The political and social thinking of George Bernard Shaw
Dower, Margaret Winifred
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The political thinking of George Bernard Shaw was both a logical extension of and an attack on classical liberalism, for he took the seed of equality planted by Locke and extended it to economics. He agreed with the Idealists, Bradley and Bosanquet, that the state must concern itself with the interests of all the people, and with T. H. Green especially, that it must have a moral foundation. He accepted the idea of an inherent impulse in man from the utilitarians but gave it a wider base, under the influence of Lamarck and Butler, and called it the Life Force. Henry George revealed the importance of economic justice; Marx, the extent of the evils of Capitalism; Jevons and Wicksteed, the utility theory of value; Bentham, the duties of government to provide security for all; Mill, the ways in which competition might be restricted. Thus the various parts of Shaw's writings were not original, but he evolved a unique system out of these parts, overlooking no aspect of life. The rationality of the Fabians attracted Shaw. He went beyond the Fabians in an attempt to improve not only institutions but also man's nature--a difficult task, since each was dependent on the other. In the prewar years, Shaw based his hopes for success on the rationality of Socialism, although his doctrine always contained seeds of totalitarianism. World War I and the accomplishments of dictators led him away from Fabianism to ideas of force. World War II brought more critical attitudes toward authoritarian power [TRUNCATED].
Thesis (Ph.D.)--Boston University
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