Tag: <span>Herbert George Wells</span>

H.G. Wells Portraits of World Citizens.

H.G. Wells and Human Rights.

Featured Image: Portrait of Herbert George Wells by George Charles Beresford. Black and white glossy print. 150 mm x 108 mm (1920). By George Charles Beresford, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.
2023 will see a year-long effort leading to 10 December 2023, the 75th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.  The effort carries the title:
 

“Dignity, Freedom and Justice for All”. 

 
 Universal Declaration of Human Rights
Image: Eleanor Roosevelt holding poster of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (in English), Lake Success, New York. November 1949. By FDR Presidential Library & Museum, CC BY 2.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0, via Wikimedia Commons.

Human Rights: The Foundation of World Law.

 
Thus, it is usefil to look at some of the intellectual preperations both within the League of Nations and among individual thinkers for the Universal Declaration.  One of the most widely read was that of Herbert George Wells “Declaration of the Rights and Duties of the World Citizen” which is found in his book
 

“Phoenix: A Summary of the Inescapable Conditions of World Organization” published in 1942. 

 
The Declaration of the Rights and Duties of the World Citizen had been translated into 10 languages and sent to 300 editors of newspapers in 48 countries.
 
    H.G. Wells from the 1930s on was concerned with the ways the world should be organized with a world organization stronger than the League of Nations.  Such a world organization should be backed up and urged on by a strong body of public opinion linked together world-wide by the unifying  bond of a common code of human rights and duties.
 
    At the end of the First World War, H.G. Wells was a strong advocate of the League of Nations, but as time went on, he became aware of its weaknesses.  He wrote in 1939:
 

” The League of Nations, we can all admit now, was a poor and ineffective outcome of that revolutionary proposal to banish armed conflict from the world and inaugurate a new life for mankind… Does this League of Nations contain within it the gem of any permanent federation of human effort?  Will it grow into something for which men will be ready to work for and, if necessary, fight – as hither to they have been willing to fight for their country and their own people?  There are few intimations of any such enthusiasm for the League at the present time.  The League does not even seem to know how to talk to the common man.  It has gone into official buildings, and comparatively few people in the world understand or care what it is doing there.”

 
  League of Nations
 Image: Stanley Bruce chairing the League of Nations Council in 1936. Joachim von Ribbentrop is addressing the council. By Commonwealth of Australia, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

The League of Nations and its unused Peace Army.

 
Thus, there was a need for a clear statement of world values that could be understood by most and that would be a common statement of the aspiration on which to build a new freedom and a new dignity.  Wells had a strong faith in international public opinion when it was not afraid to express new and radical thoughts that cut across the conventional wisdom of the day.  He wrote in 1943:
 

“Behind the short-sighted governments that divide and mismanage human affairs, a real force for world unity and order exists and grows.”

 
    Wells hoped that the “Declaration of the Rights of the World Citizen” would become the fundamental law for mankind through the whole world – a true code of basic rights and duties which set out the acceptable shape of a just world society.
 
    Therefore wells set out 10 rights which combined civil liberties already common to many democratic states with economic and social rights; which were often considered as aspirations but not as rights.
Thus among the 10 rights we find the Right to Participate in Government, Freedom of Thought and Worship, the Right to Knowledge, Freedom from Violence including Torture, along with the Right to Education, the Right to Medical Care, the Right to Work with Legitimate Remuneration, the Protection of Minors, Freedon of Movement about the Earth.
 
    The drafters of the U.N. Charter in 1945 included a pledge by member states:
 

“To reaffirm faith in fundamental human rights, in the dignity and worth of the human person, in equal rights of men and women, and of nations large and small.” 

 
Much of the debate from 1946 when the U.N. Commission on Human Rights was created until December 1948 when the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was proclaimed concerned the relative place of civil liberties and of economic, social, and cultural rights.
 
    However while the text of H.G. Wells is largely forgotten today, he had the vision of the strong link between freedom of thought bsed on civil liberties and the need for economic dignity set out in the economic, social, and cultural rights.
 
H.G. Wells
Image: Portrait of Herbert George Wells by George Charles Beresford. Black and white glossy print. 150 mm x 108 mm (1920). By George Charles Beresford, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

H.G. Wells: The Open Conspiracy for Peace.

