Shaw'Sconcept of Freedom

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FREEDOM: The role of the master class in perpetuating slavery of man/concept of freedom

G.B. Shaw’s Freedom actually belongs to one of the series of radio talks delivered by him in 1935 on the B.B.C. As it was intended for the larger circles in their capacity as listeners, the lecture seems to be free from theoretical jargons. But Shaw can be very much deceptive in what he says. For, behind his homour lies the satire of the contemporary social condition. Not only that, his simple talk was actually a denunciation of the conventional and capitalist view of freedom. Politically Shaw conformed to democratic socialism, a variant of Marxism, according to which the society should try to reach the socialist political condition gradually by the democratic means. The concept of freedom, which Shaw satirizes, was the fundamental principle of Enlightenment, and he does so because in a capitalist society, according to the Marxian view, freedom of the individual can never be realized. Shaw begins the essay with the proposition that a person can be called completely free in such a condition, in which he will be able to “ do what he likes, when he likes, and where he likes, or do nothing at all if he prefers it”. He firmly denies the possibility of the existence of such a person as human beings are all slaves to nature: “…we must all sleep for one third of our lifetime, wash and dress and undress, we must spend a couple of hours eating and drinking, we must spend nearly as much in getting about from one place to place.” From this funny yet inexorable condition of human life, Shaw very cleverly moves on to the fact that some of the “natural jobs” can be placed on others’ shoulders: “What you do to a horse or a bee, you can do to a man or woman or child…”. With this Shaw, however, comes to the immediate social and political condition of the time, in which the concept of freedom derived from the grand idealistic project of the Enlightenment, and nationalistic bias produced by...
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