By Eduard Prugovecki

It is with sorrow that we report that Dr. Eduard Prugovecki passed away at his home in Lake Chapala Mexico on October 13th 2003

In his article H.G. Wells Sees It Through, Charles Keller II describes the great variety of social activities in which Wells  engaged during the course of his eventful life, as well as his changing allegiances to various causes. There is, however, one constant that apparently underlines that life: his striving for a better world, and his belief that such a world, devoid of exploitation, can be realized. Due to his conviction that science and education lead to progress, he envisaged that an elite of experts would guide mankind on the path to such a peaceful and progressive world order.
    As an undergraduate student in science I used to share in that belief. However, my later direct encounters with Big Science during my studies for a Ph.D. in mathematical physics at Princeton University gave rise to my first doubts, as I observed first-hand the widening moral and methodological gap between the old and the new generation of scientists, with the latter subscribing to a totally new set of values. Eventually I came to agree with such statements as that “I can’t find any fundamental difference between the scientific method and the procedures for making progress in business and the arts,” made by an American sociologist of science, and reproduced on p. 65 of The Subjective Side of Science (Elsevier, Amsterdam, 1974) by I. I. Mitroff. One the physicists interviewed by Mitroff also states: “Some [people] are very successful in pure science but it really isn't pure; nobody is pure. ... People want to sell their point of view, beat down the other guy because it means more glory, more ego satisfaction, more money.” (Ibid., p. 70.)
    Wells died in 1946, namely right after the end of World War II. But, as S. S. Schweber states in Pions to Quarks: Particle Physics in the 1950's (L. M. Brown et al. Eds., Cambridge University Press, 1989), “World War II altered the character of science in a fundamental and irreversible way: the importance and magnitude of the contribution of scientists and engineers, particularly physicists, to the American war effort changed the relationship between the scientists and the military, industry, and government.”
    However, instead of becoming the leaders of the “world revolution” envisaged by Wells, scientists of all stripes became pliant tools in the hands of the North American establishment. Their feeble protests were easily disregarded when the decision was made to drop the atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Later on even such mild expressions of dissent were no longer heard publicly––except in very rare cases, such as those of Albert Einstein and Leo Szilard. Had he lived, Wells would have been very disappointed by the direction in which his presumed harbingers of social progress were moving.
    Well-known political events during the 1960s, and the way in which elected politicians systematically disregarded the explicit wishes of large parts of their constituents, made me also realize that, behind the constantly flaunted slogan of North American “democracy,” hid an intransigent and irresponsive system designed to create political illusions rather than provide solutions to serious social, racial, economic and political problems. The demand for participatory democracy that rang in 1968 from France throughout all of Europe, and echoed even in North America, convinced me that one should search for better systems than that of representative forms of democracy in which politicians can betray their electoral promises the moment they assume power.
    In 1974, during my first sabbatical year as a professor at the University of Toronto, I took advantage of some of my free time to formulate my germinating ideas on social organization in the form of the utopian/dystopian novel Memoirs of the Future that contrasts two imaginary countries, Terra and FWF, which had emerged from the ashes of a devastating nuclear Last War. (At that time such a war seemed rather imminent.) These two countries possess the same technology, but employ it with totally different aims in mind, thus illustrating the fact that advanced technological tools can be used for benign as well as for evil purposes––a departure from Wells’ early scientific romances, which tended to emphasize the undesirable uses of science and technology.
    On the other hand, Wells might have approved of the fact that the Terran society was founded by scientists and technicians, who had survived the Last War since they were sheltered in underground research laboratories established by the various governments (US, Soviet, etc.) that possessed nuclear weapons. For me the subterfuge of such a nuclear holocaust made it possible to deal in a plausible manner with the otherwise unlikely possibility that such a category of people had a fundamental change of heart.
    Confronted on a daily basis with the incredible destruction and suffering caused by the weapons they had helped design, these scientists and technicians decided to found a society functioning along the principles of a new form of participatory democracy, embodied in scientifically designed protocols of coordinated group decision making, or cogdem for short. In keeping with the background of its creators, this highly advanced system of arriving at decisions at all levels of the Terran society is facilitated by a Coordinating Computer Complex, briefly referred to as CCC by the newly emerging Terran nation. There was no Internet when I envisaged CCC in 1974, but it was already very clear that such a gigantic complex of interconnected computers was technically feasible.
    CCC mediates a grass roots form of participatory democracy, in which any individual in a given community can initiate a proposal, and then participate creatively in the democratic process of having that proposal analyzed and debated prior to its eventual ratification, in its original or a modified form, by that entire community. In such a technologically and socially advanced society the need for “leaders” disappears, and therefore nobody is in danger of being misled––a frequent phenomenon in totalitarian as well as democratic contemporary societies.
