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"YOU may demand moral courage from me to any extent," wrote George Bernard Shaw many years ago," but when you start shooting and knocking one another about, I claim the coward's privilege and hide under the bed. My life is too valuable to be machine-gunned." If Shaw ever pursued this policy, he must have dived under the bed oftener and remained there longer than he expected to as a young Socialist. In any case, he has done an extraordinary amount of very dangerous talking about war from a position of doubtful safety. What he said becomes doubly important with the world making another international settlement and Great Britain under the government of a party whose policy has been largely formed by Shaw and other Fabian leaders.
Most people lose the real Shaw in the wit and the white whiskers. They are incredulous when it is said that the striking feature of his earlier politics -- international as well as domestic -- is their cautious realism. The truth is that he is an Irishman chiefly from the wit outward. His politics are inveterately English. In the axiomata media which Walter Bagehot called the peculiar ground of politics Shaw is hard-headed, shrewd and generally consistent, as in fundamentals he is jaunty, somewhat frivolous and effervescently logical. On the nature of God he is quite unreliable. On the future of the British Empire, he is surprisingly sound. Altogether, he is a strange combination of Voltaire and Sir Robert Peel.
Shaw's conception of political motive tends steadily to be Benthamite or Marxist with aristocratic qualifications. The economically powerful follow their own economic self-interest -- and usually attain it. The masses are ruled sometimes by self-interest but much more frequently by illusion, through which they are victimized and manipulated. But Shaw's discussion continually implies the efficacy of other motives -- intellectual, religious, national and psychological. Wars, for example, are brought about not only by capitalistic imperialism, but by human pugnacity -- in other words, by aggressive nationalism. Yet as a rationalist and a man without a country Shaw tends steadily to despise this motive and to underestimate its force. "Patriotism is, fundamentally, a conviction that a particular country is the best in the world because you were born in it."[i] Though keeping always in view the possibility of Marxist revolution, he tends as a Fabian Socialist to emphasize continuity and evolution, tradition and habit. Wars, he notes, are not followed by millenniums of brotherly love, but by situations which lead to other wars. Heterogeneous and discordant nations can no more be welded into a permanent league by a paper covenant than a democracy can be so created out of a despotism.
Shaw made his first close study of world affairs in 1899, when he was ordered to think about them by the Fabian Society, of which he was then literary expert. It was during the golden age of modern imperialism. Among the European nations, conquering the world had become not only a business but one that was highly organized and up-to-date, with sensational press campaigns and stocks and shares on 'change. Pursued by its Marxian dilemma of overproduction and underconsumption, led by its twin heroes of enterprise and abstinence, capitalism was reaching out everywhere for new markets -- to China, India, Africa, South America -- and industrial civilization was following the pound, the franc and the mark into many a remote corner of time and space. The nineteenth century was growing up triumphantly in the midst of the fifteenth, or of the first, or of the ages before history began. Sometimes the process was a little puzzling to the natives. It was always very exciting for the people at home.
Indeed, modern life was rapidly becoming a Roman circus for the delectation -- and the deception -- of Demos. As he grew in economic and political power, some of the shrewdest brains in Europe began to devise methods for leading him about by the nose. The art of mass suggestion was developed. Advertisements taught him what to buy, cheap novels taught him what to dream about, and the penny press what to think -- or rather, what to love and hate. The result was that rulers retained power, but had to deal with a dynamic rather than an inert mass. The more imperialism became a business, the more nationalism became a religion -- and one of the most dangerous of all religions, for because of the absolute sovereignty of nations it was a religion without a morality.
