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The Open Conspiracy

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PostPosted: Mon Feb 02, 2009 12:42 am    Post subject: The Open Conspiracy Reply with quote

I was thinking of writing a little essay on The Open Conspiracy and so decided to google it as a subject. Here is what I turned up - if you don't already know, H.G.Wells declared for Republicanism in 1901 and remained a determined socialist-republican all of his subsequent life i.e. he rejected violence and therefore refused a 'revolutionary' socialist title because he knew about the behaviour of the soviets and abhorred it.

This is the 1928 text of "The Open Conspiracy" book, very much of its period I think - http://www.inlex.org/stories/wells/opencons.html#2

This Wikipaedia article appraises the book - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Open_Conspiracy

This quotes selected bits from the book - http://mailstar.net/opencon.html

This is a quick overview plus the text again - http://www.mega.nu:8080/ampp/hgwells/hg_cont.htm

This is a short review of the book by an American (?) republican - http://www.orwelltoday.com/wellsconspiracy.shtml

This is a short review before some selective quotations - http://www.panarchy.org/wells/conspiracy.1933.html

This review I agree with - http://econ161.berkeley.edu/Politics/open_conspiracy.html

This seems to be the text of the revised 1930 edition - http://www.scribd.com/doc/186719/1925-H-G-Wells-The-Open-Conspiracy-Blueprints-for-a-World-Revolution

REALLY GOOD ESSAY ON IT - THE GUY CLEARLY HATES IT !!! - http://www.larouchepub.com/eiw/public/2006/2006_10-19/2006_10-19/2006-12/pdf/11-13_612_feat.pdf

ESSAY REFERRING TO THE IDEA IN MODERN CONTEXT - http://mailstar.net/opensoc.html

DISCUSSION ON A BULLETIN BOARD - http://www.rinf.com/forum/showthread.php?t=7056

STILL A SEXY IDEA - http://www.theopenconspiracy.com/#awp::

BLOG DISCUSSION - http://unrepentantbritishnationalist.blogspot.com/2009/01/open-conspiracy.html

I think that I'll stop there, it gives the flavour of how people react to the book - they are probably going to all scream about their rights and are equally ignorant that the United Nations and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights can be argued to be the fruits of the Open Conspiracy. As to the prospects of Wales becoming a republic and staying one, I think that they are close to nil unless we accept the need for the European Union or better still the United Nations to help us achieve it and keep it.

But I think that it was the way in which Open Conspiracy was worked, with a straight appeal to justice and reason and a rejection of secrecy or coercion through violence, and peaceful persuasive revolutionary activity that is important. Clearly non of the commentators above are aware that a loose confederation of groups actually put the theory into practice, and that Karl Popper's Open Society was the offspring of the Open Conspracy which in turn had been the offspring of the Open Letters. The living descendant of the group that Wells was the most prominent writer amongst is the New Republic magazine, read it online here - http://www.tnr.com/ - unhappily it is now reduced to a glossy Daily Mail sort of paper that is rarely as gutsy as in years gone by -see its history - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_New_Republic
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PostPosted: Fri Feb 06, 2009 11:15 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

In reading around I've been looking at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/W._Warren_Wagar because his assessment of Well's book seemed informed, reported at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Open_Conspiracy#Excerpt_from_What_are_we_to_do_with_our_Lives.3F

W. Warren Wagar's Critical Appraisal

The American political scientist W. Warren Wagar has published a new edition of The Open Conspiracy with an extensive critical introduction.[1] Wager presents a number of issues on which he is in disagreement with Wells' scheme for global reconstruction and a 'global commonweal'. Wagar's seven negative points can be summarized as follows:

Wells harboured a dangerous antipathy to the whole idea of democracy, of government by the people.
Wells was Anti-Marxist to the extent that he would not learn anything from Marx and Engels.
Wagar cannot 'reconcile (Wells') vision of how the Open Conspiracy would be structured - or rather, not structured - and the tremendous tasks he assigned it to undertake'.
Wells maintained what Wagar calls 'a late Victorian faith in the natural and social sciences'.
Wells overestimated the good will and progressive intent of the 'Atlantic nations'.
The largely dismissive attitude (of Wells in The open Conspiracy)towards Asia, Africa and the rest of the non-Western world
Wells' call for citizen refusal to take part in future patriotic wars.[2]

However, these substantial criticisms are overshadowed by Wagar's appraisal of the Open Conspiracy. Wagar arrives at seven points where he is in agreement with Wells:

There can be no effective Open Conspiracy without a massive educational effort (cf. Chapters 3-4 of OC).
Wells was right in his emphasis on world biological controls.
A world commonweal will not mark the end of the human story.
Wagar is in agreement with Wells in his provision for armed resistance (if necessary) to the sovereign state system.
Wagar endorses Wells' appeal for the emergence of a new secular religion of humanity.
Wagar agrees with Wells' demand for the transfer of the ownership of several key categories of capital from private hands to duly constituted world authorities.

