H.G. Wells and Joseph Stalin
H.G. Wells, the prolific British sci-fi writer, who self-described to be a socialist left of Stalin, interviewed the infamous Soviet dictator for three hours on July 23, 1934. The interview was recorded by Constantine Oumansky, the chief of the Press Bureau of the Commissariat of Foreign Affairs.
The scope of the interview, after he spoke at length with President Roosevelt, was to find out what Stalin was “doing to change the world.” Wells told Stalin that he tried to look at the world through the eyes of the “common man” not the eyes of a politician or a bureaucrat.
Indicating to Stalin that “capitalists must learn from you, to grasp the spirit of socialism,” Wells stated that a profound reorganization was taking place in the United States, the creation of a “planned, that is, socialist, economy.” He witnessed Washington building offices, new state regulatory bodies, and “a much needed Civil Service.”
Stalin expressed his skepticism about U.S. being able to build a planned economy. It is not possible, he said, because “the Americans want to rid themselves of the [economic] crisis on the basis of private capitalist activity without changing the economic basis.” Stalin was touting the new economic basis that socialism had built. In his view, the existing capitalist system was rooted in anarchy. “A planned economy tries to abolish unemployment.” But a capitalist would never agree to completely abolish unemployment, Stalin said, because capitalists want to maintain a supply of cheap labor.
Stalin was wrong about unemployment under a socialist Soviet economy for three reasons:
1. Data in general was never accurately kept or reported.
2. The labor was highly manual with low levels of automation; under a free market economy automation often displaces labor, causing retraining of workers into other skills.
3. Women who sought employment worked for shorter periods of time and were thus not included in the statistics.
Stalin explained to Wells that planned economies increase output in those “branches of the industry which produce goods that the masses of the people need particularly.”
Having survived for twenty years in such a system Stalin described, I remember precisely all the shortages of goods and services that the economically illiterate central planners created, the long lines, the rationing we had to endure, and the empty shelves everywhere.
Furthermore, to see how wrong Stalin was, just look today at Venezuela under Maduro’s centrally planned socialist policies, a continuation of his mentor’s, Hugo Chavez, and you will see the empty shelves and suffering. Look at Castro’s Cuba after 50 years of central planning and at its decaying infrastructure and decrepit buildings. Fidel “protected” Cuba’s hapless citizens from the “evils” of capitalism and instead gave them a nightmarish socialist economy and a political socialist dictatorship.
Stalin described to Wells that capital flows into those sectors of the economy where the rate of profit is highest. A capitalist would never agree “to incur loss to himself and agree to a lower rate of profit for the sake of satisfying the needs of the people.” A central planner like Stalin did not understand supply and demand, only saw collectivism, and viewed profit as evil. Who wants to open a business if they are going to lose money?
Stalin admitted that “without getting rid of the capitalists, without abolishing the principle of private property in the means of production, it is impossible to create a planned economy.” When the “financial oligarchy will be abolished, only then socialism will be brought about,” Stalin added.
He believed that Roosevelt’s “New Deal” was a very powerful socialist idea. But, in Stalin’s opinion, Roosevelt would not be able to achieve his socialist goals for many generations because “the banks, the industries, the large enterprises, the large farms are not in Roosevelt’s hands.”
All the railroads, the mercantile fleet, the army of skilled workers, engineers, and technical personnel are all working for private enterprise, he said. Even though the State offers military defense of the country, maintains law and order, and collects taxes, this private ownership of the means of production, renders the State unable to control everything, “the State is in the hands of capitalist economy.”
Stalin explained that, if the State controlled the banks, then transportation, then heavy industries, industries in general, commerce, an “all-embracing control will be equivalent to the State ownership of all branches of the national economy and this will be the process of socialization.”
I wonder if the Millennials understand that they would lose their smart gadgets, TVs, laptops, and other electronics they love to their socialist utopian dream of social justice. If they can’t get rich then everybody must be equally poor and miserable.
The important question is, are American citizens ready to lose everything they own privately, giving government carte blanche to own the means the production and to tell them what they can and cannot have, consume, and do?
Stalin argued that Roosevelt made an honest attempt to “satisfy the interests of the proletariat class at the expense of the capitalist class.” Today, we, the taxpayers/capitalist class, are still satisfying the interests of the non-producers who receive welfare at our expense from the heavy taxes we pay. Are we willing supporters of such idle individuals? Roosevelt, with his programs, created a generational welfare class that feels entitled to what they receive, and destroyed the family in the process.
Stalin described the two classes in capitalism, as he saw it through the lenses of a socialist:
– “The propertied class” (the owners of banks, factories, mines, farms, “plantations in colonies,” who chased after the “evil” profit)
– “The exploited class” (the class of the poor who existed by selling their labor)
Wells told Stalin that, although he personally saw the need to “conduct propaganda in favor of socialism,” he met many educated people such as “engineers, airmen, military-technical people” who regarded “your simple class antagonism as nonsense.” Additionally, he asked, were there not people who were not poor but worked productively?
Stalin admitted that “small landowners, artisans, small traders” did not decide the fate of a country, but “the toiling masses, who produce all the things society requires.”
We sure have a lot of unemployed and disabled “toiling masses” today that are sitting idle at home and don’t seem to mind one bit, benefitting from the “evil” capitalist spoils.