Entrusted with the task of translating Fabian opinions into effective pamphlet form, Shaw began to think internationally within the limits of the Fabian tradition -- as a Socialist who aspired to bring about revolutionary changes by an evolutionary and constitutional process. The immediate occasion for his services was the outbreak of that classical struggle of capitalistic imperialism -- the Boer War. It was an embarrassing event for the Fabian Society. Half of the members wanted to show that they understood Marx by disapproving of it. The other half, headed by Shaw and Sidney Webb, wanted to follow the Society's traditional policy of ignoring all issues not directly connected with reform at home. The dispute, carried on amid the excitement of an approaching election and a war frenzy which only a developing yellow press could create in an age of innocence, was sharp and bitter in the extreme and led to several resignations from the Society, including that of Ramsay MacDonald. The remaining Fabians moved gradually toward a moderate position and at length decided to formulate their ideas in a pamphlet, the drafting of which was as usual entrusted to Shaw. The task was one of terrifying delicacy. There were then 800 Fabians and nearly 800 shades of opinion about what the tract should contain. Shaw labored for three months, and then the first draft was sent to every member of the Society for comment. Shaw achieved prodigies of verbal and logical adjustment and at the next meeting all but 14 voted for the pamphlet. It was published late in 1900. Too generous to the Boers for the warmongers, and too imperialistic for most Socialists, it pleased few besides the Fabians themselves.
They were justly pleased, for under their close supervision, Shaw had produced an able and on the whole statesmanlike adaptation of Fabian ideas to imperial problems. The basis of his argument is an attack in the name of efficiency and progress on the principle of absolute sovereignty. A few Great Powers, he says, are destined to rule the world, its trade and resources. Until a global federation is achieved, the great imperial federations are the most practical substitutes. They must govern in the interests of civilization as a whole. Isolation, especially for small states, is no longer possible. A nation has no more right to do what it pleases in its own territory than an individual on his own estate. It must regard the best interests of its neighbors or submit to their interference. If China refuses to grant other nations the international rights to trade and travel within her borders, then those nations may force her to do so. This does not mean that weak countries should be steam rollered because they are weak, any more than they should be preserved because they are romantically nationalistic. Moreover, if Englishmen have a right to trade with and travel in China, then the Chinese have a right to emigrate to Australia. Australian labor must find its protection in a minimum wage guaranteed by the state.
Continuing, Shaw reasons that superior armament does not confer moral rights on a Great Power, but greater efficiency and superior civilization do. Thus Germany is a formidable rival. England will remain a Great Power only if she becomes calmer, more clear-sighted, more efficient and civilized. Her institutions need drastic reform. There is no genuine democracy in England because there is no rational and educated electorate, no acknowledged aristocracy of ability. The country is ruled by two plutocratic cliques -- the liberals and the conservatives, who represent the same restricted class. The newspapers support that class because they are owned by it. The masses vote for it because they receive wages from it.
Imperial administration must be improved, expanded, liberalized, rendered more flexible, he goes on in his 1900 pamphlet. The consular service needs more technical experts. It must be made less sensitive to private, and more sensitive to public, interests -- especially if the causes of war are to be reduced. India should be given a greater measure of self-government. English institutions should not be imposed on her wholesale, but native institutions studied and understood, so that they can be adapted to the requirements of progress. South Africa is a more complicated problem. The Boers should be granted self-government as soon as possible, but the Negroes placed under imperial protection. And the gold fields should not be left in the possession of a small frontier community but be made international or imperial property. The war was a terrible mistake which the Government never intended.
This tract also contains Shaw's first attack on militarism, which he has continued to satirize and vituperate for nearly 50 years. Army life hides torpor, inefficiency and injustice under the dark cloak of brutality. The army grossly underpays its men and suppresses any revolt with savage punishments. Officers obtain obedience not by the moral virtue of genuine leadership but by the deadening tyranny of military discipline. Hence they are obeyed everywhere except on the battlefield. They will be obeyed there only when their men are better paid and better treated. Obviously, this criticism contained much truth, for in most civilized countries army life has since become infinitely more human, its discipline infinitely more humane, and even its pay -- a little higher. Shaw's criticism fails in its romantic individualism. It discounts the military value of rigid training and habit, which are necessary to the coordination of large bodies and sometimes carry a man through the extremities of peril when courage and presence of mind have failed. To be sure, Shaw appeared at the time to have the facts on his side in this respect also. The Boer War seemed fought to prove regular armies unnecessary. It was a prolonged skirmish in wild country between frock-coated marksmen led by natural generals, and trained regulars led by parade-ground commanders whom no amount of training could have made clever and resourceful. Shaw advocated a national militia on the Boer model.
