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Title:      What Are We To Do With Our Lives?
Author:     H. G. Wells
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Language:   English
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Date most recently updated: June 2013

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Title:      What Are We To Do With Our Lives?
Author:     H. G. Wells


First published in 1931

London: William Heinemann
Printed in Great Britain
at the Windmill Press
Kingswood, Surrey.



     I.  The Present Crisis in Human Affairs
    II.  The Idea of the Open Conspiracy
   III.  We Have to Clear and Clean Up Our Minds
    IV.  The Revolution in Education
     V.  Religion in the New World
    VI.  Modern Religion is Objective
   VII.  What Mankind Has to Do
  VIII.  Broad Characteristics of a Scientific World Commonweal
    IX.  No Stable Utopia is Now Conceivable
     X.  The Open Conspiracy is not to be Thought of as a Single
         Organization; It is a Conception of Life out of which
         Efforts, Organizations, and new Orientations Will Arise
    XI.  Forces and Resistances in the Great Modern Communities
         Now Prevalent, which Are Antagonistic to the Open Conspiracy.
         The War with Tradition
   XII.  The Resistances of the Less Industrialized Peoples to the
         Drive of the Open Conspiracy
  XIII.  Resistances and Antagonistic Forces in Our Conscious and
         Unconscious Selves
   XIV.  The Open Conspiracy Begins as a Movement of Discussion,
         Explanation, and Propaganda
    XV.  Early Constructive Work of the Open Conspiracy
   XVI.  Existing and Developing Movements which Are Contributory
         To the Open Conspiracy and which Must Develop a Common
         Consciousness. The Parable of Provinder Island
  XVII.  The Creative Home, Social Group, and School: The Present
         Waste of Idealistic Will
 XVIII.  Progressive Development of the Activities of the Open
         Conspiracy into a World Control and Commonweal: The Hazards
         Of the Attempt
   XIX.  Human Life in the Coming World Community


The world is undergoing immense changes. Never before have the
conditions of life changed so swiftly and enormously as they have
changed for mankind in the last fifty years. We have been carried
along--with no means of measuring the increasing swiftness in the
succession of events. We are only now beginning to realize the force
and strength of the storm of change that has come upon us.

These changes have not come upon our world from without. No huge
meteorite from outer space has struck our planet; there have been
no overwhelming outbreaks of volcanic violence or strange epidemic
diseases; the sun has not flared up to excessive heat or suddenly
shrunken to plunge us into Arctic winter. The changes have come
through men themselves. Quite a small number of people, heedless of
the ultimate consequence of what they did, one man here and a group
there, have made discoveries and produced and adopted inventions that
have changed all the conditions of social life.

We are now just beginning to realize the nature of these changes, to
find words and phrases for them and put them down. First they began
to happen, and then we began to see that they were happening. And now
we are beginning to see how these changes are connected together and
to get the measure of their consequences. We are getting our minds
so clear about them that soon we shall be able to demonstrate them
and explain them to our children in our schools. We do not do so at
present. We do not give our children a chance of discovering that they
live in a world of universal change.

What are the broad lines upon which these alterations of condition are

It will be most convenient to deal with them in the order in which
they came to be realized and seen clearly, rather than by the order in
which they came about or by their logical order. They are more or less
interdependent changes; they overlap and interact.

It was only in the beginning of the twentieth century that people
began to realize the real significance of that aspect of our changing
conditions to which the phrase "_the abolition of distance_" has been
applied. For a whole century before that there had been a continual
increase in the speed and safety of travel and transport and the ease
and swiftness with which messages could be transmitted, but this
increase had not seemed to be a matter of primary importance. Various
results of railway, steamship, and telegraph became manifest; towns
grew larger, spreading into the countryside, once inaccessible lands
became areas of rapid settlement and cultivation, industrial centres
began to live on imported food, news from remote parts lost its
time-lag and tended to become contemporary, but no one hailed these
things as being more than "improvements" in existing conditions. They
are not observed to be the beginnings of a profound revolution in the
life of mankind. The attention of young people was not drawn to them;
no attempt was made, or considered necessary, to adapt political and
social institutions to this creeping enlargement of scale.

Until the closing years of the nineteenth century there was no
recognition of the real state of affairs. Then a few observant
people began, in a rather tentative, commentary sort of way, to call
attention to what was happening. They did not seem to be moved by the
idea that something had to be done about it; they merely remarked,
brightly and intelligently, that it was going on. And then they went
on to the realization that this "abolition of distance" was only one
aspect of much more far-reaching advances.

Men were travelling about so much faster and flashing their
communications instantly about the world because a progressive
conquest of force and substance was going on. Improved transport was
only one of a number of portentous consequences of that conquest; the
first to be conspicuous and set men thinking; but not perhaps the
first in importance. It dawned upon them that in the last hundred
years there had been a stupendous progress in obtaining and utilizing
mechanical power, a vast increase in the efficiency of mechanism, and
associated with that an enormous increase in the substances available
for man's purposes, from vulcanized rubber to the modern steels, and
from petroleum and margarine to tungsten and aluminium. At first the
general intelligence was disposed to regard these things as lucky
"finds," happy chance discoveries. It was not apprehended that
the shower of finds was systematic and continuous. Popular writers
told about these things but they told of them at first as
"Wonders"--"Wonders" like the Pyramids, the Colossus of Rhodes, and
the Great Wall of China. Few realized how much more they were than
any "Wonders." The "Seven Wonders of the World" left men free to go
on living, toiling, marrying, and dying as they had been accustomed
to for immemorial ages. If the "Seven Wonders" had vanished or been
multiplied three score it would not have changed the lives of any
large proportion of human beings. But these new powers and substances
were modifying and transforming--unobtrusively, surely, and
relentlessly--every particular of the normal life of mankind.

They increased the amount of production and the methods of production.
They made possible "Big-Business," to drive the small producer and the
small distributor out of the market. They swept away factories and
evoked new ones. They changed the face of the fields. They brought
into the normal life, thing by thing and day by day, electric light
and heating, bright cities at night, better aeration, new types of
clothing, a fresh cleanliness. They changed a world where there had
never been enough into a world of potential plenty, into a world of
excessive plenty. It dawned upon their minds after their realization
of the "abolition of distance" that shortage of supplier had also been
abolished and that irksome toil was no longer necessary to produce
everything material that man might require. It is only in the last
dozen years that this broader and profounder fact has come through to
the intelligence of any considerable number of people. Most of them
have still to carry their realization a step farther and see how
complete is the revolution in the character of the daily life these
things involve.

But there are still other changes outside this vast advance in the
pace and power of material life. The biological sciences have
undergone a corresponding extension. Medical art has attained a new
level of efficiency, so that in all the modernizing societies of the
world the average life is prolonged, and there is, in spite of a great
fall in the birth rate, a steady, alarming increase in the world's
population. The proportion of adults alive is greater than it has ever
been before. Fewer and fewer human beings die young This has changed
the social atmosphere about us. The tragedy of lives cut short and
ended prematurely is passing out of general experience. Health
becomes prevalent. The continual toothaches, headaches, rheumatism,
neuralgias, coughs, colds, indigestions that made up so large a part
of the briefer lives of our grandfathers and grandmothers fade out of
experience. We may all live now, we discover, without any great
burthen of fear, wholesomely and abundantly, for as long as the desire
to live is in us.

But we do not do so. All this possible freedom of movement, this power
and abundance, remains for most of us no more than possibility. There
is a sense of profound instability about these achievements of our
race. Even those who enjoy, enjoy without security, and for the great
multitude of mankind there is neither ease, plenty, nor freedom. Hard
tasks, insufficiency, and unending money worries are still the
ordinary stuff of life. Over everything human hangs the threat of such
war as man has never known before, were armed and reinforced by all
the powers and discoveries of modern science.

When we demand why the achievement of power turns to distress and
danger in our hands, we get some very unsatisfactory replies. The
favourite platitude of the politician excusing himself for the
futilities of his business, is that "moral progress has not kept pace
with material advance." That seems to satisfy him completely, but it
can satisfy no other intelligent person. He says "moral." He leaves
that word unexplained. Apparently he wants to shift the responsibility
to our religious teachers. At the most he has made but the vaguest
gesture towards a reply. And yet, when we consider it, charitably and
sympathetically, there does seem to be a germ of reality in that
phrase of his.

What does moral mean? _Mores_ means manners and customs. Morality is
the conduct of life. It is what we do with our social lives. It is how
we deal with ourselves in relation to our fellow creatures. And there
does seem to be a much greater discord now than there was (say) a
couple of hundred years ago between the prevailing ideas of how to
carry on life and the opportunities a and dangers of the time. We
are coming to see more and more plainly that certain established
traditions which have made up the frame of human relationships for
ages are not merely no longer as convenient as they were, but are
positively injurious and dangerous. And yet at present we do not know
how to shake off these traditions, these habits of social behaviour
which rule us. Still less are we able to state, and still less bring
into operation, the new conceptions of conduct and obligation that
must replace them.

For example, the general government of human affairs has hitherto
been distributed among a number of sovereign states--there are about
seventy of them now--and until recently that was a quite tolerable
system of frame-works into which a general way of living could be
fitted. The standard of living may not have been as high as our
present standards, but the social stability and assurance were
greater. The young were trained to be loyal, law-regarding, patriotic,
and a defined system of crimes and misdemeanours with properly
associated pains, penalties, and repressions, kept the social body
together. Everyone was taught a history glorifying his own state, and
patriotism was chief among the Virtues. Now, with great rapidity,
there has been that "abolition of distance," and everyone has become
next-door neighbour to everyone else. States once separate, social and
economic systems formerly remote from one another, now jostle each
other exasperatingly. Commerce under the new conditions is perpetually
breaking nationalist bounds and making militant raids upon the
economic life of other countries. This exacerbates patriotism in which
we have all been trained and with which we are all, with scarcely an
exception, saturated. And meanwhile war, which was once a comparative
slow bickering upon a front, has become war in three dimensions; it
gets at the "non-combatant" almost as searchingly as at the combatant,
and has acquired weapons of a stupendous cruelty and destructiveness.
At present there exists no solution to this paradoxical situation.
We are continually being urged by our training and traditions to
antagonisms and conflicts that will impoverish, starve, and destroy
both our antagonists and ourselves. We are all trained to distrust and
hate foreigners, salute our flag, stiffen up in a wooden obedient way
at our national anthem, and prepare to follow the little fellows in
spurs and feathers who pose as the heads of our states into the most
horrible common destruction. Our political and economic ideas of
living are out of date, and we find great difficulty in adjusting them
and reconstructing them to meet the huge and strenuous demands of the
new times. That is really what our gramophone politicians have in
mind--in the vague way in which they have anything in mind--when they
put on that well-worn record about moral progress not having kept pace
with material inventions.

Socially and politically we want a revised system of ideas about
conduct, a view of social and political life brought up to date. We
are not doing the effective thing with our lives, we are drifting, we
are being hoodwinked and bamboozled and misled by those who trade
upon the old traditions. It is preposterous that we should still be
followed about and pestered by war, taxed for war preparations, and
threatened bodily and in our liberties by this unnecessary and
exaggerated and distorted survival of the disunited world of the
pre-scientific era. And it is not simply that our political way of
living is now no better than an inherited defect and malformation,
but that our everyday life, our eating and drinking and clothing and
housing and going about, is also cramped, thwarted, and impoverished,
because we do not know how to set about shaking off the old ways and
fitting the general life to our new opportunities. The strain takes
the form of increased unemployment and a dislocation of spending
power. We do not know whether to spend or save. Great swarms of
us find ourselves unaccountably thrown out of work. Unjustly,
irrationally. Colossal business reconstructions are made to increase
production and accumulate profits, and meanwhile the customers with
purchasing power dwindle in numbers and fade away. The economic
machine creaks and makes every sign of stopping--and its stopping
means universal want and starvation. It must not stop. There must be
a reconstruction, a change-over. But what sort of a change-over?

Though none of us are yet clear as to the precise way in which this
great change-over is to be effected, there is a world-wide feeling
now that change-over or a vast catastrophe is before us. Increasing
multitudes participate in that uneasy sense of insecure transition. In
the course of one lifetime mankind has passed from a state of affairs
that seems to us now to have been slow, dull, ill-provided, and
limited, but at least picturesque and tranquil-minded, to a new phase
of excitement, provocation, menace, urgency, and actual or potential
distresses. Our lives are part of one another. We cannot get away from
it. We are items in a social mass. What are we to do with our lives?


I am a writer upon social and political matters. Essentially I am a
very ordinary, undistinguished person. I have a mediocre brain, a very
average brain, and the way in which my mind reacts to these problems
is therefore very much the way in which most brains will react to
them. But because it is my business to write and think about these
questions, because on that account I am able to give more time and
attention to them than most people, I am able to get rather ahead of
my equals and to write articles and books just a little before the
ideas I experience become plain to scores of thousands, and then to
hundreds of thousands, and at last to millions of other people. And
so it happened that a few years ago (round about 1927) I became very
anxious to clear up and give form to a knot of suggestions that seemed
to me to have in them the solution of this riddle of adapting our
lives to the immense new possibilities and the immense new dangers
that confront mankind.

It seemed to me that all over the world intelligent people were waking
up to the indignity and absurdity of being endangered, restrained,
and impoverished, by a mere uncritical adhesion to traditional
governments, traditional ideas of economic life, and traditional
forms of behaviour, and that these awaking intelligent people must
constitute first a protest and then a creative resistance to the
inertia that was stifling and threatening us. These people I imagined
would say first, "We are drifting; we are doing nothing worth while
with our lives. Our lives are dull and stupid and not good enough."

Then they would say, "What are we to do with our lives?"

And then, "Let us get together with other people of our sort and make
over the world into a great world-civilization that will enable us to
realize the promises and avoid the dangers of this new time."

It seemed to me that as, one after another, we woke up, that is what
we should be saying. It amounted to a protest, first mental and then
practical, it amounted to a sort of unpremeditated and unorganized
conspiracy, against the fragmentary and insufficient governments and
the wide-spread greed, appropriation, clumsiness, and waste that are
now going on. But unlike conspiracies in general this widening protest
and conspiracy against established things would, by its very nature,
go on in the daylight, and it would be willing to accept participation
and help from every quarter. It would, in fact, become an "Open
Conspiracy," a necessary, naturally evolved conspiracy, to adjust our
dislocated world.

I have thought and written a lot about this Open Conspiracy since first
it dawned upon me as being something that was bound to happen in people's
minds and wills. I introduced it in a novel called _The World of William
Clissold_, in 1927. I published a little book called _The Open Conspiracy_
in 1928, into which I put what I had in my mind at that time. It was an
unsatisfactory little book even when I published it, not quite plain
enough and not quite confident enough, and evidently unsure of its
readers. It already looks old-fashioned to me now. Yet I could not
find out how to do it better at the time, and it seemed in its
way to say something of living and current interest, and
so I published it--but I arranged things so that I could withdraw it
in a year or so. That I have now done, and this present book
is to replace it. Since that first publication we have all got
forward surprisingly. Events have hustled thought along and have
been hustled along by thought. The idea of reorganizing the affairs of
the world on quite a big scale, which was "Utopian," and so forth, in
1926 and 1927, and still "bold" in 1928, has now spread about the
world until nearly everybody has it. It has broken out all over the
place, thanks largely to the mental stimulation of the Russian Five
Year Plan. Hundreds of thousands of people everywhere are now thinking
upon the lines foreshadowed by my Open Conspiracy, not because they
had ever heard of the book or phrase, but because that was the way
thought was going.

_The Open Conspiracy_ conveyed the general idea of a world
reconstructed, but it was very vague about the particular way in which
this or that individual life could be lived in relation to that
general idea. It gave a general answer to the question, "What are we
to do with our lives?" It said, "Help to make over the New World
amidst the confusions of the Old." But when the question was asked,
"What am I to do with _my_ life?" the reply was much less satisfactory.

The intervening years of thought and experience make it possible, now,
to bring this general idea of a reconstructive effort, an attempt to
build up a new world within the dangers and disharmonies of our
present state, into a much closer and more explicit relation to the
individual "Open Conspirator." We can present the thing in a better
light and handle it with a surer touch.


Now, one thing is fairly plain to most of us who are waking up to the
need of living our lives in a new way and of making over the state,
which is the framework of our lives, to meet the new demands upon it,
and that is, that we have to put our own minds in order. Why have
we only awakened now to the crisis in human affairs? The changes in
progress have been going on with a steady acceleration for a couple
of centuries. Clearly we must all have been very unobservant, our
knowledge as it came to us must have been very badly arranged in
our minds, and our way of dealing with it must have been cloudy and
muddled, or else we should surely have awakened long ago to the
immense necessities that now challenge us. And if that is so, if it
has taken decades to rouse us, then quite probably we are not yet
completely awake. Even now we may not have realized the job before us
in its completeness. We may still have much to get plain in our minds,
and we certainly have much more to learn. One primary and permanent
duty therefore is to go on with our thinking and to think as well as
we can about the way in which we think and about the ways in which we
get and use knowledge.

Fundamentally the Open Conspiracy must be an intellectual rebirth.

Human thought is still very much confused by the imperfection of the
words and other symbols it employs and the consequences of this
confused thinking are much more serious and extensive than is commonly
realized. We still see the world through a mist of words; it is only
the things immediately about us that are plain fact. Through symbols,
and especially through words, man has raised himself above the level
of the ape and come to a considerable mastery over his universe. But
every step in his mental ascent has involved entanglement with these
symbols and words he was using; they were at once helpful and very
dangerous and misleading. A great part of our affairs, social,
political, intellectual, is in a perplexing and dangerous state to-day
because of our loose, uncritical, slovenly use of words.

All through the later Middle Ages there were great disputes among the
schoolmen about the use of words and symbols. There is a queer
disposition in the human mind to think that symbols and words and
logical deductions are truer than actual experiences, and these great
controversies were due to the struggle of the human intelligence
against that disposition. On the one side were the Realists, who were
so called because they believed, in effect, that names were more real
than facts, and on the other side were the Nominalists, who from the
first were pervaded by a suspicion about names and words generally;
who thought there might be some sort of catch in verbal processes,
and who gradually worked their way towards _verification by
experiment_ which is the fundamental thing about experimental
science--experimental science which has given our human world all
these immense powers and possibilities that tempt and threaten it
to-day. These controversies of the schoolmen were of the utmost
importance to mankind. The modern world could not begin to come into
existence until the human mind had broken away from the narrow-minded
verbalist way of thinking which the Realists followed.

But all through my education I never had this matter explained to me.
The University of London intimated that I was a soundly educated young
man by giving me a degree in first-class honours and the liberty to
acquire and wear an elegant gown and hood, and the London College of
Preceptors gave me and the world its highest assurances that I was fit
to educate and train the minds of my fellow creatures, and yet I had
still to discover that a Realist was not a novelist who put rather too
highly flavoured sex appeal into his books, and a Nominalist, nothing
in particular. But it had crept into my mind as I learnt about
individuality in my biological work and about logic and psychology in
my preparation as the perfect preceptor, that something very important
and essential was being left out and that I wasn't at all as well
equipped as my diplomas presently said I was, and in the next few
years I found the time to clean up this matter pretty thoroughly. I
made no marvellous discoveries, everything I found out was known
already; nevertheless, I had to find Out some of this stuff for myself
quite over again, as though it had never been done; so inaccessible
was any complete account of human thinking to an ordinary man who
wanted to get his mind into proper working condition. And this was not
that I had missed some recondite, precious refinements of philosophy;
it was that my fundamental thinking, at the very root of my political
and social conduct, was wrong. I was in a human community, and that
community, and I with it, was thinking of phantoms and fantasies
as though they were real and living things, was in a reverie of
unrealities, was blind, slovenly, hypnotized, base and ineffective,
blundering about in an extremely beautiful and an extremely dangerous

I set myself to re-educate myself, and after the practice of writers
wrote it in various trial pamphlets, essays, and books. There is no
need to refer to these books here. The gist of the matter is set out
in three compilations, to which I shall refer again almost immediately.
They are _The Outline of History_ (Ch. XXI, § 6, and Ch. XXXIII,
§ 6), _The Science of Life_ (Book VIII, on Thought and Behaviour)
and _The Work, Wealth, and Happiness of Mankind_ (Ch. II, § 1-4).
In the last, it is shown quite plainly how man has had to struggle for
the mastery of his mind, has discovered only after great controversies
the proper and effective use of his intellectual tools, and has had
to learn to avoid certain widespread traps and pitfalls before he
could achieve his present mastery over matter. Thinking clearly and
effectively does not come by nature. Hunting the truth is an art. We
blunder naturally into a thousand misleading generalizations and false
processes. Yet there is hardly any intelligent mental training done in
the schools of the world to-day. We have to learn this art, if we are
to practise it at all. Our schoolteachers have had no proper training
themselves, they miseducate by example and precept, and so it is that
our press and current discussions are more like an impromptu riot of
crippled and deaf and blind minds than an intelligent interchange of
ideas. What bosh one reads! What rash and impudent assumptions! What
imbecile inferences!

But re-educating oneself, getting one's mind into health and
exercising it and training it to think properly, is only the beginning
of the task before the awakening Open Conspirator. He has not only to
think clearly, but he has to see that his mind is equipped with the
proper general ideas to form a true framework for his everyday
judgments and decisions.

It was the Great War first brought home to me how ignorant I was, and
how ill-finished and untidy my mind, about the most important things
of life. That disastrous waste of life, material and happiness, since
it was practically world wide, was manifestly the outcome of the
processes that constitute the bulk of history, and yet I found I did
not know--and nobody else seemed to know--history in such a fashion as
to be able to explain how the Great War came about or what ought to
come out of it. "Versailles," we all seem to be agreed nowadays, was
silly, but how could Versailles be anything else than what it was
in view of the imperfect, lopsided, historical knowledge and the
consequent suspicion, emotion, and prejudice of those who assembled
there. They did not know any better than the rest of us what the
war was, and so how could they know what the peace ought to be? I
perceived that I was in the same case with everyone else, and I set
myself first of all for my own guidance to make a summary if all
history and get some sort of map to more serviceable conclusions about
the political state of mankind. This summary I made was _The Outline
of History_, a shameless compilation and arrangement of the main
facts of the world story, written without a touch of art or elegance,
written indeed in a considerable hurry and excitement, and its sale,
which is now in the third million, showed how much I had in common
with a great dispersed crowd of ordinary people, all wanting to know,
all disgusted with the patriotic, litigious twaddling gossipy stuff
given them as history by their schoolmasters and schoolmistresses
which had led them into the disaster of the war.

