George Bernard Shaw socialist

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					George Bernard Shaw                                                                                                           1/23/10 4:25 PM

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                                                                    George Bernard Shaw was born in Dublin on
                                                                    26th July, 1856. His father, George Carr Shaw,
                                                                    a corn miller, was also an alcoholic and
                                                                    therefore there was very little money to spend
                                                                    on George's education. George went to local
                                                                    schools but never went to university and was
                                                                    largely self-taught.                               Wizards and Their
                                                                     After working in an estate office in Dublin,      Christopher Morgan...
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                                                                     Shaw moved to London in March, 1876. Shaw
                                                                     hoped to become a writer and during the next
                                                                     seven years wrote five unsuccessful novels. He    Their Greatest Hits
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                                                                     was more successful with his journalism and       Best £10.45
                                                                     contributed to Pall Mall Gazette. Shaw got on
                                                                     well with the newspaper's campaigning editor,     Fabianism and the
                                                                     William Stead, who attempted to use the power     Empire
                                     of the popular press to obtain social reform.                                     Fabian Society, Ge...
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                                     In 1882 Shaw heard Henry George lecture on land nationalization. This had a
                                     profound effect on Shaw and helped to develop his ideas on socialism. Shaw        Evolution
                                     now joined the Social Democratic Federation and its leader, H. H. Hyndman,        A. C. Fabian
                                     introduced him to the works of Karl Marx. Shaw was convinced by the               New £15.19
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                                     economic theories in Das Kapital but was aware that it would have little impact
                                     on the working class. He later wrote that although the book had been written
                                     for the working man, "Marx never got hold of him for a moment. It was the         Councils and their public
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                                     revolting sons of the bourgeois itself - Lassalle, Marx, Liebknecht, Morris,      Best £19.67
                                     Hyndman, Bax, all like myself, crossed with squirearchy - that painted the flag
                                     red. The middle and upper classes are the revolutionary element in society; the
                                     proletariat is the conservative element."

                                     Shaw became an active member of the Social Democratic Federation (SDF),
                                     and became friends with others in the movement including William Morris,
                                     Eleanor Marx, Annie Besant, Walter Crane, Edward Aveling and Belfort Bax. In
                                     May 1884 Shaw joined the Fabian Society and the following year, the Socialist
                                     League, an organisation that had been formed by Morris and Marx after a
                                     dispute with H. H. Hyndman, the leader of the SDF.
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George Bernard Shaw                                                                                                        1/23/10 4:25 PM

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                                     George Bernard Shaw gave lectures on socialism on street corners and helped
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                                     distribute political literature. On 13th November he took part in a demonstration
    16.5"- 297mm x...                in London that resulted in the Bloody Sunday Riot. However, he always felt
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                                     By 1886, Shaw tended to concentrate his efforts on the work that he did with
                                     the Fabian Society. The society that included Edward Carpenter, Annie Besant,
    International Law
    Malcolm N. Shaw                  Walter Crane, Sidney Webb and Beatrice Webb believed that capitalism had
    New £29.80                       created an unjust and inefficient society. They agreed that the ultimate aim of
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                                     the group should be to reconstruct "society in accordance with the highest
                                     moral possibilities". As Shaw pointed out: "Some men see things as they are
                                     and say why. I dream things that never were and say why not."

                                     The Fabian Society rejected the revolutionary socialism of the Social
                                     Democratic Federation and were concerned with helping society to move to a
                                     socialist society "as painless and effective as possible". This is reflected in the
       Privacy Information           fact that the group was named after the Roman General, Quintus Fabius
                                     Maximus, who advocated the weakening the opposition by harassing
                                     operations rather than becoming involved in pitched battles.

                                     The Fabian group was a "fact-finding and fact-dispensing body" and they
                                     produced a series of pamphlets on a wide variety of different social issues.
                                     Many of these were written by Shaw including The Fabian Manifesto (1884),
                                     The True Radical Programme (1887), Fabian Election Manifesto (1892), The
                                     Impossibilities of Anarchism (1893), Fabianism and the Empire (1900) and
                                     Socialism for Millionaires (1901).

                                     In his pamphlets George Bernard Shaw argued in favour of equality of income
                                     and advocated the equitable division of land and capital. Shaw believed that
                                     "property was theft" and believed like Karl Marx that capitalism was deeply
                                     flawed and was unlikely to last. However, unlike Marx, Shaw favoured
                                     gradualism over revolution. In a pamphlet, that he wrote in 1897 Shaw
                                     predicted that socialism "will come by prosaic installments of public regulation
                                     and public administration enacted by ordinary parliaments, vestries,
                                     municipalities, parish councils, school boards, etc."