England can never hope to hold her empire by force, Shaw points out. Therefore, she should allow white colonies their political liberty, establish an Imperial Council, and attempt to guide not according to her own interests but those of the world. Exclusion from the Empire should be regarded as a penalty. Membership should guarantee certain constitutional rights and such organization of capital and labor as to result in the highest minimum standard in the world. Above all, England must not, like Rome, allow capital and industry to go abroad while giving pan et circenses to the people at home. Free trade should be maintained and essential industries that cannot meet foreign competition must be nationalized. England must have the intelligence and generosity to become Socialistic.
In its treatment of international affairs, Socialism has tended to be either idyllic or cataclysmic. In "Fabianism and the Empire," on the contrary, Shaw is practical. He asserts downrightly that world peace and world order will be achieved neither by a utopian movement of universal brotherhood nor by a Marxian revolution of the international proletariat, but by the continued growth and improvement of such great political organizations as the British Empire. Moreover, mere military science in itself promises no imperial triumph. There must be general efficiency, higher civilization, greater social justice. Thus foreign policy is largely domestic policy. The vast problems which loom at the horizon pose a very prosaic solution at the doorstep. The Empire must be Fabianized.
The imperial policy of "Fabianism and the Empire," whether original or not, did not spring into Shaw's head at an order from the Fabian Society. He had long thought about it. Moreover, Shaw had also developed elaborate views about war (which is, after all, an inescapable part of empire) and had expressed them in his dramas -- notably in "Arms and the Man" (1894), "The Man of Destiny" (1895) and "Caesar and Cleopatra" (1898). "Major Barbara," to come in 1905, would likewise be a variation on this theme. The first three present his conception of the military and political hero or superman -- the type which he develops most fully in the character of Julius Caesar. Shaw's Caesar reminds one of the magnificent improvisations of Disraeli. He is a Benthamite in a toga, and succeeds so admirably in that higher egotism of identifying his own highest good with the greatest good of the greatest number that he reconciles despotism with virtue and world conquest with non-violence. Shaw's attitude toward war was profoundly affected by the Ibsenian antithesis between romance and reality, the ideal and real. Moreover, his reality, like Ibsen's, tends to be too much Benthamite logic neatly woven into the seamy side of illusion. Consequently, he drains so much of the heroism and romance out of war that, even when allowance has been made for satire and comedy, the result tends to be an unbelievably logical and precise kind of madness pursued amid blood, sweat and dirt.
"Heartbreak House," largely written in 1913, is an interesting prediction of catastrophe. But as the international situation became rapidly graver, Shaw also published, in March 1913 and in January 1914, letters in which, after attacking the melodramatic secrecy of European diplomacy, he proposed a security pact among England, France and Germany. If any one of these nations attacked another, the third should side with the defender. Shaw had suggested the Locarno Pact 12 years in advance. But his proposal came too late to possess any practicability; by splitting the Entente and separating France and England from Russia it would, of course, simply have played into the hands of Germany. By now every foreign minister in Europe, including Sir Edward Grey, was working not so much to prevent war as to guarantee victory. War was "inevitable."
Moreover, Shaw does not bring forward any plan to remove the fundamental differences between Germany on one side and France and England on the other that were at the bottom of their mutual hatred and fear. What he thought about Alsace-Lorraine he does not say. He does say that Germany had as much right as England to a large navy, since both countries had colonies and both were vitally dependent on imports: German naval policy was perhaps ill-advised, but not immoral, he remarks, for no nation has the right to dominate the seas. The point, however, as subsequent events were to make plain, was that Germany had an appetite for world empire, that she dominated the Continent with her army, and might well dominate the world with a navy as large as England's. Sir Edward Grey perceived these essential truths a good deal more shrewdly than did Shaw. Had Shaw made a constructive proposal, it apparently would have been for an international police force under the joint control of the most powerful and civilized nations.