"The basic idea of an Open Conspiracy to lead our divided, bickering tribes to the Cosmopolis of an organic world civilization is the most urgent idea of our time" (Wagar)
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PostPosted: Sat Feb 07, 2009 12:21 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

H.G.Wells introduced the idea of "The New Republic" in a book called 'Anticipations' which was partly written as a response to the 1901 coronation in which he witnessed the red, white and green flags of British / International Republicanism still being waved yet it had been over 50 years since our political arguments had been made criminal ( by the 1848 Treason Felony Act ). The book is not a work of fiction but of futurology in which Wells tries to predict what may happen e.g. he successfully predicted tank warfare in it. From this period onwards, having had a great deal of success as a fiction writer Wells poured most of his effort into non-fiction in which his success was less predictable, so he supported the work that he wanted to do by writing a steady stream of pot-boilers, some of which seriously damaged his reputation as a writer yet as long as he was able to pursue his political projects he doesn't really seemed to have cared.

One of these projects was to publish and augment the correspondence between himself and Violet Paget in the pages of the 'Fortnightly' magazine under the title 'The Open Letters', and he was a contributor of funds as well as writing to such projects as 'The Realist - A Journal of Scientific Humanism'. Another supplier of funds to this was Dorothy Straight Elmhirst who was the money behind 'The New Republic' that Wells became involved with through an introduction by his friend Graham Wallas to Walter Lippman. Lippman was doing some of the editing of the New Republic, which I assume was named after Wells' idea because it first appeared in 1914, and Wells was invited to write political essays for it having just republished 'Anticipations' in 1914 in which edition he both reviews his ideas about "The New Republic" idea and also begins to discuss the idea of "The Open Conspiracy". He had written other books in between these two editions and was evolving his own brand of Wellsian socialism before the First World War, augmenting his education and fantasising rather too much that Plato's philosopher kings would instead be samurai technocrats. There was 'A Modern Utopia' in 1905 and 'New Worlds For Old' in 1908 and in 'The Future in America' of 1906 Wells obviously expects the USA to become The New Republic. The First World War changed Wells' focus from the individual state to the whole world, and he tried to influence Woodrow Wilson and maybe he did. He was one of the people who understood that the 1919 Versailles peace treaty was a disaster, and throughout the 1920's he was trying to make sense of what was going on in the economic crises and the rise of extremist political creeds hungry for conflict and violent revolutions - and he clearly saw that politically these movements were regressive if materially progressive.

In 1928 Wells published 'The Open Conspiracy' in which he once more made predictions about a society in which he could see the seeds of war being sown again, and argued that the destruction and violence of a Second World War would bankrupt society. He argued that those left to put society back together would need a 'competent receiver' in the person of a world government, and that far-sighted people would set about trying to create that world government but not through secretive or violent methods but by honest dealing and truthful arguments. Here are a few select quotes :

"THE OPEN CONSPIRACY - Be a Citizen of the World - JOIN - The Open Conspiracy - Its immediate object is the introduction of hope and order into a world of frustration and chaos ... its ultimate object is the establishment of a scientifically planned World Government." ( handbill 1934? )

"... It is not by canvassing or committees, by tricks and violence, but by the sheer power of naked reasonableness, by propaganda and open intention, by feats and devotions of the intelligence, that the great state of the future, the world state, will come into being. " ( 'Anticipations', 1914 )

" ... And yet one may dream of an informal, unselfish, unauthorised body of workers, a real and conscious apparatus of education and moral suggestion, held together by a common faith and a common sentiment, and shaping the minds and arts and destinies of mankind. " ( Essay "Morals and Civilisation" in 'Fortnightly' Feb 1897 )