_The Outline of History_ is not a whole history of life. Its main
theme is the growth of human intercommunication and human communities
and their rulers and conflicts, the story of how and why the myriads
of little tribal systems of ten thousand years ago have fought and
coalesced into the sixty- or seventy-odd governments of to-day and are
now straining and labouring in the grip of forces that must presently
accomplish their final unison. And even as I completed _The Outline_,
I realized that there remained outside its scope wider and more
fundamental, and closer, more immediate fields of knowledge which I
still had to get in order for my own practical ends and the ends of
like-minded people who wanted to use their lives effectively, if my
existence was to escape futility.

I realized that I did not know enough about the life in my body and
its relations to the world of life and matter outside it to come
to proper decisions about a number of urgent matters--from race
conflicts, birth control, and my private life, to the public control
of health and the conservation of natural resources. And also, I
found, I was astonishingly ignorant about the everyday business of
life, the how and why of the miner who provided the coal to cook my
dinner, and the banker who took my money in return for a cheque-book,
and the shopkeeper from whom I bought things, and the policeman who
kept the streets in order for me. Yet I was voting for laws affecting
my relations with these people, paying them directly or indirectly,
airing my ignorant opinions about them, and generally contributing by
my behaviour to sustain and affect their lives.

So with the aid and direction of two very competent biologists I set
to work to get out as plain and clear a statement as possible of what
was known about the sources and nature of life and the relation of
species to individuals and to other species, and the processes of
consciousness and thought. This I published as _The Science of Life_.
And while this was going on I set myself to the task of making a
review of all human activities in relation to each other, the work of
people and the needs of people, cultivation, manufacture, trade,
direction, government, and all. This was the most difficult part of
this attempt to get a rational account of the modern world, and it
called for the help and counsel of a great variety of people. I had to
ask and find some general answer to the question, "What are the
nineteen hundred-odd million human beings who are alive to-day doing,
and how and why are they doing it?" It was, in fact, an outline of
economic, social, and political science, but since, after _The Outline
of History_, the word "outline" has been a good deal cheapened by
various enterprising publishers, I have called it, _The Work, Wealth,
and Happiness of Mankind_.

Now, I find, by getting these three correlated compilations into
existence, I have at last, in however rough a fashion, brought
together a complete system of ideas upon which an Open Conspirator can
go. Before anyone could hope to get on to anything like a practical
working directive answer to "What are we to do with our lives?" it was
necessary to know what our lives were--_The Science of Life_; what had
led up to their present pattern--_The Outline of History_; and this
third book, to tell what we were actually doing and supposed to be
doing with our working lives, day by day, at the present time. By the
time I was through with these books I felt I had really something
sound and comprehensive to go upon, an "ideology," as people say, on
which it was possible to think of building a new world without
fundamental surprises, and, moreover, that I had got my mind stripped
down and cleaned of many illusions and bad habits, so that it could
handle life with an assurance it had never known before.

Now, there is nothing marvellous about these three compilations of
mine. Any steady writer of average intelligence with the same will and
the same resources, who could devote about nine or ten years to the
task and get the Proper sort of help, could have made them. It can
be done, it is no doubt being done, all over again by other people,
for themselves and perhaps for others, much more beautifully and
adequately. But to get that amount of vision and knowledge, to achieve
that general arrangement and understanding, was a necessary condition
that had to be satisfied before any answer to the question, "What are
we to do with our lives?" could even be attempted, and before one could
become in any effective way an Open Conspirator. There is nothing
indispensable even now, about these three books. Much of what they
contain can be extracted from any good encyclopaedia.

Many people have made their own outlines of history for
themselves, have read widely, grasped the leading principles of
biology and grappled with the current literature of business science
and do not in the least need my particular summary. So far as history
and biology are concerned there are parallel books, that are as good
and serviceable. But even for highly-educated people these summaries
may be useful in bringing things known with different degrees of
thoroughness, into a general scheme. They correlate, and they fill up
gaps. Between them they cover the ground; and that ground has to be
covered before the mind of a modern citizen is prepared to tackle the
problems that confront it. Otherwise he is an incapable citizen, he
does not know where he is and where the world is, and if he is rich or
influential he may be a very dangerous citizen. Presently there will
be far better compilations to meet this need, or perhaps the gist of
all the three divisions of knowledge, concentrated and made more lucid
and attractive, may be available as the intellectual frame of modern
education throughout the world, as a "General Account of Life" that
should be given to everyone. People cannot possibly set about living
properly and satisfactorily unless he knows what they are, where they
are, and how they stand to the people and things about him.


Some sort of reckoning therefore between people awakened to the new
world that dawns about us and the schools, colleges, and machinery of
formal education is overdue. As a body the educated are getting
nothing like that Account of Life which is needed to direct our
conduct in this modern world.

It is the crowning absurdity in the world to-day that these
institutions should go through a solemn parade of preparing the new
generation for life and that then, afterwards, a minority of their
victims, finding this preparation has left them almost totally
unprepared, should have of their own accord to struggle out of our
world heap of starved and distorted minds to some sort of real
education. The world cannot be run by such a minority of escaped and
re-educated minds alone, with all the rest of the heap against them.
Our necessities demand the intelligence and services of everyone
who can be trained to give them. The new world demands new schools,
therefore, to give everyone a sound and thorough mental training
and equip everyone with clear ideas about history, about life, and
about political and economic relationships instead of the rubbishy
head-content at present prevalent. The old-world teachers and schools
have to be reformed or replaced. A vigorous educational reform
movement arises as a natural and necessary expression of the awakening
Open Conspirator. A revolution in education is the most imperative and
fundamental part of the adaptation of life to its new conditions.

These various compendia of knowledge constituting a Modern Account of
Life, on which we have laid stress in the previous section, these
supplements to teaching, which are now produced and read outside the
established formal educational world and in the teeth of its manifest
hostility, arise because of the backwardness of that world, and as
that world yields slowly but surely to the pressure of the new spirit,
so they will permeate and replace its text-books and disappear as a
separate class of book. The education these new dangerous times in
which we are now living demands, must start right, from the beginning
and there must be nothing to replace and nothing to relearn in it.
Before we can talk politics, finance, business, or morals, we must see
that we have got the right mental habits and the right foundation of
realized facts. There is nothing much to be done with our lives until
we have seen to that.


"Yes," objects a reader, "but does not our religion tell us what we
are to do with our lives?"

We have to bring religion, as a fundamental matter, into this
discussion. From our present point of view, religion is that central
essential part of education which determines conduct. Religion
certainly should tell us what to do with our lives. But in the vast
stir and occasions of modern life, so much of what we call religion
remains irrelevant or dumb. Religion does not seem to "join on" to the
main parts of the general problem of living. It has lost touch.

Let us try and bring this problem of the Open Conspiracy to meet and
make the new world, into relation with the traditions of religion. The
clear-minded Open Conspirator who has got his modern ideology, his
lucidly arranged account of the universe in order, is obliged to
believe that only by giving his life to the great processes of social
reconstruction, and shaping his conduct with reference to that, can he
do well with his life. But that merely launches him into the most
subtle and unending of struggles, the struggle against the incessant
gravitation of our interests to ourselves. He has to live the broad
life and escape from the close narrow life. We all try to attain the
dignity and happiness of magnanimity and escape from the tormenting
urgencies of personal desire. In the past that struggle has generally
assumed the form of a religious struggle. Religion is the antagonist
of self.

In their completeness, in the life that was professionally
_religious_, religions have always demanded great subordinations of
self. Therein lay their creative force. They demanded devotion and
gave reasons for that demand. They disentangled the will from the
egotistical preoccupations, often very completely. There is no such
thing as a self-contained religion, a private religious solo. Certain
forms of Protestantism and some mystical types come near to making
religion secluded duet between the individual and his divinity, but
here that may be regarded as a perversion of the religious impulse.
Just as the normal sexual complex excites and stirs the individual out
of his egotism to serve the ends of the race, so the normal religious
process takes the individual out of his egotism for the service of
the community. It is not a bargain, a "social contract," between
the individual and the community; it is a subordination of both
the existing individual and the existing community in relation to
something, a divinity, a divine order, a standard, a righteousness,
more important than either. What is called in the phraseology of
certain religions "conviction of sin" and "the flight from the City of
Destruction" are familiar instances of this reference of the
self-centred individual and the current social life to something far
better than either the one or the other.

This is the third element in the religious relationship, a hope, a
promise, an objective which turns the convert not only from himself
but from the "world," as it is, towards better things. First comes
self disregard then service, and then this reconstructive creative

For the finer sort of mind this aspect of religion seems always to
have been its primary attraction. One has to remember that there is a
real will for religion scattered throughout mankind--a real desire
to get away from self. Religion has never pursued its distinctive
votaries; they have come to meet it. The desire to give oneself to
greater ends than the everyday life affords, and to give oneself
freely, is clearly dominant in that minority, and traceable in an
incalculable proportion of the majority.

But hitherto religion has never been presented _simply_ as a devotion
to a universal cause. The devotion has always been in it, but it has
been complicated by other considerations. The leaders in every great
religious movement have considered it necessary that it should explain
itself in the form of history and a cosmogony. It has been felt
necessary to say _Why?_ and _To what end?_ Every religion therefore
has had to adopt the physical conceptions, and usually also to assume
many of the moral and social values, current at the time of its
formation. It could not transcend the philosophical phrases and
attitudes that seemed then to supply the natural frame for a faith,
nor draw upon anything beyond the store of scientific knowledge of its
time. In this lurked the seeds of the ultimate decay and supersession
of every successive religion.

But as the idea of continual change, going farther and farther from
existing realities and never returning to them, is a new one, as
nobody until very recently has grasped the fact that the knowledge of
to day is the ignorance of to-morrow, each fresh development of
religion in the world so far has been proclaimed in perfect good faith
as the culminating and final truth.

This finality of statement has considerable immediate practical value.
The suggestion of the possibility of further restatement is an
unsettling suggestion; it undermines conviction and breaks the ranks
of the believers, because there are enormous variations in the
capacities of men to recognize the same spirit under a changing shape.
These variations cause endless difficulties to-day. While some
intelligences can recognize the same God under a variety of names and
symbols without any severe strain, others cannot even detect the most
contrasted Gods one from the other provided they wear the same mask
and title It appears a perfectly natural and reasonable thing to many
minds to restate religion now in terms of biological and psychological
necessity, while to others any variation whatever in the phrasing of
the faith seems to be nothing less than atheistical misrepresentations
of the most damnable kind. For these latter God a God still
anthropomorphic enough to have a will and purpose to display
preferences and reciprocate emotions, to be indeed in person, must be
retained until the end of time. For others, God can be thought of as
a Great First Cause, as impersonal and inhuman as atomic structure.

It is because of the historical and philosophical commitments they
have undertaken, and because of concessions made to common human
weaknesses in regard to such once apparently minor but now vital moral
issues as property, mental activity, and public veracity--rather than
of any inadequacy in their adaptation to psychological needs--that the
present wide discredit of organized religions has come about. They no
longer seem even roughly truthful upon issues of fact, and they give
no imperatives over large fields of conduct in which perplexity is
prevalent. People will say, "I could be perfectly happy leading the
life of a Catholic devotee if only I could believe." But most of the
framework of religious explanation upon which that life is sustained
is too old-fashioned and too irrelevant to admit of that thoroughness
of belief which is necessary for the devotion of intelligent people.

Great ingenuity has been shown by modern writers and thinkers in the
adaptation of venerated religious expressions to new ideas. _Peccavi_.
Have I not written of the creative will in humanity as "God the
Invisible King" and presented it in the figure of a youthful and
adventurous finite god?

The word "God" is in most minds so associated with the concept of
religion that it is abandoned only with the greatest reluctance. The
word remains, though the idea is continually attenuated. Respect for
Him demands that He should have no limitations. He is pushed farther
and farther from actuality, therefore, and His definition becomes
increasingly a bundle of negations, until at last, in His rôle of The
Absolute, He becomes an entirely negative expression. While we can
speak of good, say some, can speak of God. God is the possibility of
goodness, the good side of things. If phrases in which the name of God
is used are to be abandoned, they argue, religion will be left
speechless before many occasions.

Certainly there is something beyond the individual that is and the
world that is; on that we have already insisted as a characteristic of
all religions; that persuasion is the essence of faith and the key to
courage. But whether that is to be considered, even after the most
strenuous exercises in personification, as a greater person or a
comprehensive person, is another matter. Personality is the last
vestige of anthropomorphism. The modern urge to a precise veracity is
against such concessions to traditional expression.

On the other hand there is in many fine religious minds a desire
amounting almost to a necessity for an object of devotion so
individualized as to be capable at least of a receptive consciousness
even if no definite response is conceded. One type of mind can accept
a reality in itself which another must project and dramatize before
it can comprehend it and react to it. The human soul is an intricate
thing which will not endure elucidation when that passes beyond a
certain degree of harshness and roughness. The human spirit has
learnt love, devotion, obedience and humility in relation to other
personalities, and with difficulty it takes the final step to a
transcendent subordination, from which the last shred of personality
has stripped.

In matters not immediately material, language has to work by
metaphors, and though every metaphor carries its own peculiar risks of
confusion, we cannot do without them. Great intellectual tolerance is
necessary, therefore--a cultivated disposition to translate and
retranslate from one metaphysical or emotional idiom to another--if
there is not to be a deplorable wastage of moral force in our world.
Just now I wrote _Peccavi_ because I had written God the Invisible
King, but after all I do not think it was so much a sin to use that
phrase, God the Invisible King, as an error in expression. If there is
no sympathetic personal leader outside us, there is at least in us the
attitude we should adopt towards a sympathetic personal leader.

Three profound differences between the new mental dispositions of
the present time and those of preceding ages have to be realized if
current developments of the religious impulse are to be seen in their
correct relationship to the religious life of the past. There has been
a great advance in the analysis of psychic processes and the courage
with which men have probed into the origins of human thought and
feeling. Following upon the biological advances that have made us
recognize fish and amphibian in the bodily structure of man, have come
these parallel developments in which we see elemental fear and lust
and self-love moulded, modified, and exalted, under the stress of
social progress, into intricate human motives. Our conception of
sin and our treatment of sin have been profoundly modified by this
analysis. Our former sins are seen as ignorances, inadequacies and
bad habits, and the moral conflict is robbed of three-fourths of its
ego-centred melodramatic quality. We are no longer moved to be less
wicked; we are moved to organize our conditioned reflexes and lead a
life less fragmentary and silly.

Secondly, the conception of individuality has been influenced and
relaxed by biological thought, so that we do not think so readily of
the individual contra mundum as our fathers did. We begin to realize
that we are egotists by misapprehension. Nature cheats the self to
serve the purposes of the species by filling it with wants that war
against its private interests. As our eyes are opened to these things,
we see ourselves as beings greater or less than the definitive self.
Man's soul is no longer his own. It is, he discovers, part of a
greater being which lived before he was born and will survive him. The
idea of a survival of the definite individual with all the accidents
and idiosyncrasies of his temporal nature upon him dissolves to
nothing in this new view of immortality. (All this the reader will find
worked out in considerable detail in _The Science of Life_.)

The third of the main contrasts between modern and former thought
which have rendered the general shapes of established religion
old-fashioned and unserviceable is a reorientation of current ideas
about time. The powerful disposition of the human mind to explain
everything as the inevitable unfolding of a past event which, so to
speak, sweeps the future helplessly before it, has been checked by a
mass of subtle criticisms. The conception of progress as a broadening
and increasing purpose, a conception which is taking hold of the human
imagination more and more firmly, turns religious life towards the
future. We think no longer of submission to the irrevocable decrees of
absolute dominion, but of participation in an adventure on behalf of a
power that gains strength and establishes itself. The history of our
world, which has been unfolded to us by science, runs counter to
all the histories on which religions have been based. There was no
Creation in the past, we begin to realize, but eternally there is
creation; there was no Fall to account for the conflict of good and
evil, but a stormy ascent. Life as we know it is a mere beginning.

It seems unavoidable that if religion is to develop unifying and
directive power in the present confusion of human affairs it must
adapt itself to this forward-looking, individuality-analyzing turn of
mind; it must divest itself of its sacred histories, its gross
preoccupations, its posthumous prolongation of personal ends. _The
desire for service, for subordination, for permanent effect, for an
escape from the distressful pettiness and mortality of the individual
life, is the undying element in every religious system._

The time has come to strip religion right down to that, to strip it
for greater tasks than it has ever faced before. The histories and
symbols that served our fathers encumber and divide us. Sacraments
and rituals harbour disputes and waste our scanty emotions. _The
explanation of why things are is an unnecessary effort in religion._
The essential fact in religion is the desire for religion and not how
it came about. If you do not want religion, no persuasions, no
convictions about your place in the universe can give it to you. The
first sentence in the modern creed must be, not "I believe," but "I
give myself."

To what? And how? To these questions we will now address ourselves.


To give oneself religiously is a continuing operation expressed in a
series of acts. It can be nothing else. You cannot dedicate yourself
and then go away to live just as you have lived before. It is a poor
travesty of religion that does not produce an essential change in the
life which embraces it. But in the established and older religions of
our race, this change of conduct has involved much self-abasement
merely to the God or Gods, or much self-mortification merely with a
view to the moral perfecting of self. Christian devotion, for example,
in these early stages, before the hermit life gave place to organized
monastic life, did not to any extent direct itself to service except
the spiritual service of other human beings. But as Christianity
became a definite social organizing force, it took on a great series
of healing, comforting, helping, and educational activities.

The modern tendency has been and is all in the direction of minimizing
what one might call self-centred devotion and self-subjugation, and of
expanding and developing external service. The idea of inner
perfectibility dwindles with the diminishing importance attached to
individuality. We cease to think of mortifying or exalting or
perfecting ourselves and seek to lose ourselves in a greater life. We
think less and less of "conquering" self and more and more of escaping
from self. If we attempt to perfect ourselves in any respect it is
only as a soldier sharpens and polishes an essential weapon.

Our quickened apprehension of continuing change, our broader and
fuller vision of the history of life, disabuse our minds of many
limitations set to the imaginations of our predecessors. Much that
they saw as fixed and determinate, we see as transitory and
controllable. They saw life fixed in its species and subjected to
irrevocable laws. We see life struggling insecurely but with a
gathering successfulness for freedom and power against restriction
and death. We see life coming at last to our tragic and hopeful human
level. Unprecedented possibilities, mighty problems, we realize,
confront mankind to-day. They frame our existences. The practical
aspect, the material form, the embodiment of the modernized religious
impulse is the direction of the whole life to the solution of these
problems and the realization of their possibilities. The alternative
before man now is either magnificence of spirit and magnificence of
achievement, or disaster.

The modern religious life, like all forms of religious life, must
needs have its own subtle and deep inner activities, its meditations,
its self-confrontations, its phases of stress and search and appeal,
its serene and prayerful moods, but these inward aspects do not come
into the scope of this present inquiry, which is concerned entirely
with the outward shape, the direction, and the organization of modern
religious effort, with the question of what, given religious devotion,
we have to do and how that has to be done.

Now, in the new and greater universe to which we are awakening, its
immense possibilities furnish an entirely new frame and setting
for the moral life. In the fixed and limited outlook of the past,
practical good works took the form mainly of palliative measures
against evils that were conceived of as incurable; the religious
community nursed the sick, fed the hungry, provided sanctuary for the
fugitive, pleaded with the powerful for mercy. It did not dream of
preventing sickness, famine, or tyranny. Other-worldliness was its
ready refuge from the invincible evil and confusion of the existing
scheme of things.

But it is possible now to imagine an order in human affairs from which
these evils have been largely or entirely eliminated. More and more
people are coming to realize that such an order is a material
possibility. And with the realization that this is a material
possibility, we can no longer be content with a field of "good deeds"
and right action restricted to palliative and consolatory activities.
Such things are merely "first aid." The religious mind grows bolder
than it has ever been before. It pushes through the curtain it once
imagined was a barrier. It apprehends its larger obligations. The way
in which our activities conduce to the realization of that conceivable
better order in human affairs, becomes the new criterion of conduct.
Other-worldliness has become unnecessary.

The realization of this possible better order brings us at once to
certain definite lines of conduct. We have to make an end to war, and
to make an end to war we must be cosmopolitan in our politics. It is
impossible for any clear-headed person to suppose that the ever more
destructive stupidities of war can be eliminated from human affairs
until some common political control dominates the earth, and unless
certain pressures due to the growth of population, due to the
enlarging scope of economic operations or due to conflicting standards
and traditions of life, are disposed of.

To avoid the positive evils of war and to attain the new levels of
prosperity and power that now come into view, an effective world
control, not merely of armed force, but of the production and main
movements of staple commodities and the drift and expansion of
population is required. It is absurd to dream of peace and world-wide
progress without that much control. These things assured the abilities
and energies of a greatly increased proportion of human beings could
be diverted to the happy activities of scientific research and
creative work, with an ever-increasing release and enlargement of
human possibility. On the political side it is plain that our lives
must be given to the advancement of that union.

Such a forward stride in human life, the first stride in a mighty
continuing advance, an advance to which no limit appears, is now not
simply materially possible. It is urgent. The opportunity is plain
before mankind. It is the alternative to social decay. But there is no
certainty, no material necessity, that it should ever be taken. It
will not be taken by mankind inadvertently. It can only be taken
through such an organization of will and energy to take it as this
world has never seen before.

These are the new imperatives that unfold themselves before the more
alert minds of our generation. They will presently become the general
mental background, as the modern interpretations of the history
of life and of the material and mental possibilities about us
establish themselves. Evil political, social, and economic usages
and arrangements may seem obdurate and huge, but they are neither
permanent nor uncontrollable. They can be controlled, however, only by
an effort more powerful and determined than the instincts and inertias
that sustain them. Religion, modern and disillusioned, has for its
outward task to set itself to the control and direction of political,
social, and economic life. If it does not do that, then it is no more
than a drug for easing discomfort, "the opium of the peoples."

Can religion, or can it not, synthesize the needed effort to lift
mankind out of our present disorders, dangers, baseness, frustrations,
and futilities to a phase of relative security, accumulating
knowledge, systematic and continuing growth in power and the
widespread, deep happiness of hopeful and increasing life?

Our answer here is that the religious spirit, in the light of modern
knowledge, can do this thing, and our subject now is to enquire what
are the necessary opening stages in the synthesis of that effort. We
write, from this point onward, for those who believe that it can, and
who do already grasp the implications of world history and
contemporary scientific achievement.


