Freda Bedi, by Wikipedia

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Re: Freda Bedi, by Wikipedia

Postby admin » Tue Jul 02, 2019 8:41 am

Manifesto of the All India Kisan Mahasabha
by All India Kisan Mahasabha
June 10, 2010

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India is still a predominantly rural and agrarian society. Apart from feeding the entire country, agriculture also remains the main source of livelihood for the majority of Indian population. Yet agriculture continues to suffer the most from all that is backward and unjust in our country, be it the prevalence of ugly remnants of feudalism or lack of access to modern means of production or the shallowness of democracy and justice in our political system. Every government in India is elected primarily on the basis of rural votes, especially votes cast by poor and middle peasants, yet agriculture remains the most neglected sector of the national economy, and the poor and middle peasants remain effectively excluded from all official policies and priorities.

Thanks to systematic neglect and adverse policies, today Indian agriculture is trapped in a deep and protracted crisis. For the overwhelming majority of poor and small peasants, it is a question of survival, and for imperialist global capital and big corporations, it is an opportunity to appropriate and exploit India’s rich natural and human resources – fertile land, abundant water, resource-rich forests, productive yet cheap labour and a potentially huge rural market. Saving Indian agriculture and the laboring peasantry from this crisis and imperialist offensive is the need of the hour.

The key to any real democratization and modernization of India lies in a thoroughgoing democratization and modernization of all that is associated with Indian agriculture. This calls for a veritable agrarian revolution, which alone can lead us to a prosperous and progressive people’s India. The All India Kisan Mahasabha, being formed through a national peasant conference in Patna on May 10, 2010, will contribute all it can in every possible way to reach this goal for which thousands of peasant fighters have laid down their lives in the course of a whole series of glorious peasant revolts and militant peasant movements since colonial times.

May 10, 1857 marked the beginning of India’s first great war of independence, in which millions of small peasants and artisans had joined hands with Indian soldiers of predominantly peasant origin. To cherish this great heritage, the AIKM resolves to observe May 10 every year as the Indian Peasants’ Day.

Cardinal Principles of the AIKM

The AIKM will fight relentlessly for complete elimination of every aspect of landlordism and freeing Indian agriculture from all kinds of feudal vestiges. Simultaneously, the AIKM will also resist every form of corporate invasion of agriculture and every government policy subjecting agriculture and the peasantry to corporate loot and plunder. The Mahasabha will fight tooth and nail against imperialist intervention in every sphere of India’s agricultural economy or the larger domain of national life and for equitable restructuring of all our external relations of trade and exchange or scientific and technological cooperation and development.

Relying on the might of the poor and marginal peasantry, the AIKM will stand for firm unity with middle peasants on every issue of common interest. While on most issues of peasant interest, poor and middle peasants have to fight against the rich peasant lobby, the AIKM will not hesitate to explore possibilities of unity-in-action with forces of rich peasantry in struggles against feudal remnants, corporate domination or imperialist intervention. The AIKM is determined to defend the rights of the tribal and indigenous people who constitute a huge contingent of laboring peasantry and yet have been systematically evicted from their habitat and robbed of their land and traditional rights over natural resources. In pursuing its objectives and demands, the AIKM will always seek close and comprehensive alliance with agricultural labourers and other rural labourers and small artisans, fisherfolks as well as the broader class of industrial and other workers.


The AIKM will fight against all kinds of obscurantist, patriarchal and communal or parochial ideas and practices and uphold secular, modern, progressive, pro-people values in every sphere of life. While uniting and mobilizing peasants in their own struggles, the AIKM will also serve as a bridge in developing the peasant movement in close unity and coordination with other wings of the larger revolutionary and democratic movement of the Indian people. The Mahasabha will also work for international solidarity of the world people in the battle against imperialism and for the promotion of liberty, justice and people’s welfare in every part of the world.

Basic Charter of the AIKM

1) Of late, the Land Acquisition Act, 1894 and the Special Economic Zones Act, 2005 are being used indiscriminately by the state to grab vast stretches of agricultural land from peasants, often against their will and in lieu of meagre compensation, in the name of ‘industrialization’ and vaguely defined ‘public purpose’ which often turns out to be a veil for private profits. Coupled with systematic neglect of agriculture, this state-sponsored corporate landgrab and the resultant diversion and conversion of agricultural land has once again pushed large sections of the poor to the brink of acute malnutrition and near starvation. The spectre of food insecurity is looming large on a country that claims to be racing ahead to the status of an IT superpower!

The AIKM firmly believes that cultivable land must primarily be reserved for agriculture and the latter must be so organized as to guarantee food security in the first place. To this end, the AIKS demands immediate repeal of the Land Acquisition Act, 1894 and SEZ Act, 2005 and all such measures that threaten farmland and food security.

2) Most states in India have had a chronically poor record of implementation of land reform legislations. The situation has further worsened since the adoption of the neo-liberal policy package in 1991, with the limited reforms that had once been carried out being now systematically undone and reversed in many states. In spite of formal abolition of zamindari or landlordism, benami or illegal concentration of landholding continues unabated; land ceiling laws are flouted at will; and tenants and sharecroppers are routinely deprived of their basic rights and security of tenure.

The AIKM resolutely opposes every violation or reversal of land reforms and calls for rapid completion of the entire unfinished agenda of land reforms in accordance with the cardinal land reform principle “land to the tiller.” Pending actualization of the “land to the tiller” principle, the AIKM insists on legal recognition of tenants and share-croppers and mandatory provision of necessary facilities to ensure security of their tenure and profitable engagement in agriculture. Along with cultivable land, the state must also guarantee the basic right of the landless to residential plots. While fighting for tenancy rights, the AIKM is also aware of the phenomenon of reverse tenancy in areas of developed agriculture where rich peasants lease in land from poor peasants at cheap rates. In situations of reverse tenancy, the AIKM will fight for the protection of the interests and rights of small landowners. Land ceiling should apply not just on owned land but on operational holding which includes leased-in land in addition to owned land.

3) In the name of ensuring rapid technological modernization and increased productivity, the Indian state had initiated the strategy of green revolution. The strategy had initially yielded impressive results in terms of output growth and productivity increase even as it led to increasing intensification of inequality, but over the years, the strategy has run out of steam and now the green evolution areas are at the centre of an acute and persistent agrarian crisis. It must also be remembered that even in its heyday, green revolution relied on a very narrow base – it was launched in relatively advanced areas, taking the rich peasantry as the launching pad. Following the crisis of green revolution, the state is talking of second green revolution or extension of green revolution while actually following an even narrower strategy of corporatization basing on the corporate-rich farmer nexus.

The AIKM rejects such narrow bourgeois vision of agricultural development and fights for a broad-based strategy relying on the productive involvement and initiative of the broad masses of poor and middle peasants. The AIKM firmly believes that with adequate state support, the small farmer can serve as the most productive and effective base for comprehensive agricultural development. While fighting for agricultural development, the AIKM pays particular attention to the question of environmental protection and sustainability as well as the special agricultural conditions obtaining in hilly areas.

4) Even as agriculture becomes increasingly expensive and capital-intensive, public investment in agriculture is steadily declining and the reins of profitable agriculture are being systematically handed over to the corporate sector leading to gross neglect of the overall agricultural economy, indigenous agricultural research and urgent disaster-management measures. The share of investment, public as well as private, in agriculture in the total investment in the economy, which stood at around 15 per cent in 1960-61, now stands at around 5 per cent. As a share of the GDP, public expenditure on agriculture accounts for no more than a paltry 1.56 per cent. Agriculture accounts for around 60 per cent of the population, 16 per cent of the GDP but public investment in agriculture is down to 1.5 per cent of the GDP!

The AIKM is firmly opposed to this trend of dwindling public investment in agriculture and the concomitantly growing corporate invasion of agriculture. It must be the state’s job to guarantee assured supply of water, electricity, seeds, fertilisers and other key inputs and infrastructural facilities at affordable rates to the entire farming community. Public investment must be significantly stepped up to meet the whole gamut of agricultural needs from assured irrigation to cold storage, marketing and universal crop insurance. While insisting on greater public investment and promotion of cooperative and collective farming to check the growing corporate or state-corporate offensive, the AIKM also stands for ensuring greater public accountability through effective peasant participation and control.

5) Small and middle peasant agriculture in India has never really enjoyed effective state support in matters of pricing, procurement and marketing. With limited marketable surplus, the small farmer has usually been outside the pale of the Minimum Support Price mechanism of the state, left at the mercy of distress sale in the absence of any price support or procurement guarantee. Yet, there is now a growing clamour for dismantling even this limited system of price support or procurement and hand over the entire volume of agricultural produce to the ‘free play of market forces’. With increasing internationalization of trade, the so-called ‘free play of market forces’ refers, more often than not, to huge price manipulations by global players. At a time when farmers in developed countries enjoy high levels of subsidies, leaving the small agricultural producer in India to the mercy of distress sale is a sure invitation to unmitigated misery and continuing spates of suicidal deaths.

The AIKM strongly opposes this killer ‘free trade’ policy and calls for universal procurement of the marketable agricultural surplus at assured support price. Timely announcement of support price must be backed by an effective system of direct procurement from producers so as to save them from the eventuality of distress sale and reduce, if not eliminate, the profit margin accruing to middlemen.

6) Large sections of small peasants, tenants and share-croppers in particular, have no access to institutional credit and have to rely on usurers for all their credit needs. The structure of agricultural credit advanced by scheduled commercial banks is also heavily skewed in favour of agribusinesses and big ‘corporate farmers’. Between 1990 and 2006, the share of loans worth less than Rs. 25,000 fell from 58.7 to 13.3 as percentage of total outstanding advances while that of loans worth Rs. 1 crore or more rose from 5.5 to 29.5 per cent. The growing debt burden has been the number one reason driving distressed farmers to suicides – the debt-trap is turning out to be a veritable death-trap for the deprived peasantry.

The AIKM calls upon the state to extend cheap crop loans and other agricultural advances and mandatory crop insurance coverage to all poor and middle peasants including tenants and share-croppers under a differential interest regime with interest rate being directly proportional to the loan size. In times of natural disasters and crop losses, peasants and share-croppers must have a guaranteed right to full compensation for losses suffered.

7) Genetically modified crops have emerged as a major instrument for big corporations to tighten their grip on the global agricultural economy. In the name of rapid increase in output and productivity, the government of India is indiscriminately allowing the introduction of GM seeds in a whole range of crops, from a cash crop like cotton to a directly consumable vegetable like brinjal. In the process, peasants are losing all control while being forced to incur massive expenses on seeds and suffer frequent crop failure on account of allegedly spurious seeds. The seeds laws are being rewritten to free multinational seeds companies from any kind of public scrutiny and liability.

The AIKM strongly opposes the policy of indiscriminate introduction of GM crops and insists on saving India’s rich biodiversity and guaranteeing farmers’ full rights in relation to seeds. Public sector research laboratories must play the key role in developing seeds and bringing about other technological improvement s in partnership with the peasantry. While having a positive attitude to the introduction of new and safe advanced technology and the latest in modern science, the AIKM is opposed to any kind of ‘scientific adventurism’ with potentially disastrous consequences for human health and bio-diversity and driven purely by commercial considerations of multinational seed companies.

8) Ever since the inception of the WTO, Indian agriculture has been subjected to heightened imperialist offensive through a whole series of unequal multilateral as well as bilateral agreements. In the name of value chain improvement and skill development, all sections of rural India are being subordinated to the interests of the global capital. The US in particular is trying to tighten its stranglehold through controversial bilateral deals like the Knowledge Initiative Agreement signed during the Bush regime to the deal on “Agricultural Cooperation and Food Security” now being pushed through in a hurried and secretive manner. All these deals are aimed at making it easier for MNCs to enter and dominate the agricultural arena via wholesale and retail trade, contract farming and food processing industry on the one hand, and through greater imperialist penetration in the functioning of grassroot agencies like panchayati raj institutions, self help groups, micro credit agencies etc. on the other.

The AIKM is determined to thwart this imperialist game plan and save Indian agriculture and the peasantry from the clutches of imperialism and predatory global capital. Resisting the WTO-dictated anti-peasant measures and various imperialist agreements and deals will always figure high on the AIKM’s agenda. While motivating and mobilizing the broad masses of the peasantry in this direction, the AIKM will also seek to enlist the cooperation of all sections of patriotic and pro-peasant opinion in the country.

9) Nearly two decades since the 73rd Constitution Amendment Act, the panchayati raj institutions are yet to acquire real teeth in many respects, with no real devolution of powers to panchayats. For most of its role and powers, panchayats are at the mercy of discretionary powers of concerned state governments. The state governments apart, the Centre too is highly reluctant to delegate real decision-making powers to panchayats. The Panchayat Extension to Scheduled Areas Act, 1996 which theoretically empowers tribal panchayats with the authority to deny land for mega projects, mining and industries is routinely bypassed by the Centre, with the Ministry of Environment and Forests approving one landgrab project after another right in the forest areas.

While panchayats remain starved of effective powers, it is also true that most rural development and employment schemes and the public distribution system administered through panchayats remain mired in systematic corruption. This is because, as a rule panchayats remain in the clutches of the nexus of dominant feudal and kulak forces, corrupt officials and criminals. The AIKM will therefore have to fight a two-pronged battle for securing more powers to panchayats as well as subjecting the panchayats and all panchayat-administered rural schemes to effective popular participation and democratic accountability.

10) In spite of decades of formal democratic governance, rural life in India continues to suffer from deep-seated caste and gender oppression and systematic violation of the basic dignity and rights of the rural poor. Protests against such oppression are often sought to be silenced by systematic unleashing of feudal-kulak violence or state repression. Time and again Bihar has witnessed massacres of the rural poor perpetrated by feudal private armies with active connivance of the state. The colonial legacy of state-sponsored killings of peasants is also very much alive in the country – Topkara (Jharkhand), Kalinganagar (Orissa), Nandigram (West Bengal), Dadri (Uttar Pradesh), Mudigunda (Andhra Pradesh) are just a few recent additions to this infamous bloody history. Implicating peasant leaders and movement activists in false cases and subjecting them to life sentences or years of imprisonment remains a common state response to radical peasant movement in almost all states.

The AIKM holds high the banner of militant, determined and organized peasant resistance against this pattern of oppression and anti-people violence. Wherever necessary and possible, AIKM will encourage the formation of self-defence and volunteer forces from among peasants, including peasant women, to resist feudal oppression, communal violence or state terror. In the event of disasters, the AIKM will work in every possible way for rescue, relief and rehabilitation of the disaster-affected people.

Free Indian agriculture from all the vestiges of landlordism and feudalism!

Resist imperialist globalization, strengthen worker-peasant alliance!

Down with corporate domination and bureaucratic control, all power to the laboring peasantry!

Forward to comprehensive land reforms and rapid agricultural and rural development!

Forward to a truly democratic, free and prosperous India!
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Re: Freda Bedi, by Wikipedia

Postby admin » Tue Jul 02, 2019 8:44 am

All India Kisan Sabha
by Wikipedia
Accessed: 7/2/19

NOTICE: THIS WORK MAY BE PROTECTED BY COPYRIGHT

YOU ARE REQUIRED TO READ THE COPYRIGHT NOTICE AT THIS LINK BEFORE YOU READ THE FOLLOWING WORK, THAT IS AVAILABLE SOLELY FOR PRIVATE STUDY, SCHOLARSHIP OR RESEARCH PURSUANT TO 17 U.S.C. SECTION 107 AND 108. IN THE EVENT THAT THE LIBRARY DETERMINES THAT UNLAWFUL COPYING OF THIS WORK HAS OCCURRED, THE LIBRARY HAS THE RIGHT TO BLOCK THE I.P. ADDRESS AT WHICH THE UNLAWFUL COPYING APPEARED TO HAVE OCCURRED. THANK YOU FOR RESPECTING THE RIGHTS OF COPYRIGHT OWNERS.


For the earlier Kisan Sabha, see Kisan Sabha (1919-1922).



From 1939 on, constitutional progress in India was blocked by a double stalemate: (1) the refusal of the Congress Party to cooperate in government unless the British abandoned India completely, something which could not be done while the Japanese were invading Burma; and (2) the growing refusal of the Moslem League to cooperate with the Congress Party on any basis except partition of India and complete autonomy for the areas with Moslem majorities. The Milner Group, and the British government generally, by 1940 had given up all hope of any successful settlement except complete self-government for India, but it could not give up to untried hands complete control of defense policy during the war. At the same time, the Milner Group generally supported Moslem demands because of its usual emphasis on minority rights.

During this period the Milner Group remained predominant in Indian affairs, although the Viceroy (Lord Linlithgow) was not a member of the Group. The Secretary of State for India, however, was Leopold Amery for the whole period 1940-1945. A number of efforts were made to reach agreement with the Congress Party, but the completely unrealistic attitude of the party's leaders, especially Gandhi, made this impossible. In 1941, H. V. Hodson, by that time one of the most important members of the Milner Group, was made Reforms Commissioner for India. The following year the most important effort to break the Indian stalemate was made. This was the Cripps Mission, whose chief adviser was Sir Reginald Coupland, another member of the inner circle of the Milner Group. As a result of the failure of this mission and of the refusal of the Indians to believe in the sincerity of the British (a skepticism that was completely without basis), the situation dragged on until after the War. The election of 1945, which drove the Conservative Party from office, also removed the Milner Group from its positions of influence. The subsequent events, including complete freedom for India and the division of the country into two Dominions within the British Commonwealth, were controlled by new hands, but the previous actions of the Milner Group had so committed the situation that these new hands had no possibility (nor, indeed, desire) to turn the Indian problem into new paths. There can be little doubt that with the Milner Group still in control the events of 1945-1948 in respect to India would have differed only in details.

The history of British relations with India in the twentieth century was disastrous. In this history the Milner Group played a major role. To be sure, the materials with which they had to work were intractable and they had inconvenient obstacles at home (like the diehards within the Conservative Party), but these problems were made worse by the misconceptions about India and about human beings held by the Milner Group. The bases on which they built their policy were fine — indeed, too fine. These bases were idealistic, almost Utopian, to a degree which made it impossible for them to grow and function and made it highly likely that forces of ignorance and barbarism would be released, with results exactly contrary to the desires of the Milner Group. On the basis of love of liberty, human rights, minority guarantees, and self-responsibility, the Milner Group took actions that broke down the lines of external authority in Indian society faster than any lines of internal self-discipline were being created. It is said that the road to perdition is paved with good intentions. The road to the Indian tragedy of 1947-1948 was also paved with good intentions, and those paving blocks were manufactured and laid down by the Milner Group. The same good intentions contributed largely to the dissolution of the British Empire, the race wars of South Africa, and the unleashing of the horrors of 1939-1945 on the world.

To be sure, in India as elsewhere, the Milner Group ran into bad luck for which they were not responsible. The chief case of this in India was the Amritsar Massacre of 1919, which was probably the chief reason for Gandhi's refusal to cooperate in carrying out the constitutional reforms of that same year. But the Milner Group's policies were self-inconsistent and were unrealistic. For example, they continually insisted that the parliamentary system was not fitted to Indian conditions, yet they made no real effort to find a more adaptive political system, and every time they gave India a further dose of self-government, it was always another dose of the parliamentary system. But, clinging to their beliefs, they loaded down this system with special devices which hampered it from functioning as a parliamentary system should. The irony of this whole procedure rests in the fact that the minority of agitators in India who wanted self-government wanted it on the parliamentary pattern and regarded every special device and every statement from Britain that it was not adapted to Indian conditions as an indication of the insincerity in the British desire to grant self-government to India.

A second error arises from the Milner Group's lack of enthusiasm for democracy. Democracy, as a form of government, involves two parts: (1) majority rule and (2) minority rights. Because of the Group's lack of faith in democracy, they held no brief for the first of these but devoted all their efforts toward achieving the second. The result was to make the minority uncompromising, at the same time that they diminished the majority's faith in their own sincerity. In India the result was to make the Moslem League almost completely obstructionist and make the Congress Party almost completely suspicious. The whole policy encouraged extremists and discouraged moderates. This appears at its worst in the systems of communal representation and communal electorates established in India by Britain. The Milner Group knew these were bad, but felt that they were a practical necessity in order to preserve minority rights. In this they were not only wrong, as proved by history, but were sacrificing principle to expediency in a way that can never be permitted by a group whose actions claim to be so largely dictated by principle. To do this weakens the faith of others in the group's principles.

The Group made another error in their constant tendency to accept the outcry of a small minority of Europeanized agitators as the voice of India. The masses of the Indian people were probably in favor of British rule, for very practical reasons. The British gave these masses good government through the Indian Civil Service and other services, but they made little effort to reach them on any human, intellectual, or ideological level. The "color line" was drawn — not between British and Indians but between British and the masses, for the educated upperclass Indians were treated as equals in the majority of cases. The existence of the color line did not bother the masses of the people, but when it hit one of the educated minority, he forgot the more numerous group of cases where it had not been applied to him, became anti-British and began to flood the uneducated masses with a deluge of anti-British propaganda. This could have been avoided to a great extent by training the British Civil Servants to practice racial toleration toward all classes, by increasing the proportion of financial expenditure on elementary education while reducing that on higher education, by using the increased literacy of the masses of the people to impress on them the good they derived from British rule and to remove those grosser superstitions and social customs which justified the color line to so many English. All of these except the last were in accordance with Milner Group ideas. The members of the Group objected to the personal intolerance of the British in India, and regretted the disproportionate share of educational expenditure which went to higher education (see the speech in Parliament of Ormsby-Gore, 11 December 1934), but they continued to educate a small minority, most of whom became anti-British agitators, and left the masses of the people exposed to the agitations of that minority. On principle, the Group would not interfere with the superstitions and grosser social customs of the masses of the people, on the grounds that to do so would be to interfere with religious freedom. Yet Britain had abolished suttee, child marriage, and thuggery, which were also religious in foundation. If the British could have reduced cow-worship, and especially the number of cows, to moderate proportions, they would have conferred on India a blessing greater than the abolition of suttee, child marriage, and thuggery together, would have removed the chief source of animosity between Hindu and Moslem, and would have raised the standard of living of the Indian people to a degree that would have more than paid for a system of elementary education.

If all of these things had been done, the agitation for independence could have been delayed long enough to build up an electorate capable of working a parliamentary system. Then the parliamentary system, which educated Indians wanted, could have been extended to them without the undemocratic devices and animadversions against it which usually accompanied any effort to introduce it on the part of the British.

-- The Anglo-American Establishment: From Rhodes to Cliveden, by Carroll Quigley


All India Kisan Sabha (All India Peasants Union, also known as the Akhil Bharatiya Kisan Sabha), was the name of the peasants front of the undivided Communist Party of India, an important peasant movement formed by Sahajanand Saraswati in 1936. It later split into two organisations known by the same name: AIKS (Ajoy Bhavan) and AIKS (Ashoka Road).

History

The Kisan Sabha movement started in Bihar under the leadership of Sahajanand Saraswati who had formed in 1929 the Bihar Provincial Kisan Sabha (BPKS) in order to mobilise peasant grievances against the zamindari attacks on their occupancy rights, and thus sparking the farmers' movements in India.[1][2]

Gradually the peasant movement intensified and spread across the rest of India. The formation of Congress Socialist Party (CSP) in 1934 helped the Communists to work together with the Indian National Congress, however temporarily,[3] then in April 1935, noted peasant leaders N. G. Ranga and E. M. S. Namboodiripad, then secretary and joint secretary respectively of South Indian Federation of Peasants and Agricultural Labour, suggested the formation of an all-India farmers body,[4] and soon all these radical developments culminated in the formation of the All India Kisan Sabha (AIKS) at the Lucknow session of the Indian National Congress on 11 April 1936 with Saraswati elected as its first President,[5] and it involved people such as Ranga, Namboodiripad, Karyanand Sharma, Yamuna Karjee, Yadunandan (Jadunandan) Sharma, Rahul Sankrityayan, P. Sundarayya, Ram Manohar Lohia, Jayaprakash Narayan, Acharya Narendra Dev and Bankim Mukherjee. The Kisan Manifesto released in August 1936, demanded abolition of the zamindari system and cancellation of rural debts, and in October 1937, it adopted red flag as its banner.[4] Soon, its leaders became increasingly distant with Congress, and repeatedly came in confrontation with Congress governments, in Bihar and United Province.[4][6]

In the subsequent years, the movement was increasingly dominated by Socialists and Communists as it moved away from the Congress,[2] by 1938 Haripura session of the Congress, under the presidency of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose, the rift became evident,[4] and by May 1942, the Communist Party of India, which was finally legalised by then government in July 1942,[7] had taken over AIKS, all across India including Bengal where its membership grew considerably.[6] It took on the Communist party's line of People's War, and stayed away from the Quit India Movement, which started in August 1942, though this also meant its losing its popular base. Many of its members defied party orders and joined the movement, and prominent members like Ranga, Indulal Yagnik and Saraswati soon left the organisation, which increasing found it difficult to approach the peasants without the watered-down approach of pro-British and pro-war, and increasing its pro-nationalist agenda, much to the dismay of the British Raj which always thought the Communists would help them in countering the nationalist movement.[8]

The Communist Party of India split into two in 1964. Following this, so too did the All India Kisan Sabha, with each faction affiliated to the splinters.

Present organisations

Currently two organisations work under the name of AIKS:

• All India Kisan Sabha (36, Pt. Ravi Shankar Shukla Lane), attached to Communist Party of India (Marxist)
• All India Kisan Sabha (Ajoy Bhawan), attached to Communist Party of India

References

1. Bandyopādhyāya, Śekhara (2004). From Plassey to Partition: A History of Modern India. Orient Longman. pp. 523 (at p 406). ISBN 978-81-250-2596-2.
2. Peasant Struggles in India, by Akshayakumar Ramanlal Desai. Published by Oxford University Press, 1979. Page 349.
3. Peasants in India's Non-violent Revolution: Practice and Theory, by Mridula Mukherjee. Published by SAGE, 2004. ISBN 0-7619-9686-9. Page 136.
4. Mahatma Gandhi, by Sankar Ghose. Published by Allied Publishers, 1991. ISBN 81-7023-205-8. Page 262.
5. Bandyopādhyāya, Śekhara (2004). From Plassey to Partition: A History of Modern India. Orient Longman. pp. 523 (at p 407). ISBN 978-81-250-2596-2.
6. States, Parties, and Social Movements, by Jack A. Goldstone. Cambridge University Press, 2003. ISBN 0-521-01699-1. Page 192.
7. Caste, Protest and Identity in Colonial India: The Namasudras of Bengal, 1872-1947, by Shekhar Bandyopadhyaya. Routledge, 1997. ISBN 0-7007-0626-7. Page 233.
8. Peasants in India's Non-violent Revolution: Practice and Theory, by Mridula Mukherjee. Published by SAGE, 2004. ISBN 0-7619-9686-9. Page 347.

Further reading

• Swami Sahajanand and the Peasants of Jharkhand: A View from 1941 translated and edited by Walter Hauser along with the unedited Hindioriginal (Manohar Publishers, paperback, 2005).
• Sahajanand on Agricultural Labour and the Rural Poor translated and edited by Walter Hauser Manohar Publishers, paperback, 2005).
• Religion, Politics, and the Peasants: A Memoir of India's Freedom Movement translated and edited by Walter Hauser Manohar Publishers, hardbound, 2003).
• Swami And Friends: Sahajanand Saraswati And Those Who Refuse To Let The Past of Bihar's Peasant Movements Become History By Arvind Narayan Das, Paper for the Peasant Symposium, May 1997 University Of Virginia, Charlottesville, Virginia
• Bagchi, A.K., 1976, `Deindustrialisation in Gangetic Bihar, 1809- 1901' in Essays in Honour of Prof. S.C. Sarkar, New Delhi.
• Banaji, Jairus, 1976, "The Peasantry in the Feudal MOde of Production: Towards an Economic Model", Journal of Peasant Studies, April.
• Bandopadhyay, D., 1973, `Agrarian Relations in Two Bihar Districts', Mainstream, 2 June, New Delhi.
• Judith M. Brown, 1972, Gandhi's Rise to Power: Indian Politics, 1915–1922, London.
• Chaudhuri, B.B., 1971, `Agrarian Movements in Bengal and Bihar, 1919-1939' in B.R. Nanda, ed., Socialism in India, New Delhi.
• Chaudhuri, B.B., 1975, `The Process of Depeasantisation in Bengal and Bihar, 1885-1947', Indian Historical Review, 2(1), July, New Delhi.
• Chaudhuri, B.B., 1975a, `Land Market in Eastern India, 1793-1940', Indian Economic and Social History Review, 13 (1 & 2), New Delhi.
• Arvind Narayan Das, 1981, Agrarian Unrest and Socio-economic Change in Bihar, 1900-1980, Delhi : Manohar.
• Arvind Narayan Das (ed.),1982, Agrarian Movements in India : Studies on 20th Century Bihar, London : Frank Cass.
• Arvind Narayan Das, 1992, The Republic of Bihar, New Delhi : Penguin.
• Arvind Narayan Das, 1996, Changel : The Biography of a Village, New Delhi : Penguin.
• Datta, K.K., 1957, History of the Freedom Movement in Bihar, Patna.
• Diwakar, R.R., ed., 1957, Bihar Through the Ages, Patna.
• Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, 1921, `The Zamindar and the Ryots', Young India, Vol. III (New Series) No. 153, 18 May.
• Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, 1940, An Autobiography or The Story of My experiments in Truth, Ahmedabad.
• India, 1976, Bonded Labour System (Abolition) Act, 1976, New Delhi. JSES (Journal of Social and Economics Studies), 1976, `Sarvodaya and Development', Vol. IV No.1, Patna.
• Mishra, G., 1968. `The Socio-economic Background of Gandhi's Champaran Movement', Indian Economic and Social History Review, 5(3), New Delhi.
• Mishra, G., 1978, Agrarian Problems of Permanent Settlement: A Case Study of Champaran, New Delhi.
• Mitra, Manoshi, 1983, Agrarian Social Structure in Bihar: Continuity and Change, 1786–1820, Delhi : Manohar.
• Pouchepadass, J., 1974, `Local Leaders and the Intelligentsia in the Champaran Satyagraha', Contributions to Indian Sociology, New Series, No.8, November, New Delhi.
• Prasad, P.H., 1979, `Semi-Feudalism: Basic Constraint in Indian Agriculture' in Arvind N. Das & V. Nilakant, eds., Agrarian Relations in India, New Delhi.
• Shanin, Teodor, 1978, "Defining Peasants: Conceptualisations and Deconceptualisations: Old and New in a Marxist Debate", Manchester University.
• Solomon, S., 1937, Bihar and Orissa in 1934-35, Patna.
• Socialism in India, by Bal Ram Nanda, Nehru Memorial Museum and Library. Published by Vikas Publications, 1972.Page 205.
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• Peasants in History: Essays in Honour of Daniel Thorner, by Eric J. Hobsbawm, Daniel Thorner, Witold Kula, Sameeksha Trust.Published by Oxford University Press, 1981.
• Bihar Peasantry and the Kisan Sabha, 1936-1947, by Rakesh Gupta. Published by People's Pub. House, 1982.
• The Constitution of All India Kisan Sabha Encyclopaedia of Political Parties, by O. P. Ralhan, Published by Anmol Publications Pvt. Ltd., 2002. ISBN 81-7488-865-9. Page 1-10.
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Part 1 of 2

Fifty Years of Organised Peasant Movement
by Harkishan Singh Surjeet
The Marxist, Volume: 4, No. 2
April – June 1986

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THE ALL INDIA KISAN SABHA, THE PREMIER ORGANISATION of the Indian peasantry is celebrating its Golden Jubilee this year. It already held the Golden Jubilee Session in the third week of May.

