A Review Of Salvaging Civilization By H.G. Wells.
To most Americans with a recollection of the Cold War, it was assumed the global superstate would be brought about through military conquest. However, in “Salvaging Civilization,“H.G. Wells suggests how this planetary political organization could be brought about through education and the management of public opinion.
According to Wells, the future of mankind is dependent upon the establishment of world unity in order to protect the human race from social disintegration and physical destruction. However, instead of blatantly imposing this new world order from without, Wells suggests conditioning the masses into accepting the world state through targeted forms of intellectual manipulation.
While Wells claims to have the best interests of man at heart, it is clear he does not think all that much of the common individual as in his view it is the place of such people to simply go along with the will of the elite. Wells writes, “It is often forgotten, in America, even more than in Europe, that education exists for the community, and only for the individual only so far that it makes him a sufficient member of the community. The chief end of education is to subjugate and sublimate for the collective purpose of our own kind the savage egoism we inherit (24-25).”
Thus, education in the proposed global society is not so much about empowering the individual to think for himself as it is to condition him to take his place as a docile member of the group. As such, the early stages of establishing a world government will not be as much about changing politics itself as it will be about influencing the minds of the young.
The freedom Wells grants with one hand by liberating the individual from traditional authorities he takes back with the other. Wells writes, “The world state must begin as a propagandist cult, to which men and women must give themselves and their energies regardless of the consequences (35).”
Furthermore, the future world state won’t simply be an institution in the background keeping the peace and making sure the trains run on time. Rather, it is to be in the forefront in molding what the good member of the community is to think and believe.
Foremost among the methods for keeping order in the New World Order will be what Wells calls ‘The Bible of Civilization”. However, this is not to be the famed Good Book that has guided mankind in religious and ethical matters century upon century. Rather, this new Bible is to consist of an anthology of the best in human literature and learning selected and periodically revised by “a few hundred resolute and capable people”.
But as a renowned atheist, what Wells failed to realize is that the thing that has granted the Bible such sway over the minds of men and cherished in their hearts is that it was handed down by the hand of God or at least that is that is believed by those that honor its precepts. All Wells leaves us is a committee working paper with the proviso that the documents findings are subject to change at a later date.
If God says something like thou shalt not murder, like it or not, I don’t have much room to argue about it. If some sanctimonious committee with no other authority than that which it has bestowed upon itself and duped the masses into abiding by for the time being makes grandiose pronouncements it claims we are obligated to obey , why should I have to comply with its dictates and decrees?
Despite claiming to stand for human freedom by abolishing traditional prohibitions on sex outside of marriage (no doubt in part because he was himself a profligate adulterer), Wells’ behavioral codes would be far more extensive and binding than anything elaborated upon in the pages of the Bible. Wells writes, “One of the first duties of a citizen is to keep himself in mental and bodily health in order to be fit for the rest of his duties.”
Thus, to translate Wells’ position into something we can understand, go out and have as many affairs as you want (no doubt to lessen the bonds to a particular spouse or family so that identity comes instead to be derived from the larger group). Just don’t get caught smoking a cigarette or enjoying fast foods since that might hinder the revolution and the glorious expansion of the motherworld.
To some viewing H.G. Wells as a figure prominent at the beginning of the previous century, he has little bearing on the world in which we live today. However, upon contemplating his proposals in “The Salvaging Of Civilization” such as the rule by elite committees, extensive control of education, and regulations that bear a frightening similarity to provisions against hate speech when he writes “We must put ourselves, and our rulers and our fellow men on trial. We must ask ‘What have you done to...help or hinder the peace of mankind?.’ A time will come when a politician who has...willfully promoted international dissension will be...much surer of the noose than a private homicide (40)” we are already too eerily close to living in a world of this author’s own making.
by Frederick Meekins
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Thanks for sharing this article. I have not read the book in question, but your review makes good sense to me.