betray a great solicitude on the part of the government to make it clear that there has been no sacrifice of revolutionary principle. That witnesses to the vitality of public opinion in Russia. The clash between the teachings of 1920 and 1940 may have a liberating effect on many people’s minds. Russians love to talk about ideas. Under the Czar they talked. It is incredible that they do not talk under Stalin.

That question whether collectivisation is to be "Westernised" or "Easternised", using these words under the caveat of the previous paragraph, is really the first issue before the world today. We need a fully ventilated Revolution. Our Revolution has to go on in the light and air. We may have to accept sovietisation à la Russe quite soon unless we can produce a better collectivisation. But if we produce a better collectivisation it is more probable than not that the Russian system will incorporate our improvements, forget its reviving nationalism again, debunk Marx and Stalin, so far as they can be debunked, and merge into the one world state.

Between these primary antagonists, between Revolution with its eyes open and Revolution with a mask and a gag, there will certainly be complications of the issue due to patriotism and bigotry and the unteachable wilful blindness of those who do not want to see. Most people lie a lot to themselves before they lie to other people, and it is hopeless to expect that all the warring cults and traditions that confuse the mind of the race to-day are going to fuse under a realisation of the imperative nature of the human situation as I have stated it here. Multitudes will never realise it. Few human+beings are able to change their primary ideas after the middle thirties. They get fixed in them and drive before them no more intelligently than animals drive before their innate impulses. They will die rather than change their second selves.

One of the most entangling of these disconcerting secondary issues is that created by the stupid and persistent intrigues of the Roman Catholic Church.

Let me be clear here. I am speaking of the Vatican and of its sustained attempts to exercise a directive rôle in secular life. I number among my friends many Roman Catholics who have built the most charming personalities and behaviour systems on the framework provided them by their faith. One of the loveliest characters I have ever known was G. K. Chesterton. But I think he was just as fine before he became a Catholic as afterwards. Still he found something he needed in Catholicism. There are saints of all creeds and of none, so good are better possibilities of human nature. Religious observances provide a frame that many find indispensable for the seemly ordering of their lives. And outside the ranks of "strict" observers many good people with hardly more theology than a Unitarian, love to speak of goodness and kindness as Christianity. So-and-so is a "good Christian". Voltaire, says Alfred Noyes, the Catholic writer, was a "good Christian". I do not use the word "Christianity" in that sense because I do not believe that Christians have any monopoly of goodness. When I write of Christianity, I mean Christianity with a definite creed and militant organisation and not these good kind people, good and kind but not very fastidious about the exact use of the words.

Such "good Christians" can be almost as bitterly critical as I am of the continual pressure upon the faithful by that inner group of Italians in Rome, subsidised by the Fascist government, who pull the strings of Church policy throughout the world, so as to do this or that tortuous or uncivilised thing, to cripple education, to persecute unorthodox ways of living.

It is to the influence of the Church that we must ascribe the foolish support by the British Foreign Office of Franco, that murderous little "Christian gentleman", in his overthrow of the staggering liberal renascence of Spain. It is the Roman Catholic influence the British and French have to thank, for the fantastic blundering that involved them in the defence of the impossible Polish state and its unrighteous acquisitions; it affected British policy in respect to Austria and Czechoslovakia profoundly, and now it is doing its utmost to maintain and develop a political estrangement between Russia and the Western world by its prejudiced exacerbation of the idea that Russia is "anti- God" while we Westerners are little children of the light, gallantly fighting on the side of the Cross, Omnipotence, Greater Poland, national sovereignty, the small uneconomic prolific farmer and shopkeeper and anything else you like to imagine constitutes "Christendom".

The Vatican strives perpetually to develop the present war into a religious war. It is trying to steal the war. By all the circumstances of its training it is unteachable. It knows no better. It will go on - until some economic revolution robs it of its funds. Then as a political influence it may evaporate very rapidly. The Anglican Church and many other Protestant sects, the wealthy Baptists, for example, follow suit.

It is not only in British affairs that this propaganda goes on. With the onset of war France becomes militant and Catholic. It has suppressed the Communist Party, as a gesture of resentment against Russia and a precaution against post-war collectivisation. The Belgian caricaturist Raemaekers is now presenting Hitler day after day as a pitiful weakling already disposed of and worthy of our sympathy, while Stalin is represented as a frightful giant with horns and a tail. Yet both France and Britain are at peace with Russia and have every reason to come to a working understanding with that country. The attitude of Russia to the war has on the whole been cold, contemptuous and reasonable.

It is not as if these devious schemes can take us somewhere; it is not that this restoration of the Holy Roman Empire is a possibility. You confront these Catholic politicians, just as you confront the politicians of Westminster, with these two cardinal facts, the abolition of distance and the change of scale. In vain. You cannot get any realisation of the significance of these things into those idea-proofed skulls. They are deaf to it, blind to it. They cannot see that it makes any difference at all to their long-established mental habits. If their minds waver for a moment they utter little magic prayers to exorcise the gleam.

What, they ask, has "mere size" to do with the soul of man, "mere speed, mere power"? What can the young do better than subdue their natural urgency to live and do? What has mere life to do with the religious outlook? The war, these Vatican propagandists insist, is a "crusade" against modernism, against socialism and free thought, the restoration of priestly authority is its end; our sons are fighting to enable the priest to thrust his pious uncleanliness once again between reader and book, child and knowledge, husband and wife, sons and lovers. While honest men are fighting now to put an end to military aggression, to resume indeed that "war to end war" that was aborted to give us the League of Nations, these bigots are sedulously perverting the issue, trying to represent it as a religious war against Russia in particular and the modern spirit in general.

The well-trained Moslem, the American fundamentalists, the orthodox Jew, all the fixed cultures, produce similar irrelevant and wasteful resistances, but the Catholic organisation reaches further and is more persistent. It is frankly opposed to human effort and the idea of progress. It makes no pretence about it.

