Mr Wells’ essays in sociology are not dry treatises, based on Blue books and the gathering together of information and statistics from a formless and largely worthless collection of earlier sources. He has approached this question of man in relation to the State in the same generous spirit displayed in his works of fiction; and it is only by using the word “sociology” in its fuller sense as conceived by Comte, rather than in the restricted sense of “social science” with its implication of economics, as narrowed by Herbert Spencer, that I dare to head this last chapter with so dangerously technicalised a term. Indeed, I would not use the word “sociology” now if I could find a more inclusive heading. For it must be obvious, I think, to anyone who has followed my exposition of the romances and the novels that Mr Wells has a way of treating all such subjects as relate to the betterment of humanity with a broad outlook, an entire disrespect for conventional forms however hallowed by precedent, and a habit of trenchant criticism that could hardly be fettered by an analysis of sociological literature or continual deference to this or that experiment in practice or theory. He approaches his subject with the normal mind of one who sees the world, its customs and rules of conduct, from what is, after all, the point of view of common-sense—another term that has been so grossly misused that the possessor of true common-sense is apt to be regarded as a most uncommon person. It is, in fact, the least common of qualities.
The first three books under this heading form some sort of a trilogy, and have a definite air of consequence. Of these, Anticipations was published in 1901, and Mankind in the Making and A Modern Utopia followed in 1903 and 1905 respectively. The scheme of the first two books combines a criticism of present conditions with a growing constructiveness that points the way to the ideal of what is called “The New Republic.” Now, one of the labels that has been most frequently and adhesively affixed to Mr Wells is that of “Socialist,” and no doubt it would proclaim his purpose admirably enough if we could satisfactorily define the word in its relation to him. But, personally, I refuse so to label him, because I know that socialism means as many things to different people as religion, and is as much a term of reproach in the mouth of some self-labelled individualists as the designation “Christian” might be in the mouth of the “true believers”—as the Mohammedans call themselves. Wherefore I am particularly anxious in approaching any description of “The New Republic,” to make it quite clear that that idealised State is not built of the bricks that have been modelled and cast by any recognisable group of propagandists, working to permeate, or more forcibly to convert, a section of the public under the flags of, say, Fabianism or Social Democracy. The essential thing about Mr Wells is that he is not a Follower, whether of Marx, or Hyndman, or Shaw, or