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4. At Maidenhead H. G. [Herbert George] Wells

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"Here I am with some clearness of vision--my only gift; not very clever, with a natural bad temper, and a strong sexual bias, doing what I can to get a broader handling of the fuel question--as a common interest for all mankind. And I find myself up against a lot of men, subtle men, sharp men, obstinate men, prejudiced men, able to get round me, able to get over me, able to blockade me. . . . Clever men--yes, and all of them ultimately damned--oh! utterly damned--fools. Coal owners who think only of themselves, solicitors who think backwards, politicians who think like a game of cat's-cradle, not a gleam of generosity not a gleam."

"What particularly are you working for?" asked the doctor.

"I want to get the whole business of the world's fuel discussed and reported upon as one affair so that some day it may be handled as one affair in the general interest."

"The world, did you say? You meant the empire?"

"No, the world. It is all one system now. You can't work it in bits. I want to call in foreign representatives from the beginning."


"No. With powers. These things interlock now internationally both through labour and finance. The sooner we scrap this nonsense about an autonomous British Empire complete in itself, contra mundum, the better for us. A world control is fifty years overdue. Hence these disorders. "

"Still--it's rather a difficult proposition, as things are."

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"Oh, Lord! don't I know it's difficult!" cried Sir Richmond in the tone of one who swears. "Don't I know that perhaps it's impossible! But it's the only way to do it. Therefore, I say, let's try to get it done. And everybody says, difficult, difficult, and nobody lifts a finger to try. And the only real difficulty is that everybody for one reason or another says that it's difficult. It's against human nature. Granted! Every decent thing is. It's socialism. Who cares? Along this line of comprehensive scientific control the world has to go or it will retrogress, it will muddle and rot. . . ."

"I agree," said Dr. Martineau.

"So I want a report to admit that distinctly. I want it to go further than that. I want to get the beginnings, the germ, of a world administration. I want to set up a permanent world commission of scientific men and economists--with powers, just as considerable powers as I can give them--they'll be feeble powers at the best--but still some sort of SAY in the whole fuel supply of the world. A say--that may grow at last to a control. A right to collect reports and receive accounts for example, to begin with. And then the right to make recommendations. . . . You see? . . . No, the international part is not the most difficult part of it. But my beastly owners and their beastly lawyers won't relinquish a scrap of what they call their freedom of action. And my labour men, because I'm a fairly big coal owner myself, sit and watch and suspect me, too stupid to grasp what I am driving at and too incompetent to get out a scheme of their own. They want a world control on scientific lines even less than the owners. They try to think that fuel production can carry an unlimited wages bill and the owners try to think that it can pay unlimited profits, and when I say; 'This business is something more than a scramble for profits and wages; it's a service and a common interest,' they stare at me--" Sir Richmond was at a loss for an image. "Like a committee in a thieves' kitchen when someone has casually mentioned the law."

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The Secret Places of the Heart
H. G. [Herbert George] Wells

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