Wednesday, June 23, 2021

Further meanderings of G. B. Shaw (1945)

Book Review from the June 1945 issue of the Socialist Standard

Mr. Shaw insists periodically on exhibiting his lack of knowledge of socialism and his poverty of ideas regarding it. He is at it again in “Everybody’s Political What’s What.

Much of what he says may best be described as sheer waste of paper; the tragedy is, however, that although it got very poor notices from the critics the Shaw fans, i.e., admirers of his excellent and witty plays, carry their adoration of him into his other fields. It is apparently hard to conceive that an individual capable at his particular job albeit a difficult one may be a hopeless duffer at others; Oliver Lodge, a scientist, believed avidly in spiritualism!

He devotes whole chapters to how money should be paid under “socialism” (as he calls it) stating what is recognised under the present system, that it costs more to produce an admiral, doctor, lawyer, etc., not even admitting the possibility that the world could go round without money and would not therefore require either lawyers or admirals. Mr, Shaw's socialism is a thinly disguised nationalization in which compensation though not so called would be administered to the erstwhile possessors of capital, land, etc..

He is an admirer of Soviet Russia and hopes to model other countries on similar lines and comments naively “Although the Country (Britain) is up to the waist in Communism because there are so many vitally necessary public services out of which the capitalists can make no profit. . . .” Mr. Shaw should enquire a little more deeply into where the interest comes from paid on Government Bonds, with an eye on the Post Office. How Lord Ashfield lives, with an eye on the L.P.T.B., and also enquire if sewers, etc., are supplied to local authorities on a non-profit basis. Incidentally he does our case a service in pointing out the differences of income in the U.S.S.R., the varying types of workers and bureaucrats, and the recent changes in the educational system. To Mr. Shaw it is all in order, he explains it away as a cognisance of things as they are, not perceiving them as retrograde and necessary to modern capitalism albeit a state variety.

He ranks the works of Stanley Jevons and Ferdinand Lassalle as more correct than Marx, without however, one real word of proof. Stanley Jevons' followers it may be remembered were challenged to debate on Marx by Hyndman, and did not accept the challenge! He also talks of “Post Marxism” coupled with the wisdom of the Fabians and recommends that his other works should be read: as a consumer of royalties this may perhaps be justifiable, not however to those who value their spare time.

It would be better for Mr. Shaw’s reputation with coming generations, if he would now quietly die; his plays will keep his name alive for many years, but not his so-called political writings as they serve to illustrate bow foolish a “practical socialist ” can be.
W. P.

1 comment:

Imposs1904 said...

"It would be better for Mr. Shaw’s reputation with coming generations, if he would now quietly die . . . "

Wow, some SPGBer didn't have their morning cup of coffee before penning that line.