Such cross-activities as these complicate, delay and may even sabotage effectively every effort to solve the problem of a lucid collectivisation of the world’s affairs, but they do not alter the essential fact that it is only through a rationalisation and coalescence of constructive revolutionary movements everywhere and a liberal triumph over the dogmatism of the class war, that we can hope to emerge from the present wreckage of our world.
Site Admin
Posts: 31752
Joined: Thu Aug 01, 2013 5:21 am

Re: The New World Order, by H. G. Wells

Postby admin » Sat Oct 12, 2019 12:26 am


LET US NOW TAKE up certain vaguely constructive proposals which seem at present to be very much in people’s minds. They find their cardinal expression in a book called Union Now by Mr Clarence K. Streit, which has launched the magic word "Federation" upon the world. The "democracies" of the world are to get together upon a sort of enlargement of the Federal constitution of the United States (which produced one of the bloodiest civil wars in all history) and then all will be well with us.

Let us consider whether this word "Federation" is of any value in organising the Western Revolution. I would suggest it is. I think it may be a means of mental release for many people who would otherwise have remained dully resistant to any sort of change.

This Federation project has an air of reasonableness. It is attractive to a number of influential people who wish with the minimum of adaptation to remain influential in a changing world, and particularly is it attractive to what I may call the liberal-conservative elements of the prosperous classes in America and Great Britain and the Oslo countries, because it puts the most difficult aspect of the problem, the need for collective socialisation, so completely in the background that it can be ignored. This enables them to take quite a bright and hopeful view of the future without any serious hindrance to their present preoccupations.

They think that Federation, reasonably defined, may suspend the possibility of war for a considerable period and so lighten the burden of taxation that the present crushing demands on them will relax and they will be able to resume, on a slightly more economical scale perhaps, their former way of living. Everything that gives them hope and self-respect and preserves their homes from the worst indignities of panic, appeasement, treason-hunting and the rest of it, is to be encouraged, and meanwhile their sons will have time to think and it may be possible so to search, ransack and rationalise the Streit project as to make a genuine and workable scheme for the socialisation of the world.

In The Fate of Homo sapiens I examined the word "democracy" with some care, since it already seemed likely that great quantities of our young men were to be asked to cripple and risk their lives for its sake. I showed that it was still a very incompletely realised aspiration, that its complete development involved socialism and a level of education and information attained as yet by no community in the world. Mr Streit gives a looser, more rhetorical statement - a more idealistic statement, shall we say? - of his conception of democracy, the sort of statement that would be considered wildly exaggerated even if it was war propaganda, and though unhappily it is remote from any achieved reality, he proceeds without further enquiry as if it were a description of existing realities in what he calls the "democracies" of the world. In them he imagines he finds "governments of the people, by the people, for the people".

In the book I have already cited I discuss What is Democracy? And Where is Democracy? I do my best there to bring Mr Streit down to the harsh and difficult facts of the case. I will go now a little more into particulars in my examination of his project.

His "founder democracies" are to be: "The American Union, the British Commonwealth (specifically the United Kingdom, the Federal Dominion of Canada, the Commonwealth of Australia, New Zealand, the Union of South Africa, Ireland), the French Republic, Belgium, the Netherlands, the Swiss Confederation, Denmark, Norway, Sweden and Finland."

Scarcely one of these, as I have shown in that former book, is really a fully working democracy. And the Union of South Africa is a particularly bad and dangerous case of race tyranny. Ireland is an incipient religious war and not one country but two. Poland, I note, does not come into Mr Streit’s list of democracies at all. His book was written in 1938 when Poland was a totalitarian country holding, in defiance of the League of Nations, Vilna, which it had taken from Lithuania, large areas of non-Polish country it had conquered from Russia, and fragments gained by the dismemberment of Czechoslovakia. It only became a democracy, even technically and for a brief period, before its collapse in September 1939, when Mr Chamberlain was so foolish as to drag the British Empire into a costly and perilous war, on its behalf. But that is by the way. None of these fifteen (or ten) "founder democracies" are really democracies at all. So we start badly. But they might be made socialist democracies and their federation might be made something very real indeed - at a price. The U.S.S.R. is a federated socialist system, which has shown a fairly successful political solidarity during the past two decades, whatever else it has done or failed to do.

Now let us help Mr Streit to convert his "federation" from a noble but extremely rhetorical aspiration into a living reality. He is aware that this must be done at a price, but I want to suggest that that price is, from what I judge to be his point of view, far greater, and the change much simpler, more general and possibly even closer at hand, than he supposes. He is disposed to appeal to existing administrative organisations, and it is questionable whether they are the right people to execute his designs. One of the difficulties he glosses over is the possible reluctance of the India Office to hand over the control of India (Ceylon and Burma he does not mention) to the new Federation Government, which would also, I presume, take charge of the fairly well governed and happy fifty-odd million people of the Dutch East Indies, the French colonial empire, the West Indies and so on. This, unless he proposes merely to rechristen the India Office, etc., is asking for an immense outbreak of honesty and competence on the part of the new Federal officialdom. It is also treating the possible contribution of these five or six hundred million of dusky peoples to the new order with a levity inconsistent with democratic ideals.

Quite a lot of these people have brains which are as good or better than normal European brains. You could educate the whole world to the not very exalted level of a Cambridge graduate in a single lifetime, if you had schools, colleges, apparatus and teachers enough. The radio, the cinema, the gramophone, the improvements in both production and distribution, have made it possible to increase the range and effectiveness of a gifted teacher a thousandfold. We have seen intensive war preparations galore, but no one has dreamt yet of an intensive educational effort. None of us really like to see other people being educated. They may be getting an advantage over our privileged selves. Suppose we overcome that primitive jealousy. Suppose we speed up - as we are now physically able to do - the education and enfranchisement of these huge undeveloped reservoirs of human capacity. Suppose we tack that on the Union Now idea. Suppose we stipulate that Federation, wherever it extends, means a New and Powerful Education. In Bengal, in Java, in the Congo Free State, quite as much as in Tennessee or Georgia or Scotland or Ireland. Suppose we think a little less about "gradual enfranchisement" by votes and experiments in local autonomy and all these old ideas, and a little more about the enfranchisement of the mind. Suppose we drop that old cant about politically immature peoples.

There is one direction in which Mr Streit’s proposals are open to improvement. Let us turn to another in which he does not seem to have realised all the implications of his proposal. This great Union is to have a union money and a union customs-free economy. What follows upon that? More I think than he realises.

