By some coincidence in the last three days I read Men Like Gods of H. G. Wells and watch the films Idiocracy, City of Ember and WALL-E. They all deal with humankind’s future, a very bleak future that could possibly become the ultimate Utopia or perfect world, not before another world war, the extinction of humanity, and survival of a few humans to come back to Earth from space, or emerging from underground to start anew. Is this what we can expect of our future, imminent self-destruction?
Should we be planning colonies and ship them into space or below ground, like, right now? Is it because we feel the end of humanity is fast becoming, that we are far reaching the end of all our broken institutions, that suddenly the topic of our future, or lack of it, is so pro-eminently featured even in children’s films? The topic is not new, H. G. Wells’ discourse in Men Like Gods is so up to date with what is happening today, even though it was written in 1923, that one must believe nothing has changed socially and politically for the last 100 years.
We don’t trust the government, any reasonable mind does not trust organised religion, we feel betrayed in a world where no one is working towards a better humanity for everyone, where most likely huge corporations including financial institutions control everything, without a thought for anyone’s wellbeing.
We have to admit that our morals and ethics’ record on this planet has already passed the custody threshold many times over, this record shows no sign of getting better. So much for H. G. Wells’ Utopia, we will need another 3000 years to change our ways of thinking and our ways of going about things socially and politically. After a few revolutions, civil wars and world wars, no doubt.
In the film Idiocracy, based on the idea that the strongest in nature will always be in power and go on to procreate over the more intelligent ones or nerds, we end up with a future where civilization has forgotten everything, a dumb down humanity. We still have technology and what remains from the past, but no one can fix it. So planes crash all the time on the streets whilst no one cares, watching TV instead on their Toilet-La-Z-Boys.
The richest company is one selling weird fizzy energy drinks and they are mostly in charge of dictating our lifestyle and the government, to the point were they killed every plant in the world, watering them with this toxic drink. The American President is a Black Rock Star who has no clue what to do to save this world, but knows how to entertain the nation, in a world craving reality TV, fights and destruction. In some ways we might already be living in that kind of future, to a lesser degree perhaps.
In WALL-E it is even better. We have already self-destruct, humanity is all dead except this trash robot called WALL-E who still cleans our mess, what remains of humanity. They were clever enough to send a spaceship into space with a colony of people who would be coming back once the world war was over. However that war was a mass extinction event (what can you expect in the nuclear age) and they were told never to come back. And so they remained travelling in the universe for 700 years, until such time that one plant is found on Earth and a probe goes back to the ship to let them know it’s time to come back to Earth. So they end up coming back and presumably build a better world.
It is nevertheless a very bleak future. Not only the human race self-annihilated, but on top of it the future of humanity on that ship are all obese people who can’t even walk, laying on their anti-gravity bed-chairs, plugged into the Internet or television permanently, to the extent that they barely notice the world around them, all that publicity choking their little spaceship. Once again the famous drink is on the menu, as it is their sole food.
The City of Ember film starts with the end of the world. A group of scientists built a city underground and gave them a box that will open in exactly 200 years. These are the instructions to come back to the surface once the final world war is over, and so they can start as a new humanity. 200 years of corruption later within their little underground village, two teenagers have to fight to discover the way out of their failing city.
In these three films there are still a government, a strong hierarchy, authority and law enforcement officers, whether they are humans or machines. The films are about a vision or version of our future, just before or right after humanity self-destruct.
In a way it is about corruption, isolation, individualism, living within our own bubble universe, festering in entertainment whilst the technology and robots replaced the slaves and the servants, whilst all around us we cannot see that everything is decaying and that our lifestyle has already destroyed the planet. We don’t even need another world war at this point, global warming will finish us off fairly soon. We can no longer reverse it, our days on Earth are numbered. With any luck I might witness the end of humanity within my lifetime.
This is not even being alarmist, this is being realistic. Now you understand my despair, I cannot lose myself in frivolities, like this TV series called Life After People, whilst some people are working so hard to destroy the planet at any cost, through doing nothing ecologically and promoting exploitation and wars. There must be a limit to their greed for wealth and power, a limit prompting us to stop them somehow.
