'The Open Conspiracy': H.G. Wells Plots The World Empire

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'The Open Conspiracy': H.G. Wells Plots The World Empire

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'The Open Conspiracy': H.G. Wells Plots The World Empire
by Michele Steinberg
Executive Intelligence Review, Volume 33, Number 12
March 24, 2006

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-- A Modern Utopia, by H. G. Wells
-- Tales of Space and Time, by H. G. Wells
-- The History of the Fabian Society, by Edward R. Pease
-- The Open Conspiracy, by H. G. Wells
-- The Time Machine: An Invention, by H. G. Wells
-- The War of the Worlds, by H. G. Wells
-- The Way the World Is Going: Guesses & Forecasts of The Years Ahead, by H.G. Wells
-- Rabindranath Tagore: In Conversation with H. G. Wells, Excerpted from: A Tagore Reader, edited by Amiya Chakravarty
-- H. G. Wells, by Wikipedia
-- Political views of H.G. Wells, by Wikipedia
-- 'The Open Conspiracy': H.G. Wells Plots The World Empire, by Michele Steinberg
-- Celebrating HG Wells’s role in the creation of the UN Declaration of Human Rights: Wells was highly prophetic. But, asks Ali Smith, could he have foreseen that the fundamental freedoms h, set out in The Rights of Man would be under attack 75 years later?, by Ali Smith
-- H.G. Wells' Interview With Stalin Helped Change the Fundamental Principles of Liberalism, by Malcolm Cowley
-- Icarus, or The Future of Science, by Bertrand Russell
-- James Joyce: H.G. Wells reviews "A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man", by H.G. Wells
-- New Republic, by Spartacus Educational
-- One of Wells’s Worlds, by John Maynard Keynes
-- The Godfather of American Liberalism: H. G. Wells: novelist, historian, authoritarian, anticapitalist, eugenicist, and advisor to presidents, by Fred Siegel
-- The Idea of a League of Nations: "What has happened is essentially this, that the natural limitations on warfare which have existed hitherto appear to have broken down.", by Herbert George Wells
-- Utopian Pessimist: The works, world view, and women of H. G. Wells, by Adam Kirsch


This is reprinted from "Zbigniew Brzezinski and September 11th," a Special Report issued in February 2002 by the LaRouche in 2004 Presidential campaign committee.

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).

Milner was the creator of the Round Table Group (since this is but another name for the Kindergarten) and remained in close personal contact with it for the rest of his life. In the sketch of Milner in the Dictionary of National Biography, written by Basil Williams of the Kindergarten, we read: "He was always ready to discuss national questions on a non-party basis, joining with former members of his South African 'Kindergarten' in their 'moot,' from which originated the political review, The Round Table, and in a more heterogeneous society, the 'Coefficients,' where he discussed social and imperial problems with such curiously assorted members as L. S. Amery, H. G. Wells, (Lord) Haldane, Sir Edward Grey, (Sir) Michael Sadler, Bernard Shaw, J. L. Garvin, William Pember Reeves, and W. A. S. Hewins.""

-- The Anglo-American Establishment: From Rhodes to Cliveden, by Carroll Quigley


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."

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.

During the First World War, Chesterton, [H. G.] Wells, and others of the New Age crowd worked for Wellington House, Britain's propaganda unit under Charles Masterman, which was taken over by Lord Beaverbrook [aka Max Aitken] in 1917.

-- The CCF and the God of Thunder Cult, by Stanley Ezrol & Jeffrey Steinberg


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.


-- 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


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 financial and economic life of mankind has become world-wide, and it is suffering a vast demoralisation by the universal insecurity in monetary standards. There is no evidence anywhere of democracy’s ability to tackle this difficult and urgent problem. The world needs a common money....It can only get a practically common money through the cooperation of governments....

Economic life, too, has ceased to be manageable through comparatively small businesses run as individual adventures. Control of staple products, systematic regulated production and distribution in the case of such commodities as coal are urgently needed. These things extend beyond national limits....Democracy seems incapable of producing politicians competent to direct these big affairs. Private business alone is too chaotic and individualistic to direct them....

The disposition to push aside parliamentary governments spreads daily.... Russia... China... Italy... Spain... Poland and Hungary... Greece.... Turkey....

It seemed as though Great Britain also might join the comity of nations weary of politicians....

Outside of America extraordinarily few people still believe in political democracy at all except as a make-shift to stand in the way of worse things, tyrannies, oligarchies and the like horrors.... A number of us do imagine that democracy might be preserved, as a vastly different and more efficient method of government... with very much smaller parliamentary bodies... and hand over the decisive control of things to a body of prominent citizens.... elections by suddenly and fortuitously appointed jurymen instead of by entire constituencies....

The essential weakness of democracy... is that the great mass of human beings are not sufficiently intelligent nor sufficiently interested to follow political issues at all... the Sovereign People is roused to a temporary sporting interest, and votes according to panic or prejudice. It does not even vote according to its interests....

Every extension of the suffrage in Great Britain has brought in more masses of utterly indifferent people to vote....

Political democracy is still apparently a going concern in America, least chastened of continents, but elsewhere there seems very little go left in it. And I do not think that we begin yet to realise the significance of those new associations of which Communism and Fascism are the best-known types, and the Kuomintang....

I find the Communist Party a very wonderful and instructive fact in my world.... Economic and social doctrine apart, I recognise very enviable and admirable qualities in the Communist Party both in Russia and in England..... it is very largely composed of quite young people who give themselves to an astonishing extent to what they believe to be the social, political and economic rebirth of the world. They are, the most of them, animated by an intense, essentially religious passion. They toil mentally and make great sacrifices. They shape their lives to fit their faith..... They cooperate with one another with a remarkably willing discipline. Religious is the only word I know to describe their enthusiasm, and there is not a religious teacher in the world who would not gladly inoculate the youth of his congregation with the courage, spirit, and energy these Communists display — if he could get it separated from the mind and spirit of Marx.... They go to prison and even, in some Eastern countries, to death very courageously.

And if you are loth to hear so much good of the Communist Party, perhaps the Fascists are more to your taste.... there, too, in bands of no very considerable multitude, is a devotion and a spirit that can give over a great country into their hands.

I want to suggest that we may be only in the opening phase of this sort of political religiosity, both on the left side and on the right side, and that in its development lies the answer to the question of what is to come after democracy.... These experiments seem to show already quite new possibilities of concentrated directive power.

-- Doubts of Democracy: New Experiments in Government, from "The Way The World is Going," by H. G. Wells


"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."

The race process as a whole has come home to me with unusual vividness....

We are in the beginning of an age whose broad characteristics may be conveyed some day by calling it The Age of Democracy under Revision....

That Ascendency of Democracy has culminated; and like some wave that breaks upon a beach, its end follows close upon its culmination.

Now what do we mean by this word Democracy?....

All human beings are of equal value in the sight of God.... All men are equal before the law... One man's money is as good as another's.

This implies a repudiation of caste, of inherent rank and function, of all privileges and all fixed subordinations. It is equalitarian or rebellious. And it is mildly paradoxical in the fact that, by insisting upon the importance of all individualities, it tends to restrain the exaltation of particular individuals, and by exalting all individuals to an equal level, it subordinates all individuals to the mass....

Democracy to many minds will also involve the challenging and repudiation of authority....

In politics it produced government by elected representative assemblies — elected by an ever-widening constituency of voters....

The crowd of individuals and its interplay have become everything. Great ideas that bind people together into any form of collective life are disregarded. Great religious ideas, great political ideas and developments are not there in any living, fermenting, debatable form.... You think at once of a picture of humanity like a market-place, like a fair, like the high-road to anywhere on a busy day....

The disappearance, so to speak, of the whole world in a crowd of people.... What is everybody's business is nobody’s business.... Modern Democracy is not a permanent form of political and social life, but a phase of immense dissolution.....

If we turn to painting or to music we find all over this period the same effect of release — if you like — detachment, anyhow, from broad constructive conceptions and any sort of synthesis. There was very little detached painting in the old world. It was a part of something else. It decorated a building, it subserved a religious or political as well as a decorative purpose.... But with the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries painting became more and more liberated, said good-bye to the altar-piece and the palace and set out upon a life of its own. Now our painters are pure anarchists. They paint what pleases them for the sake of painting. They paint with a total disregard of any collective reality....

So too music has broken loose. In the old world it was relevant and generally subordinate.... Music which, apart from its beauty, has no sort of collective meaning, no social object at all....

The chief forms of human expression during the past age enables us to see in all of them Democracy as a great process of loosening of bonds and general disintegration....

In the realms of political, literary and artistic expression Democracy meant fragmentation and reduction to unorganised masses...

The proposition that any man is as important as any man has come hard against certain mental and material realities. History for the last hundred years or so has been largely the story of that collision. This assertion of human equality has come against the severest stresses at the boundaries where language meets language, and at the geographical or social frontiers of dissimilar races. There the common man, who has been willing to break down all the boundaries between himself and his superiors, discovers deep instinctive dispositions to call a halt and draw the line.... The Age of Democracy has also been the Age of Nationalism. Never in the whole history of mankind have national and racial antagonisms been so acute and conscious, so massive, powerful and dangerous, as they have become during the ascent of Democracy.... Still more edifying are the fluctuations of the Labour movement in such countries as Australia and South Africa with regard to yellow and brown immigration and the black vote.

But nationalism is not the greatest force that Modern Democracy has evoked against itself in its ascent. Far more fundamental is the synthetic drive in economic life, the enormous material pressure making for the replacement of individual and small competitive businesses by great and unifying enterprises....

These great crystallisations of business — so large as to become at last monopolies — are plainly due to the releases of Democracy, the freedom of science, invention, experiment and enterprise, the lack of control and restriction the ascent of Democracy has involved.... But the main expression of this conflict between synthesis and analysis in the democratic age has been the struggle for and against Socialism.... Socialism is the attempt to democratise economic life....

Since the War, there has been a growing distrust of and discontent with the politicians and the political methods evolved by Parliamentary Democracy.

In two great Latin countries ... In Russia ... In China .... the magic has gone out of the method of government by general elections....

Democracy is entering upon a phase of revision in which Parliaments and parliamentary bodies and political life as we know it to-day are destined to disappear....

For a number of generations the democratic process ruling the world has meant nothing but release, enfranchisement for freedom, the breaking down of controls and restraints and obstacles. There has been a worldwide detachment of individuals from codes and controls, subjugations and responsibilities, functions and duties. I suggest that this process of dissolution is at an end, and that mankind is faced — is challenged — by the need for reorganisation and reorientation, political and social and intellectual, quite beyond the power of the negligent common voter and his politicians and the happy-go-lucky education and literature on which our minds are fed....

How futile so far have been the attempts of our modern democratic Governments and communities to find solutions, to ... the problem of war.... I take it that an enormous majority of humanity now wants no more war.

Yet consider how feeble have been the efforts of any Government since 1918 to set up more than the flimsiest paper barriers against war. The sabres still rattle in Europe....

Modern Democracy has no power to handle... the monetary question.... A stable money basis of world-wide validity is essential.... And nowhere, in any Democracy, has the mass of voters shown the slightest understanding of or ability to grasp the processes which threw them out of employment, made their poor savings evaporate, and snatched the necessaries of life out of their reach....

Through changes in methods of transport and the advance of science and invention, economic life has become world-wide and a certain economic unity is being imposed willy-nilly upon the globe.... the method of the small individual manufacturer and trader, the method even of the moderate-sized competing company, the method even of national groups, tend to be superseded, in the case of all our staple supplies, by combinations upon a universal scale. The master problem before us all, before our race, is how to achieve this world economic unity, how to produce a system of world controls with as little blind experiment as possible, without the sacrifice of countless millions of whole generations, in the throes of this inevitable reconstruction. How to establish enough political unity in the world to ensure peace; how to establish enough political unity to save industry and trade from becoming the mere preliminaries to a gamble with the exchange; how to establish enough political unity to control and direct the distribution of raw products, employment and manufactured goods about the earth....

The root of the trouble with Modern Democracy ... is the indifference, ignorance and incapacity of the common man towards public affairs....

Our modern democratic Governments reveal as clearly that the onset of Modern Democracy did not mean a transfer of power from the few to the many, but a disappearance of power from the world.... Faced with gigantic constructive needs of ever-increasing urgency, political Democracy fails. It cannot produce inventive and original Governments; it cannot produce resolute Governments; it cannot produce understanding, far-thinking Governments. Its utmost act of will is the capricious or peevish dismissal of Governments by a general election....

We need now more definite direction and government in human affairs, on a scale and of a quality commensurate with the three mighty problems our race has to face.... Are there any signs of a new, more decisive and more vigorously constructive form of government in our world? I submit there are, and on these signs I rest my anticipations of the Age of Democracy under Revision that is dawning upon us.... I would particularly draw your attention [to] the Communist Party and Fascism....

I am anti-Communist and anti-Fascist. But what I am discussing now is not the mental content of these two movements, but their quality and spirit as organisations....

They are both mainly composed of youngish people.... The movement dominates the entire life. The individual gives himself — or herself — to the movement in a spirit essentially religious. It enters into the life and into the conscience as few religions do nowadays. Communism indeed claims that it is a complete substitute for religion. Everything else is to be subordinated to the ends of the movement....

Neither in Italy nor Russia do the masses of the population seem to resent the dictatorship of these associations....

I am building my expectation of a new phase in human affairs upon the belief that there is a profoundly serious minority in the mass of our generally indifferent species.... They are the salt of the earth, these people capable of devotion and of living lives for remote and mighty ends....

More than twenty years ago, in a book called “A Modern Utopia,” when there was not a fact on earth to support me, I sketched a World State ruled by a self-devoted organisation of volunteers. To-day I can recall that conception of a future society and I can appeal to Russia, China, Italy and much that is astir everywhere, to substantiate that possibility.... What is there to prevent a great politico-religious drive for social and world unity taking hold everywhere of the active and adventurous minority of mankind....

We are already in the beginning of the phase of Democratic Synthesis, a great religious-spirited phase. If you choose to link it to Christianity or Islam or Buddhism or any existing democratic religion; or to Communism, that religious substitute; or call it in itself the Religion of Progress, nothing that I am saying here to-night will stand in your way....

If this thesis is right, the novel and the drama should be changing. They should both be bringing in great issues, a quasi-religious attitude to world affairs as a living part of the human story.... It should be turning decisively towards responsibility, to what I might call creative propaganda. It should be permeated by the question: “What do these lives make for?"

-- Democracy Under Revision, from "The Way The World is Going," by H. G. Wells


No, Wells has one essential enemy that the Open Conspiracy must destroy: that is, the sovereign nation-state. The goal of its destruction is his life's work.

As Wells put it, "This is my religion .... This book states as plainly and clearly as possible the essential ideas of my life, the perspectives of my world. My other writings, with hardly an exception, explore, try over, illuminate, comment upon or flower out of the essential matter that I here attempt at last to strip bare to its foundations and state unmistakably .... Here are my directive aims and the criteria of all I do .... [It is] a scheme for all human requirements."

Wells sets out the means to accomplish three ghastly goals, all in the name of ending war and poverty, to "save" man from himself:

• End the nation-state forever, replacing it with a world government run by the "Atlantic" elite: "The Open Conspiracy rests upon a disrespect for nationality, and there is no reason why it should tolerate noxious or obstructive governments because they hold their own in this or that patch of human territory. It lies within the power of the Atlantic communities to impose peace upon the world and secure unimpeded movement and free speech from end to end of the earth. This is a fact on which the Open Conspiracy must insist."

But, Wells cautions, the Open Conspiracy might have to make war in order to end war. He explains that the Open Conspiracy's commitment to world peace and ending war does not mean an exclusion of soldiers, warriors, and military means. Rather, the question is to whom might these warriors be loyal. It may be necessary for the Open Conspiracy to use "enlightened" warriors: "From the outset, the Open Conspiracy will set its face against militarism [but] the anticipatory repudiation of military service need not necessarily involve a denial of the need of military action on behalf of the world commonweal, for the suppression of national brigandage, nor need it prevent the military training of members of the Open Conspiracy .... Our loyalty to our current government, we would intimate, is subject to its sane and adult behavior."

Control human population to a limit set by a "world directorate" created by this elite. The means to be used for this population control would be "science" (eugenics, sterilization, and birth control); and total economic control by the world "directorate" of all credit generation, and of all distribution of economic staples needed for human survival (food, water, and shelter).

The Open Conspiracy "turns to biology for ... the regulation of quantity and a controlled distribution of human population of the world." And without this degree of control, the human race is doomed. So instead of the General Welfare of the U.S. Constitution, Wells suggests a selective welfare where the world directorate eliminates population growth in order to perfect the race. This is not just a material necessity, explains Wells, but larger, for under the Open Conspiracy "[man] will not be left with his soul tangled, haunted by monstrous and irrational fears and a prey to malicious impulse .... He will feel better, will better, think better, see, taste, and hear better than men do now.
All these things are plainly possible for him. They pass out of his tormented desire now, they elude and mock him, because chance, confusion, and squalor rule his life. All the gifts of destiny are overlaid and lost to him. He must still suspect and fear."

The statesman, both for himself and others, must recognise ... the necessity for real and imaginary aggregations to sustain men in their practical service of the order of the world. He must be a sociologist; he must study the whole science of aggregations in relation to that World State to which his reason and his maturest thought direct him. He must lend himself to the development of aggregatory ideas that favour the civilising process, and he must do his best to promote the disintegration of aggregations and the effacement of aggregatory ideas, that keep men narrow and unreasonably prejudiced one against another....

The natural man does not feel he is aggregating at all, unless he aggregates against something. He refers himself to the tribe; he is loyal to the tribe, and quite inseparably he fears or dislikes those others outside the tribe. The tribe is always at least defensively hostile and usually actively hostile to humanity beyond the aggregation....

One finds among the civilised peoples of the world certain broad types of aggregatory idea. There are, firstly, the national ideas, ideas which, in their perfection, require a uniformity of physical and mental type, a common idiom, a common religion, a distinctive style of costume, decoration, and thought, and a compact organisation acting with complete external unity.... And I will confess and point out that my own detachment from these delusions is so imperfect and discontinuous that in another passage I have committed myself to a short assertion of the exceptionally noble quality of the English imagination... I am constantly gratified by flattering untruths about English superiority which I should reject indignantly were the application bluntly personal, and I am ever ready to believe the scenery of England, the poetry of England, even the decoration and music of England, in some mystic and impregnable way, the best. This habit of intensifying all class definitions, and particularly those in which one has a personal interest, is in the very constitution of man's mind. It is part of the defect of that instrument.... And a too consistent attack on it may lead simply to its inversion, to a vindictively pro-foreigner attitude that is equally unwise.

The second sort of aggregatory ideas, running very often across the boundaries of national ideas and in conflict with them, are religious ideas.... There was, and there remains to this day, a profound disregard of local dialect and race in the Roman Catholic tradition, which has made that Church a persistently disintegrating influence in national life. Equally spacious and equally regardless of tongues and peoples is the great Arabic-speaking religion of Mahomet....