Before we can consider the forms and methods of attacking this
inevitable task of reconstruction it will be well to draw the main
lines and to attempt some measure of the magnitude of that task. What
are the new forms that it is thus proposed to impose upon human life,
and how are they to be evolved from or imposed upon the current forms?
And against what passive and active resistances has this to be done?

There can be no pause for replacement in the affairs of life. Day must
follow day, and the common activities continue. The new world as a
going concern must arise out of the old as a going concern.

Now the most comprehensive conception of this new world is of one
politically, socially, and economically unified. Within that frame
fall all the other ideas of our progressive ambition. To this end we
set our faces and seek to direct our lives. Many there are at present
who apprehend it as a possibility but do not _dare_, it seems, to
desire it, because of the enormous difficulties that intervene, and
because they see as yet no intimations of a way through or round these
difficulties. They do not see a way of escape from the patchwork of
governments that grips them and divides mankind. The great majority of
human beings have still to see the human adventure as one whole; they
are obsessed by the air of permanence and finality in established
things; they accept current reality as ultimate reality. As the saying
goes, they take the world as they find it.

But here we are writing for the modern-minded, and for them it is
impossible to think of the world as secure and satisfactory until
there exists a single world commonweal, preventing war and controlling
those moral, biological, and economic forces and wastages that would
otherwise lead to wars. And controlling them in the sense that science
and man's realization and control of his powers and possibilities
continually increase.

Let us make clear what sort of government we are trying to substitute
for the patchwork of to-day. It will be a new sort of direction with a
new psychology. The method of direction of such a world commonweal is
not likely to imitate the methods of existing sovereign states. It
will be something new and altogether different.

This point is not yet generally realized. It is too often assumed that
the world commonweal will be, as it were, just the one heir and
survivor of existing states, and that it will be a sort of megatherium
of the same form and anatomy as its predecessors.

But a little reflection will show that this is a mistake. Existing
states are primarily militant states, and a world state cannot be
militant. There will be little need for president or king to lead the
marshalled hosts of humanity, for where there is no war there is no
need of any leader to lead hosts anywhere, and in a polyglot world a
parliament of mankind or any sort of council that meets and talks is
an inconceivable instrument of government. The voice will cease to be
a suitable vehicle. World government, like scientific process, will be
conducted by statement, criticism, and publication that will be
capable of efficient translation.

The fundamental organization of contemporary states is plainly still
military, and that is exactly what a world organization cannot be.
Flags, uniforms, national anthems, patriotism sedulously cultivated in
church and school, the brag, blare, and bluster of our competing
sovereignties, belong to the phase of development the Open Conspiracy
will supersede. We have to get clear of that clutter. The reasonable
desire of all of us is that we should have the collective affairs of
the world managed by suitably equipped groups of the most interested,
intelligent, and devoted people, and that their activities should be
subjected to a free, open, watchful criticism, restrained from making
spasmodic interruptions but powerful enough to modify or supersede
without haste or delay whatever is weakening or unsatisfactory in the
general direction.

A number of readers will be disposed to say that this is a very vague,
undefined, and complicated conception of world government. But indeed
it is a simplification. Not only are the present governments of the
world a fragmentary competitive confusion, but none of them is as
simple as it appears. They seem to be simple because they have formal
heads and definite forms, councils, voting assemblies, and so forth,
for arriving at decisions. But the formal heads, the kings,
presidents, and so forth, are really not the directive heads. They are
merely the figure heads. They do not decide. They merely make gestures
of potent and dignified acquiescence when decisions are put to them.
They are complicating shams. Nor do the councils and assemblies really
decide. They record, often very imperfectly and exasperatingly, the
accumulating purpose of outer forces. These outer really directive
forces are no doubt very intricate in their operation; they depend
finally on religious and educational forms and upon waves of
gregarious feeling, but it does not in the least simplify the process
of collective human activity to pretend that it is simple and to set
up symbols and dummies in the guise of rulers and dictators to embody
that pretence. To recognize the incurable intricacy of collective
action is a mental simplification; to remain satisfied with the
pretensions of existing governmental institutions, and to bring in all
the problems of their procedure and interaction is to complicate the

The present rudimentary development of collective psychology obliges
us to be vague and provisional about the way in which the collective
mind may best define its will for the purpose of administrative
action. We may know that a thing is possible and still be unable to
do it as yet, just as we knew that aviation was possible in 1900.
Some method of decision there must certainly be and a definite
administrative machinery. But it may turn out to be a much slighter,
less elaborate organization than a consideration of existing methods
might lead us to imagine. It may never become one single interlocking
administrative system. We may have systems of world control rather
than a single world state. The practical regulations, enforcements,
and officials needed to keep the world in good health, for example may
be only very loosely related to the system of controls that will
maintain its communications in a state of efficiency. Enforcement and
legal decisions, as we know them now, may be found to be enormously
and needlessly cumbrous by our descendants. As the reasonableness of
a thing is made plain, the need for its enforcement is diminished,
and the necessity for litigation disappears.

The Open Conspiracy, the world movement for the supercession or
enlargement or fusion of existing political, economic, and social
institutions must necessarily, as it grows, draw closer and closer to
questions of practical control. It is likely in its growth to
incorporate many active public servants and many industrial and
financial leaders and directors. It may assimilate great masses of
intelligent workers. As its activities spread it will work out a whole
system of special methods of co-operation. As it grows, and by
growing, it will learn the business of general direction and how to
develop its critical function. A lucid, dispassionate, and immanent
criticism is the primary necessity, the living spirit of a world
civilization. The Open Conspiracy is essentially such a criticism,
and the carrying out of such a criticism into working reality is the
task of the Open Conspiracy. It will by its very nature be aiming
not so much to set up a world direction, as to become itself a world
direction, and the educational and militant forms of its opening
phase will evoke, step by step, as experience is gained and power and
responsibility acquired, forms of administration and research and

The differences in nature and function between the world controls of
the future and the state governments of the present age which we have
just pointed out favours a hope that the Open Conspiracy may come
to its own in many cases rather by the fading out of these state
governments through the inhibition and paralysis of their destructive
militant and competitive activities than by a direct conflict to
overthrow them. As new world controls develop, it becomes the supreme
business of the Open Conspiracy to keep them world wide and impartial,
to save them by an incessant critical educational and propagandist
activity from entanglement with the old traditional rivalries and
feuds of states and nations. It is quite possible that such world
controls should be able to develop independently, but it is highly
probable, on the other hand, that they will continue to be entangled
as they are to-day, and that they will need to be disengaged with a
struggle. We repeat, the new directive organizations of men's affairs
will not be of the same nature as old-fashioned governments. They will
be in their nature biological, financial, and generally economic,
and the old governments were primarily nothing of the sort. Their
directive force will be (1) an effective criticism having the quality
of science, and (2) the growing will in men to have things right. The
directive force of the older governments was the uncriticized
fantasies and wilfulness of an individual, a class, a tribe, or a

The modernization of the religious impulse leads us straight to this
effort for the establishment of the world state as a duty, and the
close consideration of the necessary organization of that effort will
bring the reader to the conclusion that a movement aiming at the
establishment of a world directorate, however restricted that movement
may be at first in numbers and power, must either contemplate the
prospect of itself developing into a world directorate, and by the
digestion and assimilation of superseded factors into an entire modern
world community, or admit from the outset the futility, the spare-time
amateurishness, of its gestures.


Continuing our examination of the practical task before the modern
mind, we may next note the main lines of contemporary aspiration
within this comprehensive outline of a world commonweal. Any sort of
unification of human affairs will not serve the ends we seek. We aim
at a particular sort of unification; a world Caesar is hardly better
from the progressive viewpoint than world chaos; the unity we seek
must mean a world-wide liberation of thought, experiment and creative

A successful Open Conspiracy merely to seize governments and wield and
retain world power would be at best only the empty frame of success.
It might be the exact reverse of success. Release from the threat of
war and from the waste of international economic conflicts is a poor
release if it demands as its price the loss of all other liberties.

It is because we desire a unification of human direction, not simply
for the sake of unity, but as a means of release to happiness and
power, that it is necessary, at any cost--in delay, in loss of
effective force, in strategic or tactical disadvantage--that the light
of free, abundant criticism should play upon that direction and upon
the movements and unifying organizations leading to the establishment
of that unifying direction.

Man is an imperfect animal and never quite trustworthy in the dark.
Neither morally nor intellectually is he safe from lapses. Most of us
who are past our first youth know how little we can trust ourselves
and glad to have our activities checked and guarded by a sense of
helpful inspection. It is for this reason that a movement to realize
the conceivable better state of the world must deny itself the
advantages of secret methods and tactical insincerities. It must leave
that to its adversaries. We must declare our end plainly from the
outset and risk no misunderstandings of our procedure.

The Open Conspiracy against the traditional and now cramping and
dangerous institutions of the world must be an Open Conspiracy and
cannot remain righteous otherwise. It is lost if it goes underground.
Every step to world unity must be taken in the daylight with the
understanding sympathy of as many people as possible, or the sort of
unity that will be won will be found to be scarcely worth the winning.
The essential task would have to be recommenced again within the mere
frame of unity thus attained.

This candid attempt to take possession of the whole world, this Open
Conspiracy of ours, must be made in the name of and for the sake of
science and creative activity. Its aim is to release science and
creative activity and every stage in the struggle must be watched and
criticized, lest there be any sacrifice of these ends to the
exigencies of conflict.

The security of creative progress and creative activity implies a
competent regulation of the economic life in the collective interest.
There must be food, shelter and leisure for all. The fundamental needs
of the animal life must be assured before human life can have free
play. Man does not live by bread alone; he eats that he may learn and
adventure creatively, but unless he eats he cannot adventure. His life
is primarily economic, as a house is primarily a foundation, and
economic justice and efficiency must underlie all other activities;
but to judge human society and organize political and social
activities entirely on economic grounds is to forget the objectives of
life's campaign in a preoccupation with supply.

It is true that man, like the animal world in general from which he
has risen, is the creature of a struggle for sustenance, but unlike
the animals, man can resort to methods of escape from that competitive
pressure upon the means of subsistence, which has been the lot of
every other animal species. He can restrain the increase in his
numbers, and he seems capable of still quite undefined expansions of
his productivity per head of population. He can escape therefore from
the struggle for subsistence altogether with a surplus of energy such
as no other kind of animal species has ever possessed. Intelligent
control of population is a possibility which puts man outside
competitive processes that have hitherto ruled the modification of
species, and he can be released from these processes in no other way.

There is a clear hope that, later, directed breeding will come within
his scope, but that goes beyond his present range of practical
achievement, and we need not discuss it further here. Suffice it for
us here that the world community of our desires, the organized world
community conducting and ensuring its own progress, requires a
deliberate collective control of population as a primary condition.

There is no strong instinctive desire for multitudinous offspring, as
such, in the feminine make-up. The reproductive impulses operate
indirectly. Nature ensures a pressure of population through passions
and instincts that, given sufficient knowledge, intelligence, and
freedom on the part of women, can be satisfactorily gratified and
tranquillized, if need be, without the production of numerous
children. Very slight adjustments in social and economic arrangements
will, in a world of clear available knowledge and straightforward
practice in these matters, supply sufficient inducement or
discouragement to affect the general birth rate or the birth rate of
specific types as the directive sense of the community may consider
desirable. So long as the majority of human beings are begotten
involuntarily in lust and ignorance so long does man remain like any
other animal under the moulding pressure of competition for
subsistence. Social and political processes change entirely in their
character when we recognize the possibility and practicability of this
fundamental revolution in human biology.

In a world so relieved, the production of staple necessities presents
a series of problems altogether less distressful than those of the
present scramble for possessions and self-indulgence on the part of
the successful, and for work and a bare living on the part of the
masses. With the increase of population unrestrained, there was, as
the end of the economic process, no practical alternative to a
multitudinous equality at the level of bare subsistence, except
through such an inequality of economic arrangements as allowed a
minority to maintain a higher standard of life by withholding whatever
surplus of production it could grasp, from consumption in mere
proletarian breeding. In the past and at present, what is called the
capitalist system, that is to say the unsystematic exploitation of
production by private owners under the protection of the law, has, on
the whole, in spite of much waste and conflict, worked beneficially by
checking that gravitation to a universal low-grade consumption which
would have been the inevitable outcome of a socialism oblivious of
biological processes. With effective restraint upon the increase of
population, however, entirely new possibilities open out before

The besetting vice of economic science, orthodox and unorthodox alike,
has been the vice of beginning in the air, with current practice and
current convictions, with questions of wages, prices, values, and
possession, when the profounder issues of human association are really
not to be found at all on these levels. The primary issues of human
association are biological and psychological, and the essentials of
economics are problems in applied physics and chemistry. The first
thing we should examine is what we want to do with natural resources,
and the next, how to get men to do what has to be done as pleasurably
and effectively as possible. Then we should have a standard by which
to judge the methods of to-day.

But the academic economists, and still more so Marx and his followers,
refuse to deal with these fundamentals, and, with a stupid pose of
sound practical wisdom, insist on opening up their case with an
uncritical acceptance of the common antagonism of employers and
employed and a long rigmarole about profits and wages. Ownership and
expropriated labour are only one set of many possible sets of economic

The economists, however, will attend seriously only to the current
set; the rest they ignore; and the Marxists, with their uncontrollable
disposition to use nicknames in the place of judgments, condemn all
others as "Utopian"--a word as final in its dismissal from the minds
of the elect as that other pet counter in the Communist substitute for
thought, "Bourgeois." If they can persuade themselves that an idea or
a statement is "Utopian" or "Bourgeois," it does not seem to matter in
the least to them whether it is right or wrong. It is disposed of.
Just as in genteeler circles anything is disposed of that can be
labelled "atheistical", "subversive" or "disloyal."

If a century and a half ago the world had submitted its problems of
transport to the economists, they would have put aside, with as little
wasted breath and ink as possible, all talk about railways, motorcars,
steamships, and aeroplanes, and, with a fine sense of extravagance
rebuked, set themselves to long neuralgic dissertations, disputations,
and treatises upon highroads and the methods of connecting them,
turnpike gates, canals, influence of lock fees on bargemen, tidal
landing places, anchorages, surplus carrying capacity, carriers,
caravans, hand-barrows, and the pedestrianariat. There would have been
a rapid and easy differentiation in feeling and requirements between
the horse-owning minority and the walking majority; the wrongs of the
latter would have tortured the mind of every philosopher who could not
ride, and been minimized by every philosopher who could; and there
would have been a broad rift between the narrow-footpath school, the
no-footpath school, and the school which would look forward to a time
when every horse would have to be led along one universal footpath
under the dictatorship of the pedestrianariat. All with the
profoundest gravity and dignity. These things, footpaths and roads and
canals with their traffic, were "real," and "Utopian" projects for
getting along at thirty or forty miles an hour or more uphill and
against wind and tide, let alone the still more incredible suggestion
of air transport, would have been smiled and sneered out of court.
Life went about on its with a certain assistance from wheels, or
floated, rowed and was blown about on water; so it had been--and so it
would always be.

The psychology of economic co-operation is still only dawning, and so
the economists and the doctrinaire socialists have had the freest
range for pedantry and authoritative pomp. For a hundred years they
have argued and argued about "rent," about "surplus value," and so on,
and have produced a literature ten thousand times as bulky, dreary,
and foolish as the worst outpourings of the mediaeval schoolmen.

But as soon as this time-honoured preoccupation with the allotment of
the shares of originators, organizers, workers, owners of material,
credit dealers, and tax collectors in the total product, ceases to be
dealt with as the primary question in economics; as soon as we
liberate our minds from a preoccupation which from the outset
necessarily makes that science a squabble rather than a science, and
begin our attack upon the subject with a survey of the machinery and
other productive material required in order that the staple needs of
mankind should be satisfied, if we go on from that to consider the way
in which all this material and machinery can be worked and the product
distributed with the least labour and the greatest possible
satisfaction, we shift our treatment of economic questions towards
standards by which all current methods of exploitation, employment,
and finance can be judged rather than wrangled over. We can dismiss
the question of the claims of this sort of participant or that, for
later and subordinate consideration, and view each variety of human
assistance in the general effort entirely from the standpoint of what
makes that assistance least onerous and most effective.

The germs of such really scientific economics exist already in the
study of industrial organization and industrial psychology. As the
science of industrial psychology in particular develops, we shall
find all this discussion of ownership, profit, wages, finance, and
accumulation, which has been treated hitherto as the primary issues
of economics, falling into place under the larger enquiry of
what conventions in these matters, what system of money and what
conceptions of property, yield the greatest stimulus and the least
friction in that world-wide system of co-operation which must
constitute the general economic basis to the activities of a unified

Manifestly the supreme direction of the complex of human economic
activities in such a world must centre upon a bureau of information
and advice, which will take account of all the resources of the
planet, estimate current needs, apportion productive activities and
control distribution. The topographical and geological surveys of
modern civilized communities, their government maps, their periodic
issue of agricultural and industrial statistics, are the first crude
and unco-ordinated beginnings of such an economic world intelligence.
In the propaganda work of David Lubin, a pioneer whom mankind must not
forget, and in his International Institute of Agriculture in Rome,
there were the beginnings of an impartial review month by month and
year by year of world production, world needs and world transport.
Such a great central organization of economic science would
necessarily produce direction; it would indicate what had best be done
here, there, and everywhere, solve general tangles, examine, approve
and initiate fresh methods and arrange the transitional process from
old to new. It would not be an organization of will, imposing its will
upon a reluctant or recalcitrant race; it would be a direction, just
as a map is a direction.

A map imposes no will on anyone, breaks no one in to its "policy." And
yet we obey our maps.

The will to have the map full, accurate, and up to date, and the
determination to have its indications respected, would have to pervade
the whole community. To nourish and sustain that will must be the task
not of any particular social or economic division of the community,
but of the whole body of right-minded people in that community. The
organization and preservation of that power of will is the primary
undertaking, therefore, of a world revolution aiming at universal
peace, welfare and happy activity. And through that will it will
produce as the central organ the brain of the modern community, a
great encyclopaedic organization, kept constantly up to date and giving
approximate estimates and directions for all the material activities
of mankind.

The older and still prevalent conception of government is bullying,
is the breaking-in and subjugation of the "subject," to the God, or
king, or lords of the community. Will-bending, the overcoming of the
recalcitrant junior and inferior, was an essential process in the
establishment of primitive societies, and its tradition still
rules our education and law. No doubt there must be a necessary
accommodation of the normal human will to every form of society;
no man is innately virtuous; but compulsion and restraint are the
friction of the social machine and, other things being equal, the less
compulsive social arrangements are, the more willingly, naturally, and
easily they are accepted, the less wasteful of moral effort and the
happier that community will be. The ideal state, other things being
equal, is the state with the fewest possible number of will fights and
will suppressions. This must be a primary consideration in arranging
the economic, biological, and mental organization of the world
community at which we aim.

We have advanced the opinion that the control of population pressure
is practicable without any violent conflict with "human nature," that
given a proper atmosphere of knowledge and intention, there need be
far less suppression of will in relation to production than prevails
to-day. In the same way, it is possible that the general economic life
of mankind may be made universally satisfactory that there may be an
abundance out of all comparison greater than the existing supply of
things necessary for human well-being, freedom, and activity, with not
merely not more, but infinitely less subjugation and enslavement than
now occurs. Man is still but half born out of the blind struggle for
existence, and his nature still partakes of the infinite wastefulness
of his mother Nature. He has still to learn how to price the
commodities he covets in terms of human life. He is indeed only
beginning to realize that there is anything to be learnt in that
matter. He wastes will and human possibility extravagantly in his
current economic methods.

We know nowadays that the nineteenth century expended a great wealth
of intelligence upon a barren controversy between Individualism and
Socialism. They were treated as mutually exclusive alternatives,
instead of being questions of degree. Human society has been is
and always must be an intricate system of adjustments between
unconditional liberty and the disciplines and subordinations of
co-operative enterprise. Affairs do not move simply from a more
individualist to a more socialist state or vice versa; there may be a
release of individual initiative going on here and standardization or
restraint increasing there. Personal property never can be socially
guaranteed as the extremer individualists desired, nor can it be
"abolished" as the extremer socialists proposed. Property is not
robbery, as Proudhon asserted; it is the protection of things against
promiscuous and mainly wasteful use. Property is not necessarily
personal. In some cases property may restrict or forbid a use of
things that could be generally advantageous, and it may be and is
frequently unfair in its assignment of initiative, but the remedy for
that is not an abolition but a revision of property. In the concrete
it is a form necessary for liberty of action upon material, while
abstracted as money, which is a liquidated generalized form of
property; it is a ticket for individual liberty of movement and
individual choice of reward.

The economic history of mankind is a history of the operation of
the idea of property; it relates the conflict of the unlimited
acquisitiveness of egoistic individuals against the resentment of the
disinherited and unsuccessful and the far less effective consciousness
of a general welfare. Money grew out of a system of abstracting
conventions and has been subjected to a great variety of restrictions,
monopolizations, and regulations. It has never been an altogether
logical device, and it has permitted the most extensive and
complex developments of credit, debt, and dispossession. All these
developments have brought with them characteristic forms of misuse and
corruption. The story is intricate, and the tangle of relationships,
of dependence, of pressure, of interception, of misdirected services,
crippling embarrassments, and crushing obligations in which we live
to-day admits of no such simple and general solutions as many
exponents of socialism, for example, seem to consider possible.

But the thought and investigations of the past century or so have made
it clear that a classification of property, according to the nature of
the rights exercisable and according to the range of ownership
involved, must be the basis of any system of social justice in the

Certain things, the ocean, the air, rare wild animals, must be the
collective property of all mankind and cannot be altogether safe until
they are so regarded, and until some concrete body exists to exercise
these proprietary rights. Whatever collective control exists must
protect these universal properties, the sea from derelicts, the
strange shy things of the wild from extermination by the hunter and
the foolish collector. The extinction of many beautiful creatures is
one of the penalties our world is paying for its sluggishness in
developing a collective common rule. And there are many staple things
and general needs that now also demand a unified control in the common
interest. The raw material of the earth should be for all, not to be
monopolized by any acquisitive individual or acquisitive sovereign
state, and not to be withheld from exploitation for the general
benefit of any chance claims to territorial priority of this or that
backward or bargaining person or tribe.