Calling J.P. Morgan “old Morgan,” Wells described him as “a parasite on society,” who “merely accumulated wealth.” On the other hand, Wells admired Rockefeller whom he described as a “brilliant organizer” who “has set an example of how to organize the delivery of oil that is worthy of emulation,” while Ford was “selfish.”
Further excoriating the capitalist system based on profit that, in his opinion, is “breaking down,” Wells surprised Stalin by saying, “It seems to me that I am more to the Left than you, Mr. Stalin; I think the old system is nearer to its end than you think.”
Stalin corrects him that these capitalist men possess great organizational talent which the Soviet people could learn from. “And [J. P.] Morgan, whom you characterize so unfavorably, was undoubtedly a good, capable organizer.” But people like him who “serve the cause of profit” are not “prepared to reconstruct the world,” they are not “capable organizers of production.”
Reminding Wells, “don’t you know how many workers he throws in the streets,” Stalin added that capitalism will be abolished by the working class, not by the ‘technical intelligentsia’ or the ‘organizers’ of production. If this “technical intelligentsia breaks away spiritually from their employers, from the capitalist world, that will take a long time and only then can they begin to reconstruct the world.” The working class will become the “sovereign master of the capitalist class.”
In reality, this working class Stalin described as the savior of society, was a dumbed-down, poorly paid, miserable majority who could not care less if the factories under-produced, broke down, and were never repaired. They were paid regardless of how much they produced, how many mistakes they made, what shoddy products they sent to the market, how much theft was going on in order to barter with others to survive, and did not own much of anything. This working class pretended to work and the communist organizers and centralized planners pretended to pay them.
The Soviet economic system was a dismal model which failed miserably and eventually collapsed on its own utopian weight while the free market system thrived.
Unfortunately today, the Democrats and Social Democrats are gaining tract in their efforts to resurrect around the world a mummified model of economic failure, inventing new euphemisms, in order to stay in absolute power and control of the population.
Wells described the Royal Society whose president had delivered a speech on “social planning and scientific control.” The Royal Society, he told Stalin, held “revolutionary views and insists on the scientific reorganization of human society. Mentality changes. Your class-war propaganda has not kept pace with these facts.”
“Capitalist society is in a cul de sac,” Stalin responded, and “A devoted and energetic revolutionary minority requires the passive support of millions.”
“Revolution, the substitution of one social system for another, has always been a struggle, a painful and cruel struggle, a life and death struggle,” Stalin admitted. And the process will not be “spontaneous and peaceful, it will be complicated, long, and violent.” And the new world order “revolutionaries” should use the police to support them in the fight against “reactionaries.”
“That is why the Communists say to the working class: Answer violence with violence; do all you can to prevent the old dying order from crushing you, do not permit it to put manacles on your hands, on the hands with which you will overthrow the old system.”
Citing history, both Wells and Stalin described how Cromwell, on the basis of the Constitution, resorted to violence, beheaded the king, dispersed the Parliament, arrested many, and beheaded others; how much blood was shed to overthrow the tsars; how the October Revolution overthrew the old and decaying Russian capitalist system and how the “Bolsheviks were the only way out.”
Explaining the Third Estate (the common people) which existed before the French Revolution, Stalin pointed out that “not a single class has voluntarily made way for another class” and the “Communists would welcome the voluntary departure of the bourgeoisie.”
Wells argued that force must be used within existing laws and “there is no need to disorganize the old system because it is disorganizing itself enough as it is.” In his opinion, “insurrection against the old order, against the law, is obsolete, old-fashioned.” In addition to the educational system which must be radically changed, this is how Wells explained his point of view:
1. He supports order.
2. He attacks the present system “in so far as it cannot assure order.”
3. He thinks that “class war propaganda may detach from socialism just those educated people whom socialism needs.” (H.G. Wells, p. 20 of the interview transcript)
Stalin countered with his own points:
1. “The social bulwark of the revolution is the working class.”
2. An auxiliary force must exist; the Communists call it a Party.
3. Political power is the “lever of change” to create new laws in the interest of the working class.
From my experience, the only interests represented in the socialism/communism of my youth were the interests of the dictatorial ruling elite of the Communist Party. They became the millionaire rulers at that time, and, when disbanded and stripped of power, their heirs became the billionaires of today.
Ending the interview, Wells thanked Stalin for his explanations of the fundamentals of socialism and said that millions around the world hang on to every word Stalin and Roosevelt utter.
Stalin, engaging the infamous and demagogue idea of ‘self-criticism,’ which had sent many honest intellectuals to gulags, replied that much more could have been done by the Bolsheviks, had they been “cleverer.” Wells suggested making human beings “cleverer” by inventing a five-year plan for the “reconstruction of the human brain which obviously lacks many things needed for a perfect social order.”
The idea of mind control, which is not so far-fetched today, brought shivers down my spine. Bombastic and not-ground-in-reality Five-Year centralized plans issued by the Communist Party elites and their apparatchiks who had no idea how the economy should be run, many of whom did not have but an elementary education and could barely read, write, and do simple math, those plans brought the economies in all Soviet satellite countries to unmitigated disaster.
H.G. Wells and Joseph Stalin