True to the law that all human aggregation involves the development of a spirit of opposition to whatever is external to the aggregation, extraordinary intensifications of racial definition are going on; the vileness, the inhumanity, the incompatibility of alien races is being steadily exaggerated. The natural tendency of every human being towards a stupid conceit in himself and his kind, a stupid depreciation of all unlikeness, is traded upon by this bastard science.... These new arbitrary and unsubstantial race prejudices become daily more formidable. They are shaping policies and modifying laws, and they will certainly be responsible for a large proportion of the wars, hardships, and cruelties the immediate future holds in store for our earth.

No generalisations about race are too extravagant for the inflamed credulity of the present time. No attempt is ever made to distinguish differences in inherent quality—the true racial differences—from artificial differences due to culture.....

It surely needs at least the gifts and training of a first-class novelist, combined with a sedulous patience that probably cannot be hoped for in combination with these, to gauge the all-round differences between man and man.... And then consider the sort of people who pronounce judgments on the moral and intellectual capacity of the negro, the Malay, or the Chinaman. You have missionaries, native schoolmasters, employers of coolies, traders, simple downright men, who scarcely suspect the existence of any sources of error in their verdicts, who are incapable of understanding the difference between what is innate and what is acquired, much less of distinguishing them in their interplay....

But all such questions are illuminated as soon as we recognise the nature of the spiritual essence which lies at the back of our blood. Who can deny that this question is closely linked to that of race, which at the present time is once more coming markedly to the front? Yet this question of race is one that we can never understand until we understand the mysteries of the blood and of the results accruing from the mingling of the blood of different races. And finally, there is yet one other question, the importance of which is becoming more and more acute as we endeavour to extricate ourselves from the hitherto aimless methods of dealing with it, and seek to approach it in its more comprehensive bearings. This problem is that of colonisation, which crops up wherever civilised races come into contact with the uncivilised: namely -- To what extent are uncivilised peoples capable of becoming civilised? How can a negro or an utterly barbaric savage become civilised? And in what way ought we to deal with them? And here we have to consider not only the feelings due to a vague morality, but we are also confronted by great, serious, and vital problems of existence itself.

Those who are not aware of the conditions governing a people -- whether it be on the up- or down-grade of its evolution, and whether the one or the other is a matter conditioned by its blood -- such people as these will, indeed, be unlikely to hit on the right mode of introducing civilisation to an alien race. These are all matters which arise as soon as the Blood Question is touched upon....


At the present time everything in a man's environment is impressed upon his blood; hence the environment fashions the inner man in accordance with the outer world. In the case of primitive man it was that which was contained within the body that was more fully expressed in the blood. In those early times the recollection of ancestral experiences was inherited, and, along with this, good or evil tendencies. In the blood of the descendants were to be traced the effects of the ancestors' tendencies. But, when the blood was mixed through exogamy, this close connection with ancestors was severed, and man began to live his own personal life. He began to regulate his moral tendencies according to what he experienced in his own personal life. Thus, in an unmixed blood is expressed the power of the ancestral life, and in a mixed blood the power of personal experience....

When two groups of people come into contact, as is the case in colonisation, then those who are acquainted with the conditions of evolution are able to foretell whether or no an alien form of civilisation can be assimilated by the others. Take, for example, a people that is the product of its environment, into whose blood this environment has built itself, and try to graft upon such a people a new form of civilisation. The thing is impossible. This is the reason why certain aboriginal peoples have to go under, as soon as colonists come to their particular parts of the world.


It is from this point of view that the question will have to be considered, and the idea that changes are capable of being forced upon all and sundry will in time cease to be upheld, for it is useless to demand from blood more than it can endure....

Whoever, therefore, would master a man, must first master that man's blood. This must be borne in mind if any advance is to be made in practical life. For example, the individuality of a people may be destroyed if, when colonising, you demand from its blood more than it can bear, for in the blood the ego is expressed. Beauty and truth possess a man only when they possess his blood.

-- The Occult Significance of Blood, by Rudolf Steiner


The Utopian experiment, humble as it is, can, I think, throw some light on these mighty problems. The relations between the type and the various sub-types, between the type and the individual, between the sub-type and the individual - whether in plant or beast or man - are matters which could not be handled within the limits of this book, and which I have therefore as far as possible ignored. Nor have I attempted to deal with the difficult problems that are presented by the existence of races, such as the Negro, which seem to be far below the normal level of human development. There is, however, in the vast region of thought which these and kindred problems open out to us, one by-way which I must be allowed to follow for a while.

The wild bullace is, I believe, the ancestor of many of our yellow plums. In other words, bullacehood can develop into plumhood, and even into the perfection of plumhood. Similarly human nature can develop into something so high above the normal level of human nature that it might almost seem to belong to another genus. But there is a difference between the two cases. The bullace ideal is in the individual bullace tree. So, in a sense, is the plum ideal. But the latter cannot be realised, or even approached, by the individual bullace tree. It cannot be realised, or even approached, by the bullace species except through a long course of culture and breeding.


-- What Is and What Might Be: A Study of Education in General and Elementary Education in Particular, by Edmond Holmes


For my own part I am disposed to discount all adverse judgments and all statements of insurmountable differences between race and race.... Here or there is a brutish or evil face, but you can find as brutish and evil in the Strand on any afternoon. There are differences no doubt, but fundamental incompatibilities—no!....

A great and increasing number of people are persuaded that “half-breeds” are peculiarly evil creatures—as hunchbacks and bastards were supposed to be in the middle ages.... It may be that most “half-breeds” are failures in life, but that proves nothing. They are, in an enormous number of cases, illegitimate and outcast from the normal education of either race; they are brought up in homes that are the battle-grounds of conflicting cultures; they labour under a heavy premium of disadvantage....

Suppose, then, for a moment, that there is an all-round inferior race; a Modern Utopia is under the hard logic of life, and it would have to exterminate such a race as quickly as it could. On the whole, the Fijian device seems the least cruel. But Utopia would do that without any clumsiness of race distinction, in exactly the same manner, and by the same machinery, as it exterminates all its own defective and inferior strains; that is to say, as we have already discussed in Chapter the Fifth, § 1, by its marriage laws, and by the laws of the minimum wage. That extinction need never be discriminatory. If any of the race did, after all, prove to be fit to survive, they would survive—they would be picked out with a sure and automatic justice from the over-ready condemnation of all their kind.

Is there, however, an all-round inferior race in the world? Even the Australian black-fellow is, perhaps, not quite so entirely eligible for extinction as a good, wholesome, horse-racing, sheep-farming Australian white may think. These queer little races, the black-fellows, the Pigmies, the Bushmen, may have their little gifts, a greater keenness, a greater fineness of this sense or that, a quaintness of the imagination or what not, that may serve as their little unique addition to the totality of our Utopian civilisation. We are supposing that every individual alive on earth is alive in Utopia, and so all the surviving “black-fellows” are there. Every one of them in Utopia has had what none have had on earth, a fair education and fair treatment, justice, and opportunity. Suppose that the common idea is right about the general inferiority of these people, then it would follow that in Utopia most of them are childless, and working at or about the minimum wage, and some will have passed out of all possibility of offspring under the hand of the offended law; but still—cannot we imagine some few of these little people—whom you must suppose neither naked nor clothed in the European style, but robed in the Utopian fashion—may have found some delicate art to practise, some peculiar sort of carving, for example, that justifies God in creating them? Utopia has sound sanitary laws, sound social laws, sound economic laws; what harm are these people going to do?....

And, indeed, coming along that terrace in Utopia, I see a little figure, a little bright-eyed, bearded man, inky black, frizzy haired, and clad in a white tunic and black hose, and with a mantle of lemon yellow wrapped about his shoulders. He walks, as most Utopians walk, as though he had reason to be proud of something, as though he had no reason to be afraid of anything in the world. He carries a portfolio in his hand....

When you say Chinaman, you think of a creature with a pigtail, long nails, and insanitary habits, and when you say negro you think of a filthy-headed, black creature in an old hat. You do this because your imagination is too feeble to disentangle the inherent qualities of a thing from its habitual associations....

Because the proportion of undesirables is higher among negroes, that does not justify a sweeping condemnation. You may have to condemn most, but why all? There may be—neither of us knows enough to deny—negroes who are handsome, capable, courageous.”...

It would seem that the ideal of the British Liberals and of the American Democrats is to favour the existence of just as many petty, loosely allied, or quite independent nationalities as possible, just as many languages as possible, to deprecate armies and all controls, and to trust to the innate goodness of disorder and the powers of an ardent sentimentality to keep the world clean and sweet. The Liberals will not face the plain consequence that such a state of affairs is hopelessly unstable, that it involves the maximum risk of war with the minimum of permanent benefit and public order. They will not reflect that the stars in their courses rule inexorably against it. It is a vague, impossible ideal, with a rude sort of unworldly moral beauty....

Neither of these two schools of policy, neither the international laisser faire of the Liberals, nor “hustle to the top” Imperialism, promise any reality of permanent progress for the world of men. They are the resort, the moral reference, of those who will not think frankly and exhaustively over the whole field of this question....

It would be so easy to bring about a world peace within a few decades, was there but the will for it among men!... There are the common people and the subject peoples to be educated and drilled, to be led to a common speech and a common literature, to be assimilated and made citizens....

How foolish and dangerous it is still to sustain linguistic differences and custom houses, and all sorts of foolish and irritating distinctions between their various citizens! Why should not all these peoples agree to teach some common language, French, for example, in their common schools, or to teach each other's languages reciprocally? Why should they not aim at a common literature, and bring their various common laws, their marriage laws, and so on, into uniformity? Why should they not work for a uniform minimum of labour conditions through all their communities? Why, then, should they not—except in the interests of a few rascal plutocrats—trade freely and exchange their citizenship freely throughout their common boundaries? No doubt there are difficulties to be found, but they are quite finite difficulties. What is there to prevent a parallel movement of all the civilised Powers in the world towards a common ideal and assimilation?

Stupidity—nothing but stupidity, a stupid brute jealousy, aimless and unjustifiable.

-- Race in Utopia, from "A Modern Utopia," by H. G. Wells


• Eliminate forever the "illusion" that man is made in the image of God, and as such, has a capacity for the Good. Instead, Wells insists that man is an "imperfect animal": jealous, rageful, easy to anger, and "not to be trusted in the dark."

"Man is a malicious animal," says Wells, with a "common disposition to be stupid, indolent, habitual and defensive." In man, the creative impulses are weaker forces than "acute destructive ones." Human nature is destructive, he insists, explaining:

"To make is a long and wearisome business, with many arrests and disappointments, but to break gives an instant thrill. We all know something of the delight of the bang. Such impulses must be controlled by the world directorate."
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Re: 'The Open Conspiracy': H.G. Wells Plots The World Empire

Postby admin » Sat Oct 12, 2019 9:01 am

Part 2 of 2

Wells, at one point, attempts to boil down his new religion to six "basic essential requirements":

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H.G. Wells' philosophy was based on the conviction that "man is a malicious animal," "not to be trusted in the dark."

"1. The complete assertion, practical as well as theoretical, of the provisional nature of existing governments and of our acquiescence in them;

"2. The resolve to minimise by all available means the conflicts of these governments, their militant use of individuals and property and their interferences with the establishment of a world economic system;

"3. The determination to replace private local or national ownership of at least credit, transport, and staple production by a responsible world directorate serving the common ends of the race;

"4. The practical recognition of the necessity for world biological controls, for example, of population and disease;

"5. The support of a minimum standard of individual freedom and welfare in the world;

The old Utopias—save for the breeding schemes of Plato and Campanella—ignored that reproductive competition among individualities which is the substance of life, and dealt essentially with its incidentals. The endless variety of men, their endless gradation of quality, over which the hand of selection plays, and to which we owe the unmanageable complication of real life, is tacitly set aside. The real world is a vast disorder of accidents and incalculable forces in which men survive or fail. A Modern Utopia, unlike its predecessors, dare not pretend to change the last condition; it may order and humanise the conflict, but men must still survive or fail.

Most Utopias present themselves as going concerns, as happiness in being; they make it an essential condition that a happy land can have no history, and all the citizens one is permitted to see are well looking and upright and mentally and morally in tune. But we are under the dominion of a logic that obliges us to take over the actual population of the world with only such moral and mental and physical improvements as lie within their inherent possibilities, and it is our business to ask what Utopia will do with its congenital invalids, its idiots and madmen, its drunkards and men of vicious mind, its cruel and furtive souls, its stupid people, too stupid to be of use to the community, its lumpish, unteachable and unimaginative people? And what will it do with the man who is “poor” all round, the rather spiritless, rather incompetent low-grade man who on earth sits in the den of the sweater, tramps the streets under the banner of the unemployed, or trembles—in another man's cast-off clothing, and with an infinity of hat-touching—on the verge of rural employment?

These people will have to be in the descendant phase, the species must be engaged in eliminating them; there is no escape from that, and conversely the people of exceptional quality must be ascendant. The better sort of people, so far as they can be distinguished, must have the fullest freedom of public service, and the fullest opportunity of parentage. And it must be open to every man to approve himself worthy of ascendency.

The way of Nature in this process is to kill the weaker and the sillier, to crush them, to starve them, to overwhelm them, using the stronger and more cunning as her weapon. But man is the unnatural animal, the rebel child of Nature, and more and more does he turn himself against the harsh and fitful hand that reared him. He sees with a growing resentment the multitude of suffering ineffectual lives over which his species tramples in its ascent. In the Modern Utopia he will have set himself to change the ancient law. No longer will it be that failures must suffer and perish lest their breed increase, but the breed of failure must not increase, lest they suffer and perish, and the race with them.


Now we need not argue here to prove that the resources of the world and the energy of mankind, were they organised sanely, are amply sufficient to supply every material need of every living human being. And if it can be so contrived that every human being shall live in a state of reasonable physical and mental comfort, without the reproduction of inferior types, there is no reason whatever why that should not be secured. But there must be a competition in life of some sort to determine who are to be pushed to the edge, and who are to prevail and multiply. Whatever we do, man will remain a competitive creature, and though moral and intellectual training may vary and enlarge his conception of success and fortify him with refinements and consolations, no Utopia will ever save him completely from the emotional drama of struggle, from exultations and humiliations, from pride and prostration and shame. He lives in success and failure just as inevitably as he lives in space and time.

But we may do much to make the margin of failure endurable. On earth, for all the extravagance of charity, the struggle for the mass of men at the bottom resolves itself into a struggle, and often a very foul and ugly struggle, for food, shelter, and clothing. Deaths outright from exposure and starvation are now perhaps uncommon, but for the multitude there are only miserable houses, uncomfortable clothes, and bad and insufficient food; fractional starvation and exposure, that is to say. A Utopia planned upon modern lines will certainly have put an end to that. It will insist upon every citizen being being properly housed, well nourished, and in good health, reasonably clean and clothed healthily, and upon that insistence its labour laws will be founded. In a phrasing that will be familiar to everyone interested in social reform, it will maintain a standard of life. Any house, unless it be a public monument, that does not come up to its rising standard of healthiness and convenience, the Utopian State will incontinently pull down, and pile the material and charge the owner for the labour; any house unduly crowded or dirty, it must in some effectual manner, directly or indirectly, confiscate and clear and clean. And any citizen indecently dressed, or ragged and dirty, or publicly unhealthy, or sleeping abroad homeless, or in any way neglected or derelict, must come under its care. It will find him work if he can and will work, it will take him to it, it will register him and lend him the money wherewith to lead a comely life until work can be found or made for him, and it will give him credit and shelter him and strengthen him if he is ill. In default of private enterprises it will provide inns for him and food, and it will—by itself acting as the reserve employer—maintain a minimum wage which will cover the cost of a decent life. The State will stand at the back of the economic struggle as the reserve employer of labour. This most excellent idea does, as a matter of fact, underlie the British institution of the workhouse, but it is jumbled up with the relief of old age and infirmity, it is administered parochially and on the supposition that all population is static and localised whereas every year it becomes more migratory; it is administered without any regard to the rising standards of comfort and self-respect in a progressive civilisation, and it is administered grudgingly. The thing that is done is done as unwilling charity by administrators who are often, in the rural districts at least, competing for low-priced labour, and who regard want of employment as a crime. But if it were possible for any citizen in need of money to resort to a place of public employment as a right, and there work for a week or month without degradation upon certain minimum terms, it seems fairly certain that no one would work, except as the victim of some quite exceptional and temporary accident, for less.

The work publicly provided would have to be toilsome, but not cruel or incapacitating. A choice of occupations would need to be afforded, occupations adapted to different types of training and capacity, with some residual employment of a purely laborious and mechanical sort for those who were incapable of doing the things that required intelligence. Necessarily this employment by the State would be a relief of economic pressure, but it would not be considered a charity done to the individual, but a public service. It need not pay, any more than the police need pay, but it could probably be done at a small margin of loss. There is a number of durable things bound finally to be useful that could be made and stored whenever the tide of more highly paid employment ebbed and labour sank to its minimum, bricks, iron from inferior ores, shaped and preserved timber, pins, nails, plain fabrics of cotton and linen, paper, sheet glass, artificial fuel, and so on; new roads could be made and public buildings reconstructed, inconveniences of all sorts removed, until under the stimulus of accumulating material, accumulating investments or other circumstances, the tide of private enterprise flowed again.

The State would provide these things for its citizen as though it was his right to require them; he would receive as a shareholder in the common enterprise and not with any insult of charity. But on the other hand it will require that the citizen who renders the minimum of service for these concessions shall not become a parent until he is established in work at a rate above the minimum, and free of any debt he may have incurred. The State will never press for its debt, nor put a limit to its accumulation so long as a man or woman remains childless
; it will not even grudge them temporary spells of good fortune when they may lift their earnings above the minimum wage. It will pension the age of everyone who cares to take a pension, and it will maintain special guest homes for the very old to which they may come as paying guests, spending their pensions there. By such obvious devices it will achieve the maximum elimination of its feeble and spiritless folk in every generation with the minimum of suffering and public disorder.

-- Failure in a Modern Utopia, from "A Modern Utopia," by H. G. Wells


"6. The supreme duty of subordinating the personal life to the creation of a world directorate capable of these tasks and to the general advancement of human knowledge, capacity, and power."

But the most telling of these "essentials" is the summation, in which Wells insists on an attack on the human soul, that quality that distinguishes human beings from beasts. He insists that all Open Conspirators embrace "the admission therewith that our immortality is conditional and lies in the race and not in our individual selves."

But all such questions are illuminated as soon as we recognise the nature of the spiritual essence which lies at the back of our blood. Who can deny that this question is closely linked to that of race, which at the present time is once more coming markedly to the front? Yet this question of race is one that we can never understand until we understand the mysteries of the blood and of the results accruing from the mingling of the blood of different races. And finally, there is yet one other question, the importance of which is becoming more and more acute as we endeavour to extricate ourselves from the hitherto aimless methods of dealing with it, and seek to approach it in its more comprehensive bearings. This problem is that of colonisation, which crops up wherever civilised races come into contact with the uncivilised: namely -- To what extent are uncivilised peoples capable of becoming civilised? How can a negro or an utterly barbaric savage become civilised? And in what way ought we to deal with them? And here we have to consider not only the feelings due to a vague morality, but we are also confronted by great, serious, and vital problems of existence itself.