Today, the Kisan Sabha is the biggest organisation of the peasantry with 8.4 million members, and if the membership of the All India Agricultural Workers Union is also included, the figure goes up to 9.5 million. Not a day passes without some struggle or movement being conducted somewhere in India. In many areas of the country the Kisan Sabha symbolises the aspirations and hopes of the multitude of poor and the collective will of the peasantry. The organisation is growing everywhere, and more and more peasants are joining it and taking part in its activities and struggle.

Fifty years ago, when it was founded in a Conference in Lucknow, the AIKS was a small organisation, and very few people heard about its formation. During these intervening years many heroic battles have been fought and won. The battles which were lost, also left their imprint on the organisation. Thus a great deal of blood has been shed, and many martyrs have given their lives fighting for the democratic rights of the peasants. Many comrades have sacrificed the better part of their youth in the underground or prison.

The entire history of the past fifty years has been a long history of severe repression against the organisation and its workers. But none of the sacrifices have gone waste. Each ounce of blood, energy and time given has strengthened the body and the soul of the organisation. The Kisan Sabha which we see today, with its large membership and an elaborate network of units reaching down to the village level, is a product of this history. It was founded to play a distinct role in the history of the country. For an assessment of the role played by the organised peasant movement in the last fifty years under the leadership of the Communists, it is essential to understand the actions of the peasantry, first under the feudal leadership and the later under the leadership of the bourgeoisie, and the class limitations imposed on the peasant movements by these leadership.

PEASANT STRUGGES IN NINETEENTH CENTURY

Though the AIKS was formally established on April 13, 1936, it had not been built in a day. The peasant movements in different parts of the country had existed for the past century. Many of the peasant struggles fought in those days were spontaneous in character, lacked proper direction and in many cases were badly organised. Still they played a role in raising the consciousness of the peasantry to fight against oppression and in defence of their rights.

The first half of the nineteenth century witnessed uninterrupted anti-colonial activity on the part of the peasantry, and tribesmen led by feudal lords who had lost their privileges. The feudal lords in the Northern Sarkars had been strongly resisting British domination ever since the beginning of the nineteenth century. In 1807 the whole Delhi regime took up arms; in 1814 at Tuppan of Muneer (near Varanasi). Rajput peasants secured the abolition of the sale of land by public auction of a large village community to a stranger. In 1817 the peasants of Orissa led by local feudal lords, rose up in protest against the introduction of taxation of their rent free service lands. Poona district witnessed the uprising of the peasantry from 1826 to 1829 when the authorities were obliged to cede to them holding subject to low revenue charges. In 1830-31 British troops were sent to suppress a peasant uprising in Bedsore district of Mysore State against the tax increase. In 1835-37 there was an uprising in Gumsur in Madras Presidency. In 1842 an uprising flared up in Sagar. In 1846-47 the peasants in Karnal rose up in revolt. In 1848 Rohillas in Nagpur took up arms. In 1844 in the Kolhapur and Santavadi State bordering Bombay Presidency, there was a large-scale revolt in protest against the British decisions increasing the land revenue to pay the princes’ tribute. The peasants of Khandeth in Bombay Presidency rose up in protest against the land settlement which resulted in the increase of land tax.

There were also innumerable uprisings of tribals in this period – of the Bhils in 1818-1831 and Kolis in 1824 in Bombay Presidency, unrest in Kutch in 1815 and 1832 and revolt in Kittur in 1824-1829. In 1820, there was an uprising of the Mers in Rajputana, and of the Hos tribe in Chote Nagpur in 1831-32.

In 1846 the Khonds rose up in Orissa and 1855 witnessed the Santhal revolt in Bihar.

There was also unrest in the Indian towns usually resulting from the introduction of new taxes, which generally took the form of hartals.

These heroic struggles culminated in the First War of Independence of 1857, when the leadership of the movement was taken up by Sepys. Explaining the significance of this rebellion Karl Marx wrote:

“Before this there had been mutinies in the Indian Army, but the present revolt is distinguished by characteristic and fatal features. It is the first time that Sepoy regiments have murdered their European Officers: that Mussulmans and Hindus, renouncing their mutual antipathies, have combined against their common master; that disturbances beginnings with the Hindus, have actually ended in placing on the throne of Delhi a Mohammedan Emperor’, That the mutiny has not been confined to a few localities and lastly, that the revolt in the Anglo-Indian army has coincided with a general disaffection exhibited against English supremacy on the part of the great Asiatic nations, the revolt of the Bengal army being, beyond doubt, intimately connected with the Persian and Chinese wars.”

The uprisings were confined to northern and central India. The peasants after driving out the local representative of the colonial administration set up armed detachments for their own defence and defended the village communal lands, which had been expropriated by the British conquerors. The population in the town played an active par in the uprising. They not only liberated a number of large cities like Aligarh, Bareilly, Lucknow, Kanpur and Allahabad but set up a government in each of them.

This popular uprising of 1857-59 was defeated for various reasons the most important being that although the fighting forces had consisted of peasants and artisans, they were led by the feudal nobility, who showed themselves incapable of leading the national liberation struggle. They could not evolve a united strategy and a united command. The centres of uprising which emerged spontaneously, acted independently of each other. Moreover, the feudal lords did not take any measure to alleviate the lot of the peasantry. When the British Government made concessions to the feudal lords, they dissociated themselves from the uprising. The Sepoy commanders were not able to wage a complex war.

After the British succeeded in suppressing the uprising, they had to learn a lesion and change their tactics. The East India Company was liquidated and India became a colony of the British government. They also made a lot of concessions to the feudal lords thereby winning their sympathy and support. In spite of all this the uprisings left their imprint on the national liberation struggle, which developed in subsequent years.

Then followed the period of intensified exploitation of the country. This exploitation of India as a source of cheap raw materials as well s a commodity market for British manufactures constituted the main form of colonial loot. It helped to promote the development of commodity-money relations in both the towns and villages, and this growth of simple commodity production in a period of formation helped in the further penetration of trading and usury capital into the spheres of agriculture and handicrafts.

BOURGEOIS LEADERSHIP TAKES OVER

Discontentment among the people, especially the peasantry, was rapidly growing; the defeat of Czarism by Japan gave encouragement to the feelings national liberation; and the Russian Revolution of 1905 also made its own impact on the country. The immediate issue which galvanised the atmosphere, was the partition of Bengal which aroused universal indignation throughout the land, leading to the movement for boycott of foreign goods which began on August 7, 1905. Simultaneously, the Punjab was witnessing great unrest among the peasantry on the question of the Colonisation Act. A powerful movement developed against it, led by Lajpat Rai, Ajit Sigh and Banke Dayal.

These movements in which the peasantry participated in large numbers, were accompanied by trade union struggles in Bombay Calcutta and other places. The revolutionaries who at this time took to the path of armed struggles against imperialism helped radicalise the politics of those days. To meet the situation the British rulers resorted to repressive measures; heavy sentences, deportation banning of meetings, detention without trial, etc. But this did not deter the people from their path. The Government had to announce a review of the partition of Bengal and withdrew the Punjab Colonisation Act. These developments and their outcome signified that a new class had come onto the scene, i.e., the bourgeoisie. It was providing leadership to the movement and was able to get concessions.

The outbreak of the imperialist world war in 1914 raised hopes among the people for the liberation of all colonial peoples and Indian revolutionaries abroad, who were mostly peasants, took the initiative to organise a revolt in the Indian Army. They formed the Gadhar Party with headquarters in San Francisco. They raised the slogan of complete independence and sent hundreds of revolutionaries to India to organise a revolt against the British. Many of them were caught and hanged, large numbers had to undergo life imprisonment, and face tortures and deprivation. Although they did not succeed in their mission their impact in arousing the peasantry during the war period should not be underestimated. An overwhelming majority of them later on joined the Kisan sabha when it was formed.

By contrast with the activities and goal of these revolutionaries, the Indian National Congress for its part had expressed its loyalty to the imperialist war in all its sessions held in this period. Even on 1918 at the close of the war at its session in Delhi the Congress Party passed a resolution expressing loyalty to the King and conveying its congratulations at the successful termination of the war.

POST-WAR UPSURGE AND THE IMPACT OF THE RUSSIAN REVOLUTION

By December 1917 news of October Revolution in Russia was beginning to filter through to India and the not-too-efficient censorship allowed it to appear in the Press. Many articles appeared and demobilised soldiers returning from the fronts also brought the news. It had a tremendous impact on the Indian people, who welcomed the success of the Russian Revolution with understandable enthusiasm in particular, its slogan of the right to self-determination of a nation. At the Calcutta Session of the Congress in December 1917, Annie Besant spoke of the Russian Revolutions as one of the factors that fundamentally changed the previously existing situation in India.

As the war neared its end, having cost almost ten million lives, the Indian soldiers began returning home, by sea, on foot, through the endless expanses of the Himalayan passes, covered with blinding white snow. But these were no longer the timid downtrodden peasants and craftsmen who had cowered before the arrogant Englishman, or a conceited zamindar. They had forgotten the smell of freshly turned earth; their hands were no longer accustomed to the plough. Instead they brought with them the smell of fire bayonet, and slash with a sabre. They had acquired a sense of their own worth and dignity and came to believe in their own strength. In their native villages and hamlets they found their holdings ruined or falling into decay, and the land, which had once been fruitful, dried and barren. Clenching their teeth in anger they listened to heart-rending stories, broken by sobs, of the death from hunger of their children, wives and aged parents. They had come to understand that their trouble was caused by the greed and cruelty of the colonialists and landlords. It was no by chance that India was in the throes of an unprecedented upsurge in the post-war period.

Lenin had taken note of the situation. Addressing the Second Congress of the Communist Organisations of the East on November 22, 1919, he stated:

“In this respect you are confronted with a task which has not previously confronted Communists of the world; relying upon the general theory and practice of Communism, you must adapt yourself to specific conditions such as do not exist in European countries, you must be able to apply that theory and practice to conditions in which the bulk of the population are peasants and in which the task is to wage a struggle against medieval survivals and not against capitalism...” (emphasis added)

On February 17, 1920, the Indian Revolutionary Associations headed by émigrés like Raja Mohinder Pratap, Maulana Mohammed Barkatullah and Maulana Obeidullah Sindhi, in an Assembly held in Kabul, adopted the following resolution addressed to Lenin.

“Indian revolutionaries express their deep gratitude and their admiration of the great struggle carried on by Soviet Russia for the liberation of all oppressed classes and peoples, and especially for the liberation of India. Great thanks to Soviet Russia for her having heard the cries of agony from the 315,000,000 people suffering under the yoke of imperialism. This mass meeting accepts with joy the hand of friendship and help extended to oppressed India.”

In reply to this message Lenin wrote:

“I am glad to hear that the principles of self-determination and the liberation of oppressed nations from exploitation by foreign and native capitalists, proclaimed by the workers’ and Peasants’ Republic, have met with such a ready response among progressive Indians, who are waging a heroic fight for freedom. The working masses of Russia following with unflagging attention the awakening of the Indian workers and peasants. The organisations and discipline of the working people and their perseverance and solidarity with the working people of the world are an earnest of ultimate success. We welcome the close alliance of Muslim and non-Muslim elements. We sincerely want to see this alliance extended to all the toilers of the East. Only when the Indian, Chinese, Korean, Japanese, Persian and Turkish workers and peasants join hands and march together in the common cause of liberation – only then will decisive victory over the exploiters be ensured. Long lives a free Asia.” (Collected Works, Vol. 31, p. 138)

PEASANTRY IN ACTION FOR NATIONAL LIBERATION

Lenin’s prediction proved to be true. The peasantry in India was drawn into action in a big way. With the starting of the non-cooperation movement the peasantry in various parts of the country became very active. Though not strictly a part of the non-cooperation movement, at the same time, their activities cannot be separated from the movement for national liberation. Peasant struggles became linked up with the struggle for independence since it was the imperialist system of exploitation, which was the main protector of the feudal exploitation in the countryside.

In northern India the Gurudwara Reforms Movement, which started with the Nankana Massacre, brought the vast Sikh peasant masses into action against British rule, thus making it a part of the liberation movement. In UP had begun the Eka Movement of tenants who were fighting against the extortions and oppression of the landlords. In the south there was the Moplah Rebellion in Malabar (Kerala) an uprising tenants against the oppression of jenmies (landlord).

The main slogan of the Gurudwara Reforms Movement was the liberation of Gurudwaras from the control of Mahants who had the patronage of the British imperialists. Bringing the Sikh peasantry into the national mainstream, it soon took the form of an anti-imperialist movement. The Eka Movement was also widespread and militant. It raised the demands of fixed rents, receipts for payments, stoppage of beggar for the landlord, free use of water from ponds, and the freedom to graze cattle in the jungles. It was a revolt of the tenants against the unbearable oppression of the landlord.

The Moplah rebellion, again essentially an uprising of the tenants in Malabar, began on August 20 1921. The tenants were Muslims while the jenmies were Hindus. The main targets of the attack of the rebellion were the police, military, landlords and moneylenders. The police and military suppressed the rebellion with brutal violence in which 3,266 Moplahs were killed.

The period also witnessed big working class actions- in the textile and jute Mills in Calcutta, Bombay, Madras; in the North Western and Eastern Railway, the coal-fields of Jharia, the P & T Department of Bombay; plantations of Assam; tramways of Calcutta, etc.

C.I. NOTES DEVELOPMENT

The Fourth Congress of the communist International took note of the situation and drew attention to mobilising the peasantry in the struggle for independence. The Congress emphasised that “the revolutionary movement in the colonial countries would achieve no success unless it gets the support of the peasant masses. The agrarian programme of the Communist in the counties of the East demands the complete elimination of feudalism and all its survivals and aims at drawing in the peasant masses in the struggle for national liberation.”

The thesis on the Eastern question adopted at the Congress stated that the Communists must see to it that the national revolutionary parties adopt a radical agrarian programme.

Dealing with the agrarian question and describing the situation of the peasantry in the colonial countries the Congress came to the conclusion that

“Only the agrarian revolution aiming at the expropriation of large land owners can rouse the vast peasant masses destined to have a decisive influence in the struggle against imperialism. The fear of agrarian watchwords on the part of the bourgeois nationalists (India, Persia and Egypt) is evidence of the close ties existing between the native bourgeoisie and the large feudal and feudal bourgeois landowners and their ideological political dependence on the latter. The hesitation and wavering of this class must be used by the revolutionary elements for systematic criticism and exposure of the lack of resolution of the bourgeois leaders of the national movement. It is precisely this lack of resolutions that hinders the organisations of the toiling masses as is proved by the bankruptcy of the tactics of non-cooperation in India.

“The revolutionary movement in the backward countries of the East cannot be successful unless it is based on the action of the masses of the peasantry. For the reason the revolutionary parties in all Eastern countries must define their agrarian programme which should demand the complete abolition of feudalism and its survivals, expressed in the forms of large landownership and farming.

“In order that the peasant masses may be drawn into active participation in the struggle for national liberation, it is necessary to proclaim the radical reform of the bourgeois nationalist parties to the greatest extent, possible to adopt this revolutionary agrarian programme.” (Documents of the History of the C.I. vol. Pp. 550).

CHAURI CHAURA INCIDENT: BETRAYAL BY BOURGEOIS LEADERSHIP

When in 1922 Mahatma Gandhi launched a mass civil disobedience movement in one district of Bardoli, it gave encouragement to the people in the rest of the country. A few days later in a little village. Chauri Chaura in UP angry peasants stoned and burnt the village police station, and the unpopular village constabulary was burnt in the flames. This unrest of the peasantry crucial to the Indian Revolution was not to the liking of Mahatma Gandhi. He lost no time in announcing the withdrawal of the movement, disappointing even congress leaders who were then in prison. The reality of the situation was that the reformist control of the movement was weakening.

This concern was reflected in the message telegraphed by the Viceroy to London on February 9, only three days before the withdrawal of the movement:

“The lower classes in the towns have been seriously affected by the non-cooperation movement…. In certain areas the peasantry have been affected, particularly in parts of the Assam Valley, United Provinces, Bihar Orissa and Bengal. As regards the Punjab, the Akali agitation…. has penetrated to the rural Sikhs. A large proportion of the Mohammedan population throughout the country are embittered and sullen… grave possibilities. The government of India are prepared for disorder of more formidable nature than has in the past occurred and do not seek to minimise in any way the fact the great anxiety is caused by the situation.”

The resolution adopted by congress Working Committed on the withdrawal of the movement, on February 12, 1922, makes clear as daylight that Mahatma Gandhi and the Congress leadership were afraid of the agrarian revolution and opposed to it. They were not interested in drawing in the working class and peasantry as classes, into the movement. After deploring the activities of the peasants of Chauri Chuara as inhuman, the working committee resolution instructed the local congress committee “to advise the cultivators to pay land revenue and other taxes due to the government and to suspend every other activity of an offensive character.”

In order that there should be no ambiguity on this question, it further stated.

“The working committee advices congress workers and organisations to inform the ryots (peasants) that withholding of rent payment to the zamindars (landlords) is contrary to the Congress Resolutions and injurious to the best interests of the country.”

The resolution then ended by coming out in open defence of the landlords as against the peasants:

“The working committee assures the Zamindars that the Congress movement is in no way intended to attack their legal rights, and that even where the ryots have grievances, the Committee desires that redress be sought by mutual consultation and arbitration.”

It is clear from the above resolution that the question here was not one of violence or non-violence. It was instead a clear question of defence of the class interests of the landlords-the exploiters against the exploited. Gandhi and the dominant leadership of the Congress called off the movement because it was beginning to threaten those propertied class interests with which they themselves were closely linked.

Thus the class limitations of the bourgeois stood revealed: though it wanted the peasantry to be drawn into the national liberation struggle, did not want the peasantry to come into action as a class. And thus began the struggle between the two approaches, the approaches of the working class, which had by now emerged on the scene, and that of the bourgeoisie.

WORKING CLASS LEADERSHIP

By contrast March 1923, the Executive Committee of the Communist Internation issued a manifesto on the Chauri Chaura sentences where 172 peasants had been given death sentences, asking for protest meetings and a movement for their release.

The peasantry had already had the experience of betrayal by the landlords during the struggles of the 19th century. In the Chauri Chaura struggle they were able to se the betrayal by the bourgeoisie. The Communists and the Left in the Congress learnt from the experience of these two betrayals by the two classes, who were considered their natural leaders, and decided to organise the peasantry independently, as a class, though working in cooperation with other anti-imperialist classes and strata including the bourgeoisie.

In May 1923, the formation of the Labour and Kisan Party was announced and its action programme for the peasants included protection against eviction, 20 per cent reduction on all economic rent in ryotwari settlement areas, eventual abolition of Permanent settlement abolition of beggar, protection against oppression of zamindars, abolition of salami, free irrigation, abolition of dowry, etc. loans in seed or money without interest, etc.

This was the beginning of the preparations for a platform of action for the peasantry. Subsequently, peasant organisations also came into existence in various places. A Note of Satya Bakta, Secretary, Indian Communist Party dated June 18, 1925, states:

“In order to organise the Indian peasants, labourers and other working people and with a view to bettering their condition, the Indian Communist Party resolves to adopt the following programme:

“In these days there are several kisan sabhas (peasants’ unions) in UP and other provinces. They are striving after some reforms. But as long as landlordism exists in India, peasants cannot become happy and prosperous. That they should pay something to the Government is after all acceptable. But there is no reason why middlemen or commission agents should be allowed to exist. But until the victory of the proletarian class, landlordism cannot be abolished entirely.

“Even now the government and leaders of our country, if they really desire the betterment of the peasants can improve the present conditions to a great extent. In our opinion peasants should be entitled to pay their rent direct to the Government who may pay to the landlord their share. They should not be allowed to have any other connection with or control over the peasants. In this way while landlords will loss nothing of their legitimate income, they and especially their servants will no longer be able to rob peasants in the shape of unlawful taxes and gratuities. For this purpose the Indian Communist Party will agitate among the peasants and will urge upon all new and old kisan sabhas to work in the suggested manner.”

It is clear from this that kisan sabhas had already come into existence in many parts of the country. Subsequently the Labour Swaraj Party was formed in Bengal, on November 1, 1925. It was called the Labour Swaraj Party of the Indian National Congress. Its programme for the peasantry stated:

Land taxes to be reduced to a fixed maximum and fixity of the interest rate of the Imperial Bank on arrears of rents; fixity of tenure, no ejection cessation of illegal and extra taxation, right of transference, right of felling trees, sinking wells, excavating tanks and erecting pucca structure; fixed term of fishery rights in jolkars; fixity of maximum rate of interest to be levied by moneylenders; agricultural cooperative banks to be established to provide credit to the peasants and to free them from the clutches of moneylenders and speculating traders; agricultural machinery to be sold or lent to the cultivators on easy terms through the cooperative banks.

This organisation was a forerunner of the Workers and Peasants Party. On February 6-7, 1926 the Second Session of the All Bengal Kisan Conference was held in Krishna Nagar (Nadia District). It decided to organise a peasants and Workers Party called the Bengal Peasants and Workers Party. While the basic demand mentioned that the ultimate ownership of land would vest in a self-contained autonomous village community, it put forward the following immediate demands:

1) Fixity of rates in relation to the rents payable by the tenants: the interest charged on arrears of rent to be equal to the rate of interest charged by the Imperial Bank.

2) Cultivator’s undivided ownership be recognised on the land he tills.

3) Permanency of tenure in land (which the cultivator tills), banning of evictions.

4) Stopping of all unjust and illegal cesses.

5) Right freely to transfer the land to another without payment of salami.

6) Right to cut the trees, to dig wells and cut canals and build a house on his land without paying any salami.

7) Fixing conditions for catching fish in the ponds on the land.

8) The highest rate of interest to be charged by the mahajan to be fixed at a rate not more than 12 per cent.

9) Establishing cooperative agricultural banks to give credit to the peasant and thus to release him from the grip of the greedy and professional moneylender.

10) Machinery needed for cultivation etc. to be sold outright to the peasant or to be given to him on rent for use, and the price of the same or the rent amount thereof to be recovered from peasant in easy instalments.

11) To make arrangement for the wholesale sale of jute or other commercial crops so that a just profits rate is guaranteed to the peasant.

It was on February 24, 1927 that the Workers And Peasants Party was formed in Bombay. It resolved that “a political party of workers and peasant be established to voice the demands of these classes within the National Congress, to promote the organisation of trade unions to wrest them from their alien control, to advance the organisation of peasants on the basis of their economic and social requirements and to present a determined and pertinent opposition to the government and thus secure the social, economic and political emancipation of these classes.”

In formulating the economic demands it proposed:

12) The abolition of indirect taxation and the introduction of graded income tax on all income exceeding Rs 250 per mensem.

13) Nationalisation of land wherein all cultivable land will be leased by Government to cultivator.

14) Nationalisation of means of production, distribution and exchange.

15) Rent of land holding not to be excessive.

16) Establishment by the government of State-aided cooperative banks controlled by local organisations for the provision of credit to peasants, at a rate of interest not exceeding seven per cent.

In a programme formulated for the All India Congress Committee it proposed:

“70 per cent of the population which is engaged in agriculture is to be organised into peasant societies, by district, taluk, and village, on the lines of the village panchayat, based on universal suffrage aiming to secure control of the economic life of the rural areas. Through the agricultural cooperative banks to be established by the State for the provision of cheap credit to the peasants, whereby they will be enabled to free themselves from the grip of Saukars, and to purchase modern machinery and other equipment; limitation by law of the rate of interest at seven per cent per annum; limitation of rent to 10 per cent of the total produce to be paid direct to the Sate, and brining into cultivation by State aid cultivable land by present unused.

But the bourgeoisie leadership of the Congress was not prepared to take up the peasant demands.

When a proposal was mooted before the Subjects committee of the Congress that it should side with peasants and workers when a conflict arose between them and the zamindars and capitalists. Pandit Motilal Nehru, the then President of the Congress, contended in reply, that the Congress was not the Socialist or Communist Party. The reason for making this statement was that the Congress was by no means ready to stand up for those who produce all things by their labour.

J M Sengupta, leader of the Bengal Swarajists, made this even clearer. He said that the party includes many zamindars and that without their help so many men of their party would certainly never be able to enter the Councils. So they could by no means help the peasants, going against those zamindars. They tried to cover this defence of the interest of the landlords under the pretext that no class struggle existed in the countryside, and the congress represented the whole country.

It is not accidental that certain juridical measures of reforms in tenancy rights were introduced in India not at the initiative of the bourgeoisie, but by imperialism often in the face of nationalist bourgeois opposition.

POPULARISATION OF THE AGRARIAN PROGRAMME

The formation of the All India Workers and Peasants Party and the subsequent historic Meerut Trial, helped in popularising the agrarian programme among the Indian masses. The Meerut Trial went on for more than four years. The persons involved in the trial in their statements advocated the programme of the Communists in relation to the working class, peasantry and other toiling sections of the Indian population, along with their unflinching opposition to imperialist rule in the country.

This was the period when the economic crisis of the 30s had engulfed the world. India was the worst hit during this crisis and in 1931 the Central Banking Enquiry Committee registered the general conviction that

“Indebtedness leads ultimately to the transfer of land holdings from the agricultural class to the non-agricultural money-lenders leading to the creation of the landless proletariat with a reduced economic status. The result is said to be loss of agricultural efficiency as the moneylenders sub-let at a rate which leaves the cultivators with a reduced incentive.” (Enquiry Committee Report. P. 59)

The 1931 Census report reached the conclusion that

“It is likely that a concentration of the land in the hands of the non-cultivating owners is taking place.” (Census of India, 1931, Vol. 1)

Similarly, the extent of the collapse in prices of agricultural commodities was such, that whereas in 1928-29 the value of agricultural crops, taken at an average harvest price, was about Rs 1034 crore, in 1933-34 it was only Rs 473 crore a fall of 55 per cent.

In the United Provinces, the number of tenants abandoning their land because they could not pay rent, reached as high as 71 440 in 1931. The burden of debt doubled. Peasants were groaning under their heavy indebtedness, their lands were passing into the hands of moneylenders and they were being forced to live the life of paupers.

The peasant organisations emerging in various States now had a clear-cut programme not only for immediate relief but also directed against the system of landlordism. The peasants had realised the necessity of organising themselves as a class which was numerically not only strong but also the worst exploited under the triple attack of the imperialists landlords and moneylenders and traders. The Indian National Congress was desirous of mobilising them in the struggle for independence since without them it was not possible to bring pressure to bear on the imperialists but it did not want the peasantry to emerge as a class conscious of its rights and determined to put an end to the rule of the landlords.

The Congress started the Civil Disobedience movement but its 11-point charter of demar ds did not contain any demands of the working class and peasantry against the capitalists and the landlords.

The resolution of the Karachi Session of the Congress where fundamental rights were mentioned in relation to the peasant demands it did not stipulate more than a substantial reduction of land revenue and rent, and total exemption only for the necessary period in the case of uneconomic holdings. There was no reference to abolition of landlordism or even the annulment of at least a portion of the rural debt. It was clear that that Indian National congress did not want to rouse the peasantry against feudal oppression.

Gandhi’s hopes for a compromise were shattered at the Round Table Conference and he had again to continue the movement, which lasted up to 1934, drawing into its fold huge masses. Once again the movement was withdrawn without achieving its aim, and Gandhi withdrew from the Congress exercising his influence from outside.

FORMATION OF ALL INDIA KISAN SABHA

The Communist Party was banned in 1934 but continued to exercise its influence on the working class and on the Left in the Congress. The ideas of Socialism wee becoming very popular, and left dements in the Congress, becoming disillusioned with Gandhi formed the Congress Socialist Party, in order to give the Congress a Left orientation. Coming to realise that the vast masses of the peasantry could be brought into the struggle for independence only by taking up the anti-feudal struggle and their immediate demands they were also realising the necessity of organisation the peasantry as a class. They had already come to the conclusion that the struggle for real political freedom could not be separated from the struggle of the peasantry for an end to landlordism and for radical restructuring of rural society. The Communists were already trying to develop class organisations and had popularised the ideas of independent class organisations of the working class peasants and other sections of the toiling people. Thus it was the Left Congressmen, Congress Socialists and Communists who took the initiative in organising the All India Kisan Sabha.

