by Doubleday. Doran & Co. 8vo. xii+200 pp. $2.00.Garden City:
MR. WELLS has at last given definite form to his long-cherished vision of a world commonwealth which shall bring order and plenty to harassed humanity. He does not make clear his reasons for calling his political and economic aspirations a religion: but he is probably aware that the word was never so popular as now, when secular writers proclaim in the press — instead of in the pulpit, where they belong — the worth of their own creeds, and the futility of their neighbors’.
The first chapter of The Open Conspiracy is entitled ‘Necessity of Religion to Human Life,’ which sounds like Matthew Arnold. In the twelfth chapter Mr. Wells boldly christens his exposition a, ‘modern Bible.’ But no sooner have we attuned our minds to this point of view, believing that so long as man has a soul he is open to some sort of religious conviction, than we find ourselves thrust out from all partnership in the world’s redemption. The ‘Conspiracy,’ we tire told, involves ‘a skeptical and destructive criticism of personal-immortality religions, and also of the sacred formulæ of Communism. It can work and may go far in certain ways with Christians or Communists; but it cannot incorporate them so long as they are Christians or Communists.’
So there goes spiritual liberty to the wall. Freedom, as of old, unfurls her banner on the ‘mountain heights,’ and we poor mortals down in the streets live under a fresh compulsion.
Three things are absolutely essential to the new order. The control of the world’s loyalties, which means the abolishment of nationalism; the control of the world’s industries, which means the abolishment of private ‘business directorates’; and the control of the world’s population, which means a regulated birth rate from Pole to Pole. The first condition is made difficult by ‘a vast degrading and dangerous cultivation of loyalty.’ France honors her army, England honors her navy, America honors her flag; and it is hard to make these seemingly intelligent nations understand that the ‘traditional honorableness’ of their defenders is but a disguise for an ‘essentially parasitic relationship.’ The second condition seems to Mr. Wells to bear a more promising aspect. He is sure that the day will come when men who seek to handle for their own gain the supplies of the world will be looked upon as ‘quaint characters.’ a phrase which is far from fitting them to-day. As for universal birth-control (and anything less would be more dangerous than helpful), it is still so purely problematic that speculation and argument are a waste of words.
Nobody doubts that life as we know it can bear mending, and nobody should deny a hearing to one who seeks to mend it. To be satisfied with conditions that are good for the few and bad for the many is an ignoble contentment. To take the world as we find it has the selfishness of sound philosophy. But it is not unreasonable to suppose that the forces which have helped in the past are worth preserving for the future, that the secret thinking of humanity is an imperishable heritage. ‘The established spiritual values,’ says Mr. Aldous Huxley, ‘are fundamentally correct and should he maintained.’
Otherwise we have been the sport of the gods.