Those who are not aware of the conditions governing a people -- whether it be on the up- or down-grade of its evolution, and whether the one or the other is a matter conditioned by its blood -- such people as these will, indeed, be unlikely to hit on the right mode of introducing civilisation to an alien race. These are all matters which arise as soon as the Blood Question is touched upon....

At the present time everything in a man's environment is impressed upon his blood; hence the environment fashions the inner man in accordance with the outer world. In the case of primitive man it was that which was contained within the body that was more fully expressed in the blood. In those early times the recollection of ancestral experiences was inherited, and, along with this, good or evil tendencies. In the blood of the descendants were to be traced the effects of the ancestors' tendencies. But, when the blood was mixed through exogamy, this close connection with ancestors was severed, and man began to live his own personal life. He began to regulate his moral tendencies according to what he experienced in his own personal life. Thus, in an unmixed blood is expressed the power of the ancestral life, and in a mixed blood the power of personal experience....

When two groups of people come into contact, as is the case in colonisation, then those who are acquainted with the conditions of evolution are able to foretell whether or no an alien form of civilisation can be assimilated by the others. Take, for example, a people that is the product of its environment, into whose blood this environment has built itself, and try to graft upon such a people a new form of civilisation. The thing is impossible. This is the reason why certain aboriginal peoples have to go under, as soon as colonists come to their particular parts of the world.

It is from this point of view that the question will have to be considered, and the idea that changes are capable of being forced upon all and sundry will in time cease to be upheld, for it is useless to demand from blood more than it can endure....

Whoever, therefore, would master a man, must first master that man's blood. This must be borne in mind if any advance is to be made in practical life. For example, the individuality of a people may be destroyed if, when colonising, you demand from its blood more than it can bear, for in the blood the ego is expressed. Beauty and truth possess a man only when they possess his blood.

-- The Occult Significance of Blood, by Rudolf Steiner


Upon reading The Open Conspiracy, Bertrand Russell, the other leading British Round Table subversive, wrote to Wells, "I do not know of anything with which I agree more entirely."

Support for a first strike extended far beyond the upper ranks of the U.S. military.
Bertrand Russell -- the British philosopher and pacifist, imprisoned for his opposition to the First World War -- urged the western democracies to attack the Soviet Union before it got an atomic bomb. Russell acknowledged that a nuclear strike on the Soviets would be horrible, but "anything is better than submission." Winston Churchill agreed, proposing that the Soviets be given an ultimatum: withdraw your troops from Germany, or see your cities destroyed. Even Hamilton Holt, lover of peace, crusader for world government, lifelong advocate of settling disputes through meditation and diplomacy and mutual understanding, no longer believed that sort of approach would work. Nuclear weapons had changed everything, and the Soviet Union couldn't be trusted. Any nation that rejected U.N. control of atomic energy, Hold said, "should be wiped off the face of the earth with atomic bombs."

-- Command and Control: Nuclear Weapons, the Damascus Accident, and the Illusion of Safety, by Eric Schlosser


An Unbroken Continuity

The major target of Wells' Open Conspiracy is "the United States and the States of Latin America," where, Wells explains, there is less of a "tangle of traditions and loyalties ... of privileged classes and official patriots ... than in the old European communities."

Additionally, Wells is nothing if not a global thinker, and, in addition to the U.S., he sees Russia as a crucial target to be assimilated by the Open Conspiracy. At one point, he chuckles that, despite the Soviet Union's formal commitment to the "proletariat," the Open Conspiracy "may rule in Moscow before ... New York."

He sees America as uniquely important in the Open Conspiracy because of its growing economic strength. For Wells, the American System of economics, i.e., Hamiltonian economics, is the enemy of the Open Conspiracy, and the financier faction is its ally.

By 1928, Wells writes, "American industries no longer have any practical justification for protection, American finance would be happier without it," but without the success of the Open Conspirators, this protectionism will simply go on and on.

There is no question that the institutions created by William Yandell Elliott and Robert Strausz-Hupe conform precisely to Wells' "blueprints" for ending the American System that he found so offensive to his new religion. He instructed his current and future Co-Conspirators to further the "new religion." He instructed:

"Through special ad hoc organizations, societies for the promotion of Research, for Research Defence, for World Indexing, for the translation of Scientific Papers, for the Diffusion of New Knowledge, the surplus energies of a great number of Open Conspirators can be directed to entirely creative ends and a new world organization" can be built up, superseding, but incorporating, "such dear old institutions as the Royal Society of London, the various European Academies of Science and the like, now overgrown and inadequate .... "


More broadly, in writing The Open Conspiracy, Wells set out to recruit a worldwide network of Open Conspirators, who would operate, within their national settings, on behalf of the global subversion of all nation-states, the "scientific" depopulation of the darker-skinned races of the planet, and the establishment of One World oligarchical domination, under Anglo-American leadership.

"The political work of the Open Conspiracy," Wells writes, "must be conducted upon two levels and by entirely different methods. Its main political idea, its political strategy, is to weaken, efface, incorporate or supersede existing governments .... Because a country or a district is inconvenient as a division and destined to ultimate absorption in some more comprehensive and economical system of government, that is no reason why its administration should not be brought meanwhile into working co-operation with the development of the Open Conspiracy."

But, Wells cautions, no one should be excluded from the Open Conspiracy, not for reasons of class, occupation, or nationality. Instead, "[T]he Open Conspiracy must be heterogeneous in origin. Young men and women may be collected into groups arranged upon lines not unlike those of the Bohemian Sokols or 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."

Three-quarters of a century later, Wells' "Open Conspiracy" is still trying to prevail.

*****

Documentation

Madeleine Albright on Her Debt to H.G. Wells

In 1998-99, President Clinton was faced with a Synarchist insurgency, including from inside his own Administration, following his and Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin's moves towards a "new, global financial architecture." In the same time period, as Clinton was faced with an impeachment assault on the Presidency, the Albright/Holbrooke/Gore crowd in the Administration staged the Kosovo War. At the time, Secretary of State Madeleine Albright openly boasted of her "Wellsian democracy" roots.

In an Oct. 14, 1999 address to the Institute of International Education in New York City, Albright avowed her faithful debt to the doctrines of H.G. Wells. Prior to President Franklin Roosevelt establishing diplomatic relations with the Soviet Union, the IIE was one of the most prominent back channels between the Wall Street and State Department circles and Moscow. In the 1930s, the IIE formed the Emergency Committee for Displaced German Scholars, through which the entire Frankfurt School apparatus of social revolutionaries and subversives was brought to the United States, and placed in American universities and research centers.


Here are excerpts from Albright's IIE speech.


. . . I am, indeed, a long time fan of the IIE for many job-related reasons. But I also have a personal one. When my family first came to America in 1948, my father, who had been a Czechoslovak diplomat, needed to find a new line of work. And Ben Carrington, who was one of the patron saints of IIE, was at the University of Denver and he is the one who brought my father out to Denver where my father and our family thrived ....

About the time that IIE was founded, British author H.G. Wells wrote that history is a race between education and catastrophe.

The New (World) Education Fellowship

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Beatrice Ensor and Professor Carl Jung - Montreux 1923 - Second International Conference of the N.E.F.

In 1921, together with Iwan Hawliczek, she [Beatrice Ensor] organised a conference in Calais on the ‘Creative Self-Expression of the Child’, with attendance of over 100. Although this was inspired by theosophists anxious to prevent another world war, what emerged was the New (later World) Education Fellowship [8], an entirely non-political and non-sectarian forum for new ideas in education. It was not to advocate any particular method but to ‘seek to find the thread of truth in all methods’. It still has active sections in some 20 countries. Beatrice Ensor, together with the editors of the other two journals, formed the initial organising committee of the N.E.F., which held international conferences at two yearly intervals, presided over by distinguished educationists and pedagogues.

The second conference of 1923 was held in Montreux, Switzerland and there she met Professor Carl Jung whom she invited to speak at a meeting in London (where she introduced him to H. G. Wells), Emile Jacques-Dalcroze, Professor Franz Cizek and Alfred Adler.

In 1929 the conference was held in Kronborg Castle, Helsingör, Denmark and amongst the delegates and speakers were Maria Montessori, Rabindranath Tagore, Jean Piaget, Kurt Lewin, Adolphe Ferrière fr:Adolphe Ferrière, Ovide Decroly, Helen Parkhurst, Pierre Bovet fr:Pierre Bovet, A. S. Neill, Elisabeth Rotten, Franz Cizek, Dr Harold Rugg, Professor T P Nunn, and Paul Geheeb de:Paul Geheeb.


Other conferences were held at Locarno (1927), Cheltenham and Heidelberg (1925).

-- Beatrice Ensor, by Wikipedia


Helping people to value democratic principles of tolerance and openness is a good way to aid us all in winning that race ....

Modern Democracy is not a permanent form of political and social life, but a phase of immense dissolution....

My anticipations of the Age of Democracy under Revision that is dawning upon us ... are [with] the Communist Party and Fascism.

-- The Way the World Is Going: Guesses & Forecasts of The Years Ahead, by H.G. Wells


In relatively closed societies, IIE programs provide a rare chance to establish outside contact and explore wonderfully dangerous ideas, such as freedom. In transitional countries they provide a means of educating future leaders about the nuts and bolts of democratic institutions. And in every nation they touch, they help open the door of opportunity to minorities and women ....

It is also appropriate because the IIE is a champion of free expression, training journalists in many key countries. But even more important, freedom of speech and expression are fundamental to the principles and values that America promotes around the world. The universal declaration on human rights provides that everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and to impart and receive ideas through the media. The very importance of this right is what causes dictators to want to suppress it. For, to dictators, the truth is often inconvenient and sometimes a mortal threat. And that's why so often they try to grab the truth and leash it like a dog, ration it like bread or mold it like clay. Their goal is to create their own myths, conceal their own blunders, direct resentments elsewhere and instill in their people a dread of change.

Consider, for example, Serbia. For years Slobodan Milosevic, now an indicted war criminal, has fed his people lies while repressing and terrorizing those who sought the truth. Slavko Curuvija, a newspaper owner and critic of Milosevic, was murdered this Spring after being harassed repeatedly by Serb authorities. Other independent voices, such as the opposition newspaper, Glas Javnosti, have also been fined or temporarily shut down ....

Around the world Americans may be proud that our diplomats regularly stress the importance of free speech and a free press. Both publicly and privately we urge that the rights of journalists and other reporters be respected. One place where we've made a special effort is Kosovo ....

As we scan the horizon we see the ongoing problems of intolerance in the Balkans and the obstacles to a free press created by organized crime in Russia. We see the clashes in Iran and China between those who favor greater openness and those who fear it and the tendency in so many countries still to censor ideas rather than debate them. We're reminded daily that the quest for free expression must confront many hurdles and remains a long-distance race. But with H.G. Wells' aphorism in mind, we must and will continue to educate, advocate, and insist that global norms be respected ....

It would be so easy to bring about a world peace within a few decades, was there but the will for it among men!... There are the common people and the subject peoples to be educated and drilled, to be led to a common speech and a common literature, to be assimilated and made citizens....

How foolish and dangerous it is still to sustain linguistic differences and custom houses, and all sorts of foolish and irritating distinctions between their various citizens! Why should not all these peoples agree to teach some common language, French, for example, in their common schools, or to teach each other's languages reciprocally? Why should they not aim at a common literature, and bring their various common laws, their marriage laws, and so on, into uniformity? Why should they not work for a uniform minimum of labour conditions through all their communities? Why, then, should they not—except in the interests of a few rascal plutocrats—trade freely and exchange their citizenship freely throughout their common boundaries? No doubt there are difficulties to be found, but they are quite finite difficulties. What is there to prevent a parallel movement of all the civilised Powers in the world towards a common ideal and assimilation?

Stupidity—nothing but stupidity, a stupid brute jealousy, aimless and unjustifiable.

-- Race in Utopia, from "A Modern Utopia," by H. G. Wells
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Re: 'The Open Conspiracy': H.G. Wells Plots The World Empire

Postby admin » Sat Oct 12, 2019 9:41 am

Celebrating HG Wells’s role in the creation of the UN Declaration of Human Rights: Wells was highly prophetic. But, asks Ali Smith, could he have foreseen that the fundamental freedoms he set out in The Rights of Man would be under attack 75 years later?
by Ali Smith
The Guardian
Fri 20 Nov 2015 11.00 EST Last modified on Wed 29 Nov 2017 06.11 EST

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HG Wells, early 1940s. Photograph: Popperfoto/Getty Images

HG Wells wrote several classic, visionary novels about the very worst consequences a past and a present can have on a future, and a great deal of what he wrote, though it takes fantasy form, has come to pass, with stunning corollaries with his own time, the time after him, with our own time, and presumably with the as-yet-unwritten time ahead of us too.

So, what did the socialist visionary choose to do, at the latter end of his life, when he was in his 70s – the man who had seen and foreseen so much, in his fiction and his political writing, including (and this is just scraping the surface of his foreseeing) tanks, global warming, aerial flight and bombardment, visible mass surveillance, invisible mass surveillance, modern germ warfare, radio, TV, video, the world wide web, the atom bomb, fallout and radioactive waste, laser beams, cosmetic surgery, chemical weaponry? What did the far-seeing man do, whose literary rise and circulation in the world had made him exceptionally powerful and exceptionally thoughtful about the workings of power, the man who had been invited to meet and advise both Roosevelt and Stalin, who had worked on ways, in his latter years, to “release a new form of power in the world”, a power “without tyranny”, one “to hold men’s minds together in something like a common interpret-ation of reality” and a real “unification of our race” and to work for “our collective life”? What could such a profoundly prophetic writer do, who not only knew but drew for us the thin line between fantasy and reality, possibility and impossibility, and who so convincingly, prophetically and repeatedly envisioned the worst possible things that the world, the universe and the human beings in it can do to each other?

He wrote and published, in 1940, a book called The Rights of Man “using ‘man’, of course,” as he said, “to cover every individual male or female, child or adult, of the species”. He helped form and sustain PEN, where an internationality of writers would come together and think the world, and fight for and protect each other’s freedom to write and freedom to read. He helped form and sustain the National Council for Civil Liberties, now known as Liberty, to monitor and fight for the freedoms that human beings need, and that weak or bullying governments who want all the power will always want to mess with.

Above all, Wells believed that what we needed to do was make and ratify as law an international declaration of human rights. In his final years of life, he was a core contributor to the Sankey Declaration of the Rights of Man; in fact, he was the most active member of its committee, the main drafter of its clauses of fundamental human rights. Wells’s drafts were closely followed in the eventual drawing up of the wording for the 1948 UN Declaration of Human Rights, shortly after his death in 1946. The UK’s own Human Rights Act finally passed into law in 1998, incorporating into British law for the first time the European Convention on Human Rights, protecting human rights across Europe and ratified by 47 member states (the UK was one of the first countries to ratify it in 1951, supported, especially by Churchill, as a protection against the possible return of fascism). The current UK government announced as soon as it took office that it fully intends to “scrap” the Human Rights Act – this is the verb they always use (though personally I find it an obscenity, the words “scrap” and “human” and “rights” together in any sentence.)

Since 1896, when he was a young man writing The Island of Doctor Moreau, a book about the beast in the human, he had been interested in how at the mercy of the random or self-serving lawmakers we are. In the first year of the second world war, remembering how little the League of Nations had been able to “banish armed conflict from the world”, he published The Rights of Man as a call for “a profound reconstruction of the methods of human living”. His question, in 1940 – in fact, his book’s sub-heading – was: what are we fighting for? His answer: “a declaration of rights for the common welfare … a code of fundamental human rights which shall be made easily accessible to everyone”.

His initial draft included most of the things you can still find in our current Human Rights Act, and is especially, and presciently, strong on rights to privacy and dismissal of secrecy. “All registration and records about citizens shall be open to their personal and private inspection. There shall be no secret dossiers in any administrative department.”

Wells was wise enough to call for a visible form of support after a lifetime of seeing the dark of the future


The other suggested rights were: right to nourishment, housing, healthcare and mental care; right to education; right to have home and private property protected; right to work and earn and be free from slavery; right to move freely about the world; right to public trial and to detention for a short fixed time only; freedom from torture and degrading or inhuman treatment; right not to be force-fed nor stopped from hunger strike if you so choose; and right to finite imprisonment terms.

He spends the book tinkering with the precise wordings of these suggested rights, to get it right, because on the one hand, “in its thickets”, as he puts it, “governmental activities can interweave with, and at last become indistinguishable from organised crime”. On the other hand, “the primary objective of every sane social order is to banish fear … from human life”.

Here’s Wells, writing 75 years ago:

The enormous change in human conditions to which nearly all our present stresses are due, the abolition of distance and the stupendous increase in power, have flung together the population of the world so that a new way of living has become imperative … The elaboration of methods and material has necessitated a vast development and refinement of espionage, and in addition the increasing difficulty of understanding what the warfare is really about has produced new submersive and demoralising activities of rumour-spreading, propaganda and the like, that complicate and lose contact at last with any rational objective … The uprooting of millions of people who are driven into exile among strangers, who are forced to seek new homes, produces a peculiar exacerbation of the mental strain. Never have there been such crowds of migrating dep-ressing people. They talk languages we do not understand … they stimulate xenophobia without intention … Their necessary discordance with the new populations they invade releases and intensifies the natural distrust and hostility of man for man – which it is the aim of all moral and social training to eliminate … For the restoration and modernisation of human civilisation, this exaggerated outlawing of the fellow citizen who we see fit to suspect as a traitor or revolutionary and also of the stranger within our gates, has to be restrained and brought back within the scheme of human rights.


Image
A protest outside No 10 last week against perceived human rights abuses by Indian PM Narendra Modi, who was visiting the UK. Photograph: Hugh Cunningham/Demotix/Corbis

Given how familiar all this sounds, it is interesting that our own Human Rights Act is right now coming under attack. The government keeps calling it Labour’s Human Rights Act. It’s not: it was a cross-party formation, and it is ours and belongs to all of us. They want to replace it with a British bill of rights – as if all nationalities are equal, but some are more equal than others. Wells would have dismissed the argument for a British bill of rights, in the interest of “the claims of the common man”, claims “against any government that seeks to defeat, exploit or betray” those common claims.

Back in 1940 Wells was facing his own “incalculable government”, and wanted one that would “declare for these rights unequivocally – or get out”. To paraphrase him slightly: an act of gross cruelty or injustice that occurs anywhere, wherever it happens, is just as much a British person’s concern, a Scottish person’s concern, an English person’s, an Irish person’s, a Welsh person’s, a (fill in the blank with a nationality of your choice) person’s concern. He knew that, as José Saramago puts it in his great novel Seeing: “rights aren’t abstractions, they continue to exist even when they’re not respected”.

“There is no source of law,” Wells says, “but the whole people, and since life flows on constantly to new citizens, no generation of the people can in whole or in part surrender or delegate the legislative power inherent in mankind.”