There is one aspect of money to which the majority of those that discuss it seem to be incurably blind. You cannot have a theory of money or any plan about money by itself in the air. Money is not a thing in itself; it is a working part of an economic system. Money varies in its nature with the laws and ideas of property in a community. As a community moves towards collectivism and communism, for example, money simplifies out. Money is a necessary in a communism as it is in any other system, but its function therein is at its simplest. Payment in kind to the worker gives him no freedom of choice among the goods the community produces. Money does. Money becomes the incentive that "works the worker" and nothing more.

But directly you allow individuals not only to obtain goods for consumption, but also to obtain credit to produce material for types of production outside the staple productions of the state, the question of credit and debt arises and money becomes more complicated. With every liberation of this or that product or service from collective control to business or experimental exploitation, the play of the money system enlarges and the laws regulating what you may take for it, the company laws, bankruptcy laws and so forth increase. In any highly developed collective system the administration will certainly have to give credits for hopeful experimental enterprises. When the system is not collectivism, monetary operations for gain are bound to creep in and become more and more complicated. Where most of the substantial side of life is entrusted to uncoordinated private enterprise, the intricacy of the money apparatus increases enormously. Monetary manipulation becomes a greater and greater factor in the competitive struggle, not only between individuals and firms, but between states. As Mr Streit himself shows, in an excellent discussion of the abandonment of the gold standard, inflation and deflation become devices in international competition. Money becomes strategic, just as pipe lines and railways can become strategic.

This being so it is plain that for the Federal Union a common money means an identical economic life throughout the Union. And this too is implied also in Mr Streit’s "customs-free" economy. It is impossible to have a common money when a dollar or a pound, or whatever it is, can buy this, that or the other advantage in one state and is debarred from anything but bare purchases for consumption in another. So that this Federal Union is bound to be a uniform economic system. There can be only very slight variations in the control of economic life.

In the preceding sections the implacable forces that make for the collectivisation of the world or disaster, have been exposed. It follows that "Federation" means practically uniform socialism within the Federal limits, leading, as state after state is incorporated, to world socialism. There manifestly we carry Mr Streit farther than he realises he goes - as yet. For it is fairly evident that he is under the impression that a large measure of independent private business is to go on throughout the Union. I doubt if he imagines it is necessary to go beyond the partial socialisation already achieved by the New Deal. But we have assembled evidence to show that the profit scramble, the wild days of uncorrelated "business" are over for ever.

And again though he realises and states very clearly that governments are made for man and not man for governments, though he applauds the great declarations of the Convention that created the American Constitution, wherein "we the people of the United States" overrode the haggling of the separate states and established the American Federal Constitution, nevertheless he is curiously chary of superseding any existing legal governments in the present world. He is chary of talking of "We the people of the world". But many of us are coming to realise that all existing governments have to go into the melting pot, we believe that it is a world revolution which is upon us, and that in the great struggle to evoke a Westernised World Socialism, contemporary governments may vanish like straw hats in the rapids of Niagara. Mr Streit, however, becomes extraordinarily legal-minded at this stage. I do not think that he realises the forces of destruction that are gathering and so I think he hesitates to plan a reconstruction upon anything like the scale that may become possible.

He evades even the obvious necessity that under a Federal Government the monarchies of Great Britain, Belgium, Norway, Sweden, Holland, if they survive at all, must becomes like the mediatised sovereigns of the component states of the former German Empire, mere ceremonial vestiges. Perhaps he thinks that, but he does not say it outright. I do not know if he has pondered the New York World Fair of 1939 nor the significance of the Royal Visit to America in that year, and thought how much there is in the British system that would have to be abandoned if his Federation is to become a reality. In most of the implications of the word, it must cease to be "British". His Illustrative Constitution is achieved with an altogether forensic disregard of the fundamental changes in human conditions to which we have to adapt ourselves or perish. He thinks of war by itself and not as an eruption due to deeper maladaptations. But if we push his earlier stipulations to their necessary completion, we need not trouble very much about that sample constitution of his, which is to adjust the balance so fairly among the constituent states. The abolition of distance must inevitably substitute functional associations and loyalties for local attributions, if human society does not break up altogether. The local divisions will melt into a world collectivity and the main conflicts in a progressively unifying Federation are much more likely to be these between different world-wide types and associations of workers.

So far with Union Now. One of Mr Streit’s outstanding merits is that he has had the courage to make definite proposals on which we can bite. I doubt if a European could have produced any such book. Its naïve political legalism, its idea of salvation by constitution, and its manifest faith in the magic beneficence of private enterprise, are distinctly in the vein of an American, almost a pre-New Deal American, who has become, if anything, more American, through his experiences of the deepening disorder of Europe. So many Americans still look on at world affairs like spectators at a ball game who are capable of vociferous participation but still have no real sense of participation; they do not realise that the ground is moving under their seats also, and that the social revolution is breaking surface to engulf them in their turn. To most of us - to most of us over forty at any rate - the idea of a fundamental change in our way of life is so unpalatable that we resist it to the last moment.

Mr Streit betrays at times as vivid a sense of advancing social collapse as I have, but it has still to occur to him that that collapse may be conclusive. There may be dark ages, a relapse into barbarism, but somewhen and somehow he thinks man must recover. George Bernard Shaw has recently been saying the same thing.

It may be worse that that.

I have given Mr Streit scarcely a word of praise, because that would be beside the mark here. He wrote his book sincerely as a genuine contribution to the unsystematic world conference that is now going on, admitting the possibility of error, demanding criticism, and I have dealt with it in that spirit.

Unfortunately his word has gone much further than his book. His book says definite things and even when one disagrees with it, it is good as a point of departure. But a number of people have caught up this word "Federation", and our minds are distracted by a multitude of appeals to support Federal projects with the most various content or with no content at all.

All the scores and hundreds of thousands of nice people who are signing peace pledges and so forth a few years ago, without the slightest attempt in the world to understand what they meant by peace, are now echoing this new magic word with as little conception of any content for it. They did not realise that peace means so complicated and difficult an ordering and balancing of human society that it has never been sustained since man became man, and that we have wars and preparatory interludes between wars because that is a much simpler and easier sequence for our wilful, muddle-headed, suspicious and aggressive species. These people still think we can get this new and wonderful state of affairs just by clamouring for it.

