The World State as an Alternative Identity in H. G. Wells’s Utopias

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Title The World State as an Alternative Identity in H. G. Wells’s Utopias
Autor: Shadurski, Maxim
Date: 2012
Źródło: Voicing the aternative: essays on English language and literary studies / ed. Aleksandra Nikčević-Batrićević and Marija Krivokapić. - Nikšić: Faculty of Philosophy, 2012, p. 361-374.
Abstract: In his interwar utopias Men Like Gods (1923) and The Shape of Things to Come (1933), as well as other writings, H. G. Wells designs a World State whose cosmopolitan identity presents an alternative to traditional understandings of nationality, promoted by the operations of nation-states. Informed by Wells’s disappointment in the League of Nations which failed to play down and overlay national prejudices and aggression after the Great War, the World State seeks to eradicate the political component of nationality. At the same time, since the nation-state gradually withers away in Wells’s project, the ideas of cosmopolitanism appear to be linked to the cultural component of the nation. Superseding permanent national governments by functional world controls, the World State upholds an 'ultimate revolution', which in essence means slow-pace reformism with respect for legality. This tendency is traceable to the nineteenth-century discourse of progress with continuity, prevalent in discussions of Englishness. Yet the interaction of cosmopolitanism and nationality is complicated by Wells’s eventual disavowal of national allegiances and professed investment in planning. These cosmopolitan developments can be seen to cancel out the notions of nationality at large and Englishness in particular. Regardless of such major disruptions, Wells’s World State initially departs from continuous aspects English national discourse and thereby summons up an alternative, though culturally specific, form of identity.

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