HG Wells and politics

Wells came from a lower middle class background his mother was in service at a large country home Uppark in Sussex. His father was an unsuccessful shop owner in Bromley whose failed business ventures put the family under dire financial stress. His background, plus the people who had influenced the young Wells, must have had a great effect.

He could be described as a socialist but a very independent thinking one. He found various outlets to express his views including standing, unsuccessfully, in the 1922 General Election for the Labour Party.

During his campaign he was quoted as saying that he would have a particular duty towards education and, by education, he meant not the cheap training of the serf for toil, not the training of young gentlemen in class dominance and esprit de corps, but the training of all men and women for free co-operation and happy service in the common life of the State.

In 1940, Wells published a book called The New World Order that outlined his plan as to how a World State could be set up. In the book, Wells admitted that the establishment of such a government could take a long time and be created in a piecemeal fashion.

This was his most consistent political ideal and he said in his autobiography that from 1900 onward he considered a World State inevitable. He envisioned the state to be a planned society that would advance science, end nationalism and allow people to progress by merit rather than birth.

In his book In the Fourth Year published in 1918 he suggested how each nation of the world would elect, "upon democratic lines" by proportional representation, an electoral college in the manner of the United States of America, in turn to select its delegate to the proposed League of Nations.This international body he contrasted with imperialism, not only the imperialism of Germany, against which the war was being fought, but also the more benign imperialism of Britain and France.

He began to envision a utopic world governed by an elite he called "The New Republicans" He envisioned these political elites as having the power to eliminate sharp differentials in society. His ideas were being continually refined with, for example, early controversial plans in eugenics (genetic manipulation) being dropped.

He became, for a while, a shining light in the socialist Fabian Society although his iconoclastic views led to conflicts with other members accusing them of a failure to understand the contemporary issues of educational and economic reform. He was a supporter of women's rights and universal suffrage.

In the end his contemporary political impact was limited. His efforts regarding the League of Nations became a disappointment as the organisation turned out to be a weak one unable to prevent World War II. The war itself increased the pessimistic side of his nature. In his last book Mind at the End of its Tether (1945) he considered the idea that humanity being replaced by another species might not be a bad idea. He also came to call the era "The age of frustration"