                                     Shaw worked closely with Sidney Webb in trying to establish a new political
                                     party that was committed to obtaining socialism through parliamentary elections.
                                     This view was expressed in their Fabian Society pamphlet A Plan on
                                     Campaign for Labour.

                                     In 1893 Shaw was one of the Fabian Society delegates that attended the
                                     conference in Bradford that led to the formation of the Independent Labour                                                                                  Page 2 of 8
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                                     Party. Three years later Shaw produced a report for the Trade Union Congress
                                     (TUC) that suggested a political party that had strong links with the trade union
                                     movement. In 1899 Shaw served on the TUC committee that looked into the
                                     best way to mobilize the political power of the labour movement.

                                     On 27th February 1900 the Fabian Society joined with the Independent Labour
                                     Party, the Social Democratic Federation and trade union leaders to form the
                                     Labour Representation Committee (LRC). The LRC put up fifteen candidates in
                                     the 1900 General Election and between them they won 62,698 votes. Two of
                                     the candidates, Keir Hardie and Richard Bell won seats in the House of
                                     Commons. The party did even better in the 1906 election with twenty nine
                                     successful candidates. Later that year the LRC decided to change its name to
                                     the Labour Party.

                                     George Bernard Shaw wrote several plays with political themes during this
                                     period. This included Man and Superman (1902), John Bull's Other Island
                                     (1904) and Major Barbara (1905). These plays dealt with issues such as
                                     poverty and women's rights and implied that socialism could help solve the
                                     problems created by capitalism.

                                     Like many socialists, George Bernard Shaw opposed Britain's involvement in
                                     the First World War. He created a great deal of controversy with his
                                     provocative pamphlet, Common Sense About the War (1914).

                                     Shaw's status as a playwright continued to grow after the war and plays such
                                     as Heartbreak House (1919), Back to Methuselah (1921), Saint Joan (1923),           Evolution
    Wizards and Their                The Apple Cart (1929) and Too True to be Good (1932) were favourably                A. C. Fabian
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                                     Shaw continued to write books and pamphlets on political and social issues.
                                     This included The Crime of Imprisonment (1922), Intelligent Woman's Guide to        10x8 Photograph
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    Fabian Society                   Socialism (1928) and Everybody's Political What's What (1944). George               New £9.78
    Best £6.91                       Bernard Shaw remained committed to the socialist cause until his death on 2nd       Best £9.78
                                     November, 1950.
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                                                 George Bernard Shaw                     Shaw's Plays
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                                                                 National Literacy Strategy

                                     (1) George Bernard Shaw, The Intelligent Woman's Guide to Socialism
                                     and Capitalism (1928)
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                                     Equal division is not only a possible plan, but one which has been tested by
                                     long experience. The great bulk of the daily work of the civilized work is done,
                                     and always has been done, by bodies of persons receiving equal pay whether
                                     they are tall or short, fair or dark, quick or slow, young or getting on in years,
                                     teetotalers or beer drinkers, Protestants or Catholics, married or single, short
                                     tempered or sweet tempered, pious or worldly; in short, without the slightest
                                     regard to the differences that make one person unlike another.

                                     Therefore when some inconsiderate person repeats like a parrot that if you
                                     gave everybody the same money, before a year was out you would have rich
                                     and poor again just as before, all you have to do is to tell them to look round
                                     him and see millions of people who get the same money and remain in the
                                     same position all their lives without any such change taking place.

                                     Equal distribution is then quite possible and practicable, not only momentarily
                                     but permanently. It is also simple and intelligible. It gets rid of all squabbling as
                                     to how much each person should have. It is already in operation and familiar
                                     over great masses of human beings. And it has the tremendous advantage of
                                     securing promotion by merit for the more capable.                                                                                              Page 4 of 8
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                                                 Arms and the Man                    Man and Superman

                                     (2) George Bernard Shaw, Freedom for Women (1891)

                                     Unless woman repudiates her womanliness, her duty to her husband, to her
                                     children, to society, to the law, and to everyone but herself, she cannot
                                     emancipate herself. It is false to say that woman is now directly the slave of
                                     man: she is the immediate slave of duty; and as man's path to freedom is
                                     strewn with the wreckage of the duties and ideals he has trampled on, so must
                                     hers be.

                                     (3) Philip Snowden, An Autobiography (1934)

                                     By the end of 1892 it was felt that the various Labour Unions should be
                                     merged into a National Party. So steps were taken to call a Conference, which
                                     met at Bradford in January 1893. To this Conference delegates from the local
                                     unions, the Fabian Society (which at the time was doing considerable
                                     propaganda work among the Radical Clubs), and the Social Democratic
                                     Federation, were invited. There were 115 delegates present at this conference,
                                     and among them was Mr. George Bernard Shaw, representing the Fabian
                                     Society. He played a conspicuous part in the Conference. Mr. Keir Hardie,
                                     fresh from his success at West Ham, was elected Chairman of the Conference.

