Shaw’s Views On Freedom. Re-introduced by P.S.Remesh Chandran.

22.

Shaw’s Views On Freedom. Re-introduced by P S Remesh Chandran.

Editor, Sahyadri Books & Bloom Books, Trivandrum.

 

By PSRemeshChandra, 21st May 2011.  Short URL http://nut.bz/1vq_e18x/
Posted in Wikinut  Essays

 

Bernard Shaw set human minds on fire everywhere. We would be thrilled to even think about the judges, parliament members, writers, academicians and newspaper editors in England, India, America, France, South Africa, New Zealand, Switzerland, China and Russia who very much wished for the head and blood of this acerbic philosopher of wit and wisdom. Shaw’s thoughts on Ultimate Freedom Of Man that infuriated these so called intelligentsia but pleased common people everywhere are reintroduced here.

The fearless intellectual who attacked the Victorian vanity and ostentation.

A colour poster for Shaw’s play.

George Bernard Shaw was a British dramatist, critic and philosopher. He was a Fabian Socialist who led British socialism away from Marx. This fearless intellectual of Irish origin attacked the vanity and ostentation of the English society. Like Gandhi and Leo Tolstoy, he was a staunch vegetarian, bold in his opinions. Arms And The Man, Man And Superman and The Apple Cart are three of his major plays. This article is based on one of his B.B.C. Radio Broadcasts in which he is defining the characteristics of freedom. He is of the opinion that ruling classes talk of freedom for the people but they reserve it only for themselves.

There can never be a perfectly free person theoretically.

A portrait of George Bernard Shaw.

Half the day we are slaves to necessities such as eating, drinking, washing, dressing and undressing. For another one-third of our life time we are slaves to sleep too. So theoretically there can never be a perfectly free person. Chattel slavery is said to have been abolished legally but it continues to be in other forms. Even voting in elections does not liberate a person. Two rich friends ask us for our vote and we have to choose one of the two, which is not real freedom.

Slavery of man to nature is natural but slavery of man to man is unnatural.

The rotating writing hut of Shaw.

Slavery of man to nature is natural whereas slavery of man to man is unnatural. Both are different. Natural wants are slavery indeed but nature is kind to her slaves. Eating, drinking and sleeping are made pleasant experiences. Building families and societies also is made pleasant. ‘We write sentimental songs in praise of them and in England a tramp can earn his supper by singing Home Sweet Home.’ But slavery of man to man is hateful to body and to spirit. In course of time slaves and their masters form their own organizations and enter a civil war known as class war. Karl Marx spent his life proving that slavery of man to man will never stop by itself unless stopped by law. Speaking and oration will not do but everyone has to do his share of the world’s work by his own hands and brain.

That notorious phrase of Shaw, ‘this prodigious mass of humbug.’

A scene from Candida acted on stage.

The combined body of parliaments, legislation, judiciary, literature, education and journalism look to Bernard Shaw as a prodigious mass if humbug which in layman’s terms means Victorian vanity and ostentation. These great institutions of society just promote and help slavery exist and reign in its all forms. They always and everywhere in this world wish to establish and make people think that they are superior to everything and unquestionable. The foolery that is concealed in them is that everywhere in this world people hate these institutions to the depths of their chore. Only the parasites who live by these things would love them. We would be thrilled to even think about the judges, parliament members, writers, academicians and newspaper editors in England, India, America, France, South Africa, New Zealand, Switzerland, China and Russia who very much wished for the head and blood of this philosopher and playwright. But he pleased people everywhere and reflected well their inner feelings. So long as these vain institutions exist in society no absolute and unconditional freedom is possible. These institutions, with the help of a falsified history, snobbery and dishonest politics, through preparatory schools, public schools and universities make citizens think that they are supreme inevitable and of paramount importance. When we read about these lines of Shaw that set human minds on fire everywhere, we should also note that individual freedom of opinion in England at that time was such acute sharp and great that he was not touched. The only other magnificent individual experience of such liberty of not only opinion but action also comes from post- Second World War France of De Gaul where the traffic rules-disobeying Sartre was ordered not to be touched by Surete. When viewed from a distance, those vain institutions Bernard Shaw mention here look really like epithelial corpuscles shed from our body when compared with the ultimate human freedom they imprison and impersonate.

