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H. G. Wells and the Uncertainties of Progress (publicdomainreview.org)
44 points by pseudolus 71 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 11 comments

> The history of mankind for the last four centuries is rather like that of an imprisoned sleeper, stirring clumsily and uneasily while the prison that restrains and shelters him catches fire, not waking but incorporating the crackling and warmth of the fire with ancient and incongruous dreams, than like that of a man consciously awake to danger and opportunity.

~H. P. Wells, "A Short History of the World"

I believe you mean "H. G. Wells" ? (typo)

...d'oh! You're right, and it's past the edit window... c'est la vie

This past week I read a critical essay penned by George Orwell on Wells, Wells, Hitler and the World State (http://orwell.ru/library/reviews/wells/english/e_whws). It serves as a great supplementary read to this article.

Thanks. It's Orwell writing in 1941 (1) during the WW II about Wells not understanding what the "irrational" leaders like Hitler were able to archive (and more, not everything is about just H. G. Wells there):

... "he could not grasp the tremendous strength of the old world which was symbolised in his mind by fox-hunting Tories. He was, and still is, quite incapable of understanding that nationalism, religious bigotry and feudal loyalty are far more powerful forces than what he himself would describe as sanity."


"The people who say that Hitler is Antichrist, or alternatively, the Holy Ghost, are nearer an understanding of the truth than the intellectuals who for ten dreadful years have kept it up that he is merely a figure out of comic opera, not worth taking seriously. All that this idea really reflects is the sheltered conditions of English life."

(Emphasis mine).

There are enough those who could be associated with these sentences even today. More decades later the world has changed less than I have believed as I was younger.

1) For the context: H. G. Wells published The Time Machine in 1895, died in 1946. Orwel published 1984 in 1948, and was 38 years old in 1941.

Thank you for the providing the backdrop to that essay. Puts it in perspective.

And truly, the more the world changes, the more it is the same.

I am surprised this essay does not touch on Wells' last and most pessimistic book, Mind at the End of its Tether, where he prophecies that "The end of everything we call life is close at hand and cannot be evaded."[1]

[1] - http://freeread.com.au/@RGLibrary/HGWells/NonFiction/MindAtT...

I really like how the last words read:

"It is possible that there are wide variations in the mental adaptability of contemporary mankind. It is possible that the mass of contemporary mankind may not be as readily accessible to fresh ideas as the younger, more childish minds of earlier generations, and it is also possible that hard imaginative thinking has not increased so as to keep pace with the expansion and complication of human societies and organisations. That is the darkest shadow upon the hopes of mankind.

But my own temperament makes it unavoidable for me to doubt, as I have said, that there will not be that small minority which will succeed in seeing life out to its inevitable end.


I'd say he was right, knowing the capacity and the planned acitions of the nuclear arsenals today.


Note to the reader:

big-lies.org is a website dedicated to the idea that Jews control the world, the Holocaust never happened, the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki were hoaxes, and various other "interesting" theories.

I assume the text of Wells' work has not been altered, but the website author's notes at the bottom include such gems as:

> Poor Wells must have been caught between his universalist beliefs (based on the kinship between human races—even if this was very attenuated) and the overpowering ubiquity of war lies and the support for mass murder by Jews fronted by Stalin.


> Wells had disappointingly little feeling for finance, which disqualified him from taking account of Jewish control of wars behind the scenes.

I've changed the link to the book from big-lies.org to freeread.com.au.

I haven't investigated either of these websites and don't approve of or even know of any of the views that may be posted on them. I'm just posting a link to the book alone.

However, if you don't like the website for whatever reason and know of any better sources feel free to post another link.

"So woefully unorganized is sociological knowledge that the meaning of progress, the meaning of swift and slow in human doing, and the limits of human perfectibility, are veiled, unanswered sphinxes on the shores of science." -W. E. Du Bois

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