In the past, most of these universal concerns have had to be left to
the competitive enterprise of profit-seeking individuals because there
were as yet no collectivities organized to the pitch of ability needed
to develop and control these concerns, but surely nobody in his senses
believes that the supply and distribution of staple commodities about
the earth by irresponsible persons and companies working entirely for
monetary gain is the best possible method from the point of view of
the race as a whole. The land of the earth, all utilizable natural
products, have fallen very largely under the rules and usages of
personal property because in the past that was the only recognized and
practicable form of administrative proprietorship. The development
both of extensive proprietary companies and of government departments
with economic functions has been a matter of the last few centuries,
the development, that is to say, of communal, more or less impersonal
ownership, and it is only through these developments that the idea of
organized collectivity of proprietorship has become credible.

Even in quite modern state enterprises there is a tendency to recall
the rôle of the vigilant, jealous, and primitive personal proprietor
in the fiction of ownership by His Majesty the King. In Great Britain,
for example, Georgius Rex is still dimly supposed to hover over the
Postmaster General of his Post Office, approve, disapprove, and call
him to account. But the Postal Union of the world which steers a
registered letter from Chile to Norway or from Ireland to Pekin is
almost completely divorced from the convention of an individual owner.
It works; it is criticized without awe or malice. Except for the
stealing and steaming of letters practised by the political police of
various countries, it works fairly well. And the only force behind it
to keep it working well is the conscious common sense of mankind.

But when we have stipulated for the replacement of individual private
ownership by more highly organized forms of collective ownership,
subject to free criticism and responsible to the whole republic of
mankind, in the general control of sea and land, in the getting,
preparation, and distribution of staple products and in transport,
we have really named all the possible generalizations of concrete
ownership that the most socialistic of contemporaries will be disposed
to demand. And if we add to that the necessary maintenance of a money
system by a central world authority upon a basis that will make money
keep faith with the worker who earns it, and represent from first to
last for him the value in staple commodities he was given to
understand it was to have, and if we conceive credit adequately
controlled in the general interest by a socialized world banking
organization, we shall have defined the entire realm from which
individual property and unrestricted individual enterprise have been
excluded. Beyond that, the science of social psychology will probably
assure us that the best work will be done for the world by individuals
free to exploit their abilities as they wish. If the individual
landowner or mineral-owner disappears altogether from the world,
he will probably be replaced over large areas by tenants with
considerable security of tenure, by householders and by licensees
under collective proprietors. It will be the practice, the recognized
best course, to allow the cultivator to profit as fully as possible
by his own individual productivity and to leave the householder to
fashion his house and garden after his own desire.

Such in the very broadest terms is the character of the world
commonweal towards which the modern imagination is moving, so far as
its direction and economic life are concerned. The organization of
collective bodies capable of exercising these wider proprietorships,
which cannot be properly used in the common interest by uncorrelated
individual owners, is the positive practical problem before the
intelligent portion of mankind to-day. The nature of such collective
bodies is still a series of open questions, even upon such points as
whether they will be elected bodies or groups deriving their authority
from other sanctions. Their scope and methods of operation, their
relations to one another and to the central bureau of intelligence,
remain also to be defined. But before we conclude this essay we may be
able to find precisions for at least the beginning of such definition.

Nineteenth-century socialism in its various forms, including the
highly indurated formulae of communism, has been a series of projects
for the establishment of such collective controls, for the most part
very sketchy projects from which the necessary factor of a sound
psychological analysis was almost completely wanting. Primarily
movements of protest and revolt against the blazing injustices arising
out of the selfishly individualistic exploitation of the new and more
productive technical and financial methods of the eighteenth and
nineteenth centuries, they have been apt to go beyond the limits of
reasonable socialization in their demands and to minimize absurdly
the difficulties and dangers of collective control. Indignation and
impatience were their ruling moods, and if they constructed little
they exposed much. We are better able to measure the magnitude of the
task before us because of the clearances and lessons achieved by these
pioneer movements.


This unified world towards which the Open Conspiracy would direct
its activities cannot be pictured for the reader as any static and
stereotyped spectacle of happiness. Indeed, one may doubt if such a
thing as happiness is possible without steadily changing conditions
involving continually enlarging and exhilarating opportunities.
Mankind, released from the pressure of population, the waste of
warfare and the private monopolization of the sources of wealth, will
face the universe with a great and increasing surplus of will and
energy. Change and novelty will be the order of life; each day will
differ from its predecessor in its great amplitude of interest. Life
which was once routine, endurance, and mischance will become adventure
and discovery. It will no longer be "the old, old story."

We have still barely emerged from among the animals in their
struggle for existence. We live only in the early dawn of human
self-consciousness and in the first awakening of the spirit of
mastery. We believe that the persistent exploration of our outward
and inward worlds by scientific and artistic endeavour will lead to
developments of power and activity upon which at present we can set
no limits nor give any certain form.

Our antagonists are confusion of mind, want of courage, want of
curiosity and want of imagination, indolence, and spendthrift egotism.
These are the enemies against which the Open Conspiracy arrays itself;
these are the jailers of human freedom and achievement.


This open and declared intention of establishing a world order out of
the present patchwork of particularist governments, of effacing the
militarist conceptions that have hitherto given governments their
typical form, and of removing credit and the broad fundamental
processes of economic life out of reach of private profit-seeking and
individual monopolization, which is the substance of this Open
Conspiracy to which the modern religious mind must necessarily address
its practical activities, cannot fail to arouse enormous opposition.
It is not a creative effort in a clear field; it is a creative effort
that can hardly stir without attacking established things. It is
the repudiation of drift, of "leaving things alone." It criticizes
everything in human life from the top to the bottom and finds
everything not good enough. It strikes at the universal human desire
to feel that things are "all right."

One might conclude, and it would be a hasty, unsound conclusion, that
the only people to whom we could look for sympathy and any passionate
energy in forwarding the revolutionary change would be the unhappy,
the discontented, the dispossessed, and the defeated in life's
struggle. This idea lies at the root of the class-war dogmas of the
Marxists, and it rests on an entirely crude conception of human
nature. The successful minority is supposed to have no effective
motive but a desire to retain and intensify its advantages. A quite
imaginary solidarity to that end is attributed to it, a preposterous,
base class activity. On the other hand, the unsuccessful
mass--"proletariat"--is supposed to be capable of a clear apprehension
of its disadvantages, and the more it is impoverished and embittered,
the clearer-minded it becomes, and the nearer draws its uprising, its
constructive "dictatorship," and the Millennium.

No doubt a considerable amount of truth is to be found in this theory
of the Marxist revolution. Human beings, like other animals, are
disposed to remain where their circumstances are tolerable and to
want change when they are uncomfortable, and so a great proportion
of the people who are "well off" want little or no change in present
conditions, particularly those who are too dull to be bored by an
unprogressive life, while a great proportion of those who actually
feel the inconveniences of straitened means and population pressure,
do. But much vaster masses of the rank and file of humanity are
accustomed to inferiority and dispossession, they do not feel these
things to the extent even of desiring change, or even if they do feel
their disadvantages, they still fear change more than they dislike
their disadvantages. Moreover, those who are sufficiently distressed
to realize that "something ought to be done about it" are much more
disposed to childish and threatening demands upon heaven and the
government for redress and vindictive and punitive action against the
envied fortunate with whom they happen to be in immediate contact,
than to any reaction towards such complex, tentative, disciplined
constructive work as alone can better the lot of mankind. In practice
Marxism is found to work out in a ready resort to malignantly
destructive activities, and to be so uncreative as to be practically
impotent in the face of material difficulties. In Russia, where--in
and about the urban centres, at least--Marxism has been put to the
test, the doctrine of the Workers' Republic remains as a unifying
cant, a test of orthodoxy of as little practical significance there as
the communism of Jesus and communion with Christ in Christendom, while
beneath this creed a small oligarchy which has attained power by its
profession does its obstinate best, much hampered by the suspicion and
hostility of the Western financiers and politicians, to carry on a
series of interesting and varyingly successful experiments in the
socialization of economic life. Here we have no scope to discuss the
N.E.P. and the Five Year Plan. They are dealt with in _The Work,
Wealth, and Happiness of Mankind_. Neither was properly Communist. The
Five Year Plan is carried out as an autocratic state capitalism. Each
year shows more and more clearly that Marxism and Communism are
divagations from the path of human progress and that the line of
advance must follow a course more intricate and less flattering to the
common impulses of our nature.

The one main strand of truth in the theory of social development woven
by Marx and Engels is that successful, comfortable people are disposed
to dislike, obstruct and even resist actively any substantial changes
in the current patchwork of arrangements, however great the ultimate
dangers of that patchwork may be or the privations and sufferings of
other people involved in it. The one main strand of error in that
theory is the facile assumption that the people at a disadvantage will
be stirred to anything more than chaotic and destructive expressions
of resentment. If now we reject the error and accept the truth, we
lose the delusive comfort of belief in that magic giant, the
Proletariat, who will dictate, arrange, restore, and create, but we
clear the way for the recognition of an elite of intelligent,
creative-minded people scattered through the whole community, and for
a study of the method of making this creative element effective in
human affairs against the massive oppositions of selfishness and
unimaginative self-protective conservatism.

Now, certain classes of people such as thugs and burglars seem to be
harmful to society without a redeeming point about them, and others,
such as racecourse bookmakers, seem to provide the minimum of
distraction and entertainment with a maximum of mischief. Wilful
idlers are a mere burthen on the community. Other social classes
again, professional soldiers, for example, have a certain traditional
honourableness which disguises the essentially parasitic relationship
of their services to the developing modern community. Armies and
armaments are cancers produced by the malignant development of the
patriotic virus under modern conditions of exaggeration and mass
suggestion. But since there are armies prepared to act coercively in
the world to-day, it is necessary that the Open Conspiracy should
develop within itself the competence to resist military coercion and
combat and destroy armies that stand in the way of its emergence.
Possibly the first two types here instanced may be condemned as
classes and excluded as classes from any participation in the
organized effort to recast the world, but quite obviously the soldier
cannot. The world commonweal will need its own scientific methods of
protection so long as there are people running about the planet with
flags and uniforms and weapons, offering violence to their fellow men
and interfering with the free movements of commodities in the name of
national sovereignty.

And when we come to the general functioning classes, landowners,
industrial organizers, bankers, and so forth, who control the present
system, such as it is, it should be still plainer that it is very
largely from the ranks of these classes, and from their stores of
experience and traditions of method, that the directive forces of the
new order must emerge. The Open Conspiracy can have nothing to do with
the heresy that the path of human progress lies through an extensive
class war.

Let us consider, for example, how the Open Conspiracy stands to such a
complex of activities, usages, accumulations, advantages as
constitutes the banking world. There are no doubt many bankers and
many practices in banking which make for personal or group advantage to
the general detriment. They forestall, monopolize, constrain, and
extort, and so increase their riches. And another large part of that
banking world follows routine and established usage; it is carrying on
and keeping things going, and it is neither inimical nor conducive to
the development of a progressive world organization of finance. But
there remains a residuum of original and intelligent people in banking
or associated with banking or mentally interested in banking, who do
realize that banking plays a very important, interesting part in the
world's affairs, who are curious about their own intricate function
and disposed towards a scientific investigation of its origins,
conditions, and future possibilities. Such types move naturally
towards the Open Conspiracy. Their enquiries carry them inevitably
outside the bankers' habitual field to an examination of the nature,
drift, and destiny of the entire economic process.

Now the theme of the preceding paragraph might be repeated with
variations through a score of paragraphs in which appropriate
modifications would adapt it to the industrial organizer, the merchant
and organizer of transport, the advertiser, the retail distributor,
the agriculturalist, the engineer, the builder, the economic chemist,
and a number of other types functional in the contemporary community.
In all we should distinguish firstly a base and harmful section, then
a mediocre section following established usage, and lastly, an active,
progressive section to whom we turn naturally for developments leading
towards the progressive world commonweal of our desires. And our
analysis might penetrate further than separation into types of
individuals. In nearly every individual instance we should find a
mixed composition, a human being of fluctuating moods and confused
purposes, sometimes base, sometimes drifting with the tide and
sometimes alert and intellectually and morally quickened. The Open
Conspiracy must be content to take a fraction of a man, as it appeals
to fractions of many classes, if it cannot get him altogether.

This idea of drawing together a proportion of all or nearly all the
functional classes in contemporary communities in order to weave the
beginnings of a world community out of their selection is a fairly
obvious one--and yet it has still to win practical recognition. Man is
a morbidly gregarious and partisan creature; he is deep in his
immediate struggles and stands by his own kind because in so doing he
defends himself; the industrialist is best equipped to criticize his
fellow industrialist, but he finds the root of all evil in the banker;
the wages worker shifts the blame for all social wrongs on the
"employing class." There is an element of exasperation in most
economic and social reactions, and there is hardly a reforming or
revolutionary movement in history which is not essentially an
indiscriminate attack of one functioning class or type upon another,
on the assumption that the attacked class is entirely to blame for the
clash and that the attacking class is self-sufficient in the
commonweal and can dispense with its annoying collaborator. A
considerable element of justice usually enters into such
recriminations. But the Open Conspiracy cannot avail itself of these
class animosities for its driving force. It can have, therefore, no
uniform method of approach. For each class it has a conception of
modification and development, and each class it approaches therefore
at a distinctive angle. Some classes, no doubt, it would supersede
altogether; others--the scientific investigator, for example--it must
regard as almost wholly good and seek only to multiply and empower,
but it can no more adopt the prejudices and extravagances of any
particular class as its basis than it can adopt the claims of any
existing state or empire.

When it is clearly understood that the binding links of the Open
Conspiracy we have in mind are certain broad general ideas, and
that--except perhaps in the case of scientific workers--we have no
current set of attitudes of mind and habits of activity which we can
turn over directly and unmodified to the service of the conspiracy, we
are in a position to realize that the movement we contemplate must
from the outset be diversified in its traditions and elements and
various in its methods. It must fight upon several fronts and with
many sorts of equipment. It will have a common spirit, but it is quite
conceivable that between many of its contributory factors there may be
very wide gaps in understanding and sympathy. It is no sort of simple


We have now stated broadly but plainly the idea of the world
commonweal which is the objective of the Open Conspiracy, and we have
made a preliminary examination of the composition of that movement,
showing that it must be necessarily not a class development, but a
convergence of many different sorts of people upon a common idea. Its
opening task must be the elaboration, exposition, and propaganda of
this common idea, a steady campaign to revolutionize education and
establish a modern ideology in men's minds and, arising out of this,
the incomparably vaster task of the realization of its ideas.

These are tasks not to be done _in vacuo_; they have to be done in a
dense world of crowding, incessant, passionate, unco-ordinated
activities, the world of market and newspaper, seed-time and harvest,
births, deaths, jails, hospitals, riots, barracks and army manoeuvres,
false prophets and royal processions, games and shows, fire, storm,
pestilence, earthquake, war. Every day and every hour things will be
happening to help or thwart, stimulate or undermine, obstruct or
defeat the creative effort to set up the world commonweal.

Before we go on to discuss the selection and organization of these
heterogeneous and mainly religious impulses upon which we rest our
hopes of a greater life for mankind, before we plan how these impulses
may be got together into a system of co-ordinated activities, it will
be well to review the main antagonistic forces with which, from its
very inception, the Open Conspiracy will be--is now--in conflict.

To begin with, we will consider these forces as they present
themselves in the highly developed Western European States of to-day
and in their American derivatives, derivatives which, in spite of the
fact that in most cases they have far outgrown their lands of origin,
still owe a large part of their social habits and political
conceptions to Europe. All these States touch upon the Atlantic or its
contributory seas; they have all grown to their present form since the
discovery of America; they have a common tradition rooting in the
ideas of Christendom and a generic resemblance of method. Economically
and socially they present what is known in current parlance as the
Capitalist system, but it will relieve us of a considerable load of
disputatious matter if we call them here simply the "Atlantic"
civilizations and communities.

The consideration of these Atlantic civilizations in relation to the
coming world civilization will suffice for the present chapter.
Afterwards we will consider the modification of the forces
antagonistic to the Open Conspiracy as they display themselves beyond
the formal confines of these now dominant states in the world's
affairs, in the social systems weakened and injured by their
expansion, and among such less highly organized communities as still
survive from man's savage and barbaric past.

The Open Conspiracy is not necessarily antagonistic to any existing
government. The Open Conspiracy is a creative, organizing movement and
not an anarchistic one. It does not want to destroy existing controls
and forms of human association, but either to supersede or amalgamate
them into a common world directorate. If constitutions, parliaments,
and kings can be dealt with as provisional institutions, trustees for
the coming of age of the world commonweal, and in so far as they are
conducted in that spirit, the Open Conspiracy makes no attack upon

But most governments will not set about their business as in any way
provisional they and their supporters insist upon a reverence and
obedience which repudiate any possibility of supersession. What should
be an instrument becomes a divinity. In nearly every country of the
world there is, in deference to the pretended necessities of a
possible war, a vast degrading and dangerous cultivation of loyalty
and mechanical subservience to flags, uniforms, presidents, and kings.
A president or king who does his appointed work well and righteously
is entitled to as much subservience as a bricklayer who does his work
well and righteously and to no more, but instead there is a sustained
endeavour to give him the privileges of an idol above criticism or
reproach, and the organized worship of flags has become--with changed
conditions of intercourse and warfare--an entirely evil misdirection
of the gregarious impulses of our race. Emotion and sentimentality are
evoked in the cause of disciplines and co-operations that could quite
easily be sustained and that are better sustained by rational

The Open Conspiracy is necessarily opposed to all such implacable
loyalties, and still more so to the aggressive assertion and
propaganda of such loyalties. When these things take the form of
suppressing reasonable criticism and forbidding even the suggestion of
other forms of government, they become plainly antagonists to any
comprehensive project for human welfare. They become manifestly, from
the wider point of view, seditious, and loyalty to "king and country"
passes into plain treason to mankind. Almost everywhere, at present,
educational institutions organize barriers in the path of progress,
and there are only the feeblest attempts at any counter education that
will break up these barriers. There is little or no effort to restrain
the aggressive nationalist when he waves his flag against the welfare
of our race, or to protect the children of the world from the
infection of his enthusiasms. And this last is as true now of the
American system as it is of any European State.

In the great mass of the modern community there is little more than a
favourable acquiescence in patriotic ideas and in the worship of
patriotic symbols, and that is based largely on such training. These
things are not necessary things for the generality of to-day. A change
of mental direction would be possible for the majority of people now
without any violent disorganization of their intimate lives or any
serious social or economic readjustments for them. Mental infection in
such cases could be countered by mental sanitation. A majority of
people in Europe, and a still larger majority in the United States and
the other American Republics, could become citizens of the world
without any serious hindrance to their present occupations, and with
an incalculably vast increase of their present security.

But there remains a net of special classes in every community, from
kings to custom-house officers, far more deeply involved in patriotism
because it is their trade and their source of honour, and prepared in
consequence with an instinctive resistance to any reorientation of
ideas towards a broader outlook. In the case of such people no mental
sanitation is possible without dangerous and alarming changes in their
way of living. For the majority of these patriots by _métier_, the
Open Conspiracy unlocks the gates leading from a fussy paradise of
eminence, respect, and privilege,--and motions them towards an austere
wilderness which does not present even the faintest promise of a
congenial, distinguished life for them. Nearly everything in human
nature will dispose them to turn away from these gates which open
towards the world peace, to bang-to and lock them again if they can,
and to grow thickets as speedily as possible to conceal them and get
them forgotten. The suggestion of being trustees in a transition will
seem to most of such people only the camouflage of an ultimate

From such classes of patriots by _métier_, it is manifest that the
Open Conspiracy can expect only opposition. It may detach individuals
from them, but only by depriving them of their essential class
loyalties and characteristics. The class as a class will remain none
the less antagonistic. About royal courts and presidential residences,
in diplomatic, consular, military, and naval circles, and wherever
people wear titles and uniforms and enjoy pride and precedences based
on existing political institutions, there will be the completest
general inability to grasp the need for the Open Conspiracy. These
people and their womankind, their friends and connections, their
servants and dependents, are fortified by time-honoured traditions of
social usage, of sentiment and romantic prestige. They will insist
that they are reality and Cosmopolis a dream. Only individuals of
exceptional liveliness, rare intellectual power, and innate moral
force can be expected to break away from the anti-progressive habits
such class conditions impose upon them.

This tangle of traditions and loyalties, of interested trades and
professions, of privileged classes and official patriots, this complex
of human beings embodying very easy and natural and time-honoured
ideas of eternal national separation and unending international and
class conflict, is the main objective of the Open Conspiracy in its
opening phase. This tangle must be disentangled as the Open Conspiracy
advances, and until it is largely disentangled and cleared up that
Open Conspiracy cannot become anything very much more than a desire
and a project.

This tangle of "necessary patriots," as one may call them, is
different in its nature, less intricate and extensive proportionally
in the United States and the States of Latin America, than it is in
the old European communities, but it is none the less virulent in its
action on that account. It is only recently that military and naval
services have become important factors in American social life, and
the really vitalizing contact of the interested patriot and the State
has hitherto centred mainly upon the custom house and the concession.
Instead of a mellow and romantic loyalty to "king and country" the
American thinks simply of America and his flag.

The American exaggeration of patriotism began as a resistance to
exploitation from overseas. Even when political and fiscal freedom
were won, there was a long phase of industrial and financial
dependence. The American's habits of mind, in spite of his recent
realization of the enormous power and relative prosperity of the
United States and of the expanding possibilities of their Spanish and
Portuguese-speaking neighbours, are still largely self-protective
against a now imaginary European peril. For the first three quarters
of the nineteenth century the people of the American continent, and
particularly the people of the United States, felt the industrial and
financial ascendancy of Great Britain and had a reasonable fear of
European attacks upon their continent. A growing tide of immigrants of
uncertain sympathy threatened their dearest habits. Flag worship was
imposed primarily as a repudiation of Europe. Europe no longer looms
over America with overpowering intimations, American industries no
longer have any practical justification for protection, American
finance would be happier without it, but the patriotic interests are
so established now that they go on and will go on. No American
statesman who ventures to be cosmopolitan in his utterance and outlook
is likely to escape altogether from the raucous attentions of the
patriotic journalist.

