Iconoclastic View of Bernard Shaw as it is Expressed in his Essay, "Freedom"

Freedom: It is a series of B.B.C. radio talks, delivered 18th June 1935. Printed in Freedom, London,1936

Bernard Shaw is by nature an individualist. He is a freelance, a rebel, an iconoclast, a destructive critic and a propagandist. All through his life he remains a tireless crusader against social injustice and unrighteousness. He speaks and writes with a determination to make himself heard and to keep his hearers alert. His present essay Freedom is a typical example of scores of hard-hitting ‘sermons’ he gives at every opportunity throughout his long life. With the ‘effectiveness of assertion’ G.B. Shaw’s essay Freedom serves for exposition, for debate, for persuasion, for satire as well as for diversion on the said topic of freedom.

                Initiating his present essay Freedom Shaw puts forward an argument that no person is perfectly free. A perfect free person is arguably none as men are restricted by slavery. This slavery has two principal constraints. Firstly, ‘for half the day we are slaves to necessities’. These are the compulsion of biological necessities which include eating and drinking, dressing and undressing, sleeping and moving about from one place to another. Thus, this ‘natural jobs’ are to be met for our survival which is pleasurable in itself. But the second restriction is imposed on freedom by man on the second restriction is imposed on freedom by man on man for purely self considerations. Shaw opines that the slavery of man to man is the very opposite of ‘natural jobs’. It is hateful to the body and to the spirit. This degrades humanity and creates a division in the world. By several restrictions the master class ruthlessly safeguards their own interest and the poor class is deprived of their dues and human rights. Read More about Essay    

                Shaw is critical of the social institutions and their various impostures. The cruel and selfish master class always aims at the maximum profit and by creating laws they safeguard their interests. The poor people of the society, the oppressed section, another name of exploitation are told about their right to vote and the dram of the formulation of different acts of a welfare state. But the system is itself hoax as the rich people only dominate over the rules and regulation. Thus whichever party comes to power the imposture never changes. Read More about Essay    

                Shaw gives reference to the great socio-political thinkers like Voltaire, Rousseau, Tom Paine, Cobbett, Shelley, Karl Marx, Lenin, Trotsky and others who unveil the truth and expose the pseudo-procession of civilization. But sorry to say, the hypocritical master class, Shaw observes, give a false version of their truth and accuse them as atheists, libertines, murders and even scoundrels. They do so only to belittle the great social thinkers in front of the masses so that no revolutionary ideals can hurt their evils hands of oppression. Thus the torch bearer of equality, the champions of liberty are termed as anti social and their books are banned for considerable time.

                Although Shaw does not recognize any difference in rights among the classes and favours for all citizens of equal rights, Shaw goes as far back as Aristotle to justify the opinion that slavery is not altogether bad. Citing Aristotle Shaw says that the law and order situation of a country would be miserable unless the people obey the ruling class. The common men are idolater by nature and they do respect those who are superior and hero like. But the arrogance of the master class and the hero-worship of the slave class are not in born traits. They are the artificial product of our mind. In the present society all citizens are guaranteed political freedoms, freedom of speech, of the press, of meetings and demonstrations, of uniting in public organizations. But they are not secured of freedom of conscience. It is our education and up bringing which begets divisions and contraries. If such contraries are abolished, the society will be free from arrogance and slavish mentality. Shaw puts stress on various cultural and educational establishments to import proper education so to provide necessary resources of mind to enjoy our freedom or leisure.
                Bernard Shaw is a realist. He writes with a serious purpose. In the present essay, Freedom he has explained to his audiences the reality that lies at the core of things beneath their deceptive appearances. His realism is absolutely free from any touch of romance and sentimentalism. Moreover, he possesses, as did Plato, a strong dramatic gift. The gift he deliberately uses with subtle admixture of wit and hamour to bring his ideas on human life and how it should be lived. The thoughts of Shaw as it is expressed in Freedom at length become the thought of the reader, his passions become our passions, his humours ours, his vices and follies ours.   

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