Accomplishments will often lead to complicity, which in turn will result in atrophy. The famous historian, Arnold Toynbee, believed this to be the cycle of civilization. Both Ray Bradbury’s “The Toynbee Convector” and H.G. Wells’ The Time Machine affirm Arnold Toynbee’s view on history. Bradbury writes of a time traveler who claims to have visited a bright, beautiful future. Meanwhile, The Time Machine focuses on a future which holds an uncanny tranquility.
Before Craig Stiles announced his journey through time, the world was stagnant and unchanging. When the reporter, Roger Shumway meets with the time traveler, he learns that his trip was an elaborate hoax. He says, “You name it, we had it …
Nothing was worth doing’… ‘And you couldn’t allow that? … And so you built the Toynbee Convector-””(6-7). It was an initiative to jumpstart humanity’s progress path to greatness. The time traveler needed to give humanity hope, to inspire innovation and growth.
Toynbee’s theory nearly came true, if it weren’t for intervention by Stiles. Civilization would have died because of suicide, not because of outside forces. An unnamed time traveler discovers great progress will yield only significant failure. As the time traveler explores the world in 802,701, he finds out that humans have devolved into a race of weak, vacuous creatures. The time traveler formulates his hypothesis after his adventure. There is no intelligence where there is no change and no need of change. Only those animals partake of intelligence that have to meet a huge variety of needs and dangers” (120).
H.G. Wells builds a world which goes hand in hand with Toynbee’s theory. Without challenges, the Eloi became physically and mentally weakened, just Toynbee predicted them to become.
Wells and Bradbury both support Toynbee’s theory concerning civilization, in their respective pieces of literature: The Time Machine and “The Toynbee Convector.” These works provide an insight into what the world would look like without challenges. Progress and innovation grind to a halt because there is nothing to overcome. Then society kills itself just as Arnold Toynbee predicted. His theory is very similar to the world of economics. If there is zero unemployment, then the market will become stagnant. Zero unemployment may seem enticing, but it means that firms are still using outdated methods instead of new machines.