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Can anyone explain why transgenderism is the new frontier in civil rights? Whether you believe that trans people deserve to be protected from all discrimination or not, the emergence of transgender issues is a conundrum.

Why are there so many cases? Why is the number of children and teenagers suffering from gender dysphoria exploding? Why is it regarded so sympathetically in the corporate world and in the media?

It’s baffling. The answer must be that transgenderism has somehow been hard-wired into our culture. It has been there all the time, a sleeper virus waiting for ideal conditions.

In fact, as early as 1913, H.G. Wells, the pioneering British science fiction writer, predicted the emergence of transgenderism. If he were alive today, he would probably be one of its most effective propagandists.

Wells is an intriguing figure. His parents were poor and badly educated, but he was nominated for the Nobel Prize in Literature four times. He was a literary volcano who spewed out science fiction, social commentary novels, short stories, history, sociology, tracts on public affairs, and futurology. Many of his books are still in print, including his classic sci fi novels The Time Machine, War of the Worlds, The Island of Dr Moreau, and The Invisible Man.

He was implacably anti-Christian and anti-religious and held “progressive” ideas about marriage and sex – unsurprisingly, in the light of his turbulent love life.

The best of Wells and the worst of Wells are all on display in his novel The World Set Free (also available as a free download at gutenberg.org).

As literature The World Set Free deserves to be deep-sixed, but it is amazingly clairvoyant about scientific and social themes. He wrote it in 1913, just before the beginning of World War I. It predicts World War II (and skips over World War I), aerial warfare, atomic energy, atomic bombs, world government, the linguistic dominance of English, the sexual revolution, secular governments hastening the decline of religious belief – and transgenderism.

The central theme of the novel is expressed in its opening sentence. In fact, it is the theme of all of Wells’s writing: “The history of mankind is the history of the attainment of external power”. In other words, we are not homo sapiens but homo faber. Humanity’s destiny is not wisdom or communion with God, but discovering how to dominate nature. It is a very Marxist notion and unsurprisingly Wells was a fervent socialist.

Nowadays the environmental movement has dampened enthusiasm for using technology to dominate the natural world. We realise that man is part of nature and that it is perilous to exploit it. However, it is equally evident that faith in technology as salvation has a deep hold on us.

H.G. Wells

Wells’s mouthpiece in The World Set Free is a Russian sage named Karenin, a Socrates-like figure who appears late in the narrative and gives lectures to a gaggle of star-struck disciples. It is here that Wells predicts the inevitable rise of transgenderism.

One of the disciples rhapsodises about a future of free love – which was a popular cause in the early decades of the 20th Century. “I know that when you say that the world is set free,” says Karenin, “you interpret that to mean that the world is set free for love-making … this old hard world [is] dissolving into a luminous haze of love—sexual love.”

Complete twaddle, he observes scornfully. The true goal of humanity is “the eternal search for knowledge and the great adventure of power.”

“I do not care a rap about your future—as women. I do not care a rap about the future of men—as males. I want to destroy these peculiar futures. I care for your future as intelligences, as parts of and contribution to the universal mind of the race. Humanity is not only naturally over-specialised in these matters, but all its institutions, its customs, everything, exaggerate, intensify this difference. I want to unspecialise women. No new idea. Plato wanted exactly that. I do not want to go on as we go now, emphasising this natural difference; I do not deny it, but I want to reduce it and overcome it.”

In short, in the coming utopia, sexual differences will be erased. By which, of course, Karenin means that women, not men, will be erased. (Wells was many things but he was not a feminist.):

‘Karenin?’ asked Rachel, ‘do you mean that women are to become men?’    
‘Men and women have to become human beings.’

This sentence sums up the transgender ideology. Humanity becomes more perfect by transcending the natural restrictions involved in binary sexuality and by embracing self-defining gender roles.

And Karenin goes on to explain that this is inevitable because the vocation of homo faber is to dominate his own body, just as he has dominated the rest of nature.

“Suddenly all these differences that seem so fixed will dissolve [says Karenin], all these incompatibles will run together, and we shall go on to mould our bodies and our bodily feelings and personal reactions as boldly as we begin now to carve mountains and set the seas in their places and change the currents of the wind.”

The vocabulary is Edwardian, but the sentiment is thoroughly 21st Century Caitlyn Jenner: “’I do not see,’ said Karenin, ‘that there is any final limit to man’s power of self-modification.’”

What these citations from a century-old tract suggest is that transgenderism, despite its novelty, is deeply rooted in our culture. It seems to be the completely logical conclusion of a post-Christian culture which worships technology and has abjured its Creator. In the Wellsian scheme of things, power has displaced love as the supreme virtue. And just as for Christians, sexuality only makes sense as love, for post-Christians, sexuality only makes sense as the power of remoulding the body in the transgender project.

So if celebrating transgenderism makes you queasy and if you’re gearing up to fight back, know your enemy. You won’t be fighting a loopy conspiracy theory, or LGBT activists, or ageing hippies from the Summer of Love. You’ll be fighting everything H.G. Wells stood for: Marxist metaphysics, scientism, and the Enlightenment itself. Buckle up; it will be a bumpy ride.

Michael Cook

Michael Cook is the editor of MercatorNet.