Jorge Luis Borges thought Wells’s books, especially the early fantastic classics, would last for ever, “be incorporated, like the fables … into the general memory of the species and even transcend … the extinction of the language in which they were written”. Wells himself, knowing the future as he did, was a bit more urgent and immediate about it:

“The only true measure of success is the ratio between what we might have done and what we might have been on the one hand, and the thing we have made and the things we have made of ourselves on the other.”

• This is an extract from the second annual PEN HG Wells lecture given by Ali Smith at the 2015 Edinburgh international book festival. HG Wells’s The Rights of Man has been reissued by Penguin.
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Re: 'The Open Conspiracy': H.G. Wells Plots The World Empire

Postby admin » Sun Oct 13, 2019 12:29 am

Icarus, or The Future of Science
by Bertrand Russell
1924

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I. Introductory

Mr. Haldane's Daedalus has set forth an attractive picture of the future as it may become through the use of scientific discoveries to promote human happiness. Much as I should like to agree with his forecast, a long experience of statesmen and government has made me somewhat sceptical. I am compelled to fear that science will be used to promote the power of dominant groups, rather than to make men happy. Icarus, having been taught to fly by his father Daedalus, was destroyed by his rashness. I fear that the same fate may overtake the populations whom modern men of science have taught to fly. Some of the dangers inherent in the progress of science while we retain our present political and economic institutions are set forth in the following pages.

This subject is so vast that it is impossible, within a limited space, to do more than outline some of its aspects. The world in which we live differs profoundly from that of Queen Anne's time, and this difference is mainly attributable to science. That is to say, the difference would be very much less than it is but for various scientific discoveries, but resulted from those discoveries by the operation of ordinary human nature. The changes that have been brought about have been partly good, partly bad; whether, in the end, science will prove to have been a blessing or a curse to mankind, is to my mind, still a doubtful question.

A science may affect human life in two different ways. On the one hand, without altering men's passions or their general outlook, it may increase their power of gratifying their desires. On the other hand, it may operate through an effect upon the imaginative conception of the world, the theology or philosophy which is accepted in practice by energetic men. The latter is a fascinating study, but I shall almost wholly ignore it, in order to bring my subject within a manageable compass. I shall confine myself almost wholly to the effect of science in enabling us to gratify our passions more freely, which has hitherto been far the more important of the two.

From our point of view, we may divide the sciences into three groups: physical, biological, and anthropological. In the physical group I include chemistry, and broadly speaking any science concerned with the properties of matter apart from life. In the anthropological group I include all studies especially concerned with man: human physiology and psychology (between which no sharp line can be drawn), anthropology, history, sociology, and economics. All these studies can be illuminated by considerations drawn from biology; for instance, Rivers threw a new light on parts of economics by adducing facts about landed property among birds during the breeding season. But in spite of their connection with biology --- a connection which is likely to grow closer as time goes on --- they are broadly distinguished from biology by their methods and data, and deserve to be grouped apart, at any rate in a sociological inquiry.

The effect of the biological sciences, so far, has been very small. No doubt Darwinism and the idea of evolution affected men's imaginative outlook; arguments were derived in favour of free competition, and also of nationalism. But these effects were of the sort that I propose not to consider. It is probable that great effects will come from these sciences sooner or later. Mendelism might have revolutionized agriculture, and no doubt some similar theory will do so sooner or later. Bacteriology may enable us to exterminate our enemies by disease. The study of heredity may in time make eugenics an exact science, and perhaps we shall in a later age be able to determine at will the sex of our children. This would probably lead to an excess of males, involving a complete change in family institutions. But these speculations belong to the future. I do not propose to deal with the possible future effects of biology, both because my knowledge of biology is very limited, and because the subject has been admirably treated by Mr. Haldane. {1}

The anthropological sciences are those from which, a priori, we might have expected the greatest social effects, but hitherto this has not proved to be the case, partly because these sciences are mostly still at an early stage of development. Even economics has not so far had much effect. Where it has seemed to have, this is because it advocated what was independently desired. Hitherto, the most effective of the anthropological sciences has been medicine, through its influence on sanitation and public health, and through the fact that it has discovered how to deal with malaria and yellow fever. Birth-control is also a very important social fact which comes into this category. But although the future effect of the anthropological sciences (to which I shall return presently) is illimitable, the effect up to the present has been confined within fairly narrow limits.

One general observation to begin with. Science has increased man's control over nature, and might therefore be supposed likely to increase his happiness and well-being. This would be the case if men were rational, but in fact they are bundles of passions and instincts. An animal species in a stable environment, if it does not die out, acquires an equilibrium between its passions and the conditions of its life. If the conditions are suddenly altered, the equilibrium is upset. Wolves in a state of nature have difficulty in getting food, and therefore need the stimulus of a very insistent hunger. The result is that their descendants, domestic dogs, over-eat if they are allowed to do so. When a certain amount of something is useful, and the difficulty of obtaining it is diminished, instinct will usually lead an animal to excess in the new circumstances. The sudden change produced by science has upset the balance between our instincts and our circumstances, but in directions not sufficiently noted. Over-eating is not a serious danger, but over-fighting is. The human instincts of power and rivalry, like the dog's wolfish appetite will need to be artificially curbed, if industrialism is to succeed.

II. Effects of the Physical Sciences

Much the greatest part of the changes which science has made in social life is due to the physical sciences, as is evident when we consider that they brought about the industrial revolution. This is a trite topic, about which I shall say as little as my subject permits. There are, however, some points which must be made.

First, industrialism still has great parts of the earth's surface to conquer. Russia and India are very imperfectly industrialized; China hardly at all. In South America there is room for immense development. One of the effects of industrialism is to make the world an economic unit: its ultimate consequences will be very largely due to this fact. But before the world can be effectively organized as a unit, it will probably be necessary to develop industrially all the regions capable of development that are at present backward. The effects of industrialism change as it becomes more wide-spread; this must be remembered in any attempt to argue from its past to its future.

The second point about industrialism is that it increases the productivity of labour, and thus makes more luxuries possible. At first, in England, the chief luxury achieved was a larger population with an actual lowering of the standard of life. Then came a golden age when wages increased, hours of labour diminished, and simultaneously the middle-class grew more prosperous. That was while Great Britain was still supreme. With the growth of foreign industrialism, a new epoch began. Industrial organizations have seldom succeeded in becoming world-wide, and have consequently become national. Competition, formerly between individual firms, is now mainly between nations, and is therefore conducted by methods quite different from those contemplated by the classical economists.

Modern industrialism is a struggle between nations for two things, markets and raw materials, as well as for the sheer pleasure of domination. The labour which is set free from providing the necessaries of life tends to be more and more absorbed by national rivalry. There are first the armed forces of the State; then those who provide munitions of war, from the raw minerals up to the finished product; then the diplomatic and consular services; then the teachers of patriotism in schools; then the Press. All of these perform other functions as well, but the chief purpose is to minister to international competition. As another class whose labours are devoted to the same end, we must add a considerable proportion of the men of science. These men invent continually more elaborate methods of attack and defence. The net result of their labours is to diminish the proportion of the population that can be put into the fighting line, since more are required for munitions. This might seem a boon, but in fact war is now-a-days primarily against the civilian population, and in a defeated country they are liable to suffer just as much as the soldiers.

It is science above all that has determined the importance of raw materials in international competition. Coal and iron and oil, especially, are the bases of power, and thence of wealth. The nation which possesses them, and has the industrial skill required to utilize them in war, can acquire markets by armed force, and levy tribute upon less fortunate nations. Economists have underestimated the part played by military prowess in the acquisition of wealth. The landed aristocracies of Europe were, in origin, warlike invaders. Their defeat by the bourgeoisie in the French Revolution, and the fear which this generated in the Duke of Wellington, facilitated the rise of the middle class. The wars of the eighteenth century decided that England was to be richer than France. The traditional economist's rules for the distribution of wealth hold only when men's actions are governed by law, i. e. when most people think the issue unimportant. The issues that people have considered vital have been decided by civil war or wars between nations. And for the present, owing to science, the art of war consists in possessing coal, iron, oil, and the industrial skill to work them. For the sake of simplicity, I omit other raw materials, since they do not affect the essence of our problem.

We may say, therefore, speaking very generally, that men have used the increased productivity which they owe to science for three chief purposes in succession: first, to increase the population; then, to raise the standard of comfort; and, finally, to provide more energy to war. This last result has been chiefly brought about by competition for markets, which led to competition for raw materials, especially the raw materials of munitions.

III. The Increase of Organization

The stimulation of nationalism which has taken place in modern times is, however, due very largely to another factor, namely the increase of organization, which is of the very essence of industrialism. Wherever expensive fixed capital is required, organization, on a large scale is of course necessary. In view of the economies of large scale production, organization in marketing also becomes of great importance. For some purposes, if not for all, many industries come to be organized nationally, so as to be in effect one business in each nation.

Science has not only brought about the need for large organizations, but also the technical possibility of their existence. Without railways, telegraphs and telephones, control from a centre is very difficult. In ancient empires, and in China down to modern times, provinces were governed by practically independent satraps or proconsuls, who were appointed by the central government, but decided almost all questions on their own initiative. If they displeased the sovereign, they could only be controlled by civil war, of which the issue was doubtful. Until the invention of the telegraph, ambassadors had a great measure of independence, since it was often necessary to act without waiting for orders from home. What applied in politics applied also in business: an organization controlled from the centre had to be very loosely knit, and to allow much autonomy to subordinates. Opinion as well as action was difficult to mould from a centre, and local variations marred the uniformity of party creeds.

Now-a-days all this is changed. Telegraph, telephone, and wireless make it easy to transmit orders from a centre: railways and steamers make it easy to transport troops in case the orders are disobeyed. Modern methods of printing and advertising make it enormously cheaper to produce and distribute one newspaper with a large circulation than many with small circulations; consequently, in so far as the Press controls opinion, there is uniformity, and, in particular, there is uniformity of news. Elementary education, except in so far as religious denominations introduce variety, is conducted on a uniform pattern decided by the State, by means of teachers whom the State has trained, as far as possible, to imitate the regularity and mutual similarity of machines produced to standard. Thus the material and psychological conditions for a great intensity of organization have increased pari passu, but the basis of the whole development is scientific invention in the purely physical realm. Increased productivity has played its part, by making it possible to set apart more labour for propaganda, under which head are to be included advertisement, the cinema, the Press, education, politics, and religion. Broadcasting is a new method likely to acquire great potency as soon as people are satisfied that it is not a method of propaganda.

Political controversies, as Mr. Graham Wallas has pointed out, ought to be conducted in quantitative terms. If sociology were one of the sciences that had affected social institutions (which it is not), this would be the case. The dispute between anarchism and bureaucracy at present tends to take the form of one side maintain that we want no organization, while the other maintains that we want as much as possible. A person imbued with the scientific spirit would hardly even examine these extreme positions. Some people think that we keep our rooms too hot for health, others that we keep them too cold. If this were a political question, one party would maintain that the best temperature is the absolute zero, the other that it is the melting point of iron. Those who maintained any intermediate position would be abused as timorous time-servers, concealed agents of the other side, men who ruined the enthusiasm of a sacred cause by tepid appeals to mere reason. Any man who had the courage to say that our rooms ought to be neither very hot nor very cold would be abused by both parties, and probably shot in No Man's Land. Possibly some day politics may become more rational, but so far there is not the faintest indication of a change in this direction.

To a rational mind, the question is not: Do we want organization or do we not? The question is: How much organization do we want, and where and when and of what kind? In spite of a temperamental leaning to anarchism, I am persuaded that an industrial world cannot maintain itself against internal disruptive forces without a great deal more organization than we have at present. It is not the amount of organization, buts its kind and its purpose, that causes our troubles. But before tackling this question, let us pause for a moment to ask ourselves what is the measure of the intensity of organization in a given community.

A man's acts are partly determined by spontaneous impulse, partly by the conscious or unconscious effects of the various groups to which he belongs. A man who works (say) on a railway or in a mine, is, in his working hours almost entirely determined in his actions by those who direct the collective labour of which he forms part. If he decides to strike, his action is again not individual, but determined by his Union. When he votes for Parliament, party caucuses have limited his choice to one of two or three men, and party propaganda has induced him to accept in toto one of two or three blocks of opinions which form the rival party programmes. His choice between the parties may be individual, but it may also be determined by the action of some group, such as a trade union, which collectively supports one party. His newspaper-reading exposes him to great organized forces; so does the cinema, if he goes to it. His choice of a wife is probably spontaneous, except that he must choose a woman of his own class. But in the education of his children he is almost entirely powerless: they must have the education which is provided. Organization thus determines many vital things in his life. Compare him to a handicraftsman or peasant-proprietor who cannot read and does not have his children educated, and it becomes clear what is meant by saying that industrialism has increased the intensity of organization. To defines this term we must, I think, exclude the unconscious effects of groups, except as causes facilitating the conscious effects. We may define the intensity of organization to which a given individual is subject as the proportion of his acts which is determined by the orders or advice of some group, expressed through democratic decisions or executive officers. The intensity of organization in a community may then be defined as the average intensity for its several members.

The intensity of organization is increased not only when a man belongs to more organizations, but also when the organizations to which he already belongs play a larger part in his life, as, for example, the State plays a larger part in war than in peace.

Another matter which needs to be treated quantitatively is the degree of democracy, oligarchy, or monarchy in an organization. No organization belongs completely to any one of the three types. There must be executive officers, who will often in practice be able to decide policy, even if in theory they cannot do so. And even if their power depends upon persuasion, they may so completely control the relevant publicity that they can always rely upon a majority. The directors of a railway company, for instance, are to all intents and purposes uncontrolled by the shareholders, who have no adequate means of organizing an opposition if they should wish to do so. In America, a railroad president is almost a monarch. In party politics, the power of leaders, although it depends upon persuasion, continually increases as printed propaganda becomes more important. For these reasons, even where formal democracy increases, the real degree of democratic control tends to diminish, except on a few questions which rouse strong popular passions.

The result of these causes is that, in consequence of scientific inventions which facilitate centralization and propaganda, groups become more organized, more disciplined, more group-conscious and more docile to leaders. The effect of leaders on followers is increased, and the control of events by a few prominent personalities becomes more marked.

In all this there would be nothing very tragic, but for the fact, with which science has nothing to do, that organization is almost wholly national. If men were actuated by the love of gain, as the older economists supposed, this would not be the case; the same causes which have led to national trusts would have led to international trusts. This has happened in a few instances, but not on a sufficiently wide scale to affect politics or economics very vitally. Rivalry is, with most well-to-do energetic people, a stronger motive than love of money. Successful rivalry requires organization of rival forces; the tendency is for a business such as oil, for example, to organize itself into two rival groups, between them covering the world. They might, of course, combine, and they would no doubt increase their wealth if they did so. But combination would take the zest out of life. The object of a football team, one might say, is to kick goals. If two rival teams combined, and kicked the ball alternately over the two goals, many more goals would be scored. Nevertheless no one suggest that this should be done, the object of a football team being not to kick goals but to win. So the object of a big business is not to make money, but to win in the contest with some other business. If there were no other business to be defeated, the whole thing would become uninteresting. This rivalry has attached itself to nationalism, and enlisted the support of the ordinary citizens of the countries concerned; they seldom know what it is that they are supporting, but, like the spectators at a football-match, they grow enthusiastic for their own side. The harm that is being done by science and industrialism is almost wholly due to the fact that, while they have proved strong enough to produce a national organization of economic forces, they have not proved strong enough to produce an international organization. It is clear that political internationalism such as the League of Nations was supposed to inaugurate, will never be successful until we have economic internationalism, which would require, as a minimum, an agreement between various national organizations dividing among them the raw material and markets of the world. This, however, can hardly be brought about while big business is controlled by men who are so rich as to have grown indifferent to money, and to be willing to risk enormous losses for the pleasure of rivalry.

The increase of organization in the modern world has made the ideals of liberalism wholly inapplicable. Liberalism, from Montesquieu to President Wilson, was based upon the assumption of a number of more or less equal individuals or groups, with no differences so vital that they were willing to die sooner than compromise. It was supposed that there was to be free competition between individuals and between ideas. Experience has shown, however, that the existing economic system is incompatible with all forms of free competition except between States by means of armaments. I should wish, for my part, to preserve free competition between ideas, though not between individuals and groups, but this is only possible by means of what an old-fashioned liberal would regard as interferences with personal liberty. So long as the sources of economic power remain in private hands, there will be no liberty except for the few who control those sources.

Such liberal ideals as free trade, free press, unbiased educated, either already belong to the past or soon will do so.
One of the triumphs of early liberalism in England was the establishment of parliamentary control of the army; this was the casus belli in the Civil War, and was decided by the Revolution of 1688. It was effective so long as Parliament represented the same class from which army officers were drawn. This was still the case with the late Parliament, but may cease to be the case with the advent of a Labour Government. Russia, Hungary, Italy, Spain and Bavaria have shown in recent years how frail democracy has become; east of the Rhine it lingers only in outlying regions. Constitutional control over armaments must, therefore, be regarded as another liberal principle which is rapidly becoming obsolete.

It would seem probable that, in the next fifty years or so, we shall see a still further increase in the power of governments, and a tendency for governments to be such as are desired by the men who control armaments and raw materials. The forms of democracy may survive in western countries, since those who possess military and economic power can control education and the press, and therefore can usually secure a subservient democracy. Rival economic groups will presumably remain associated with rival nations, and will foster nationalism in order to recruit their football teams.

There is, however, a hopeful element in the problem. The planet is of finite size, but the most efficient size for an organization is continually increased by new scientific inventions. The world becomes more and more of an economic unity. Before very long the technical conditions will exist for organizing the whole world as one producing and consuming unit. If, when that time comes, two rival groups contend for mastery, the victor may be able to introduce that single world-wide organization that is needed to prevent the mutual extermination of civilized nations. The world which would result would be, at first, very different from the dreams of either liberals or socialists; but it might grow less different with the lapse of time. There would be at first economic and political tyranny of the victors, a dread of renewed upheavals, and therefore a drastic suppression of liberty. But if the first half-dozen revolts were successfully repressed, the vanquished would give up hope, and accept the subordinate place assigned to them by the victors in the great world-trust. As soon as the holders of power felt secure, they would grow less tyrannical and less energetic. The motive of rivalry being removed, they would not work so hard as they do now, and would soon cease to exact such hard work from their subordinates. Life at first might be unpleasant, but it would at least be possible, which would be enough to recommend the system after a long period of warfare. Given a stable world-organization, economic and political, even if, at first, it rested upon nothing but armed force, the evils which now threaten civilization would gradually diminish, and a more thorough democracy than that which now exists might become possible. I believe that, owing to men's folly, a world-government will only be established by force, and therefore be at first cruel and despotic. But I believe that it is necessary for the preservation of a scientific civilization, and that, if once realized, it will gradually give rise to the other conditions of a tolerable existence.

IV. The Anthropological Sciences

It remains to say something about the future effects of the anthropological sciences. This is of course extremely conjectural, because we do not know what discoveries will be made. The effect is likely to be far greater than we can now imagine, because these sciences are still in their infancy. I will, however, take a few points on which to hang conjectures. I do not wish to be supposed to be making prophecies: I am only suggesting possibilities which it may be instructive to consider.