In August of the same year war broke out and with it an unparalleled spasm of mass hatred. Behind elegant club windows, in the grave council chamber, in the quiet library, an appalling atavism sprang up. To utter less than ferocious hatred against the enemy was a crime against society. Shaw quickly became guilty of that crime. He collected all possible documents, retired to Torquay, sunned himself on a hotel roof for two months, and then published in the November supplement of Sidney Webb's New Statesman his lengthy pamphlet, "Common Sense About the War." Most Englishmen -- like most Germans and Frenchmen -- were hysterically self-righteous. Therefore Shaw was coolly judicial -- noticeably generous to Germany and sharply critical of England. Then, and for many years afterward, his alert, witty detachment was regarded as, at best, criminally frivolous perversity in the face of appalling tragedy. He seemed more than ever a monstrous enigma. As a matter of fact, he had never been more frankly himself. In "The Man of Destiny" he had recognized that the sword could be a constructive force in history. In "Caesar and Cleopatra" he had, somewhat ambiguously, exalted it to the level of the cross. But now these ideas, whether relevant or not, were completely forgotten. Faced with the overwhelming reality itself, he was revolted, not only by the tremendous waste, but by the spiritual degradation of war. In the crisis he reverted to what was fundamental in his character -- to the Puritan and the rationalist.
"Common Sense" was a deliberate use of his great powers as a propagandist. He addressed his words to a rational minority in England, to the United States -- which was peacefully inheriting the future while Europe fought over the past -- and, above all, perhaps, to the American President, whose international views, he early foresaw, were to be more important than those of any other living man.[ii] He was resolved, for once in history, to propagandize truth and sanity. Unfortunately, he could not resist taking out some of his animus against British capitalism on British democracy and national character. His Socialist zeal against middle-class government, which, he felt, he had detected in a major crime against civilization -- together with his keen sense of isolation from the infuriated patriotism of his countrymen -- forced him into a kind of inverted partisanship which narrowed his outlook and diminished his influence through the subsequent period. Closing his eyes to the evidence of contrast between the spirit and institutions of England and Germany, he refused from the outset to see very much difference between the two countries. The war was the work of conservatives everywhere, he declared with doctrinaire confidence. "I was fiercely determined, like Ramsay MacDonald," he insisted afterward, "that the diplomatists and militarists who brought about the war should not get the credit for having saved the world from the peril which they had in fact created."[iii]
Applying Marxist doctrine, Shaw regards the war of 1914 as a horrible accusation against capitalistic leadership. If it must be fought, let it be fought with a minimum of illusion, he proclaims. If the common man must die, he owes it to himself to know how uselessly he is dying, to understand that English capitalists contribute to war by competing with German capitalists, that they profit from war because war raises the rate of interest. Indeed Shaw uses the big guns as a kettledrum to summon the world to what he thought to be a lesson in basic realities. The horror is not so much that Rheims was destroyed, he says, as that in the hands of a private firm it would have been torn down long since, the statues sold to American collectors, and the ground rented out for building sites. In fact, Shaw becomes so interested in his moral that he seems to forget the war itself and the plain fact that it must be fought through to a finish. What the world needs, he declares, is not a war but a revolution. The war might have been avoided entirely had not international politics been in the secret and almost exclusive charge of Junkers -- not only German, but English and Russian.