    Indeed, having lived under both communist and capitalist regimes, I had come to realize that in many fundamental respects their differences pale by comparison with their similarities when it comes to the way ordinary citizens are treated by those at the top of the social pyramid. It is the existence of a hierarchical structure reflecting differences in power and privilege, rather than the ideology supporting that structure, that conditions the many undesirable aspects of the social injustices of which Wells and other progressive intellectuals were so critical during the pre-World War II era.  Whether that power emanates from a party apparatus, as in communist countries, or from an economic and political elite, as in capitalist countries, does not matter as much as that it exists, and that it is exerted in an overt or in a surreptitious manner at all times, with the great majority of the population being its unwitting and helpless victims.
    This fact is illustrated in Memoirs of the Future by the other country that emerged from the ashes of the Last War in the Southern Hemisphere, where the destruction was not as pervasive as in the Northern Hemisphere, so that old forms of social organization have survived. This country is called the Free World Federation, or FWF for short, since it has two political parties that rotate in the seats of political power. Their political programs display differences in the rhetoric employed, and the personalities of their charismatic leaders are usually quite distinct, so that the illusion of political choice is maintained. However, in FWF a counterpart of CCC, called Centro, is used by the Freeworld oligarchy to monitor and control all working individuals through computer-integrated bank accounts, centralized employment records and other bureaucratic devices, coordinated by means of social security numbers assigned to each citizen from the moment of birth. Furthermore, all FWF mass media, and in particular Tri-Di (3-dimensional TV), are systematically used to subliminally condition each working individual to obedience to authority and hatred of Terran values, while perpetually projecting skillfully designed illusions of the “good life” and of “freedom and democracy” through Tri-Di newscasts and popular entertainment programs. Thus, in FWF the art of PR has reached its zenith: by means of Tri-Di indoctrination, political virtual reality has become all-pervasive, and the FWF masses react with Pavlovian predictability to the rhetorical cues of their economic and political masters. Lulled into complacency by subliminal “brainstuffing” techniques, these masses appear “happy” with their lot, having been anesthetized by massive doses of Tri-Di entertainment which they devour whenever they are not working.
    This is a “utopia for the rich” of the type presented by Wells in his novel When the Sleeper Wakes (1899)––which he might have updated had he witnessed post-World War II political developments, and especially the new methods and tools used by contemporary media in manipulating public opinion. It is more difficult, however, to see how a society like the Terran one can function without being dominated by individuals who possess a greater drive for personal power than the rest.
    In Terra this problem is solved by a universal educational process that begins right after birth. One of its two main ingredients is empathy training, meant to instill in each individual a keen sensitivity towards his fellow human beings by employing all the educational tools at the disposal of the Terran civilization. Thus, for a change, science and technology is used to achieve social harmony rather than to impose the will of a privileged minority on the rest of the population, as is the case in FWF. However, for cogdem to function as a source of socially creative proposals, one needs individuals who are not only cooperative, but also independent-minded. Hence the complementary ingredient of the basic Terran educational process is its self-reliance training, which encourages individualism and the taking of initiatives in a social setting in which cogdem represents the only means by which community decisions are arrived at all levels.
    It can be argued that, sooner or later, sharp differences between the innate abilities of individuals would eventually lead to the domination of a minority over the majority, and the reemergence of a hierarchical structure in some new guise. Terrans solve this problem by genetic engineering, meant to endow individuals with a great variety of traits which greatly vary from individual to individual, but are all deemed to be socially equally desirable, so that a dynamic social equilibrium is maintained between individualism and cooperative behavior.
    Wells might have approved of this application of genetic engineering, though it evokes distasteful images of Huxley’s Brave New World. The reader is therefore directed to pp. 178-189 of Memoirs of the Future (whose revised and up-dated version was published in 2001 by Cross Cultural Publications of Notre Dame, Indiana, and is available from, and other online booksellers). There the various ethical aspects of genetic engineering are discussed in the context of a verbal confrontation between three of its main characters.
    In Wells’ early scientific romances science is used primarily for villainous purposes, but in his Men Like Gods (1923) and The Shape of Things to Come (1933) science is depicted as a savior of mankind. However, science itself is morally neutral: it simply provides mankind with choices which otherwise it would not have had. Hence in my futuristic novel Memoirs of the Future the positive as well as the negative potentialities of various scientific discoveries are examined. This strategy is continued in its sequel Dawn of the New Man: A Futuristic Novel of Social Change (
available from, and other online booksellers), where the aspirations of the Terran society are investigated, and the task of reforming FWF is presented in the kind of dramatic form which is in the spirit of some of Wells’ best known science fiction.

Acknowledgement. The author would like to express his thanks to Professor W. Warren Wagar who, as a leading expert on H.G. Wells, provided many insightful comments on the first draft of this article.

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