 
   René Wadlow, President, Association of World Citizens.

Here are other publications that may be of interest to you.

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H.G. Wells Rapprochement of Cultures.

H.G. Wells: The Open Conspiracy for Peace.

Featured Image: Portrait of Herbert George Wells by George Charles Beresford. Black and white glossy print. 150 mm x 108 mm (1920). By George Charles Beresford, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

Behind the short-sighted governments that divide and mismanage human affairs, a real force for world unity and order exists and grows.”

         H. G. Wells in A Short History of the World,  1943

 Herbert George Wells, an active world citizen is usually known as just H.G. Wells. (1) From the publication of The Time Machine in 1895 to his death in 1946, Wells ‘bestrode his world like a colossus.  He was a creator of modern science fiction, a pioneer of women’s rights (though he treated some badly in his many love affairs), a journalist, historian, and novelist.  Above all, he was a social thinker devoted to peace and stable world order. (2)

The first page of The Time Machine was published by Heinemann (1 January 1895). By Published by Heinemann in 1895, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

         Wells first studied biology under Thomas H. Huxley, the leading Darwinian of Victorian times, and came to see the ethical principles underlying humanity’s social systems as being rooted in the evolutionary process and therefore have the potential for onward development. Just as there was one major factor in biological progress − natural selection − so in social progress, there was one major factor − the quality of enlightened thought. As he wrote “However urgent things may seem, a great mental renascence must precede any effectual reorganization of the world. 

Systematic development and a systematic application of the sciences of human relationship, of personal and group psychology, of financial and economic sciences, and of education − sciences still in their infancy − is required.  Narrow and obsolete, dead and dying moral and political ideas have to be replaced by a clearer and simpler conception of the common origins and destinies of our kind.”

Caricature of T H Huxley. Caption read “A great Med’cine-Man among the Inqui-ring Redskins”. circa 1870 (published 28 January 1871). By Carlo Pellegrini, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

The Open Conspiracy.

         Wells was critical of democracy as being too slow and always tending toward the middle of the road on important issues.  In 1928, he tried to alert to new dangers and possibilities by proposing an “open conspiracy” − an elite group of pioneer world citizens who would organize to move humanity forward. (3). The Open Conspiracy was his organizing manual for the diverse constituencies of globally-minded citizens to bring sanity to the organizing of human affairs.

         Wells clearly foresaw the need for a re-organization of the economic affairs of humanity.

  “Certain things, the ocean, the air, rare wild animals must be the collective property of all humankind and cannot be altogether safe until they are so regarded and until some concrete body exists to exercise these proprietary rights…the raw material of the earth should be for all.”

         Some
progress has been made in the identification of endangered species, and a
variety of international conventions have at least slowed the despoliation of
an amount of our natural heritage.  Yet
the ongoing destruction of forests, over-exploitation of the oceans as well as
other signs of the environmental crisis are constant reminders of how much
distance is left to travel.

         Wells was harshly critical of Marxist theory and of the Communist rule of Stalin in the USSR.  Thus he contrasts his “open conspiracy” with the closed conspiracies and vanguard approach of Lenin whom he had met in 1920. He was also highly opposed to Fascism and its closed conspiracies.  The “open conspiracy” is a project for every manner of the person once an individual has developed a ‘world consciousness’, though Wells was himself very Eurocentric in his world outlook.

         He summed up his views as a race between education for world citizenship and catastrophe − a task of bold and creative minds.

      Notes.

  • For a detailed biography see: David Lodge A
    Man of Parts 
    (New York, Viking, 436pp.)

    • For an overview of his political thinking
      see: John S. Partington. Building Cosmopolis: The Political thought of H.G.
      Wells 
      Aldershot: Ashgate, 2003)
    • The Open Conspiracy   was first published in 1928 and slightly revised
      published in 1933.  The 1933 edition is
      republished much more recently with a strong introduction and notes in W.Warren
      Wagar. The Open Conspiracy/H.G. Wells on World Revolution  (Westport, CT: Praeger Publishers, 151pp.).

Rene Wadlow, President, Association of World Citizens.

Here are other publications that may be of interest to you.

1 2 21