And having failed to get peace by saying "Peace" over and over again, they are now with an immense sense of discovery saying "Federation". What must happen to men in conspicuous public positions I do not know, but even an irresponsible literary man like myself finds himself inundated with innumerable lengthy private letters, hysterical post-cards, pamphlets from budding organisations, "declarations" to sign, demands for subscriptions, all in the name of the new panacea, all as vain and unproductive as the bleating of lost sheep. And I cannot open a newspaper without finding some eminent contemporary writing a letter to it, saying gently, firmly and bravely, the same word, sometimes with bits of Union Now tacked on to it, and sometimes with minor improvements, but often with nothing more than the bare idea.

All sorts of idealistic movements for world peace which have been talking quietly to themselves for years and years have been stirred up to follow the new banner. Long before the Great War there was a book by Sir Max Waechter, a friend of King Edward the Seventh, advocating the United States of Europe, and that inexact but flattering parallelism to the United States of America has recurred frequently; as a phase thrown out by Monsieur Briand for example, and as a project put forward by an Austrian-Japanese writer, Count Coudenhove-Kalergi, who even devised a flag for the Union. The main objection to the idea is that there are hardly any states completely in Europe, except Switzerland, San Marino, Andorra and a few of the Versailles creations. Almost all the other European states extend far beyond the European limits both politically and in their sympathies and cultural relations. They trail with them more than half mankind. About a tenth of the British Empire is in Europe and still less of the Dutch Empire; Russia, Turkey, France, are less European than not; Spain and Portugal have their closest links with South America.

Few Europeans think of themselves as "Europeans". I, for example, am English, and a large part of my interests, intellectual and material, are Transatlantic. I dislike calling myself "British" and I like to think of myself as a member of a great English-speaking community, which spreads irrespective of race and colour round and about the world. I am annoyed when an American calls me a "foreigner" - war with America would seem to me just as insane as war with Cornwall - and I find the idea of cutting myself off from the English-speaking peoples of America and Asia to follow the flag of my Austrian- Japanese friend into a federally bunched-up European extremely unattractive.

It would, I suggest, be far easier to create the United States of the World, which is Mr Streit’s ultimate objective, than to get together the so-called continent of Europe into any sort of unity.

I find most of these United States of Europe movements are now jumping on to the Federation band-wagon.

My old friend and antagonist, Lord David Davies, for instance, has recently succumbed to the infection. He was concerned about the problem of a World Pax in the days when the League of Nations Society and other associated bodies were amalgamated in the League of Nations Union. He was struck then by an idea, an analogy, and the experience was unique for him. He asked why individuals went about in modern communities in nearly perfect security from assault and robbery, without any need to bear arms. His answer was the policeman. And from that he went on to the question of what was needed for states and nations to go their ways with the same blissful immunity from violence and plunder, and it seemed to him a complete and reasonable answer to say "an international policeman". And there you were! He did not see, he is probably quite incapable of seeing, that a state is something quite different in its nature and behaviour from an individual human+being. When he was asked to explain how that international policeman was to be created and sustained, he just went on saying "international policeman". He has been saying it for years. Sometimes it seems it is to be the League of Nations, sometimes the British Empire, sometimes an international Air Force, which is to undertake this grave responsibility. The bench before which the policeman is to hale the offender and this position of the lock-up are not indicated. Finding our criticisms uncongenial, his lordship went off with his great idea, like a penguin which has found an egg, to incubate it alone. I hope he will be spared to say "international policeman" for many years to come, but I do not believe he has ever perceived or ever will perceive that, brilliant as his inspiration was, it still left vast areas of the problem in darkness. Being a man of considerable means, he has been able to sustain a "New Commonwealth" movement and publish books and a periodical in which his one great idea is elaborated rather than developed.

But I will not deal further with the very incoherent multitude that now echoes this word "Federation". Many among them will cease to cerebrate further and fall by the wayside, but many will go on thinking, and if they go on thinking they will come to perceive more and more clearly the realities of the case. Federation, they will feel, is not enough.

So much for the present "Federalist" front. As a fundamental basis of action, as a declared end, it seems hopelessly vague and confused and, if one may coin a phrase, hopelessly optimistic. But since the concept seems to be the way to release a number of minds from belief in the sufficiency of a League of Nations, associated or not associated with British Imperialism, it has been worth while to consider how it can be amplified and turned in the direction of that full and open-eyed world-wide collectivisation which a study of existing conditions obliges us to believe is the only alternative to the complete degeneration of our species.  
Site Admin
Posts: 31752
Joined: Thu Aug 01, 2013 5:21 am

Re: The New World Order, by H. G. Wells

Postby admin » Sat Oct 12, 2019 12:40 am


LET US RETURN TO our main purpose, which is to examine the way in which we are to face up to this impending World Revolution.

To many minds this idea of Revolution is almost inseparable from visions of street barricades made of paving-stones and overturned vehicles, ragged mobs armed with impromptu weapons and inspired by defiant songs, prisons broken and a general jail delivery, palaces stormed, a great hunting of ladies and gentlemen, decapitated but still beautiful heads on pikes, regicides of the most sinister quality, the busy guillotine, a crescendo of disorder ending in a whiff of grapeshot. . . .

That was one type of Revolution. It is what one might call the Catholic type of Revolution, that it is to say it is the ultimate phase of a long period of Catholic living and teaching. People do not realise this and some will be indignant at its being stated so barely. Yet the facts stare us in the face, common knowledge, not to be denied. That furious, hungry, desperate, brutal mob was the outcome of generations of Catholic rule, Catholic morality and Catholic education. The King of France was the "Most Christian King, the eldest son of the Church", he was master of the economic and financial life of the community, and the Catholic Church controlled the intellectual life of the community and the education of the people absolutely. That mob was the outcome. It is absurd to parrot that Christianity has never been tried. Christianity in its most highly developed form has been tried and tried again. It was tried for centuries fully and completely, in Spain, France, Italy. It was responsible for the filth and chronic pestilence and famine of medieval England. It inculcated purity but it never inculcated cleanliness. Catholic Christianity had practically unchallenged power in France for generations. It was free to teach as it chose and as much as it chose. It dominated the common life entirely. The Catholic system in France cannot have reaped anything it did not sow, for no other sowers were allowed. That hideous mob of murderous ragamuffins we are so familiar with in pictures of the period, was the final harvest of its regime.

