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Title: Socialism on two fronts : Shaw against Marxism and liberalism
Author: Alexander, J.
Awarding Body: University of Cambridge
Current Institution: University of Cambridge
Date of Award: 2000
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Socialism on Two Fronts is a study of one of the most original and yet least regarded political writers of the last century and a half. Bernard Shaw was not a politician, not a philosopher, and not obviously someone with original policy ideas. Both notwithstanding the fact he was a dramatist and critic - and, as one of his contemporaries said, the most brilliant and futile of the brilliant and futile group of people in the Fabian Society - he committed himself to the politics of Socialism. Socialism on Two Fronts deals with the political arguments used by Shaw in order to build, with the other members of the Fabian Society, an account of the theory and practice of Socialism which would distinguish it from what he considered the errors of both Marxists and Liberals. Socialism on Two Fronts has four Parts. Part 1 deals with the economic arguments by which Shaw justified Socialism from the assumptions of orthodox political economy that were usually used to justify individualism, and, in doing so, rejected Marx's economic theories. Part II deals with the political practice of Fabian Society, and its ambivalence towards the Liberal party in the early 1890s. Part III deals with the political arguments by which Shaw defended the necessity for Socialism to embrace politics against the Marxist orthodoxy which dominated the Second International in the 1890s and which distrusted politics. Part IV deals with the attempt Shaw made to harness Imperialist sentiment after 1990 in order to prevent Socialism falling back into Liberalism. The argument is, simply, that Shaw thought, unlike the Marxists, that politics ought to be embraced, but also thought, unlike the Liberals, that although Socialism was a gradual revolution it was nonetheless a total revolution, and not merely a useful way of patching up the Capitalist order. Shaw's Socialism therefore maintained a tension between politics and revolution which is studied with particular regard to the arguments he had with Marxists over the rejection of theory, historical materialism and the class struggle and the arguments he had with Liberals over the rejection of individualism and free trade. His disagreements with both of these great political camps explains why his serious thought has been left aside by scholars more interested in his eccentricities, his somewhat odd religious ideas, and his plays.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available