As the Second World War approached Wells travelled more and more trying to promote his idea, seeing it as a race between education and catastrophe. In Britain the National Governments were not exactly what he had in mind but he influenced a number of people on both the left and the right, both centre-ground and extremists, including Stafford-Cripps, Beveridge and MacMillan. Finally in 1934 a number of people ( amongst others, Sylvia Pankhurst ) approached him to set up an organisation to spread his message by providing international leadership for those stimulated by his political writings. Thus the organisation 'Open Conspiracy' was born and due to Wells' idealism was soon in trouble because he was a visionary rather than a leader and as re-armament began to gather pace to face the Nazi threat the pacifism of 'Open Conspiracy' was challenged by rival groups like Scotland's 'X Society.' So in 1936 'Open Conspiracy' was refounded as 'Cosmopolis' with a newsletter 'Plan' to communicate its political objectives , which were to end the sovereign independance of states like the U.K. , to abolish money credit, to end war, to provide universal higher education and to build a strong world society based on a rational and scientific attitude to life characterised by cooperation and service. 'Cosmopolis' presented itself as the potential leader of a loose confederation of such groups that were emerging in the 1930's and it published a 'Manifesto' to that end and also another magazine called 'News of Progress'. They attracted hundreds of people to their meetings ( albeit the Fascists and Communists were attracting thousands ) but it never issued in a grass roots movement, probably because it was too abstract for people who had difficulty putting bread on their table. The activists gradually drifted away to other more rewarding projects and by the end of 1937 'Cosmopolis' was reduced to a few people around Wells, but they too had a project : 'The Declaration of Human Rights' campaign which was being sponsored by the Daily Herald.

At the very beginning of the Second World War Wells was at a PEN conference in Stockholm, and in November 1939 in 'Travels of a Republican Radical' he printed his speech there and as part of his continuing commentary upon it in 'The Common Sense of War and Peace : World Revolution or War Unending' (1940) he reprinted his war aims memorandum from the First World War. In Wells' opinion,

" Is it an impossible dream that this time men - a considerable number of men - should not only fight for something called democracy, but also that they should have a sufficiently clear idea of what they intend by Democracy, to insist that they get not merely the shadow, but the substance of it, when at long last the Second World War that seems so unavoidable, blunders through blood and exhaustion to a more or less formal conclusion ? "

The government expressed interest in the campaign as a possible element in its own war aims, but Wells was not the person who could act as the acceptable leader of the project so Lord Sankey agreed to be the establishment figurehead whilst H.G.Wells worked on the text with Ritchie Calder providing criticism. The campaign was relauched in 1940 as the 'Sankey Declaration' and Wells went to the USA the same year to explain it and to warn the Americans about their need to fight. Once the Americans and Russians were in the war Wells kept pressing the ideas of the Open Conspiracy upon anybody that he could get access to in any Allied government. The Daily Herald got thousands of copies of the proposed text of the Declaration circulated in ten languages and sent to all the world leaders that they could think of. After going through various draughts the final version of 'The Declaration of the Rights of Man', was published in 1943 and was debated on the BBC Empire Service via a transatlantic cable telephone link, though of course not by Wells who vigorously criticised the British Empire as a model for a world state. The Allied governments eventually adopted 'The Four Freedoms' as their war aims - freedom of speech and assembly, freedom from fear and want - not as an extensive programme as the Declaration of the Rights of Man.

Wells died on 13th August 1946, living long enough to witness more of his predictions about the fate of the world he lived in come true in the 'V' weapons and nuclear bombs, but he had also witnessed the founding of the United Nations which acquired at least some of the characteristics of the world state that he advocated and might acquire more in the future if we help it. More than twelve years after the old "New Republican's" death 'The Open Conspiracy' finally bore fruit from the seed sown by the Daily Herald's campaign for the Sankey Declaration ( which had arguably been the Open Conspiracy all along, unfortunately driven into operating in a truly conspiratorial way by the British Establishment ). The United Nations' Universal Declaration of Human Rights was adopted 10th December 1948.