The First Session was held in 1936, Lucknow to coincide with the holding of the Session of the Indian National congress. The idea was to project the kisan movement as a part of the national movement though maintaining its separate identity as a class organisation.

BROAD BASED ORGANISATION

The following list of the names of some of the participants in the first All India Kisan Sabha Session is revealing : EMS Namboodiripad, Dinkar Methta, Kamal Sarkar, Sohan Singh Josh, Lal Bahadur Shastri, K D Malaviya, Mohan Lal Gautam, B Sampooranand, Jayaprakash Narain, Swami Sahajanand, NabaKrishna Choudhury, Harekrishna Mahtab, N G ranga, Indulal Yajnik, R K Khadilkar, Bishnuram Medhi and Sarat Sinha. Many of them became prominent national and state-level personalities in subsequent years. It also suggests how broad-based the Kisan Sabha was from the very beginning and how it tried to attack people of varying political views to join together in defence of the democratic rights of the kisans.

The formation of the AIKS was preceded by a meeting in Meerut in January 1936, where the necessary preparations were made. A clear decision was taken to launch the organisation with a broad-based programme and membership to link it closely with the national movement for independence and to view the fight against imperialism as an integral part of the fight against the feudal social order since the former patronised and provided state support to the latter.

Today with the benefit of hindsight one is struck by the simplicity and directness with which the very first session set out its tasks in the main resolution. To quote:

“The objective of the Kisan movement is to secure compete freedom from economic exploitation and the achievement of full economic and political power for the peasants and workers and all the other exploited classes.

“The main task of the kisan movement shall-be the organisation of peasants to fight for their immediate political and economic demands in order to prepare them for their emancipation from every from of exploitation.

“The kisan movement stands for the achievements of ultimate economic and political power for the producing masses through its active participation in the national struggle for winning complete independence.”

It their indicted the zamindari system, “supported by the British government in India”, as “iniquitous unjust, burdensome, and oppressive to the kisans”, and declared that “all such system of landlordism shall be abolished and all the rights over such lands be vested in the cultivators.”

This was the essence of what the kisan movement stood for at the time of the launching of the AIKS. The other issues covered by resolutions included questions of rent, irrigation rates and prices of inputs, prices of marketed agricultural products, indebtedness, forced labour and illegal exactions from the tenants by the landlords and the distribution of landlords land to the landless poor peasants as also the vesting of waste land and grazing land in the village level panchayats. The AIKS also demanded minimum wages for the regulating their unionisation.

Any one reading those resolutions will immediately notice that many of the issues raised by the conference of the AIKS in its first session have remained unresolved till today.

PART OF THE NATIONAL MOVEMENT

The Bombay session of the Central Kisan Sabha Council (CKC) held in August 1936 further elaborated many of the points raised in the founding session. It categorically stated that, since the kisans constituted more than four-fifths of the population, “no political or economic programme which has the audacity to ignore their needs and demands can by any stretch of imagination, be labelled as a national programme”, and called upon the Indian National Congress to make “the solution of the problems of the peasantry the chief plank of its political and economic policy.” At the same time the CKC felt the need for a political movement, which draws “its main strength and inspiration from the peasantry.”

These two struggles --- the kisan movement and the national movement were seen as “inter-dependent, the strength of the one adding to the other.”

The CKC meeting also strongly emphasised on the need for peasant unity. The AIKS was an “expression of the awakening of the peasantry”, and should represent not only the ryots the tenants and the landless labourers but also all sections of cultivating peasantry --- “in other words, it represents, and speaks and fights for those who live by cultivation of the soil. All these different strata among the kisans will have to combine and fight for removal of all the letters imposed by British imperialism and it’s allies the landlords.”
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Part 2 of 2

FUNDAMENTAL AND MINIMUM DEMANDS

The Bombay Session made a separate listing of “fundamental demands” and “minimum demands”. The former included the demands for abolishing intermediary tenures, replacement of existing land revenues by graduated land tax, cancellation of old debts and allocation of land to landless and poor peasants for cooperative farming.

The minimum demands included the cancellation of the rent and revenue arrears; exemption of uneconomic holdings from land revenue; reduction of rent revenue and water rates by half; immediate grant of right permanent cultivation to tenants cultivating land held by zamindars, talukdars, etc., rent remission for these tenants; graduated taxation of agricultural income abolition and penalisation of all feudal and customary dues, forced labour and illegal exactions; a five year moratorium on debts freedom from arrest and imprisonment for debtors and also immunity from attachment for small holdings; licensing for money-lenders; arrangement of credit from the state cooperative and land mortgage banks over a long period of 40 years t five per cent interest lowering the freight on agriculture goods introduction of one paise postcards; abolition of indirect taxes on salt kerosene sugar, tobacco molasses, etc., stabilisation of agricultural prices minimum wages legislation to recognise collective action of the peasants insurance for cattle fire and health adult franchise and establishment of village panchayats for managing civic affairs and communal land among others.

These show the wide range of issues covered by the AIKS in its campaign which catered to the needs and aspirations of various sections of the peasantry.

From its very beginning the AIKS was alert and reacted to major national and international events. While striving for the country’s independence the AIKS had a distinct concept of independence, which was outlined in various resolution where along with political independence, socio economic independence was emphasised. To quote from the resolution of the Bombay CKC meeting in 1936 again it stated:

“The Kisan must fight for national socio-economic independence Indian a democratic of Britain must be transformed into a free progressive democratic India of the masses.”

There was no room for exploitation and oppression in the concept of the free Indian that the AIKS held. It was never solely concerned with narrow peasant issues and defined the interests of the peasantry in broad terms.

FOR WORKERS PEASANT ALLIANCE

One of the cornerstones of its policies had always been the unity of the peasants with the workers. In its Gaya Session in 1939 the AIKS talked about the objective of building “a democratic State of the Indian people leading ultimately to the realisation of Kisan --- Mazdoor Raj”. Even earlier in its second session at Faizpur the Presidential Address stated:

“It is the sacred duty of every of our kisans to fraternise with the workers in the village and in the town… There is much to be achieved by both workers and peasants by common effort for their mutual benefit.”

The adoption of the red flag with hammer and sickle, signifying the unity of these two classes, was strongly defended by the General Secretary Swami Sahajananda at the Comilla Session in 1938 on the grounds aspirations of the exploited and the oppressed.”

Its commitment to anti-imperialism was reflected in the resolutions passed in the earlier years condemning the Italian attack on Ethiopia and the Japanese attack on China, and supporting World War began it doggedly opposed the war efforts championed the cause of world peace and later when the fascist forces of Hitler attacked the USSR it firmly came out with the slogan of defeating the fascist hordes to save humanity from fascist enslavement. It mobilised popular opinion against fascism.

On national issues too, the AIKS conferences not only passed resolutions against the colonial rulers but also fought for a determined struggle against British rule and State organised oppression. In fact, many of the leaders of the AIKS were themselves the stalwarts in the national movement and spent many years in British prisons.

AGAINST HEAVY ODDS

The formation of the AIKS was greeted with hostility from many sides. Both the Hindu and Muslim vested interests joined hands against the AIKS and tried their best to disrupt the working of the organisation by terrorising the peasants and using communal propaganda. The British government alarmed by its growing hold on the peasantry intensified its repression by arresting key leaders, from time to time and forcing many others to go underground. A report of the intelligence Bureau of the British colonial government in India said in 1937:

“The Communist leaders are developing a strangle hold upon any future agrarian movement as well as inspiring this with their special methods and outlook of which by no means the least is the belief in mass violence and the violent overthrow of British rule.”

The right wing of the Congress party led by Sardar Ballavbhai Patel and Dr Rajendra Prasad fought against the collective affiliation of the Kisan Sabha to the Indian National Congress and strongly opposed the separate existence of the kisan organisation had produced such an atmosphere of violence in the countryside that an explosion may occur at any moment.”

In many provinces the Congress leaders took an openly pro-landlord view and used their power in governments formed in the late thirties to suppress the agitation of the peasants. In Bihar they made an alliance with the landlord lobby to fight off AIKS activists.

In its formative years therefore the AIKS had to grow fighting against such heavy odds. But it grew nevertheless. The very formation of the organisations inspired peasants all over the country to take up immediate issues and light. As opposed to the path taken by the Indian National Congress, which compromised with landlords and other vested interests, and spoke of non-violent resistance, the AIKS rallied the peasants to stand up to the attacks by the armed thugs of the landlords and the police. The Gaya Session of the AIKS in 1939 reported that “the past year has witnessed a phenomenal awakening and growth of the organised strength of the kisans in India.

FORMATION OF MINISTRIES

To keep the mass movement under control, congress decided to implement the Constitution of 1935 and formed the ministries. Congress policy was again put to the test and again it was found that it stood by the side of the landlords against the tenant and the landless. But the organised peasant movement supported by the Congress Left was proving capable of exercising influence, and the Congress Ministries were being forced to give some concessions.

However, the Congress never defined the meaning and importance of national freedom other than as freedom from British rule. It was the Communists, Socialists and the Congress Left, which were trying to propagate the understanding that freedom from foreign rule could have real meaning only if it was followed by agrarian revolution and completion of the bourgeois democratic tasks.

The masses were getting disillusioned and impatient, and wanted the Congress leadership to launch a final assault on British rule. The leadership wanted to restrain them and use them for pressure and bargaining. The peasant movement thus came again into conflict with the bourgeois leadership of the Congress, especially on the issue of struggle against feudal and semi-feudal relations. The limitations of the bourgeois leadership were starkly revealed and it could be clearly seen that it did not want to come into conflict with the landlord class.

The leadership was prepared to accept and support certain demands of the peasantry, which were directed against the Government, but was not prepared to take up the basic issue of abolition of landlordism. In fact it was afraid of agrarian revolution. Therefore, the kisan sabhas, while supporting the struggle for national independence had not only to strengthen the independent class organisations of the peasantry but also to forge unity with the working class, the most revolutionary class for our society for completion of the agrarian revolution.

KISAN SABHA AND THE WAR

As compared to the Indian National Congress, which lent its support to the war efforts of British imperialism the AIKS came out in firm opposition to the war. Here again there were two different class approaches-one supporting the British imperialist power the other expressing its firm opposition to imperialist war being fought with the sole purpose of redividing the world for the continuation of colonial exploitation.

The AIKS gave a call for struggle against British rule and their Indian lackeys, and launched a no rent, no tax movement. The AIKS was naturally subjected to unprecedented police repression and its open functioning became extremely difficult. Its officers in Bengal and other States were raided and put under lock and key, and its main functionaries were either arrested or forced to go underground.

However, with the attack on the Soviet Union by the German Fascists in June 1914 the Sabha raised the slogan of defeating fascism to save humanity from fascist enslavement. It took the view that on the victory over fascism depended the survival of the first Socialist State as well as the independence of countries including ours. The AIKS therefore considered it the sacred duty of the organisation to support the cause of defence of Socialist State and defeat of fascism.

While the task of fighting fascism was given the priority it deserved the AIKS in its Session in 1914 reminded its members that “the struggle for India’s freedom should not be slackened even temporarily.” The CKC meeting at Nagpur in 1942 demanded transfer of power to a national Government and a declaration recognising India’s right to freedom. It identified the British colonial regime, which was working “in complete isolation from the millions on the land” as the greatest obstacle to the mobilisation of India’s millions in the defence of their country and the successful persecution of the war.”

When on August 9, 1942 Gandhi and other leaders of the Congress were arrested leading to violent protests in many parts of the country, the AIKS expressed its full support to the Congress demand for transfer of power, demanded the released of Gandhi and other national leaders, and condemned the “indiscriminate firing and repression that have been let loose by the Government on the people.”

POST-WAR UPSURGE

The military defeat of the fascist powers headed by Hitlerite Germany and the decisive role played by the Soviet Union altered the alignment of class forces on a world arena in favour of Socialism. This also resulted in the general weakening of imperialism on a world scale. Inspired by this powerful national liberation struggle swept throughout the countries of Asia.

India the largest country of the British Empire witnessed a mass revolutionary upheaval against British rule-peasant revolts of which the heroic armed struggle of the Telengana peasantry was the most important general strikes of workers, student strikes and the states people mass struggle developed on an unprecedented scale. The demonstrations for the release of INA personnel took the form of a country – wide revolt against British rule. This wave of protest reached a climax with the uprising of the Royal Indian Navy in February 1946 in Bombay, Karachi and Madras. The Union Jack was removed from the ship’s masts and the Congress and Muslim League flags hoisted instead. In Bombay the naval ratings carried the Red Flag of the Communist Party along with the other two. The slogans the navy men raised showed the political nature of the action-Jai Hind, Inquilab Zindabad, Hindu-Muslim Unity. Release INA and other political prisoners. Down with British Imperialism, Accept our demands.

Rajani Palme Dutt, in his outstanding and seminal work, India Today, not only captured the spirit of the time, but gave a keen analytical insight into the significance of the event and the class reactions it engendered:

“The Naval rising and popular struggle in the February days in Bombay revealed with inescapable clearness the alignment of forces in the explosive situation developing in India in the beginning of 1946. It showed on the one hand the height of the movement the courage and determination of the people and the overwhelming mass support for Hindu-Muslims unity and Congress-League unity. It showed that the movement had reached to the armed forces and that therefore the basis of British rule was no longer secure. But it showed on the other hand the unreadiness and disunity of the existing national leadership and their consequent inability to lead the national struggle.

“But now when the masses were really in movement when Hindu-Muslim unity was being realised and practised when the armed forces had united with the civilian population in the common national movement and when the real struggle for freedom had opened the gates of British rule, the attitude of the upper leadership of the national movement revealed a marked change. The upper class leadership of the Congress and Muslim league found themselves in opposition to the mass movement and aligned with British imperialism as the representative of law and order against the people. A whole series of statements and denunciations were issued condemning the “violence” not of the imperialist authorities whose firing slaughtered hundreds in three days but of the unarmed people who had been the objects of military firing Vallabhai Patel issued a statement in which he declared that the Naval ratings ought not to have taken to arms and that he endorsed remarks of the Commander-in-Chief that there ought to be discipline in the Navy” (India Today. P. 583)

The RIN uprising however was followed by militant struggles in the countryside at the head of which, at the many places stood the Communist Party. And by 1946 the AIKS through militant struggles in Punjab, UP, Bihar, Kerala, Maharashtra and Andhra had drawn the attention of all on the question of abolition of landlordism. The slogan of agrarian revolutions was brought onto the agenda in the armed resistance of the peasants of Vayalar and Punnapra in the State of Travancore, the militant Tebhaga struggle of the peasants of Bengal the struggle of the Warli peasants in Maharashtra and the struggle of the Tripura peasants.

Crowning all these struggles was the epochal struggle of the peasantry of Telengana, which has no parallel in the history of the country where peasants fought with arms in hands from 1946-1951 for three years, 1948-51 against the armies of the Indian State.

In the course of the movement guerrilla squads were formed from the village to the district level, which met the terror unleashed by the Razakars, and in many instances scared away the landlords in the area. At the peak of the struggle almost 3000 villages, with roughly 30 lakh of the people and an area of 16,000 square miles were liberated and brought under the administration of Gram Raj. In this area guerrilla squads of 2000 and a people’s militia of 10,000 guarded the villages and about10 lakh acres of land were distributed among the landless. Among the reforms introduced by the revolutionary leadership was the slashing of usurious interests banning of forced labour and fixation of a minimum wage. This was the real alternative developing to bourgeois landlord rule in the countryside and its significance lay in the fact that if it had been allowed to develop a qualitative change would have come about in the situation combining agrarian revolution with the national liberation movement and the course of history would have been entirely different.

BOURGEOIS PARTIES SETTLE WITH IMPERIALISTS

Telengana showed the direction the mass movement could have taken if it had not been checked. The completion of the tasks of the bourgeois democratic revolution had come onto the political agenda with the agrarian revolution as its crux. But though the ‘workers and peasants’ alliance was being forged and the Communist Party was at the head of some of these struggle it was not in a position to assume the leadership of the national movement, which still remained in the hands of bourgeoisie.

Afraid of this mass upsurge the bourgeoisie realised that if the struggle against imperialism developed into a general revolt the leadership of the mass movement would slip away from is hands. British imperialism also saw that it would no longer be possible to continue their rule. Under these circumstances the leaders of the National Congress and the Muslim League reached a settlement with the British imperialists.

With the outmoded agrarian relations not being radically changed and a path of capitalist development in compromise with imperialism and feudalism being pursued by the ruling Congress party, it was but natural that the tasks of the bourgeois democratic revolution remained incomplete.

Had the bourgeoisie not compromised at this stage, the situation would have gone out of its control. It would have lost its leadership and the working class would have been in a position to lead the movement and complete the tasks of the bourgeois democratic revolution. By now our country would have also taken the road to Socialism as has been done by China, Vietnam, North Korea and other Asian countries.

EXISTENCE OF CASTE AND COMMUNAL PROBLEM

The existence of the communal and caste problems and threat of divisive forces with which we are faced today also originates from the policies pursued by the Congress party in the pre-in-dependent and post-independent period-its policy of alliance with feudalism instead liquidating it and the weakness of the organised peasant movement in leading the agrarian revolution in alliance with the working class the position which it started acquiring during the post-war period but was not able to bring to a decisive turning point.

Historical experience shows that it is only in countries where feudal and semi feudal relations have been put an end to and the agrarian revolution has been led to successful completion that the problem of caste or communalism can be overcome. It is only in the countries where the national liberation struggle was led by bourgeoisie but was not led to its completion that this problem not only remains but gets aggravated to be used by the ruling classes to divert the discontent of the masses and to disrupt the unity of the democratic movement. Experience has also shown that in the areas where the peasant movement was strong in spite of efforts made by the British imperialists riots could not be organised and the unity forged during the struggle between the Hindu-Muslim peasants stood as the guarantee of communal peace. The Kisan Sabha never allowed any scope for communalism and casteism on its platform. It not only maintained its secular character but exposed the communal ideology and fought against this virus during the riots in Punjab, Bihar and Bengal. In pursuing this policy some of its leaders and cadre laid down their lives fighting against the dark forces of communalism.

Thus, though the leadership of the national liberation movement was in the hands of the bourgeoisie, alternative political forces represented by the trade unions and kisan and other militant organisations had started emerging as a powerful force at the end of the war to offer a real challenge to the bourgeoisie. This became clear with the results of the first general election in free India. Wherever there had been strong peasant organisations, the combination of Left and other Opposition forces won a magnificent victory, becoming the main opposition in Parliament, the recognised Opposition in four State Assemblies-West Bengal, Hyderabad, Madras and Travancore-Cochin. The struggle for an alternative leadership continues to this day.

CONGRESS AGRARIAN POLICIES

In the post-independent period the bourgeoisie continued its alliance with the landlords and the balance sheet of bourgeois agrarian policy is explained in the Programme of the CPI(M), in para 34.

“In no field is the utter failure of the bourgeois-landlord government’s policies so nakedly revealed as in the case of the agrarian question. Nearly two decades of Congress rule has proved beyond any shadow of doubt that the aim and direction of its agrarian policies is not to smash the feudal and semi-feudal fetters on our land relations, and thus liberate the peasantry from age-old bondage, but to transform the feudal landlords into capitalist landlords and develop a stratum of rich peasants. They want to depend upon the landlord and rich peasant section to produce the surplus of agricultural products to meet the requirements of capitalist development. They also want to make these sections the main political base of the ruling class in the countryside.”

Although these measures did not bring the desired resulted of making the tiller of the soil the owner of the land it made certain changes in the agrarian relations. Under the impact of the agrarian movement intermediary tenures like zaminidaris, jagirs, imams, etc., which prevailed over quite a large area of the country were abolished in the early 50s and more than 20 million tenants were brought into direct relation with the State. It was these occupancy tenants who directly benefited from the land reforms to become owners of the land they tilled. These rich and middle peasants were no longer interested in radical land reforms.

This has been shown by the subsequent developments also.

The overall result has been that even after four decades of independence the pro-landlord, anti-peasant policies of the Government have resulted in the further deepening of the agrarian crisis, which manifests itself in growing landlessness increase in disparities both inter-regional and inter-sectional in the same region, an extremely low level of consumption of food-grains despite increasing production and bourgeoning stocks held by the Government growing poverty and unemployment despite all the poverty alleviation schemes and growing indebtedness which finds partial reflection in the growth of overdues in institutional credit supplied to the agricultural sector and so on.

In spite of two rounds of Land Ceiling legislations in the 1950s and 1970s only 7.2 million acres have been declared surplus out of which 5.6 million acres have been taken over and 4.4 million acres actually distributed. This is about seven per cent of the surplus estimated i.e., 63 million acres by the Mahalanobis Committee after the first round of ceiling laws were enacted and one fifth of the surplus estimated on the basis of date made available by the NSS 26th Round.

Even if we take into consideration the 1981 Agricultural Census land concentration continues. As compared to three per cent land holders holding 10 acres and above and operating a total of 26 per cent of the land in 1976-77 in 1981-82, 2.4 per cent of land holders held 22.8 per cent of the land. It is also estimated by the Planning Commission that even now if a 20-acre ceiling is imposed and all loopholes in ceiling laws plugged about 23 million acres of land can be made available for distribution. But the Seventh Plan makes no mention of amending the ceiling laws nor about breaking the land monopoly. And typically the Central Government took more than five years to give Presidential assent to the West Bengal Land Reforms Legislation, which seeks only to plug certain loopholes.

PEASANT MOVEMENT AFTER INDEPENDENCE

In the first six years of the post independence period the peasant movement again had to face severe repression at the hands of the Government Afraid of the tempo of the growing revolutionary movement, it unleashed repression making the functioning of various units impossible. The All India Kisan Sabha was not able to hold any session till April 1953. But in spite of this the Kisan Sabha was busy organising the resistance of the peasantry especially on the question of evictions, and militant fights were put up in many States. Subsequently various Congress Government were forced to take measures of land reforms such as ceiling legislations security of tenure and rent reduction, consolidation of holdings, etc., but all failed to fulfil the declared objectives. On the other hand the period witnessed a large-scale eviction offensive throwing millions of tenants into the ranks of agricultural workers.

In the late fifties the Kisan Sabha fought many struggles on the issues of land fair prices for peasants produce, debt relief, in defence of the rights of tribal people and on the issue of the burden of heavy taxation. The most important of these struggles was the heroic struggle of the Punjab peasantry against the imposition of the betterment levy tax in the beginning of 1959. This was the most important struggle fought under the flag of the Kisan Sabha after the epoch-making Telengana struggle. The peasants defied firings lathi-charges, beating and all types of repression. The all in peasant unity forged during the struggle was unparalleled, when peasant united irrespective of their political affiliations. The movement ultimately forced the Government to withdraw the tax amounting to Rs. 136 crore.

The agrarian crisis further aggravated in the 60s. By the mid-1960 stagnation in agriculture and the consequent food crisis worsened. The bourgeois-landlord classes began losing their hold over the mass of the peasantry with the result that in the 1967 elections the Congress monopoly of power was broken in eight States with West Bengal and Kerala giving victory to the Left and democratic force among which the CPI(M) played an important role. Powerful peasant struggle took place in different States on different issues. In Kerala and West Bengal these struggles were most widespread and became intimately connected with political issues.

The United Front Government of West Bengal and Kerala made a big impact on the masses, not only in those States but also in the rest of the country. When the Central Government dismissed these governments hundreds of thousands of peasants actually joined the struggle for democracy in West Bengal combining this with the struggle for defending heir land and crops.

Mid-term elections gave a bigger victory to the United Front in West Bengal and the peasant movement attained wider sweep. Millions of peasants all over the State unleashed an unprecedented struggle with the backing of the United Front Government, for recovering benami land for possession and distribution of surplus lands, for loans in kind and for checking hoarding and black-marketing. In this period more than three lakh acres of land were located taken over and distributed among the landless through village level committees. Many peasants lost their lives in the battles fought on this issue, but it gave a big impetus to the kisan movement and the AIKS spread to all districts.

These struggles achieved important gains and helped in raising the political consciousness of the peasantry. It was because of this that the Kisan Sabha was able to face the semi-fascist terror of 1917 to 1977, fight back the repression and defend their interests though working in semi-legal conditions.

In Kerala, the peasants conducted a statewide movement for agrarian legislation and debt relief legislation for the rights on Government lands against threat of central intervention. As a result of the campaign one lakhs pattas were distributed to erstwhile-unauthorised occupants of the land. The ceiling was revised downwards and made family-based many exemptions were withdrawn and hutment dwellers were given rights on land on which they lived. Tens of thousands of agricultural labourers conducted powerful and successful struggle for better wages and living conditions.

The discontent found powerful expression in other parts of Indian also. In Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Assam, Tripura, etc., widespread struggles took place for occupation of forest or government lands and against eviction from these lands. In Punjab and UP widespread agitations took place on the question of sugarcane prices. Struggle took place against increased taxation on the question of food and relief rent reduction and against unjust levies. Militant struggles of agricultural labourers took place in Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh.

This period also witnessed two splits in the AIKS one from the Right and other from the Left. While they did a lot of harm to the Kisan Sabha, it not only survived these attacks but advanced further. At the same time it also failed to properly understand the changes in the agrarian structure and work out the appropriate tasks on that basis. By 1978-79 it was able to give a new orientation to its policy, which led to its big advance. Membership of the Kisan Sabha, which had never gone beyond ten lakhs till 1968-69 after 1978-79 jumped by millions and now stands at 84 lakhs.

PRESENT PHASE OF STRUGGLE

In this connection the question may be asked why has the bourgeoisie not been able to implement radical land reforms when the latter would serve its objective interests? The breaking of the feudal and semi-feudal relations would naturally lead to the expansion of the internal market, which would be helpful for expanding industries. The answer lies in the fact that in spite of the objective interests of the bourgeoisie, the latter dies not want the forces of agrarian revolution to be unleashed which, in unity with the working class would pose a threat to its class rule. It was from this angle that it forged an alliance with the landlords and now tries to solve its contradiction through pressure and bargaining. All conflicts and contradictions, which arise between the landlords and the bourgeoisie whether on the question of remunerative prices for agricultural produce cheep agricultural inputs and machinery or on the question of taxation the push and pull between the two remains but the alliance continues.

It is in this context that the Kisan pursues its alternative line, the line of completing the agrarian revolution, in unity with the working class, and continues to lead the mass struggle of the peasantry in this direction. Since independence the situation has changed. Although land monopoly remains a lot of changes have taken place in the agrarian structure, which require a changed approach in building peasant unity and in leading the agrarian revolution to success.

Land to the tiller and total abolition of landlordism have been the basic slogans of the Kisan Sabha since its inception. What bearing do the changes in agrarian sector have on these basic slogans? Before examining these changes, let me state here at the outset that the seizure and distribution of the land of the landlords still remains the central slogan for the kisan sabha to propagate among the peasantry and other democratic classes. Without the victory of this slogan there cannot be any solution to rural poverty unemployment, a fast development of a balanced economy in the country and so on.

But the correlation of class forces, which existed at the time when the Kisan Sabha inscribed these basic aims in its programme are not the same as exist today. It is necessary for us to understand his change since it has great relevance to the chalking out of our immediate slogans and actions.

The land reforms which the Congress Government set about to introduce after independence were not directed to end landlordism and give land to the tiller though this was the pledge the Congress had made to the peasantry during the freedom struggle. These land reforms had only very limited objectives, the main one of which was to reform, not abolish the old type of feudal landlordism by converting the absentee feudal landlords into capitalist landlords personally supervising cultivation in large farms with farms servants and hired agricultural workers. This is the new type of landlord who combines in himself elements of both feudalism and capitalism.

Another objective was to create a stratum of rich peasants. These two sections were to constitute the political base of the ruling party in the rural areas. They were also to produce the surplus food grains necessary for the Government to feed the urban people as well as to produce the raw materials for industry. With thousands of crores of rupees from the public exchequer pumped into agriculture these sections have been helped to adopt modern methods of farming.

Here, we should warn against one tendency. Earlier there was a tendency to altogether ignore the penetration of capitalism into agriculture. Now a reverse tendency is raising its head, which considers that feudal landlordism, and other semi-feudal relations have almost totally been abolished. This is wrong. The extent of capitalism in agriculture varies from State to State and even from region to region inside a State. Here a concrete study of the situation in each area is necessary.

We have also the note the phenomenon of the monetisation of the entire agrarian economy. Today, it is not only those who have a surplus who are taking their produce to the market, even the poor peasant immediately after the harvest for various reasons, sells his produce in the market and later buys even his food grains requirement from the market. It is only if this phenomenon is properly understood can we mount a struggle against the big traders and monopolists.

Even after the abolition of statutory landlordism like zamindari, jagirdari, etc. concentration of land in the hands of big landlords has not been appreciably reduced. Even today 2.5 per cent of top landlords posses 22.8 per cent of the land. The real concentration would be even more if benami transactions are included.

Congress land reforms have also resulted in the eviction of millions of tenants who have either joined the ranks of landless agricultural labourers or become tenants-at-will without any rights or protection. Only a section of the earlier tenants could by a portion of the land on which they were working either by paying compensation in instalments or outright purchase at lowers than market rates.

So, after the Congress land reforms the situation we find in the rural area is that three per cent of big owners have in their possession about one third of the cultivated land.

Another ten per cent consists of rich peasants owning roughly five to ten acres of wet, or ten to twenty acres of dry land, who contribute manual labour and employ a considerable number of farm servants and agricultural workers.