Birth-control is a matter of great importance, particularly in relation to the possibility of a world-government, which could hardly be stable if some nations increased their population much more rapidly than others. At present, birth-control is increasing in all civilized countries, though in most it is opposed by governments. This opposition is due partly to mere superstition and desire to conciliate the Catholic vote, partly to the desire for large armies and severe competition between wage-earners, so as to keep down wages. In spite of the opposition of governments, it seems probable that birth-control will lead to a stationary population in most white nations within the next fifty years. There can be no security that it will stop with a stationary population; it may go on to the point where the population diminishes.

The increase in the practice of birth-control is an example of a process contrary to that seen in industrialism: it represents a victory of individual over collective passions. Collectively, Frenchmen desire that France should be populous, in order to be able to defeat her enemies in war. Individually, they desire that their own families should be small, in order to increase the inheritance of their children and to diminish the expense of education. The individual desire has triumphed over the collective desire, and even, in many cases, over religious scruples. In this case, as in most others, the individual desire is less harmful to the world than the collective desire: the man who acts from pure selfishness does less damage than the man who is actuated by ``public spirit.'' For, since medicine and sanitation have diminished the infant death-rate, the only checks to over-population that remain (apart from birth-control) are war and famine. So long as this continues to be the case, the world must either have a nearly stationary population, or employ war to produce famine. The latter method, which is that favoured by opponents of birth-control, has been adopted on a large scale since 1914; it is however somewhat wasteful. We require a certain number of cattle and sheep, and we take steps to secure the right number. If we were as indifferent about them as we are about human beings, we should produce far too many, and cause the surplus to die by the slow misery of under-feeding. Farmers would consider this plan extravagant, and humanitarians would consider it cruel. But where human beings are concerned, it is considered the only proper course, and works advocating any other are confiscated by the police if they are intelligible to those whom they concern.

It must be admitted, however, that there are certain dangers. Before long the population may actually diminish. This is already happening in the most intelligent sections of the most intelligent nations; government opposition to birth-control propaganda gives a biological advantage to stupidity, since it is chiefly stupid people who governments succeed in keeping in ignorance. Before long, birth-control may become nearly universal among the white races; it will then not deteriorate their quality, but only diminish their numbers, at a time when uncivilized races are still prolific and are preserved from a high death-rate by white science.

This situation will lead to a tendency --- already shown by the French --- to employ more prolific races as mercenaries. Governments will oppose the teaching of birth-control among Africans, for fear of losing recruits. The result will be an immense numerical inferiority of the white races, leading probably to their extermination in a mutiny of mercenaries. If, however, a world-government is established, it may see the desirability of making subject races also less prolific, and may permit mankind to solve the population question. This is another reason for desiring a world-government.

Passing from quantity to quality of population, we come to the question of eugenics. We may perhaps assume that, if people grow less superstitious, government will acquire the right to sterilize those who are not considered desirable as parents. This power will be used, at first, to diminish imbecility, a most desirable object. But probably, in time, opposition to the government will be taken to prove imbecility, so that rebels of all kinds will be sterilized. Epileptics, consumptives, dipsomaniacs and so on will gradually be included; in the end, there will be a tendency to include all who fail to pass the usual school examinations. The result will be to increase the average intelligence; in the long run, it may be greatly increased. But probably the effect upon really exceptional intelligence will be bad. Mr. Micawber, who was Dickens's father, would hardly have been regarded as a desirable parent. How many imbeciles ought to outweigh one Dickens I do not profess to know.

Eugenics has, of course, more ambitious possibilities in a more distant future. It may aim not only at eliminating undesired types, but at increasing desired types. Moral standards may alter so as to make it possible for one man to be the sire of a vast progeny by many different mothers. When men of science envisage a possibility of this kind, they are prone to a type of fallacy which is common also in other directions. They imagine that a reform inaugurated by men of science would be administered as men of science would wish, by men similar in outlook to those who have advocated it. In like manner women who advocated votes for women used to imagine that the woman voter of the future would resemble the ardent feminist who won her the vote; and socialist leaders imagine that a socialist State would be administered by idealistic reformers like themselves. These are, of course, delusions; a reform, once achieved, is handed over to the average citizen. So, if eugenics reached the point where it could increase desired types, it would not be the types desired by present-day eugenists that would be increased, but rather the type desired by the average official. Prime Ministers, Bishops, and others whom the State considers desirable might become the fathers of half the next generation. Whether this would be an improvement it is not for me to say, as I have no hope of ever becoming either a Bishop or a Prime Minister.

If we knew enough about heredity to determine, within limits, what sort of population we would have, the matter would of course be in the hands of State officials, presumably elderly medical men. Whether they would really be preferable to Nature I do not feel sure. I suspect that they would breed a subservient population, convenient to rulers but incapable of initiative. However, it may be that I am too sceptical of the wisdom of officials.

The effects of psychology on practical life may in time become very great. Already advertisers in America employ eminent psychologists to instruct them in the technique of producing irrational belief; such men may, when they have grown more proficient, be very useful in persuading the democracy that governments are wise and good. Then, again, there are the psychological tests of intelligence, as applied to recruits for the American army during the war. I am very sceptical of the possibility of testing anything except average intelligence by such methods, and I think that, if they were widely adopted, they would probably lead to many persons of great artistic capacity being classified as morons. The same thing would have happened to some first-rate mathematicians. Specialized ability not infrequently goes with general disability, but this would not be shown by the kind of tests which psychologists recommend to the American government.

More sensational than tests of intelligence is the possibility of controlling the emotional life through the secretions of the ductless glands. It will be possible to make people choleric or timid, strongly or weakly sexed, and so on, as may be desired. Differences of emotional disposition seem to be chiefly due to secretions of the ductless glands, and therefore controllable by injections or by increasing or diminishing the secretions. Assuming an oligarchic organization of society, the State could give to the children of holders of power the disposition required for command, and to the children of the proletariat the disposition required for obedience. Against the injections of the State physicians the most eloquent Socialist oratory would be powerless. The only difficulty would be to combine this submissiveness with the necessary ferocity against external enemies; but I do not doubt that official science would be equal to the task.

It is not necessary, when we are considering political consequences, to pin our faith to the particular theories of the ductless glands, which may blow over, like other theories. All that is essential in our hypothesis is the belief that physiology will in time find ways of controlling emotion, which it is scarcely possible to doubt. When that day comes we shall have the emotions desired by our rulers, and the chief business of elementary education will be to produce the desired disposition, no longer by punishment or moral precept, but by the far surer method of injection or diet. The men who will administer this system will have a power beyond the dreams of the Jesuits, but there is no reason to suppose that they will have more sense than the men who control education to-day. Technical scientific knowledge does not make men sensible in their aims, and administrators in the future, will be presumably no less stupid and no less prejudiced than they are at present.

CONCLUSION

It may seem as though I had been at once gloomy and frivolous in some of my prognostications. I will end, however, with the serious lesson which seems to me to result. Men sometimes speak as though the progress of science must necessarily be a boon to mankind, but that, I fear, is one of the comfortable nineteenth-century delusions which our more disillusioned age must discard. Science enables the holders of power to realize their purposes more fully than they could otherwise do. If their purposes are good, this is a gain; if they are evil, it is a loss. In the present age, it seems that the purposes of the holders of power are in the main evil, in the sense that they involve a diminution, in the world at large, of the things men are agreed in thinking good. Therefore, at present, science does harm by increasing the power of rulers. Science is no substitute for virtue; the heart is as necessary for a good life as the head.

If men were rational in their conduct, that is to say, if they acted in the way most likely to bring about the ends that they deliberately desire, intelligence would be enough to make the world almost a paradise. In the main, what is in the long run advantageous to one man is also advantageous to another. But men are actuated by passions which distort their view; feeling an impulse to injure others, they persuade themselves that it is to their interest to do so. They will not, therefore, act in the way that is in fact to their own interest unless they are actuated by generous impulses which make them indifferent to their own interest. This is why the heart is as important as the head. By the ``heart'' I mean, for the moment, the sum-total of kindly impulses. Where they exist, science helps them to be effective; where they are absent, science only makes men more cleverly diabolic.

It may be laid down as a general principle to which there are few exceptions that, when people are mistaken as to what is to their own interest, the course they believe to be wise is more harmful to others than the course that really is wise. There are innumerable examples of men making fortunes because, on moral grounds, they did something which they believed to be contrary to their own interests. For instance, among early Quakers there were a number of shopkeepers, who adopted the practice of asking no more for their goods than they were willing to accept, instead of bargaining with each customer, as everybody else did. They adopted this practice because they held it to be a lie to ask more than they would take. But the convenience to customers was so great that everybody came to their shops and they grew rich. (I forget where I read this, but if my memory serves me it was in some reliable source.) The same policy might have been adopted from shrewdness, but in fact no one was sufficiently shrewd. Our unconscious is more malevolent than it pays us to be; therefore the people who do most completely what is in fact to their interest are those who, on moral grounds, do what they believe to be against their interest.

For this reason, it is of the greatest importance to inquire whether any method of strengthening kindly impulses exists. I have no doubt that their strength or weakness depends upon discoverable physiological causes; let us assume that it depends upon the glands. If so, an international secret society of physiologists could bring about the millennium by kidnapping, on a given day, all the rulers of the world, and injecting into their blood some substance which would fill them with benevolence towards their fellow-creatures. Suddenly M. Poincare would wish well to Ruhr miners, Lord Curzon to Indian nationalists, Mr. Smuts to the natives of what was German South West Africa, the American government to its political prisoners and its victims in Ellis Island. But alas, the physiologists would first have to administer the love-philtre to themselves before they would undertake such a task. Otherwise, they would prefer to win titles and fortunes by injecting military ferocity into recruits. And so we come back to the old dilemma: only kindliness can save the world, and even if we knew how to produce kindliness we should not do so unless we were already kindly. Failing that, it seems that the solution which the Houynhnms adopted towards the Yahoos, namely extermination, is the only one; apparently the Yahoos are bent on applying it to each other.

We may sum up this discussion in a few words. Science has not given men more self-control, more kindliness, or more power of discounting their passions in deciding upon a course of action. It has given communities more power to indulge their collective passions, but, by making society more organic, it has diminished the part played by private passions. Men's collective passions are mainly evil; far the strongest of them are hatred and rivalry directed towards other groups. Therefore at present all that gives men power to indulge their collective passions is bad. That is why science threatens to cause the destruction of our civilization. The only solid hope seems to lie in the possibility of world-wide domination by one group, say the United States, leading to the gradual formation of an orderly economic and political world-government. But perhaps, in view of the sterility of the Roman Empire, the collapse of our civilization would in the end be preferable to this alternative.

_______________

Notes:

1: See his Daedalus, or Science and the Future. (Russell's note.)
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Re: 'The Open Conspiracy': H.G. Wells Plots The World Empire

Postby admin » Sun Oct 13, 2019 12:42 am

James Joyce: H.G. Wells reviews "A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man"
by H.G. Wells
The New Republic
March 8, 1917

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A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, by James Joyce . . . is a book to buy and read and lock up, but it is not a book to miss. Its claim to be literature is as good as the claim of the last book of Gulliver’s Travels.

It is no good trying to minimize a characteristic that seems to be deliberately obtruded. Like Swift and another living Irish writer, Mr. Joyce has a cloacal obsession. He would bring back into the general picture of life aspects which modern drainage and modern decorum have taken out of ordinary intercourse and conversation. Coarse, unfamiliar words are scattered about the book unpleasantly, and it may seem to many, needlessly. If the reader is squeamish upon these matters, then there is nothing for it but to shun this book, but if he will pick his way, as one has to do at times on the outskirts of some picturesque Italian village with a view and a church and all sorts of things of that sort to tempt one, then it is quite worth while. And even upon this unsavory aspect of Swift and himself, Mr. Joyce is suddenly illuminating. He tells at several points how his hero Stephen is swayed and shocked and disgusted by harsh and loud sounds, and how he is stirred to intense emotion by music and the rhythms of beautiful words. But no sort of smell offends him like that. He finds olfactory sensations interesting or aesthetically displeasing, but they do not make him sick or excited as sounds do. This is a quite understandable turn over from the more normal state of affairs. Long ago I remember pointing out in a review the difference in the sensory basis of the stories of Robert Louis Stevenson and Sir J. M. Barrie; the former visualized and saw his story primarily as picture, the latter mainly heard it. We shall do Mr. Joyce an injustice if we attribute a normal sensory basis to him and then accuse him of deliberate offense.

It is by far the most living and convincing picture that exists of an Irish Catholic upbringing.


But that is by the way. The value of Mr. Joyce’s book has little to do with its incidental insanitary condition. Like some of the best novels in the world it is the story of an education; it is by far the most living and convincing picture that exists of an Irish Catholic upbringing. It is a mosaic of jagged fragments that does altogether render with extreme completeness the growth of a rather secretive, imaginative boy in Dublin. The technique is startling, but on the whole it succeeds. Like so many Irish writers from Sterne to Shaw, Mr. Joyce is a bold experimentalist with paragraph and punctuation. He breaks away from scene to scene without a hint of the change of time and place; at the end he passes suddenly from the third person to the first; he uses no inverted commas to mark off his speeches.

The first trick I found sometimes tiresome here and there, but then my own disposition, perhaps acquired at the blackboard, is to mark off and underline rather fussily, and I do not know whether I was so much put off the thing myself as anxious, which after all is not my business, about its effect on those others; the second trick, I will admit, seems entirely justified in this particular instance by its success; the third reduces Mr. Joyce to a free use of dashes. One conversation in this book is a superb success, the one in which Mr. Dedalus carves the Christmas turkey; I write with all due deliberation that Sterne himself could not have done it better; but most of the talk flickers blindingly with these dashes, one has the same wincing feeling of being flicked at that one used to have in the early cinema shows. I think Mr. Joyce has failed to discredit the inverted comma.

The interest of the book depends entirely upon its quintessential and unfailing reality. One believes in Stephen Dedalus as one believes in few characters in fiction. And the peculiar lie of the interest for the intelligent reader is the convincing revelation it makes of the limitations of a great mass of Irishmen. Mr. Joyce tells us unsparingly of the adolescence of this youngster under conditions that have passed almost altogether out of English life. There is an immense shyness, a profound secrecy, about matters of sex, with its inevitable accompaniment of nightmare revelations and furtive scribblings in unpleasant places, and there is a living belief in a real hell. The description of Stephen listening without a doubt to two fiery sermons on that tremendous theme, his agonies of fear, not disgust at dirtiness such as unorthodox children feel but just fear, his terror-inspired confession of his sins of impurity to a strange priest in a distant part of the city, is like nothing in any boy’s experience who has been trained under modern conditions. Compare its stuffy horror with Conrad’s account of how under analogous circumstances Lord Jim wept.

The interest of the book depends entirely upon its quintessential and unfailing reality.


And a second thing of immense significance is the fact that everyone in this Dublin story, every human being, accepts as a matter of course, as a thing in nature like the sky and the sea, that the English are to be hated. There is no discrimination in that hatred, there is no gleam of recognition that a considerable number of Englishmen have displayed a very earnest disposition to put matters right with Ireland, there is an absolute absence of any idea of a discussed settlement, any notion of helping the slow-witted Englishman in his three-cornered puzzle between North and South.

It is just hate, a cant cultivated to the pitch of monomania, an ungenerous violent direction of the mind. That is the political atmosphere in which Stephen Dedalus grows up, and in which his essentially responsive mind orients itself. I am afraid it is only too true an account of the atmosphere in which a number of brilliant young Irishmen have grown up. What is the good of pretending that the extreme Irish “patriot” is an equivalent and parallel of the English or American liberal? He is narrower and intenser than any English Tory. He will be the natural ally of the Tory in delaying British social and economic reconstruction after the war. He will play into the hands of the Tories by threatening an outbreak and providing the excuse for a militarist reaction in England. It is time the American observer faced the truth of that.

No reason is that why England should not do justice to Ireland, but excellent reason for bearing in mind that these bright-green young people across the Channel are something quite different from the liberal English in training and tradition, and absolutely set against helping them. No single book has ever shown how different they are, as completely as this most memorable novel.
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Re: 'The Open Conspiracy': H.G. Wells Plots The World Empire

Postby admin » Sun Oct 13, 2019 12:46 am

One of Wells’s Worlds
by John Maynard Keynes
The New Republic
January 31, 1927

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Mr. Wells, in The World of William Clissold, presents, not precisely his own mind as it has developed on the basis of his personal experience and way of life, but—shifting his angle—a point of view based on an experience mainly different from his own, that of a successful, emancipated, semi-scientific, not particularly high-brow, English business man. The result is not primarily a work of art. Ideas, not forms, are its substance. It is a piece of educational writing—propaganda, if you like—an attempt to convey, to the very big public, attitudes of mind already partly familiar to the very small public.

The book is an omnium gatherum. I will select two emergent themes of a quasi-economic character. Apart from these, the main topic is women and some of their possible relationships in the modern world to themselves and to men of the Clissold type. This is treated with great candor, sympathy, and observation. It leaves, and is meant to leave, a bitter taste.

The first of these themes is a violent protest against conservatism, an insistent emphasis on the necessity and rapidity of change, the folly of looking backwards, the danger of inadaptibility. Mr. Wells produces a, curious sensation, nearly similar to that of some of his earlier romances, by contemplating vast stretches of time backwards and forwards which give an impression of slowness (no need to hurry in eternity), yet accelerating the Time Machine as he reaches the present day so that now we travel at an enormous pace and no longer have millions of years to turn round in. The conservative influences in our life are envisaged as dinosaurs whom literal extinction is awaiting just ahead. The contrast comes from the failure of our ideas, our conventions, our prejudices to keep up with the pace of material change. Our environment moves too much faster than we do. The walls of our traveling compartment are bumping our heads. Unless we hustle, the traffic will run us down. Conservatism is no better than suicide. Woe to our dinosaurs!

This is one aspect. We stand still at our peril. Time flies. But there is another aspect of the same thing—and this is where Clissold comes in. What a bore for the modern man, whose mind in his active career moves with the times, to stand still in his observances and way of life! What a bore are the feasts and celebrations with which London or New York crowns success! What a bore to go through the social contortions which have lost significance, and conventional pleasures which no longer please! The contrast between the exuberant, constructive activity of a prince of modern commerce and the lack of an appropriate environment for him out of office hours is acute. Moreover, there are wide stretches in the career of moneymaking which are entirely barren and non-constructive. There is a fine passage in the first volume about the profound, ultimate boredom of City men. Clissold's father, the company promoter and speculator, falls first into megalomania and then into fraud, because he is bored. I do not doubt that this same thing is true of Wall Street. Let us, therefore, mold with both hands the plastic material of social life into our own contemporary image.

