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Additional info for Bernard Shaw and Totalitarianism: Longing for Utopia
A close friend of Ibsen’s, Lorentz Dietrichson, remarked that the “ideas which are expressed in An Enemy of the People . . ”24 Thomas Stockmann is a heroic ﬁgure, his energy and moral commitment are awe-inspiring, yet he has a salient ﬂaw that in the post-fascist age cannot be ignored. In the turbulent fourth act Stockmann ﬁnally manages to address the mindless mob that has so abused him: What does the destruction of a community matter, if it lives on lies! It ought to be razed to the ground, I tell you!
Shaw believed that those he called in The Quintessence philistines and idealists were the greatest impediment to the arrival of the golden age he hoped for; with the decline of religious belief, they would need to be inculcated with a new faith that would guarantee their cooperation. Positive change required strong highly intelligent and motivated leaders with benevolent intentions and a docile population ready to follow their lead. This point of view would develop over the years, not receiving clear and detailed articulation until he was able to view and consider the totalitarian regimes that achieved so much success while his Fabians achieved, so he thought, so little.
And though we must account for a certain amount of rhetoric in statements like the following—“I would hold it good statesmanship to blow every cathedral in the world to pieces with dynamite, organ and all, without the least heed to the screams 24 Bernard Shaw and Totalitarianism of the art critics and cultured voluptuaries” (vol. 3, xliv)—such statements taken with his later support of such violent real-life supermen attest to a certain level of sincerity. He once said of Hitler that he was “a very remarkable, very able man.