Another 15 per cent consists of middle peasants owning two to five acres of wet, or ten to twelve acres of dry land. They and their families work on the land but also hire labour in busy seasons.

Twenty per cent of the rural households are poor peasants possessing one or two acres of wet, or two to five acres of dry land. Apart from working on their own land, they have to frequently hire themselves out to earn a living.

The last 50 per cent are those who own no land at all, earns their livelihood mainly by hiring themselves out as wage workers or are engaged in handicrafts, villages’ services, etc.

Of course, it has to be borne in mind that this categorisation will pay from State to State and region to region.

What has to be noted is that unlike in the pre-Independence days, 25 per cent of peasants, rich and middle peasants are not moved any longer by the slogan of seizure of landlords land and its distribution. At the other end of the scale the 70m per cent of landless and poor peasants are not conscious and organised enough to go into action today for the seizure of landlords lands; even when they are moved into action, it is only for Government waste land, cultivable forest land etc. Regarding even surplus land above the ceiling which the landlords are keeping illegally, the struggle as in Kerala or recently in Andhra Pradesh, could not advance beyond the stage of locating such surplus land and exposing the Government’s claims. Only under the United Front Government in West Bengal in 1969, could some of the surplus land be occupied. This we will have to take into consideration when we work out our immediate tasks.

But what we have to note is that the Congress Party, which ruled the country for thirty-five years, while failing to end landlordism, land concentration and growing landlessness has successfully disrupted the pre-independence peasant unity. It is true that unity cantered around the rich and middle peasants, which today we are striving to build peasant unity cantering around the agricultural workers and poor peasants. The ruling class party, whether congress or Janata, also used its control peasantry and the disruption of their unity. The two-year of the cooperatives rural banks etc., to perpetuate the division in the peasantry and the disruption of their unity. The two years of the Janata Party government showed that its policies in regard to land reforms were no different from those of the Congress. In fact, some of the Janata State Governments were proposing to reverse even the Congress legislation to favour the landlords.

Taking note of these structural changes and their multifarious consequences we have to come to the conclusions that the slogan of complete abolition of landlordism and distribution of land of the landless and land-poor continues to be the central slogan of the agrarian revolution a slogan which we have to continue to propagate. But it is a slogan on which we cannot go into action today in most parts of the country.

While continuing to propagate this as the central slogans, while continuing struggles for surplus land, benami lands, waste land etc. the kisan sabha will have to take up for immediate action such issues as the question of wages of agricultural workers, house sites, rent-reduction, 75 per cent of the produce to the sharecroppers evictions, abolition or scaling down of rural indebtedness, remunerative price for agricultural produce, cheap credit, reduction of burdens and heavy levies like water charges, electricity rates, etc., landlord-goonda attacks with the connivance or direct help from the police the social oppression of harijans, corruption in administration etc,. These are issues which affect all sections of the peasantry-poor, middle, rich, and they can all be drawn into the movement on them. All these currents have to be brought together to build the maximum unity of the peasantry cantering around the agricultural workers and poor peasants to isolate the small stratum of landlords.

All this will, course depend on how successfully we organise the agricultural workers and poor peasants and bring them into action not only on their own specific demands but also on the general demands of the peasantry as a whole, and how far we are able to draw other sections of the peasantry into movements on issues affecting them, and on the general demands of the peasantry. There is no doubt that the middle and rich peasants can be drawn into movement on such issues. It is our task to see that while other sections of the peasantry support the agricultural workers in their struggles, the latter in turn extend support to movements on the demands of the peasantry, thus paving the way for building peasant unity.

Our earlier analyses of the agrarian policies of the Congress Governments have shown them to be anti-peasants, serving the interests of the landlords and the bourgeoisie. As compared to that the Left Front Government of West Bengal and Tripura, and the Left Democratic government of Kerala (for a brief period) with the limit power they enjoy under the constitution, backed by the organised peasant movement, have tried to alleviate the conditions of the peasantry. In West Bengal, land has been distributed to 12 lakh families 13 lakh sharecroppers have been registered and more than two lakh of them receive credit from banks in a year, more than two lakhs have been given rights over homesteads, minimum wages fro agricultural workers are regularly revised. Small farmers have been exempted from land revenue and debt relief has been given.

In Tripura more than one-lakh beneficiaries have been given land, debt relief has been given to poor peasants and artisans, while minimum wages have been fixed and sharecroppers recorded. In Kerala under the Left Democratic Front Government holdings under four acres were exempted from plantation tax, rent arrears for holdings up to 2.5 acres cancelled and subsidies given on inputs and exemptions on gifted land taken away.

This would not have been possible without the strength of the peasant organisation because without the active intervention of the Kisan Sabha, the bureaucracy would never have allowed the implementation of measures, which would have remained on paper as pious declarations. It is because of these alternative policies that the Kisan Sabha has grown so strong in West Bengal with almost 33 per cent of the adult peasant population including agricultural workers joining the organisation.

In other states also the kisan sabha has grown through struggles. Kisan Sabha units in different States have taken up different issues depending on the concrete situation in each state. In Bihar the question of eviction of sharecroppers has remained very acute and struggle fought over it; in some, states against rise in taxation and on remunerative prices in most of the states. The first half of 80s witnessed a tremendous upsurge among the peasantry where even the Congress base was drawn into struggles. This shows the tremendous possibilities for building the peasants movement.

GLORIOUS HISTORY OF 50 YEARS

The Kisan sabha has grown into a powerful organisation with 84 lakh members today and if we include agricultural workers the membership surpasses 95 lakh. The 50 years’ record of the All India Kisan Sabha is a record of glorious history. It played an important role in arousing the peasantry in the movement for national freedom. The All India Kisan Sabha was able to unite various sections of the toiling peasantry in the struggle against feudalism, big traders and monopolists. In its long history of 50 years it has had to face severe repression. Even after independence the bourgeois-landlord Government launched severe repression against it but the movement not only survived, it grew in influence and strength. It has emerged as a premier organisation of the peasantry.

But it should not be forgotten that the peasts organised in the AIKS and other peasant organisations under their influence are only a very small percentage of the peasant population in the country. Vast areas in our country especially in the Hindi-speaking region are untouched by the activities of the organised kisan movement. It is imperative that this grave weakness is over come as quickly as possible.

The Golden Jubilee Year of the AIKS should become the starting point of the biggest activity to expand the Kisan Sabha to all the areas, to spread the message of the agrarian revolution in even part of the country. The Kisan Sabha’s aim should be to see that there is no revenue circle in the country without an AIKS unit. Seventy per cent of our population lives in the rural areas and is engaged in agriculture handicrafts and other rural trades. Without organising the bulk of them neither their genuine interests can be defended nor can there be any successful agrarian revolution. The guarantee of the success is a powerful Kisan Sabha as the mass organisation of the peasantry championing also the cause of agricultural workers and forging unity with them and building the unity of the peasantry with the working class. Let the Golden Jubilee Year see the beginning of the efforts to fulfil this historic task.

The Golden Jubilee of the AIKS comes at a time when the national situation is bleak and the international situation is menacing because of the imperialist threat of nuclear war. Only by strengthening the organisation manifold as speedily as possible can the AIKS mobilise the peasantry to intervene in the national situation and strengthen the struggle for peace against the imperialist warmongers.
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Re: Freda Bedi, by Wikipedia

Postby admin » Fri Jul 05, 2019 2:05 am

G. D. H. Cole
by Wikipedia
Accessed: 7/4/19

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Freda, along with many October Club stalwarts, had started out as a member of the Labour Club and then gravitated towards the breakaway group. 'The idealism of our generation was the idealism of helping the underprivileged,' she recalled. 'If the Labour Club to which I belonged ... had any meaning, it was showing that we cared if people hadn't got enough food when they took the government dole, and we did care if the hunger marchers went all the way from Reading to London, we cared if there were children in the slums with no shoes and that children hadn't got enough food.' Her years in Oxford, she said, were 'radical years ... we used to attend all the clubs like the Labour Club and later on the more extreme October Club ... The whole atmosphere was electric with social demands and social change. We were, as it were, the Depression generation.' [38] Both Freda and Bedi attended the socialist G.D.H. Cole's lectures and Harold Laski's seminars on Marx and -- in a joint activity which served to demonstrate both their intellectual and personal compatibility -- they scoured the British Library to track down Marx's journalism about India.

-- 2: The Gates of the World. The Lives of Freda: The Political, Spiritual and Personal Journeys of Freda Bedi -- EXCERPT, by Andrew Whitehead


This article is about the English historian. For the Canadian historian, see Douglas Cole (historian).

Both Freda and Bedi attended the socialist G.D.H. Cole's lectures and Harold Laski's seminars on Marx and -- in a joint activity which served to demonstrate both their intellectual and personal compatibility -- they scoured the British Library to track down Marx's journalism about India.

-- 2: The Gates of the World. The Lives of Freda: The Political, Spiritual and Personal Journeys of Freda Bedi -- EXCERPT, by Andrew Whitehead


Image
G. D. H. Cole
Born George Douglas Howard Cole
25 September 1889
Cambridge, England
Died 14 January 1959 (aged 69)
London, England
Spouse(s) Margaret Postgate (m. 1918)
Institutions
University College, Oxford
Nuffield College, Oxford
Field Co-operative economics
School or
tradition Libertarian socialism
Alma mater Balliol College, Oxford
Influences
Neville Figgis[1]Sidney Webb

George Douglas Howard Cole (25 September 1889 – 14 January 1959) was an English political theorist, economist, writer and historian. As a libertarian socialist, he was a long-time member of the Fabian Society and an advocate for the co-operative movement.

One of the clear lessons to come out of the Sargant studies, and other similar profiling work by such Cybernetics Group/CCF players as Dr. Margaret Mead and her husband, LSD-experimenter Dr. Gregory Bateson, was that the most efficient means of promoting irrationalist cults was to exploit existing movements and subcultures.

In the case of the United States, the British "Liberal Imperialist" mind-benders and their "American Tory" cohorts had a three-century track record of consciously promoting such irrationalist movements, to draw upon. Thus, one of the major forms of cultural warfare, directed against the republican tradition of the American Founding Fathers, through the British Fabian Society and its later Congress for Cultural Freedom spawn, was the revival and promotion of the "Great Awakening" and related forms of subversion, including, most prominently, the "Lost Cause" ideology of the pro-British, feudalist Confederacy whose credo, taken from John Locke, was: "Life, Liberty, Property." A medievalist Catholic version of the same credo, promulgated by British Fabians G.K. Chesterton and Hilaire Belloc, was later translated into "Tradition, Family, Property."

Beginning early in the 20th century, in tandem with a U.S.A. top-down revival of the racist Ku Klux Klan sponsored directly out of Hollywood with enthusiastic support from the Woodrow Wilson White House, the British Fabian Society promoted a Confederate revival, aimed not so much at secession, as at the subversion of the historical American commitment to the Leibnizian "pursuit of happiness" and the U.S. Constitution's Preamble's mandate to promote the General Welfare. Major players in this Confederate revival would later assume leading roles in the Congress for Cultural Freedom subversion.

-- The CCF and the God of Thunder Cult: British Promotion of Irrational Belief Systems in America, by Stanley Ezrol & Jeffrey Steinberg


In 1913, she co-founded with her husband the New Statesman, a political weekly edited by Clifford Sharp with contributions from many philosophers, economists and politicians of the time including George Bernard Shaw and John Maynard Keynes.

In late 1914, the Webbs became members of the Labour Party. At this time, their leadership of the Fabian Society was facing opposition from H.G. Wells, who lampooned them in his 1911 novel The New Machiavelli as 'the Baileys', a pair of short-sighted, bourgeois manipulators. They were also opposed from the left in the Labour Party by the Guild Socialists and the historian and economist G.D.H. Cole. During this time, Webb collaborated with her husband in his writings and policy statement such as Labour and the New Social Order in 1918 and his election in 1922 to the parliamentary seat of Seaham in Durham.

In 1928 the Webbs retired to Liphook in Hampshire, where they lived until their deaths. In 1932, Sidney and Beatrice travelled to the Soviet Union and later published in support of the Soviet economic experiment with Soviet Communism: A New Civilisation? and The Truth About Soviet Russia. When she died in 1943, Webb's ashes were interred in the nave of Westminster Abbey, close to those of her husband, and were to be joined subsequently by the remains of Clement Attlee and Ernest Bevin.

-- Beatrice Webb, by Wikipedia


Early life

Cole was born in Cambridge[3] to George Cole, a jeweller who later became a surveyor; and his wife Jessie Knowles.[4]

Cole was educated at St Paul's School and Balliol College, Oxford, where he achieved a double first.[5]

First World War

As a conscientious objector during the First World War, Cole's involvement in the campaign against conscription introduced him to a co-worker, Margaret Postgate, whom he married in 1918. The couple both worked for the Fabian Society for the next six years before moving to Oxford, where Cole started writing for the Manchester Guardian.[citation needed]

In 1915, Cole became an unpaid research officer at the Amalgamated Society of Engineers. He advised the union on how to respond to wartime legislation including the Munitions Act. This role enabled him to escape conscription on the grounds that he was conducting work of national importance.

Having secured exemption from military service, during the war years Cole developed a political theory of guild socialism.[6]

Professional life

Cole authored several economic and historical works including biographies of William Cobbett and Robert Owen.

In 1925, he became reader in economics at University College, Oxford.

In 1929, he was appointed to the National Economic Advisory Council when it was set up by the second Labour government. In 1944, Cole became the first Chichele Professor of Social and Political Theory at Oxford. He was succeeded in the chair by Isaiah Berlin in 1957.[6]

Cole was initially a pacifist, but he abandoned this position around 1938, stating: "Hitler cured me of pacifism".[7] During the 1930s, Cole sought to construct a British popular front against fascism. He identified the extent of the military threat before many of his colleagues had abandoned their pacifism. Cole lent strong support to the republican cause in Spain.[4]

He was listed in the Black Book of prominent subjects to be arrested in the case of a successful invasion of Britain.[8]

In 1941, Cole was appointed sub-warden of Nuffield College, Oxford. He was central to the establishment of the Nuffield College Social Reconstruction Survey which collected a large amount of demographic, economic and social data. This information was used to advocate for an extensive programme of social reform.[4]

Socialism

Cole became interested in Fabianism while studying at Balliol College, Oxford. He joined the Fabian Society's executive under the sponsorship of Sidney Webb. Cole became a principal proponent of guild socialist ideas, a libertarian socialist alternative to Marxian political economy. These ideas he put forward in The New Age before and during the First World War and also in the pages of The New Statesman, the weekly founded by the Beatrice Webb and George Bernard Shaw.

In 1906 Orage resigned his teaching post and moved to London, following Arthur Penty, another friend from the Leeds Art Club. In London Orage attempted to form a league for the restoration of the guild system, in the spirit of the decentralised socialism of William Morris. The failure of this project spurred him to buy the weekly magazine The New Age in 1907, in partnership with Holbrook Jackson and with the support of George Bernard Shaw. Orage transformed the magazine to fit with his conception of a forum for politics, literature and the arts. Although many contributors were Fabians, he distanced himself from their politics to some extent and sought to have the magazine represent a wide range of political views. He used the magazine to launch attacks on parliamentary politics and argued the need for utopianism. He also attacked the trade union leadership, while offering some support to syndicalism, and tried to combine syndicalism with his ideal of a revived guild system. Combining these two ideas resulted in Guild socialism, the political philosophy Orage began to argue for from about 1910, though the specific term "guild socialism" seems not to have been mentioned in print until Bertrand Russell referred to it in his book Political Ideals (1917).[7]

-- Alfred Richard Orage, by Wikipedia


Cole said his interest in socialism was kindled by his reading News from Nowhere, the utopian novel by William Morris, writing:

I became a Socialist because, as soon as the case for a society of equals, set free from the twin evils of riches and poverty, mastership and subjection, was put to me, I knew that to be the only kind of society that could be consistent with human decency and fellowship and that in no other society could I have the right to be content.[9]


Neither a Marxist nor a social democrat, Cole envisioned a socialism of decentralised association and active, participatory democracy, whose basic units would be sited at the workplace and in the community rather than in any central apparatus of the state.[10]

In 1936, Cole began calling for a popular front movement in Britain, where the Labour Party would ally with other parties against the threat of fascism.[11]

Cole was a powerful influence on the life of the young Harold Wilson, whom he taught, worked with and convinced to join the Labour Party. Before him, Hugh Gaitskell was a student of Cole's.

Cole wrote at least seven books for the Left Book Club, all of which were published by Victor Gollancz Ltd. These are marked with LBC in the list of his books given below. He and his wife, Margaret Cole, together wrote 29 popular detective stories,[12] featuring the investigators Superintendent Wilson, Everard Blatchington and Dr. Tancred. Cole and his wife created a partnership, but not a marriage. Cole took little interest in sex and he regarded women as a distraction for men. Margaret documented this comprehensively in a biography she wrote of her husband after his death.[13]

Although Cole admired the Soviet Union for creating a socialist economy, he rejected its dictatorial government as a model for socialist societies elsewhere. In a 1939 lecture, Cole stated:

If I do not accept Stalin's answer, it is because I am not prepared to write off Democratic Socialism, despite all its failures and vacillations of recent years, as a total loss...Democratic Socialism offers the only means of building the new order on what is valuable and worth preserving in the civilisation of to-day.[14]


In his book Europe, Russia and the Future published in 1941, Cole claimed that however immoral the new Nazi-dominated Europe was, in some ways it was better than the "impracticable" system of sovereign states that had preceded it. In economic terms, it could be said that "it would be better to let Hitler conquer all Europe short of the Soviet Union, and thereafter exploit it ruthlessly in the Nazi interest, than to go back to the pre-war order of independent Nation States with frontiers drawn so as to cut right across the natural units of production and exchange".[15] Cole also stated:

I would much sooner see the Soviet Union, even with its policy unchanged, dominant over all Europe, including Great Britain, than see an attempt to restore the pre-war States to their futile and uncreative independence and their petty economic nationalism under capitalist domination. Much better be ruled by Stalin than by the destructive and monopolistic cliques which dominate Western capitalism.[16]
[/quote]

Co-operative studies

Cole was also a theorist of the co-operative movement and made a number of contributions to the fields of co-operative studies, co-operative economics and the history of the co-operative movement. In particular, his book The British Co-operative Movement in a Socialist Society examined the economic status of the English CWS (the predecessor of the modern Co-operative Group), evaluated its possibility of achieving a Co-operative Commonwealth without state assistance and hypothesised what the role the co-operative might have in a socialist state.[17]

A second book, titled A Century of Co-operation, examined the history of the movement from the very first co-operatives to the contribution of the Chartists and Robert Owen, through to the Rochdale Pioneers as well as the movement's development (in Great Britain) over the following century.[18]

Cole contributed to An Outline of Modern Knowledge, ed. William Rose (Victor Gollancz, 1931) along with other leading authorities of the time, including Roger Fry, C. G. Seligman, Maurice Dobb and F. J. C. Hearnshaw.

Personal life

In August 1918, Cole married Margaret Isabel Postgate (1893–1980). Margaret was the daughter of the classical scholar John Percival Postgate.[4]

The couple had one son and two daughters in a marriage that lasted forty-one years. However, the marriage does not seem to have been especially happy. Cole expressed little interest in actual romantic attachment and even less in sexual relations. Friends observed that emotional attachments tended to be with men rather than women. Cole was very fond of some of his male students. They included the future leader of the Labour Party Hugh Gaitskell. There is no evidence of any homosexual encounters either before or during his marriage.[4]

Cole and his wife jointly wrote a number of books and articles, including twenty-nine detective stories.[4]

Bibliography

Non-fiction works


• The World of Labour (1913, revised 1920)
• Labour in War Time (1915)
• Trade Unionism on the Railways (1917) [with R. Page Arnot]
• Self-Government in Industry (1917, revised 1920)
• The Payment of Wages (1918)
• The Regulation of Wages During and After the War (1918)
• An Introduction to Trade Unionism (1918)
• Labour in the Commonwealth(1919)
• Social Theory (1920)
• Guild Socialism Restated (1920)
• Chaos and Order in Industry (1920)
• The Future of Local Government (1921)
• Rousseau's Social Contract and Discourses edited and translated in Everyman's Library (1923)
• Robert Owen (1923)
• Workshop Organisation (1923)
• Trade Unionism and Munitions (1923)
• The Life of William Cobbett (1925)
• Some Essentials of Socialist Propaganda (1932)
• The Intelligent Man's Guide through World Chaos (1932)
• The Intelligent Man's Review of Europe Today (1933) [with Margaret Cole]
• Studies in World Economics (1934)
• Principles of Economic Planning (1935)
• The Condition of Britain (1937) [with Margaret Cole] LBC
• The People's Front (1937) LBC
• Practical Economics(1937) Pelican Books, London
• Persons & Periods (1938)
• Socialism in Evolution (1938) Pelican[19]
• The War on the Home Front (1939)
• War Aims (1939) LBC
• Europe, Russia and the Future (1941) LBC
• Great Britain in the Post-War World (1942) LBC
• The Fabian Society, Past and Present (1942)
• Fabian Socialism (1943)
• Monetary Systems and Theories (1943)
• The Means to Full Employment (1943) LBC
• A Century of Cooperation (1944)
• Money Its Present And Future (1944)
• The Common People, 1746–1946 (1946) [with Raymond Postgate]
• A Short History of the British Working Class Movement, 1789–1947 (1947) ISBN 0-415-26564-9
• An Intelligent Man's Guide to the Post-War World (1947)
• A History of the Labour Party from 1914 (London: Routledge & K. Paul, 1948)
• Consultation or Joint Management? (1949)
• Labour's Second Term (1949)
• The Meaning of Marxism (1950) LBC
• The British Co-operative Movement in a Socialist Society, (London, G. Allen & Unwin 1951)
• Introduction to Economic History 1750–1950 (London: Macmillan 1952)
• Capitalism in the Modern World (1957)
• A History of Socialist Thought: 7 Volumes (London: Palgrave Macmillan (2003) ISBN 1-4039-0264-X

Detective stories

• Cole, G. D. H. (1923) The Brooklyn Murders
• Cole, G. D. H. and Cole, M. I. (1925) The Death of a Millionaire
• Cole, G. D. H. and Cole, M. I. (1926) The Blatchington Tangle
• Cole, G. D. H. and Cole, M. I. (1927) The Murder at Crome House
• Cole, G. D. H. and Cole, M. I. (1928) The Man from the River
• Cole, G. D. H. and Cole, M. I. (1928) Superintendent Wilson's Holiday
• Cole, G. D. H. and Cole, M. I. (1929) Poison in the Garden Suburb aka Poison in a Garden Suburb
• Cole, G. D. H. and Cole, M. I. (1930) Burglars in Bucks aka The Berkshire Mystery
• Cole, G. D. H. and Cole, M. I. (1930) Corpse in Canonicalsaka The Corpse in the Constable's Garden
• Cole, G. D. H. and Cole, M. I. (1931) The Great Southern Mystery aka The Walking Corpse
• Cole, G. D. H. and Cole, M. I. (1931) Dead Man's Watch
• Cole, G. D. H. and Cole, M. I. (1932) Death of a Star
• Cole, G. D. H. and Cole, M. I. (1933) A Lesson in Crime (short stories)
• Cole, G. D. H. and Cole, M. I. (1933) The Affair at Aliquid
• Cole, G. D. H. and Cole, M. I. (1933) End of an Ancient Mariner
• Cole, G. D. H. and Cole, M. I. (1934) Death in the Quarry
• Cole, G. D. H. and Cole, M. I. (1935) Big Business Murder
• Cole, G. D. H. and Cole, M. I. (1935) Dr Tancred Begins
• Cole, G. D. H. and Cole, M. I. (1935) Scandal at School aka The Sleeping Death
• Cole, G. D. H. and Cole, M. I. (1936) Last Will and Testament
• Cole, G. D. H. and Cole, M. I. (1936) The Brothers Sackville
• Cole, G. D. H. and Cole, M. I. (1937) Disgrace to the College
• Cole, G. D. H. and Cole, M. I. (1937) The Missing Aunt
• Cole, G. D. H. and Cole, M. I. (1938) Mrs Warrender's Profession
• Cole, G. D. H. and Cole, M. I. (1938) Off with her Head!
• Cole, G. D. H. and Cole, M. I. (1939) Double Blackmail
• Cole, G. D. H. and Cole, M. I. (1939) Greek Tragedy
• Cole, G. D. H. and Cole, M. I. (1940) Wilson and Some Others
• Cole, G. D. H. and Cole, M. I. (1940) Murder at the Munition Works
• Cole, G. D. H. and Cole, M. I. (1940) Counterpoint Murder
• Cole, G. D. H. and Cole, M. I. (1941) Knife in the Dark
• Cole, G. D. H. and Cole, M. I. (1942) Toper's End
• Cole, G. D. H. and Cole, M. I. (1945) Death of a Bride
• Cole, G. D. H. and Cole, M. I. (1946) Birthday Gifts
• Cole, G. D. H. and Cole, M. (1948) The Toys of Death

Radio plays

• Murder in Broad Daylight. BBC Home Service, 1 June 1934 (As by GDH and M Cole)
• The Bone of the Dinosaur. (Detection Club: Series 1, Episode 6). BBC Home Service, 23 and 27 November 1940 (As by GDH and M Cole)

References

1. Morris, Jeremy (2017). "F. D. Maurice and the Myth of Christian Socialist Origins". In Spencer, Stephen (ed.). Theology Reforming Society: Revisiting Anglican Social Theology. London: SCM Press. p. 3. ISBN 978-0-334-05373-6.
2. Russell, Bertrand. Proposed Roads to Freedom (PDF). p. 100. Retrieved 25 December 2016.
3. "George Douglas Howard Cole Papers", p. 3. Internationaal Instituut voor Sociale Geschiedenis, Amsterdam. On line.
4. Stears, Marc. "Cole, George Douglas Howard (1889–1959)". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press. Retrieved 25 October 2017.
5. Marc Stears, ‘Cole, George Douglas Howard (1889–1959)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004 accessed 7 May 2017
6. Marc Stears, ‘Cole, George Douglas Howard(1889–1959)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004 [http://www.oxforddnb.com/view/article/32486, accessed 25 Oct 2017]
7. Martin Ceadel, "The Peace Movement Between the Wars: Problems of Definition", in Campaigns for Peace : British peace movements. Edited by Richard Taylor and Nigel Young. Manchester University Press, 1987. ISBN 0719018927 (p. 84).
8. Walter Schellenberg, The Schellenberg Memoirs, London 1956 (Deutsch: Aufzeichungen, München 1979) pp 174.
9. G. D. H Cole, "World Socialism Restated," pamphlet (1956), quoted by Margaret Cole, The Life of G. D. H. Cole, Macmillan/St. Martin's (1971); cited, Harry Barnes, Three Score Years and Ten (24 July 2006).
10. Peter Sedgwick, "A Return to First Things", Balliol College Annual Record 1980, pp.86–88 (review of A. W. Wright, G.D.H. Cole and Socialist Democracy). Marxists’ Internet Archive. Online.
11. Daniel Ritschel, The Politics of Planning: The Debate on Economic Planning in Britain in the 1930s. Oxford University Press, 1997ISBN 019820647X (pp. 282–83)
12. Marc Stears, ‘Cole , Dame Margaret Isabel (1893–1980)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004 accessed 7 May 2017
13. Curtis Evans (28 November 2016). Murder in the Closet: Essays on Queer Clues in Crime Fiction Before Stonewall. McFarland. pp. 131–. ISBN 978-0-7864-9992-2.
14. "The Decline of Capitalism". Lecture to Fabian Society, 1939. Quoted in A. W. Wright, G. D. H. Cole and Socialist Democracy. Clarendon Press, 1979. ISBN 0-19-827421-1 (p. 226).
15. G. D. H. Cole, Europe, Russia and the Future (London: Victor Gollancz, 1941), p. 104.
16. Cole, Europe, Russia and the Future, p. 104.
17. Cole, G. D. H., "The British Co-operative Movement in a Socialist Society: A Report for the Fabian Society", London: George Allen & Unwin Ltd., 1951.
18. Cole, G.D.H., A Century of Co-operation, Oxford: George Allen & Unwin Ltd., 1944.
19. "Penguin First Editions". Penguin Publishing.