Intellectual slaves of the modern day wish to have an owner and be possessed.

Inside Shaw’s movable writing hut.

Because these great social institutions do not respect real individual freedom and behave always superior to all common citizens at the cost of their internal fury, the inferiors sometimes become bold enough to rise in revolts and upset everything. Some courageous leader who has brain and energy like Napoleon will jump at the chance and become an emperor utilizing the heat of the situation. It has happened inFranceand will happen everywhere else at one time or another. It happened in France not because the people there were autocrat-minded; it was their only way out of intellectual slavery. People everywhere are basically liberty-lovers but the brainwashing by modern social institutions has been such strong and continuous that they have nowadays forgot to revolt. Intellectual slaves in America and Britain will also be willing to vote on ballot papers showing that they are not only revolutionaries but liberty-lovers and democrats also. Occasionally voting becomes a short respite in the long reign of intellectual dependence and submission. Ancient teachers since the time of Aristotle have taught rulers to behave proudly and impress people. In the history of physical comfort we see that people in power won’t sleep in the presence of the public lest their real nature of bestial helplessness and vulnerability would be revealed to the people and all their pride lost. The effect of impressive pride is such strong that modern day slaves find masters indispensable. They wish to have an owner for them. Slaves will not vote for women and women will not vote for women. When voting for women was first introduced in England they utilized it for defeating all women candidates including many who were dedicated to the problems of women. They elected only one woman, no doubt a titled lady of wealth, authority and personality. The slaves have practically no escape from slavishness.

Where there is poverty, we shall not sing about patriotism.

Malvern Theatres where Shaw’s plays were acted.

Human nature is the easiest thing that can be changed. People of England should change their politics through propaganda and education before they get real freedom. Those already schooled in slavery should be de-schooled. Large scale scientific farming and industry will increase national wealth which can also be distributed equally, but too much exploitation of nature through science will backfire. Nature will take her own counter measures in the form of anything, including reverting people’s minds to laziness. Though we can cultivate sky and earth by drawing nitrogen from it to improve the quality of our cattle, grass, milk and eggs, nature may have many tricks up her sleeve to check when we are exploiting her too greedily. This anti-scientific thinker’s comments in this regard are justified. Too much exploitation of nature means too much exploitation of workers which when reach a climax will cause general strikes, thereby dwindling production in their turn. According to Shaw, general strikes are trade unionism gone mad for they halt all production activities. Extravaganza in spending is what deprives production of its usefulness. Shakespeare’s character Eago asked people to put money in their purses and not to take out of it. But people earn the least and spend the most which habit causes poverty. Until poverty is wiped out clean, we shall cease to sing about patriotism because where poverty exists we are not patriots but drones.

What to do with this leisure and riches generated through real freedom?

Shaw’s home at St. Lawrence Herts.

By changing the head and tail of British politics and by freeing it from aristocracy slavery and exploitation, people will begin to get more of leisure and riches. There is a general belief that freedom means more of leisure and more of money to enjoy that leisure which is not true. We have seen the rich and leisurely lose their health and happiness and die gradually. Riches and leisure became poison to them. An idle man’s brain is the Devil’s workshop and Satan will still find mischief for idle hands to do. Thus what to do with the leisure and riches generated through real freedom becomes a riddle which still remains unanswered. Even Bernard Shaw does not dare answer it directly.

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Pictures Courtesy: Wikimedia Commons

________________________________

Dear Reader,

You are invited to kindly visit the Author’s Web Site of P.S.Remesh Chandran, Editor, Sahyadri Books & Bloom Books, Trivandrum at:

https://sites.google.com/site/timeuponmywindowsill/wiki-nut-articles

Translations of this article in French, German, Spanish and Italian published in Knol.com can be read by clicking here.

http://knol.google.com/k/psremesh-chandran/-/2vin4sjqlcnot/0#collections

Tags

Appreciations, British Essayists And Journalists, British Literature, British Writers, English Essays, English Literature, Essays, Freedom, Freedom Of Opinion, Freedom Of Speech, George Bernard Shaw, Liberty Of Speech, P S Remesh Chandran, Political Philosophy, Politics, Re Introductions, Reviews, Sahyadri Books And Bloom Books Trivandrum, Studies

Meet the author

PSRemeshChandra
Editor of Sahyadri Books & Bloom Books, Trivandrum. Author of several books in English and in Malayalam. And also author of Swan : The Intelligent Picture Book.