In response to one person's questions, H.G.Wells said the following - " I feel very strongly the need of a steady patient building up of a body of ideas before we can consolidate any effective world wide constructive movements. Until we have that, our efforts must necessarily be fragmentary - we shall all suffer from a sense of isolation and the lack of sympathetic cooperation. At present the world-wide propaganda of ideas is crippled by the fact that the ideas have still to be made clear and available.” David C Smith in ‘H.G.Wells - Desperately Mortal’ described 'The Open Conspiracy' as calling for “ ... mental and moral disarmament, a diminution of sovereignty, a world federation in control of trade and the air, a steady and gradual reduction of tariffs; if necessary let the US and the UK begin it, as they are so close to each other in view, language and outlook ... for an end to warmaking in schools, and the creation of false patriotism through bad history ... the work of the Open Conspiracy was to act as receiver of the bankrupt 1930’s society, starting with 'The Declaration of Human Rights.' “

For reference material I used David C Smith's biography H.G.Wells - Desperately Mortal - see : http://www.amazon.com/H-G-Wells-Desperately-Mortal-Biography/dp/0300036728
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PostPosted: Sat Feb 07, 2009 7:24 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Just having a further browse, and remembering how good Wells can be - this is from the 'Open Conference' section of 'The New World Order' (1940?) :

This great debate upon the reconstruction of the world is a thing more important and urgent than the war, and there exist no adequate media for the utterance and criticism and correction of any broad general convictions. There is a certain fruitless and unproductive spluttering of constructive ideas, but there is little sense of sustained enquiry, few real interchanges, inadequate progress, nothing is settled, nothing is dismissed as unsound and nothing is won permanently. No one seems to hear what anyone else is saying. That is because there is no sense of an audience for these ideologists. There is no effective audience saying rudely and obstinately: "What A. has said, seems important. Will B. and C., instead of bombinating in the void, tell us exactly where and why they differ from A.? And now we have got to the common truth of A., B., C., and D. Here is F. saying something. Will he be so good as to correlate what he has to say with A., B., C., and D.?"

But there is no such background of an intelligently observant and critical world audience in evidence. There are a few people here and there reading and thinking in disconnected fragments. This is all the thinking our world is doing in the face of planetary disaster. The universities, bless them! are in uniform or silent.

We need to air our own minds; we need frank exchanges, if we are to achieve any common understanding. We need to work out a clear conception of the world order we would prefer to this present chaos, we need to dissolve or compromise upon our differences so that we may set our faces with assurance towards an attainable world peace. The air is full of the panaceas of half-wits, none listening to the others and most of them trying to silence the others in their impatience. Thousands of fools are ready to write us a complete prescription for our world troubles. Will people never realise their own ignorance and incompleteness, from which arise this absolute necessity for the plainest statement of the realities of the problem, for the most exhaustive and unsparing examination of differences of opinion, and for the most ruthless canvassing of every possibility, however unpalatable it may seem at first, of the situation?

Before anything else, therefore, in this survey of the way to world peace, I put free speech and vigorous publication. It is the thing best worth fighting for. It is the essence of your personal honour. It is your duty as a world citizen to do what you can for that. You have not only to resist suppressions, you have to fight your way out of the fog. If you find your bookseller or newsagent failing to distribute any type of publication whatever - even if you are in entire disagreement with the views of that publication - you should turn the weapon of the boycott upon the offender and find another bookseller or newsagent for everything you read. The would-be world citizen should subscribe also to such organisation as the National Council for Civil Liberties; he should use any advantage his position may give him to check suppression of free speech; and he should accustom himself to challenge nonsense politely but firmly and say fearlessly and as clearly as possible what is in his mind and to listen as fearlessly to whatever is said to him. So that he may know better either through reassurance or correction. To get together with other people to argue and discuss, to think and organise and then implement thought is the first duty of every reasonable man.

This world of ours is going to pieces. It has to be reconstructed and it can only be effectively reconstructed in the light. Only the free, clear, open mind can save us, and these difficulties and obstructions on our line of thought are as evil as children putting obstacles on a railway line or scattering nails on an automobile speed track.

This is from Ch 8 'The New Type of Revolution'

The reorganisation of the world has at first to be mainly the work of a "movement" or a Party or a religion or cult, whatever we choose to call it. We may call it New Liberalism or the New Radicalism or what not. It will not be a close-knit organisation, toeing the Party line and so forth. It may be a very loose-knit and many faceted, but if a sufficient number of minds throughout the world, irrespective of race, origin or economic and social habituations, can be brought to the free and candid recognition of the essentials of the human problem, then their effective collaboration in a conscious, explicit and open effort to reconstruct human society will ensue.

And to begin with they will do all they can to spread and perfect this conception of a new world order, which they will regard as the only working frame for their activities, while at the same time they will set themselves to discover and associate with themselves, everyone, everywhere, who is intellectually able to grasp the same broad ideas and morally disposed to realise them.