We do not merely belong to a latter-day age—we are ourselves in the literal sense older than our ancestors were in the years of our maturity and our power. Mr. Wells brings out strongly a too much neglected feature of modern life, that we live much longer than formerly, and, what is more important, prolong our health and vigor into a period of life which was formerly one of decay, so that the average man can now look forward to a duration of activity which hitherto only the exceptional could anticipate. I can add, indeed, a further fact, which Mr. Wells overlooks (I think), likely to emphasize this yet further in the next fifty years as compared with the last fifty years—namely, that the average age of a rapidly increasing population is much less than that of a stationary population. For example, in the stable conditions to which England and probably the United States also, somewhat later, may hope to approximate in the course of the next two generations, we shall somewhat rapidly approach to a position in which, in proportion to population, elderly, people (say, sixty-five years of age and above) will be nearly 100 percent, and middle-aged people (say, forty-five years of age and above), nearly 50 percent more numerous than in the recent past. In the nineteenth century, effective power was in the hands of men probably not less than fifteen years older on the average than in the sixteenth century; and before the twentieth century is out, the average may have risen another fifteen years, unless effective means are found, other than obvious physical or mental decay, to make vacancies at the top. Clissold (in his sixtieth year, he it noted) sees more advantage and less disadvantage in this state of affairs than I do. Most men love money and security more, and creation and construction less, as they get older; and this process begins long before their intelligent judgment on detail is apparently impaired. Mr. Wells’s preference for an adult world over a juvenile, sex-ridden world may be right. But the margin between this and a middle-aged, money-ridden world is a narrow one. We are threatened, at the best, with the appalling problem of the able-bodied “retired,” of which Mr. Wells himself gives a sufficient example in his desperate account of the regular denizens of the Riviera.

We are living, then, in an unsatisfactory age of immensely rapid transition in which most, but particularly those in the vanguard, find themselves and their environment ill-adapted to one another, and are for this reason far less happy than their less sophisticated forebears were, or their yet more sophisticated descendants need be. This diagnosis, applied by Mr. Wells to the case of those engaged in the practical life of action, is essentially the same as Mr. Edwin Muir’s, in his deeply interesting volume of criticism. Transition, to the case of those engaged in the life of art and contemplation. Our foremost writers, according to Mr. Muir, are uncomfortable in the world—they can neither support nor can they oppose anything with a full confidence, with the result that their work is inferior in relation to their talents compared with work produced in happier ages—jejune, incomplete, starved, anaemic, like their own feelings to the universe.

In short, we cannot stay where we are; we are on the move—on the move, not necessarily either to better or to worse, but just to an equilibrium. But why not to the better? Why should we not begin to reap spiritual fruits from our material conquests? If so, whence is to come the motive power of desirable change? This brings us to Mr. Wells’s second theme.

Mr. Wells describes in the first volume of Clissold his hero's disillusionment with socialism. In the final volume he inquires if there is an alternative. From whence are we to draw the forces which are “to change the laws, customs, rules, and institutions of the world”? “From what classes and types are the revolutionaries to be drawn ? How are they to be brought into cooperation? What are to be their methods?” The labor movement is represented as an immense and dangerous force cf destruction, led by sentimentalists and pseudo-intellectuals, who have “feelings in the place of ideas.” A constructive revolution cannot possibly be contrived by these folk. The creative intellect of mankind is not to be found in these quarters, but amongst the scientists and the great modern business men. Unless we can harness to the job this type of mind and character and temperament, it can never be put through—for it is a task of immense practical complexity and intellectual difficulty. We must recruit our revolutionaries, therefore, from the Right, not from the Left. We must persuade the type of man whom it now amuses to create a great business, that there lie waiting for him yet bigger things which will amuse him more. This is Clissold’s “Open Conspiracy.” Clissold’s direction is to the Left—far, far to the Left; but he seeks to summon from the Right the creative force and the constructive will which is to carry him there. He describes himself as being temperamentally and fundamentally a liberal. But political Liberalism must die “to be born again with firmer features and a clearer will.”

Clissold is expressing a reaction against the Socialist party which very many feel, including Socialists. The remolding of the world needs the touch of the creative Brahma. But at present Brahma is serving science and business, not politics or government. The extreme danger of the world is, in Clissold’s words, lest, “before the creative Brahma can get to work, Siva, in other words the passionate destructiveness of labor awakening to its now needless limitations and privations, may make Brahma's task impossible.” We all feel this, I think. We know that we need urgently to create a milieu in which Brahma can get to work before it is too late. Up to a point, therefore, most active and constructive temperaments in every political camp are ready to join the Open Conspiracy.

What, then, is it, that holds them back? It is here, I think, that Clissold is in some way deficient and apparently lacking in insight. Why do practical men find it more amusing to make money than to join the Open Conspiracy? I suggest that it is much the same reason as that which makes them find it more amusing to play bridge on Sundays than to go to church. They lack altogether the kind of motive, the possession of which, if they had it, could be expressed by saying that they had a creed. They have no creed, these potential open conspirators, no creed whatever. That is why—unless they have the luck to be scientists or artists—they fall back on the grand substitute motive, the perfect ersatz, the anodyne for those who in fact want nothing at all—money. Clissold charges the enthusiasts of labor that they have “feelings in the place of ideas.” But he does not deny that they have feelings. Has not, perhaps, poor Mr. Cook something which Clissold lacks? Clissold and his brother Dickon, the advertising expert, flutter about the world seeking for something to which they can attach their abundant libido. But they have not found it. They would so like to be Apostles. But they cannot. They remain business men.

I have taken two themes from a book which contains dozens. They are not all treated equally well. Knowing the Universities much better than Mr. Wells does, I declare that his account contains no more than the element of truth which is proper to a caricature. He underestimates altogether their possibilities—how they may yet become temples of Brahma which even Siva will respect. But Clissold, taken altogether, is a great achievement, a huge and meaty egg from a glorious hen, an abundant outpouring of an ingenious, truthful, and generous spirit.

Though we talk about pure art as never before, this is not a good age for pure artists j nor is it a good one for classical perfections. Our most pregnant writers today are full of imperfections; they expose themselves to judgment; they do not look to be immortal. For these reasons, perhaps, we, their contemporaries, do them and the debt we owe them less than justice. What a debt every intelligent being owes to Bernard Shaw! What a debt also to H. G. Wells, whose mind seems to have grown up alongside his readers’, so that, in successive phases, be has delighted us and guided our imaginations from boyhood to maturity.

John Maynard Keynes was a British economist whose books include The General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money.
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Re: 'The Open Conspiracy': H.G. Wells Plots The World Empire

Postby admin » Sun Oct 13, 2019 12:50 am

H.G. Wells' Interview With Stalin Helped Change the Fundamental Principles of Liberalism
by Malcolm Cowley
The New Republic
April 23, 1935

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I doubt that any other interview of the last ten years was more dramatic, more interesting as a clear statement of two positions or, in a sense, more absurdly grotesque than H.G. Wells’s interview with Stalin.

They met in Moscow on July 23 of last year and talked through an interpreter for nearly three hours. Wells gives a one-sided story in the last chapter of his “Experiment in Autobiography.” The official text of the interview can now be had in a pamphlet issued by International Publishers for two cents. A longer pamphlet, costing fifty cents in this country, was published in London by The New Statesman and Nation. It contains both the interview and an exchange of letters in which Bernard Shaw is keener and wittier than Wells or J.M. Keynes. There is, unfortunately, no letter from Stalin. We know what Wells thinks about him; it would be instructive to hear what Stalin thinks about Wells.

The drama of their meeting lay in the contrast between two systems of thought. Stalin, with full authority, was speaking for communism, for the living heritage of Marx and Engels and Lenin. Wells is not an official figure and was speaking for himself; but he spoke with the voice of Anglo-American liberalism. Stalin represented the class-conscious proletariat of all countries. Wells claimed to represent the interests of humanity as a whole, but he actually defended the middle-class-conscious technical workers. Stalin advocated revolution and Wells argued against violence. He pictured a new world-order achieved painlessly by education and by a sudden miracle of the human spirit. Stalin was too busy creating a new order to disengage its outlines form the excavations of the Moscow subway and the scaffolding that surrounds the House of the Soviets. Furthermore, there was a contrast of age and country between the two men, Stalin representing the iron age in Russia and Wells the hopefulness and trust in the future of England before the First World War.

The burlesque quality of their meeting lay in the purpose that Wells carried to Moscow. During the spring of that year he had visited America and had been enthralled by the New Deal. Brain-Trusters familiar with his own books (these, indeed, are the source of the Brain Trust) had unfolded to him “a view of the world which seemed to contain all I had ever learned and thought.” He spent an evening in the White House and decided that Roosevelt was “the most effective transmitting instrument possible for the coming of the new world order.” At the same time, he perceived a striking similarity between Washington and Moscow. The two governments differed in method, but the end they sought, “a progressively more organized big-scale production, was precisely the same.” Therefore he determined to bring them together. He thought, modestly, “If Stalin is as able as I am beginning to think him, then he must be seeing many things as I am seeing them.” He would urge Stalin to forswear Marx, to forsake the proletariat, to forget all his outdated nonsense about class hostility, and immediately to join with Roosevelt in a united front—against what? Against nothing in the world but the “mental tangles, egocentric preoccupations, obsessions, misconceived phrases, bad habits of thought, subconscious fears and dreads and plain dishonesty in people’s minds” that are today the sole obstacles standing in the way “to the attainment of universal freedom and abundance.” That was his proposal. Imagine a Mohammedan missionary setting out to convince the Pope that he ought to renounce the Bible and make pilgrimage to Mecca, after being circumcised. Then imagine Wells in the Kremlin, if you can.

Short-legged, long-waisted, smiling, armed with an ingratiatingly candid self-esteem, he makes his proclamations of faith and international good will to the interpreter, who writes them down and repeats them in Russian. Stalin, after politely asking Mr. Wells’s permission to smoke, sucks at his big pipe and gives his answers slowly. Wells rushes on to new subjects. The two men are talking in different worlds, Stalin in the iron present, Wells in the golden future; there is no meeting of minds. Yet this failure to communicate is not Stalin’s fault. He listens patiently, he considers everything Wells has to say and answers it point by point, without haste or condescension, exactly as if he were trying to explain the aims of the Russian revolution to a slow-witted but influential worker in the Putilov factory. Wells, on the other hand, hardly listens at all. Wells is the apostle, Wells is bearing a message, Wells is pursuing his own ideas with inexorable deafness. At the end of three hours he goes away, having forgotten nothing and learned nothing, except that Stalin cannot be liberalized.

It is an absurd situation, and it is also mildly tragic. If Wells had asked the right questions and had listened to the answers, he would not have been converted to Stalin’s point of view, but at least he would have been able to measure some of his own ideas against reality. Several of the proposals he made in the tracts and novels of his middle period are now being tested in the Soviet Union. Thus, he once suggested that there ought to be a caste of Samurai, men and women who would dedicate themselves wholeheartedly to the task of guiding a new society. Membership in this caste would be voluntary and open to everyone who could meet the qualifications and the severe disciplinary tests. It is obvious that the real organization standing nearest to Wells’s Samurai is the Russian Communist Party, and he might have learned how it functioned. Again, Wells has always dreamed of technically trained administrators given power to remake the world; they have some of this power under the Soviets. He had always emphasized the ideal of planning, and Stalin could have told him about some of the difficulties that must be overcome when planning is attempted on a continental scale. But Wells in the Kremlin asked no practical questions.

In recent years, such questions have ceased to concern him deeply. He has fixed his mind on the future so obstinately, he has wished and schemed and plotted so long for Utopia, that he is beginning to think it is just around the corner. “The socialist world-state,” he says, “has become a tomorrow as real as today.” But Wells’s world-state of tomorrow will be created suddenly and without shedding blood by an Open Conspiracy of middle-class technicians. It has nothing whatever to do with the socialist state that exists today in a sixth of the world, after being violently created by a proletarian revolution. Stalin can have that real state, with all its problems; Wells would rather clutch his dream.
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Re: 'The Open Conspiracy': H.G. Wells Plots The World Empire

Postby admin » Sun Oct 13, 2019 1:01 am

The Godfather of American Liberalism: H. G. Wells: novelist, historian, authoritarian, anticapitalist, eugenicist, and advisor to presidents
by Fred Siegel
City Journal
Spring 2009

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A generation of American liberals, including Walter Lippmann, Margaret Sanger, and the editors of The New Republic, regarded Wells as a visionary. THE GRANGER COLLECTION

Modern American liberalism, as it emerged in the 1920s, was animated by a revolt against the masses. Liberal thinkers accused the great unwashed of smothering creative individuals in a blanket of materialist, spiritually empty cultural conformity. The liberal project was, so to speak, to refound America by replacing its business civilization—a “dictatorship of the middle class,” as Vernon Parrington put it—with a new, more highly evolved leadership. But along with the ideal of the spontaneous, creative individual, liberals also embraced government economic planning, which depended on making people more predictable. The tension between the two aspirations was resolved, rhetorically at least, by proposing to place power in the hands of scientists, academics, artists, and professionals, a new and truly worthy aristocracy that could govern based on what was good for both leaders and the led.

These antidemocratic and elitist assumptions were nowhere better illustrated than in the extraordinary career of a Briton, H. G. Wells. Wells is best remembered today as the author of such late-nineteenth-century socio-scientific fantasies as The Time Machine, The War of the Worlds, and The Invisible Man. But he was much more than that. His political writing achieved extraordinary influence in America, not just through his defense of liberal freedoms such as free speech but through his hostility to population growth, capitalism, and democracy itself.

Herbert George Wells was already a renowned writer of fiction when in 1901 he published the nonfiction work Anticipations of the Reactions of Mechanical and Scientific Progress upon Human Life and Thought. The book’s scientific prescriptions to cure social diseases turned the novelist into a seer, both in England and in America, where Anticipations had already been serialized in the North American Review. More than any other intellectual of the time, Wells spoke to two enormous nineteenth-century shifts: the growth of giant industries, which undercut the old assumptions about the sovereignty of the individual; and Darwinism’s concussive reassignment of humanity from the spiritual to the natural world, which begged for prophets of a naturalized humanity.

Numerous fin de siècle writers had looked backward at a century of material and mechanical progress, both to praise its achievements and to condemn its running sore, the seemingly permanent misery of the urban working class. But Wells looked ahead, asserting that the future as well as the past had a pattern. He argued inductively about the nature of what was likely to come, based on the way the telephone, telegraph, and railroad had shrunk the world, and he populated his predictions with a dramatic cast of collective characters. Some he loathed: the idle, parasitic rich; the “vicious helpless pauper masses,” the “People of the Abyss”; and the yapping politicians and yellow journalists whom he considered instruments of patriotism and war.

But if these people were leading the world on the path to hell, there were also the redeemers, the “New Republicans,” the “capable men” of vision who might own the future. These scientist-poets and engineers could, Wells thought, redirect the Darwinian struggle away from a descent into savagery and toward a new and higher ground. Building on the social and sexual ideals of nineteenth-century utopian reformers, Wells generated a complete cosmology, a scientific socialism to compete with Marxism, which, he thought, reduced the complexities of life to simpleminded slogans of class war. Outflanking the Marxists on their own ground, he called for a different kind of struggle, a “revolt of the competent” against the confines of conventional middle-class morality.

The conventions of Anglo-American family life, Wells believed, blocked the path toward a more highly evolved future. On one side was a “normal, ordinary world which is on the whole satisfied with itself” and encompasses “the great mass of men”—the bovine “Normal Life” of workers, clerks, and small businessmen. Opposite it stood an “ever advancing better world, pushing through this outworn husk in the minds and wills of creative humanity,” a “Great State” led by the creative class, a richly textured life that might be possible if only the new men of science could displace the vote-buying of electoral politics.

Well before Mussolini, still a revolutionary socialist in the early twentieth century, and at roughly the same time as Lenin, Wells—in the book that he called the “keystone to the main arch of my work”—gave up not only on democracy but on organized labor as a transformative force. All three men rejected what might be described as social democracy, that is, the attempt to use political means to redress the inadequacies of capitalism. Instead, each proposed a new class, a vanguard to carry forward a postcapitalist social order.

In A Modern Utopia, written in 1905, Wells updated John Stuart Mill’s culturally individualist liberalism in light of the horizons opened by Darwin and Francis Galton, the founder of eugenics. Biologically, argues the book’s narrator, the “species is the accumulation of the experiments of all its successful individuals since the beginning.” That means, he says, that the “people of exceptional quality must be ascendant.” Further, “the better sort of people, so far as they can be distinguished, must have the fullest freedom of public service.”

What provides the possibility for such freedom is eugenics. Wells has no use for the iron laws of Marxism, but he replaces them with the iron laws of Malthus and Darwin. “From the view of human comfort and happiness, the increase of population that occurs at each advance in human security is the greatest evil of life,” he writes. “The extravagant swarm of new births” that created the masses was “the essential disaster of the 19th century.” Man’s propensity to reproduce will always outstrip his productive capacity, even in an age of machinery. Worse, the “base and servile types,” who are little more than the “leaping, glittering confusion of shoaling mackerel on a sunlit afternoon,” are the most fecund.

In Anticipations, Wells had already argued horrifyingly that the “nation that most resolutely picks over, educates, sterilizes, or poisons its People of the Abyss” would be ascendant. For the base and servile types, death would mean merely “the end of the bitterness of failure.” It was “their portion to die out and disappear.” The New Republicans would have “little pity and less benevolence” for the untermenschen, “born of unrestrained lusts . . . and multiplying through sheer incontinence and stupidity.”

In A Modern Utopia, Wells, stung by criticism of Anticipations, backed off, but only partway. “Idiots,” “drunkards,” “criminals,” “lunatics,” “congenital invalids,” and the “diseased” would “spoil the world for others,” Wells again argued. But their depredations required “social surgery,” not total extermination. That meant preventing people below a set income and intelligence from reproducing, as well as isolating the “failures” on an island so that better folk could live unfettered by government intrusion. Remove the unfit, and there will be no need for jails or prisons, which are places “of torture by restraint.” Illiberalism enables liberalism.

Wells’s “Samurai,” an updated version of the New Republicans, would keep track of their charges through a centralized thumbprint index of all the earth’s inhabitants. Latter-day Puritans in everything except sex, the Samurai would lead lives of irreproachable rectitude, abjuring tobacco, alcohol, trade, and games, which they could neither join nor watch. These elect, “the clean and straight” men and women capable “of self-devotion, of intentional courage, of honest thought, and steady endeavour,” would rule in the name of the new godhead: Progress through Science. As Wells would later put it, science was to be “king of the world.”

Wells saw America, which wasn’t weighted down by ancient traditions, as the best chance for his ideas to come to fruition. A host of British visitors, from Fanny Trollope and Charles Dickens to Robert Louis Stevenson, could barely contain their disdain for their backwoods American cousins. But Wells—an anti–Henry James who saw himself as a self-made man—exulted in the absence of an established church, the embodiment of the irrational past. “Up to the point of its equality of opportunity,” he wrote, “surely no sane Englishman can do anything but admire the American state.” His 1904 nonfiction book Mankind in the Making welcomed a possible reunion of Britain and the United States based, as he saw it, on their common racial stock.

At the same time, Wells showed deep concerns about America. A socialist critic of American capitalism, he was revulsed by the “inhuman energy” of New York’s immigrant masses. In the Days of the Comet (1906) portrayed overproduction by a rapacious “gang of energetic, narrow-minded” American ironmongers as a threat to English social stability. Wells also thought that American democracy provided too much leeway to the poltroons who ran the political machines and the “fools” who supported them. The “immigrants are being given votes,” he argued, but “that does not free them, it only enslaves the country.”