                                     (4) Beatrice Webb, diary entry (17th September, 1893)

                                     Bernard Shaw is a marvellously smart witty fellow with a crank for not making
                                     money. I have never known a man use his pen in such a workmanlike fashion
                                     or acquire such a thoroughly technical knowledge of any subject upon which he
                                     gives an opinion. As to his character, I do not understand it. He has been for
                                     twelve years a devoted propagandist, hammering away at the ordinary routine
                                     of Fabian Executive work with as much persistence as Graham Wallas or
                                     Sidney (Webb). He is an excellent friend - at least to men - but beyond this I
                                     know nothing. I am inclined to think that he has a 'slight' personality - agile,
                                     graceful and even virile, but lacking in weight. Adored by many women, he is a
                                     born philanderer. A vegetarian, fastidious but unconventional in his clothes, six
                                     foot in height with a lithe, broad-chested figure and laughing blue eyes. Above
                                     all a brilliant talker, and, therefore, a delightful companion.                                                                                Page 5 of 8
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                                     (5) J. R. Clynes, Memoirs (1937)

                                     George Bernard Shaw agreed to take the chair for me at a Fabian Society
                                     meeting. The meeting was a great success. Shaw has always been a brilliant
                                     speaker as well as a provocative writer. During the early years of the Fabian
                                     Society he spoke constantly at public meetings, drawing crowded audiences.
                                     He always gave of his best, whether there were two thousand listeners or only
                                     twenty. That is the hallmark of the true artist.

                                     (6) Edith Nesbit, letter to Ada Breakell (19th August, 1884)

                                     The Fabian Society is getting rather large now and includes some very nice
                                     people, of whom Mr. Stapelton is the nicest and a certain George Bernard
                                     Shaw the most interesting. G.B.S. has a fund of dry Irish humour that is simply
                                     irresistible. He is a clever writer and speaker - is the grossest flatterer I ever
                                     met, is horribly untrustworthy as he repeats everything he hears, and does not
                                     always stick to the truth, and is very plain like a long corpse with dead white
                                     face - sandy sleek hair, and a loathsome small straggly beard, and yet is one
                                     of the most fascinating men I ever met.

                                     (7) Charles Trevelyan, letter to Caroline Trevelyan (12th April, 1895)

                                     George Bernard Shaw is very much what I hoped and expected, excessively
                                     talkative, genial and amusing, and not unduly aggressive or cynical. He is not
                                     full of praise for anything or anybody - but is the perfection of real good nature.

                                     (8) George Bernard Shaw, letter to Henry James (17th January, 1909)

                                     I, as a Socialist, have had to preach, as much as anyone, the enormous power
                                     of the environment. We can change it; we must change it; there is absolutely
                                     no other sense in life than the task of changing it. What is the use of writing
                                     plays, what is the use of writing anything, if there is not a will which finally
                                     moulds chaos itself into a race of gods.

                                     (9) Kingsley Martin went to hear George Bernard Shaw speak at a meeting
                                     just after the end of the First World War.

                                     He made an indelible impression on me at this first meeting. I cannot recall
                                     what he spoke about. It mattered little. It was George Bernard Shaw you
                                     remembered; his physical magnificence, splendid bearing, superb elocution,
                                     unexpected Irish brogue, and continuous wit were the chief memories of his
                                     speech. He would give his nose a thoughtful twitch between his thumb and
                                     finger while the audience laughed. He was one of the best speakers I ever
                                     heard. Speaking for Labour candidates at elections, it was said he would fill
                                     every hall and lose scores of votes. In those days he did not suffer from the
                                     vanity that did so much to ruin his work in the thirties.

                                     (10) In his book My Seven Selves, Henry Hamilton Fyfe described the
                                     abilities of his friend, George Bernard Shaw.

                                     He has always been the kindest and truest as well as the wittiest of men. When
                                     I read his thirty volumes, as I do often, I think he must be the wittiest man that
                                     ever lived. Certainly he has had a greater flow of wit than any other. Yet
                                     behind there is always the prophet, the reformer - would it be an exaggeration
                                     to say, the fanatic? Long ago I twitted him with his trick of turning everything to
                                     ridicule, and he declared in grim earnest: "If I said what I really mean without
                                     making people laugh, they would stone me." Since then they have paid him                                                                                  Page 6 of 8
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                                     well for making them laugh, and blandly refuse to pay any heed to what he has
                                     "really meant".

                                                    Arms and the Man                  Pygmalion



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