The Shape of Things to Come is not a work of science fiction by H. G. Wells, published in 1933, which speculates on future events from 1933 until the year 2106. The book is dominated by Wells’s belief in a world state as the solution to mankind’s problems.
As a frame story, Wells claims that the book is his edited version of notes written by an eminent diplomat, Dr. Philip Raven, who had been having dream visions of a history textbook published in 2106, and wrote down what he could remember of it. It is split into five separate sections or “books”:
- Today And Tomorrow: The Age of Frustration Dawns – The history of the world up to 1933.
- The Days After Tomorrow: The Age of Frustration – 1933-1960.
- The World Renascence: The Birth of the Modern State – 1960-1978.
- The Modern State Militant – 1978-2059.
- The Modern State in Control of Life – 2059 to New Year’s Day 2106.
Poland proves the military match of Nazi Germany and engages in an inconclusive war lasting ten years. More countries are eventually dragged into the fighting, France and the Soviet Union are only marginally involved, Britain remains neutral, the US fights inconclusively with Japan.
The war drags on until 1950 and ends with no victor but total exhaustion, collapse and disintegration of all fighting states (and also of the neutral countries, equally affected by the deepening economic crisis). Europe and the whole world descend into chaos: nearly all central governments break down, and a devastating plague in 1956-57 kills a large part of humanity and almost destroys civilization.
Wells then envisages a benevolent dictatorship—’The Dictatorship of the Air’ (a term likely modelled on ‘The Dictatorship of the proletariat‘ and concept similar to Kipling’s Aerial Board of Control )—arising from the controllers of the world’s surviving transportation systems (the only people with global power). This dictatorship promotes science, enforces Basic English as a global lingua franca, and eradicates all religion, setting the world on the route to a peaceful utopia. When the dictatorship chooses to murder a subject, the condemned person is given a chance to take a poison tablet.
Eventually, after a century of reshaping humanity, the dictatorship is overthrown in a completely bloodless coup, the former rulers are sent into a very honourable retirement, and the world state “withers away” (as was predicted by Friedrich Engels in his 1877 work Anti-Duhring). The last part of the book is a detailed description of the Utopian world which emerges, in some ways reminiscent of Edward Bellamy‘s Looking Backward. The ultimate aim of this utopian world is to produce a world society composed entirely of polymaths, each and every one of its members the intellectual equal of the greatest geniuses of the past.
As noted by Neville, while The Shape of Things to Come was written as a future history, seen in retrospect it can be considered as an alternate history diverging from ours in late 1933 or early 1934, the Point of divergence being U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt‘s failure to implement the New Deal and revive the US economy (and also Adolf Hitler‘s failure to revive the German economy by re-armament). Instead, the worldwide economic crisis continues for three decades, concurrently with the war. The war is prosecuted by countries already on the verge of collapse and ends, not with any side’s victory, but with universal collapse and disintegration (including non-combatant countries). There follows the complete collapse of capitalism and the emergence of the above-mentioned new order.
One of the major aspects in the creation of the World State envisioned by Wells is the abolition of all organized religion—an act deemed indispensable in order to give the emerging “Modern State” a monopoly over education and the complete ability to mould new generations of humanity worldwide into the required shape.
The abolition of Islam is carried out by the Air Police, who “descend upon Mecca and close down the main holy places”, apparently without major incident. Eventually, Islam disappears, its demise accelerated by the decay of Arabic and its replacement by “an expanded English”. Some twenty mosques survive, deemed to be worthy of preservation on architectural grounds.
The most prolonged and formidable religious opposition envisaged by Wells is from the Catholic Church (there is little reference to Protestants). The Pope and entire Catholic hierarchy are gassed unconscious when blessing the new airplanes built by a revived Fascist Italy. After the Catholic Church is decisively crushed in Italy, it finds refuge in Ireland, “the last bastion of Christianity” which becomes a Catholic theocracy. Ireland is also subdued, after which limited Catholic resistance is maintained in Latin America, under “a coloured Pope in Pernambuco“—but it, too, is finally put down.
Wells gives considerable attention to the fate of the Jews. In this history, the enfeebled Nazi Germany is incapable of systematic murder on the scale of the Holocaust. However, Jews greatly suffer from “unorganized” persecution, and there is a reference to anti-Jewish pogroms happening “everywhere in Europe” during the chaotic 1950’s. And in a world where all nation-states were a doomed anachronism, Zionism and its ambition to create a new such state obviously came to naught.
In the later struggle between the emerging world state and its opponents, Jews are seen as caught between the hammer and the anvil. Following the launch of its anti-religious campaign, the Modern State closes down all kosher butcheries still in operation – while the opening act of the “Federated Nationalist” rebels opposing this state is to perpetrate a pogrom against Jews in the Frankfurt area. Eventually, in Wells’s vision, it is the Modern State’s forced assimilation which wins out and the Jews—who had resisted earlier such pressures—become completely absorbed in the general society and lose their separate identity.
This adaptation is not entirely false, but it will give you an idea of things to come, I can easily understand the divine revelation, by combining all the works of everybody since time to find out all the secrets, even cracking all the secrets of the bible, to create a Timeline on “The Shape of things to come”. What is the Truth?
1) World War 2
2) United Nations as a World governing Body
3) The creation of a Genius society
4) A World Religion where there is One God. Every religion will merge
5) The coming Utopia on Earth
6) There is no more WW3 and no more nuclear weapons
7) Oil will be slowly phased out in 50 years, kicking in renewable energy like Wind Farms and Solar, eventually Nuclear Fission
8) There will be great strides in technology and innovations eventually advances of science and technology will create a Utopia
9) Jerusalem will be the capital of the world. Gentiles will worship in the Third Temple, near the Holy of Holies and all the ancient rites will again be observed.
– Contributed by Oogle.