THE RATIONALIZATION OF RUSSIA by Bernard Shaw

THE RATIONALIZATION OF RUSSIA

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KIRKUS REVIEW

In the early '30's Bernard Shaw, the Fabian Napoleon, entered Russia. He had been a ""Marxist almost before Lenin was born,"" so he set off, with the customary twinkles and titters, to see the New Eden. His resurrected manuscript- originally intended to record his Soviet impressions and then jettisoned- is really a ragbag critique of European capitalism, banking and the MacDonald Laborites, with a good guffaw, now and then, at the socialists. It is also a guide (how Shaw loved the word) to revolutions and the rationalism behind them- hence, one supposes, the title. The prose, unsurprisingly, is remarkable non-stop polemic; the eruditions on socio-political matters is both formidable and flashy; however, the overall understanding of the era is quite as stilted and slanted as that of the Old Left (Strachey and the Webbs). They were solemn, though; Shaw is just silly. Playful about living like a lord and playful about the commissars' Bang! Bang! to all such; playful about the Civil War slaughter and playful about the intelligentsia: ""The persecution of the intelligentsia in Russia"" (which he found justifiable) ""did not last very long."" And that written but shortly before the Stalin Purges. ""Our question is not,"" says Shaw, ""to kill or not to kill, but how to select the right people to kill."" Shaw as the Devil's Disciple. Along for the pilgrimage were the Shavian inseparables, his rich friends, one of whom considered Communism a new kind of religoid fanaticism which would culminate in war. Not a witty remark and by now a commonplace. Unlike the Bearded One's tickling brilliance, it's yet to be proven wrong.

Publisher: Indiana Univ. Press