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January 11, 2011

Comments

ajay

This sort of story makes me think it can't be long before the Communists take over.

(Apologies for reusing old Soviet joke with punchline "Leonid, you've done very well for yourself, but what's going to happen to you if the Bolsheviks win?"

Richard J

Well, I suppose it's a consequence of years of communist propaganda about the evil machinations of capitalism. There's going to be a non-negligible part of your population who take it as a how-to guide.

JamesP

Ah, yes, I've told that joke in China many times, normally ending with Hu's mother saying "Son, this is all very nice, but what if the Reds come back?"

ajay

As someone or other pointed out, it would be fairly difficult for, say, a 21st century Brit to convince a visiting HG Wells that Britain had not undergone a socialist revolution; it'd be almost as difficult to convince him that Russia had.

Cian

It would rather depend on which parts of the UK you took him too. And Wells wasn't exactly what you'd call a sophisticated political thinker.

ejh

Reminds me of Michael Moorcock's claim that you can believe in anything you like in London, as long as you live in the right place.

ajay

Wells wasn't exactly what you'd call a sophisticated political thinker.

Which gives me a cue to reprint my favourite Wells quote:

From above the airships could inflict immense damage; they could reduce any organised Government to a capitulation in the briefest space, but they could not disarm, much less could they occupy, the surrendered areas below. They had to trust to the pressure upon the authorities below of a threat to renew the bombardment. It was their sole resource. No doubt, with a highly organised and undamaged Government and a homogeneous and well-disciplined people that would have sufficed to keep the peace. But this was not the case. Not only was the Government a weak one and insufficiently provided with police, but the destruction of the City Hall and Post-Office and other central ganglia had hopelessly disorganised the co-operation of part with part. The street cars and railways had ceased; the telephone service was out of gear and only worked intermittently. The Germans had struck at the head, and the head was conquered and stunned--only to release the body from its rule. The city had become a headless monster, no longer capable of collective submission. Everywhere it lifted itself rebelliously...

Shock and awe, 1908 style. Airpower's no substitute for boots on the ground...

Chris Williams

I love _The War in the Air_.

ajay

A neglected classic. Everyone likes The Time Machine instead boo hiss.

Chris Williams

I keep on telling people to read _The Land Ironclads_. It's two fingers to Lord Roberts, but also to JS Mill in his later "Are we too wimpy?" phase.

ajay

Yes on the second point; what about Lord Roberts? Does it make some crack about conscription? It's a few years since I read it.

Chris Williams

It's basically 'brain beats brawn' - the side with the best machines wins, not the one with the best infantry. Not sure if it was ever used as a weapon in the Fisher vs Beresford struggle, but it might have been.

ajay

If I recall, it was that story that led Wells to decide that he wanted his gravestone to read

HERBERT GEORGE WELLS

(and then the dates)

YOU DAMNED FOOLS, I TOLD YOU SO.

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