An Outline of History • A Meditation


By Leo Rivers


These are the thoughts I had in the hours after midnight while considering what the two volume set of books called The Outline of History by H.G. Wells left me with as a sense of knowing about the World.

Why is it, I began by asking myself, that history is so poorly taught to our children in our schools, and so absent from the descriptions of World Events by our news broadcasters and the deeds of our leaders?

Why, I ask myself, do the nations of the world and their great important people not see when they look at the World what I see when I look into the darkness outside the window over the desk upon which I have placed this two volume set of books called Outline of History by H.G. Wells?

And the answer is suddenly present in my mind the way clarity is what the years pop when driving down a steep mountain road from a low altitude to a high-altitude.

     All the nations of the World 

     and all the people of those nations 

     all tell the story of History to their Children as if  

     all of History led to their own Nation 

     in their own day 

     as if the World itself 

     was one 5 billion-year-old struggle 

     to produce that one Nation 

     of all the nations in the World.

On the other hand, H.G. Wells’ two volume set of books The Outline of History is a largely impartial look at the history of the world as it led to the world of his day. He is not writing as the Scribe of any one Nation. The Outline of History, at times subtitled "The Whole Story of Man" or "Being A Plain History of Life and Mankind”, was first put together by H.G. Wells in 1919 using all the resources of many scholars, so his relationship to the book may have been much as that of a composer and conductor with many scholars serving as the individual musicians in orchestra. But it represented a completely distinguished and non-partial view of the history of the world - even though it was somewhat skewed towards Western civilization simply because at that time Asia was simply not so well known - even in scholarly circles. But this in no way meant that he didn't try to represent the cultures of the East as equals to those of the West.

The simple truth is that all nations produce histories for schools that are propaganda and are as self-centered as a flag salute or a politician's injunction to join the military and fight for “your country” - while, in the same speech, justifying a war in someone else’s country on the grounds that “Our Nation’s possess superior righteousness and is loved best by God among all the nations of the world - even while accepting money from corporations who want access to labour and resources in that country.

An overriding all of these other considerations the simple truth is that no nations leaders nor its people are comfortable with facing the gist of the true history of the world.

The gist of the true history of the world is that all nations are just nations and that all the religions of the past and the political and economic ideologies of the modern era are like dance music that comes and goes according to fashion while the purpose for dancing and the dances themselves remain the same.

There has never been an age in which human beings were other than human beings. 

And there never has been an age in which nations behaved other than as nations. 

The gist of history is that nations ponder their own resources so as to go to war to plunder the resources of others in an ongoing struggle in a competition that becomes a self-feeding fire and irrational in the end. At the height of growth all nations start to take back the special freedoms of thought and art and literature and political involvement that it was able to indulge his citizens with during the ascent to the height of its power and leisure - why? Because large nations that become empires start to cost more and more - more than they gain in resources and labor from the coercion of others… and then the Law of Diminishing Returns sets in, even as their acceleration to expansion spirals out of control.

Each era has a mindset in which the intelligentsia of every nation thinks "things are different for us and therefore doing the same thing as it's always been done before will suddenly get new results". But the truth is for all the reasonable arguments for and against one religion or ideology or economic theory at the end of the day these distinctions mean as little as fads in music because the dances always seem to remain the same in the end.

People don't like looking at history the way H.G. Wells did. 

H.G. Wells recognized and respected the advances in human rights and the sciences and the general knowledge of what the world was about. But at the same time, he was realistic in saying that men and women always seem to end up behaving the same way towards each other as they always have. But what is worse, he recognized, that now the world was covered with men and their weapons. And now human appetites were increasing exponentially along with their ability to consume and demolish the Earth.

So not only is getting the gist of history not very flattering, it is also not very reassuring. In meditating on The Outline of History by H.G. Wells, I understand why it is not used as a textbook for the four years of a high school education in the United States of America. It is not political propaganda. It does not teach that everything has led to us, the U.S., even though it enumerates and recognizes the great achievements of the modern era of the Renaissance and the Age of Humanism and the Age of Reason and the rise of Science.

The great religions of the world, and even the modern ideologies of pirate capitalism and state totalitarianism, have no reason to like The Outline of History by H.G. Wells. No religion nor ideology no political class likes being told that, for all the differences in the fashion of music, the dance is remaining the same.

So ask yourself, “why did this simple idea of simply restraining one's nation's population to a level that could be sustained by its own natural resources ever become the basic principle by which Nations operate?” It is such a simple concept. It needs no religious or ideological defense. Did not Families traditionally teach the virtue of “living within your means"?  What are nations but “Families” writ large? Why is that the Earth itself does not see itself as a family that needs to live "within its own means"?

Everywhere people's head would shake if you said this to them and they would say something to the effect "the human race is not learn to live with itself quite yet".

That is such a poor answer. Isn't it obvious? 

Those who want power cannot solicit the power they want by teaching humbleness and living within one's means. 

Isn't this two headed Thuamiel of Greed and Power the True God of Earth? Isn’t our universal worship of this amoral Thuamiel obviously the real reason the World would rather devour itself rather than turn away from disingenuous excuses and misdirections to a rather simple regimen of self judgment?

Every Nation, as an Article of Faith, believes that it has to keep growing - or else it will be perceived as a weak beast devoured by the wolf pack of all the other Nations of the World. And it also must be obvious, to the clearer thinking people in every nation, that this path can only lead to the World Devouring itself to Death.

Every nation teaches only Ideology and Religion and History such as serves as as self-serving political propaganda. Propaganda intended to shout down and drown out the scattered voices of still humane hearts crying our in the Commercial Wilderness of the Electronic Media. No Empire, (even the American Empire, especially the American Empire!), is strong enough to stomach facing the gist of World History in the full light of day.

The Nations of the World and all the people in them would do well in the hour after midnight to spend some time Reading, Contemplating and Meditating on The Outline of History by H.G. Wells.



1423 words by Leo Rivers, the Garage House, Cottage Grove, Oregon, Saturday, May 19, 2012 1:51:01 PM


 © Leo Rivers 2013