We have said that the complex of classes in any country interested
in the current method of government is sustained by traditions and
impelled by its nature and conditions to protect itself against
exploratory criticism. It is therefore unable to escape from the forms
of competitive and militant nationalism in which it was evolved. It
cannot, without grave danger of enfeeblement, change any such innate
form. So that while parallel complexes of patriotic classes are found
in greater or less intricacy grouped about the flags and governments
of most existing states, these complexes are by their nature obliged
to remain separate, nationalist, and mutually antagonistic. You cannot
expect a world union of soldiers or diplomatists. Their existence and
nature depend upon the idea that national separation is real and
incurable, and that war, in the long run, is unavoidable. Their
conceptions of loyalty involve an antagonism to all foreigners,
even to foreigners of exactly the same types as themselves, and
make for a continual campaign of annoyances, suspicions, and
precautions--together with a general propaganda, affecting all other
classes, of the necessity of an international antagonism--that creeps
persistently towards war.

But while the methods of provoking war employed by the patriotic
classes are traditional, modern science has made a new and enormously
more powerful thing of warfare and, as the Great War showed, even the
most conservative generals on both sides are unable to prevent the
gigantic interventions of the mechanician and the chemist. So that a
situation is brought about in which the militarist element is unable
to fight without the support of the modern industrial organization and
the acquiescence of the great mass of people. We are confronted
therefore at the present time with the paradoxical situation that a
patriotic tradition sustains in power and authority warlike classes
who are quite incapable of carrying on war. The other classes to which
they must go for support when the disaster of war is actually achieved
are classes developed under peace conditions, which not only have no
positive advantage in war, but must, as a whole, suffer great
dislocation, discomfort, destruction, and distress from war. It is of
primary importance therefore, to the formally dominant classes that
these new social masses and powers should remain under the sway of the
old social, sentimental, and romantic traditions, and equally
important is it to the Open Conspiracy that they should be released.

Here we bring into consideration another great complex of persons,
interests, traditions--the world of education, the various religious
organizations, and, beyond these, the ramifying, indeterminate world
of newspapers and other periodicals, books, the drama, art, and all
the instruments of presentation and suggestion that mould opinion and
direct action. The sum of the operations of this complex will be
either to sustain or to demolish the old nationalist militant
ascendancy. Its easiest immediate course is to accept it. Educational
organizations on that account are now largely a conservative force in
the community; they are in most cases directly controlled by authority
and bound officially as well as practically to respect current fears
and prejudices. It evokes fewer difficulties for them if they limit
and mould rather than release the young. The schoolmaster tends,
therefore, to accept and standardize and stereotype, even in the
living, progressive fields of science and philosophy. Even there he is
a brake on the forward movement. It is clear that the Open Conspiracy
must either continually disturb and revivify him or else frankly
antagonize him. Universities also struggle between the honourable past
on which their prestige rests, and the need of adaptation to a world
of enquiry, experiment, and change. It is an open question whether
these particular organizations of intellectual prestige are of any
real value in the living world. A modern world planned de novo would
probably produce nothing like a contemporary university. Modern
research, one may argue, would be stimulated rather than injured by
complete detachment from the lingering mediaevalism of such
institutions, their entanglement with adolescent education, and their
ancient and contagious conceptions of precedence and honour.

Ordinary religious organizations, again, exist for self-preservation
and are prone to follow rather than direct the currents of popular
thought. They are kept alive, indeed, by revivalism and new departures
which at the outlet they are apt to resist, as the Catholic Church,
for instance, resisted the Franciscan awakening, but their formal
disposition is conservative. They say to religious development, thus
far and no farther.

Here, in school, college, and church, are activities of thought and
instruction which, generally speaking, drag upon the wheels of
progress, but which need not necessarily do so. A schoolmaster may be
original, stimulating, and creative, and if he is fortunate and a good
fighter he may even achieve considerable worldly success; university
teachers and investigators may strike out upon new lines and yet
escape destruction by the older dons. Universities compete against
other universities at home and abroad and cannot altogether yield to
the forces of dullness and subservience. They must maintain a certain
difference from vulgar opinion and a certain repute of intellectual

As we pass from the more organized to the less organized intellectual
activities, we find conservative influence declining in importance,
and a freer play for the creative drive. Freshness is a primary
condition of journalistic, literary, and artistic success, and
orthodoxy has nothing new to say or do. But the desire for freshness
may be satisfied all too readily by merely extravagant, superficial,
and incoherent inventions.

The influence of this old traditional nationalist social and political
hierarchy which blocks the way to the new world is not, however,
exerted exclusively through its control over schools and universities.
Nor is that indeed its more powerful activity. Would that it were
There is also a direct, less defined contact of the old order with the
nascent powers, that plays a far more effective part in delaying the
development of the modern world commonweal. Necessarily the old order
has determined the established way of life, which is, at its best,
large, comfortable, amusing, respected. It possesses all the entrances
and exits and all the controls of the established daily round. It is
able to exact, and it does exact, almost without design, many
conformities. There can be no very ample social life, therefore, for
those who are conspicuously dissentient. Again the old order has a
complete provision for the growth, welfare, and advancement of its
children. It controls the founts of honour and self-respect; it
provides a mapped-out world of behaviour. The new initiatives make
their appearance here and there in the form of isolated individuals,
here an inventor, there a bold organizer or a vigorous thinker. Apart
from his specific work the innovating type finds that he must fall in
with established things or his womenfolk will be ostracized, and he
will be distressed by a sense of isolation even in the midst of
successful activities. The more intensely he innovates in particular,
the more likely is he to be too busy to seek out kindred souls and
organize a new social life in general. The new things and ideas, even
when they arise abundantly, arise scattered and unorganized, and the
old order takes them in its net. America for example--both on its
Latin and on its English-speaking side--is in many ways a triumph of
the old order over the new.

Men like Winwood Reade thought that the New World would be indeed a
new world. They idealized its apparent emancipations. But as the more
successful of the toiling farmers and traders of republican America
rose one by one to affluence, leisure, and freedom, it was far more
easy for them to adopt the polished and prepared social patterns and
usages of Europe than to work out a new civilization in accordance
with their equalitarian professions. Yet there remains a gap in their
adapted "Society." Henry James, that acute observer of subtle social
flavours, has pointed out the peculiar _headlessness_ of social life
in America because of the absence of court functions to "go on" to and
justify the assembling and dressing. The social life has imitated the
preparation for the Court without any political justification. In
Europe the assimilation of the wealthy European industrialist and
financier by the old order has been parallel and naturally more
logically complete. He really has found a court to "go on" to. His
social scheme was still undecapitated until kingdoms began to change
into republics after 1917.

In this way the complex of classes vitally involved in the old
militant nationalist order is mightily reinforced by much larger
masses of imitative and annexed and more or less assimilated rich and
active people. The great industrialist has married the daughter of the
marquis and has a couple of sons in the Guards and a daughter who is a
princess. The money of the American Leeds, fleeing from the social
futility of its land of origin, helped bolster up a mischievous
monarchy in Greece. The functional and private lives of the new men
are thus at war with one another. The real interests of the great
industrialist or financier lie in cosmopolitan organization and the
material development of the world commonweal, but his womenfolk pin
flags all over him, and his sons are prepared to sacrifice themselves
and all his business creations for the sake of trite splendours and
Ruritanian romance.

But just so far as the great business organizer is capable and
creative, so far is he likely to realize and resent the price in
frustration that the old order obliges him to pay for amusement,
social interest, and domestic peace and comfort. The Open Conspiracy
threatens him with no effacement; it may even appear with an air of
release. If he had women who were interested in his business affairs
instead of women who had to be amused, and if he realized in time the
practical, intellectual, and moral kidnap of sons and daughters by the
old order that goes on, he might pass quite easily from acquiescence
to antagonism. But in this respect he cannot a single-handed. This is
a social and not an individual operation. The Open Conspiracy, it is
clear, must include in its activities a great fight for the souls of
economically-functional people. It must carve out a Society of its own
from Society. Only by the creation of a new and better social life can
it resist the many advantages and attractions of the old.

This constant gravitation back to traditional uses on the part of what
might become new social types applies not merely to big people but to
such small people as are really functional in the modern economic
scheme. The have no social life adapted to their new economic
relationships, and they forced back upon the methods of behaviour
established for what were roughly their analogues in the old order of
things. The various sorts of managers and foremen in big modern
concerns, for example, carry on ways of living they have taken
ready-made from the stewards, tradesmen, tenantry, and upper servants
of an aristocratic territorial system. They release themselves and
are released almost in spite of themselves, slowly, generation by
generation, from habits of social subservience that are no longer
necessary nor convenient in the social process, acquire an official
pride in themselves and take on new conceptions of responsible loyalty
to a scheme. And they find themselves under suggestions of class
aloofness and superiority to the general mass of less cardinal
workers, that are often unjustifiable under new conditions. Machinery
and scientific organization have been and still are revolutionizing
productive activity by the progressive elimination of the unskilled
worker, the hack, the mere toiler. But the social organization of the
modern community and the mutual deportment of the associated workers
left over after this elimination are still haunted by the tradition of
the lord, the middle-class tenant, and the servile hind. The
development of self-respect and mutual respect among the mass of
modern functional workers is clearly an intimate concern of the Open

A vast amount of moral force has been wasted in the past hundred years
by the antagonism of "Labour" to "Capital," as though this were the
primary issue in human affairs. But this never was the primary issue,
and it is steadily receding from its former importance. The ancient
civilizations did actually rest upon a broad basis of slavery and
serfdom. Human muscle was a main source of energy-ranking with sun,
wind, and flood. But invention and discovery have so changed the
conditions under which power is directed and utilized that muscle
becomes economically secondary and inessential. We no longer want
hewers of wood and drawers of water, carriers and pick and spade men.
We no longer want that breeding swarm of hefty sweaty bodies without
which the former civilizations could not have endured. We want
watchful and understanding guardians and drivers of complex delicate
machines, which can be mishandled and brutalized and spoilt all too
easily. The less disposed these masters of our machines are to
inordinate multiplication, the more room and food in the world for
their ampler lives. Even to the lowest level of a fully-mechanicalized
civilization it is required that the human element should be select.
In the modern world, crowds are a survival, and they will presently be
an anachronism, and crowd psychology therefore cannot supply the basis
of a new order.

It is just because labour is becoming more intelligent, responsible,
and individually efficient that it is becoming more audible and impatient
in social affairs. It is just because it is no longer mere gang labour, and
is becoming more and more intelligent co-operation in detail, that it now
resents being treated as a serf, housed like a serf, fed like a serf, and
herded like a serf, and its pride and thoughts and feelings
disregarded. Labour is in revolt because as a matter of fact it is, in
the ancient and exact sense of the word, ceasing to be labour at all.

The more progressive elements of the directive classes recognize this,
but, as we have shown, there are formidable forces still tending to
maintain the old social attitudes when arrogance became the ruler and
the common man accepted his servile status. A continual resistance is
offered by large sections of the prosperous and advantaged to the
larger claims of the modernized worker, and in response the rising and
differentiating workers develop an angry antagonism to these directive
classes which allow themselves to be controlled by their conservative
and reactionary elements. Moreover, the increasing relative
intelligence of the labour masses, the unprecedented imaginative
stimulation they experience, the continually more widespread
realization of the available freedoms and comforts and indulgences
that might be and are not shared by all in a modern state, develop a
recalcitrance where once there was little but fatalistic acquiescence.
An objection to direction and obligation, always mutely present in the
toiling multitude since the economic life of man began, becomes
articulate and active. It is the taste of freedom that makes labour
desire to be free. This series of frictions is a quite inevitable
aspect of social reorganization, but it does not constitute a primary
antagonism in the process.

The class war was invented by the classes; it is a natural tradition
of the upper strata of the old order. It was so universally understood
that there was no need to state it. It is implicit in nearly all the
literature of the world before the nineteenth century--except the
Bible, the Koran, and other sequelae. The "class war" of the Marxist
is merely a poor snobbish imitation, a _tu quoque_, a pathetic,
stupid, indignant reversal of and retort to the old arrogance, a
pathetic _upward_ arrogance.

These conflicts cut across rather than oppose or help the progressive
development to which the Open Conspiracy devotes itself. Labour,
awakened, enquiring, and indignant, is not necessarily progressive; if
the ordinary undistinguished worker is no longer to be driven as a
beast of burthen, he has--which also goes against the grain--to be
educated to as high a level of co-operative efficiency as possible. He
has to work better, even if he works for much shorter hours and under
better conditions, and his work must be subordinated work still; he
cannot become _en masse_ sole owner and master of a scheme of things
he did not make and is incapable of directing. Yet this is the
ambition implicit in an exclusively "Labour" movement. Either the
Labour revolutionary hopes to cadge the services of exceptional people
without acknowledgment or return on sentimental grounds, or he really
believes that anyone is as capable as anyone else--if not more so. The
worker at a low level may be flattered by dreams of "class-conscious"
mass dominion from which all sense of inferiority is banished, but
they will remain dreams. The deep instinctive jealousy of the
commonplace individual for outstanding quality and novel initiative
may be organized and turned to sabotage and destruction, masquerading
as and aspiring to be a new social order, but that will be a blind
alley and not the road of progress. Our hope for the human future does
not lie in crowd psychology and the indiscriminating rule of universal

The Open Conspiracy can have little use for mere resentments as a
driving force towards its ends; it starts with a proposal not to exalt
the labour class but to abolish it, its sustaining purpose is to throw
drudges out of employment and eliminate the inept--and it is far more
likely to incur suspicion and distrust in the lower ranks of the
developing industrial order of to-day than to win support there.
There, just as everywhere else in the changing social complexes of our
time, it can appeal only to the exceptionally understanding individual
who can without personal humiliation consider his present activities
and relationships as provisional and who can, without taking offence,
endure a searching criticising of his present quality and mode of


So far, in our accounting of the powers, institutions, dispositions,
types, and classes which will be naturally opposed to the Open
Conspiracy, we have surveyed only such territory in the domain of the
future world commonweal as is represented by the complex, progressive,
highly-industrialized communities, based on a preceding
landlord-soldier, tenant, town-merchant, and tradesman system, of the
Atlantic type. These communities have developed farthest in the
direction of mechanicalization, and they are so much more efficient
and powerful that they now dominate the rest of the world. India,
China, Russia, Africa present _mélanges_ of social systems, thrown
together, outpaced, overstrained, shattered, invaded, exploited, and
more or less subjugated by the finance, machinery, and political
aggressions of the Atlantic, Baltic, and Mediterranean civilization.
In many ways they have an air of assimilating themselves to that
civilization, evolving modern types and classes, and abandoning much
of their distinctive traditions. But what they take from the West is
mainly the new developments, the material achievements, rather than
the social and political achievements, that, empowered by modern
inventions, have won their way to world predominance. They may
initiate European nationalism to a certain extent; for them it becomes
a convenient form of self-assertion against the pressure of a realized
practical social and political inferiority; but the degree to which
they will or can take over the social assumptions and habits of the
long-established European-American hierarchy is probably very
restricted. Their nationalism will remain largely indigenous; the
social traditions in which they will try to make the new material
forces subservient will be traditions of an Oriental life widely
different from the original life of Europe. They will have their own
resistances to the Open Conspiracy, therefore, but they will be
different resistances from those we have hitherto considered. The
automobile and the wireless set, the harvester and steel construction
building, will come to the jungle rajah and the head hunter, the
Brahmin and the Indian peasant, with a parallel and yet dissimilar
message to the one they brought the British landowner or the corn and
cattle farmers of the Argentine and the Middle West. Also they may be
expected to evoke dissimilar reactions.

To a number of the finer, more
energetic minds of these overshadow communities which have lagged more
or less ill the material advances t which this present ascendancy of
western Europe and America is due, the Open Conspiracy may come with
an effect of immense invitation At one step they may go from the
sinking vessel of their antiquated order, across their present
conquerors, into a brotherhood of world rulers They may turn to the
problem of saving and adapting all that is rich and distinctive of
their inheritance to the common ends of the race. But to the less
vigorous intelligences of this outer world, the new project of the
Open Conspiracy will seem no better than a new form of Western
envelopment and they will fight a mighty liberation as though it were
a further enslavement to the European tradition. They will watch the
Open Conspiracy for any signs of conscious superiority and racial
disregard. Necessarily they will recognize it as a product of Western
mentality and they may well be tempted to regard it as an elaboration
and organization of current dispositions rather than the evolution of
a new phase which will make no discrimination at last between the
effete traditions of either East or West. Their suspicions will be
sustained and developed by the clumsy and muddle-headed political and
economic aggressions of the contemporary political and business
systems, such as they are, of the West, now in progress. Behind that
cloud of aggression Western thought has necessarily advanced upon
them. It could have got to their attention in no other way.

Partly these resistances and criticisms of the decadent communities
outside the Atlantic capitalist system will be aimed, not at the
developing methods of the coming world community, but at the European
traditions and restrictions that have imposed themselves upon these
methods, and so far the clash of the East and West may be found to
subserve the aims of the Open Conspiracy. In the conflict of old
traditions and in the consequent deadlocks lies much hope for the
direct acceptance of the groups of ideas centring upon the Open
Conspiracy One of the most interesting areas of humanity in this
respect is the great system of communities under the sway or influence
of Soviet Russia. Russia has never been completely incorporated with
the European system; she became a just passable imitation of a western
European monarchy in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, and
talked at last of constitutions and parliaments--but the reality of
that vast empire remained an Asiatic despotism, and the European mask
was altogether smashed by the successive revolutions of 1917. The
ensuing system is a government presiding over an enormous extent of
peasants and herdsmen, by a disciplined association professing the
faith and dogmas of Marx, as interpreted and qualified by Lenin and

In many ways this government is a novelty of extraordinary interest.
It labours against enormous difficulties within itself and without.
Flung amazingly into a position of tremendous power, its intellectual
flexibility is greatly restricted by the urgent militant necessity for
mental unanimity and a consequent repression of criticism. It finds
itself separated, intellectually and morally, by an enormous gap from
the illiterate millions over which it rules. More open perhaps to
scientific and creative conceptions than any other government, and
certainly more willing to experiment and innovate, its enterprise is
starved by the economic depletion of the country in the Great War and
by the technical and industrial backwardness of the population upon
which it must draw for its personnel. Moreover, it struggles within
itself between concepts of a modern scientific social organization and
a vague anarchistic dream in which the "State" is to disappear, and an
emancipated proletariat, breeding and expectorating freely, fills the
vistas of time forevermore. The tradition of long years of hopeless
opposition has tainted the world policy of the Marxist cult with a
mischievous and irritating quality that focuses upon it the animosity
of every government in the dominant Atlantic system. Marxism never had
any but the vaguest fancies about the relation of one nation to
another, and the new Russian government, for all its cosmopolitan
phrases, is more and more plainly the heir to the obsessions of
Tsarist Imperialism, using the Communist party, as other countries
have used Christian missionaries, to maintain a propagandist
government to forward its schemes. Nevertheless, the Soviet government
has maintained itself for more than twelve years, and it seems far
more likely to evolve than to persist. It is quite possible that it
will evolve towards the conceptions of the Open Conspiracy, and in
that case Russia may witness once again a conflict between new ideas
and Old Believers. So far the Communist party in Moscow has maintained
a considerable propaganda of ideas in the rest of the world and
especially across its western frontier. Many of these ideas are now
trite and stale. The time may be not far distant when the tide of
propaganda will flow in the reverse direction. It has pleased the
vanity of the Communist party to imagine itself conducting a
propaganda of world revolution. Its fate may be to develop upon lines
that will make its more intelligent elements easily assimilable to the
Open Conspiracy for a world revolution. The Open Conspiracy as it
spreads and grows may find a less encumbered field for trying out the
economic developments implicit in its conceptions in Russia and
Siberia than anywhere else in the world.

However severely the guiding themes and practical methods of the
present Soviet government in Russia may be criticized, the fact
remains that it has cleared out of its way many of the main
obstructive elements that we find still vigorous in the more
highly-organized communities in the West. It has liberated vast areas
from the kindred superstitions of monarchy and the need for a private
proprietary control of great economic interests. And it has presented
both China and India with the exciting spectacle of a social and
political system capable of throwing off many of the most
characteristic features of triumphant Westernism, and yet holding its
own. In the days when Japan faced up to modern necessities there were
no models for imitation that were not communities of the Atlantic type
pervaded by the methods of private capitalism, and in consequence the
Japanese reconstituted their affairs on a distinctly European plan,
adopting a Parliament and bringing their monarchy, social hierarchy,
and business and financial methods into a general conformity with that
model. It is extremely doubtful whether any other Asiatic community
will now set itself to a parallel imitation, and it will be thanks
largely to the Russian revolution that this breakaway from
Europeanization has occurred.

But it does not follow that such a breakaway will necessarily lead
more directly to the Open Conspiracy. If we have to face a less highly
organized system of interests and prejudices in Russia and China, we
have to deal with a vastly wider ignorance and a vastly more
formidable animalism. Russia is a land of tens of millions of peasants
ruled over by a little band of the intelligentsia who can be counted
only by tens of thousands. It is only these few score thousands who
are accessible to ideas of world construction, and the only hope of
bringing the Russian system into active participation in the world
conspiracy is through that small minority and through its educational
repercussion on the myriads below. As we go eastward from European
Russia the proportion of soundly prepared intelligence to which we can
appeal for understanding and participation diminishes to an even more
dismaying fraction. Eliminate that fraction, and one is left face to
face with inchoate barbarism incapable of social and political
organization above the level of the war boss and the brigand leader.
Russia itself is still by no means secure against a degenerative
process in that direction, and the hope of China struggling out of it
without some forcible directive interventions is a hope to which
constructive liberalism clings with very little assurance.

We turn back therefore from Russia, China and the communities of
Central Asia to the Atlantic world. It is in that world alone that
sufficient range and amplitude of thought and discussion are possible
for the adequate development of the Open Conspiracy. In these
communities it must begin and for a long time its main activities will
need to be sustained from these necessary centres of diffusion. It
will develop amidst incessant mental Strife, and through that strife
it will remain alive. It is no small part of the practical weakness of
present-day communism that it attempts to centre its intellectual life
and its directive activities in Moscow and so cuts itself off from the
free and open discussions of the Western world. Marxism lost the world
when it went to Moscow and took over the traditions of Tsarism as
Christianity lost the world when it went to Rome and took over the
traditions of Caesar. Entrenched in Moscow from searching criticism,
the Marxist ideology may become more and more dogmatic and
unprogressive, repeating its sacred _credo_ and issuing its disregarded
orders to the proletariat of the world, and so stay ineffectively
crystallized until the rising tide of the Open Conspiracy submerges,
dissolves it afresh, and incorporates whatever it finds assimilable.