Sources

• Margaret Cole, The Life of G. D. H. Cole, Macmillan/St. Martin's (1971) ISBN 1-4191-0535-3
• A. W. (Tony) Wright, G. D. H. Cole and Socialist Democracy New York, Oxford (1979) ISBN 0-19-827421-1
• L. P. Carpenter, G.D.H. Cole: An Intellectual Biography, Cambridge (1974) ISBN 0-521-08702-3
• C. Wyatt, "A recipe for a cookshop of the future: G. D. H. Cole and the conundrum of sovereignty" Capital and Class 90 (2006)

External links

• "Archival material relating to G. D. H. Cole". UK National Archives.
• Works by G. D. H. Cole at Project Gutenberg
• Guild Socialism (1920)
• Some Essentials of Socialist Propaganda (1932)
• The War on the Home Front (1939)
• Capitalism in the Modern World (1957)
• New Statesman article on G.D.H. Cole (2012)
• In Memory of G.D.H. Cole by Ray Challinor.
• Mike Grost on the detective novels
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Re: Freda Bedi, by Wikipedia

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Part 1 of 2

H. G. Wells
by Wikipedia
Accessed: 7/4/19

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The vigilance, albeit belated, of the British security service provides a window on the membership and activities of the October Club. Cambridge student communism in the 1930s spawned a celebrated cluster of Soviet agents at the heart of the British establishment. When this became apparent twenty years later with the defection to Moscow of two senior figures in British intelligence, Guy Burgess and Donald Maclean, MI5 became alarmed about how little they knew about Oxford communists at that time. They resolved to find out -- and were assiduous in approaching one-time members of the October Club who might be happy to share information about their former comrades. They were fortunate that the club's founder -- an American, Frank Strauss Meyer -- had recanted of his student communism and was happy to cooperate. [33] And still more valuable for MI5, another onetime member of the October Club, Francois Lafitte, divulged the names of all the Oxford student communists he could recall. Freda and Bedi were both on the list -- 'Seemed to me both to be close fellow-travellers. They married and went to Lahore ... ' -- and so too was Sajjad Zaheer, a 'very capable Indian and close friend of Olive Shapley.' [34]

Meyer and others established the October Club at the close of 1931, as a left-wing breakaway from the Labour Club. 'We decided to organize the October Club quite on our own, with the idea of using it to attract those interested in Communism and forming a guiding group inside it,' Meyer told MI5. 'At the beginning we had considerable contempt for the official Communist Party' -- a suspicion which was reciprocated. The Communist Party of Great Britain was at the time a small, workerist and distinctly sectarian force of a few thousand members. [35] By the spring of 1932, the October Club's core of ten or twelve activists had joined the party, and after its first year of activity that number had doubled and the club's membership was in the hundreds. In its early months, the October Club achieved attention with a string of big name speakers, one of whom, H.G. Wells, was subject to barracking for being critical of Moscow. Escapades such as singing the communist anthem 'The Internationale' at an Armistice Day service to honour the war dead and street fights with fascist students earned the club a certain notoriety. The political atmosphere at the time was highly charged, and the Oxford Union's resounding endorsement in February 1933 of a motion 'that this House will in no circumstances fight for its King and Country' caught global attention; the Daily Express lamented that 'the woozy-minded Communists, the practical jokers, and the sexual indeterminates of Oxford have scored a great success with the publicity that has followed this victory.' In the wake of that controversy, a book on Young Oxford and War was rushed out, edited by V.K. Krishna Menon and with contributions from students of various political loyalties. Dick Freeman, a founder of the October Club, wrote about the radicalisation of Oxford students, and the emotional and political impact of the reception and support given in October 1932 to unemployed hunger marchers from the north -- for many students the first direct experience of the poverty and misery of those without work. [36] The October Club made a political impact out of all proportion to its numbers. Michael Foot, an Oxford student (and a Liberal) at the time and later a leader of the Labour Party, commended it as 'the most lively and enthusiastic club in Oxford.' [37]

Freda, along with many October Club stalwarts, had started out as a member of the Labour Club and then gravitated towards the breakaway group. 'The idealism of our generation was the idealism of helping the underprivileged,' she recalled. 'If the Labour Club to which I belonged ... had any meaning, it was showing that we cared if people hadn't got enough food when they took the government dole, and we did care if the hunger marchers went all the way from Reading to London, we cared if there were children in the slums with no shoes and that children hadn't got enough food.' Her years in Oxford, she said, were 'radical years ... we used to attend all the clubs like the Labour Club and later on the more extreme October Club ... The whole atmosphere was electric with social demands and social change. We were, as it were, the Depression generation.' [38] Both Freda and Bedi attended the socialist G.D.H. Cole's lectures and Harold Laski's seminars on Marx and -- in a joint activity which served to demonstrate both their intellectual and personal compatibility -- they scoured the British Library to track down Marx's journalism about India....

When the playwright George Bernard Shaw came to address the October Club, Sajjad Zaheer recalled, there were fears of an attempt to stop him speaking. 'So we decided to defend that meeting and among the chief defenders of the meeting was my dear friend, B.P.L. Bedi, who was at that time physically the strongest man at Oxford.' [41]

-- 2: The Gates of the World. The Lives of Freda: The Political, Spiritual and Personal Journeys of Freda Bedi -- EXCERPT, by Andrew Whitehead


And how will the new republic treat the inferior races? How will it deal with the black? how will it deal with the yellow man? how will it tackle that alleged termite in the civilized woodwork, the Jew? Certainly not as races at all. It will aim to establish, and it will at last, though probably only after a second century has passed, establish a world state with a common language and a common rule. All over the world its roads, its standards, its laws, and its apparatus of control will run. It will, I have said, make the multiplication of those who fall behind a certain standard of social efficiency unpleasant and difficult… The Jew will probably lose much of his particularism, intermarry with Gentiles, and cease to be a physically distinct element in human affairs in a century or so. But much of his moral tradition will, I hope, never die. … And for the rest, those swarms of black, and brown, and dirty-white, and yellow people, who do not come into the new needs of efficiency?

Well, the world is a world, not a charitable institution, and I take it they will have to go. The whole tenor and meaning of the world, as I see it, is that they have to go. So far as they fail to develop sane, vigorous, and distinctive personalities for the great world of the future, it is their portion to die out and disappear.

-- Political Views of H.G. Wells


The Coefficients was a monthly dining club founded in 1902 by the Fabian campaigners Sidney and Beatrice Webb as a forum for British socialist reformers and imperialists of the Edwardian era. The name of the dining club was a reflection of the group's focus on "efficiency".

The Webbs proposed that the club's membership reflect the entire gamut of political beliefs, and "proposed to collect politicians from each of the parties". Representing the Liberal Imperialists were Sir Edward Grey and Richard Burdon Haldane; the Tories were represented by economist William Hewins and editor of the National Review Leopold Maxse; and the British military was represented by Leo Amery, an "expert on the conditions of the army", and Carlyon Bellairs, a naval officer.

The club's membership included:

• H. G. Wells, novelist

-- Coefficients (dining club), by Wikipedia


Image
H. G. Wells
Photograph by George Charles Beresford, 1920
Born Herbert George Wells
21 September 1866
Bromley, Kent, England
Died 13 August 1946 (aged 79)
Regent's Park, London, England
Occupation Novelist, teacher, historian, journalist
Alma mater Royal College of Science (Imperial College London)
Genre Science fiction (notably social science fiction), social realism
Subject World history, progress
Notable works
The Outline of History
The Country of the Blind
The Red Room
Fiction:
The Time Machine
The Invisible Man
The War of the Worlds
The Island of Doctor Moreau
The First Men in the Moon
The Shape of Things to Come
When the Sleeper Wakes
Years active 1895–1946
Spouse Isabel Mary Wells
(1891–1894, divorced)
Amy Catherine Robbins (1895–1927, her death)
Children George Phillip "G. P." Wells (1901–1985)
Frank Richard Wells (1903–1982)
Anna-Jane Kennard (1909–2010[1][2])
Anthony West (1914–1987)
Relatives Joseph Wells (father)
Sarah Neal (mother)

Herbert George Wells[3][4] (21 September 1866 – 13 August 1946) was an English writer. He was prolific in many genres, writing dozens of novels, short stories, and works of social commentary, satire, biography, and autobiography, and even including two books on recreational war games. He is now best remembered for his science fiction novels and is often called a "father of science fiction", along with Jules Verne and Hugo Gernsback.[5][6][a]

During his own lifetime, however, he was most prominent as a forward-looking, even prophetic social critic who devoted his literary talents to the development of a progressive vision on a global scale. A futurist, he wrote a number of utopian works and foresaw the advent of aircraft, tanks, space travel, nuclear weapons, satellite television and something resembling the World Wide Web.[7] His science fiction imagined time travel, alien invasion, invisibility, and biological engineering. Brian Aldiss referred to Wells as the "Shakespeare of science fiction".[8] Wells rendered his works convincing by instilling commonplace detail alongside a single extraordinary assumption – dubbed “Wells’s law” – leading Joseph Conrad to hail him in 1898 as "O Realist of the Fantastic!".[9] His most notable science fiction works include The Time Machine (1895), The Island of Doctor Moreau (1896), The Invisible Man (1897), The War of the Worlds (1898) and the military science fiction The War in the Air (1907). Wells was nominated for the Nobel Prize in Literature four times.[10]

Wells's earliest specialised training was in biology, and his thinking on ethical matters took place in a specifically and fundamentally Darwinian context.[11] He was also from an early date an outspoken socialist, often (but not always, as at the beginning of the First World War) sympathising with pacifist views. His later works became increasingly political and didactic, and he wrote little science fiction, while he sometimes indicated on official documents that his profession was that of journalist.[12] Novels such as Kipps and The History of Mr Polly, which describe lower-middle-class life, led to the suggestion that he was a worthy successor to Charles Dickens,[13] but Wells described a range of social strata and even attempted, in Tono-Bungay (1909), a diagnosis of English society as a whole. Wells was a diabetic and co-founded the charity The Diabetic Association (known today as Diabetes UK) in 1934.[14]

Life

Early life


Herbert George Wells was born at Atlas House, 162 High Street in Bromley, Kent,[15] on 21 September 1866.[4] Called "Bertie" in the family, he was the fourth and last child of Joseph Wells (a former domestic gardener, and at the time a shopkeeper and professional cricketer) and his wife, Sarah Neal (a former domestic servant). An inheritance had allowed the family to acquire a shop in which they sold china and sporting goods, although it failed to prosper: the stock was old and worn out, and the location was poor. Joseph Wells managed to earn a meagre income, but little of it came from the shop and he received an unsteady amount of money from playing professional cricket for the Kent county team.[16] Payment for skilled bowlers and batsmen came from voluntary donations afterwards, or from small payments from the clubs where matches were played.

A defining incident of young Wells's life was an accident in 1874 that left him bedridden with a broken leg.[4] To pass the time he began to read books from the local library, brought to him by his father. He soon became devoted to the other worlds and lives to which books gave him access; they also stimulated his desire to write. Later that year he entered Thomas Morley's Commercial Academy, a private school founded in 1849, following the bankruptcy of Morley's earlier school. The teaching was erratic, the curriculum mostly focused, Wells later said, on producing copperplate handwriting and doing the sort of sums useful to tradesmen. Wells continued at Morley's Academy until 1880. In 1877, his father, Joseph Wells, suffered a fractured thigh. The accident effectively put an end to Joseph's career as a cricketer, and his subsequent earnings as a shopkeeper were not enough to compensate for the loss of the primary source of family income.[17]

Image
Wells spent the winter of 1887-88 convalescing at Uppark, where his mother, Sarah, was housekeeper.[18]

No longer able to support themselves financially, the family instead sought to place their sons as apprentices in various occupations.[19] From 1880 to 1883, Wells had an unhappy apprenticeship as a draper at the Southsea Drapery Emporium, Hyde's.[20] His experiences at Hyde's, where he worked a thirteen-hour day and slept in a dormitory with other apprentices,[15] later inspired his novels The Wheels of Chance, The History of Mr Polly, and Kipps, which portray the life of a draper's apprentice as well as providing a critique of society's distribution of wealth.[21]

Wells's parents had a turbulent marriage, owing primarily to his mother's being a Protestant and his father's being a freethinker. When his mother returned to work as a lady's maid (at Uppark, a country house in Sussex), one of the conditions of work was that she would not be permitted to have living space for her husband and children. Thereafter, she and Joseph lived separate lives, though they never divorced and remained faithful to each other. As a consequence, Herbert's personal troubles increased as he subsequently failed as a draper and also, later, as a chemist's assistant. However, Uppark had a magnificent library in which he immersed himself, reading many classic works, including Plato's Republic, Thomas More's Utopia, and the works of Daniel Defoe.[22] This would be the beginning of Wells's venture into literature.

Teacher

Image
Wells studying in London c. 1890

In October 1879, Wells's mother arranged through a distant relative, Arthur Williams, for him to join the National School at Wookey in Somerset as a pupil–teacher, a senior pupil who acted as a teacher of younger children.[20] In December that year, however, Williams was dismissed for irregularities in his qualifications and Wells was returned to Uppark. After a short apprenticeship at a chemist in nearby Midhurst and an even shorter stay as a boarder at Midhurst Grammar School, he signed his apprenticeship papers at Hyde's. In 1883, Wells persuaded his parents to release him from the apprenticeship, taking an opportunity offered by Midhurst Grammar School again to become a pupil–teacher; his proficiency in Latin and science during his earlier short stay had been remembered.[16][20]

The years he spent in Southsea had been the most miserable of his life to that point, but his good fortune at securing a position at Midhurst Grammar School meant that Wells could continue his self-education in earnest.[16] The following year, Wells won a scholarship to the Normal School of Science (later the Royal College of Science in South Kensington, now part of Imperial College London) in London, studying biology under Thomas Henry Huxley.[23] As an alumnus, he later helped to set up the Royal College of Science Association, of which he became the first president in 1909. Wells studied in his new school until 1887, with a weekly allowance of 21 shillings (a guinea) thanks to his scholarship. This ought to have been a comfortable sum of money (at the time many working class families had "round about a pound a week" as their entire household income)[24] yet in his Experiment in Autobiography, Wells speaks of constantly being hungry, and indeed photographs of him at the time show a youth who is very thin and malnourished.[25]

Image
H. G. Wells in 1907 at the door of his house at Sandgate

He soon entered the Debating Society of the school. These years mark the beginning of his interest in a possible reformation of society. At first approaching the subject through Plato's Republic, he soon turned to contemporary ideas of socialism as expressed by the recently formed Fabian Society and free lectures delivered at Kelmscott House, the home of William Morris. He was also among the founders of The Science School Journal, a school magazine that allowed him to express his views on literature and society, as well as trying his hand at fiction; a precursor to his novel The Time Machine was published in the journal under the title The Chronic Argonauts. The school year 1886–87 was the last year of his studies.[23]

During 1888, Wells stayed in Stoke-on-Trent, living in Basford. The unique environment of The Potteries was certainly an inspiration. He wrote in a letter to a friend from the area that "the district made an immense impression on me." The inspiration for some of his descriptions in The War of the Worlds is thought to have come from his short time spent here, seeing the iron foundry furnaces burn over the city, shooting huge red light into the skies. His stay in The Potteries also resulted in the macabre short story "The Cone" (1895, contemporaneous with his famous The Time Machine), set in the north of the city.[26]

After teaching for some time, he was briefly on the staff of Holt Academy in Wales[27] – Wells found it necessary to supplement his knowledge relating to educational principles and methodology and entered the College of Preceptors (College of Teachers). He later received his Licentiate and Fellowship FCP diplomas from the College. It was not until 1890 that Wells earned a Bachelor of Science degree in zoology from the University of London External Programme. In 1889–90, he managed to find a post as a teacher at Henley House School in London, where he taught A. A. Milne (whose father ran the school).[28][29] His first published work was a Text-Book of Biology in two volumes (1893).[30]

Upon leaving the Normal School of Science, Wells was left without a source of income. His aunt Mary—his father's sister-in-law—invited him to stay with her for a while, which solved his immediate problem of accommodation. During his stay at his aunt's residence, he grew increasingly interested in her daughter, Isabel. He would later go on to court her. To earn money, he began writing short humorous articles for journals such as The Pall Mall Gazette, later collecting these in volume form as Select Conversations with an Uncle (1895) and Certain Personal Matters (1897). So prolific did Wells become at this mode of journalism that many of his early pieces remain unidentified. According to David C Smith, "Most of Wells's occasional pieces have not been collected, and many have not even been identified as his. Wells did not automatically receive the byline his reputation demanded until after 1896 or so ... As a result, many of his early pieces are unknown. It is obvious that many early Wells items have been lost."[31] His success with these shorter pieces encouraged him to write book-length work, and he published his first novel, The Time Machine, in 1895.[32]

Personal life

Image
141 Maybury Rd, Woking, where Wells lived from May 1895 until late 1896[33]

In 1891, Wells married his cousin Isabel Mary Wells (1865–1931; from 1902 Isabel Mary Smith). The couple agreed to separate in 1894, when he had fallen in love with one of his students, Amy Catherine Robbins (1872–1927; later known as Jane), with whom he moved to Woking, Surrey in May 1895. They lived in a rented house, 'Lynton', (now No.141) Maybury Road in the town centre for just under 18 months[34] and married at St Pancras register office in October 1895.[35] His short period in Woking was perhaps the most creative and productive of his whole writing career,[34] for while there he planned and wrote The War of the Worlds and The Time Machine, completed The Island of Doctor Moreau, wrote and published The Wonderful Visit and The Wheels of Chance, and began writing two other early books, When the Sleeper Wakes and Love and Mr Lewisham.[34][36]

In late summer 1896, Wells and Jane moved to a larger house in Worcester Park, near Kingston upon Thames, for two years; this lasted until his poor health took them to Sandgate, near Folkestone, where he constructed a large family home, Spade House, in 1901. He had two sons with Jane: George Philip (known as "Gip"; 1901–1985) and Frank Richard (1903–1982).[37] Jane died 6 October 1927, in Dunmow, at the age of 55.

Wells had affairs with a significant number of women.[38] In December 1909, he had a daughter, Anna-Jane, with the writer Amber Reeves,[39] whose parents, William and Maud Pember Reeves, he had met through the Fabian Society. Amber had married the barrister G. R. Blanco White in July of that year, as co-arranged by Wells. After Beatrice Webb voiced disapproval of Wells' "sordid intrigue" with Amber, he responded by lampooning Beatrice Webb and her husband Sidney Webb in his 1911 novel The New Machiavelli as 'Altiora and Oscar Bailey', a pair of short-sighted, bourgeois manipulators. Between 1910–1913, novelist Elizabeth von Arnim was one of his mistresses.[40] In 1914, he had a son, Anthony West (1914–1987), by the novelist and feminist Rebecca West, 26 years his junior.[41] In 1920–21, and intermittently until his death, he had a love affair with the American birth control activist Margaret Sanger.[42] Between 1924 and 1933 he partnered with the 22-year younger Dutch adventurer and writer Odette Keun, with whom he lived in Lou Pidou, a house they built together in Grasse, France. Wells dedicated his longest book to her (The World of William Clissold, 1926).[43] When visiting Maxim Gorky in Russia 1920, he had slept with Gorky's mistress Moura Budberg, then still Countess Benckendorf and 27 years his junior. In 1933, when she left Gorky and emigrated to London, their relationship renewed and she cared for him through his final illness. Wells asked her to marry him repeatedly, but Budberg strongly rejected his proposals.[44][45]

In Experiment in Autobiography (1934), Wells wrote: "I was never a great amorist, though I have loved several people very deeply".[46] David Lodge's novel A Man of Parts (2011)—a 'narrative based on factual sources' (author's note)—gives a convincing and generally sympathetic account of Wells's relations with the women mentioned above, and others.[47]

Director Simon Wells (born 1961), the author's great-grandson, was a consultant on the future scenes in Back to the Future Part II (1989).[48]

Artist

One of the ways that Wells expressed himself was through his drawings and sketches. One common location for these was the endpapers and title pages of his own diaries, and they covered a wide variety of topics, from political commentary to his feelings toward his literary contemporaries and his current romantic interests. During his marriage to Amy Catherine, whom he nicknamed Jane, he drew a considerable number of pictures, many of them being overt comments on their marriage. During this period, he called these pictures "picshuas".[49] These picshuas have been the topic of study by Wells scholars for many years, and in 2006, a book was published on the subject.[50]

Writer

Image
Statue of a tripod from The War of the Worlds in Woking, England. The book is a seminal depiction of a conflict between mankind and an extraterrestrial race.

Some of his early novels, called "scientific romances", invented several themes now classic in science fiction in such works as The Time Machine, The Island of Doctor Moreau, The Invisible Man, The War of the Worlds, When the Sleeper Wakes, and The First Men in the Moon. He also wrote realistic novels that received critical acclaim, including Kipps and a critique of English culture during the Edwardian period, Tono-Bungay. Wells also wrote dozens of short stories and novellas, including, "The Flowering of the Strange Orchid", which helped bring the full impact of Darwin's revolutionary botanical ideas to a wider public, and was followed by many later successes such as "The Country of the Blind" (1904).[51]

According to James Gunn, one of Wells's major contributions to the science fiction genre was his approach, which he referred to as his "new system of ideas".[52] In his opinion, the author should always strive to make the story as credible as possible, even if both the writer and the reader knew certain elements are impossible, allowing the reader to accept the ideas as something that could really happen, today referred to as "the plausible impossible" and "suspension of disbelief". While neither invisibility nor time travel was new in speculative fiction, Wells added a sense of realism to the concepts which the readers were not familiar with. He conceived the idea of using a vehicle that allows an operator to travel purposely and selectively forwards or backwards in time. The term "time machine", coined by Wells, is now almost universally used to refer to such a vehicle.[22] He explained that while writing The Time Machine, he realized that "the more impossible the story I had to tell, the more ordinary must be the setting, and the circumstances in which I now set the Time Traveller were all that I could imagine of solid upper-class comforts."[53] In "Wells's Law", a science fiction story should contain only a single extraordinary assumption. Being aware the notion of magic as something real had disappeared from society, he, therefore, used scientific ideas and theories as a substitute for magic to justify the impossible. Wells's best-known statement of the "law" appears in his introduction to The Scientific Romances of H. G. Wells (1933),

As soon as the magic trick has been done the whole business of the fantasy writer is to keep everything else human and real. Touches of prosaic detail are imperative and a rigorous adherence to the hypothesis. Any extra fantasy outside the cardinal assumption immediately gives a touch of irresponsible silliness to the invention.[54]


Dr. Griffin / The Invisible Man is a brilliant research scientist who discovers a method of invisibility, but finds himself unable to reverse the process. An enthusiast of random and irresponsible violence, Griffin has become an iconic character in horror fiction.[55] The Island of Doctor Moreau sees a shipwrecked man left on the island home of Doctor Moreau, a mad scientist who creates human-like hybrid beings from animals via vivisection.[56] The earliest depiction of uplift, the novel deals with a number of philosophical themes, including pain and cruelty, moral responsibility, human identity, and human interference with nature.[57] Though Tono-Bungay is not a science-fiction novel, radioactive decay plays a small but consequential role in it. Radioactive decay plays a much larger role in The World Set Free (1914). This book contains what is surely his biggest prophetic "hit", with the first description of a nuclear weapon.[58] Scientists of the day were well aware that the natural decay of radium releases energy at a slow rate over thousands of years. The rate of release is too slow to have practical utility, but the total amount released is huge. Wells's novel revolves around an (unspecified) invention that accelerates the process of radioactive decay, producing bombs that explode with no more than the force of ordinary high explosives—but which "continue to explode" for days on end. "Nothing could have been more obvious to the people of the earlier twentieth century", he wrote, "than the rapidity with which war was becoming impossible ... [but] they did not see it until the atomic bombs burst in their fumbling hands".[58] In 1932, the physicist and conceiver of nuclear chain reaction Leó Szilárd read The World Set Free (the same year Sir James Chadwick discovered the neutron), a book which he said made a great impression on him.[59]

Image
The H. G. Wells crater, located on the far side of the Moon, was named after the author of The First Men in the Moon (1901) in 1970.

Wells also wrote non-fiction. His first non-fiction bestseller was Anticipations of the Reaction of Mechanical and Scientific Progress upon Human Life and Thought (1901). When originally serialised in a magazine it was subtitled "An Experiment in Prophecy", and is considered his most explicitly futuristic work. It offered the immediate political message of the privileged sections of society continuing to bar capable men from other classes from advancement until war would force a need to employ those most able, rather than the traditional upper classes, as leaders. Anticipating what the world would be like in the year 2000, the book is interesting both for its hits (trains and cars resulting in the dispersion of populations from cities to suburbs; moral restrictions declining as men and women seek greater sexual freedom; the defeat of German militarism, and the existence of a European Union) and its misses (he did not expect successful aircraft before 1950, and averred that "my imagination refuses to see any sort of submarine doing anything but suffocate its crew and founder at sea").[60][61]

His bestselling two-volume work, The Outline of History (1920), began a new era of popularised world history. It received a mixed critical response from professional historians.[62] However, it was very popular amongst the general population and made Wells a rich man. Many other authors followed with "Outlines" of their own in other subjects. He reprised his Outline in 1922 with a much shorter popular work, A Short History of the World, a history book praised by Albert Einstein,[63] and two long efforts, The Science of Life (1930) and The Work, Wealth and Happiness of Mankind (1931).[64][65] The "Outlines" became sufficiently common for James Thurber to parody the trend in his humorous essay, "An Outline of Scientists"—indeed, Wells's Outline of History remains in print with a new 2005 edition, while A Short History of the World has been re-edited (2006).[66]

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H. G. Wells c. 1918

From quite early in Wells's career, he sought a better way to organise society and wrote a number of Utopian novels. The first of these was A Modern Utopia (1905), which shows a worldwide utopia with "no imports but meteorites, and no exports at all";[67] two travellers from our world fall into its alternate history. The others usually begin with the world rushing to catastrophe, until people realise a better way of living: whether by mysterious gases from a comet causing people to behave rationally and abandoning a European war (In the Days of the Comet (1906)), or a world council of scientists taking over, as in The Shape of Things to Come (1933, which he later adapted for the 1936 Alexander Korda film, Things to Come). This depicted, all too accurately, the impending World War, with cities being destroyed by aerial bombs. He also portrayed the rise of fascist dictators in The Autocracy of Mr Parham (1930) and The Holy Terror (1939). Men Like Gods (1923) is also a utopian novel. Wells in this period was regarded as an enormously influential figure; the critic Malcolm Cowley stated: "by the time he was forty, his influence was wider than any other living English writer".[68]

Wells contemplates the ideas of nature and nurture and questions humanity in books such as The Island of Doctor Moreau. Not all his scientific romances ended in a Utopia, and Wells also wrote a dystopian novel, When the Sleeper Wakes (1899, rewritten as The Sleeper Awakes, 1910), which pictures a future society where the classes have become more and more separated, leading to a revolt of the masses against the rulers.[69] The Island of Doctor Moreau is even darker. The narrator, having been trapped on an island of animals vivisected (unsuccessfully) into human beings, eventually returns to England; like Gulliver on his return from the Houyhnhnms, he finds himself unable to shake off the perceptions of his fellow humans as barely civilised beasts, slowly reverting to their animal natures.[70]

Wells also wrote the preface for the first edition of W. N. P. Barbellion's diaries, The Journal of a Disappointed Man, published in 1919. Since "Barbellion" was the real author's pen name, many reviewers believed Wells to have been the true author of the Journal; Wells always denied this, despite being full of praise for the diaries.[71]

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H. G. Wells, one day before his 60th birthday, on the front cover of Time magazine, 20 September 1926

In 1927, a Canadian teacher and writer Florence Deeks unsuccessfully sued Wells for infringement of copyright and breach of trust, claiming that much of The Outline of History had been plagiarised from her unpublished manuscript,[72] The Web of the World's Romance, which had spent nearly nine months in the hands of Wells's Canadian publisher, Macmillan Canada.[73] However, it was sworn on oath at the trial that the manuscript remained in Toronto in the safekeeping of Macmillan, and that Wells did not even know it existed, let alone had seen it.[74] The court found no proof of copying, and decided the similarities were due to the fact that the books had similar nature and both writers had access to the same sources.[75] In 2000, A. B. McKillop, a professor of history at Carleton University, produced a book on the case, The Spinster & The Prophet: Florence Deeks, H. G. Wells, and the Mystery of the Purloined Past.[76] According to McKillop, the lawsuit was unsuccessful due to the prejudice against a woman suing a well-known and famous male author, and he paints a detailed story based on the circumstantial evidence of the case.[77] In 2004, Denis N. Magnusson, Professor Emeritus of the Faculty of Law, Queen's University, Ontario, published an article on Deeks v. Wells. This re-examines the case in relation to McKillop's book. While having some sympathy for Deeks, he argues that she had a weak case that was not well presented, and though she may have met with sexism from her lawyers, she received a fair trial, adding that the law applied is essentially the same law that would be applied to a similar case today (i.e., 2004).[78]

In 1933, Wells predicted in The Shape of Things to Come that the world war he feared would begin in January 1940,[79] a prediction which ultimately came true four months early, in September 1939, with the outbreak of World War II.[80] In 1936, before the Royal Institution, Wells called for the compilation of a constantly growing and changing World Encyclopaedia, to be reviewed by outstanding authorities and made accessible to every human being. In 1938, he published a collection of essays on the future organisation of knowledge and education, World Brain, including the essay "The Idea of a Permanent World Encyclopaedia".[81]

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Plaque by the H. G. Wells Society at Chiltern Court, Baker Street in the City of Westminster, London, where Wells lived between 1930 and 1936

Prior to 1933, Wells's books were widely read in Germany and Austria, and most of his science fiction works had been translated shortly after publication.[82] By 1933, he had attracted the attention of German officials because of his criticism of the political situation in Germany, and on 10 May 1933, Wells's books were burned by the Nazi youth in Berlin's Opernplatz, and his works were banned from libraries and book stores.[82] Wells, as president of PEN International (Poets, Essayists, Novelists), angered the Nazis by overseeing the expulsion of the German PEN club from the international body in 1934 following the German PEN's refusal to admit non-Aryan writers to its membership. At a PEN conference in Ragusa, Wells refused to yield to Nazi sympathisers who demanded that the exiled author Ernst Toller be prevented from speaking.[82] Near the end of the World War II, Allied forces discovered that the SS had compiled lists of people slated for immediate arrest during the invasion of Britain in the abandoned Operation Sea Lion, with Wells included in the alphabetical list of "The Black Book".[83]

Seeking a more structured way to play war games, Wells also wrote Floor Games (1911) followed by Little Wars (1913), which set out rules for fighting battles with toy soldiers (miniatures).[84] Little Wars is recognised today as the first recreational war game and Wells is regarded by gamers and hobbyists as "the Father of Miniature War Gaming".[85] A pacifist prior to the First World War, Wells stated "how much better is this amiable miniature [war] than the real thing".[84] According to Wells, the idea of the miniature war game developed from a visit by his friend Jerome K. Jerome. After dinner, Jerome began shooting down toy soldiers with a toy cannon and Wells joined in to compete.[84]

