This book is not, per its cover, Wells putting in an early bid for the role of the Blue Fairy in the upcoming Wizard of Oz movie. It is, rather, a collection in book-form of sixteen pieces: some speeches delivered (in Madrid, New York, Paris, the Berlin Reichstag and elsewhere) and some previously published journalism.
There are a great many such volumes in Wells's bibliography, yes: but this one is more readable than many of them. In its review, The Spectator called this style of book ‘the stuff which in any other great author appears as a sediment packed into the last volume of the exhaustive addition of the complete works’. But adds: ‘with Mr. Wells somehow it is different. His journalism cannot be dismissed, as can the journalism of almost any other well-known writer, as a merely private matter between him and his bank-manager’ [Spectator (22 October 1932), 20]. Subtitled ‘Addresses and Papers on the Present World Situation’ this collection is a useful summary of where Wells's socio-political thinking had reached by the early thirties. Not that that's necessarily a very likeable position. But it is readable. Can't deny that.
Wells is now more fully committed to the idea that a writer cannot simply describe the world, but must try to intervene in it: ‘in a world that moves as our world now moves’ is how he puts it, ‘—a fleet of huge vessels manoeuvring without common plan in an area that grows daily more restricted—it is not the aloof artist that counts, it is the man who dares climb on to a prow and shout instructions with a megaphone’. So what is he bellowing through the megaphone of his global fame? Well, he's mostly shouting his contempt for democracy. Check the book's title.
Instead of the old 19th-century representative democracy he calls for ‘the dictatorship of informed and educated common sense’ (‘The world,’ he says, ‘is sick of parliamentary politics’). In a speech Wells delivered to the Liberal Summer School he urges liberals and socialists alike to study Loyola, of all people. He's still insisting upon the need for his Samurai order to enforce order and happiness on the world, and it still sounds to me like the SS. And although he doesn't specifically bang the eugenicist drum here, the unpleasant odour of that belief-set nonetheless hangs over the whole like a malarial miasma:
The world and its future is not for feeble folk any more than it is for selfish folk. It is not for the multitude but for the best ... I want to make opportunity universal and not miss out one single being who is worth while. [After Democracy, 50]The kind of thing only somebody who considers themselves part of ‘the best’ is liable to say, of course. Hitler's appointment as Chancellor of Germany, in January 1933, was only a few short months away.