India, like Japan, is cut off from the main body of Asiatic affairs.
But while Japan has become a formally Westernized nationality in the
comity of such nations, India remains a world in itself. In that one
peninsula nearly every type of community is to be found, from the
tribe of jungle savages, through a great diversity of barbaric and
mediaeval principalities, to the child and women--sweating factories
and the vigorous modern commercialism of Bombay. Over it all the
British imperialism prevails, a constraining and restraining
influence, keeping the peace, checking epidemics, increasing the food
supply by irrigation and the like, and making little or no effort to
evoke responses to modern ideas. Britain in India is no propagandist
of modern ferments: all those are left the other side of Suez. In
India the Briton is a ruler as firm and self-assured and uncreative as
the Roman. The old religious and social traditions, the complex
customs, castes, tabus, and exclusions of a strangely-mixed but
unamalgamated community, though a little discredited by this foreign
predominance, still hold men's minds. They have been, so to speak,
pickled in the preservative of the British raj.

The Open Conspiracy has to invade the Indian complex in conflict with
the prejudices of both ruler and governed. It has to hope for
individual breaches in the dull Romanism of the administration: here a
genuine educationist, here a creative civil servant, here an official
touched by the distant stir of the living homeland; and it has to try
to bring these types into a co-operative relationship with a fine
native scholar here or an active-minded prince or landowner or
industrialist there. As the old methods of passenger transport are
superseded by flying, it will be more and more difficult to keep the
stir of the living homeland out of either the consciousness of the
official hierarchy or the knowledge of the recalcitrant "native."

Very similar to Indian conditions is the state of affairs in the
foreign possessions of France, the same administrative obstacles to
the Open Conspiracy above, and below the same resentful subordination,
cut off from the mental invigoration of responsibility. Within these
areas of restraint, India and its lesser, simpler parallels in North
Africa, Syria and the Far East, there goes on a rapid increase of
low-grade population, undersized physically and mentally, and
retarding the mechanical development of civilization by its standing
offer of cheap labour to the unscrupulous entrepreneur, and possible
feeble insurrectionary material to the unscrupulous political
adventurer. It is impossible to estimate how slowly or how rapidly the
knowledge and ideas that have checked the rate of increase of all the
Atlantic populations may be diffused through these less alert

We must complete our survey of the resistances against which the Open
Conspiracy has to work by a few words about the Negro world and the
regions of forest and jungle in which barbaric and even savage human
life still escapes the infection of civilization. It seems inevitable
that the development of modern means of communication and the conquest
of tropical diseases should end in giving access everywhere to modern
administration and to economic methods, and everywhere the
incorporation of the former wilderness in the modern economic process
means the destruction of the material basis, the free hunting, the
free access to the soil, of such barbaric and savage communities as
still precariously survive. The dusky peoples, who were formerly the
lords of these still imperfectly assimilate areas, are becoming
exploited workers, slaves, serfs, hut-tax payers, labourers to a caste
of white immigrants. The spirit of the plantation broods over all
these lands. The Negro in America differs only from his subjugated
brother in South Africa or Kenya Colony in the fact that he also, like
his white master, is an immigrant. The situation in Africa and America
adjusts itself therefore towards parallel conditions, the chief
variation being in the relative proportions of the two races and the
details of the methods by which black labour is made to serve white

In these black and white communities which are establishing themselves
in all those parts of the earth where once the black was native, or in
which a sub-tropical climate is favourable to his existence at a low
level of social development, there is--and there is bound to be for
many years to come--much racial tension. The steady advance of
birth-control may mitigate the biological factors of this tension
later on, and a general amelioration of manners and conduct may efface
that disposition to persecute dissimilar types, which man shares with
many other gregarious animals. But meanwhile this tension increases
and a vast multitude of lives is strained to tragic issues.

To exaggerate the dangers and evils of miscegenation is a weakness of
our time. Man interbreeds with all his varieties and yet deludes
himself that there are races of outstanding purity, the "Nordic," the
"Semitic," and so forth. These are phantoms of the imagination. The
reality is more intricate, less dramatic, and grips less easily upon
the mind; the phantoms grip only too well and incite to terrible
suppressions. Changes in the number of half-breeds and in the
proportion of white and coloured are changes of a temporary nature
that may become controllable and rectifiable in a few generations. But
until this level of civilization is reached, until the colour of a
man's skin or the kinks in a woman's hair cease to have the value of
shibboleths that involve educational, professional, and social
extinction or survival, a black and white community is bound to be
continually preoccupied by a standing feud too intimate and persuasive
to permit of any long views of the world's destiny.

We come to the conclusion therefore that it is from the more vigorous,
varied, and less severely obsessed centres of the Atlantic
civilizations in the temperate zone, with their abundant facilities
for publication and discussion, their traditions of mental liberty and
their immense variety of interacting free types, that the main
beginnings of the Open Conspiracy must develop. For the rest of the
world, its propaganda, finding but poor nourishment in the local
conditions, may retain a missionary quality for many years.


We have dealt in the preceding two chapters with great classes and
assemblages of human beings as, in the mass, likely to be more or less
antagonistic to the Open Conspiracy, and it has been difficult in
those chapters to avoid the implication that "we," some sort of circle
round the writer, were aloof from these obstructive and hostile
multitudes, and ourselves entirely identified with the Open
Conspiracy. But neither are these multitudes so definitely against,
nor those who are with us so entirely for, the Open Conspiracy to
establish a world community as the writer, in his desire for clearness
and contrast and with an all too human disposition perhaps towards
plain ego-centred combative issues, has been led to represent. There
is no "we," and there can be no "we," in possession of the Open

The Open Conspiracy is in partial possession of us, and we attempt to
serve it. But the Open Conspiracy is a natural and necessary
development of contemporary thought arising here, there, and
everywhere. There are doubts and sympathies that weigh on the side of
the Open Conspiracy in nearly everyone, and not one of us but retains
many impulses, habits, and ideas in conflict with our general
devotion, checking and limiting our service.

Let us therefore in this chapter cease to discuss classes and types
and consider general mental tendencies and reactions which move
through all humanity.

In our opening chapters we pointed out that religion is not
universally distributed throughout human society. And of no one does
it seem to have complete possession. It seizes upon some of us and
exalts us for one hour now and then, for a day now and then; it may
leave its afterglow upon our conduct for some time; it may establish
restraints and habitual dispositions; sometimes it dominates us with
but brief intermissions through long spells, and then we can be saints
and martyrs. In all our religious phases there appears a desire to
_hold_ the phase, to subdue the rest of our life to the standards and
exigencies of that phase. Our quickened intelligence sets itself to a
general analysis of our conduct and to the problem of establishing
controls over our unilluminated intervals.

And when the religious elements in the mind set themselves to such
self-analysis, and attempt to order and unify the whole being upon
this basis of the service and advancement of the race, they discover
first a great series of indifferent moods, wherein the resistance to
thought and word for the Open Conspiracy is merely passive and in the
nature of inertia. There is a whole class of states of mind which may
be brought together under the head of "everydayism." The dinner bell
and the playing fields, the cinema and the newspaper, the week-end
visit and the factory siren, a host of such expectant things calls to
a vast majority of people in our modern world to stop thinking and get
busy with the interest in hand, and so on to the next, without a
thought for the general frame and drama in which these momentary and
personal incidents are set. We are driven along these marked and
established routes and turned this way or that by the accidents of
upbringing, of rivalries and loves, of chance encounters and vivid
experiences, and it is rarely for many of us, and never for some, that
the phases of broad reflection and self-questioning arise. For many
people the religious life now, as in the past, has been a quite
desperate effort to withdraw sufficient attention and energy from the
flood of events to get some sort of grasp, and keep whatever grip is
won, upon the relations of the self to the whole. Far more recoil in
terror from such a possibility and would struggle strenuously against
solitude in the desert, solitude under the stars, solitude in a silent
room or indeed any occasion for comprehensive thought.

But the instinct and purpose of the religious type is to keep hold
upon the comprehensive drama, and at the heart of all the great
religions of the world we find a parallel disposition to escape in
some manner from the aimless drive and compulsion of accident and
everyday. Escape is attempted either by withdrawal from the presence
of crowding circumstance into a mystical contemplation and austere
retirement, or--what is more difficult and desperate and
reasonable--by imposing the mighty standards of enduring issues upon
the whole mass of transitory problems which constitute the actual
business of life. We have already noted how the modern mind turns from
retreat as a recognizable method of religion, and faces squarely up to
the second alternative. The tumult of life has to be met and
conquered. Aim must prevail over the aimless. Remaining in normal life
we must yet keep our wills and thoughts aloof from normal life and
fixed upon creative processes. However busied we may be, however
challenged, we must yet save something of our best mental activity for
self-examination and keep ourselves alert against the endless
treacheries within that would trip us back into everydayism and
disconnected responses to the stimuli of life.

Religions in the past, though they have been apt to give a preference
to the renunciation of things mundane, have sought by a considerable
variety of expedients to preserve the faith of those whom chance or
duty still kept in normal contact with the world. It would provide
material for an interesting study to enquire how its organizations to
do this have worked in the past and how far they may be imitated and
paralleled in the progressive life of the future. All the
wide-reaching religions which came into existence in the five
centuries before and the five centuries after Christ have made great
use of periodic meetings for mutual reassurance, of sacred books,
creeds, fundamental heart-searchings, of confession, prayer,
sacraments, seasons of withdrawal, meditation, fasting, and prayer. Do
these methods mark a phase in the world's development, or are they
still to be considered available?

This points to a very difficult tangle of psychological problems. The
writer in his earlier draft of this book wrote that the modern
religious individual leads, spiritually speaking, a life of extreme
wasteful and dangerous isolation. He still feels that is true, but he
realizes that the invention of corrective devices is not within his
range. He cannot picture a secular Mass nor congregations singing
hymns about the Open Conspiracy. Perhaps the modern soul in trouble
will resort to the psychoanalysts instead of the confessional; in
which case we need to pray for better psychoanalysts.

Can the modern mind work in societies? May the daily paper be slowly
usurping the functions of morning prayer, a daily mental reminder of
large things, with more vividness and, at present, lower standards?
One of the most distressful facts of the spread of education in the
nineteenth century was the unscrupulous exploitation of the new
reading public by a group of trash-dealers who grew rich and mighty in
the process. Is the popular publisher and newspaper proprietor always
to remain a trash-dealer? Or are we to see, in the future,
publications taking at times some or all of the influence of
revivalist movements, and particular newspapers rising to the task of
sustaining a common faith in a gathering section of the public?

The modern temple in which we shall go to meditate may be a museum;
the modern religious house and its religious life may be a research
organization. The Open Conspirator must see to it that the museums
show their meaning plain. There may be not only literature presently,
but even plays, shows, and music, to subserve new ideas instead of
trading upon tradition.

It is plain that to read and be moved by great ideas and to form good
resolutions with no subsequent reminders and moral stocktaking is no
enough to keep people in the way of the Open Conspiracy. The relapse
to everydayism is too easy. The contemporary Open Conspirator may
forget, and he has nothing to remind him; he may relapse, and he w
hear no reproach to warn him of his relapse. Nowhere has he recorded
vow. "Everyday" has endless ways of justifying the return of the
believer to sceptical casualness. It is easy to persuade oneself that
one is taking life or oneself "too seriously." The mind is very
self-protective; has a disposition to abandon too great or too
far-reaching an effort and return to things indisputably within its
scope. We have an instinctive preference for thinking things are "all
right"; we economize anxiety; defend the delusions that we can work
with, even though we half realize they are no more that' delusions. We
resent the warning voice, the critical question that robs our
activities of assurance. Our everyday moods not only the antagonists
of our religious moods, but they resent all outward appeals to our
religious moods, and they welcome every help against religious
appeals. We pass very readily from the merely defensive to the
defensive aggressive, and from refusing to hear the word that might
stir our consciences to a vigorous effort to suppress its utterance.

Churches, religious organizations, try to keep the revivifying phase
and usage where it may strike upon the waning or slumbering faith of
the convert, but modern religion as yet has no such organized
rebinders. They cannot be improvised. Crude attempts to supply the
needed corrective of conduct may do less good than harm. Each one of
us for himself must do what he can to keep his high resolve in mind
and protect himself from the snare of his own moods of fatigue or

But these passive and active defences of current things which operate
in and through ourselves, and find such ready sympathy and assistance
in the world about us, these massive resistance systems, are only the
beginning of our tale of the forces antagonistic to the Open
Conspiracy that lurk in our complexities.

Men are creatures with other faults quite beyond and outside our
common disposition to be stupid, indolent, habitual, and defensive.
Not only have we active creative impulses, but also acutely
destructive ones. Man is a jealous animal. In youth and adolescence
egotism is extravagant. It is natural for it to be extravagant, then,
and there is no help for it. A great number of us at that stage would
rather not see a beautiful or wonderful thing come into existence then
have it come into existence disregarding us. Something of that jealous
malice, that self-assertive ruthlessness, remains in all of us
throughout life. At his worst man can be an exceedingly combative,
malignant, mischievous and cruel animal. None of us are altogether
above the possibility of such phases. When we consider the oppositions
to the Open Conspiracy that operate in the normal personality, we
appreciate the soundness of the catechism which instructs us to
renounce not only the trivial world and the heavy flesh, but the
active and militant devil.

To make is a long and wearisome business, with many arrests and
disappointments, but to break gives an instant thrill. We all know
something of the delight of the _bang_. It is well for the Open
Conspirator to ask himself at times how far he is in love with the
dream of a world in order, and how far he is driven by hatred of
institutions that bore or humiliate him. He may be no more than a
revengeful incendiary in the mask of a constructive worker. How safe
is he, then, from the reaction to some fresh humiliation? The Open
Conspiracy which is now his refuge and vindication may presently fail
to give him the compensation he has sought, may offer him no better
than a minor rôle, may display Irritating and incomprehensible
preferences. And for a great number of things in overt antagonism to
the great aim of the Open Conspiracy, he will still find within
himself not simply acquiescence but sympathy and a genuine if
inconsistent admiration. There they are, waiting for his phase of
disappointment. Back he may go to the old loves with a new animus
against the greater scheme. He may be glad to be quit of prigs and
humbugs, and back among the good fellowship of nothing in particular.

Man has pranced a soldier in reality and fancy for so many generations
that few of us can altogether release our imaginations from the
brilliant pretensions of flags, empire, patriotism, and aggression.
Business men, especially in America, seem to feel a sort of glory in
calling even the underselling and overadvertising of rival enterprises
"fighting." Pill vendors and public departments can have their "wars,"
their heroisms, their desperate mischiefs, and so get that Napoleonic
feeling. The world and our reveries are full of the sentimentalities,
the false glories and loyalties of the old combative traditions,
trailing after them, as they do, so much worth and virtue in a dulled
and stupefied condition. It is difficult to resist the fine gravity,
the high self-respect, the examples of honour and good style in small
things, that the military and naval services can present to us, for
all that they are now no more than noxious parasites upon the nascent
world commonweal. In France not a word may be said against the army;
in England, against the navy. There will be many Open Conspirators at
first who will scarcely dare to say that word even to themselves.

But all these obsolete values and attitudes with which our minds are
cumbered must be cleared out if the new faith is to have free play. We
have to clear them out not only from our own minds but from the minds
of others who are to become our associates. The finer and more
picturesque these obsolescent loyalties, obsolescent standards of
honour, obsolescent religious associations, may seem to us, the more
thoroughly must we seek to release our minds and the minds of those
about us from them and cut off all thought of a return.

We cannot compromise with these vestiges of the ancient order and be
faithful servants of the new. Whatever we retain of them will come
back to life and grow again. It is no good to operate for cancer
unless the whole growth is removed. Leave a crown about and presently
you will find it being worn by someone resolved to be a king. Keep the
name and image of a god without a distinct museum label and sooner or
later you will discover a worshipper on his knees to it and be lucky
not to find a human sacrifice upon the altar. Wave a flag and it will
wrap about you. Of yourself even more than of the community is this
true; these can be no half measures. You have not yet completed your
escape to the Open Conspiracy from the cities of the plain while it is
still possible for you to take a single backward glance.


A new and happier world, a world community, is awakening, within the
body of the old order, to the possibility of its emergence. Our
phrase, "the Open Conspiracy" is merely a name for that awakening. To
begin with, the Open Conspiracy is necessarily a group of ideas.

It is a system of modern ideas which has been growing together in the
last quarter of the century, and particularly since the war. It is the
reaction of a rapidly progressing biological conception of life and of
enlarged historical realizations upon the needs and urgencies of the
times. In this book we are attempting to define this system and to
give it this provisional name. Essentially at first it is a
dissemination of this new ideology that must occur. The statement must
be tried over and spread before a widening circle of people.

Since the idea of the Open Conspiracy rests upon and arises out of a
synthesis of historical, biological, and sociological realizations, we
may look for these realizations already in the case of people with
sound knowledge in these fields; such people will be prepared for
acquiescence without any explanatory work; there is nothing to set out
to them beyond the suggestion that it is time they became actively
conscious of where they stand. They constitute already the Open
Conspiracy in an unorganized solution, and they will not so much
adhere as admit to themselves and others their state of mind. They
will say, "We knew all that." Directly we pass beyond that
comparatively restricted world, however, we find that we have to deal
with partial knowledge, with distorted views, or with blank ignorance,
and that a revision and extension of historical and biological ideas
and a Considerable elucidation of economic misconceptions have to be
undertaken. Such people have to be brought up to date with their

I have told already how I have schemed out a group of writings to
embody the necessary ideas of the new time in a form adapted to the
current reading public; I have made a sort of provisional "Bible," so
to speak, for some factors at least in the Open Conspiracy. It is an
early sketch. As the current reading public changes, all this work
will become obsolescent so far as its present form and method go. But
not so far as its substantial method goes. That I believe will remain.

Ultimately this developing mass of biological, historical, and
economic information and suggestion must be incorporated in general
education if the Open Conspiracy is to come to its own. At present
this propaganda has to go on among adolescentsand adults because of
the backwardness and political conservatism of existing educational
organizations. Most real modern education now is done in spite of the
schools and to correct the misconceptions established by the schools.
But what will begin as adult propaganda must pass into a
_kultur-kampf_ to win our educational machinery from reaction and the
conservation of outworn ideas and attitudes to the cause of world
reconstruction. The Open Conspiracy itself can never be imprisoned and
fixed in the form of an organization, but everywhere Open Conspirators
should be organizing themselves for educational reform.

And also within the influence of this comprehensive project there will
be all sorts of groupings for study and progressive activity. One can
presuppose the formation of groups of friends, of family groups, of
students and employees or other sorts of people, meeting and
conversing frequently in the course of their normal occupations, who
will exchange views and find themselves in agreement upon this idea of
a constructive change of the world as the guiding form of human

Fundamentally important issues upon which unanimity must be achieved
from the outset are:

_Firstly_, the entirely provisional nature of all existing
governments, and the entirely provisional nature, therefore, of all
loyalties associated therewith;

_Secondly_, the supreme importance of population control in human
biology and the possibility it affords us of a release from the
pressure of the struggle for existence on ourselves; and

_Thirdly_, the urgent necessity of protective resistance against the
present traditional drift towards war.

People who do not grasp the vital significance of these test issues do
not really begin to understand the Open Conspiracy. Groups coming into
agreement upon these matters, and upon their general interpretation of
history, will be in a position to seek adherents, enlarge themselves,
and attempt to establish communication and co-operation with kindred
groups for common ends. They can take up a variety of activities to
develop a sense and habit of combined action and feel their way to
greater enterprises.

We have seen already that the Open Conspiracy must be heterogeneous in
origin. Its initial groupings and associations will be of no uniform
pattern. They will be of a very different size, average age, social
experience, and influence. Their particular activities will be
determined by the things. Their diverse qualities and influences will
express themselves by diverse attempts at organization, each effective
in its own sphere. A group or movement of students may find itself
capable of little more than self-education and personal propaganda; a
handful of middle-class people in small town may find its small
resources fully engaged at first in such things as, for example,
seeing that desirable literature is available for sale or in local
public library, protecting books and news vendors from suppression, or
influencing local teachers. Most parents of school children can press
for the teaching of universal history and sound biology and protest
against the inculcation of aggressive patriotism. There is much scope
for the single individual in this direction. On the other hand, a
group of ampler experience and resources may undertake the printing,
publication, and distribution of literature, and exercise considerable
influence upon public opinion in turning education in the right
direction. The League of Nations movement, the Birth Control movement,
and most radical and socialist societies, are fields into which Open
Conspirators may go to find adherents more than half prepared for
their wider outlook. The Open Conspiracy is a fuller and ampler
movement into which these incomplete activities must necessarily merge
as its idea takes possession of men's imaginations.

From the outset, the Open Conspiray will set its face against
militarism. There is a plain present need for the organization now,
before war comes again, of an open and explicit refusal to serve in
any war--or at most to serve in war, directly or indirectly, only
after the issue has been fully and fairly submitted to arbitration.
The time for a conscientious objection to war service is manifestly
before and not after the onset of war. People who have by their
silence acquiesced in a belligerent foreign policy right up to the
onset of war, have little to complain of if they are then compelled to
serve. And a refusal to participate with one's country in warfare is a
preposterously incomplete gesture unless it is rounded off by the
deliberate advocacy of a world pax, a world economic control, and a
restrained population, such as the idea of the Open Conspiracy

The putting upon record of its members' reservation of themselves from
any or all of the military obligations that may be thrust upon the
country by ilitary and diplomatic effort, might very conceivably be
the first considerable overt act of many Open Conspiracy groups. It
would supply the practical incentive to bring many of them together in
the first place. It would necessitate the creation of regional or
national ad hoc committees for the establishment of a collective
legal and political defensive for this dissent from current militant
nationalism. It would bring the Open Conspiracy very early out of the
province of discussion into the field of practical conflict. It would
from the outset invest it with a very necessary quality of present

The anticipatory repudiation of military service, so far as this last
may be imposed by existing governments in their factitious
international rivalries, need not necessarily involve a denial of the
need of military action on behalf of the world commonweal for the
suppression of nationalist brigandage, nor need it prevent the
military training of Open Conspirators. It is simply the practical
form of assertion that the normal militant diplomacy and warfare of
the present time are offences against civilization, processes in the
nature of brigandage, sedition, and civil war, and that serious men
cannot be expected to play anything but a rôle of disapproval,
non-participation, or active prevention towards them. Our loyalty to
our current government, we would intimate, is subject to its sane and
adult behaviour.

