Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Afterword from the play, Androcles and the Lion, by GB Shaw

I'm not the biggest fan of Shaw's plays, because he typically wraps his art around a not-so-subtle political agenda. The effect, for me, is like being clubbed to death by ideology posing as art.

So, if you think that art should be used to achieve political purposes, you'll like Shaw. If, however, you believe that a work of art tends to suffer as it is bent toward a political agenda, then you might prefer other authors.

Despite my reticence on Shaw, I recognize his strong contributions to the world of letters and offer this short piece for consideration. Do not be surprised if you see connections between Shaw's comments and the current US administration.

In this play I have represented one of the Roman persecutions of the early Christians, not as the conflict of a false theology with a true, but as what all such persecutions essentially are: an attempt to suppress a propaganda that seemed to threaten the interests involved in the established law and order, organized and maintained in the name of religion and justice by politicians who are pure opportunist Have-and-Holders.

People who are shown by their inner light the possibility of a better world based on the demand of the spirit for a nobler and more abundant life, not for themselves at the expense of others, but for everybody, are naturally dreaded and therefore hated by the Have-and-Holders, who keep always in reserve two sure weapons against them.

The first is a persecution effected by the provocation, organization, and arming of that herd instinct which makes men abhor all departures from custom, and, by the most cruel punishments and the wildest calumnies, force eccentric people to behave and profess exactly as other people do.

The second is by leading the herd to war, which immediately and infallibly makes them forget everything, even their most cherished and hardwon public liberties and private interests, in the irresistible surge of their pugnacity and the tense pre-occupation of their terror.


1 comment:

Ralph said...

Right. Go George B. Shaw.