The more Catholic reactionaries revile the insurgent common people of the first French Revolution, the more they condemn themselves. It is the most impudent perversion of reality for them to snivel about the guillotine and the tumbrils, as though these were not purely Catholic products, as though they came in suddenly from outside to wreck a genteel Paradise. They were the last stage of the systematic injustice and ignorance of a strictly Catholic regime. One phase succeeded another with relentless logic. The Maseillaise completed the life-cycle of Catholicism.

In Spain too and in Mexico we have seen undisputed educational and moral Catholic ascendancy, the Church with a free hand, producing a similar uprush of blind resentment. The crowds there also were cruel and blasphemous; but Catholicism cannot complain; for Catholicism hatched them. Priests and nuns who had been the sole teachers of the people were insulted and outraged and churches defiled. Surely if the Church is anything like what it claims to be, the people would have loved it. They would not have behaved as though sacrilege was a gratifying relief.

But these Catholic Revolutions are only specimens of one single type of Revolution. A Revolution need not be a spontaneous storm of indignation against intolerable indignities and deprivations. It can take quite other forms.

As a second variety of Revolution, which is in sharp contrast with the indignation-revolt in which so many periods of unchallenged Catholic ascendancy have ended, we may take what we may call the "revolution conspiracy", in which a number of people set about organising the forces of discomfort and resentment and loosening the grip of the government’s forces, in order to bring about a fundamental change of system. The ideal of this type is the Bolshevik Revolution in Russia, provided it is a little simplified and misunderstood. This, reduced to a working theory by its advocates, is conceived of as a systematic cultivation of a public state of mind favourable to a Revolution together with an inner circle of preparation for a "seizure of power". Quite a number of Communist and other leftish writers, bright young men, without much political experience, have let their imaginations loose upon the "technique" of such an adventure. They have brought the Nazi and Fascist Revolutions into the material for their studies. Modern social structure with its concentration of directive, information and coercive power about radio stations, telephone exchangers, newspaper offices, police stations, arsenals and the like, lends itself to quasi-gangster exploitation of this type. There is a great rushing about and occupation of key centres, an organised capture, imprisonment or murder of possible opponents, and the country is confronted with fait accompli. The regimentation of the more or less reluctant population follows.

But a Revolution need be neither an explosion nor a coup d’état. And the Revolution that lies before us now as the only hopeful alternative to chaos, either directly or after an interlude of world communism, is to be attained, if it is attained at all, by neither of these methods. The first is too rhetorical and chaotic and leads simply to a Champion and tyranny; the second is too conspiratorial and leads through an obscure struggle of masterful personalities to a similar end. Neither is lucid enough and deliberate enough to achieve a permanent change in the form and texture of human affairs.

An altogether different type of Revolution may or may not be possible. No one can say that it is possible unless it is tried, but one can say with some assurance that unless it can be achieved the outlook for mankind for many generations at least is hopeless. The new Revolution aims essentially at a change in directive ideas. In its completeness it is an untried method.

It depends for its success upon whether a sufficient number of minds can be brought to realise that the choice before us now is not a choice between further revolution or more or less reactionary conservatism, but a choice between so carrying on and so organising the process of change in our affairs as to produce a new world order, or suffering an entire and perhaps irreparable social collapse. Our argument throughout has been that things have gone too far ever to be put back again to any similitude of what they have been. We can no more dream of remaining where we are than think of going back in the middle of a dive. We must go trough with these present changes, adapt ourselves to them, adjust ourselves to the plunge, or be destroyed by them. We must go through these changes just as we must go through this ill-conceived war, because there is as yet no possible end for it.

There will be no possible way of ending it until the new Revolution defines itself. If it is patched up now without a clear-headed settlement understood and accepted throughout the world, we shall have only the simulacrum of a peace. A patched-up peace now will not even save us from the horrors of war, it will postpone them only to aggravate them in a few years time. You cannot end this war yet, you can at best adjourn it.

The reorganisation of the world has at first to be mainly the work of a "movement" or a Party or a religion or cult, whatever we choose to call it. We may call it New Liberalism or the New Radicalism or what not. It will not be a close-knit organisation, toeing the Party line and so forth. It may be a very loose-knit and many faceted, but if a sufficient number of minds throughout the world, irrespective of race, origin or economic and social habituations, can be brought to the free and candid recognition of the essentials of the human problem, then their effective collaboration in a conscious, explicit and open effort to reconstruct human society will ensue.

And to begin with they will do all they can to spread and perfect this conception of a new world order, which they will regard as the only working frame for their activities, while at the same time they will set themselves to discover and associate with themselves, everyone, everywhere, who is intellectually able to grasp the same broad ideas and morally disposed to realise them.

The distribution of this essential conception one may call propaganda, but in reality it is education. The opening phase of this new type of Revolution must involve therefore a campaign for re-invigorated and modernised education throughout the world, an education that will have the same ratio to the education of a couple of hundred years ago, as the electric lighting of a contemporary city has to the chandeliers and oil lamps of the same period. On its present mental levels humanity can do no better than what it is doing now.

Vitalising education is only possible when it is under the influence of people who are themselves learning. It is inseparable from the modern idea of education that it should be knit up to incessant research. We say research rather than science. It is the better word because it is free from any suggestion of that finality which means dogmatism and death.

All education tends to become stylistic and sterile unless it is kept in close touch with experimental verification and practical work, and consequently this new movement of revolutionary initiative, must at the same time be sustaining realistic political and social activities and working steadily for the collectivisation of governments and economic life. The intellectual movement will be only the initiatory and correlating part of the new revolutionary drive. These practical activities must be various. Everyone engaged in them must be thinking for himself and not waiting for orders. The only dictatorship he will recognise is the dictatorship of the plain understanding and the invincible fact.

And if this culminating Revolution is to be accomplished, then the participation of every conceivable sort of human+being who has the mental grasp to see these broad realities of the world situation and the moral quality to do something about it, must be welcomed.