These educational and propagandist groups drawing together into an
organized resistance to militarism and to the excessive control of
individuals by the makeshift governments of to-day, constitute at most
only the earliest and more elementary grade of the Open Conspiracy,
and we will presently go on to consider the more specialized and
constructive forms its effort must evoke. Before doing so, however, we
may say a little more about the structure and method of these possible
initiatory groupings.

Since they are bound to be different and miscellaneous in form, size,
quality, and ability, any early attempts to organize them into common
general action or even into regular common gatherings are to be
deprecated. There should be many types of groups. Collective action
had better for a time--perhaps for a long time--be undertaken not
through the merging of groups but through the formation of _ad hoc_
associations for definitely specialized ends, all making for the new
world civilization. Open Conspirators will come into these
associations to make a contribution very much as people come into
limited liability companies, that is to say with a subscription and
not with their whole capital. A comprehensive organization attempting
from the first to cover all activities would necessarily rest upon and
promote one prevalent pattern of activity and hamper or estrange the
more original and interesting forms. It would develop a premature
orthodoxy, it would cease almost at once to be creative, and it would
begin to form a crust of tradition. It would become anchylosed. With
the dreadful examples of Christianity and Communism before us, we must
insist that the idea of the Open Conspiracy ever becoming a single
organization must be dismissed from the mind. It is a movement, yes, a
system of purposes, but its end is a free and living, if unified,

At the utmost seven broad principles may be stated as defining the
Open Conspiracy and holding it together. And it is possible even of
these, one, the seventh, may be, if not too restrictive, at least
unnecessary. To the writer it seems unavoidable because it is so
intimately associated with that continual dying out of tradition upon
which our hopes for an unencumbered and expanding human future rest.

(1) The complete assertion, practical as well as theoretical, of the
provisional nature of existing governments and of our acquiescence in

(2) The resolve to minimize by all available means the conflicts of
these governments, their militant use of individuals and property, and
their interferences with the establishment of a world economic system;

(3) The determination to replace private, local or national ownership
of at least credit, transport, and staple production by a responsible
world directorate serving the common ends of the race;

(4) The practical recognition of the necessity for world biological
controls, for example, of population and disease;

(5) The support of a minimum standard of individual freedom and
welfare in the world; and

(6) The supreme duty of subordinating the personal career to the
creation of a world directorate capable of these tasks and to the
general advancement of human knowledge, capacity, and power;

(7) The admission therewith that our immortality is conditional and
lies in the race and not in our individual selves.


In such terms we may sketch the practicable and possible opening phase
of the Open Conspiracy.

We do not present it as a movement initiated by any individual or
radiating from any particular centre. In this book we are not starting
something; we are describing and participating in something which has
started. It arises naturally and necessarily from the present increase
of knowledge and the broadening outlook of many minds throughout the
world, and gradually it becomes conscious of itself. It is reasonable
therefore to anticipate its appearance all over the world in sporadic
mutually independent groupings and movements, and to recognize not
only that they will be extremely various, but that many of them will
trail with them racial and regional habits and characteristics which
will only be shaken off as its cosmopolitan character becomes
imperatively evident.

The passage from the partial anticipations of the Open Conspiracy that
already abound everywhere to its complete and completely
self-conscious statement may be made by almost imperceptible degrees.
To-day it may seem no more than a visionary idea; to-morrow it may be
realized as a world-wide force of opinion and will. People will pass
with no great inconsistency from saying that the Open Conspiracy is
impossible to saying that it has always been plain and clear to them,
that to this fashion they have shaped their lives as long as they can

In its opening phase, in the day of small things, quite minor
accidents may help or delay the clear definition and popularization of
its main ideas. The changing pattern of public events may disperse or
concentrate attention upon it, or it may win the early adherence of
men of exceptional resources, energy, or ability. It is impossible to
foretell the speed of its advance. Its development may be slower or
faster, direct or devious, but the logic of accumulating realizations
thrusts it forward, will persist in thrusting it on, and sooner or
later it will be discovered, conscious and potent, the working
religion of most sane and energetic people.

Meanwhile our supreme virtues must be faith and persistence.

So far we have considered only two of the main activities of the Open
Conspiracy, the one being its propaganda of confidence in the possible
world commonweal, and the other its immediate practical attempt to
systematize resistance to militant and competitive imperialism and
nationalism. But such things are merely its groundwork undertakings;
they do no more than clear the site and make the atmosphere possible
for its organized constructive efforts.

Directly we turn to that, we turn to questions of special knowledge,
special effort, and special organization.

Let us consider first the general advancement of science, the
protection and support of scientific research, and the diffusion of
scientific knowledge. These things fall within the normal scheme of
duty for the members of the Open Conspiracy. The world of science and
experiment is the region of origin of nearly all the great initiatives
that characterize our times; the Open Conspiracy owes its inspiration,
its existence, its form and direction entirely to the changes of
condition these initiatives have brought about, and yet a large number
of scientific workers live outside the sphere of sympathy in which we
may expect the Open Conspiracy to materialize, and collectively their
political and social influence upon the community is extraordinarily
small. Having regard to the immensity of its contributions and the
incalculable value of its promise to the modern community,
science--research, that is, and the diffusion of scientific
knowledge--is extraordinarily neglected, starved, and threatened by
hostile interference. This is largely because scientific work has no
strong unifying organization and cannot in itself develop such an

Science is a hard mistress, and the first condition of successful
scientific work is that the scientific man should stick to his
research. The world of science is therefore in itself, at its core, a
miscellany of specialists, often very ungracious specialists, and,
rather than offer him help and co-operation, it calls for
understanding, tolerance, and service from the man of general
intelligence and wider purpose. The company of scientific men is less
like a host of guiding angels than like a swarm of marvellous
bees--endowed with stings--which must be hived and cherished and
multiplied by the Open Conspiracy.

But so soon as we have the Open Conspiracy at work, putting its
plainly and offering its developing ideas and activities to those most
preciously preoccupied men, then reasonably, when it involves no
special trouble for them, when it is the line of least resistance for
them, they may be expected to fall in with its convenient and helpful
aims and find in it what they have hitherto lacked, a common system of
political and social concepts to hold them together.

When that stage is reached, we shall be saved such spectacles of
intellectual prostitution as the last Great War offered, when men of
science were herded blinking from their laboratories to curse one
another upon nationalist lines, and when after the war stupid and
wicked barriers were set up to the free communication of knowledge by
the exclusion of scientific men of this or that nationality from
international scientific gatherings. The Open Conspiracy must help the
man of science to realize, what at present he fails most astonishingly
to realize, that he belongs to a greater comity than any king or
president represents to-day, and so prepare him for better behaviour
in the next season of trial.

The formation of groups in, and not only in, but about and in relation
to, the scientific world, which will add to those first main
activities of the Open Conspiracy, propaganda and pacificism, a
special attention to the needs of scientific work, may be enlarged
upon with advantage here, because it will illustrate quite typically
the idea of a special work carried on in relation to a general
activity, which is the subject of this section.

The Open Conspiracy extends its invitation to all sorts and conditions
of men, but the service of scientific progress is for those only who
are specially equipped or who are sufficiently interested to equip
themselves. For scientific work there is first of all a great need of
endowment and the setting up of laboratories, observatories,
experimental stations, and the like, in all parts of the world.
Numbers of men and women capable of scientific work never achieve it
for want of the stimulus of opportunity afforded by endowment. Few
contrive to create their own opportunities. The essential man of
science is very rarely an able collector or administrator of money,
and anyhow, the detailed work of organization is a grave call upon his
special mental energy. But many men capable of a broad and intelligent
appreciation of scientific work, but not capable of the peculiar
intensities of research, have the gift of extracting money from
private and public sources, and it is for them to use that gift
modestly and generously in providing the framework for those more
especially endowed.

And there is already a steadily increasing need for the proper storage
and indexing of scientific results, and every fresh worker enhances
it. Quite a considerable amount of scientific work goes fruitless or
is needlessly repeated because of the growing volume of publication,
and men make discoveries in the field of reality only to lose them
again in the lumber room of record. Here is a second line of activity
to which the Open Conspirator with a scientific bias may direct his

A third line is the liaison work between the man of science and the
common intelligent man; the promotion of publications which will
either state the substance, implications and consequences of new work
in the vulgar tongue, or, if that is impossible, train the general run
of people to the new idioms and technicalities which need to be
incorporated with the vulgar tongue if it is still to serve its ends
as a means of intellectual intercourse.

Through special _ad hoc_ organizations, societies for the promotion of
Research, for Research Defence, for World Indexing, for the
translation of Scientific Papers, for the Diffusion of New Knowledge,
the surplus energies of a great number of Open Conspirators can be
directed to entirely creative ends and a new world system of
scientific work built up, within which such dear old institutions as
the Royal Society of London, the various European Academies of Science
and the like, now overgrown and inadequate, can maintain their
venerable pride in themselves, their mellowing prestige, and their
distinguished exclusiveness, without their present privilege of
inflicting cramping slights and restrictions upon the more abundant
scientific activities of to-day.

So in relation to science--and here the word is being used in its
narrower accepted meaning for what is often spoken of as _pure_ science,
the search for physical and biological realities, uncomplicated by
moral, social, and "practical" considerations--we evoke a conception
of the Open Conspiracy as producing groups of socially associated
individuals, who engage primarily in the general basic activities of
the Conspiracy and adhere to and promote the seven broad principles
summarized at the end of Chapter Fourteen, but who work also with the
larger part of their energies, through international and cosmopolitan
societies and in a multitude of special ways, for the establishment of
an enduring and progressive world organization of pure research. They
will have come to this special work because their distinctive gifts,
their inclinations, their positions and opportunities have indicated
it as theirs.

Now a very parallel system of Open Conspiracy groups is conceivable,
in relation to business and industrial life. It would necessarily be a
vastly bulkier and more heterogeneous system of groups, but otherwise
the analogy is complete. Here we imagine those people whose gifts,
inclinations, positions and opportunities as directors, workers, or
associates give them an exceptional insight into and influence in the
processes of producing and distributing commodities, can also be drawn
together into groups within the Open Conspiracy. But these groups will
be concerned with the huge and more complicated problems of the
processes by which even now the small isolated individual adventures
in production and trading that constituted the economic life of former
civilizations, are giving place to larger, better instructed, better
planned industrial organizations, whose operations and combinations
become at last world wide.

The amalgamations and combinations, the substitution of large-scale
business for multitudes of small-scale businesses, which are going
on now, go on with all the cruelty and disregards of a natural
process. If a man is to profit and survive, these unconscious
blunderings--which now stagger towards but which may never attain
world organization--much be watched, controlled, mastered, and
directed. As uncertainty diminishes, the quality of adventure and the
amount of waste diminish also, and large speculative profits are no
longer possible or justifiable. The transition from speculative
adventure to organized foresight in the common interest, in the whole
world of economic life, is the substantial task of the Open
Conspiracy. And it is these specially interested and equipped groups,
and not the movement as a whole, which may best begin the attack upon
these fundamental readjustments.

The various Socialist movements of the nineteenth and earlier
twentieth centuries had this in common, that they sought to replace
the "private owner" in most or all economic interests by some vaguely
apprehended "public owner." This, following the democratic disposition
of the times, was commonly conceived of as an elected body, a
municipality, the parliamentary state or what not. There were
municipal socialists, "nationalizing" socialists, imperial socialists.
In the mystic teachings of the Marxist, the collective owner was to be
"the dictatorship of the proletariat." Production for profit was
denounced. The contemporary mind realizes the evils of production for
profit and of the indiscriminate scrambling of private ownership more
fully than ever before, but it has a completer realization and a
certain accumulation of experience in the difficulties of organizing
that larger ownership we desire. Private ownership may not be
altogether evil as a provisional stage, even if it has no more in its
favour than the ability to transcend political boundaries.

Moreover--and here again the democratic prepossessions of the
nineteenth century come in--the Socialist movements sought to make
every single adherent a reformer and a propagandist of economic
methods. In order to do so, it was necessary to simplify economic
processes to the crudity of nursery toys, and the intricate interplay
of will and desire in enterprise, normal employment, and direction, in
questions of ownership, wages, credit, and money, was reduced to a
childish fable of surplus value wickedly appropriated. The Open
Conspiracy is not so much a socialism as a more comprehensive
offspring which has eaten and assimilated whatever was digestible of
its socialist forbears. It turns to biology for guidance towards the
regulation of quantity and a controlled distribution of the human
population of the world, and it judges all the subsidiary aspects of
property and pay by the criterion of most efficient production and
distribution in relation to the indications thus obtained.

These economic groups, then, of the Open Conspiracy, which may come
indeed to be a large part of the Open Conspiracy, will be working in
that vast task of economic reconstruction--which from the point of
view of the older socialism was the sole task before mankind. They
will be conducting experiments and observing processes according to
their opportunities. Through ad hoc societies and journals they will
be comparing and examining their methods and preparing reports and
clear information for the movement at large. The whole question of
money and monetary methods in our modern communities, so
extraordinarily disregarded in socialist literature, will be examined
under the assumption that money is the token of the community's
obligation, direct or indirect, to an individual, and credit its
permission to deal freely with material.

The whole psychology of industry and industrial relationship needs to
be revised and restated in terms of the collective efficiency and
welfare of mankind. And just as far as can be contrived, the counsel
and the confidences of those who now direct great industrial and
financial operations will be invoked. The first special task of a
banker, or a bank clerk for that matter, who joins the Open
Conspiracy, will be to answer the questions: "What is a bank?" "What
are you going to do about it?" "What have we to do about it?" The
first questions to a manufacturer will be: "What are you making and
why?" and "What are you and we to do about it?" Instead of the crude
proposals to "expropriate" and "take over by the State" of the
primitive socialism, the Open Conspiracy will build up an encyclopaedic
conception of the modern economic complex as a labyrinthine
pseudo-system progressively eliminating waste and working its way
along multitudinous channels towards unity, towards clarity of purpose
and method, towards abundant productivity and efficient social

Let us come back now for a paragraph or so to the ordinary adherent to
the Open Conspiracy, the adherent considered not in relation to his
special aptitudes and services, but in relation to the movement as a
whole and to those special constructive organizations outside his own
field. It will be his duty to keep his mind in touch with the
progressing concepts of the scientific work so far as he is able and
with the larger issues of the economic reconstruction that is afoot,
to take his cues from the special groups and organizations engaged
upon that work, and to help where he finds his opportunity and when
there is a call upon him. But no adherent of the Open Conspiracy can
remain merely and completely an ordinary adherent. There can be no
pawns in the game of the Open Conspiracy, no "cannon fodder" in its
war. A special activity, quite as much as a general understanding, is
demanded from everyone who looks creatively towards the future of

We have instanced first the fine and distinctive world organization of
pure science, and then the huge massive movement towards co-operating
unity of aim in the economic life, until at last the production and
distribution of staple necessities is apprehended as one world
business, and we have suggested that this latter movement may
gradually pervade and incorporate a very great bulk of human
activities. But besides this fine current and this great torrent of
evolving activities and relationships there are also a very
considerable variety of other great functions in the community towards
which Open Conspiracy groups must direct their organizing enquiries
and suggestions in their common intention of ultimately assimilating
all the confused processes of to-day into a world community.

For example, there must be a series of groups in close touch at one
end with biological science and at the other with the complex of
economic activity, who will be concerned specially with the practical
administration of the biological interests of the race, from food
plants and industrial products to pestilences and population. And
another series of groups will gather together attention and energy to
focus them upon the educational process. We have already pointed out
that there is a strong disposition towards conservatism in normal
educational institutions. They preserve traditions rather than develop
them. They are likely to set up a considerable resistance to the
reconstruction of the world outlook upon the threefold basis defined
in Chapter Fourteen. This resistance must be attacked by special
societies, by the establishment of competing schools, by help and
promotion for enlightened teachers, and, wherever the attack is
incompletely successful, it must be supplemented by the energetic
diffusion of educational literature for adults, upon modern lines. The
forces of the entire movement may be mobilized in a variety of ways to
bring pressure upon reactionary schools and institutions.

A set of activities correlated with most of the directly creative ones
will lie through existing political and administrative bodies. The
political work of the Open Conspiracy must be conducted upon two
levels and by entirely different methods. Its main political idea, its
political strategy, is to weaken, efface, incorporate, or supersede
existing governments. But there is also a tactical diversion of
administrative powers and resources to economic and educational
arrangements of a modern type. Because a country or a district is
inconvenient as a division and destined to ultimate absorption in some
more comprehensive and economical system of government, that is no
reason why its administration should not be brought meanwhile into
working co-operation with the development of the Open Conspiracy. Free
Trade nationalism in power is better than high tariff nationalism, and
pacificist party liberalism better than aggressive party patriotism.

This evokes the anticipation of another series of groups, a group in
every possible political division, whose task it will be to organize
the whole strength of the Open Conspiracy in that division as an
effective voting or agitating force. In many divisions this might soon
become a sufficiently considerable block to affect the attitudes and
pledges of the national politicians. The organization of these
political groups into provincial or national conferences and systems
would follow hard upon their appearance. In their programmes they
would be guided by meetings and discussions with the specifically
economic, educational, biological, scientific and cultural groups, but
they would also form their own special research bodies to work out the
incessant problems of transition between the old type of locally
centred administrations and a developing world system of political

In the preceding chapter we sketched the first practicable first phase
of the Open Conspiracy as the propaganda of a group of interlocking
ideas, a propaganda associated with pacificist action. In the present
chapter we have given a scheme of branching and amplifying
development. In this scheme, this scheme of the second phase, we
conceive of the Open Conspiracy as consisting of a great multitude and
variety of overlapping groups, but now all organized for collective
political, social, and educational as well as propagandist action.
They will recognize each other much more clearly than they did at
first, and they will have acquired a common name.

The groups, however, almost all of them, will still have specific work
also. Some will be organizing a sounder setting for scientific
progress, some exploring new social and educational possibilities,
many concentrated upon this or that phase in the reorganization of the
world's economic life, and so forth. The individual Open Conspirator
may belong to one or more groups and in addition to the _ad hoc_
societies and organizations which the movement will sustain, often in
co-operation with partially sympathetic people still outside its

The character of the Open Conspiracy will now be plainly displayed. It
will have become a great world movement as wide-spread and evident as
socialism or communism. It will have taken the place of these
movements very largely. It will be more than they were, it will be
frankly a world religion. This large, loose assimilatory mass of
movements, groups, and societies will be definitely and obviously
attempting to swallow up the entire population of the world and become
the new human community.


A suggestion has already been made in an earlier chapter of this essay
which may perhaps be expanded here a little more. It is that there
already exist in the world a considerable number of movements in
industry, in political life, in social matters, in education, which
point in the same direction as the Open Conspiracy and are inspired by
the same spirit. It will be interesting to discuss how far some of
these movements may not become confluent with others and by a mere
process of logical completion identify themselves consciously with the
Open Conspiracy in its entirety.

Consider, for example, the movement for a scientific study and control
of population pressure, known popularly as the Birth Control movement.
By itself, assuming existing political and economic conditions, this
movement lays itself open to the charge of being no better than a
scheme of "race suicide." If a population in some area of high
civilization attempts to restrict increase, organize its economic life
upon methods of maximum individual productivity, and impose order and
beauty upon its entire territory, that region will become irresistibly
attractive to any adjacent festering mass of low-grade, highly
reproductive population. The cheap humanity of the one community will
make a constant attack upon the other, affording facile servility,
prostitutes, toilers, hand labour. Tariffs against sweated products,
restriction of immigration, tensions leading at last to a war of
defensive massacre are inevitable. The conquest of an illiterate,
hungry, and incontinent multitude may be almost as disastrous as
defeat for the selecter race. Indeed, one finds that in discussion the
propagandists of Birth Control admit that their project must be
universal or dysgenic. But yet quite a number of them do not follow up
these admissions to their logical consequences, produce the lines and
continue the curves until the complete form of the Open Conspiracy
appears. It will be the business of the early Open Conspiracy
propagandists to make them do so, and to install groups and
representatives at every possible point of vantage in this movement.

And similarly the now very numerous associations for world peace halt
in alarm on the edge of their own implications. World Peace remains a
vast aspiration until there is some substitute for the present
competition of states for markets and raw material, and some restraint
upon population pressure. League of Nations Societies and all forms of
pacificist organization are either futile or insincere until they come
into line with the complementary propositions of the Open Conspiracy.

The various Socialist movements again are partial projects professing
at present to be self-sufficient schemes. Most of them involve a
pretence that national and political forces are intangible phantoms,
and that the primary issue of population pressure can be ignored. They
produce one woolly scheme after another for transferring the property
in this, that, or the other economic plant and interest from bodies of
shareholders and company promoters to gangs of politicians or
syndicates of workers--to be steered to efficiency, it would seem, by
pillars of cloud by day and pillars of fire by night. The communist
party has trained a whole generation of disciples to believe that the
overthrow of a vaguely apprehended "Capitalism" is the simple solution
of all human difficulties. No movement ever succeeded so completely in
substituting phrases for thought. In Moscow communism has trampled
"Capitalism" underfoot for ten eventful years, and still finds all the
problems of social and political construction before it.

But as soon as the Socialist or Communist can be got to realize that
his repudiation of private monopolization is not a complete programme
but just a preliminary principle, he is ripe for the ampler concepts
of the modern outlook. The Open Conspiracy is the natural inheritor of
socialist and communist enthusiasms; it may be in control of Moscow
before it is in control of New York.

The Open Conspiracy may achieve the more or less complete amalgamation
of all the radical impulses in the Atlantic community of to-day. But
its scope is not confined to the variety of sympathetic movements
which are brought to mind by that loose word _radical_. In the past
fifty years or so, while Socialists and Communists have been
denouncing the current processes of economic life in the same
invariable phrases and with the same undiscriminating animosity, these
processes have been undergoing the profoundest and most interesting
changes. While socialist thought has recited its phrases, with witty
rather than substantial variations, a thousand times as many clever
people have been busy upon industrial, mercantile and financial
processes. The Socialist still reiterates that this greater body of
intelligence has been merely seeking private gain, which has just as
much truth in it as is necessary to make it an intoxicating lie.
Everywhere competitive businesses have been giving way to amalgamated
enterprises, marching towards monopoly, and personally owned
businesses to organizations so large as to acquire more and more the
character of publicly responsible bodies. In theory in Great Britain,
banks are privately owned, and railway transport is privately owned,
and they are run entirely for profit--in practice their profit making
is austerely restrained and their proceedings are all the more
sensitive to public welfare because they are outside the direct
control of party politicians.