This introduces the question of war guilt. Here Shaw was dependent chiefly on the press and the English White Paper for his facts and on Marxism for his convenient key to the puzzle. He sees the war chiefly as a struggle between plutocratic imperialisms. He maintains that though the German Junkers were more militaristic, the English Junkers were more quarrelsome and that they began to talk about war first. He then cites such articles as that by Lord Roberts in The Hibbert Journal, in which the author speaks of "the White Man's Burden" and "our fitness as an imperial race." Moreover, he continues, the English are the true masters of Realpolitik. Instead of being isolated by Germany, they have isolated her -- with an air of the most innocent self-righteousness, for England is the Pecksniff of nations. She has a genius for finding her duty in her advantage, and, like all genuinely successful deceivers, she is best at deceiving herself. Measured by his own intentions and by English opinion, Sir Edward Grey is a gentle and virtuous statesman. Measured by his actions he is an incompetent Machiavelli whose very shortsightedness has enabled him to carry out the purposes of such militarists as Winston Churchill better than they themselves could have done. Being a liberal, Sir Edward could not promise certainly to fight -- and the end of the militarists was achieved: Germany attacked. When Sir Edward declared war, he was astonished to find the nation applauding him frantically. Yet had he published the secret military agreements with France and Russia, he might have prevented war.
Among the underlying causes of the war Shaw lists the sensational press, secret diplomacy, the armament race, and above all plutocratic government, which fattens on war. But most of these certainties, like the confident conclusions about Sir Edward Grey's easy opportunities to prevent the First World War, had crumbled away by the end of the thirties. The acid which dissolved them finally was distilled from the astonishing evidence that among the unmistakable causes of the Second World War were open diplomacy (that is, the free trade in insults), and not the armaments of the "plutocracies," but their disarmament and their pacifism. Though it is true that Shaw minimizes German guilt in the First World War, actually he accuses England more than he excuses Germany. He vigorously attacks Prussian militarism. Perhaps his most serious error is that he fails to analyze the connection between German character and German destiny. But the connection was not so clear in 1914 as it is now. One might almost say that Germany suffered catastrophe in 1914 because of the foibles of German character; in 1939, because of the mortal sins.
Shaw predicts the ultimate defeat of Germany and proposes a generous peace. For he believes that Germany can be destroyed as a nation only by the mass slaughter of German women, and that is unthinkable. She cannot be permanently disunited. In fact the disappearance of the Hohenzollerns and the Hapsburgs will probably lead to union with Austria. The best solution is to democratize the German constitution. All nations should pay reparations to Belgium, but unlimited reparations from Germany would be silly. Poland should become independent. Shaw deplores the alliance with Tsarist Russia and sees little hope for democracy there. Indeed, the war is really a conflict between the barbarous east and the civilized west. England, France and Germany should form a league of peace, and if Germany were democratic, the United States might enter. The greatest hope for world peace, he concludes, is in a federation of states organized against war on the basis of international Socialism.
"Common Sense" is frequently said to reflect a perverse frivolity. Nobody writes an 80-page pamphlet on a dangerous subject out of sheer frivolity. But though definitely in earnest, Shaw is undoubtedly carried away by his talent for didactic comedy. He does not make history too frivolous, but he does make it too clever, too superficially lucid and self-conscious. In order to heap the ashes on the heads of his countrymen, for example, he makes Sir Edward Grey sometimes too mischievously clairvoyant and sometimes too ludicrously the purblind Englishman who muddles through. Yet despite its doctrinaire narrowness, its caprice and extravagance, "Common Sense" nonetheless had a valuable astringent detachment. Like President Roosevelt many years later, Shaw wanted to "quarantine" war, to keep as many people as possible sane -- in England and in the one great nation that remained at peace. Above all, he wanted to temper public fury with a rational plan for peace.