Previous revolutionary thrusts have been vitiated by bad psychology. They have given great play to the gratification of the inferiority complexes that arise out of class disadvantages. It is no doubt very unjust that anyone should be better educated, healthier and less fearful of the world than anyone else, but that is no reason why the new Revolution should not make the fullest use of the health, education, vigour and courage of the fortunate. The Revolution we are contemplating will aim at abolishing the bitterness of frustration. But certainly it will do nothing to avenge it. Nothing whatever. Let the dead past punish its dead.

It is one of the most vicious streaks in the Marxist teaching to suggest that all people of wealth and capacity living in a community in which unco-ordinated private enterprise plays a large part are necessarily demoralised by the advantages they enjoy and that they must be dispossessed by the worker and peasant, who are presented as endowed with a collective virtue capable of running all the complex machinery of a modern community. But the staring truth of the matter is that an uncoordinated scramble between individuals and nations alike, demoralises all concerned. Everyone is corrupted, the filching tramp by the roadside, the servile hand-kissing peasant of Eastern Europe, the dole-bribed loafer, as much as the woman who marries for money, the company promoter, the industrial organiser, the rent-exacting landlord and the diplomatic agent. When the social atmosphere is tainted everybody is ill.

Wealth, personal freedom and education, may and do produce wasters and oppressive people, but they may also release creative and administrative minds to opportunity. The history of science and invention before the nineteenth century confirms this. On the whole if we are to assume there is anything good in humanity at all, it is more reasonable to expect it to appear when there is most opportunity.

And in further confutation of the Marxist caricature of human motives, we have the very considerable number of young people drawn from middle-class and upper-class homes, who figure in the extreme left movement everywhere. It is their moral reaction to the "stuffiness" and social ineffectiveness of their parents and their own sort of people. They seek an outlet for their abilities that is not gainful but serviceable. Many have sought an honourable life - and often found it, and death with it - in the struggle against the Catholics and their Moorish and Fascist helpers in Spain.

It is a misfortune of their generation, that so many of them have fallen into the mental traps of Marxism. It has been my absurd experience to encounter noisy meetings of expensive young men at Oxford, not one of them stunted physically as I was by twenty years of under-nourishment and devitalised upbringing, all pretending to be rough-hewn collarless proletarians in shocked revolt against my bourgeois tyranny and the modest comfort of my declining years, and reciting the ridiculous classwar phrases by which they protected their minds from any recognition of the realities of the case. But though that attitude demonstrates the unstimulating education of their preparatory and public schools, which had thrown them thus uncritical and emotional into the problems of the undergraduate life, it does not detract from the fact that they had found the idea of abandoning themselves to a revolutionary reconstruction of society, that promised to end its enormous waste of potential happiness and achievement, extremely attractive, notwithstanding that their own advantages seemed to be reasonably secure.

Faced with the immediate approach of discomfort, indignity, wasted years, mutilation - death is soon over but one wakes up again to mutilation every morning - because of this ill-conceived war; faced also by the reversion of Russia to autocracy and the fiscal extinction of most of the social advantages of their families; these young people with a leftish twist are likely not only to do some very profitable reexamination of their own possibilities but also to find themselves joined in that re-examination by a very considerable number of others who have hitherto been repelled by the obvious foolishness and insincerity of the hammer and sickle symbols (workers and peasants of Oxford!) and the exasperating dogmatism of the orthodox Marxist. And may not these young people, instead of waiting to be overtaken by an insurrectionary revolution from which they will emerge greasy, unshaven, class-conscious and in incessant danger of liquidation, decide that before the Revolution gets hold of them they will get hold of the Revolution and save it from the inefficiency, mental distortions, disappointments and frustrations that have over-taken it in Russia.

This new and complete Revolution we contemplate can be defined in a very few words. It is (a) outright world-socialism, scientifically planned and directed, plus (b) a sustained insistence upon law, law based on a fuller, more jealously conceived resentment of the personal Rights of Man, plus (c) the completest freedom of speech, criticism and publication, and sedulous expansion of the educational organisation to the ever-growing demands of the new order. What we may call the eastern or Bolshevik Collectivism, the Revolution of the Internationale, has failed to achieve even the first of these three items and it has never even attempted the other two.

Putting it at its compactest, it is the triangle of Socialism, Law and Knowledge, which frames the Revolution which may yet save the world.

Socialism! Become outright collectivists? Very few men of the more fortunate classes in our old collapsing society who are over fifty will be able to readjust their minds to that. It will seem an entirely repulsive suggestion to them. (The average age of the British Cabinet at the present time is well over sixty.) But it need not be repulsive at all to their sons. They will be impoverished anyhow. The stars in their courses are seeing to that. And that will help them greatly to realise that an administrative control to administrative participation and then to direct administration are easy steps. They are being taken now, first in one matter and then in another. On both sides of the Atlantic. Reluctantly and often very disingenuously and against energetic but diminishing resistances. Great Britain, like America, may become a Socialist system with a definitive Revolution, protesting all the time that it is doing nothing of the sort.

In Britain we have now no distinctively educated class, but all up and down the social scale there are well-read men and women who have thought intensely upon these great problems we have been discussing. To many of them and maybe to enough of them to start the avalanche of purpose that will certainly develop from a clear and determined beginning, this conception of Revolution to evoke a liberal collectivised world may appeal. And so at last we narrow down our enquiry to an examination of what has to be done now to save the Revolution, what the movement or its Party - so far as it may use the semblance of a Party will do, what its Policy will be. Hitherto we have been demonstrating why a reasonable man, of any race or language anywhere, should become a "Western" Revolutionary. We have now to review the immediate activities to which he can give himself.
Site Admin
Posts: 31752
Joined: Thu Aug 01, 2013 5:21 am

Re: The New World Order, by H. G. Wells

Postby admin » Sat Oct 12, 2019 12:42 am


LET US RESTATE THE general conclusions to which our preceding argument has brought us.

The establishment of a progressive world socialism in which the freedoms, health and happiness of every individual are protected by a universal law based on a re-declaration of the rights of man, and wherein there is the utmost liberty of thought, criticism and suggestion, is the plain, rational objective before us now. Only the effective realisation of this objective can establish peace on earth and arrest the present march of human affairs to misery and destruction. We cannot reiterate this objective too clearly and too frequently. The triangle of collectivisation, law and knowledge should embody the common purpose of all mankind.

