What will England be Like in 1930?
What will England be Like in 1930?
The Opinions of Sir A. Conan Doyle, Mr. H. G. Wells, and other eminent and representative men in various walks of life.
SIR A. CONAN DOYLE.
It is a fascinating problem which you suggest, and one upon which one would not dare to be dogmatic. In the energetic hours of a great war one imagines that the same energy will be carried on into peace days and great reforms effected. I fear that the lesson of history is just the opposite. Lethargy and exhaustion follow upon great national exertions. After the Napoleonic wars, from 1815 onwards no internal event of outstanding importance occurred until the Reform Bill of 1832. It is true, on the other hand, that there is a spiritual quality in this war, and that men's minds and souls have been moved as never before. This may give us after-results. These will depend upon the extent of our victory. If it is incomplete and Germany is left in vindictive mood, with her present rulers still in power, then the military situation will predominate, and conditions remain very hard for all classes. If, on the other hand, we win to such a point that we can safely reduce our military expenses to a minimum, we shall, in spite of our crippling debt, be able to effect something in the way of social reform. The money saved from the fighting services should give us enough to increase the present old-age pensions, which are too low, to encourage education on a large scale, to subsidize scientific research, and to deal with the whole subject of poverty and disease in a drastic fashion. Education must be of character rather than of mere learning, for Germany has shown us during these dreadful days that the possession of knowledge, when it is unbalanced by character, turns a modern man into the most dangerous type of savage that the world has ever seen. A well-balanced education of a democratic type will carry with it the seeds of temperance and sexual restraint. You must prepare the soil carefully before you can get such results. Then they will come of themselves.
I hope that temperance legislation may take the form of regulating the strength of the intoxicant. Light beers and wines give a variety to life and can do no harm. I would, however, rather see total prohibition than the state of things which existed before the war. Some meat change will surely have come before 1930.
Some form of profit-sharing or co-operation will be earnestly called for between Labour ----d Capital. The weak point of the demands of Labour is that they never refer to the countless ----stances when the Capital is invested and lost. If they share profits, then it is clear that ----ey should share losses, and the two may well balance each other. However, some working ----greement must be attained, or the country will be convulsed by never-ending troubles.
Ireland should be a loyal part of the Empire before 1930. It might well have been so ----ow but for the rising of the Sinn-Feiners. Before 1930 one would hope that every Irishman ----ould realize that such agitations do little harm to the Empire, but are fatal to the peace ----d prosperity of Ireland. Home Rule all round is sure to come but whether it can be attained ----y 1930 is very doubtful.
On the religious side of life I have already expressed my views when commenting upon those of Sir Oliver Lodge. The tendency will be to get at the roots of religion, to cast away the forms and formulae, and to believe in deeds rather than in dogmas. At the same time there will be an increasing demand for positive proofs of supernatural interference, and an acceptance of the fact that the age of inspiration and of revelation is not a dead historical thing, but is with us even now.
Of mechanical improvements I am not competent to speak. The war, however, has given an immense impetus to the submarine and to the airship. It is evident that the latter is destined to compete with the railways for passenger traffic in the future, and that submarine merchantmen will escape the dangers of stormy weather, so long as they are in the broad, deep oceans. I believe that, taking the history of the last twenty years, we have, in spite of some ameliorating influences, lived in the most wicked epoch of the world's history ; so that all changes are likely to be for the better.