Soon after the outbreak of hostilities Shaw became interested in British propaganda to the United States -- and particularly to German-Americans. In May 1916 he published in The New Age his own "Case Against Germany." Here, as in subsequent references to the same question, he generously acknowledges the achievements of German civilization, but calls attention to the dangers of the German monarchy and the German officer class, who not only behave like dangerous paranoiacs in a civilized society but, being Junkers who until lately had enjoyed mediæval privileges, treat their soldiers like serfs. So far as it goes, the indictment is just, but Shaw was too much afraid of falling into the ferocious partisanship of his countrymen to see the full possibilities of the case against Germany. He sees nothing new or sinister in the Prussian state. It is simply the French or English state arrested in the eighteenth century or earlier, the Roi-Soleil system as yet unmodified by democratic revolution. Again, in his eyes Prussian militarism is but another example of the bullying tendencies of an officer class. German society is in his opinion not specially influenced by the German officer, nor German policy by the German general staff -- which in its irresponsible anonymity and priestlike devotion to war and country Liddell Hart compares to the Society of Jesus. Indeed, Shaw denies, and with some justice,[iv] that the Germans were as well prepared for war in 1914 as the French and English. That the ethical romanticism of Nietzsche or the Volk mysticism of Wagner and Houston Chamberlain constitutes a force in German civilization Shaw decries as utter nonsense. His indictment of the enemy always verges on defense. He is in his skeptical mood, and views the question with a kind of Voltairean common sense. Of Cecil Chesterton's "Perils of Peace" he says: "It starts from the monstrous assumption that any sixty millions of modern white Europeans can differ from any other sixty millions of them." And yet they can differ. What "sane" observer would have predicted in 1914 the Nazi excesses of 1940? So far as war guilt is concerned, Shaw is as incredulous that nations have a distinctive character as Voltaire was that the fossils of sea shells had been found on the summits of the Alps.
In 1918 came the Russian Revolution. To Shaw the collapse of the eastern front seemed trivial by comparison. Here it becomes sharply clear how much more he was a Socialist than a patriot. He predicted direly that now the real war would begin. Now the battle between competing capitalisms would become the battle between rulers and ruled, between capitalists and proletariat.[v] Upon the Revolution itself he cautiously refused to pronounce. Successful Communism weaned him only gradually from his early contempt for Slavic ignorance and barbarism.
In the same year the Germans surrendered. Now crisis yawned before the statesmen of the world. The mind of a generation suddenly found itself faced with the problems of centuries. It seemed such a moment as utopian idealists dream of. The past was in the melting pot. The victors were omnipotent. All they seemed to need were ideas. These ideas were ready. Essentially they were an attempt to eliminate the causes of the last war in terms of nineteenth-century liberalism. There were also idealists ready to believe in them. Violently nationalistic at the beginning of the war, Labor moved steadily to the left and in 1917 advocated a negotiated peace.
Undoubtedly Shaw played a principal part in formulating and propagating the ideas which animated this trend. He also lectured them, as noted above, to the one man who might be able to carry them out. "Common Sense" was published prominently in The New York Times, where it could scarcely have escaped Woodrow Wilson's notice. A little later Shaw had addressed an open letter on Belgium to the President. He had seen that statesman's attitude develop from splendid isolation to his own democratic internationalism. The outlook was favorable but Shaw was not optimistic. His newspaper interviews up to this time do indeed indicate an enthusiastic approval of Wilson's moves and pronouncements, but his next lengthy pamphlet, "Peace Conference Hints," issued shortly before the gathering of the victors at Versailles, is a sharp and realistic warning of the dangers ahead. The American President will need all his mystic force for the coming ordeal. He has already suffered the fate of a prophet, for though he has a wide following in Europe, that in the United States is small. So complicated a situation, he writes, may easily turn into a chaos of greed and opportunism: genuine success will depend on the presence of a true leader, a man of principle, energy and courage, and for this Europe looks to Wilson.
Shaw is most interesting and original on the League. For a loose, heterogeneous, sentimentally splendid league of all countries, he shows no enthusiasm whatever. The problem will be not how to bring nations in but how to keep them out. Those involved should have similar forms of government, common ideas, traditions, civilizations, and, if possible, a common language. They should be capable of sustained unity and ultimate fusion. The ideal combination would be England, France, Germany and the Scandinavian states. Clearly, despite some grievances against the British Empire, Shaw has not departed greatly from his imperialistic thinking of 1899. The best guarantee of peace lies in a world dominated by superstates, which have everything to lose and very little to gain from war.
