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📙 Socialism and Superior Brains: The Political Thought of George Bernard Shaw by Gareth Griffith — download pdf


George Bernard Shaw was the master intellectual of British socialism and has been one of the most influential political commentators of the twentieth century. "Socialism and Superior Brains" provides a comprehensive critical account of his political ideas. Shaw assumed many roles as a thinker, including those of artist-philosopher, clowning prophet, and pamphleteer. This book explains the methods he employed, the levels of abstraction at which his thought operated, and the intentions which informed his epic engagement with ideas. Part One provides an intellectual biography, while at the same time analyzing Shaw's concerns in relation to his Fabianism, arguments for equality of income, and ideas on democracy and education. Part Two looks at those areas which Shaw approached as long-standing historical problems or dramas requiring immediate thought or action: sexual equality, the Irish question, war, fascism and Sovietism. This book is directed to the general reader as well as the specialist. It will be central reading for anyone seeking to understand Shaw's life, his literary and political writings, or the development of political thinking in this century. The above paragraph delineates the book in accordance with the published outline. Yet there is much more to the book than may meet the eye from the perspective of an intelligent reader. It is in the crevices of the structure that Shaw refuses to edify wherein we find the energy of his thought, much as in his plays where the whimsical is but a cover for the depth of a psychological trance. Shaw's concept of individual anarchism and his countercultural descriptions of evolutionary righteousness put him beyond the order of most liberal thinkers, and daringly exploit and expound a theorem that goes beyond good and evil. But to allow for the inadmissible prescription of a utopian society, that in addition to being functional is also adherent to the stratas of individual aims is a project that requires more than simple aggregates of historical and political investigations, astute suppositions and penetrating assessments; it calls for a great deal of maturity which may readily be condensed into a symptom of naiveté by critics of every stamp or affiliation. It is not since William Morris that a thinker as dreamy as Shelley and as beaming with common sense as Thomas Paine forced his thought on the general public. His reputation as a playwright speaks in favor of his artistic virtues, but we have only controversial and insolent ridicule when we approach him as a bona fide political thinker. The issue here, perhaps, may be more than a matter of style, or truth: it may be buried in a heap of psychological habits we find too appealing to admit as appalling. If one were to take Shaw's claim that we should do away with punishment altogether, as in no prisons or a an incarnate legal superego, we will find few even remotely cordial to the propositions invested in his writings. Socialism is here defined as extreme for practical purposes, anarchism as absolute freedom and, finally life not as a dialectical struggle but borne of a freedom that we have denied ourselves by way of social hierarchical diagnostics and a concept of democracy Shaw judges as absurd and distressing - the art of deceit most effectively endowed with consent by those being deceived. Furthermore Griffith dilutes the presence of a social imperative that draws its impressions without the stigma of a political orientation. Words suchh as class struggle, economic equality are wielded with sensibility and a sense of historical authority, but the cynicism of classifications within a framework of proletarian or a bourgeoisie morality are radically forsworn. The essence of its political statement is assumed under the head of socialism and Fabianism, but the intent is not so much to educated, rather it is to uneducated a socius of assumed truths that demean, degrade and incarcerate. Foucault designates anthropology, by circumscriptions that uproot an archeology of knowledge that defines the individual in ways that make us feel strangers to ourselves, but Shaw's depth stood beyond the strata of discourse of his time and still does of ours. The philosophy of life, implicitly and explicitly, must yet be understood, and Gareth Griffith does an admirable work in trying to bring us closer to the core of its tenets. However it is safe to say that if we look upon the beauty of humanity as a utopian distillation then we realize why the use of words such as superman or ubermensch are greeted with disparaging tones and fearful cadences. In all truth the message here treated is too much for us and the author might as well have screamed his heart out in the desert because few, less than few, will peruse this book with that suspension of preconceived ideas which we must by necessity begin from and map out of. Garreth Griffith does more than just offer a delighful read, this study is more than merely a source whereby the acquisition of knowledge of a major playwright may be had; There is the candor of innocence, the wisp of absence, the insistant breakdown of our compromising tendencies, and in doing so challenges its audience to truly listen to its content, as if the echo of its voice where to travel beyond the borders of space lost in an abyss of skepticism. this is the best secondary literature on the subject and an indispensable guide to 20th century political thought. But it is a work of postmodern sensibility, which reluctantly deciphers the chaos from the carnival. In its explication the book does nothing less tha expound the heart of postmodern ethics. Beckett and Shaw are far more similar than we may at first realize. They are two sides of the same coin: from head to tail one choice to make: coin. But that's not fair...

About book:

  • Author: Gareth Griffith
  • Year: 1992
  • Publisher: Routledge
  • Language: English
  • ISBN: 9780415082815,0415082811,0415124735,9780415124737,9780203210833

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  • File size: 1 037 480
  • Format: pdf


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