But between us and that goal intervenes the vast and deepening disorders of our time. The new order cannot be brought into existence without a gigantic and more or less co-ordinated effort of the saner and abler elements in the human population. The thing cannot be done rapidly and melodramatically. That effort must supply the frame for all sane social and political activities and a practical criterion for all religious and educational associations. But since our world is multitudinously varied and confused, it is impossible to narrow down this new revolutionary movement to any single class, organisation or Party. It is too great a thing for that. It will in its expansion produce and perhaps discard a number of organisations and Parties, converging upon its ultimate objective. Consequently, in order to review the social and political activities of sane, clear-headed people to-day, we have to deal with them piecemeal from a number of points of view. We have to consider an advance upon a long and various front.

Let us begin then with the problem of sanity in face of the political methods of our time. What are we to do as voting citizens? There I think the history of the so-called democracies in the past half-century is fairly conclusive. Our present electoral methods which give no choice but a bilateral choice to the citizen and so force a two-party system upon him, is a mere caricature of representative government. It has produced upon both sides of the Atlantic, big, stupid, and corrupt party machines. That was bound to happen and yet to this day there is a sort of shyness in the minds of young men interested in politics when it comes to discussing Proportional Representation. They think it is a "bit faddy". At best it is a side issue. Party politicians strive to maintain that bashfulness, because they know quite clearly that what is called Proportional Representation with the single transferable vote in large constituencies, returning a dozen members or more, is extinction for the mere party hack and destruction for party organisations.

The machine system in the United States is more elaborate, more deeply entrenched legally in the Constitution and illegally in the spoils system, and it may prove more difficult to modernise than the British, which is based on an outworn caste tradition. But both Parliament and Congress are essentially similar in their fundamental quality. They trade in titles, concessions and the public welfare, and they are only amenable in the rough and at long last to the movements of public opinion. It is an open question whether they are much more responsive to popular feeling than the Dictators we denounce so unreservedly as the antithesis of democracy. They betray a great disregard of mass responses. They explain less. They disregard more. The Dictators have to go on talking and talking, not always truthfully but they have to talk. A dumb Dictator is inconceivable.

In such times of extensive stress and crisis as the present, the baffling slowness, inefficiency and wastefulness of the party system become so manifest that some of its worst pretences are put aside. The party game is suspended. His Majesty’s Opposition abandons the pose of safeguarding the interests of the common citizens from those scoundrels upon the government benches; Republican and Democrats begin to cross the party line to discuss the new situation. Even the men who live professionally by the Parliamentary (Congressional) imposture, abandon it if they are sufficiently frightened by the posture of affairs. The appearance of an All-Party National Government in Great Britain before very long seems inevitable.

Great Britain has in effect gone socialist in a couple of months; she is also suspending party politics. Just as the United States did in the great slump. And in both cases this has happened because the rottenness and inefficiency of party politics stank to heaven in the face of danger. And since in both cases Party Government threw up its hands and bolted, is there any conceivable reason why we should let it come back at any appearance of victory or recovery, why we should not go ahead from where we are to a less impromptu socialist regime under a permanent non-party administration, to the reality if not to the form of a permanent socialist government?

Now here I have nothing to suggest about America. I have never, for example, tried to work out the consequences of the absence of executive ministers from the legislature. I am inclined to think that is one of the weak points in the Constitution and that the English usage which exposes the minister to question time in the House and makes him a prime mover in legislation affecting his department, is a less complicated and therefore more democratic arrangement than the American one. And the powers and functions of the President and the Senate are so different from the consolidated powers of Cabinet and Prime Minister, that even when an Englishman has industriously "mugged up" the constitutional points, he is still almost as much at a loss to get the living reality as he would be if he were shown the score of an opera before hearing it played or the blue prints of a machine he had never seen in action. Very few Europeans understand the history of Woodrow Wilson, the Senate and his League of Nations. They think that "America", which they imagine as a large single individual, planted the latter institution upon Europe and then deliberately shuffled out of her responsibility for it, and they will never think otherwise. And they think that "America" kept out of the war to the very limit of decency, overcharged us for munitions that contributed to the common victory, and made a grievance because the consequent debt was not discharged. They talk like that while Americans talk as if no English were killed between 1914 and 1918 (we had 800,000 dead) until the noble American conscripts came forward to die for them (to the tune of about 50,000). Savour for example even the title of Quincy Howe’s England expects every American to do his Duty. It’s the meanest of titles, but many Americans seem to like it.

On my desk as I write is a pamphlet by a Mr Robert Randall, nicely cyclostyled and got up. Which urges a common attack on the United States as a solution of the problem of Europe. No countries will ever feel united unless they have a common enemy, and the natural common enemy for Europe, it is declared, is the United States. So to bring about the United States of Europe we are to begin by denouncing the Monroe doctrine. I believe in the honesty and good intentions of Mr Robert Randall; he is, I am sure, no more in the pay of Germany, direct or indirect, than Mr Quincy Howe or Mr Harry Elmer Barnes; but could the most brilliant of Nazi war propagandists devise a more effective estranging suggestion? . . .

But I wander from my topic. I do not know how sane men in America are going to set about relaxing the stranglehold of the Constitution, get control of their own country out of the hands of those lumpish, solemnly cunning politicians with their great strong jowls developed by chewing-gum and orotund speaking, whose photographs add a real element of frightfulness to the pages of Time, how they are going to abolish the spoils system, discover, and educate to expand a competent civil service able to redeem the hampered promises of the New Deal and pull America into line with the reconstruction of the rest of the world. But I perceive that in politics and indeed in most things, the underlying humour and sanity of Americans are apt to find a way round and do the impossible, and I have as little doubt they will manage it somehow as I have when I see a street performer on his little chair and carpet, all tied up with chains, waiting until there are sufficient pennies in the hat to justify exertion.

