By Alan Mercer
Even though this essay by Wells is critical of Beaverbrook’s views on empire, according to firstworldwar.com, Beaverbrook was the British Minister of Information in 1918 and encouraged authors, including H. G. Wells, to write war propaganda articles and pamphlets.
In other words, Wells worked for the Ministry of Information for the British government during World War I. As Quigley explains, besides controlling critical major publications such as the Times of London, Milner and his colleagues were “all-pervasive” in the government in the later stages of World War I and had men placed in the propaganda department (Wellington House) and the Department of Intelligence (Anglo-American Establishment, p. 145). Also during World War II, the Milner Group were highly influential in major publications, and in particular areas of government, including the Research and Intelligence Department of the Foreign Office, and the Ministry of Information (Quigley, p. 303).
Wells mentions his view of the German system like a “closed fist”, but the British Empire “was like an open hand spread throughout the world. It had and could have no natural economic unity at all.” [p.11]
I would picture Wells’ idea about the ideal role for the British Empire as being like a world-straddling blender of violence and cultural demolition (like America’s role today under its internationalist rulers):
“the essential task, therefore, of the Empire was to think, teach, intercommunicate, and unify. So we might shadow forth and guide and dominate the greater unification before mankind. The only possible line of development was through the systematic perfection and realization of a liberal ideology, that would unite first the Empire and at last the world in a common world aim.”
So much for “liberal” ideology! All these ideologies were just covers for world empire whether its called “patriotic” or “cosmopolitan”.
But Wells was disappointed with imperialists who “have so maintained their preference for battleships over brains…”, and have stuck to “the erection of mean and stupid tariff obstacles…” [p. 11,12]
Wells “should be glad to see the English-speaking communities throughout the world free now to recombine in some more progressive unity….”. And the Milner Group also had this exact same goal, promoted as Imperial federation by Lionel Curtis and other members of the Milner Group. The compromise became the British Commonwealth (Quigley, p. 57).
“To-day the progressive entanglement of the economic and financial affairs of mankind into a worldwide system of reactions is much more impressive than it was in the opening decade of the century. It is going on faster than any of us could possibly have anticipated then. And it has escaped altogether from the limit of the Empire”. [p. 13]
So the trend towards world government had already progressed beyond the confines of the British Empire, but the British Empire had helped to get it started.
“The development of aviation and wireless and modern methods of communication has been ten times as rapid as any prophet dared imagine in 1900. It has been a stock principle of mine; …” [and he has] “repeated it constantly … since my wranglings with Mr. and Mrs. Webb apropos of their work upon Local Government, that the most convenient and therefore the right size of an administrative area is determined by the operative means of communication and must vary as those means vary”. [p. 13]
In other words, since communication is worldwide, government administration must be worldwide. That’s his logic. Wells calls it a “fundamental political principle”. By that logic, if you could extend communication and travel to Mars, and you represent an oligarchy that poses as a democracy, you MUST extend your oligarchy and oppressive system of regulations and taxation to Mars (if Mars had inhabitants). So then you would proceed to propagandize the Martians and subvert their culture, to gradually convince them that they should join the “Federation of Planets” a la Star Trek and that they should want to have exactly the same system of education, banking and law, etc. And this is exactly the kind of propaganda every person on Earth is subjected to right now minute by minute, day in and day out by political, media and corporate elites who promote the United Nations and internationalist policies as well as cultural and military domination by the United States that goes hand in hand with the UN.
He complains that
“our emotion-charged traditional concepts of government and loyalty have not expanded to keep pace with that change of scale”. [p.14]
Even in his time, Wells says people were fed and clothed with resources from all over the world.
“Human life has lost touch with locality to an extraordinary extent. Insidiously [his word!] the average man has ceased to be part of a localized economic system, and has become part of a vaguely developed but profoundly real world economic system”. [p. 17]
A change “… of scale and economic range demands a corresponding change in political forms. … problem for mankind that has to be consciously faced and solved.” [p.18]
The same push for a change in “political forms” advances today. Why should I want to impose on other nations the system I live under that requires me to ask permission for everything (marriage licenses, garage sale permits etc.), and regulates more and more of my life every day? Why would I want to inflict that on others around the world, so that it was everywhere and I had nowhere to go to escape it?
Wells sounds like someone writing on behalf of opportunism and power lust on a global scale. Creating a world government means concentrating control of the world’s resources in the hands of an elite class.
Regardless of the nominal type of government – a fake kind of democracy like we have now is more than we can hope for with a world government – the bureaucracy, military, monetary institutions and private corporations controlling such a world government would have unlimited power over all of us. To paint their motives as mainly idealistic is just wishful thinking – or worse – and I think that was the job of authors like H. G. Wells.
He argues that “the sovereign states of the world have been thrusting out in a blind effort to achieve the new scale”. And “lucid attempts of all the main sovereign states of the world to secure a world-wide control of resources …. More or less conscious efforts of once national states to become world-wide” [p. 18]
So these various European empires were competing for control of resources, using military power, as if the world belonged to them. I was reading through an account of World War II, and I was thinking how ludicrous it was that Japan, for example, was attacking Chinese, European and American territory all over the Pacific. Did the rulers of Japan actually think they would be successful or that it was wise to use force in order to have the resources they needed? It makes no sense unless we start questioning this idea that they had the best interests of their own people at heart. To me, I think that ordinary people – Japanese or American or British – would just trade for resources they need and would respect each others’ way of life. So the world wars make no sense to me except as the machinations of elitists at the top of each nation pretending to be acting in the interests of those nations. And Wells is saying that this system won’t work. And I think it is mainly because the rulers of these nations/empires did not believe in the national system, and were not interested in preserving nations as independent and sovereign.
Wells pushes this key propaganda argument based on the idea that nations can’t help going to war with each other until they create a single world state:
“And since at one time there can be only one complete world-wide state upon our planet, enormous pressures and rivalries and conflicts exist and intensify. And it seems to me that only two alternatives about the human future can be considered. Either these jostling … sovereign states, which the great change of scale in the economic processes of life is continually forcing towards world dimensions, must fight among themselves until only one survives, or else mankind generally must be made to understand the nature of the present process, to substitute for the time-honoured but now out-of-date traditions of independent national sovereignty a new idea of world organization, and to determine political effort in that direction.” [p. 18, 19]
Continued: Part 3
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