Now this transformation of business, trading, and finance has been so
multitudinous and so rapid as to be still largely unconscious of
itself. Intelligent men have gone from combination to combination and
extended their range, year by year, without realizing how their
activities were enlarging them to conspicuousness and responsibility.
Economic organization is even now only discovering itself for what it
is. It has accepted incompatible existing institutions to its own
great injury. It has been patriotic and broken its shins against the
tariff walls its patriotism has raised to hamper its own movements it
has been imperial and found itself taxed to the limits of its
endurance, "controlled" by antiquated military and naval experts, and
crippled altogether. The younger, more vigorous intelligences in the
great business directorates of to-day are beginning to realize the
uncompleted implications of their enterprise. A day will come when the
gentlemen who are trying to control the oil supplies of the world
without reference to anything else except as a subsidiary factor in
their game will be considered to be quaint characters. The ends of Big
Business must carry Big Business into the Open Conspiracy just as
surely as every other creative and broadly organizing movement is

Now I know that to all this urging towards a unification of
constructive effort, a great number of people will be disposed to a
reply which will, I hope, be less popular in the future than it is at
the present time. They will assume first an expression of great
sagacity, an elderly air. Then, smiling gently, they will ask whether
there is not something preposterously ambitious in looking at the
problem of life as one whole. Is it not wiser to concentrate our
forces on more _practicable_ things, to attempt one thing at a time,
not to antagonize the whole order of established things against our
poor desires, to begin tentatively, to refrain from putting too great
a strain upon people, to trust to the growing common sense of the
world to adjust this or that line of progress to the general scheme of
things. Far better accomplish something definite here and there than
challenge a general failure. That is, they declare, how reformers and
creative things have gone on in the past; that is how they are going
on now; muddling forward in a mild and confused and partially
successful way. Why not trust them to go on like that? Let each man do
his bit with a complete disregard of the logical interlocking of
progressive effort to which I have been drawing attention.

Now I must confess that, popular as this style of argument is, it
gives me so tedious a feeling that rather than argue against it in
general terms I will resort to a parable. I will relate the story of
the pig on Provinder Island.

There was, you must understand, only one pig on Provinder Island, and
Heaven knows how it got there, whether it escaped and swam ashore or
was put ashore from some vessel suddenly converted to vegetarianism, I
cannot imagine. At first it was the only mammal there. But later on
three sailors and a very small but observant cabin boy were wrecked
there, and after subsisting for a time on shell fish and roots they
became aware of this pig. And simultaneously they became aware of a
nearly intolerable craving for bacon. The eldest of the three sailors
began to think of a ham he had met in his boyhood, a beautiful ham for
which his father had had the caving knife specially sharpened; the
second of the three sailors dreamed repeatedly of a roast loin of pork
he had eaten at his sister's wedding, and the third's mind ran on
chitterlings--I know not why. They sat about their meagre fire and
conferred and expatiated upon these things until their mouths watered
and the shell fish turned to water within them. What dreams came to
the cabin boy are unknown, for it was their custom to discourage his
confidences. But he sat apart brooding and was at last moved to
speech. "Let us hunt that old pig," he said, "and kill it."

Now it may have been because it was the habit of these sailors to
discourage the cabin boy and keep him in his place, but anyhow, for
whatever reason it was, all three sailors set themselves with one
accord to oppose that proposal.

"Who spoke of killing the pig?" said the eldest sailor loudly, looking
round to see if by any chance the pig was within hearing. "Who spoke
of _killing_ the pig? You're the sort of silly young devil who jumps
at ideas and hasn't no sense of difficulties. What I said was _AM_.
All I want is just a Am to go with my roots and sea salt. One Am. The
Left Am. I don't want the right one, and I don't propose to get it.
I've got a sense of proportion and a proper share of humour, and I
know my limitations. I'm a sound, clear-headed, practical man. Am is
what I'm after, and if I can get that, I'm prepared to say Quits and
let the rest of the pig alone. Who's for joining me in a Left Am
Unt--a simple reasonable Left Am Unt--just to get One Left Am?"

Nobody answered him directly, but when his voice died away, the next
sailor in order of seniority took up the tale. "That Boy," he said,
"will die of Swelled Ed, and I pity him. My idea is to follow up the
pig and get hold of a loin chop. Just simply a loin chop. A loin chop
is good enough for me. It's--feasible. Much more feasible than a great
Am. Here we are, we've got no gun, we've got no wood of a sort to make
bows and arrows, we've got nothing but our clasp knives, and that pig
can run like Ell. It's ridiculous to think of killing that pig. But if
one didn't trouble him, if one kind of got into his confidence and
crept near him and just quietly and insidiously went for his
loin--just sort of as if one was tickling him-one might get a loin
chop almost before he knew of it."

The third sailor sat crumpled up and downcast with his lean fingers
tangled in his shock of hair. "Chitterlings," he murmured,
"chitterlings. I don't even want to _think_ of the pig."

And the cabin boy pursued his own ideas in silence, for he deemed it
unwise to provoke his elders further.

On these lines it was the three sailors set about the gratifying of
their taste for pork, each in his own way, separately and sanely and
modestly. And each had his reward. The first sailor, after weeks of
patience, got within arm's length of the pig and smacked that coveted
left ham loud and good, and felt success was near. The other two heard
the smack and the grunt of dismay half a mile away. But the pig, in a
state of astonishment, carried the ham off out of reach, there and
then, and that was as close as the first sailor ever got to his
objective. The roast loin hunter did no better. He came upon the pig
asleep under a rock one day, and jumped upon the very loin he desired,
but the pig bit him deeply and septically, and displayed so much
resentment that the question of a chop was dropped forthwith and never
again broached between them. And thereafter the arm of the second
sailor was bandaged and swelled up and went from bad to worse. And as
for the third sailor, it is doubtful whether he even got wind of a
chitterling from the start to the finish of this parable. The cabin
boy, pursuing notions of his own, made a pitfall for the whole pig,
but as the others did not help him, and as he was an excessively
small--though shrewd--cabin boy, it was a feeble and insufficient
pitfall, and all it caught was the hunter of chitterlings, who was
wandering distraught. After which the hunter of chitterlings, became a
hunter of cabin boys, and the cabin boy's life, for all his
shrewdness, was precarious and unpleasant. He slept only in snatches
and learned the full bitterness of insight misunderstood.

When at last a ship came to Provinder Island and took off the three
men and the cabin boy, the pig was still bacon intact and quite gay
and cheerful, and all four castaways were in a very emaciated
condition because at that season of the year shell fish were rare, and
edible roots were hard to find, and the pig was very much cleverer
than they were in finding them and digging them up--let alone
digesting them.

From which parable it may be gathered that a partial enterprise is not
always wiser or more hopeful than a comprehensive one.

And in the same manner, with myself in the rôle of that minute but
observant cabin boy, I would sustain the proposition that none of
these movements of partial reconstruction has the sound common-sense
quality its supporters suppose. All these movements are worth while if
they can be taken into the world-wide movement; all in isolation are
futile. They will be overlaid and lost in the general drift. The
policy of the whole hog is the best one, the sanest one, the easiest,
and the most hopeful. If sufficient men and women of intelligence can
realize that simple truth and give up their lives to it, mankind may
yet achieve a civilization and power and fullness of life beyond our
present dreams. If they do not, frustration will triumph, and war,
violence, and a drivelling waste of time and strength and desire, more
disgusting even than war, will be the lot of our race down through the
ages to its emaciated and miserable end.

For this little planet of ours is quite off the course of any rescue
ships, if the will in our species fails.


Human society began with the family. The natural history of
gregariousness is a history of the establishment of mutual toleration
among human animals, so that a litter or a herd keeps together instead
of breaking up. It is in the family group that the restraints,
disciplines, and self-sacrifices which make human society possible
were worked out and our fundamental prejudices established, and it is
in the family group, enlarged perhaps in many respects, and more and
more responsive to collective social influences, that our social life
must be relearnt, generation after generation.

Now in each generation the Open Conspiracy, until it can develop its
own reproductive methods, must remain a minority movement of
intelligent converts. A unified progressive world community demands
its own type of home and training. It needs to have its fundamental
concepts firmly established in as many minds as possible and to guard
its children from the infection of the old racial and national hatreds
and jealousies, old superstitions and bad mental habits, and base
interpretations of life. From its outset the Open Conspiracy will be
setting itself to influence the existing educational machinery, but
for a long time it will find itself confronted in school and college
by powerful religious and political authorities determined to set back
the children at the point or even behind the point from which their
patents made their escape. At best, the liberalism of the
state-controlled schools will be a compromise. Originally schools and
colleges were transmitters of tradition and conservative forces. So
they remain in essence to this day.

Organized teaching has always aimed, and will always tend to guide,
train, and direct, the mind. The problem of reconstructing education
so as to make it a releasing instead of a binding process has still to
be solved. During the early phases of its struggle, therefore, the
Open Conspiracy will be obliged to adopt a certain sectarianism of
domestic and social life in the interests of its children, to
experiment in novel educational methods and educational atmospheres,
and it may even in many cases have to consider the grouping of its
families and the establishment of its own schools. In many modern
communities, the English-speaking states, for example, there is still
liberty to establish educational companies, running schools of a
special type. In every country where that right does not exist it has
to be fought for.

There lies a great work for various groups of the Open Conspiracy.
Successful schools would become laboratories of educational methods
and patterns for new state schools. Necessarily for a time, but we may
hope unconsciously, the Open Conspiracy children will become a social
elite; from their first conscious moments they will begin to think and
talk among clear-headed people speaking distinctly and behaving
frankly, and it will be a waste and loss to put them back for the
scholastic stage among their mentally indistinct and morally muddled
contemporaries. A phase when there will be a special educational
system for the Open Conspiracy seems, therefore, to be indicated. Its
children will learn to speak, draw, think, compute lucidly and subtly,
and into their vigorous minds they will take the broad concepts of
history, biology, and mechanical progress, the basis of the new world,
naturally and easily. Meanwhile, those who grow up outside the
advancing educational frontier of the Open Conspiracy will never come
under the full influence of its ideas, or they will get hold of them
only after a severe struggle against a mass of misrepresentations and
elaborately instilled prejudices. An adolescent and adult educational
campaign, to undo the fixations and suggestions of the normal
conservative and reactionary schools and colleges, is and will long
remain an important part of the work of the Open Conspiracy.

Always, as long as I can remember, there have been a dispute and
invidious comparisons between the old and the young. The young find
the old prey upon and restrain them, and the old find the young
shallow, disappointing, and aimless in vivid contrast to their revised
memories of their own early days. The present time is one in which
these perennial accusations flower with exceptional vigour. But there
does seem to be some truth in the statement that the facilities to
live frivolously are greater now than they have ever been for old and
young alike. For example, in the great modern communities that emerge
now from Christendom, there is a widespread disposition to regard
Sunday as merely a holiday. But that was certainly not the original
intention of Sunday. As we have noted already in an earlier chapter,
it was a day dedicated to the greater issues of life. Now great
multitudes of people do not even pretend to set aside any time at all
to the greater issues of life. The greater issues are neglected
altogether. The churches are neglected, and nothing of a unifying or
exalting sort takes their place.

What the contemporary senior tells his junior to-day is perfectly
correct. In his own youth, no serious impulse of his went to waste. He
was not distracted by a thousand gay but petty temptations, and the
local religious powers, whatever they happened to be, seemed to
believe in themselves more and made a more comprehensive attack upon
his conscience and imagination. Now the old faiths are damaged and
discredited, and the new and greater one, which is the Open
Conspiracy, takes shape only gradually. A decade or so ago, socialism
preached its confident hopes, and patriotism and imperial pride shared
its attraction for the ever grave and passionate will of emergent
youth. Now socialism and democracy are "under revision" and the flags
that once waved so bravely reek of poison gas, are stiff with blood
and mud and shameful with exposed dishonesties. Youth is what youth
has always been, eager for fine interpretations of life, capable of
splendid resolves. It has no natural disposition towards the shallow
and confused life. Its demand as ever is, "What am I to do with
myself?" But it comes up out of its childhood to-day into a world of
ruthless exposures and cynical pretensions. We are all a little
ashamed of "earnestness." The past ten years have seen the shy and
powerful idealism of youth at a loss and dismayed and ashamed as
perhaps it has never been before. It is in the world still, but
masked, hiding even from itself in a whirl of small excitements and
futile, defiant depravities.

The old flags and faiths have lost their magic for the intelligence of
the young; they can command it no more; it is in the mighty revolution
to which the Open Conspiracy directs itself that the youth of mankind
must find its soul, if ever it is to find its soul again.


We have now sketched out in these Blue Prints the methods by which the
confused radicalism and constructive forces of the present time may,
can, and probably will be drawn together about a core of modernized
religious feeling into one great and multifarious creative effort. A
way has been shown by which this effort may be developed from a mere
propagandist campaign and a merely resistant protest against
contemporary militarism into an organized foreshadowing in research,
publicity, and experiment in educational, economic, and political
reconstructions, of that _Pax Mundi_ which has become already the
tantalized desire of great multitudes throughout the world. These
foreshadowings and reconstructions will ignore and transcend the
political boundaries of to-day. They will continually become more
substantial as project passes into attempt and performance. In phase
after phase and at point after point, therefore, the Open Conspiracy
will come to grips with the powers that sustain these boundaries.

And it will not be merely topographical boundaries that will be
passed. The Open Conspiracy will also be dissolving and repudiating
many existing restrictions upon conduct and many social prejudices.
The Open Conspiracy proposes to end and shows how an end may be put to
that huge substratum of underdeveloped, undereducated, subjugated,
exploited, and frustrated lives upon which such civilization as the
world has known hitherto has rested, and upon which most of our social
systems still rest.

Whenever possible, the Open Conspiracy will advance by illumination
and persuasion. But it has to advance, and even from the outset, where
it is not allowed to illuminate and persuade, it must fight. Its first
fights will probably be for the right to spread its system of ideas
plainly and clearly throughout the world.

There is, I suppose, a flavour of treason about the assumption that
any established government is provisional, and a quality of immorality
in any criticism of accepted moral standards. Still more is the
proposal, made even in times of peace, to resist war levies and
conscription an offence against absolute conceptions of loyalty. But
the ampler wisdom of the modern Atlantic communities, already touched
by premonitions of change and futurity, has continually enlarged the
common liberties of thought for some generations, and it is doubtful
if there will be any serious resistance to the dissemination of these
views and the early organization of the Open Conspiracy in any of the
English-speaking communities or throughout the British Empire, in the
Scandinavian countries, or in such liberal-minded countries as
Holland, Switzerland, republican Germany or France. France, in the
hasty years after the war, submitted to some repressive legislation
against the discussion of birth control or hostile criticism of the
militarist attitude; but such a check upon mental freedom is
altogether contrary to the clear and open quality of the French mind;
in practice it has already been effectively repudiated by such writers
as Victor Margueritte, and it is unlikely that there will be any
effective suppression of the opening phases of the Open Conspiracy in

This gives us a large portion of the existing civilized world in which
men's minds may be readjusted to the idea that their existing
governments are in the position of trustees for the greater government
of the coming age. Throughout these communities it is conceivable that
the structural lines of the world community may be materialized and
established with only minor struggles, local boycotts, vigorous public
controversies, normal legislative obstruction, social pressure, and
overt political activities. Police, jail, expulsions, and so forth,
let alone outlawry and warfare, may scarcely be brought into this
struggle upon the high civilized level of the Atlantic communities.
But where they are brought in, the Open Conspiracy, to the best of its
ability and the full extent of its resources, must become a fighting
force and organize itself upon resistant lines.

Non-resistance, the restriction of activities to moral suasion is no
part of the programme of the Open Conspiracy. In the face of
unscrupulous opposition creative ideas must become aggressive, must
define their enemies and attack them. By its own organizations or
through the police and military strength of governments amenable to
its ideas, the movement is bound to find itself fighting for open
roads, open frontiers, freedom of speech, and the realities of peace
in regions of oppression. The Open Conspiracy rests upon a disrespect
for nationality, and there is no reason why it should tolerate noxious
or obstructive governments because they hold their own in this or that
patch of human territory. It lies within the power of the Atlantic
communities to impose peace upon the world and secure unimpeded
movement and free speech from end to end of the earth. This is a fact
on which the Open Conspiracy must insist. The English-speaking states,
France, Germany, Holland, Switzerland, the Scandinavian countries, and
Russia, given only a not very extravagant frankness of understanding
between them, and a common disposition towards the ideas of the Open
Conspiracy, could cease to arm against each other and still exert
enough strength to impose disarmament and a respect for human freedom
in every corner of the planet. It is fantastic pedantry to wait for
all the world to accede before all the world is pacified and policed.

The most inconsistent factor in the liberal and radical thought of
to-day is its prejudice against the interference of highly developed
modern states in the affairs of less stable and less advanced regions.
This is denounced as "imperialism," and regarded as criminal. It may
have assumed grotesque and dangerous forms under the now decaying
traditions of national competition, but as the merger of the Atlantic
states proceeds, the possibility and necessity of bringing areas of
misgovernment and disorder under world control increase. A great war
like the war of 1914-1918 may never happen again. The common sense of
mankind may suffice to avert that. But there is still much actual
warfare before mankind, on the frontiers everywhere, against brigands,
against ancient loyalties and traditions which will become at last no
better than excuses for brigandage and obstructive exaction. All the
weight of the Open Conspiracy will be on the side of the world order
and against that sort of local independence which holds back its
subject people from the citizenship of he world.

But in this broad prospect of far-reaching political amalgamations
under the impulses of the Open Conspiracy lurk a thousand antagonisms
and adverse chances, like the unsuspected gulleys and ravines and
thickets in a wide and distant landscape. We know not what unexpected
chasms may presently be discovered. The Open Conspirator may realize
that he is one of an advancing and victorious force and still find
himself outnumbered and outfought in his own particular corner r of
the battlefield. No one can yet estimate the possible strength of
reaction against world unification; no one can foresee the extent of
the divisions and confusions that may arise among ourselves. The ideas
in this book may spread about without any serious resistance in most
civilized countries, but there are still governments under which the
persistent expression of such thoughts will be dealt with as crimes
and bring men and women to prison, torment, and death. Nevertheless,
they must be expressed.

While the Open Conspiracy is no more than a discussion it may spread
unopposed because it is disregarded. As a mainly passive resistance to
militarism it may still be tolerable. But as its knowledge and
experience accumulate and its organization become more effective and
aggressive, as it begins to lay hands upon education, upon social
habits, upon business developments, as it proceeds to take over the
organization of the community, it will marshal not only its own forces
but its enemies. A complex of interests will find themselves
restrained and threatened by it, and it may easily evoke that most
dangerous of human mass feelings, fear. In ways quite unpredictable it
may raise a storm against itself beyond all our present imaginings.
Our conception of an almost bloodless domination of the Atlantic
communities may be merely the confident dream of a thinker whose
thoughts have yet to be squarely challenged.

We are not even sure of the common peace. Across the path of mankind
the storm of another Great War may break, bringing with it for a time
more brutal repressions and vaster injuries even than its predecessor.
The scaffoldings and work-sheds of the Open Conspiracy may fare
violently in that tornado. The restoration of progress may seem an
almost hopeless struggle.

It is no part of modern religion to incur needless hardship or go out
of the way to seek martyrdom. If we can do our work easily and
happily, so it should be done. But the work is not to be shirked
because it cannot be done easily and happily. The vision of a world at
peace and liberated for an unending growth of knowledge and power is
worth every danger of the way. And since in this age of confusion we
must live imperfectly and anyhow die, we may as well suffer, if need
be, and die for a great end as for none. Never has the translation of
vision into realities been easy since the beginning of human effort.
The establishment of the world community will surely exact a
price--and who can tell what that price may be?--in toil, suffering,
and blood.


The new life that the Open Conspiracy struggles to achieve through us
for our race is first a life of liberations.

The oppression of incessant toil can surely be lifted from everyone,
and the miseries due to a great multitude of infections and disorders
of nutrition and growth cease to be a part of human experience. Few
people are perfectly healthy nowadays except for brief periods of
happiness, but the elation of physical well-being will some day be the
common lot of mankind.

And not only from natural evils will man be largely free. He will not
be left with his soul tangled, haunted by monstrous and irrational
fears and a prey to malicious impulse. From his birth he will breathe
sweetness and generosity and use his mind and hands cleanly and
exactly. He will feel better, will better, think better, see, taste,
and hear better than men do now. His under-soul will no longer be a
mutinous cavern of ill-treated suppressions and of impulses repressed
without understanding. All these releases are plainly possible for
him. They pass out of his tormented desire now, they elude and mock
him, because chance, confusion, and squalor rule his life. All the
gifts of destiny are overlaid and lost to him. He must still suspect
and fear. Not one of us is yet as clear and free and happy within
himself as most men will some day be. Before mankind lies the prospect
not only of health but of magnanimity.

Within the peace and freedom that the Open Conspiracy is winning for
us, all these good things that escape us now may be ensured. A graver
humanity, stronger, more lovely, longer lived, will learn and develop
the ever enlarging possibilities of its destiny. For the first time,
the full beauty of this world will be revealed to its unhurried eyes.
Its thoughts will be to our thoughts as the thoughts of a man to the
troubled mental experimenting of a child. And all the best of us will
be living on in that ampler life, as the child and the things it tried
and learnt still live in the man. When we were children, we could not
think or feel as we think and feel to-day, but to-day we can peer back
and still recall something of the ignorances and guesses and wild
hopes of these nigh forgotten years.

And so mankind, ourselves still living, but dispersed and
reconstructed again in the future, will recall with affection and
understanding the desperate wishes and troubled efforts of our present

How far can we anticipate the habitations and ways, the usages and
adventures, the mighty employments, the ever increasing knowledge and
power of the days to come? No more than a child with its scribbling
paper and its box of bricks can picture or model the undertakings of
its adult years. Our battle is with cruelties and frustrations,
stupid, heavy and hateful things from which we shall escape at last,
less like victors conquering a world than like sleepers awaking from a
nightmare in the dawn. From any dream, however dismal and horrible,
one can escape by realizing that it is a dream; by saying, "I will

The Open Conspiracy is the awaking of mankind from a nightmare,
an infantile nightmare, of the struggle for existence and the
inevitability of war. The light of day thrusts between our eyelids,
and the multitudinous sounds of morning clamour in our ears. A time
will come when men will sit with history before them or with some old
newspaper before them and ask incredulously, "Was there ever such a


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