Bernard Shaw and Beatrice Webb on Poverty and Equality in by Peter Gahan

By Peter Gahan

This e-book investigates how, along Beatrice Webb’s ground-breaking pre-World warfare One anti-poverty campaigns, George Bernard Shaw helped release the general public debate in regards to the courting among equality, redistribution and democracy in a built economy.

The ten years following his nice 1905 play on poverty Major Barbara current a puzzle to Shaw students, who've hitherto did not get pleasure from either the centrality of the assumption of equality in significant performs like Getting Married,Misalliance, and Pygmalion, and to appreciate that his significant political paintings, 1928’s The clever Woman’s consultant to Socialism and Capitalism had its roots during this interval ahead of the nice battle. As either the era’s top dramatist and chief of the Fabian Society, Shaw proposed his radical postulate of equivalent earning as an answer to these dual scourges of a contemporary business society: poverty and inequality. Set opposed to the backdrop ofBeatrice Webb’s well-known Minority document of the Royal fee at the bad legislation 1905-1909 – a book which resulted in grass-roots campaigns opposed to destitution and at last the Welfare State– this ebook considers how Shaw labored with Fabian colleagues, Sidney and Beatrice Webb, and H. G. Wells to discover via a chain of significant lectures, prefaces and performs, the social, financial, political, or even non secular implications of human equality because the foundation for contemporary democracy.

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Additional info for Bernard Shaw and Beatrice Webb on Poverty and Equality in the Modern World, 1905–1914

Sample text

Some of the Webbs’ work on writing the Minority Report was in fact done at the Shaws’ house at Ayot St Laurence, Hertfordshire, during the summer of 1907, when they lived there temporarily (19 July 1907): ‘The Bernard Shaws have lent us their little week-end house for two-and-a-half 16 P. GAHAN months, they having migrated to a large mansion in Wales close to the Fabian Summer School’ (BW3, 76). By then, the Webbs thought most of their work on their Report for the Poor Law Commission was done, so they resumed work on their history of English local government in The Manor and the Borough.

Useful’ for Beatrice because, in the dying days of his Conservative administration, Balfour set up a Royal Commission on the Poor Laws and Relief of Distress, appointing Beatrice Webb, on 23 November 1905, as one of its commissioners. The Poor Law Commission went on to hold intensive consultations over a period of more than three years on the most pressing problems of poverty and destitution, most especially the operation of the Poor Law, itself a reform dating from the 1830s, but now associated with the rotten conditions of the nation’s workhouses.

Grasping the play’s overriding metaphor perhaps better than she knew, Beatrice thought the play ‘a dance of devils … hell tossed on stage, with no hope of heaven. ’ As for Balfour: ‘[He] was taken aback by the force, the horrible force of the Salvation Army [homeless shelter] scene, the unrelieved tragedy of degradation’ (BW3, 13). When Beatrice dropped in to see Shaw the following Saturday, she found him ‘alone in his study … I spoke quite frankly my opinion of the general effect of his play—the triumph [in the person of the armaments manufacturer] of the unmoral purpose.

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