By Matthew Yde (auth.)
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Additional info for Bernard Shaw and Totalitarianism: Longing for Utopia
The twentieth century did indeed turn out to be the age of will, but it was will in the service of absolute naked power unencumbered by the social and moral strictures that had always been an intricate and fragile means of upholding human civilization. It was the century of utopias—actually, dystopias—such as Soviet Communism and the National Socialists in Germany, among others. What sustained these pernicious systems was the cult of the charismatic individual, the strong leader, “the realist,” the superman leading society on to a perfect future.
A]s soon as I extend the principle and apply it to two-legged animals, Mr. Hovstad stops short. 27 Eugenics was very much coming into vogue at the time among Europe’s educated classes, and remained so well into the twentieth century; and we know that the idea was followed to its logical conclusion. Shaw was and remained a eugenicist throughout his life. Many years later Shaw would sound very much like Stockmann when he remarked in the preface to On the Rocks: “Sooner or later this situation [scientiﬁc extermination of the socially unﬁt] will have to be thoroughly studied and thought out to its logical conclusion in all civilized countries” (vol.
The obvious corollary for Shaw in The Quintessence would be a philistine period followed by an idealistic and culminating in the third empire of the realist; however, in his section on Empire and Galilean he uses a different nomenclature. In The Quintessence Shaw expands on Ibsen’s theme and incorporates it into his own philosophical system. The ﬁrst empire, which Shaw calls “pagan sensualism,” is clearly over, while the second empire, what Shaw calls “Christian or self-abnegatory idealism, is already rotten at heart.
Bernard Shaw and Totalitarianism: Longing for Utopia by Matthew Yde (auth.)