Mark Somos

University of Sussex, UK

Centre for Intellectual History


“Hate and Coarse Thinking”: Anti-Machiavellian Machiavellism in H.G. Wells, The New Machiavelli  (1910/1911)




Wells's The New Machiavelli (1911) offers an excellent case study of the use of anti-Machiavellian Machiavellism as both a philosophical and a rhetorical strategy. In Remington, Wells creates a protagonist who follows Machiavellian rules of behaviour and denounces those who do likewise. The novel is structured to show Remington's progress from an idealist refutation of Machiavellism, through a recognition of its necessity, to the formulation of a private and political method for pursuing necessary Machiavellian principles under the disguise of anti-Machiavellism, including trenchant criticisms of Fabians as anti-Machiavellian Machiavellians. These stages, culminating in complete personal and public failure, are reflected in Remington's party allegiances, and broadened by Wells into an account of British party ideologies around the turn of the twentieth century. Wells's rhetorical design for mapping and assessing anti-Machiavellian Machiavellism is paralleled by an exploration of that technique in himself, attested by the predominance of autobiographical elements in The New Machiavelli, and by similarities between Remington's and Wells's own deception of others and themselves. Far from incidental, anti-Machiavellian Machiavellism is the motif that unites the shifting party allegiances, political conceits and moral hypocrisies, and private and public failures of Wells, Remington, and of the period of British politics that they intend to encapsulate. 


H. G. Wells: Little Wars