Shaw's conception of the settlement was only in part Wilson's. They agreed on the freedom of the seas, open diplomacy, the independence of Poland, self-determination of peoples, and a league of nations. They differed in that Wilson more or less necessarily wanted a loose and all-inclusive league, was much more inclined to be severe with Germany as a pirate state, and less inclined to temper his principles by practical considerations of power politics. At Versailles, the world seemed waiting to be remade at Wilson's touch. Actually, it had been considerably remade already. To win the war, the British and the French had bought weak allies with extravagant promises. Moreover, the French quite understandably wanted security. Unfortunately, it meant under the circumstances attempting to perpetuate the military superiority of 40,000,000 people over 60,000,000. The Paris Peace Conference had the atmosphere of a great democratic election many times magnified. The principal leaders infuriated themselves with newspaper denunciation of the enemy, irritated themselves with noise and confusion, and stupefied themselves with facts and overwork. In this inferno, Wilson strove heroically, achieved much, and ultimately failed. The treaty left Germany still strong enough to renew her attack and at the same time it vaccinated her against peace and democracy by dooming her to failure in them. It also created a league which, though it achieved much good, lacked the cohesive force to survive.
Shaw's disappointment was extreme. Apparently he suffered more from a romantic conflict between head and heart than the shrewd sobriety of his prose would lead one to suspect. Versailles marked the end of an era in his development. His subsequent history might be said to represent a victory of his Irish over his English characteristics, for London and the Fabian Society had made him an Englishman, as Dublin and the Shaw family had made him an Irishman. After 1919 he more and more lost faith in negotiation, compromise, constitutionalism, democracy, and even in logic and common sense. Inevitably, therefore, he lost his influence on democratic opinion throughout the world. He became more irresponsible, more cynical about the future, more irritably sensitive to the slightest hypocrisy, and also -- at intervals -- more romantically hopeful of extravagant and desperate remedies. After 1919 Shaw became impatient with history. That impatience led him, like Carlyle, ever closer to a philosophy of force. In his eyes Marx's prophecies were all coming true. Private enterprise seemed ever more bankrupt; depressions were becoming more acute and disastrous. The class struggle was becoming more violent, he thought, capitalistic imperialism more brutal and rapacious. Force alone seemed able to achieve anything, and in Russia force was apparently building up something very like the utopia he had always worked for. Sometimes when he was particularly disgusted with democracy it seemed exactly the utopia he had always worked for. He became steadily more Marxist. He took a sour pleasure in the early successes of Mussolini and defended the Russian blood purge of 1934.[vi] Yet the Fabian has never quite died within him. When in the Second World War it became clear that the "stupid democracies "were once more somehow muddling through to victory over "clever dictatorships," he responded with surprising flexibility in a man so wonderfully old and published in 1944 "Everybody's Political What's What," which attempts to solve the old problem in the old way. World peace and prosperity, he says, depend on the realization of democratic Socialism, which is possible only through drastic improvement of democratic machinery and the democratic electorate.
[i] George Bernard Shaw, "Music in London 1890-1894." London: Constable, 1932, v. III, p. 86.
[ii] Thomas Dickinson, "Bernard Shaw and Woodrow Wilson," The Virginia Quarterly Review, VIII, 1931, p. 1-17.
[iii] Archibald Henderson, "Table-Talk of G.B.S.: Conversations on Things in General Between George Bernard Shaw and His Biographer." New York: Harper, 1925, p. 122.
[iv] Sidney B. Fay, "The Origins of the War." 2nd ed., revised. New York: Macmillan, 1930, v. II, p. 498-9, 521-5.
[v] Letter to The Daily Chronicle, March 8, 1917, "What I Really Wrote about the War," p. 281-2.
[vi] Cf. Preface, "The Simpleton, the Six, and the Millionairess." London: Constable, 1936.