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The Indispensable Opposition. Walter Lippmann. Appreciation Study

20.

The Indispensable Opposition. Walter Lippmann. Appreciation Study by P.S.Remesh Chandran.

Editor, Sahyadri Books & Bloom Books, Trivandrum.

 

By PSRemeshChandra, 15th May 2011.  Short URL http://nut.bz/js8.djla/
Posted in Wikinut  Essays

 

A must read for all who love mankind and human speech. An apt admonishment from a long-gone American writer whose great eloquence and excellent arguments in favour of the liberty of speech is once more brought to public attention. His bold opinions are dire predictions which help envision the rise of China as the most oppressive tyrannical rule in the modern world. Going through the article we will wonder whether it is China’s story told 50 years in advance.

Man knows how to speak on one’s back, so freedom of speech exists.

Walter Lippmann. A Portrait.

Walter Lippmann was a famous American writer whose learned lips here speaks to the common man about the principles of freedom of speech in democracies and its suppression in dictatorships. The need for a good, creative and bold opposition in a civilized society is well established. Since the time of man’s formation of his society as clans and tribes, the question of whether all shall have an equal chance for expression of their opinions in the clans or tribes has been a subject for unending debate. Since man knows how to speak on one’s back, expression of opinions has been going on uninterrupted through ages irrespective of the system of rule. Though Lippmann’s ideas on the liberty of speech are too lofty to be compromised and his analysis comprehensive, it should be admitted that his language is not as liquid or lucid as the language of C.E.M. Joad, A.G.Gardiner or Robert Lynd.

Stability of civilization depends on the willingness to consider others’ opinions.

Benjamin Franklin’s Freedom of Thought. A Plaque.

Stability of a civilization depends much on the willingness of people to consider everyone’s opinions. The French philosopher Voltaire once said: “I wholly disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.” Opinions of opponents must be tolerated, because freedom of speech is an essential ingredient to civilization. Liberty of opinion is a luxury upon which is based the very life of civilization. But liberty of opinion is safe only in pleasant times and only with men of tolerance, for these magnanimous personalities are not deeply and vitally concerned about opposing opinions.

We pay doctors money for asking us embarrassing questions.

A scene from Charlie Chapline’s The Great Dictator

Freedom of speech as a constitutional right has a strong historic foundation. We want to hear what they have to say, so we must protect the right of our opponents to speak. That is why we pay the opposition salaries out of public money. Opposing opinions would improve our own opinions; thus the liberty of others to speak is our own vital necessity. Free thought should be cultivated among youngsters because such needed is the existence of freedom for the existence of civilization. Most often the opinions of opposition might be embarrassing, but we pay doctors money for asking us embarrassing questions. Even dictators tolerate doctors’ free questions.

Isn’t it the story of suppression in China told 50 years in advance?

The Great Dictator played by Charlie Chaplin.

Speaking and listening is the only way to arrive at truth. In totalitarian states also opinions of the opposition have to be heard to and discussed for arriving at the right decisions. But these rulers depend on secret police and party men who filter into the people’s ranks and send reports. Some autocrats rely on their own intuition and some others permit their officers to speak freely in their presence. All exile, imprison or shoot their opponents. A one-way system is established through which opinions of the rulers are broadcast. The official orators speak and the audience listens but they cannot speak back, exactly like George Orwell predicted in his book 1984. As time goes on, critical discussion totally disappears and the internal opposition is liquidated. Some are exiled, many put in concentration camps and a few terrorized. The despot shuts himself off from truth and finally falls into ruin. Hitler, Mussolini, Heyli Selassi, Napoleon First and Third, all met their destiny this way. In the earlier stages they succeed but in later stages they all fall tragically. In the totalitarian states some still manage to voice their opinions through pamphlets and secret radio. But the creative principle of the freedom of speech is not applicable in totalitarian states and dictatorships.