These differences in method, pace and tradition are a great misfortune to the whole English-speaking world. We English people do not respect Americans enough; we are too disposed to think they are all Quincy Howes and Harry Elmer Barneses and Borahs and suchlike, conceited and suspicious anti-British monomaniacs, who must be humoured at any cost; which is why we are never so frank and rude with them as they deserve. But the more we must contain ourselves the less we love them. Real brothers can curse each other and keep friends. Someday Britannia will give Columbia a piece of her mind, and that may clear the air. Said an exasperated Englishman to me a day or so ago: "I pray to God they keep out of the end of this war anyhow. We shall never hear the last of it if they don’t. . . ."

Yet at a different pace our two people are travelling towards identical ends, and it is lamentable that a difference of accent and idiom should do more mischief than a difference of language.

So far as Great Britain goes things are nearer and closer to me, and it seems to me that there is an excellent opportunity now to catch the country in a state of socialisation and suspend party politics, and keep it at that. It is a logical but often disregarded corollary of the virtual creation of All-Party National Governments and suspension of electoral contests, that since there is no Opposition, party criticism should give place to individual criticism of ministers, and instead of throwing out governments we should set ourselves to throw out individual administrative failures. We need no longer confine our choice of public servants to political careerists. We can insist upon men who have done things and can do things, and whenever an election occurs we can organise a block of non-party voters who will vote it possible for an outsider of proved ability, and will at any rate insist on a clear statement from every Parliamentary candidate of the concrete service, if any, he has done the country, of his past and present financial entanglements and his family relationships and of any title he possesses. We can get these necessary particulars published and note what newspapers decline to do so. And if there are still only politicians to vote for, we can at least vote and spoil our voting cards by way of protest.

At present we see one public service after another in a mess through the incompetent handling of some party hack and the unseen activities of interested parties. People are asking already why Sir Arthur Salter is not in control of Allied Shipping again, Sir John Orr directing our food supply with perhaps Sir Fredrick Keeble to help him, Sir Robert Vansittart in the Foreign Office. We want to know the individuals responsible for the incapacity of our Intelligence and Propaganda Ministries, so that we may induce them to quit public life. It would be quite easy now to excite a number of anxious people with a cry for "Competence not Party".

Most people in the British Isles are heartily sick of Mr Chamberlain and his government, but they cannot face up to a political split in wartime, and Mr Chamberlain sticks to office with all the pertinacity of a Barnacle. But if we do not attack the government as a whole, but individual ministers, and if we replace them one by one, we shall presently have a government so rejuvenated that even Mr Chamberlain will realise and accept his superannuation. Quite a small body of public-spirited people could organise an active Vigilance Society to keep these ideas before the mass of voters and begin the elimination of inferior elements from our public life. This would be a practical job of primary importance in our political regeneration. It would lead directly to a new and more efficient political structure to carry on after the present war has collapsed or otherwise ended.

Following upon this campaign for the conclusive interment of the played-out party system, there comes the necessity for a much more strenuous search for administrative and technical ability throughout the country. We do not want to miss a single youngster who can be of use in the great business of making over Great Britain, which has been so rudely, clumsily and wastefully socialised by our war perturbations, so that it may become a permanently efficient system.

And from the base of the educational pyramid up to its apex of higher education of teachers, heads of departments and research, there is need for such a quickening of minds and methods as only a more or less organised movement of sanely critical men can bring about. We want ministers now of the highest quality in every department, but in no department of public life is a man of creative understanding, bold initiative and administrative power so necessary as in the Education Ministry.

So tranquil and unobtrusive has been the flow of educational affairs in the British Empire that it seems almost scandalous, and it is certainly "vulgar", to suggest that we need an educational Ginger Group to discover and support such a minister. We want a Minister of Education who can shock teachers into self-examination, electrify and rejuvenate old dons or put them away in ivory towers, and stimulate the younger ones. Under the party system the Education Ministry has always been a restful corner for some deserving party politician with an abject respect for his Alma Mater and the permanent officials. During war time, when other departments wake up, the Education Department sinks into deeper lethargy. One cannot recall a single British Education Minister, since there have been such things in our island story as Ministers for Education, who signified anything at all educationally or did anything of his own impulse that was in the least worth while.

Suppose we found a live one - soon - and let him rip!

There again is something to be done far more revolutionary than throwing bombs at innocent policemen or assassinating harmless potentates or ex-potentates. And yet it is only asking that an existing department be what it pretends to be.

A third direction in which any gathering accumulation of sanity should direct its attention is the clumsy unfairness and indirectness of our present methods of expropriating the former well-to-do classes. The only observable principle seems to be widows and children first. Socialisation is being effected in Britain and America alike not by frank expropriation (with or without compensation) but by increasing government control and increasing taxation. Both our great communities are going into socialism backward and without ever looking round. This is good in so far as that technical experience and directive ability is changed over step by step from entirely private employment to public service, and on that side sane and helpful citizens have little to do beyond making the process conscious of itself and the public aware of the real nature of the change, but it is bad in its indiscriminate destruction of savings, which are the most exposed and vulnerable side of the old system. They are expropriated by profit-control and taxation alike, and at the same time they suffer in purchasing power by the acceleration of that process of monetary inflation which is the unavoidable readjustment, the petition in bankruptcy, of a community that has overspent.

The shareholding class dwindles and dies; widows and orphans, the old who are past work and the infirm who are incapable of it, are exposed in their declining years to a painful shrinkage of their modes of living; there is no doubt a diminution of social waste, but also there is an indirect impoverishment of free opinion and free scientific and artistic initiative as the endless societies, institutions and services which have enriched life for us and been very largely supported by voluntary subscriptions, shrivel. At present a large proportion of our scientific, artistic, literary and social workers are educated out of the private savings fund. In a class-war revolution these economically very defenceless but socially very convenient people are subjected to vindictive humiliation - it is viewed as a great triumph for their meaner neighbours - but a revolution sanely conducted will probably devise a system of terminable annuities and compensation, and of assistance to once voluntary associations, which will ease off the social dislocations due to the disappearance of one stratum of relatively free and independent people, before its successors, that is to say the growing class of retired officials, public administrators and so forth, find their feet and develop their own methods of assertion and enterprise.
Site Admin
Posts: 31752
Joined: Thu Aug 01, 2013 5:21 am


Return to Ancien Regime

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 3 guests