Ed Driscoll

The Shape Of Sin To Come

In the Spring edition of City Journal, Fred Siegel has a tremendous profile of H.G. Wells and his remarkable influence on the “progressive” politics of the first half of the 20th century. Titled “The Godfather of American Liberalism”, Siegel references, among other moments in Wells’ later career, his speech at Oxford in 1932, where he called for a new kind of “Liberal Fascism.”

The article isn’t online yet (it’s listed as “coming soon”), but this passage from Siegel regarding Wells’ A Modern Utopia, written in 1905, stood out for its stark puritanism:

Well’s “Samurai”, an updated version of the New Republicans [from his 1903 essay “Mankind in the Making”; Wells would contribute frequently to the New Republic magazine, launched a decade later–Ed] would keep track of their charges through a centralized thumbprint index of all the earth’s inhabitants. Latter-day Puritans in everything except sex, the Samurai would lead lives of irreproachable rectitude, abjuring tobacco, alcohol, trade, and games, which they could neither join nor watch.

Or as Steve Green puts it a century later, “You’ll Pay for Your Sins”, adding, “Under the Obama Plan, 95% of Americans will receive a tax cut. Except for the ones who smoke, drink, or snack.”

Update (5/23/09): Siegel’s article is online here.