Editorial Notes

Bernard Shaw on Russia

(August 1931)

Written: August 1931.
First Published: The Militant, Vol. IV No. 20, 22 August 1931, p. 4.
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The Russian revolution is making its way in the world. After fourteen years it has received the honor of a ten-day inspection by George Bernard Shaw and Lady Astor, and that in itself – as Amos and Andy would say – is “somethin’.” It is not every revolution that wins such signal honors and passes the inspection with such flying colors. If Lady Astor, as befits one of her exalted station, repressed her emotions and said little, the great play-writer gave a flattering endorsement to the Soviet enterprise. The revolution got a fifty-fifty break in the examination.

But if you will pardon us for saying so we are not entirely satisfied with the report. When Shaw sums up his conclusions with the advice to young men in the Western countries to “go to Russia and settle there”, we beg leave to break into the happy party with an objection. And once having disturbed the atmosphere of mutual felicitation with the well-known Opposition quarrelsomeness, we may as well speak bluntly. The whole idea is reactionary nonsense.

Russia is not a separate planet, which can develop a socialist society while the Western countries are surrendered to capitalism. Russia is bound up inseparably with them. The struggle for socialism is not a national but an international struggle – as Marx and Engels said. The Russian revolution marks only the beginning of the international revolution and will find its fulfillment in it – as Lenin and Trotsky said. The big task is yet ahead, that is, to make the revolution in the capitalist countries. The workers of the West must do this at home. This is the only way they can help Russia and also help themselves.

No matter how it is camouflaged with big talk about working for socialism, emigration to Soviet Russia represents – in 99 cases out of 100 – a flight from the class struggle at home. On the part of so-called revolutionists it is little less than desertion. Who will organize the revolution if everybody runs away?

The appeal of George Bernard Shaw for this exodus from the West is regarded by shallow-minded people as a sign that the Fabian has become a Communist. It is nothing of the kind. He has only become an advocate of socialism in one country. And that is much nearer to Fabianism than to Communism.

Last updated on: 13.1.2013