Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Is Bernard Shaw a Judge of Socialism? (1941)

From the April 1941 issue of the Socialist Standard

Commenting on Mr. W. J. Brown's broadcast "Is Hitler a Socialist," Mr. Emrys Hughes, editor of Forward (March 15th) takes Mr. Brown to task and warns him against underestimating Hitler. Mr. Hughes does not disagree with Mr. Brown's proof that Hitler is not Socialist: "Of course Hitler is no more a Socialist than is Winston Churchill, and Brown had no difficulty in disposing of that delusion." So far, so good, but Mr. Hughes backs up his opinion by calling in Bernard Shaw's recent opinion of Hitler. But is there any reason to suppose that either Hughes or Shaw is competent to recognise a Socialist when he sees one? Mr. Hughes, it is, who for years has told the workers that nationalisation or State capitalism is Socialism. Indeed, it is highly probable that Mr. Hughes is one of those in the Labour Party who told Churchill that he was supporting Socialism just after the last war, when Churchill was reported to have spoken in favour of nationalisation of the railways. Mr. Hughes is certainly a bad guide and Shaw is even worse. Writing in the Sunday Dispatch (March 9th, 1941), under the head "The Amazing Winston Churchill," Shaw discovers that Ramsay MacDonald was at one time a "revolutionary Socialist," and praises Mussolini and Hitler (along with Lenin and the ex-Kaiser) for their contempt of the Parliamentary system and for the "revolutionary social changes" they brought about.

The truth is that Shaw, whatever merit he possesses in other directions, and in spite of much pertinent criticism of capitalism, is a most untrustworthy guide to Socialism. Before Mr. Hughes again advises anyone to take Shaw's advice on Socialism, or on Hitler, he should take to heart the following statement made by Shaw in an interview given to the Sunday Referee (October 2nd, 1938):—
You know what I think of Herr Hitler and Signor Mussolini—two  highly capable revolutionary and proletarian leaders, who are giving their people as big a dose of Socialism as they can stand.
It looks as if Shaw's answer to the question "Is Hitler a Socialist?" would be: "Yes he is, he is a Socialist like Churchill, Lenin, the Kaiser, and Ramsay MacDonald.
Edgar Hardcastle

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