1990s >> 1991 >> no-1040-april-1991

50 Years Ago: Bernard Shaw on Socialism

Mr. Emrys Hughes, editor of Forward. . . . 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 Despatch (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 socialist 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”.


(From an article “Is Bernard Shaw a Judge of Socialism?”. Socialist Standard, April 1941.)