Travels to Russia

Wells visited Russia three times: 1914, 1920 and 1934. During his second visit, he saw his old friend Maxim Gorky and with Gorky's help, met Vladimir Lenin. In his book Russia in the Shadows, Wells portrayed Russia as recovering from a total social collapse, "the completest that has ever happened to any modern social organisation."[86] On 23 July 1934, after visiting U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt, Wells went to the Soviet Union and interviewed Joseph Stalin for three hours for the New Statesman magazine, which was extremely rare at that time. He told Stalin how he had seen 'the happy faces of healthy people' in contrast with his previous visit to Moscow in 1920.[87] However, he also criticised the lawlessness, class-based discrimination, state violence, and absence of free expression. Stalin enjoyed the conversation and replied accordingly. As the chairman of the London-based PEN Club, which protected the rights of authors to write without being intimidated, Wells hoped by his trip to USSR, he could win Stalin over by force of argument. Before he left, he realized that no reform was to happen in the near future.[88][89]

Final years

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H. G. Wells in 1943

Wells's literary reputation declined as he spent his later years promoting causes that were rejected by most of his contemporaries as well as by younger authors whom he had previously influenced. In this connection, George Orwell described Wells as "too sane to understand the modern world".[90] G. K. Chesterton quipped: "Mr Wells is a born storyteller who has sold his birthright for a pot of message".[91]

Wells had diabetes,[92] and was a co-founder in 1934 of The Diabetic Association (now Diabetes UK, the leading charity for people with diabetes in the UK).[93]

On 28 October 1940, on the radio station KTSA in San Antonio, Texas, Wells took part in a radio interview with Orson Welles, who two years previously had performed a famous radio adaptation of The War of the Worlds. During the interview, by Charles C Shaw, a KTSA radio host, Wells admitted his surprise at the widespread panic that resulted from the broadcast but acknowledged his debt to Welles for increasing sales of one of his "more obscure" titles.[94]

Death

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Commemorative blue plaque at Wells' final home in Regent's Park, London

Wells died of unspecified causes on 13 August 1946, aged 79, at his home at 13 Hanover Terrace, overlooking Regent's Park, London.[95][96] In his preface to the 1941 edition of The War in the Air, Wells had stated that his epitaph should be: "I told you so. You damned fools".[97] Wells' body was cremated at Golders Green Crematorium on 16 August 1946; his ashes were subsequently scattered into the English Channel at "Old Harry Rocks".[98]

A commemorative blue plaque in his honour was installed by the Greater London Council at his home in Regent's Park in 1966.[99]

Futurist

A renowned futurist and “visionary”, Wells foresaw the advent of aircraft, tanks, space travel, nuclear weapons, satellite television and something resembling the World Wide Web.[7] Asserting that “Wells visions of the future remain unsurpassed”, John Higgs, author of Stranger Than We Can Imagine: Making Sense of the Twentieth Century, states that in the late 19th century Wells “saw the coming century clearer than anyone else. He anticipated wars in the air, the sexual revolution, motorised transport causing the growth of suburbs and a proto-Wikipedia he called the “world brain”. He foresaw world wars creating a federalised Europe. Britain, he thought, would not fit comfortably in this New Europe and would identify more with the US and other English-speaking countries. In his novel The World Set Free, he imagined an “atomic bomb” of terrifying power that would be dropped from aeroplanes. This was an extraordinary insight for an author writing in 1913, and it made a deep impression on Winston Churchill.”[100]

In a review of The Time Machine for the New Yorker magazine, Brad Leithauser writes, “At the base of Wells’s great visionary exploit is this rational, ultimately scientific attempt to tease out the potential future consequences of present conditions—not as they might arise in a few years, or even decades, but millennia hence, epochs hence. He is world literature’s Great Extrapolator. Like no other fiction writer before him, he embraced “deep time.”[101]

Political views

Main article: Political views of H.G. Wells

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An avid reader of Wells' books, Winston Churchill wrote to the author in 1906, stating "I owe you a great debt", two days before giving an early landmark speech that the state should support its citizens, providing pensions, insurance and child welfare.[102]

A socialist, Wells’ contemporary political impact was limited, excluding his fiction's positivist stance on the leaps that could be made by physics towards world peace. Winston Churchill was an avid reader of Wells' books, and after they first met in 1902 they kept in touch until Wells died in 1946.[102] As a junior minister Churchill borrowed lines from Wells for one of his most famous early landmark speeches in 1906, and as Prime Minister the phrase "the gathering storm" — used by Churchill to describe the rise of Nazi Germany — had been written by Wells in The War of the Worlds, which depicts an attack on Britain by Martians.[102] Wells's extensive writings on equality and human rights, most notably his most influential work, The Rights of Man (1940), laid the groundwork for the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which was adopted by the United Nations shortly after his death.[103][104]

His efforts regarding the League of Nations, on which he collaborated on the project with Leonard Woolf with the booklets The Idea of a League of Nations, Prolegomena to the Study of World Organization, and The Way of the League of Nations, became a disappointment as the organization turned out to be a weak one unable to prevent the Second World War, which itself occurred towards the very end of his life and only increased the pessimistic side of his nature.[105] In his last book Mind at the End of Its Tether (1945), he considered the idea that humanity being replaced by another species might not be a bad idea. He referred to the era between the two World Wars as "The Age of Frustration".[106]
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Religious views

Wells wrote in his book God the Invisible King (1917) that his idea of God did not draw upon the traditional religions of the world:

This book sets out as forcibly and exactly as possible the religious belief of the writer. [Which] is a profound belief in a personal and intimate God. ... Putting the leading idea of this book very roughly, these two antagonistic typical conceptions of God may be best contrasted by speaking of one of them as God-as-Nature or the Creator, and of the other as God-as-Christ or the Redeemer. One is the great Outward God; the other is the Inmost God. The first idea was perhaps developed most highly and completely in the God of Spinoza. It is a conception of God tending to pantheism, to an idea of a comprehensive God as ruling with justice rather than affection, to a conception of aloofness and awestriking worshipfulness. The second idea, which is opposed to this idea of an absolute God, is the God of the human heart. The writer would suggest that the great outline of the theological struggles of that phase of civilisation and world unity which produced Christianity, was a persistent but unsuccessful attempt to get these two different ideas of God into one focus.[107]


Later in the work, he aligns himself with a "renascent or modern religion ... neither atheist nor Buddhist nor Mohammedan nor Christian ... [that] he has found growing up in himself".[108]

Of Christianity, he said: "it is not now true for me. ... Every believing Christian is, I am sure, my spiritual brother ... but if systemically I called myself a Christian I feel that to most men I should imply too much and so tell a lie". Of other world religions, he writes: "All these religions are true for me as Canterbury Cathedral is a true thing and as a Swiss chalet is a true thing. There they are, and they have served a purpose, they have worked. Only they are not true for me to live in them. ... They do not work for me".[109] In The Fate of Homo Sapiens (1939), Wells criticised almost all world religions and philosophies, stating "there is no creed, no way of living left in the world at all, that really meets the needs of the time… When we come to look at them coolly and dispassionately, all the main religions, patriotic, moral and customary systems in which human beings are sheltering today, appear to be in a state of jostling and mutually destructive movement, like the houses and palaces and other buildings of some vast, sprawling city overtaken by a landslide.[110]

Literary influence

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H. G. Wells as depicted in Gernsback's Science Wonder Stories in 1929

The science fiction historian John Clute describes Wells as "the most important writer the genre has yet seen", and notes his work has been central to both British and American science fiction.[111] Science fiction author and critic Algis Budrys said Wells "remains the outstanding expositor of both the hope, and the despair, which are embodied in the technology and which are the major facts of life in our world".[112] He was nominated for the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1921, 1932, 1935, and 1946.[10] Wells so influenced real exploration of Mars that an impact crater on the planet was named after him.[113]

Wells’s genius was his ability to create a stream of brand new, wholly original stories out of thin air. Originality was Wells’s calling card. In a six-year stretch from 1895 to 1901, he produced a stream of what he called “scientific romance” novels, which included The Time Machine, The Island of Doctor Moreau, The Invisible Man, The War of the Worlds and The First Men in the Moon. This was a dazzling display of new thought, endlessly copied since. A book like The War of the Worlds inspired every one of the thousands of alien invasion stories that followed. It burned its way into the psyche of mankind and changed us all forever.

— Cultural historian John Higgs, The Guardian.[100]


In the United Kingdom, Wells's work was a key model for the British “scientific romance”, and other writers in that mode, such as Olaf Stapledon,[114] J. D. Beresford,[115] S. Fowler Wright,[116] and Naomi Mitchison,[117] all drew on Wells's example. Wells was also an important influence on British science fiction of the period after the Second World War, with Arthur C. Clarke[118] and Brian Aldiss[119] expressing strong admiration for Wells's work. Among contemporary British science fiction writers, Stephen Baxter, Christopher Priest and Adam Roberts have all acknowledged Wells's influence on their writing; all three are Vice-Presidents of the H. G. Wells Society. He also had a strong influence on British scientist J. B. S. Haldane, who wrote Daedalus; or, Science and the Future (1924), "The Last Judgement" and "On Being the Right Size" from the essay collection Possible Worlds (1927), and Biological Possibilities for the Human Species in the Next Ten Thousand Years (1963), which are speculations about the future of human evolution and life on other planets. Haldane gave several lectures about these topics which in turn influenced other science fiction writers.[120][121]

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Wells's works were reprinted in American science fiction magazines as late as the 1950s

In the United States, Hugo Gernsback reprinted most of Wells's work in the pulp magazine Amazing Stories, regarding Wells's work as "texts of central importance to the self-conscious new genre".[111] Later American writers such as Ray Bradbury,[122] Isaac Asimov,[123] Frank Herbert[124] and Ursula K. Le Guin[125] all recalled being influenced by Wells's work.

Sinclair Lewis's early novels were strongly influenced by Wells's realistic social novels, such as The History of Mr Polly; Lewis would also name his first son Wells after the author.[126]

In an interview with The Paris Review, Vladimir Nabokov described Wells as his favourite writer when he was a boy and "a great artist."[127] He went on to cite The Passionate Friends, Ann Veronica, The Time Machine, and The Country of the Blind as superior to anything else written by Wells's British contemporaries. In an apparent allusion to Wells's socialism and political themes, Nabokov said: "His sociological cogitations can be safely ignored, of course, but his romances and fantasies are superb."[127]

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2016 illustrated postal envelope with an image from The War of the Worlds, Russian Post, commemorating the 150th anniversary of the author's birth

Jorge Luis Borges wrote many short pieces on Wells in which he demonstrates a deep familiarity with much of Wells's work.[128] While Borges wrote several critical reviews, including a mostly negative review of Wells's film Things to Come,[129] he regularly treated Wells as a canonical figure of fantastic literature. Late in his life, Borges included The Invisible Man and The Time Machine in his Prologue to a Personal Library,[130] a curated list of 100 great works of literature that he undertook at the behest of the Argentine publishing house Emecé. Canadian author Margaret Atwood read Wells' books,[70] and he also inspired writers of European speculative fiction such as Karel Čapek[125] and Yevgeny Zamyatin.[125]

Representations

Literary


• The superhuman protagonist of J. D. Beresford's 1911 novel, The Hampdenshire Wonder, Victor Stott, was based on Wells.[115]
• In M. P. Shiel's short story "The Primate of the Rose" (1928), there is an unpleasant womaniser named E. P. Crooks, who was written as a parody of Wells.[131] Wells had attacked Shiel's Prince Zaleski when it was published in 1895, and this was Shiel's response.[131] Wells praised Shiel's The Purple Cloud (1901); in turn Shiel expressed admiration for Wells, referring to him at a speech to the Horsham Rotary Club in 1933 as "my friend Mr. Wells".[131]
• In C. S. Lewis's novel That Hideous Strength (1945), the character Jules is a caricature of Wells,[132] and much of Lewis's science fiction was written both under the influence of Wells and as an antithesis to his work (or, as he put it, an "exorcism"[133] of the influence it had on him).
• In Brian Aldiss's novella The Saliva Tree (1966), Wells has a small off screen guest role.[134]
• In Saul Bellow's novel Mr. Sammler's Planet (1970), Wells is one of several historical figures the protagonist met when he was a young man.[135]
• In The Map of Time (2008) by Spanish author Félix J. Palma; Wells is one of several historical characters.[136]
• Wells is one of the two Georges in Paul Levinson's 2013 time-travel novelette, "Ian, George, and George," published in Analog magazine.[137]

Dramatic

• Rod Taylor portrays Wells[138][139] in the 1960 science fiction film The Time Machine (based on the novel of the same name), in which Wells uses his time machine to try and find his Utopian society.[139]
• Malcolm McDowell portrays Wells in the 1979 science fiction film Time After Time, in which Wells uses a time machine to pursue Jack the Ripper to the present day.[139] In the film, Wells meets "Amy" in the future who then returns to 1893 to become his second wife Amy Catherine Robbins.
• Wells is portrayed in the 1985 story Timelash from the 22nd season of the BBC science-fiction television series Doctor Who. In this story, Herbert, an enthusiastic temporary companion to the Doctor, is revealed to be a young H. G. Wells. The plot is loosely based upon the themes and characters of The Time Machine with references to The War of the Worlds, The Invisible Man and The Island of Doctor Moreau. The story jokingly suggests that Wells's inspiration for his later novels came from his adventure with the Sixth Doctor.[140]
• In the BBC2 anthology series Encounters about imagined meetings between historical figures, Beautiful Lies, by Paul Pender (15 August 1992) centred on an acrimonious dinner party attended by Wells (Richard Todd), George Orwell (Jon Finch), and William Empson (Patrick Ryecart).
• The character of Wells also appeared in several episodes of Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman (1993–1997), usually pitted against the time-travelling villain known as Tempus (Lane Davies). Wells's younger self was played by Terry Kiser, and the older Wells was played by Hamilton Camp.
• In the British TV mini-series The Infinite Worlds of H. G. Wells (2001), several of Wells's short stories are dramatised but are adapted using Wells himself (Tom Ward) as the main protagonist in each story.
• In the Disney Channel Original Series Phil of the Future, which centres on time-travel, the present-day high school that the main characters attend is named "H. G. Wells".[141]
• In the 2006 television docudrama H. G. Wells: War with the World, Wells is played by Michael Sheen.[142]
• On the science fiction television series Warehouse 13 (2009–2014), there is a female version Helena G. Wells. When she appeared she explained that her brother was her front for her writing because a female science fiction author would not be accepted.[143]
• Comedian Paul F. Tompkins portrays a fictional Wells as the host of The Dead Authors Podcast, wherein Wells uses his time machine to bring dead authors (played by other comedians) to the present and interview them.[144][145]
• H. G. Wells as a young boy appears in the Legends of Tomorrow episode "The Magnificent Eight". In this story, the boy Wells is dying of consumption but is cured by a time-travelling Martin Stein.
• In the four part series The Nightmare Worlds of H. G. Wells (2016), Wells is played by Ray Winstone.[146]
• In the 2017 television series version of Time After Time, based on the 1979 film, H. G. Wells is portrayed by Freddie Stroma.[147]

Literary papers

In 1954, the University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign purchased the H. G. Wells literary papers and correspondence collection.[148] The University's Rare Book & Manuscript Library holds the largest collection of Wells manuscripts, correspondence, first editions and publications in the United States.[149] Among these is an unpublished material and the manuscripts of such works as The War of the Worlds and The Time Machine. The collection includes first editions, revisions, translations. The letters contain general family correspondence, communications from publishers, material regarding the Fabian Society, and letters from politicians and public figures, most notably George Bernard Shaw and Joseph Conrad.[148]

Bibliography

Main article: H. G. Wells bibliography

Notes

1. Science fiction magazine editors Hugo Gernsback and John W. Campbell were the inaugural deceased members of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Hall of Fame, inducted in 1996 and followed annually by fiction writers Wells and Isaac Asimov, C. L. Moore and Robert Heinlein, Abraham Merritt and Jules Verne.[150]

References

1. "Lost daughter of Wells' passion. (writer H. G. Wells) – Version details – Trove". Trove.nla.gov.au. 11 August 1996. Retrieved 25 March 2014.
2. "Death Notice Summaries Available for Listings at A Memory Tree". Amemorytree.co.nz. Retrieved 25 March 2014.
3. "Wells, H. G.". Revised 20 May 2015. The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction (sf-encyclopedia.com). Retrieved 2015-08-22. Entry by 'JC/BS', John Clute and Brian Stableford.
4. Parrinder, Patrick (2004). Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Oxford University Press.
5. Adam Charles Roberts (2000), "The History of Science Fiction", page 48. In Science Fiction, Routledge, ISBN 0-415-19204-8.
6. Siegel, Mark Richard (1988). Hugo Gernsback, Father of Modern Science Fiction: With Essays on Frank Herbert and Bram Stoker. Borgo Pr. ISBN 0-89370-174-2.
7. "HG Wells: A visionary who should be remembered for his social predictions, not just his scientific ones". The Independent. 9 October 2017.
8. Wagar, W. Warren (2004). H. G. Wells: Traversing Time. Wesleyan University Press. p. 7.
9. "How Hollywood fell for a British visionary". The Telegraph. Retrieved 14 March 2019.
10. "Nomination Database: Herbert G Wells". Nobel Prize.org. Retrieved 19 March 2015.
11. Robert M. Philmus and David Y. Hughes, ed., H. G. Wells: Early Writings in Science and Science Fiction (Berkeley, Los Angeles, and London: University of California Press, 1975), p. 179.
12. Vincent Brome, H. G. Wells: A Biography (London, New York, and Toronto: Longmans, Green, 1951).
13. Vincent Brome, H. G. Wells: A Biography (London, New York, and Toronto: Longmans, Green, 1951), p. 99.
14. "H G Wells - Author, Historian, Teacher with Type 2 Diabetes". http://www.diabetes.co.uk. Retrieved 18 February 2019.
15. Wells, H. G. (2005) [1905]. Claeys, Gregory; Parrinder, Patrick (eds.). A Modern Utopia. Gregory Claeys, Francis Wheen, Andy Sawyer. Penguin Classics. ISBN 978-0-14-144112-2.
16. Smith, David C. (1986) H. G. Wells: Desperately mortal. A biography. Yale University Press, New Haven and London ISBN 0-300-03672-8
17. "Sep. 21, 1866: Wells Springs Forth". Wired. 9 October 2017.
18. Nairn, Ian; Pevsner, Nikolaus (1965). The Buildings of England: Sussex. Harmondsworth: Penguin Books. pp. 358–60. ISBN 0-14-071028-0.
19. "HG Wells: prophet of free love". The Guardian. 11 October 2017.
20. Wells, Geoffrey H. (1925). The Works of H. G. Wells. London: Routledge. p. xvi. ISBN 0-86012-096-1. OCLC 458934085.
21. Batchelor, John (1985). H. G. Wells. Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press. p. 2. ISBN 0-521-27804-X.
22. Pilkington, Ace G. (2017). Science Fiction and Futurism: Their Terms and Ideas. McFarland. p. 137.
23. Batchelor, John (1985). H. G. Wells. CUP Archive. p. 164.
24. Reeves, M.S. Round About a Pound a Week. New York: Garland Pub., 1980. ISBN 0-8240-0119-2. Some of the text is available online.
25. Brome, Vincent (2008). H. G. Wells. House of Stratus. p. 180.
26. Hammond, John R. (22 July 2014). A Preface to H G Wells. Routledge. pp. 90–. ISBN 978-1-317-87701-1.
27. Bowman, Jamie (3 October 2016). "Teaching spell near Wrexham inspired one of the nation's greatest science fiction writers". The Leader. Wrexham. Retrieved 13 May 2018.
28. "Hampstead: Education". A History of the County of Middlesex. 9: 159–169. 1989. Retrieved 9 June 2008.
29. Liukkonen, Petri. "A. A. Milne". Books and Writers (kirjasto.sci.fi). Finland: Kuusankoski Public Library. Archived from the original on 22 February 2014.
30. H. G. Wells Under Revision: Proceedings of the International H. G. Wells Symposium, London, July 1986. Associated University Presse. 1990. p. 123.
31. David C Smith (1986). H. G. Wells: Desperately Mortal: A Biography. New Haven: Yale University Press. p. 35. ISBN 0300036728.
32. Hammond, John R. (2004). H. G. Wells's The Time Machine: A Reference Guide. Westport, Conn.: Praeger. p. 50.
33. "H. G. Wells and Woking". Celebrate Woking. Woking Borough Council. 2016. Retrieved 5 March 2017. H. G. Wells arrived in Woking in May 1895. He lived at 'Lynton', Maybury Road, Woking, which is now numbered 141 Maybury Road. Today, there is an English Heritage blue plaque displayed on the front wall of the property, which marks his period of residence.
34. Wells In Woking: 150th Anniversary 1866–2016: Free Souvenir Programme (PDF). Woking, Surrey: Woking Borough Council. 2016. pp. 4–5. Retrieved 5 March 2017.
35. Batchelor (1985: 165)
36. In the run-up to the 143rd anniversary of Wells's birth, Googlepublished a cartoon riddle series with the solution being the coordinates of Woking's nearby Horsell Common—the location of the Martian landings in The War Of The Worlds—described in newspaper article by Schofield, Jack (21 September 2009). "HG Wells – Google reveals answer to teaser doodles". The Guardian. Retrieved 5 March 2017.
37. Wager, Warren W. (2004). H. G. Wells: Traversing Time. Wesleyan University Press. p. 295.
38. Lynn, Andrea (2001). Shadow Lovers: The Last Affairs of H. G. Wells. Boulder, CO: Westview. pp. 10, 14, 47 et sec. ISBN 978-0-8133-3394-6.
39. Margaret Drabble (1 April 2005). "A room of her own". The Guardian.
40. Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, online edition (UK library card required): Arnim, Mary Annette [May] von Accessed 2014-03-05
41. Liukkonen, Petri. "H. G. Wells". Books and Writers (kirjasto.sci.fi). Finland: Kuusankoski Public Library. Archived from the original on 21 February 2015.
42. "The Passionate Friends: H. G. Wells and Margaret Sanger", at the Margaret Sanger Paper Project.
43. Kevin Dixon, Odette Keun, HG Wells and the Third Way, The PRSD, July 20, 2104.
44. Nina Renata Aron, The impossibly glamorous life of this Russian baroness spy needs to be a movie; Moura Budberg counted H.G. Wells and Maxim Gorky as lovers, TimeLine.com, 2017
45. Michael Dirda, Moura? Moura Budberg? Now where have I heard that name before?, review of Nina Berberova's The Dangerous Life of the Baroness Budberg, in the Washington Post, May 22, 2005
46. Wells, Herbert G. (1934). H. G. Wells: Experiment in Autobiography. New York: J. B. Lippincott Co.
47. Lodge, David (2011). A Man of Parts. Random House.
48. "Simon Wells". British Film Institute. 22 October 2017.
49. "H. G. Wells' cartoons, a window on his second marriage, focus of new book | Archives | News Bureau". University of Illinois. 31 May 2006. Retrieved 10 June 2012.
50. Rinkel, Gene and Margaret. The Picshuas of H. G. Wells: A burlesque diary. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 2006. ISBN 0-252-03045-1(cloth : acid-free paper).
51. "British Journal for the History of Science". Cambridge University Press. Retrieved 17 June 2016
52. The Man Who Invented Tomorrow In 1902, when Arnold Bennett was writing a long article for Cosmopolitan about Wells as a serious writer, Wells expressed his hope that Bennett would stress his "new system of ideas". Wells developed a theory to justify the way he wrote (he was fond of theories), and these theories helped others write in similar ways.
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100. Higgs, John (13 August 2016). "HG Wells's prescient visions of the future remain unsurpassed". The Guardian. Retrieved 19 March 2019.
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115. Richard Bleiler, "John Davis Beresford (1873–1947)" in Darren Harris-Fain, ed. British Fantasy and Science Fiction Writers Before World War I. Detroit, MI: Gale Research, 1997. pp. 27–34. ISBN 0810399415.
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117. "Mitchison, Naomi", in Science Fiction and Fantasy Literature: A Checklist, 1700–1974: With Contemporary Science Fiction Authors II. Robert Reginald, Douglas Menville, Mary A. Burgess. Detroit—Gale Research Company. ISBN 0810310511 p. 1002.
118. Michael D. Sharp, Popular Contemporary Writers, Marshall Cavendish, 2005 ISBN 0761476016 p. 422.
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124. "Vertex Magazine Interview". Archived from the original on 21 October 2012. Retrieved 21 October 2012. with Frank Herbert, by Paul Turner, October 1973, Volume 1, Issue 4.
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126. "The Romance of Sinclair Lewis". The New York Review of Books. 22 September 2017.
127. Gold, Interviewed by Herbert. "Vladimir Nabokov, The Art of Fiction No. 40". The Paris Review. Retrieved 9 February 2017.
128. Borges, Jorge Luis. The Total Library. Edited by Eliot Weinberger. London: Penguin Books, 1999. Pp. 150.
129. Borges, Jorge Luis. "Wells the Visionary" in The Total Library. Edited by Eliot Weinberger. London: Penguin Books, 1999. Pp. 150.
130. "Jorge Luis Borges Selects 74 Books for Your Personal Library". Open culture.
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133. Lewis, C. S., Surprised by Joy: The Shape of My Early Life. New York & London: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1955. p. 36.
134. "H.G. Wells: First Citizen of the Future". Rowman & Littlefield, 2014. p. 173.
135. R. A. York, The Extension of Life: Fiction and History in the American Novel. Fairleigh Dickinson University Press, 2003. ISBN 0838639895. p. 40.
136. Lenny Picker (4 April 2011). "Victorian Time Travel: PW Talks with Felix J. Palma". Publishersweekly.com. Retrieved 17 January 2012.
137. Paul Levinson, "Ian, George, and George," Analog, December, 2013.
138. Booker, M. Keith (2006). Alternate Americas: Science Fiction Film and American Culture. Westport: Praeger Publishing. p. 199. ISBN 978-0-275-98395-6.
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140. "Timelash". BBC. Retrieved 15 April 2017.
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144. Hardwick, Robin (21 April 2015). "Best Podcasts of the Week". Entertainment Weekly.
145. McWeeny, Drew (19 July 2015). "'Battlefield Earth' is no longer the funniest thing to result from Scientology". Hitfix.
146. "Ray Winstone stars as HG Wells". The Independent. 22 October 2017.
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150. "Science Fiction and Fantasy Hall of Fame". Mid American Science Fiction and Fantasy Conventions, Inc. (midamerican.org). 22 February 2008. Archived from the original on 22 July 2015. Retrieved 22 August2015. Last updated in 2008, this was the official homepage of the Hall of Fame to 2004.

Further reading

• Dickson, Lovat. H. G. Wells: His Turbulent Life & Times. 1969.
• Gilmour, David. The Long Recessional: The Imperial Life of Rudyard Kipling. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2002 (paperback, ISBN 0-374-18702-9); 2003 (paperback, ISBN 0-374-52896-9).
• Gomme, A. W., Mr. Wells as Historian. Glasgow: MacLehose, Jackson, and Co., 1921.
• Gosling, John. Waging the War of the Worlds. Jefferson, North Carolina, McFarland, 2009 (paperback, ISBN 0-7864-4105-4).
• Mackenzie, Norman and Jean, The Time Traveller: the Life of H G Wells, London: Weidenfeld, 1973, ISBN 0-2977-6531-0
• Mauthner, Martin. German Writers in French Exile, 1933–1940, London: Vallentine and Mitchell, 2007, ISBN 978-0-85303-540-4.
• McLean, Steven. 'The Early Fiction of H. G. Wells: Fantasies of Science'. Palgrave, 2009, ISBN 9780230535626.
• Partington, John S. Building Cosmopolis: The Political Thought of H. G. Wells. Ashgate, 2003, ISBN 978-0754633839.
• Sherborne. Michael. H. G. Wells: Another Kind of Life. London: Peter Owen, 2010, ISBN 978-0-72061-351-3.
• Smith, David C., H. G. Wells: Desperately Mortal: A Biography. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1986, ISBN 0-3000-3672-8
• West, Anthony. H. G. Wells: Aspects of a Life. London: Hutchinson, 1984.
• Foot, Michael. H. G.: History of Mr. Wells. Doubleday, 1985 (ISBN 978-1-887178-04-4), Black Swan, New edition, Oct 1996 (paperback, ISBN 0-552-99530-4)

External links

• H. G. Wells at Curlie
• H. G. Wells on IMDb
• H. G. Wells at the Internet Speculative Fiction Database
• H. G. Wells at the Internet Book List
• H. G. Wells at Library of Congress Authorities, with 772 catalogue records
• Future Tense – The Story of H. G. Wells at BBC one – 150th anniversary documentary (2016)
• "In the footsteps of H G Wells" at New Statesman – "The great author called for a Human Rights Act; 60 years later, we have it" (2000)

Sources—collections

• H G Wells at the British Library
• H. G. Wells papers at University of Illinois
• Works by H. G. Wells at Project Gutenberg
• Works by Herbert George Wells at Faded Page (Canada)
• Works by or about H. G. Wells at Internet Archive
• Works by H. G. Wells at LibriVox (public domain audiobooks)
• A Short History of the World, at bartleby.com.
• Quotes by H. G. Wells
• Free H. G. Wells downloads for iPhone, iPad, Nook, Android, and Kindle in PDF and all popular eBook reader formats (AZW3, EPUB, MOBI)at ebooktakeaway.com
• Newspaper clippings about H. G. Wells in the 20th Century Press Archives of the German National Library of Economics (ZBW)

Sources—letters, essays and interviews

• Archive of Wells's BBC broadcasts
• Film interview with H. G. Wells
• "Stephen Crane. From an English Standpoint", by Wells, 1900.
• Rabindranath Tagore: In conversation with H. G. Wells. Rabindranath Tagore and Wells conversing in Geneva in 1930.
• "Introduction", to W. N. P. Barbellion's The Journal of a Disappointed Man, by Wells, 1919.
• "Woman and Primitive Culture", by Wells, 1895.
• Letter, to M. P. Shiel, by Wells, 1937.
• H. G. Wells, The Open Conspiracy (1933)
Biography
• "Wells, Herbert George" . Encyclopædia Britannica (11th ed.). 1911.
• "H. G. Wells". In Encyclopædia Britannica Online.
• Parrinder, Patrick (2011) [2004]. "Wells, Herbert George". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (online ed.). Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/36831.(Subscription or UK public library membership required.)
• "H. G. Wells biography". Science Fiction and Fantasy Hall of Fame.