In The Future in America, an account of his first trip to these shores in 1906 that was serialized in American and British magazines, Wells rightly pointed out that America was essentially “the central part of the European organism without either the dreaming head or the subjugated feet.” But that wasn’t a good thing, he claimed. In England, modern men of money “had become part of a responsible ruling class”; in America, the absence of an aristocracy had left the country without that sense of “state responsibility” that was necessary “to give significance to the whole.” The upshot was that “the typical American has no sense of the state. . . . He has no perception that his business activities, his private employments, are constituents in a larger collective process.” Further, Wells argued, America’s can-do commercialism was “crushing and maiming a great multitude of souls.” “The greatest work which the coming century has to do,” he wrote, “is to build up an aristocracy of thought and feeling which shall hold its own against the aristocracy of mercantilism” and its allies “materialism and Philistinism.”

In the course of his visit to the U.S., Wells was befriended by Jane Addams, Upton Sinclair, and Lincoln Steffens, who arranged for a visit to the White House. Teddy Roosevelt, an avid reader, was delighted to talk for hours with Wells about the growing class divisions in America, which had been exacerbated by the confluence of rapid industrialization and rapid immigration. Roosevelt had rightly read The Time Machine as an anticipation of deepened class divisions hardened over time into an overworld and an underworld. The president became “gesticulatory,” his voice “straining,” Wells remembered. “Suppose after all,” Roosevelt said slowly, “that should prove to be right, and that it all ends in your butterflies and morlocks. That doesn’t matter now. The effort’s real”—Roosevelt’s reform effort to curb the power of giant monopolies, that is. “It’s worth going on with. It’s worth it—even then.”

“My hero in the confused drama of human life,” Wells wrote in The Future in America, “is intelligence; intelligence inspired by constructive passion. There is a demi-god imprisoned in mankind.” Three years before Herbert Croly’s pathbreaking book The Promise of American Life totemized Roosevelt as the incarnation of a new liberal politics that deployed Hamiltonian means to achieve Jeffersonian ends, Wells presented TR as the demigod incarnate, the very symbol of “the creative will in man.” Here was the man of the future—“traditions,” noted Wells, “have no hold on him”—a model of the Samurai. “I know of no other,” said Wells, “a tithe so representative of the creative purpose, the goodwill in men as he.”

By 1920, The Nation could describe Wells as “the most influential writer in English of our day.” Wells’s version of socialism, with its barbed attacks on Victorian gentility and its promise of sexual and artistic liberation, was far more appealing to American intellectuals than the bureaucratic droning of the Fabians or the dogmatism of the Marxists.

For many, noted historian Henry May, Wells was “the most important social prophet.” The social critic Randolph Bourne described Wells’s “religious” impact, his “power of seeming to express for us the ideas and dilemmas which we feel spring out of our modernity”—a power that was nothing less than “magical.” Walter Lippmann—the leading political commentator for the first half of the twentieth century, whose writing for The New Republic and whose books Drift and Mastery and Public Opinion shaped the emergence of modern liberalism—saw Wells as one of those “invaluable men who happen along occasionally with the ability to give hearing to the deaf and sight to the blind.” And here is literary critic Floyd Dell:

Suddenly there came into our minds the magnificent and well-nigh incredible conception of Change. . . . gigantic, miraculous change, an overwhelming of the old in ruin and an emergence of the new. Into our eternal and changeless world came H. G. Wells prophesying its ending, and the Kingdom of Heaven come upon earth; the heavens shall be rolled up like a scroll, and all the familiar things of earth pass away utterly—so he seemed to cry out to our astounded ears.

Wells’s extraordinary influence sprang in part from the elitism of American intellectuals. Critic Van Wyck Brooks, for example, the first American to write a book on Wells, approvingly heard echoes of Nietzsche’s supermen in the Samurai: they were “delegates of the species, experimenting, searching for new directions; they instinctively view themselves as explorers for the race, as disinterested agents. . . . Their self-development [is] the method by which the Life Impulse discovers and rewards itself, and pushes on to ever wider and richer manifestations.” Once a new class of professionals and engineers came into its own, Brooks explained, conveying the conventional wisdom among advanced liberals, “democracy as we know it” would “pass away.” “Without doubt,” wrote Brooks, “Wells has altered the air we breathe and made a conscious fact in many minds the excellence that resides in certain kinds of men and modes of living and odiousness that resides in others.” Dell, and Lippmann too, believed themselves members of the new aristocracy of mind and character.

Other major public figures in the U.S. acknowledged Wells’s impact. Margaret Sanger, a leading feminist, militant proponent of the First Amendment, and champion of birth control and eugenics—all causes shared by Wells—believed that the author had “influenced the American intelligentsia more than any other one man.” The naturalist Joseph Wood Krutch, looking back on the 1920s, noted of Wells that “a whole surviving generation might appropriately sing in the words of the popular ballad of their days, ‘You made me what I am today.’ ” To assess Wells and George Bernard Shaw, Krutch asserted, “would come pretty close to assessing the aims, the ideals, the thinking and one might almost say, the wisdom and folly of a half-century.”

During World War I, Wells—like his admirers at The New Republic, the new magazine where he published regularly and whose name was redolent of the heroes of Anticipations—had been both an ardent antinationalist and a strong supporter of Woodrow Wilson’s vision of a new world to emerge from the terrible bloodshed. But liberal hopes for international comity were dashed, and postwar bewilderment and disillusion created an extraordinary demand for answers. Why had all civilized standards broken down in the course of the first total war? Why had so much sacrifice come to so little? Why had a war to protect the status quo ante been so destabilizing? Why was it being followed not by peace but by revolution?

Anyone who could offer “a clue, any clue, to the riddle,” said the historian J. Carlton Hayes, “was assured a large and attentive audience.” Lenin was the first off the mark, ascribing the war to the cupidity of capitalism and offering Communist internationalism as the means to peace. For perplexed Americans struggling to make sense of America’s new role in the world, Wells provided an alternative internationalist answer. His massive, two-volume The Outline of History (1920) became the best-selling nonfiction book of the decade, a sort of secular Bible, complete with creation story—in this case, Darwinian—and a promise of redemption if advances in communications and man’s intelligence were allowed to minimize the scourge of nationalism by creating a world government led by the Samurai.

Humanity, Wells said, had a common origin that allowed for a shared path toward its goal, which was “to create and develop a common consciousness and a common stock of knowledge which may serve and illuminate” reality. The recent war was the product of an “educational breakdown” in which the retrograde ideals of nationalism and patriotism had been allowed to metastasize. “There can be no peace now, we realize, but a common peace in all the world,” Wells wrote, “no prosperity but a general prosperity. But there can be no common peace and prosperity without common historical ideas.”

The Outline’s aim was to establish that common heritage, to forge the consciousness that merged “the narrow globe of the individual experience” into a “wider being,” a Jung-like shared identity as a species searching for the higher evolutionary path. In the future, Wells predicted, anticipating the liberationist ideas of the sixties, “man will breathe sweetness and generosity and use his mind and hands cleanly and exactly. He will feel better, will be better, think better, see, taste, and hear better than men do now. His undersoul will no longer be a mutinous cavern of ill-treated suppressions and of impulses repressed without understanding.” Golden youths would lead lives of deliciously complete sexual and emotional fulfillment.

When Wells came to New York in 1921 to cover the Washington Naval Conference for the New York World and London’s Daily Mail, he was received, noted the respected radical Max Eastman, as “reporter-judge.” The widely shared sense of Wells as “a priest-like teacher” brought him, said Eastman, “to his highest point at that momentous or meant to be momentous conference.” At the disarmament talks, Wells received more deference than the major nationalities’ official delegates did. A banquet “was tendered to him at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel by Ralph Pulitzer, the proprietor of the New York World,” reported Eastman, “and the outstanding dignitaries of the city—legal, political, financial, journalistic, literary—were invited to it.”

Over the next decade, Wells would meet with Presidents Harding and Hoover at the White House. But while he was still publicly lionized, his intellectual influence began to decline. Some liberals, disillusioned by the war’s outcome and angered by the hysteria of the postwar Red Scare, saw in Wells’s optimism the simplicities of a “Fabian schoolmarm,” as one critic put it, stuck in the hopeful years before the war. Soviet sympathizers similarly mocked him as “the last of the Great Parlor Socialists.”

As the bootsteps of both fascism and Communism began stamping down his influence, Wells wrote a 1924 essay, “The Spirit of Fascism: Is There Any Good in It at All?” The answer: a resounding no. “Moscow and Rome are alike in this, that they embody the rule of a minority conceited enough to believe that they have a clue to the tangled incoherencies of human life, and need only sufficiently terrorize criticism and opposition to achieve a general happiness,” Wells wrote. As elitist as his rivals but nonetheless liberal, he explained that “neither recognizes the enormously tentative quality of human institutions, and the tangled and scarcely explored difficulties in the path of social reconstruction.” At the same time, both fascists and Communists were too democratic for Wells, having attained power, as he saw it, by an ill-advised appeal to the masses. “The underlying fact in all these matters,” he concluded, was that “the common uneducated man is a violent fool in social and public affairs.”

Though Wells would always be critical of Marxism, he viewed the Soviet experiment as proof of his foresight. In What Are We to Do with Our Lives? (1931), he wrote, “The idea of reorganizing the affairs of the world on quite a big scale, which was ‘Utopian,’ and so forth, in 1926 and 1927, and still ‘bold’ in 1928, has now spread about the world until nearly everybody has it. It has broken out all over the place, thanks largely to the mental stimulation of the Russian Five Year Plan.” But drawing again on Marx’s “utopian” predecessors, he promised an anodyne adaptation of Soviet central planning shorn of police-state thuggery. He called for a “great central organization of economic science,” which “would necessarily produce direction; it would indicate what had best be done here, there, and everywhere.” But “it would not be an organization of will, imposing its will upon a recalcitrant race; it would be a direction, just as a map is a direction.” A map, he explained, “imposes no will on anyone, breaks no one in to its ‘policy.’ And yet we obey our maps.”

The book fell flat. As one critic put it, “Wells is the mostly highly imaginative human being living,” but “his intellect can’t keep pace with his imagination.” By 1932, a frustrated Wells found his superior wisdom bypassed time and again by the superior mass appeal of fascism and Communism. In a talk at Oxford provocatively titled “Liberal Fascism,” he called for liberalism to be “born again.” After his customary denunciation of parliamentary politics as an anachronism, he let out his frustrations, calling for fascist means to serve liberal ends by way of a liberal elite as “conceited” and as power-hungry as its rivals. “I suggest that you study the reinvigoration of Catholicism by Loyola,” Wells said. “I am asking for a Liberal Fascisti.” It was also to Communism that “we shall have to turn—we outsiders, that is, the young people with foresight for enlightened Nazis; I am proposing that you consider the formation for a greater Communist Party; a western response to Russia.”

Wells thought he had found that Western response in 1934, when he met with President Franklin D. Roosevelt and with key members of FDR’s Brains Trust. “My impression of both him and Mrs. Roosevelt,” he wrote, “is that they are unlimited people, entirely modern in the openness of their minds and the logic of their actions.” Here, for a time at least, was another political hero with whom he could identify wholeheartedly. FDR was “continually revolutionary in the new way without ever provoking a stark revolutionary crisis,” wrote the ever-certain Wells. “I do not say that the President has these revolutionary ideas in so elaborate and comprehensive a form as they have come to me, [but] unless I misjudge him, they will presently possess him altogether.” Indeed, FDR was “the most effective transmitting instrument possible for the coming of the new world order,” and in Brains Trusters Raymond Moley, Felix Frankfurter, and Rex Tugwell, Wells found the nucleus of the new elite, those who were destined to take full power in time.

Wells retained his judgment of FDR even after meeting with Stalin four months later in his capacity as president of Poets, Essayists, and Novelists (PEN), an international association dedicated to defending freedom of speech. Wells, noted Malcolm Cowley, the philo-Stalinist literary critic of The New Republic, was “not an official figure,” but when he met with Stalin, “he spoke with the voice of Anglo-American liberalism.” Seeking to outflank Stalin, he told the Soviet dictator, “It seems to me that I am more to the Left than you. I think the old system is closer to the end than you think.” Wells asked an unimpressed Stalin to abandon the class struggle on the grounds that the future lay with the Royal Society, the leading British academy, which had called scientific planning the best path to the future. Stalin, echoing Lenin’s earlier reaction to Wells—after a friendly 1920 meeting, the revolutionary had found the seer “incurably middle-class”—responded with a lecture on the unavoidably bourgeois character of experts.

Wells thought the loss of freedom for Russian writers was temporary and seemed to accept Stalin’s insistence that vigorous debate within the party took place. Despite Stalin’s impermeability, Wells concluded that “I have never met a man more candid, fair and honest, and it is to these qualities and to nothing occult and sinister, that he owes his tremendous undisputed ascendancy in Russia. . . . No one is afraid of him and everyone trusts him.” Wells summed up the differences between Washington and Moscow by arguing that “the one is a receptive and coordinating brain center; the other is a concentrated and personal direction.” The aim sought, “a progressively more organized big-scale community,” was “precisely the same.” The New Republic and The Nation were churning out similar conclusions weekly.

Still, Wells placed his hopes for the future on FDR, not on Stalin. In 1935, he did a series of articles on the New Deal for Collier’s, extolling FDR’s program as a model for the world. But Wells had little new to say. He was still a major figure in America but no longer a major influence, and when eventually he soured on the New Deal as not having attained his exalted expectations, it was to scant effect.

In Germany, of course, the eugenics and central planning that Wells touted soon led in directions that the futurist didn’t anticipate. Wells attempted to explain away Hitler as “the screaming little defective in Germany”—an explanation for which George Orwell had only contempt. But Orwell nonetheless recognized Wells’s extraordinary impact. “I doubt whether anyone who was writing books between 1900 and 1920, at any rate in the English language, influenced the young so much,” Orwell wrote. “The minds of all of us . . . would be perceptibly different if Wells had never existed.”

Orwell was right. It was Wells who made it respectable, even before World War I, for liberals in England and America to demean their own native democratic culture in the name of an imagined antidemocratic World State. And it was Wells, with his stature as the prophet of the future, who taught upper-middle-class liberals that they were entitled to govern in the name of social evolution.

Fred Siegel is a City Journal contributing editor, a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute, and a professor at the Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art.
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Re: 'The Open Conspiracy': H.G. Wells Plots The World Empire

Postby admin » Sun Oct 13, 2019 1:09 am

Utopian Pessimist: The works, world view, and women of H. G. Wells
by Adam Kirsch
The New Yorker
October 10, 2011

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In his sex life, as in his political and scientific views, Wells considered himself a representative of a freer, more rational future.

Looking back on his life, at the age of sixty-five, H. G. Wells concluded that it could be written only as a comedy. “Imperfection and incompleteness are the certain lot of all creative workers,” he wrote in “Experiment in Autobiography,” his entertainingly candid memoir. “The life story to be told of any creative worker is therefore by its very nature, by its diversions of purpose and its qualified success, by its grotesque transitions from sublimation to base necessity and its pervasive stress towards flight, a comedy.”

In this tolerant spirit, he was more than willing to acknowledge the unevenness of his literary achievement. No writer as prolific as Wells could possibly hope for Flaubertian perfection: between 1895, when he made his sensational début with “The Time Machine,” and his death, in 1946, he published more than a hundred books. After the early “scientific romances”—gripping stories about time travel, invisibility, and alien invasion which made Wells the father of modern sci-fi—he produced best-sellers of all kinds. There were Dickensian comedies, like “Kipps” and “The History of Mr. Polly”; topical novels, like “Ann Veronica” (about the suffragette movement) and “Mr. Britling Sees It Through” (about the First World War); groundbreaking works of futurology, like “Anticipations,” in which he predicted everything from suburbanization to aerial warfare; and his autodidact’s masterpiece, “The Outline of History,” which compressed all of human achievement into two volumes, and sold millions of copies around the world.

The flood of Wells’s prose lifted him from the respectable poverty in which he was raised to wealth and international fame. In his memoirs, he writes proudly about his meetings with Theodore and Franklin Roosevelt, Lenin, and Stalin. Writing in 1941, George Orwell—whose own nom de plume sounds like a tribute to Herbert George Wells—declared that “thinking people who were born about the beginning of this century are in some sense Wells’s own creation. . . . The minds of all of us, and therefore the physical world, would be perceptibly different if Wells had never existed.”

Yet this praise comes in the course of a devastating essay, “Wells, Hitler and the World State,” in which Orwell finally judges Wells to be obsolete, “a shallow, inadequate thinker” whose Edwardian vision of human progress has been thoroughly falsified by history. All of his best writing was done before the First World War, Orwell concludes; after that, he merely “squandered his talents.” David Lodge, whose new novel, “A Man of Parts” (Random House; $26.95), is a lightly fictionalized retelling of Wells’s life, has the aged writer sharing this view. Lodge’s Wells imagines what his obituaries will say: “All the emphasis will be on the first half of his life—up to, say, 1920.” Michael Sherborne, whose recent biography, “H. G. Wells: Another Kind of Life” (Peter Owen; $35), is a brisk and witty complement to Lodge’s novel, issues an even sterner verdict: “If a hemorrhage had carried Wells off in 1898, how would we see him now? His reputation would have been very different, probably much higher, and it would rest squarely on the scientific romances.”

Surely no writer could be cheered by the thought that posterity would judge the last forty-eight years of his life an anticlimax. Indeed, the “imperfection and incompleteness” that, to Wells, made a comedy of creative effort are exactly what make the greatest artists’ lives into tragedies. Lodge, in a previous novel, “Author, Author,” gave the same kind of fictional treatment to Henry James’s life, focussing on the notorious failure of James’s 1895 stage play, “Guy Domville.” The image of James taking a bow to the jeers and catcalls of the audience has become one of the primal scenes of modernism, and James is revered as “the Master” partly because of his willingness to wager everything—popularity, fortune, happiness, life—on his vision of artistic perfection. “We work in the dark—we do what we can—we give what we have,” one James character declares. “Our doubt is our passion, and our passion is our task. The rest is the madness of art.”

Wells, who was in the audience at James’s fiasco and learned from the experience, had his own, considerably more chipper approach to the literary life. “It scarcely needs criticism to bring home to me that much of my work has been slovenly, haggard and irritated, most of it hurried and inadequately revised, and some of it as white and pasty in its texture as a starch-fed nun,” he admitted. But he was not unduly bothered by this: “I have to overwork, with all the penalties of overworking in loss of grace and finish, to get my work done.” Nor, for that matter, did Wells believe that he had any great gifts to squander. “The brain upon which my experiences have been written is not a particularly good one. If there were brain-shows, as there are cat and dog shows, I doubt if it would get even a third class prize,” he insisted.