In Men Like Gods of H. G. Wells, a book that inspired Brave New World of Aldous Huxley, Mr. Barnstaple is a political writer from the left who passes virtually just where I live in real life, Hounslow, continuing towards Slough and Maidenhead. He suddenly vanishes into Utopia right in front of Windsor Castle. He is accompanied by the Conservative Leader, the Secretary of State for War, a Priest, Lady Stella and Lord Barralonga (the aristocracy), and some servants/chauffeurs.
They find themselves in a world where there is no more government, no police force or prisons, but is still some sort of New World Order, where they decided to eliminate most of the population as to make this world sustainable. There are now about 200 million inhabitants on Earth and there are no more social classes or big cities. It does not take long for the Secretary of State for War, the Conservative Leader and the Priest, to plan a take over of Utopia to recreate the hell we’re living in right now.
These utopians are from a parallel universe similar to ours but they are 3000 years more advanced in the future, living in a perfect socialist world governed by everyone and no one in particular. Where there is no more money, you take what you need and there are plenty of resources to go around in such a loving and peaceful world of equal human beings. They walk naked, there is no more marriage, they sleep with whoever they want in total freedom. No jealousy, no pettiness, no competition. The scientific world does not work against each other for profit or recognition, they work together humbly and reach results much faster than we could ever hope to.
H. G. Wells seems to hope that perhaps in time we will reach that kind of balance in the world. Not before a world government takes hold of the world, and some Big Brother State gets to know everything about everyone, in a world where at least we could trust the government, or after larger revolutions, a world where no one ever lies. And you remain, at the end of this novel, wondering if this could ever come true, if somehow this utopian world could ever exist without actually rapidly becoming our new nightmare.
So what is our future? A Utopia or an Idiocracy? I don’t mean the future we all wish for, but the one we can realistically expect if we continue on the same trends we follow today. We are still very warlike, going to war without much provocation, still stealing natural resources of others. We are still about taking advantage of human beings, exploitation, using them for our own personal benefit, and it even applies to us being the servants of the richer people of this world.
A Nuclear Third World War is inevitable at this time, quite soon we could predict, quite rightly. And if somehow humanity ever shows suddenly a strong desire to see real change happen, to liberate itself from the ones who still have a strong hold on them, in a world where we all know there’s never been a real democracy to speak of, we may consider a massive civil war or revolution is on the way at some point in the future. Maybe after such nightmarish events we will be in a position to recreate a better world, if there is anyone left to recreate such a world.
H. G. Wells is quite clear that no sudden change ever worked in the past history of those utopians. Instead he believes that it is only through small changes, hard working authors and thinkers like his Mr. Barnstaple, people going ahead to help humanity on their own without waiting for a government who is not willing… only then in time the world changes into this socialist utopia, or at the very least something better for humankind than what we are witnessing today and have been for many centuries. Should we not have finished with all these struggles by now? Is there really any kind of evolution in this world? We’re all so tired, don’t we deserve peace and happiness?
So let’s work in the details, let’s identify everything that does not work or work well, anything that does not profit everyone instead of the few, and see how we can change the world slowly in time to benefit humanity as a whole. If we do not, in parallel of those who are in power, build our own institutions for humankind, we will never even get a glimpse of what this world could truly be like, living in harmony, peace and happiness.
Oh, I had enough of Idiocracies, I really need an instant Utopia. I practically live in Slough, an armpit of a place, it is where they filmed The Office, our miserable existence that caught America by storm, they must have recognised themselves in such misery. Windsor Castle is just around the corner. I wonder, maybe if I take the car down that same road as Mr. Barnstaple did in Men Like Gods, I might too find myself in Utopia. I’m not sure I have the patience to wait 3000 years for a better world where there is at least hope. Better be shipped immediately into a parallel universe, before the planet goes up in flames.
“Without irony, this life would hardly be worth living.”
Roland Michel Tremblay, Poet for Human Rights