Critical essays

• An introduction to The War of the Worlds by Iain Sinclair on the British Library's Discovering Literature website.
• "An Appreciation of H. G. Wells", by Mary Austin, 1911.
• "Socialism and the Family" (1906) by Belfort Bax, Part 1, Part 2.
• "H. G. Wells warned us how it would feel to fight a War of the Worlds", by Niall Ferguson, in The Telegraph, 24 Jun 2005.
• "H. G. Wells's Idea of a World Brain: A Critical Re-assessment", by W. Boyd Rayward, in Journal of the American Society for Information Science 50 (15 May 1999): 557–579
• "Mr H. G. Wells and the Giants", by G. K. Chesterton, from his book Heretics (1908).
• "The Internet: a world brain?", by Martin Gardner, in Skeptical Inquirer, Jan–Feb 1999.
• "Science Fiction: The Shape of Things to Come", by Mark Bould, in The Socialist Review, May 2005.
• "Who needs Utopia? A dialogue with my utopian self (with apologies, and thanks, to H. G. Wells)", by Gregory Claeys in Spaces of Utopia: An Electronic Journal, no 1, Spring 2006.
• "When H. G. Wells Split the Atom: A 1914 Preview of 1945", by Freda Kirchwey, in The Nation, posted 4 Sep 2003 (original 18 Aug 1945 issue).
• "Evil is in the Eye of the Beholder: Threatening Children in Two Edwardian Speculative Satires," by George M. Johnson. Science Fiction Studies. Vol. 41, No.1 (March 2014): 26–44.
• "Wells, Hitler and the World State", by George Orwell. First published: Horizon. GB, London. Aug 1941.
• "War of the Worldviews", by John J. Miller, in The Wall Street Journal Opinion Journal, 21 Jun 2005.
• "Wells's Autobiography", by John Hart, from New International, Vol.2 No.2, Mar 1935, pp. 75–76
• "History in the Science Fiction of H. G. Wells", by Patrick Parrinder, Cycnos, 22.2 (2006).
• "From the World Brain to the Worldwide Web", by Martin Campbell-Kelly, Gresham College Lecture, 9 Nov 2006.
• "The Beginning of Wisdom: On Reading H. G. Wells", by Vivian Gornick, Boston Review, 31.1 (2007).
• John Hammond, The Complete List of Short Stories of H. G. Wells
• Biography at a website examining the legacy of The War Of The Worlds
• "H. G. Wells Predictions Ring True, 143 Years Later" at National Geographic
• "H. G. Wells, the man I knew" Obituary of Wells by George Bernard Shaw, at the New Statesman
• "Wells at the World's End", by Adam Roberts
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Fellowship of the New Life
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The Fellowship of the New Life was a British organization in the 19th century, most famous for a splinter group, the Fabian Society.

It was founded in 1883, by the Scottish intellectual Thomas Davidson.[1] Fellowship members included poets Edward Carpenter and John Davidson, animal rights activist Henry Stephens Salt,[2] sexologist Havelock Ellis, feminist Edith Lees (who later married Ellis), novelist Olive Schreiner[3] and future Fabian secretary Edward R. Pease. Future UK Prime Minister Ramsay MacDonald was briefly a member. According to MacDonald, the Fellowship's main influences were Henry David Thoreau and Ralph Waldo Emerson.[4] The Fellowship published a journal called Seed-Time.

Its objective was "The cultivation of a perfect character in each and all." They wanted to transform society by setting an example of clean simplified living for others to follow. Many of the Fellowship's members advocated pacifism, vegetarianism and simple living, under the influence of Leo Tolstoy's ideas.[5] But when some members also wanted to become politically involved to aid society's transformation, it was decided that a separate society, the Fabian Society, would also be set up. All members were free to attend both societies. The Fellowship of the New Life disbanded in 1898.

Although not a member, Patrick Geddes was influenced by some of the organisation's ideas.[6]

Origins

Thomas Davidson was heavily influenced by the writings of Italian philosopher and priest Antonio Rosmini-Serbati. Upon studying and translating Rosmini’s writings, Davidson began to formulate the idea that would lead to the creation of the Fellowship, that pure intelligence would lead to a better and higher society.[7]

Beginning in 1883, Davidson gave several public lectures, and slowly a small group of like-minded individuals began gathering with him for meetings at his home in Chelsea, London. Between 1881 and 1885, Thomas Davidson held small meetings with this group of intellectuals. These meetings were designed to incorporate people who held similar ideals as Davidson, and to form a small society promoting the reorganization of individual life. This reorganization would then lead to slow progress towards a higher overall form of human society. Davidson was much more interested in discussion and meetings about this goal than scientific study or speculation.[8]

Aims

Early intentions


Davidson was a major proponent of a structured philosophy about religion, ethics, and social reform. He was a man full of ideas and wanted these ideas to see the light of day through his new society. Maurice Adams, one of the first members of the Fellowship, wrote of Davidson " ‘Intellectual Honesty’ was his watchword, and what he had perhaps most at heart."[9]

At a meeting on 16 November 1883, a summary of the society’s goals was drawn up by Maurice Adams: "We, recognizing the evils and wrongs that must beset men so long as our social life is based upon selfishness, rivalry, and ignorance, and desiring above all things to supplant it by a life based upon unselfishness, love, and wisdom, unite, for the purpose of realizing the higher life among ourselves, and of inducing and enabling others to do the same. And we now form ourselves into a Society, to be called the Guild [Fellowship] of the New Life, to carry out this purpose."[10]

Vita Nuova

The initial Fellowship was composed of about nine members, one of whom was Dr. Burns Gibson. He proposed a set of principles that took the form of a resolutions list. At one meeting of the Fellowship, the "Vita Nuova" was created and adopted by the group’s members. This basic document formed the core set of beliefs held by the society. This is as the document appears in its original form, as seen in the Memorials of Thomas Davidson:

Vita Nuova

• Object. The cultivation of a perfect character in each and all.
• Principle. The subordination of material things to spiritual things.
• Fellowship. The sole and essential condition of fellowship shall be a single-minded, sincere, and strenuous devotion to the object and principle.
• Intercourse. It is intended in the first instance to hold frequent gatherings for intimate social intercourse, as a step towards the establishment of a community among the members.
• Designs. The promotion, by both practice and precept, of the following methods of contributing toward the attainment of the end : (i) The supplanting of the spirit of competition and self-seeking by that of unselfish regard for the general good ; (2) simplicity of living; (3) the highest and completest education of the young; (4) the introduction, as far as possible, of manual labor in conjunction with intellectual pursuits ; (5) the organization, within and without the Fellowship, of meetings for religious communion, and of lectures, addresses, classes, and conferences for general culture, and for the furtherance of the aims of the Fellowship.[11]

Prominent members

Edward Carpenter


Edward Carpenter (29 August 1844 – 28 June 1929) was a founding member of the Fellowship of the New Life and was at the first meeting in 1883. He was also one of the founders of the Fabian Society, the Labour Party and one of the most well-known people of the century. He was an English poet, socialist philosopher, anthologist, and early gay rights activist. He was interested in the main ideas of the Fellowship, including politics, sexual radicalism and the works of Henry Havelock Ellis.[12]

Henry Havelock Ellis

Havelock Ellis was present when the Fellowship of the New life was founded in London in 1883.[13] There is no record of his contributions to discussion, although his participation in the organization increased after the formation of the Fabian Society.[citation needed]

Edith Ellis

Edith Ellis was the first woman served in secrete of the Fellowship of the New Life in 1887. She was a lecturer, writer, secretary and general factotum of Fellowship house, an experiment in communal living in which the ideals of the Fellowship of the new life were to be made manifest in Doughty.[14] Before she joined, she was active in a number of cultural and political enterprises, but it was joining the Fellowship that earned her notability.

The Fabian Society

The Fabian Society, established on 4 January 1884, was a branch of Thomas Davidson’s Fellowship of the New Life.[15] The Society was named after Fabius Cunctator, a suggestion by Frank Podmore, because of Fabius’ successful policy of gradual change that the society favored. The first meeting included well-known people in the socialist cause, including J. Hunter Watts, Percival Chubb, Frank Podmore, Edward Pease, Hubert Bland, Dr. Burns-Gibson, and Frederick Keddell,[13] and although the society was a branch of the Fellowship of the New Life, Thomas Davidson shared no sympathies with Fabianism.[15]

The Fabian Society had a more socialist movement than the Fellowship; however, it still had the individual as their base and starting point. It was geared more towards the external ideal rather than an inward one. Edward Pease said that the purpose of Fabianism was to reconstruct society to secure general welfare and happiness. Unlike the Fellowship the Fabian Society was more political and public, and their political section was influenced by Karl Marx and the Social Democratic Federation (SDF). Havelock Ellis says about the society: "an attempt to be more practical, and definitely more socialistic."[15]

The Fabian Society’s basis was to promote the transfer of land and capital to the State, equality of citizenship of men and women, and having public authority instead of private for the education and support of children.[13] The resolutions of the Society were written by Frederick Keddell, the first secretary of the Fabian Society.

Resolutions:[13]

• "Resolution I.—That the Society be called the Fabian Society (as Mr. Podmore explained in allusion to the victorious policy of Fabius Cunctator) was carried by 9 votes to 2.
• "Resolution II.—That the Society shall not at present pledge its members to any more definite basis of agreement than that contained in the resolution of 23rd November, 1883.
• "Carried unanimously.
• "Resolution III.—In place of Mr. Podmore's first proposal it was eventually decided to modify the resolution of 7th November, 1883, by inserting the words 'to help on' between the words 'shall be' and the words 'the reconstruction.'
• "Resolution IV with certain omissions was agreed to unanimously, viz.: That with the view of learning what practical measures to take in this direction the Society should:
o "(a) Hold meetings for discussion, the reading of papers, hearing of reports, etc.
o "(b) Delegate some of its members to attend meetings held on social subjects, debates at Workmen's Clubs, etc., in order that such members may in the first place report to the Society on the proceedings, and in the second place put forward, as occasion serves, the views of the Society.
o "(c) Take measures in other ways, as, for example, by the collection of articles from current literature, to obtain information on all contemporary social movements and social needs.

Impact

The Fellowship of the New Life was dissolved in 1898, but the Fabian Society grew to become a preeminent academic society in the United Kingdom. Another group organized the name of Fabian society by the center of the founder Sidney and Beatrice Webb. After that, many of Fabians participated in the formation of England's Labour Party in 1900. The party's constitution, written by Sidney Webb, borrowed heavily from the founding documents of the Fabian Society. As seen in the Labour Party Foundation Conference in 1900, the Fabian Society claimed 861 members and sent one delegate.
The Fabian society grew throughout 1930-1940 over many countries under the British rule, and many future leaders of these countries were influenced by the Fabians during their struggles for independence from the British. These leaders included India's prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru, Obafemi Awolowo, who later became the premier of Nigeria's defunct Western Region, and the founder of Pakistan, Barrister Muhammad Ali Jinnah. Lee Kuan Yew, the first prime minister of Singapore, had a political philosophy strongly influenced by the Fabian Society.[16] Even in the 21st century, the Fabian Society's influence is felt through Labour Party leaders such as former prime ministers of Great Britain, Tony Blair and Gordon Brown.

Notes

1. Good, James A. "The Development of Thomas Davidson's Religious and Social Thought".
2. George Hendrick, Henry Salt: Humanitarian Reformer and Man of Letters, University of Illinois Press, pg. 47 (1977).
3. Jeffrey Weeks, Making Sexual History, Wiley-Blackwell, pg. 20, (2000).
4. MacDonald quoted on pg. XV of Henry S. Salt's Life of Thoreau,University of Illinois Press, (2000).
5. Colin Spencer, The Heretic's Feast:A History of Vegetarianism, Fourth Estate, pg. 283 (1996).
6. Tom Steel, Elisee Reclus and Patrick Geddes: Geographies of the Mind
7. Lataner, Albert. "Introduction to Davidson's Autobiographical Sketch," Journal of the History of Ideas, Vol. 18, No. 4: (1954), 535.
8. Knight, William. Memorials of Thomas Davidson.(Boston: Ginn & Company, 1907), 16
9. Knight, William. Memorials of Thomas Davidson.(Boston: Ginn & Company, 1907), 18
10. Knight, William. Memorials of Thomas Davidson.(Boston: Ginn & Company, 1907), 19
11. Knight, William. Memorials of Thomas Davidson.(Boston: Ginn & Company, 1907), 19-20
12. Tsuzuki, Chushichi. Edward Carpenter, 1844-1929: Prophet of the Human Fellowship. New York: Cambridge Press, 1980.
13. Pease, Edward R. (1916). The History of the Fabian Society. New York: E.P. Dutton and Co.
14. Alexander, Sally. Women's Fabian Tracts, Vol. 7. New York: Routledge, 2001.
15. William A. Knight, Memorials of Thomas Davidson: The Wandering Scholar (Boston and London: Ginn and Co, 1907). p. 16, 19, 46.
16. Morris, William, and Colin Ward Anarchist Seeds Beneath the Snow. Liverpool: Liverpool University Press, 2006.

References

• Knight, William A. Memorials of Thomas Davidson: The Wandering Scholar. Boston and London: Ginn and Co, 1907.
• Pease, Edward R. The History of the Fabian Society. New York: E.P. Dutton and Co., 1916.
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Re: Freda Bedi, by Wikipedia

Postby admin » Fri Jul 05, 2019 3:23 am

Rabindranath Tagore: In Conversation with H. G. Wells
Excerpted from: A Tagore Reader, edited by Amiya Chakravarty.
January, 1961

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Tagore and H.G. Wells met in Geneva in early June, 1930. Their conversation is reported here.

TAGORE: The tendency in modern civilization is to make the world uniform. Calcutta, Bombay, Hong Kong, and other cities are more or less alike, wearing big masks which represent no country in particular.

WELLS: Yet don't you think that this very fact is an indication that we are reaching out for a new world-wide human order which refuses to be localized?

TAGORE: Our individual physiognomy need not be the same. Let the mind be universal. The individual should not be sacrificed.

WELLS: We are gradually thinking now of one human civilization on the foundation of which individualities will have great chance of fulfillment. The individual, as we take him, has suffered from the fact that civilization has been split up into separate units, instead of being merged into a universal whole, which seems to be the natural destiny of mankind.

TAGORE: I believe the unity of human civilization can be better maintained by linking up in fellowship and cooperation of the different civilizations of the world. Do you think there is a tendency to have one common language for humanity?

WELLS: One common language will probably be forced upon mankind whether we like it or not. Previously, a community of fine minds created a new dialect. Now it is necessity that will compel us to adopt a universal language.

TAGORE: I quite agree. The time for five-mile dialects is fast vanishing. Rapid communication makes for a common language. Yet, this common language would probably not exclude national languages. There is again the curious fact that just now, along with the growing unities of the human mind, the development of national self-consciousness is leading to the formation or rather the revival of national languages everywhere. Don't you think that in America, in spite of constant touch between America and England, the English language is tending toward a definite modification and change?

WELLS: I wonder if that is the case now. Forty or fifty years ago this would have been the case, but now in literature and in common speech it becomes increasingly difficult to distinguish between English and American. There seems to be much more repercussion in the other direction. Today we are elaborating and perfecting physical methods of transmitting words. Translation is a bother. Take your poems - do they not lose much by that process? If you had a method of making them intelligible to all people at the same time, it would be really wonderful.

TAGORE: Music of different nations has a common psychological foundation, and yet that does not mean that national music should not exist. The same thing is, in my opinion, probably true for literature.

WELLS: Modern music is going from one country to another without loss - from Purcell to Bach, then Brahms, then Russian music, then oriental. Music is of all things in the world most international.

TAGORE: May I add something? I have composed more than three hundred pieces of music. They are all sealed from the West because they cannot properly be given to you in your own notation. Perhaps they would not be intelligible to your people even if I could get them written down in European notation.

WELLS: The West may get used to your music.

TAGORE: Certain forms of tunes and melodies which move us profoundly seem to baffle Western listeners; yet, as you say, perhaps closer acquaintance with them may gradually lead to their appreciation in the West.

WELLS: Artistic expression in the future will probably be quite different from what it is today; the medium will be the same and comprehensible to all. Take radio, which links together the world. And we cannot prevent further invention. Perhaps in the future, when the present clamor for national languages and dialects in broadcasting subsides, and new discoveries in science are made, we shall be conversing with one another through a common medium of speech yet undreamed of.

TAGORE: We have to create the new psychology needed for this age. We have to adjust ourselves to the new necessities and conditions of civilization.

WELLS: Adjustments, terrible adjustments!

TAGORE: Do you think there are any fundamental racial difficulties?

WELLS: No. New races are appearing and reappearing, perpetual fluctuations. There have been race mixtures from the earliest times; India is the supreme example of this. In Bengal, for instance, there has been an amazing mixture of races in spite of caste and other barriers.

TAGORE: Then there is the question of racial pride. Can the West fully acknowledge the East? If mutual acceptance is not possible, then I shall be very sorry for that country which rejects another's culture. Study can bring no harm, though men like Dr. Haas and Henri Matisse seem to think that the eastern mind should not go outside eastern countries, and then everything will be all right.

WELLS: I hope you disagree. So do I!

TAGORE: It is regrettable that any race or nation should claim divine favoritism and assume inherent superiority to all others in the scheme of creation.

WELLS: The supremacy of the West is only a question of probably the past hundred years. Before the battle of Lepanto the Turks were dominating the West; the voyage of Columbus was undertaken to avoid the Turks. Elizabethan writers and even their successors were struck by the wealth and the high material standards of the East. The history of western ascendancy is very brief indeed.

TAGORE: Physical science of the nineteenth century probably has created this spirit of race superiority in the West. When the East assimilates this physical science, the tide may turn and take a normal course.

WELLS: Modern science is not exactly European. A series of accidents and peculiar circumstances prevented some of the eastern countries from applying the discoveries made by humanists in other parts of the world. They themselves had once originated and developed a great many of the sciences that were later taken up by the West and given greater perfection. Today,

Japanese, Chinese and Indian names in the world of science are gaining due recognition.

TAGORE: India has been in a bad situation.

WELLS: When Macaulay imposed a third-rate literature and a poor system of education on India, Indians naturally resented it. No human being can live on Scott's poetry. I believe that things are now changing. But, remain assured, we English were not better off. We were no less badly educated than the average Indian, probably even worse.

TAGORE: Our difficulty is that our contact with the great civilizations of the West has not been a natural one. Japan has absorbed more of the western culture because she has been free to accept or reject according to her needs.

WELLS: It is a very bad story indeed, because there have been such great opportunities for knowing each other.

TAGORE: And then, the channels of education have become dry river beds, the current of our resources having been systematically been diverted along other directions.

WELLS: I am also a member of a subject race. I am taxed enormously. I have to send my check - so much for military aviation, so much for the diplomatic machinery of the government! You see, we suffer from the same evils. In India, the tradition of officialdom is, of course, more unnatural and has been going on for a long time. The Moguls, before the English came, seem to have been as indiscriminate as our own people.

TAGORE: And yet, there is a difference! The Mogul government was not scientifically efficient and mechanical to a degree. The Moguls wanted money, and so long as they could live in luxury they did not wish to interfere with the progressive village communities in India. The Muslim emperors did not dictate terms and force the hands of Indian educators and villagers. Now, for

instance, the ancient educational systems of India are completely disorganized, and all indigenous educational effort has to depend on official recognition.

WELLS: "Recognition" by the state, and good-bye to education!

TAGORE: I have often been asked what my plans are. My reply is that I have no scheme. My country, like every other, will evolve its own constitution; it will pass through its experimental phase and settle down into something quite different from what you or I expect.
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Re: Freda Bedi, by Wikipedia

Postby admin » Fri Jul 05, 2019 3:50 am

Part 1 of 3

George Bernard Shaw
by Wikipedia
Accessed: 7/4/19

When the playwright George Bernard Shaw came to address the October Club, Sajjad Zaheer recalled, there were fears of an attempt to stop him speaking. 'So we decided to defend that meeting and among the chief defenders of the meeting was my dear friend, B.P.L. Bedi, who was at that time physically the strongest man at Oxford.' [41]

-- 2: The Gates of the World. The Lives of Freda: The Political, Spiritual and Personal Journeys of Freda Bedi -- EXCERPT, by Andrew Whitehead




Image
George Bernard Shaw
Middle-aged man with greying hair and full beard
Shaw in 1911, by Alvin Langdon Coburn
Born 26 July 1856
Portobello, Dublin, Ireland
Died 2 November 1950 (aged 94)
Ayot St Lawrence, Hertfordshire, England
Resting place Shaw's Corner, Ayot St Lawrence
Occupation Playwright, critic, polemicist, political activist
Nationality British (1856–1950)
Irish (dual nationality 1934–50)
Spouse Charlotte Payne-Townshend
(m. 1898; died 1943)
Signature

George Bernard Shaw (26 July 1856 – 2 November 1950), known at his insistence simply as Bernard Shaw, was an Irish playwright, critic, polemicist and political activist. His influence on Western theatre, culture and politics extended from the 1880s to his death and beyond. He wrote more than sixty plays, including major works such as Man and Superman (1902), Pygmalion (1912) and Saint Joan (1923). With a range incorporating both contemporary satire and historical allegory, Shaw became the leading dramatist of his generation, and in 1925 was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature.

Born in Dublin, Shaw moved to London in 1876, where he struggled to establish himself as a writer and novelist, and embarked on a rigorous process of self-education. By the mid-1880s he had become a respected theatre and music critic. Following a political awakening, he joined the gradualist Fabian Society and became its most prominent pamphleteer.

At the present time we have, instead of the Utilitarians, the Fabian Society, with its peaceful, constitutional, moral, economical policy of Socialism, which needs nothing for its bloodless and benevolent realization except that the English people shall understand it and approve of it. But why are the Fabians well spoken of in circles where thirty years ago the word Socialist was understood as equivalent to cut-throat and incendiary? Not because the English have the smallest intention of studying or adopting the Fabian policy, but because they believe that the Fabians, by eliminating the element of intimidation from the Socialist agitation, have drawn the teeth of insurgent poverty and saved the existing order from the only method of attack it really fears. Of course, if the nation adopted the Fabian policy, it would be carried out by brute force exactly as our present property system is. It would become the law; and those who resisted it would be fined, sold up, knocked on the head by policemen, thrown into prison, and in the last resort “executed” just as they are when they break the present law. But as our proprietary class has no fear of that conversion taking place, whereas it does fear sporadic cut-throats and gunpowder plots, and strives with all its might to hide the fact that there is no moral difference whatever between the methods by which it enforces its proprietary rights and the method by which the dynamitard asserts his conception of natural human rights, the Fabian Society is patted on the back just as the Christian Social Union is, whilst the Socialist who says bluntly that a Social revolution can be made only as all other revolutions have been made, by the people who want it killing, coercing, and intimidating the people who don't want it, is denounced as a misleader of the people, and imprisoned with hard labor to shew him how much sincerity there is in the objection of his captors to physical force.

-- Man and Superman: A Comedy and a Philosophy, by George Bernard Shaw


Shaw had been writing plays for years before his first public success, Arms and the Man in 1894. Influenced by Henrik Ibsen, he sought to introduce a new realism into English-language drama, using his plays as vehicles to disseminate his political, social and religious ideas. By the early twentieth century his reputation as a dramatist was secured with a series of critical and popular successes that included Major Barbara, The Doctor's Dilemma and Caesar and Cleopatra.

Shaw's expressed views were often contentious; he promoted eugenics and alphabet reform, and opposed vaccination and organised religion. He courted unpopularity by denouncing both sides in the First World War as equally culpable, and although not a republican, castigated British policy on Ireland in the postwar period. These stances had no lasting effect on his standing or productivity as a dramatist; the inter-war years saw a series of often ambitious plays, which achieved varying degrees of popular success. In 1938 he provided the screenplay for a filmed version of Pygmalion for which he received an Academy Award. His appetite for politics and controversy remained undiminished; by the late 1920s he had largely renounced Fabian Society gradualism and often wrote and spoke favourably of dictatorships of the right and left—he expressed admiration for both Mussolini and Stalin. In the final decade of his life he made fewer public statements, but continued to write prolifically until shortly before his death, aged ninety-four, having refused all state honours, including the Order of Merit in 1946.

Since Shaw's death scholarly and critical opinion about his works has varied, but he has regularly been rated among British dramatists as second only to Shakespeare; analysts recognise his extensive influence on generations of English-language playwrights. The word Shavian has entered the language as encapsulating Shaw's ideas and his means of expressing them.

Life

Early years


Image
Shaw's birthplace (2012 photograph). The plaque reads "Bernard Shaw, author of many plays, was born in this house, 26 July 1856".

Shaw was born at 3 Upper Synge Street[n 1] in Portobello, a lower-middle-class part of Dublin.[2] He was the youngest child and only son of George Carr Shaw (1814–1885) and Lucinda Elizabeth (Bessie) Shaw (née Gurly; 1830–1913). His elder siblings were Lucinda (Lucy) Frances (1853–1920) and Elinor Agnes (1855–1876). The Shaw family was of English descent and belonged to the dominant Protestant Ascendancy in Ireland;[n 2] George Carr Shaw, an ineffectual alcoholic, was among the family's less successful members.[3] His relatives secured him a sinecure in the civil service, from which he was pensioned off in the early 1850s; thereafter he worked irregularly as a corn merchant.[2] In 1852 he married Bessie Gurly; in the view of Shaw's biographer Michael Holroyd she married to escape a tyrannical great-aunt.[4] If, as Holroyd and others surmise, George's motives were mercenary, then he was disappointed, as Bessie brought him little of her family's money.[5] She came to despise her ineffectual and often drunken husband, with whom she shared what their son later described as a life of "shabby-genteel poverty".[4]

By the time of Shaw's birth, his mother had become close to George John Lee, a flamboyant figure well known in Dublin's musical circles. Shaw retained a lifelong obsession that Lee might have been his biological father;[6] there is no consensus among Shavian scholars on the likelihood of this.[7][8][9][10] The young Shaw suffered no harshness from his mother, but he later recalled that her indifference and lack of affection hurt him deeply.[11] He found solace in the music that abounded in the house. Lee was a conductor and teacher of singing; Bessie had a fine mezzo-soprano voice and was much influenced by Lee's unorthodox method of vocal production. The Shaws' house was often filled with music, with frequent gatherings of singers and players.[2]

In 1862, Lee and the Shaws agreed to share a house, No. 1 Hatch Street, in an affluent part of Dublin, and a country cottage on Dalkey Hill, overlooking Killiney Bay.[12] Shaw, a sensitive boy, found the less salubrious parts of Dublin shocking and distressing, and was happier at the cottage. Lee's students often gave him books, which the young Shaw read avidly;[13] thus, as well as gaining a thorough musical knowledge of choral and operatic works, he became familiar with a wide spectrum of literature.[14]

Between 1865 and 1871, Shaw attended four schools, all of which he hated.[15][n 3] His experiences as a schoolboy left him disillusioned with formal education: "Schools and schoolmasters", he later wrote, were "prisons and turnkeys in which children are kept to prevent them disturbing and chaperoning their parents."[16] In October 1871 he left school to become a junior clerk in a Dublin firm of land agents, where he worked hard, and quickly rose to become head cashier.[6] During this period, Shaw was known as "George Shaw"; after 1876, he dropped the "George" and styled himself "Bernard Shaw".[n 4]

In June 1873, Lee left Dublin for London and never returned. A fortnight later, Bessie followed him; the two girls joined her.[6][n 5] Shaw's explanation of why his mother followed Lee was that without the latter's financial contribution the joint household had to be broken up.[20] Left in Dublin with his father, Shaw compensated for the absence of music in the house by teaching himself to play the piano.[6]

London

Early in 1876 Shaw learned from his mother that Agnes was dying of tuberculosis. He resigned from the land agents, and in March travelled to England to join his mother and Lucy at Agnes's funeral. He never again lived in Ireland, and did not visit it for twenty-nine years.[2]

Image
Shaw in 1879

Initially, Shaw refused to seek clerical employment in London. His mother allowed him to live free of charge in her house in South Kensington, but he nevertheless needed an income. He had abandoned a teenage ambition to become a painter, and had no thought yet of writing for a living, but Lee found a little work for him, ghost-writing a musical column printed under Lee's name in a satirical weekly, The Hornet.[2] Lee's relations with Bessie deteriorated after their move to London.[n 6] Shaw maintained contact with Lee, who found him work as a rehearsal pianist and occasional singer.[21][n 7]

Eventually Shaw was driven to applying for office jobs. In the interim he secured a reader's pass for the British Museum Reading Room (the forerunner of the British Library) and spent most weekdays there, reading and writing.[25] His first attempt at drama, begun in 1878, was a blank-verse satirical piece on a religious theme. It was abandoned unfinished, as was his first try at a novel. His first completed novel, Immaturity (1879), was too grim to appeal to publishers and did not appear until the 1930s.[6] He was employed briefly by the newly formed Edison Telephone Company in 1879–80, and as in Dublin achieved rapid promotion. Nonetheless, when the Edison firm merged with the rival Bell Telephone Company, Shaw chose not to seek a place in the new organisation.[26] Thereafter he pursued a full-time career as an author.[27]