The contrast between James’s and Wells’s approaches to literature was too significant for their friendship to be unaffected. Lodge fills “A Man of Parts” with quotations from original sources, including a number of the letters that James wrote to Wells congratulating him on each new publication. These are masterpieces of passive aggression, each piece of flattery swathing a shard of reproof. The protagonist of “Kipps,” James wrote, is “not so much a masterpiece as a mere born gem”; “the more one thought about this metaphor,” Lodge’s Wells muses, “the less credit it gave the novelist for artistry, and the more it seemed to attribute his achievement to luck.” A later Wells novel brought James’s compliments on “your capacity for chewing up the thickness of the world in such enormous mouthfuls, while you fairly slobber, so to speak, with the multitudinous taste.”

After such dubious praise, it was hardly surprising when James took to print to attack “The Younger Generation” of English novelists, including Wells, whose fictional technique he compared to a man squeezing a sponge out of an open window. In response, Wells devoted much of his novel “Boon” to mocking James, memorably comparing his laborious prose style to a hippopotamus trying to pick up a pea. This contretemps brought their friendship to a close, but it twinned them in the eyes of posterity—so much so that it seems natural for Lodge to follow a novel about James with one about Wells.

What kept Wells at his desk for so many productive hours, if not James’s “madness of art”? There’s no doubt what answer Wells himself would give. The goal of his writing, he maintained, was not personal glory or lasting beauty but the betterment of mankind. His life’s work was “the attempt to disentangle the possible drift of life in general and of human life in particular from the confused stream of events, and the means of controlling that drift, if such are to be found.” He thought of himself as essentially not a novelist but a social scientist, who tried “to make a practically applicable science out of history and sociology.”

Wells’s self-image as a man of science had very deep roots. As a teen-ager, he fought hard against his parents’ plans to make him a draper’s apprentice. Instead, he cobbled together enough schooling to win a scholarship to study at the Normal School of Science (now the Royal College of Science), under Thomas Huxley, a famous biologist and disciple of Darwin. Wells’s record as a student was inglorious—after three years, he failed to pass his qualifying exams—but the ambition to be taken seriously as some kind of scientist never left him. In 1943, he prevailed upon the University of London to give him a Ph.D. for a work that purported to be a dissertation, but was really just another of his quasi-scientific essays, “On the Quality of Illusion in the Continuity of the Individual Life.” The school was “stretching a point in awarding him a doctorate on the strength of it,” Sherborne writes, but since it had already given him an honorary doctorate of literature, it must have seemed that it couldn’t hurt to gratify Wells’s lifelong wish.

Wells may not have been an expert in any particular scientific field, but he believed wholeheartedly in the idea of science, especially when it came to the rational government of human beings. In book after book, novels and nonfiction alike, Wells hammered home the message that humanity could improve its lot only by entrusting power to a self-selected caste of enlightened technicians, who would rule according to the dictates of science. At different times, he called this virtuous élite the New Republicans, the Samurai, and the Open Conspiracy; it can be thought of as an idealized version of the Fabian Society, the élite socialist group to which Wells briefly belonged. He first described this caste in “Anticipations,” the 1901 book he called “the keystone to the main arch of my work.” “The dominant men of the new time,” he writes, will “all be artists in reality, with a passion for simplicity and directness and an impatience of confusion and inefficiency,” dedicated to creating the “future world state to which all things are pointing.”

The program Wells hoped to implement was socialist and progressive. He was a strong believer in free speech and free thought, and in the elimination of war through international coöperation. During the First World War, these convictions led him to work for the establishment of the League of Nations; during the Second, he helped to draft a manifesto that became a basis for the United Nations’ Universal Declaration of Human Rights. In “Ann Veronica,” he describes the atmosphere of intellectual ferment in which he thrived: “a great discontent with and criticism of life as it is lived, [and] a clamorous confusion of ideas for reconstruction—reconstruction of the methods of business, of economic development, of the rules of property, of the status of children, of the clothing and feeding and teaching of everyone.”

Wells was also, like many progressives of his time, a believer in eugenics, and he could write with disconcerting eagerness about which categories of human beings would be put to death in his utopian state. “The New Republic,” he wrote in “Anticipations,” would have no use for “a multitude of contemptible and silly creatures, fear-driven and helpless and useless, unhappy or hatefully happy in the midst of squalid dishonour, feeble, ugly, inefficient, born of unrestrained lusts, and increasing and multiplying through sheer incontinence and stupidity.” In the shining future, Wells wrote, the élite would feel good about killing off such people, because “they will have an ideal that will make killing worth the while.”

Clearly, this vision of progress is hard to reconcile with anything as old-fashioned as democracy. One of Wells’s books was titled “After Democracy,” and he once wrote, “We want the world ruled, not by everybody, but by a politically minded organization open, with proper safeguards, to everybody.” The Italian Fascists and especially the Soviet Communist Party were good examples of what he had in mind: “If Russia has done nothing else for mankind, the experiment of the Communist Party is alone sufficient to justify her revolution.” He had a particular admiration for Stalin, whom he found less intellectually sophisticated than Lenin, but humanly superior: “I have never met a man more candid, fair and honest, and to those qualities it is, and to nothing occult and sinister, that he owes his tremendous undisputed ascendancy in Russia.”

Neither Lodge nor Sherborne quotes that bit of character analysis, and they seem to agree that it would be unkind to hold Wells too strictly to account for all of his numerous published opinions. This is especially true when it comes to his obsessive anti-Semitism. “Read in the shadow of the Holocaust,” Sherborne pleads, “Wells’s references to Jews may cause some discomfort, but he was writing before the Holocaust, and his alternating praise and criticism of Jews . . . does not condemn him to the category of anti-Semites occupied by Belloc, Pound and Eliot.”

This is true, but only because Wells belonged to a different anti-Semitic tradition: not of the nationalist right but of the progressive left. He believed that the Jews were responsible for the invention of nationalism, and blamed them for clinging stubbornly to their parochial identity. (Lodge quotes his view that Nazism was merely “inverted Judaism.”) It is hard to read his 1939 book “The Fate of Homo Sapiens,” with its chapter on “The Jewish Influence,” without feeling that Wells, while appalled by Nazism and opposed to anti-Semitic persecution, rather felt that the Jews had it coming. Sherborne complains about the tendency of recent critics of Wells to dwell on the worst aspects of his political thought, but at least criticizing him means taking his ideas seriously—as seriously as Orwell did when he wrote “1984,” which reads like a dystopian rebuttal to Wells’s sinister utopian fantasies.

If Wells is neither a great literary artist, which he never claimed to be, nor an admirable political thinker, which he certainly did claim to be, then why do we continue to care about him? The best reason lies in the science-fiction novels he turned out with such amazing speed at the very beginning of his career. Wells was not the creator of the genre—Jules Verne explored the romance of modern technology decades before Wells wrote his scientific romances. But as the continuing movie adaptations of his work make clear, Wells remains our contemporary in a way that Verne does not. This is because of the conviction of utter hopelessness that runs through all Wells’s science fiction. As different as he was from Henry James, he possessed a full measure of what James called “the imagination of disaster.” He belonged to a generation that grew up in the bright shadow of “The Origin of Species,” and entered adulthood to the strains of “Thus Spoke Zarathustra.”

Relativism and nihilism were Wells’s inheritance, and the power of his scientific romances comes from the way he gives these ideas dramatic form. In “The Time Machine,” the narrator travels to the year 802,701, only to find that every vestige of human achievement, and humanity itself, has disappeared. In “The War of the Worlds,” an attack by technologically advanced Martians shows how contemptible a place humanity occupies in the universe; repeatedly, Wells writes that the Martians are to humans as humans are to beasts. If these stories continue to get told and retold, to the point that they seem more like folk stories than like the inventions of a single mind, it is because we are still living with the trauma of mankind’s demotion by science. Wells had a gift that was perhaps even rarer than the gift of being a great novelist: he represented an era by dreaming its nightmares for it.

Wells’s way of writing and living—provisional, pragmatic, epicurean—was his principled response to a universe in which ultimate values seemed an illusion. And if Wells’s life was a comedy, the biggest, most rueful laughter came from the sex scenes. That is why miniature black-and-white photos of naked women cavort across the cover of “A Man of Parts,” and you don’t have to read far to figure out that the “parts” of which Lodge’s Wells is made are preëminently private: “ ‘Is that your . . .?’ Amber whispered. ‘That is my erect penis,’ he said, ‘a column of blood, one of the marvels of nature, a miracle of hydraulic engineering.’ ‘It’s enormous,’ she said.’ ”

According to Lodge’s count, Wells “must have had well over a hundred women in his lifetime.” The tally includes two wives, four or five long-term mistresses, and two teen-age daughters of fellow-leaders of the Fabian Society. Several important writers are on the list—Rebecca West, Elizabeth von Arnim, Margaret Sanger, Martha Gellhorn (possibly)—as well as one probable Soviet spy, Moura Budberg, Wells’s last great love. There was also at least one lunatic, Hedwig Gatternigg, who started out as one of his many casual conquests—what Wells liked to call his passades—but proved harder than most to get rid of. Finally, she turned up at his house wearing nothing but an overcoat, brandishing a razor and declaring that if he didn’t have sex with her immediately she would kill herself. She managed to get in a few superficial cuts before Wells and the porter disarmed her and turned her over to the police. Fortunately for Wells, his friendship with England’s leading press barons allowed him to keep the whole story out of the papers.

Remarkably, given this Leporello-scale catalogue, Wells fathered only two children out of wedlock—one deliberately, with the young Fabian Amber Reeves, and one accidentally, with West. On the latter occasion, Lodge explains, the presence of a housekeeper made it impossible for the lovers to get into the bedroom, where Wells kept his “French letters.” “He considered himself a skilled exponent of coitus interruptus,” Lodge writes, “but on this occasion, sprawled on top of Rebecca, with one foot on the floor, he slipped on a rug and the sudden change of position caused him to ejaculate before he could withdraw. . . . ‘You’ll find a bidet in there,’ he said. ‘I should make very thorough use of it.’ ”

It all sounds like good material for a sex farce. If “A Man of Parts” does not read that way, it is partly because, as these samples suggest, Lodge’s prose is not exactly carefree. Lodge is well known both as a literary scholar and as the author of satirical campus novels like “Nice Work” and “Small World.” Writing about a historical figure, however, the novelist’s wit is usually smothered by the scholar’s conscientiousness. Long passages of “A Man of Parts” read as simple biography, and Lodge recounts much more than he dramatizes.

He also seems a little uncomfortable writing directly about sex, a reticence that, he points out, Wells shared: “He had never felt any urge to describe the sexual act and its variations in his fiction—it was the sort of discourse he preferred to keep private, confined to his love letters and pillow talk.” When it comes to the main event, Lodge tends to resort to elegant variation: his Wells has “vigorous and joyful intercourse” at one moment, “torrid and jungly intercourse” at another. And there is something a little clinical about the way he has Wells, after an unusual dry spell, “release the pent seed of three weeks’ abstinence.” By contrast, Sherborne’s puns at least have the advantage of sprightliness: describing Wells’s wedding night, he writes, “The only maidenhead he knew about was the one on the road to Reading.”

Wells knew that his sex life was unusually eventful, and he expected posterity to want to know about it. After completing “Experiment in Autobiography,” he went on to write a private “Postscript,” in which he could be more explicit about “sexual events and personal intimacies.” Not published until 1984, under the title “H. G. Wells in Love,” it supplies much of the material for Lodge’s novel. Here Wells talks about his sexually disappointing first marriage to his cousin Isabel, and his equally passionless second marriage to Amy Catherine Robbins, known as Jane, who settled more or less happily into the role of the great man’s friend, secretary, and enabler. “She had always regarded my sexual imaginativeness as a sort of constitutional disease; she stood by me patiently, unobtrusively waiting for the fever to subside,” Wells writes. “Perhaps if she had not been immune to such fevers I should not have gone astray.”

It is moving to read of Wells’s happy, liberating surprise at discovering that there were, in fact, women who liked sex as much as he did. Yet, just as he denied being an unusually talented writer, so he demurred, “I have never been able to discover whether my interest in sex is more than normal. There is no meter yet for that sort of thing.” The only difference between him and the average product of Victorian England, he suspected, was that “I have had no considerable restraints from the outside upon realizing my imaginations. . . . Except in so far as affection put barriers about me, I have done what I pleased so that every bit of sexual impulse in me has expressed itself. Most other men probably have as much or more drive, I suspect, but less outlet.”

In his sex life, as in his political and scientific views, Wells considered himself a representative of a freer, more rational future. “My story of my relations with women . . . would not be worth the telling if it were merely my particular story,” he said. “But it is really a tale of a world of dislocated sexual relations and failure to adjust.” What Wells practiced might be described as serial monogamy alternating with meaningless promiscuity, which describes the sex lives of many or most people in the Western world today. This sexual regime has its own discontents, and people still write novels about them, but both the discontents and the novels are different in kind, not just in degree, from what they were a century ago.

Agood way to measure the change is to compare “A Man of Parts,” with its matter-of-fact, even staid, copulations, to Wells’s novel “Ann Veronica.” That book tells the story of a liberated middle-class girl who moves to London, becomes a suffragette, and falls in love with her married science teacher, Mr. Capes. There is nothing approaching a sex scene in the book, and Wells minimizes Ann Veronica’s crime against the institution of marriage by making clear that Capes is separated from his wife. But the forthrightness of her pursuit—“ ‘I want you. I want you to be my lover. I want to give myself to you. . . . Is that plain?’ she asked”—put the novel beyond the pale in 1909. Lodge quotes a reviewer who denounced Wells’s vision of “a community of scuffling stoats and ferrets, unenlightened by a ray of duty or abnegation.” Sherborne has an even choicer example, from a critic who declared, “I would as soon send a daughter of mine to a house infected with diphtheria or typhoid fever as put that book into her hands.”

Such readers would have been even more apoplectic had they known about the love affair on which “Ann Veronica” was based. This was Wells’s grand passion for Amber Reeves, the brilliant, nineteen-year-old daughter of a leading Fabian. Amber was just one of a series of young women who threw themselves at Wells, begging him to initiate them in the secrets of sex. “Encyclopedias and medical textbooks can only tell you so much,” Lodge has her complain in “A Man of Parts,” just before she experiences the miracle of hydraulic engineering. Eventually Amber prevailed upon Wells to give her a child, and the couple escaped complete social ruin only thanks to Amber’s complaisant admirer Rivers Blanco White, who agreed to marry her and raise Wells’s daughter as his own.

What attracted Amber Reeves and Rebecca West and so many others was not Wells’s physical presence—a malnourished childhood had left him short and slight, until he became short and stout with age—but what he represented. Wells sincerely believed in sexual frankness and women’s liberation, at a time when Victorian chastity was curdling into a burdensome hypocrisy. He makes this plain in his description of Capes, one of many characters in his fiction based squarely on himself: “Surely Capes was different. Capes looked at one and not over one, spoke to one, treated one as a visible concrete fact. . . . Anyhow, he did not sentimentalize her.”

Just how little Wells sentimentalized sex becomes clear in his memoir. He made an exception for his wives and two or three of his mistresses, but the rest of his passades, he wrote, “had much the same place in my life that fly-fishing or golfing has in the life of many busy men.” One might say that with sex, as with art, Wells was too modern a man to bother about what James called the doubt, the passion, and the task. He wrote and loved pragmatically, hygienically, in order to discharge certain energies and accomplish certain goals. That is why, paradoxical though it may sound, Henry James’s famous celibacy is more fertile for our imaginations than Wells’s amorousness—just as James’s artistry is more compelling than Wells’s productivity. James believed that the way he lived and wrote had a permanent symbolic value, and believing it made it true.

Wells’s deepest conviction, on the other hand, can be heard in the last pages of his novel “Tono-Bungay,” in which a journey through London down the Thames becomes a metaphor for the mutability of all human things. “The river passes—London passes, England passes,” Wells writes. “We are all things that make and pass striving upon a hidden mission, out to the open sea.” The problem he set himself was how to combine that mission, his furious devotion to human progress, with a cool certainty that the end of all progress would be entropy, devolution, nullity. The way he lived this paradox, even more than his books, is what makes Wells, still, an exemplary modern man.

Adam Kirsch is a poet, critic, and the author of, most recently, “The Global Novel: Writing the World in the 21st Century.”
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Re: 'The Open Conspiracy': H.G. Wells Plots The World Empire

Postby admin » Sun Oct 13, 2019 1:17 am

New Republic
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Accessed: 10/12/19

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Dorothy Straight and her husband, Willard Straight, were both deeply influenced by The Promise of American Life, a book written by the journalist, Herbert Croly. In 1914 Croly was invited to meet Dorothy and Willard at their Long Island home. While there, Croly commented that Norman Hapgood, the recently appointed editor of Harper's Weekly, had failed to turn it into the liberal journal that America needed. Dorothy suggested that the three of them should start their own journal.

The first edition of the New Republic appeared on 7th November, 1914. Willard Straight supplied the money and Herbert Croly became its first editor. The magazine was run by a small editorial board that included Croly's friend, Walter Lippmann. All outside contributions were submitted to the editorial board and had to be accepted by all members before it could appear in the magazine. Early contributors included Walter Weyl, Randolph Bourne, Charles Beard, Amy Lowell, Henry Brailsford and H. G. Wells.

When it was first published, the New Republic had 32 pages, including self-cover, and contained no illustrations. Its first edition sold 875 copies but after a year the circulation reached 15,000. The New Republic became a strong supporter of Theodore Roosevelt and the Progressive movement.

On the outbreak of the First World War, Herbert Croly argued for American neutrality. The New Republic published articles by British critics of the war such as Norman Angell and Harold Laski. However, after the sinking of the Lusitania, Croly urged American entry into war. After Congress declared war on Germany, the New Republic gave Woodrow Wilson its full support. This upset those that still believed in neutrality and Max Eastman, editor of The Masses, complained that the New Republic had become a mouthpiece of President Wilson.

After the war Herbert Croly became much more critical of Woodrow Wilson and described the Versailles Treaty as "a peace of annihilation". He also disliked the League of Nations, an organisation that "would perpetuate rather than correct the evils of the treaty." Sales of the New Republic reached 43,000 during the First World War but declined during the 1920s.

Willard Straight died during the influenza epidemic in 1918 but Dorothy Straight continued to fund what had now become a loss-making venture. Herbert Croly continued to persuade some of the most prominent literary figures in the United States and Britain to write for the journal. This included Edmund Wilson, Waldo Frank, Jane Addams, Bertrand Russell, H. G. Wells, Virginia Woolf and John Maynard Keynes.

Bruce Bliven replaced Herbert Croly as editor of the New Republic in 1930. Bliven continued the tradition of the New Republic to argue for left of centre solutions to America's problems and in 1932 supported the socialist candidate, Norman Thomas, for president. Four years later, Bliven switched to Franklin D. Roosevelt.

Writers who wrote for the New Republic between the wars included H. L. Mencken, John Dos Passos, Willa Cather and Michael Gold. In 1946 Henry A. Wallace became editor and under his leadership circulation reached a all-time high of nearly 100,000. Wallace resigned in December, 1947, when he decided to run for the presidency. He was replaced by Michael Whitney Straight, the son of the magazine's founders. Circulation of the New Republic fell to 30,000 in the 1950s and one commentator described it as "that faint voice of the left".
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