Permitted to proclaiming wisdom in the middle of the Sahara Desert.

Released in 1945 to trace a fugitive.

Things are different in democratic countries. ‘There anyone can stand on his little platform of a soap-box and speak anything as in Kipling’s poem.’ ‘Even in Russia and in Germany a man may still stand in an open field and speak his mind loudly.’ (This was written long before the fall of communism in Russia and Germany through Glasnost and Perestroika and China replacing them in their former positions). The wisest man shall not have to proclaim his wisdom in the middle of the Sahara desert. That would be only a shadow of liberty. The substance of liberty of speech is present only in those places where different opinions resound in the same hall to the same audience. In that sense, freedom of speech may be said to be existing in places like the American Congress, the British Parliament, the Court of Law and the Scientific Conferences. There opinions are not only tolerated but discussed too, which the essence of the freedom of opinion is.

It is not the opinion that is important but the debate that follows.

Tiananmen where Liberty of Speech was murdered.

It is not the opinion that is important but the debate that follows the benefit if which would be that fools would be compelled to listen and learn from the wise man and the wise man too would be compelled to take account of the fool and to instruct him. Radio, movies and newspapers will carry on this process of continued debate. Radio and movie cannot be spoken back to, but newspapers can be. Everything under the Sun can thus be examined and reexamined. As Socrates said, the unexamined life is unfit to be lived by man. Experience tells us that the seed of speech which our fathers planted produces seed only when freedom of opinion becomes the compulsion to speak and debate.

A successful statesman would pray to be left among opponents.

The Cradle of Liberty. Faneuil Hall in Boston.

In whichever angle we look, opposition seems indispensable. It is unavoidable for a good statesman for a good statesman won’t tolerate his mistakes punishing a nation. It is not our friends and supporters but our enemies who study us closely under a microscope and learn about our merits and worth. Living among his enemies and opponents brings out what excellence is there in a man. They show him where the dangers are and where the path of reason and good sense is. Like all sensible human beings, a good statesman learns far more from his opponents than from his fervent supporters. They are the rocks against which the sword of his intelligence is sharpened. A successful statesman would pray to be left among opponents.

________________________________
Pictures Courtesy: Wikimedia Commons.

________________________________

Dear Reader,

You are invited to kindly visit the Author’s Web Site of P.S.Remesh Chandran, Editor, Sahyadri Books & Bloom Books, Trivandrum at:

https://sites.google.com/site/timeuponmywindowsill/wiki-nut-articles

Translations of this article in French, German, Spanish and Italian published in Knol.com can be read by clicking here.

http://knol.google.com/k/psremesh-chandran/-/2vin4sjqlcnot/0#collections

Tags

American Essayists And Journalists, American Literature, American Writers, Appreciations, English Essays, English Literature, Essays, Freedom Of Opinion, Freedom Of Speech, Liberty Of Speech, P S Remesh Chandran, Poetry, Political Philosophy, Politics, Reviews, Sahyadri Books And Bloom Books Trivandrum, Studies, The Indispensable Opposition, Walter Lippmann

Meet the author

PSRemeshChandra
Editor of Sahyadri Books & Bloom Books, Trivandrum. Author of several books in English and in Malayalam. And also author of Swan : The Intelligent Picture Book.

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Comments

PSRemeshChandra
16th May 2011 (#)

Does anyone remember, in the picture shown above, released in 1945 to trace a fugitive, who is the fugitive mentioned?

PSRemeshChandra
7th Jun 2011 (#)

It was one of those few pictures created by artists and released by Anti Nasi Forces to trace their fugitive Adolph Hitler.

Steve Kinsman
10th Jun 2011 (#)

Excellent article. Growing up, Walter Lippmann was a hero of mine.

PSRemeshChandra
11th Jun 2011 (#)

Yes Dear Kinsman,
It is a fine article of his and his arguments also are still very much relevant. He was a hero of democratic thoughts, liberty and freedom of thought. I was very late to come across this author and you were indeed very lucky to have inspired by him from your very early years. I read your poem On The Mountain Side and ran then and there to my mountain again because I was so fascinated by the mountain top atmosphere you created and reminded in the poem.

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