Oh, H. G …

No, if human beings were cleverer. It would be a good thing to invent a Five-Year Plan for the reconstruction of the human brain, which obviously lacks many things needed for a perfect social order.[Laughter]


That would be one H. G. Wells chatting with one Joe the Georgian (to reference an Al Stewart song) in 1934. You can see the whole interview here.

Nothing really shocking here.  Wells was a Fabian socialism so you’d expect him to argue with the Man of Steel about the merits of violent revolution. And Wells the political thinker was not unknown to me. I’ve talked a bit about the politics of Wells in his fiction, particularly in his When the Sleeper Awakes and, much more in his A Modern Utopia. The latter is, as far as utopias go, better than most in holding your interest. However, William Morris, definitely not a Fabian socialist, wrote a more interesting utopia with News from Nowhere.  He was with Uncle Joe on the need for violent revolution.

I think of Wells’ as being a sort of Dr. Moreau. He couldn’t ultimately tame the beasts of his island through laws and surgery. Wells never figured out how to reconstruct human brains to create his utopias either.

Stalin and Wells make reference to the organizing talents of Henry Ford. The matter of Soviet imitation of centralized capitalist systems is briefly covered in Michael Flynn’s Babbage Engine secret history, In the Country of the Blind.

We Soviet people have not a little experience of the technical intelligentsia. After the October Revolution, a certain section of the technical intelligentsia refused to take part in the work of constructing the new society; they opposed this work of construction and sabotaged it.

That’s the most jolting bit in the interview. As Greta Garbo said in Ninotchka, “Fewer but better Russians.”

Of course, the bright world glimpsed in 1934 never really panned out.  There or anytime since then.

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