The distribution of this essential conception one may call propaganda, but in reality it is education. The opening phase of this new type of Revolution must involve therefore a campaign for re-invigorated and modernised education throughout the world, an education that will have the same ratio to the education of a couple of hundred years ago, as the electric lighting of a contemporary city has to the chandeliers and oil lamps of the same period. On its present mental levels humanity can do no better than what it is doing now.

Vitalising education is only possible when it is under the influence of people who are themselves learning. It is inseparable from the modern idea of education that it should be knit up to incessant research. We say research rather than science. It is the better word because it is free from any suggestion of that finality which means dogmatism and death.
This new and complete Revolution we contemplate can be defined in a very few words. It is (a) outright world-socialism, scientifically planned and directed, plus (b) a sustained insistence upon law, law based on a fuller, more jealously conceived resentment of the personal Rights of Man, plus (c) the completest freedom of speech, criticism and publication, and sedulous expansion of the educational organisation to the ever-growing demands of the new order. What we may call the eastern or Bolshevik Collectivism, the Revolution of the Internationale, has failed to achieve even the first of these three items and it has never even attempted the other two.

Putting it at its compactest, it is the triangle of Socialism, Law and Knowledge, which frames the Revolution which may yet save the world.
Ch 9 'Politics for the Sane Man'

LET US RESTATE THE general conclusions to which our preceding argument has brought us.

The establishment of a progressive world socialism in which the freedoms, health and happiness of every individual are protected by a universal law based on a re-declaration of the rights of man, and wherein there is the utmost liberty of thought, criticism and suggestion, is the plain, rational objective before us now. Only the effective realisation of this objective can establish peace on earth and arrest the present march of human affairs to misery and destruction. We cannot reiterate this objective too clearly and too frequently. The triangle of collectivisation, law and knowledge should embody the common purpose of all mankind.
Let us begin then with the problem of sanity in face of the political methods of our time. What are we to do as voting citizens? There I think the history of the so-called democracies in the past half-century is fairly conclusive. Our present electoral methods which give no choice but a bilateral choice to the citizen and so force a two-party system upon him, is a mere caricature of representative government. It has produced upon both sides of the Atlantic, big, stupid, and corrupt party machines. That was bound to happen and yet to this day there is a sort of shyness in the minds of young men interested in politics when it comes to discussing Proportional Representation. They think it is a "bit faddy". At best it is a side issue. Party politicians strive to maintain that bashfulness, because they know quite clearly that what is called Proportional Representation with the single transferable vote in large constituencies, returning a dozen members or more, is extinction for the mere party hack and destruction for party organisations.

The machine system in the United States is more elaborate, more deeply entrenched legally in the Constitution and illegally in the spoils system, and it may prove more difficult to modernise than the British, which is based on an outworn caste tradition. But both Parliament and Congress are essentially similar in their fundamental quality. They trade in titles, concessions and the public welfare, and they are only amenable in the rough and at long last to the movements of public opinion. It is an open question whether they are much more responsive to popular feeling than the Dictators we denounce so unreservedly as the antithesis of democracy. They betray a great disregard of mass responses. They explain less. They disregard more. The Dictators have to go on talking and talking, not always truthfully but they have to talk. A dumb Dictator is inconceivable.

In such times of extensive stress and crisis as the present, the baffling slowness, inefficiency and wastefulness of the party system become so manifest that some of its worst pretences are put aside. The party game is suspended. His Majesty’s Opposition abandons the pose of safeguarding the interests of the common citizens from those scoundrels upon the government benches; Republican and Democrats begin to cross the party line to discuss the new situation. Even the men who live professionally by the Parliamentary (Congressional) imposture, abandon it if they are sufficiently frightened by the posture of affairs. The appearance of an All-Party National Government in Great Britain before very long seems inevitable.

Great Britain has in effect gone socialist in a couple of months; she is also suspending party politics. Just as the United States did in the great slump. And in both cases this has happened because the rottenness and inefficiency of party politics stank to heaven in the face of danger. And since in both cases Party Government threw up its hands and bolted, is there any conceivable reason why we should let it come back at any appearance of victory or recovery, why we should not go ahead from where we are to a less impromptu socialist regime under a permanent non-party administration, to the reality if not to the form of a permanent socialist government?


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PostPosted: Sun Jun 24, 2012 3:53 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote


- a piece about Karl Popper's ' Open Society,' a later related idea.
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