Wednesday, September 28, 2016

How H. G. Wells Distorted The Idea of Liberalism!

The famous socialist intellectual H. G. Wells used to urge students at Oxford to be “liberal fascists” and “enlightened Nazis.” But a fascist cannot be a liberal (if we go by the classical definition of liberalism), and a Nazi cannot be enlightened. Wells distorted the meaning of liberalism and enlightenment by linking these concepts with fascism and Nazism.

Today Wells is remembered mainly for his science fiction, but in his lifetime he was a leading preacher of totalitarian ideas. In 1914 he wrote about the need for a “re-mapped and pacified Europe.” When the First World War ended, Wells said: “We are fighting for a new map of Europe.” While he admired the methods of the fascists and Nazis, he was ideologically inclined towards communism.

Perhaps the most outrageous intellectual crime that Wells committed was his 3-hour interview with the Soviet tyrant Josef Stalin on 23 July 1934.

Wells was aware that millions of people were being tortured and slaughtered in the Soviet Union, but he didn't speak about all this during the interview. Instead, he tried to project Stalin as an intellectual politician who holds ideas for making the world a better place. The most grotesque point in the interview comes when Wells says that “it seems to me that I am more to the Left than you, Mr Stalin; I think the old system is nearer to its end than you think.”

Reading the interview you get the feeling that while Stalin is speaking on communism with full conviction, Wells is torn between the conflicting themes of liberalism and totalitarianism.

This is how Wells presents his idea of socialism and individualism to Stalin: “Socialism and Individualism are not opposites like black and white. There are many intermediate stages between them. There is Individualism that borders on brigandage, and there is discipline and organization that are the equivalent of Socialism.”

In response, Stalin says that he sees no difference between the interests of the individual and the interests of the collective: “There is no, nor should there be, irreconcilable contrast between the individual and the collective, between the interests of the individual person and the interests of the collective. There should be no such contrast, because collectivism, Socialism, does not deny, but combines individual interests with the interests of the collective. Socialism cannot abstract itself from individual interests.”

Wells says that he regards the businessmen who work for a profit as a nuisance: “Of course there is a category of people which strive only for profit. But are not these people regarded as nuisances in the West just as much as here?”

Stalin agrees that profits are a bad thing, and he goes on to assert that capitalism will be abolished by the working class which will be led by the communists like him. He says that political power was important for transforming the world and he chides Wells for greatly underestimating “the question of political power.”

Intent on rationalizing the massacres that his regime was committing in the Soviet Union, Stalin says, “The transformation of the world is a great, complicated and painful process. For this task a great class is required. Big ships go on long voyages.”

Stalin: “You, Mr Wells, evidently start out with the assumption that all men are good. I, however, do not forget that there are many wicked men. I do not believe in the goodness of the bourgeoisie.”

Wells posits that a communist society can be achieved without any violence, but Stalin argues that without the use of violent methods social change is impossible.

Stalin: “Capitalism is decaying, but it must not be compared simply with a tree which has decayed to such an extent that it must fall to the ground of its own accord. No, revolution, the substitution of one social system for another, has always been a struggle, a painful and a cruel struggle, a life-and-death struggle.”

Stalin exhorts the working class to take up violence: “Communists do not in the least idealise methods of violence. But they, the Communists, do not want to be taken by surprise; they cannot count on the old world voluntarily departing from the stage; they see that the old system is violently defending itself, and that is why the Communists say to the working class: Answer violence with violence; do all you can to prevent the old dying order from crushing you, do not permit it to put manacles on your hands, on the hands with which you will overthrow the old system.”

Wells acts like a shameless cheerleader for Stalinism, congratulating Stalin for the state of the Soviet society: “I cannot yet appreciate what has been done in your country; I only arrived yesterday. But I have already seen the happy faces of healthy men and women and I know that something very considerable is being done here. The contrast with 1920 is astounding.”

It is inexplicable that Wells managed to see “happy faces of healthy men and women” in the Soviet Union of 1934, when the country was reeling under Stalin’s purges and massacres. Millions of Soviet citizens were being branded class enemies and slaughtered. Many more were being systematically starved to death.

The interview shows how absurdly grotesque the thinking of Wells was. He was much worse than Josef Stalin. At least, Stalin recognized that he was a tyrant, but Wells never accepted the truth about himself—he regarded himself as a humanist and a liberal intellectual even though he was motivated by the totalitarian desire of shaping other people’s lives, including that of foreign nations.

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