For the next four years Shaw made a negligible income from writing, and was subsidised by his mother.[28] In 1881, for the sake of economy, and increasingly as a matter of principle, he became a vegetarian.[6] He grew a beard to hide a facial scar left by smallpox.[29][n 8] In rapid succession he wrote two more novels: The Irrational Knot (1880) and Love Among the Artists (1881), but neither found a publisher; each was serialised a few years later in the socialist magazine Our Corner.[32][n 9]

In 1880 Shaw began attending meetings of the Zetetical Society, whose objective was to "search for truth in all matters affecting the interests of the human race".[35] Here he met Sidney Webb, a junior civil servant who, like Shaw, was busy educating himself. Despite difference of style and temperament, the two quickly recognised qualities in each other and developed a lifelong friendship. Shaw later reflected: "You knew everything that I didn't know and I knew everything you didn't know ... We had everything to learn from one another and brains enough to do it".[36]

Image
William Archer, colleague and benefactor of Shaw

Shaw's next attempt at drama was a one-act playlet in French, Un Petit Drame, written in 1884 but not published in his lifetime.[37] In the same year the critic William Archer suggested a collaboration, with a plot by Archer and dialogue by Shaw.[38] The project foundered, but Shaw returned to the draft as the basis of Widowers' Houses in 1892,[39] and the connection with Archer proved of immense value to Shaw's career.[40]

Political awakening: Marxism, socialism, Fabian Society

On 5 September 1882 Shaw attended a meeting at the Memorial Hall, Farringdon, addressed by the political economist Henry George.[41] Shaw then read George's book Progress and Poverty, which awakened his interest in economics.[42] He began attending meetings of the Social Democratic Federation (SDF), where he discovered the writings of Karl Marx, and thereafter spent much of 1883 reading Das Kapital. He was not impressed by the SDF's founder, H. M. Hyndman, whom he found autocratic, ill-tempered and lacking leadership qualities. Shaw doubted the ability of the SDF to harness the working classes into an effective radical movement and did not join it—he preferred, he said, to work with his intellectual equals.[43]

After reading a tract, Why Are The Many Poor?, issued by the recently formed Fabian Society,[n 10] Shaw went to the society's next advertised meeting, on 16 May 1884.[45] He became a member in September,[45] and before the year's end had provided the society with its first manifesto, published as Fabian Tract No. 2.[46] He joined the society's executive committee in January 1885, and later that year recruited Webb and also Annie Besant, a fine orator.[45]

"The most striking result of our present system of farming out the national Land and capital to private individuals has been the division of society into hostile classes, with large appetites and no dinners at one extreme, and large dinners and no appetites at the other"

-- Shaw, Fabian Tract No. 2: A Manifesto (1884).[47]


From 1885 to 1889 Shaw attended the fortnightly meetings of the British Economic Association; it was, Holroyd observes, "the closest Shaw had ever come to university education." This experience changed his political ideas; he moved away from Marxism and became an apostle of gradualism.[48] When in 1886–87 the Fabians debated whether to embrace anarchism, as advocated by Charlotte Wilson, Besant and others, Shaw joined the majority in rejecting this approach.[48] After a rally in Trafalgar Square addressed by Besant was violently broken up by the authorities on 13 November 1887 ("Bloody Sunday"), Shaw became convinced of the folly of attempting to challenge police power.[49] Thereafter he largely accepted the principle of "permeation" as advocated by Webb: the notion whereby socialism could best be achieved by infiltration of people and ideas into existing political parties.[50]

Throughout the 1880s the Fabian Society remained small, its message of moderation frequently unheard among more strident voices.[51] Its profile was raised in 1889 with the publication of Fabian Essays in Socialism, edited by Shaw who also provided two of the essays. The second of these, "Transition", details the case for gradualism and permeation, asserting that "the necessity for cautious and gradual change must be obvious to everyone".[52] In 1890 Shaw produced Tract No. 13, What Socialism Is,[46] a revision of an earlier tract in which Charlotte Wilson had defined socialism in anarchistic terms.[53] In Shaw's new version, readers were assured that "socialism can be brought about in a perfectly constitutional manner by democratic institutions".[54]

Novelist and critic

The mid-1880s marked a turning point in Shaw's life, both personally and professionally: he lost his virginity, had two novels published, and began a career as a critic.[55] He had been celibate until his twenty-ninth birthday, when his shyness was overcome by Jane (Jenny) Patterson, a widow some years his senior.[56] Their affair continued, not always smoothly, for eight years. Shaw's sex life has caused much speculation and debate among his biographers, but there is a consensus that the relationship with Patterson was one of his few non-platonic romantic liaisons.[n 11]

The published novels, neither commercially successful, were his two final efforts in this genre: Cashel Byron's Profession written in 1882–83, and An Unsocial Socialist, begun and finished in 1883. The latter was published as a serial in ToDay magazine in 1884, although it did not appear in book form until 1887. Cashel Byron appeared in magazine and book form in 1886.[6]

Image
William Morris, important influence on Shaw's aesthetic views

Image
John Ruskin, important influence on Shaw's aesthetic views

In 1884 and 1885, through the influence of Archer, Shaw was engaged to write book and music criticism for London papers. When Archer resigned as art critic of The World in 1886 he secured the succession for Shaw.[61] The two figures in the contemporary art world whose views Shaw most admired were William Morris and John Ruskin, and he sought to follow their precepts in his criticisms.[61] Their emphasis on morality appealed to Shaw, who rejected the idea of art for art's sake, and insisted that all great art must be didactic.[62]

Of Shaw's various reviewing activities in the 1880s and 1890s it was as a music critic that he was best known.[63] After serving as deputy in 1888, he became musical critic of The Star in February 1889, writing under the pen-name Corno di Bassetto.[64][n 12] In May 1890 he moved back to The World, where he wrote a weekly column as "G.B.S." for more than four years. In the 2016 version of the Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians, Robert Anderson writes, "Shaw's collected writings on music stand alone in their mastery of English and compulsive readability."[66] Shaw ceased to be a salaried music critic in August 1894, but published occasional articles on the subject throughout his career, his last in 1950.[67]

From 1895 to 1898, Shaw was the theatre critic for The Saturday Review, edited by his friend Frank Harris. As at The World, he used the by-line "G.B.S." He campaigned against the artificial conventions and hypocrisies of the Victorian theatre and called for plays of real ideas and true characters. By this time he had embarked in earnest on a career as a playwright: "I had rashly taken up the case; and rather than let it collapse I manufactured the evidence".[6]

Playwright and politician: 1890s

After using the plot of the aborted 1884 collaboration with Archer to complete Widowers' Houses (it was staged twice in London, in December 1892), Shaw continued writing plays. At first he made slow progress; The Philanderer, written in 1893 but not published until 1898, had to wait until 1905 for a stage production. Similarly, Mrs Warren's Profession (1893) was written five years before publication and nine years before reaching the stage.[n 13]

Image
Shaw in 1894 at the time of Arms and the Man

Shaw's first play to bring him financial success was Arms and the Man (1894), a mock-Ruritanian comedy satirising conventions of love, military honour and class.[6] The press found the play overlong, and accused Shaw of mediocrity,[69] sneering at heroism and patriotism,[70] heartless cleverness,[71] and copying W. S. Gilbert's style.[69][n 14] The public took a different view, and the management of the theatre staged extra matinée performances to meet the demand.[73] The play ran from April to July, toured the provinces and was staged in New York.[72] It earned him £341 in royalties in its first year, a sufficient sum to enable him to give up his salaried post as a music critic.[74] Among the cast of the London production was Florence Farr, with whom Shaw had a romantic relationship between 1890 and 1894, much resented by Jenny Patterson.[75]

The Fabians were a group of socialists whose strategy differed from that of Karl Marx in that they sought world domination through what they called the “doctrine of inevitability of gradualism.” This meant their goals would be achieved “without breach of continuity or abrupt change of the entire social issue,” by infiltrating educational institutions, government agencies, and political parties. Prominent Fabian and writer, George Bernard Shaw, revealed that their goal was to be achieved by “stealth, intrigue, subversion, and the deception of never calling socialism by its right name.” [1]

George Bernard Shaw’s mistress, Florence Farr, was a witch in the Order of the Golden Dawn, and the Fabian society was also an integral partner with the Golden Dawn, itself basically an extension of the Theosophical society. [2] When Blavatsky passed away in 1891, leadership of the worldwide theosophical movement passed to Annie Besant. Through her membership in the Fabian socialists, she became close friends with its leading members, which included men like H.G. Wells, Aldous and Julian Huxley, and Bertrand Russell.

-- Terrorism and the Illuminati: A Three Thousand Year History, by David Livingston


The success of Arms and the Man was not immediately replicated. Candida, which presented a young woman making a conventional romantic choice for unconventional reasons, received a single performance in South Shields in 1895;[76] in 1897 a playlet about Napoleon called The Man of Destiny had a single staging at Croydon.[77] In the 1890s Shaw's plays were better known in print than on the West End stage; his biggest success of the decade was in New York in 1897, when Richard Mansfield's production of the historical melodrama The Devil's Disciple earned the author more than £2,000 in royalties.[2]

In January 1893, as a Fabian delegate, Shaw attended the Bradford conference which led to the foundation of the Independent Labour Party.[78] He was sceptical about the new party,[79] and scorned the likelihood that it could switch the allegiance of the working class from sport to politics.[80] He persuaded the conference to adopt resolutions abolishing indirect taxation, and taxing unearned income "to extinction".[81] Back in London, Shaw produced what Margaret Cole, in her Fabian history, terms a "grand philippic" against the minority Liberal administration that had taken power in 1892. To Your Tents, O Israel excoriated the government for ignoring social issues and concentrating solely on Irish Home Rule, a matter Shaw declared of no relevance to socialism.[80][82][n 15] In 1894 the Fabian Society received a substantial bequest from a sympathiser, Henry Hunt Hutchinson—Holroyd mentions £10,000. Webb, who chaired the board of trustees appointed to supervise the legacy, proposed to use most of it to found a school of economics and politics. Shaw demurred; he thought such a venture was contrary to the specified purpose of the legacy. He was eventually persuaded to support the proposal, and the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE) opened in the summer of 1895.[83]

By the later 1890s Shaw's political activities lessened as he concentrated on making his name as a dramatist.[84] In 1897 he was persuaded to fill an uncontested vacancy for a "vestryman" (parish councillor) in London's St Pancras district. At least initially, Shaw took to his municipal responsibilities seriously;[n 16] when London government was reformed in 1899 and the St Pancras vestry became the Metropolitan Borough of St Pancras, he was elected to the newly formed borough council.[86]

In 1898, as a result of overwork, Shaw's health broke down. He was nursed by Charlotte Payne-Townshend, a rich Anglo-Irish woman whom he had met through the Webbs. The previous year she had proposed that she and Shaw should marry.[87] He had declined, but when she insisted on nursing him in a house in the country, Shaw, concerned that this might cause scandal, agreed to their marriage.[2] The ceremony took place on 1 June 1898, in the register office in Covent Garden.[88] The bride and bridegroom were both aged forty-one. In the view of the biographer and critic St John Ervine, "their life together was entirely felicitous".[2] There were no children of the marriage, which it is generally believed was never consummated; whether this was wholly at Charlotte's wish, as Shaw liked to suggest, is less widely credited.[89][90][91][92][93] In the early weeks of the marriage Shaw was much occupied writing his Marxist analysis of Wagner's Ring cycle, published as The Perfect Wagnerite late in 1898.[94] In 1906 the Shaws found a country home in Ayot St Lawrence, Hertfordshire; they renamed the house "Shaw's Corner", and lived there for the rest of their lives. They retained a London flat in the Adelphi and later at Whitehall Court.[95]

Stage success: 1900–1914

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Stage photograph showing actor as Julius Caesar and actress as Cleopatra in Egyptian setting
Gertrude Elliott and Johnston Forbes-Robertson in Caesar and Cleopatra, New York, 1906


During the first decade of the twentieth century, Shaw secured a firm reputation as a playwright. In 1904 J. E. Vedrenne and Harley Granville-Barker established a company at the Royal Court Theatre in Sloane Square, Chelsea to present modern drama. Over the next five years they staged fourteen of Shaw's plays.[96][n 17] The first, John Bull's Other Island, a comedy about an Englishman in Ireland, attracted leading politicians and was seen by Edward VII, who laughed so much that he broke his chair.[97] The play was withheld from Dublin's Abbey Theatre, for fear of the affront it might provoke,[6] although it was shown at the city's Royal Theatre in November 1907.[98] Shaw later wrote that William Butler Yeats, who had requested the play, "got rather more than he bargained for ... It was uncongenial to the whole spirit of the neo-Gaelic movement, which is bent on creating a new Ireland after its own ideal, whereas my play is a very uncompromising presentment of the real old Ireland."[99][n 18] Nonetheless, Shaw and Yeats were close friends; Yeats and Lady Gregory tried unsuccessfully to persuade Shaw to take up the vacant co-directorship of the Abbey Theatre after J. M. Synge's death in 1909.[102] Shaw admired other figures in the Irish Literary Revival, including George Russell[103] and James Joyce,[104] and was a close friend of Seán O'Casey, who was inspired to become a playwright after reading John Bull's Other Island.[105]

Man and Superman, completed in 1902, was a success both at the Royal Court in 1905 and in Robert Loraine's New York production in the same year. Among the other Shaw works presented by Vedrenne and Granville-Barker were Major Barbara (1905), depicting the contrasting morality of arms manufacturers and the Salvation Army;[106] The Doctor's Dilemma (1906), a mostly serious piece about professional ethics;[107] and Caesar and Cleopatra, Shaw's counterblast to Shakespeare's Antony and Cleopatra, seen in New York in 1906 and in London the following year.[108]

Now prosperous and established, Shaw experimented with unorthodox theatrical forms described by his biographer Stanley Weintraub as "discussion drama" and "serious farce".[6] These plays included Getting Married (premiered 1908), The Shewing-Up of Blanco Posnet (1909), Misalliance (1910), and Fanny's First Play (1911). Blanco Posnet was banned on religious grounds by the Lord Chamberlain (the official theatre censor in England), and was produced instead in Dublin; it filled the Abbey Theatre to capacity.[109] Fanny's First Play, a comedy about suffragettes, had the longest initial run of any Shaw play—622 performances.[110]

Androcles and the Lion (1912), a less heretical study of true and false religious attitudes than Blanco Posnet, ran for eight weeks in September and October 1913.[111] It was followed by one of Shaw's most successful plays, Pygmalion, written in 1912 and staged in Vienna the following year, and in Berlin shortly afterwards.[112] Shaw commented, "It is the custom of the English press when a play of mine is produced, to inform the world that it is not a play—that it is dull, blasphemous, unpopular, and financially unsuccessful. ... Hence arose an urgent demand on the part of the managers of Vienna and Berlin that I should have my plays performed by them first."[113] The British production opened in April 1914, starring Sir Herbert Tree and Mrs Patrick Campbell as, respectively, a professor of phonetics and a cockney flower-girl. There had earlier been a romantic liaison between Shaw and Campbell that caused Charlotte Shaw considerable concern, but by the time of the London premiere it had ended.[114] The play attracted capacity audiences until July, when Tree insisted on going on holiday, and the production closed. His co-star then toured with the piece in the US.[115][116][n 19]

Fabian years: 1900–1913

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Shaw in 1914, aged 57

In 1899, when the Boer War began, Shaw wished the Fabians to take a neutral stance on what he deemed, like Home Rule, to be a "non-Socialist" issue. Others, including the future Labour prime minister Ramsay MacDonald, wanted unequivocal opposition, and resigned from the society when it followed Shaw.[118] In the Fabians' war manifesto, Fabianism and the Empire (1900), Shaw declared that "until the Federation of the World becomes an accomplished fact we must accept the most responsible Imperial federations available as a substitute for it".[119]

As the new century began, Shaw became increasingly disillusioned by the limited impact of the Fabians on national politics.[120] Thus, although a nominated Fabian delegate, he did not attend the London conference at the Memorial Hall, Farringdon Street in February 1900, that created the Labour Representation Committee—precursor of the modern Labour Party.[121] By 1903, when his term as borough councillor expired, he had lost his earlier enthusiasm, writing: "After six years of Borough Councilling I am convinced that the borough councils should be abolished".[122] Nevertheless, in 1904 he stood in the London County Council elections. After an eccentric campaign, which Holroyd characterises as "[making] absolutely certain of not getting in", he was duly defeated. It was Shaw's final foray into electoral politics.[122] Nationally, the 1906 general election produced a huge Liberal majority and an intake of 29 Labour members. Shaw viewed this outcome with scepticism; he had a low opinion of the new prime minister, Sir Henry Campbell-Bannerman, and saw the Labour members as inconsequential: "I apologise to the Universe for my connection with such a body".[123]

In the years after the 1906 election, Shaw felt that the Fabians needed fresh leadership, and saw this in the form of his fellow-writer H. G. Wells, who had joined the society in February 1903.[124] Wells's ideas for reform—particularly his proposals for closer cooperation with the Independent Labour Party—placed him at odds with the society's "Old Gang", led by Shaw.[125] According to Cole, Wells "had minimal capacity for putting [his ideas] across in public meetings against Shaw's trained and practised virtuosity".[126] In Shaw's view, "the Old Gang did not extinguish Mr Wells, he annihilated himself".[126] Wells resigned from the society in September 1908;[127] Shaw remained a member, but left the executive in April 1911. He later wondered whether the Old Gang should have given way to Wells some years earlier: "God only knows whether the Society had not better have done it".[128][129] Although less active—he blamed his advancing years—Shaw remained a Fabian.[130]

In 1912 Shaw invested £1,000 for a one-fifth share in the Webbs' new publishing venture, a socialist weekly magazine called The New Statesman, which appeared in April 1913. He became a founding director, publicist, and in due course a contributor, mostly anonymously.[131] He was soon at odds with the magazine's editor, Clifford Sharp, who by 1916 was rejecting his contributions—"the only paper in the world that refuses to print anything by me", according to Shaw.[132]

First World War

"I see the Junkers and Militarists of England and Germany jumping at the chance they have longed for in vain for many years of smashing one another and establishing their own oligarchy as the dominant military power of the world."

-- Shaw: Common Sense About the War (1914).[133]


After the First World War began in August 1914, Shaw produced his tract Common Sense About the War, which argued that the warring nations were equally culpable.[6] Such a view was anathema in an atmosphere of fervent patriotism, and offended many of Shaw's friends; Ervine records that "[h]is appearance at any public function caused the instant departure of many of those present."[134]

Despite his errant reputation, Shaw's propagandist skills were recognised by the British authorities, and early in 1917 he was invited by Field Marshal Haig to visit the Western Front battlefields. Shaw's 10,000-word report, which emphasised the human aspects of the soldier's life, was well received, and he became less of a lone voice. In April 1917 he joined the national consensus in welcoming America's entry into the war: "a first class moral asset to the common cause against junkerism".[135]

Three short plays by Shaw were premiered during the war. The Inca of Perusalem, written in 1915, encountered problems with the censor for burlesquing not only the enemy but the British military command; it was performed in 1916 at the Birmingham Repertory Theatre.[136] O'Flaherty V.C., satirising the government's attitude to Irish recruits, was banned in the UK and was presented at a Royal Flying Corps base in Belgium in 1917. Augustus Does His Bit, a genial farce, was granted a licence; it opened at the Royal Court in January 1917.[137]

Ireland

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Dublin city centre in ruins after the Easter Rising, April 1916

Shaw had long supported the principle of Irish Home Rule within the British Empire (which he thought should become the British Commonwealth).[138] In April 1916 he wrote scathingly in The New York Times about militant Irish nationalism: "In point of learning nothing and forgetting nothing these fellow-patriots of mine leave the Bourbons nowhere."[139] Total independence, he asserted, was impractical; alliance with a bigger power (preferably England) was essential.[139] The Dublin Easter Rising later that month took him by surprise. After its suppression by British forces, he expressed horror at the summary execution of the rebel leaders, but continued to believe in some form of Anglo-Irish union. In How to Settle the Irish Question (1917), he envisaged a federal arrangement, with national and imperial parliaments. Holroyd records that by this time the separatist party Sinn Féin was in the ascendency, and Shaw's and other moderate schemes were forgotten.[140]

In the postwar period, Shaw despaired of the British government's coercive policies towards Ireland,[141] and joined his fellow-writers Hilaire Belloc and G. K. Chesterton in publicly condemning these actions.[142] The Anglo-Irish Treaty of December 1921 led to the partition of Ireland between north and south, a provision that dismayed Shaw.[141] In 1922 civil war broke out in the south between its pro-treaty and anti-treaty factions, the former of whom had established the Irish Free State.[143] Shaw visited Dublin in August, and met Michael Collins, then head of the Free State's Provisional Government.[144] Shaw was much impressed by Collins, and was saddened when, three days later, the Irish leader was ambushed and killed by anti-treaty forces.[145] In a letter to Collins's sister, Shaw wrote: "I met Michael for the first and last time on Saturday last, and am very glad I did. I rejoice in his memory, and will not be so disloyal to it as to snivel over his valiant death".[146] Shaw remained a British subject all his life, but took dual British-Irish nationality in 1934.[147]

1920s

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The rotating hut in the garden of Shaw's Corner, Ayot St Lawrence, where Shaw wrote most of his works after 1906

Shaw's first major work to appear after the war was Heartbreak House, written in 1916–17 and performed in 1920. It was produced on Broadway in November, and was coolly received; according to The Times: "Mr Shaw on this occasion has more than usual to say and takes twice as long as usual to say it".[148] After the London premiere in October 1921 The Times concurred with the American critics: "As usual with Mr Shaw, the play is about an hour too long", although containing "much entertainment and some profitable reflection".[149] Ervine in The Observer thought the play brilliant but ponderously acted, except for Edith Evans as Lady Utterword.[150]

Shaw's largest-scale theatrical work was Back to Methuselah, written in 1918–20 and staged in 1922. Weintraub describes it as "Shaw's attempt to fend off 'the bottomless pit of an utterly discouraging pessimism'".[6] This cycle of five interrelated plays depicts evolution, and the effects of longevity, from the Garden of Eden to the year 31,920 AD.[151] Critics found the five plays strikingly uneven in quality and invention.[152][153][154] The original run was brief, and the work has been revived infrequently.[155][156] Shaw felt he had exhausted his remaining creative powers in the huge span of this "Metabiological Pentateuch". He was now sixty-seven, and expected to write no more plays.[6]

This mood was short-lived. In 1920 Joan of Arc was proclaimed a saint by Pope Benedict XV; Shaw had long found Joan an interesting historical character, and his view of her veered between "half-witted genius" and someone of "exceptional sanity".[157] He had considered writing a play about her in 1913, and the canonisation prompted him to return to the subject.[6] He wrote Saint Joan in the middle months of 1923, and the play was premiered on Broadway in December. It was enthusiastically received there,[158] and at its London premiere the following March.[159] In Weintraub's phrase, "even the Nobel prize committee could no longer ignore Shaw after Saint Joan". The citation for the literature prize for 1925 praised his work as "... marked by both idealism and humanity, its stimulating satire often being infused with a singular poetic beauty".[160] He accepted the award, but rejected the monetary prize that went with it, on the grounds that "My readers and my audiences provide me with more than sufficient money for my needs".[161][n 20]

After Saint Joan, it was five years before Shaw wrote a play. From 1924, he spent four years writing what he described as his "magnum opus", a political treatise entitled The Intelligent Woman's Guide to Socialism and Capitalism.[163] The book was published in 1928 and sold well.[2][n 21] At the end of the decade Shaw produced his final Fabian tract, a commentary on the League of Nations. He described the League as "a school for the new international statesmanship as against the old Foreign Office diplomacy", but thought that it had not yet become the "Federation of the World".[165]

Shaw returned to the theatre with what he called "a political extravaganza", The Apple Cart, written in late 1928. It was, in Ervine's view, unexpectedly popular, taking a conservative, monarchist, anti-democratic line that appealed to contemporary audiences. The premiere was in Warsaw in June 1928, and the first British production was two months later, at Sir Barry Jackson's inaugural Malvern Festival.[2] The other eminent creative artist most closely associated with the festival was Sir Edward Elgar, with whom Shaw enjoyed a deep friendship and mutual regard.[166] He described The Apple Cart to Elgar as "a scandalous Aristophanic burlesque of democratic politics, with a brief but shocking sex interlude".[167]

During the 1920s Shaw began to lose faith in the idea that society could be changed through Fabian gradualism, and became increasingly fascinated with dictatorial methods. In 1922 he had welcomed Mussolini's accession to power in Italy, observing that amid the "indiscipline and muddle and Parliamentary deadlock", Mussolini was "the right kind of tyrant".[168] Shaw was prepared to tolerate certain dictatorial excesses; Weintraub in his ODNB biographical sketch comments that Shaw's "flirtation with authoritarian inter-war regimes" took a long time to fade, and Beatrice Webb thought he was "obsessed" about Mussolini.[169]

1930s

"We the undersigned are recent visitors to the USSR ... We desire to record that we saw nowhere evidence of economic slavery, privation, unemployment and cynical despair of betterment. ... Everywhere we saw [a] hopeful and enthusiastic working-class ... setting an example of industry and conduct which would greatly enrich us if our systems supplied our workers with any incentive to follow it."

-- Letter to The Manchester Guardian, 2 March 1933, signed by Shaw and 20 others.[170]


Shaw's enthusiasm for the Soviet Union dated to the early 1920s when he had hailed Lenin as "the one really interesting statesman in Europe".[171] Having turned down several chances to visit, in 1931 he joined a party led by Nancy Astor.[172] The carefully managed trip culminated in a lengthy meeting with Stalin, whom Shaw later described as "a Georgian gentleman" with no malice in him.[173] At a dinner given in his honour, Shaw told the gathering: "I have seen all the 'terrors' and I was terribly pleased by them".[174] In March 1933 Shaw was a co-signatory to a letter in The Manchester Guardian protesting at the continuing misrepresentation of Soviet achievements: "No lie is too fantastic, no slander is too stale ... for employment by the more reckless elements of the British press."[170]

Shaw's admiration for Mussolini and Stalin demonstrated his growing belief that dictatorship was the only viable political arrangement. When the Nazi Party came to power in Germany in January 1933, Shaw described Hitler as "a very remarkable man, a very able man",[175] and professed himself proud to be the only writer in England who was "scrupulously polite and just to Hitler".[176][n 22] His principal admiration was for Stalin, whose regime he championed uncritically throughout the decade.[174] Shaw saw the 1939 Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact as a triumph for Stalin who, he said, now had Hitler under his thumb.[179]

Shaw's first play of the decade was Too True to be Good, written in 1931 and premiered in Boston in February 1932. The reception was unenthusiastic. Brooks Atkinson of The New York Times commenting that Shaw had "yielded to the impulse to write without having a subject", judged the play a "rambling and indifferently tedious conversation". The correspondent of The New York Herald Tribune said that most of the play was "discourse, unbelievably long lectures" and that although the audience enjoyed the play it was bewildered by it.[180]

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Shaw in 1936, aged 80

During the decade Shaw travelled widely and frequently. Most of his journeys were with Charlotte; she enjoyed voyages on ocean liners, and he found peace to write during the long spells at sea.[181] Shaw met an enthusiastic welcome in South Africa in 1932, despite his strong remarks about the racial divisions of the country.[182] In December 1932 the couple embarked on a round-the-world cruise. In March 1933 they arrived at San Francisco, to begin Shaw's first visit to the US. He had earlier refused to go to "that awful country, that uncivilized place", "unfit to govern itself ... illiberal, superstitious, crude, violent, anarchic and arbitrary".[181] He visited Hollywood, with which he was unimpressed, and New York, where he lectured to a capacity audience in the Metropolitan Opera House.[183] Harried by the intrusive attentions of the press, Shaw was glad when his ship sailed from New York harbour.[184] New Zealand, which he and Charlotte visited the following year, struck him as "the best country I've been in"; he urged its people to be more confident and loosen their dependence on trade with Britain.[185] He used the weeks at sea to complete two plays—The Simpleton of the Unexpected Isles and The Six of Calais—and begin work on a third, The Millionairess.[186]

Despite his contempt for Hollywood and its aesthetic values, Shaw was enthusiastic about cinema, and in the middle of the decade wrote screenplays for prospective film versions of Pygmalion and Saint Joan.[187][188] The latter was never made, but Shaw entrusted the rights to the former to the unknown Gabriel Pascal, who produced it at Pinewood Studios in 1938. Shaw was determined that Hollywood should have nothing to do with the film, but was powerless to prevent it from winning one Academy Award ("Oscar"); he described his award for "best-written screenplay" as an insult, coming from such a source.[189][n 23] He became the first person to have been awarded both a Nobel Prize and an Oscar.[192] In a 1993 study of the Oscars, Anthony Holden observes that Pygmalion was soon spoken of as having "lifted movie-making from illiteracy to literacy".[193]

Shaw's final plays of the 1930s were Cymbeline Refinished (1936), Geneva (1936) and In Good King Charles's Golden Days (1939). The first, a fantasy reworking of Shakespeare, made little impression, but the second, a satire on European dictators, attracted more notice, much of it unfavourable.[194] In particular, Shaw's parody of Hitler as "Herr Battler" was considered mild, almost sympathetic.[177][179] The third play, an historical conversation piece first seen at Malvern, ran briefly in London in May 1940.[195] James Agate commented that the play contained nothing to which even the most conservative audiences could take exception, and though it was long and lacking in dramatic action only "witless and idle" theatregoers would object.[195] After their first runs none of the three plays were seen again in the West End during Shaw's lifetime.[196]

Towards the end of the decade, both Shaws began to suffer ill health. Charlotte was increasingly incapacitated by Paget's disease of bone, and he developed pernicious anaemia. His treatment, involving injections of concentrated animal liver, was successful, but this breach of his vegetarian creed distressed him and brought down condemnation from militant vegetarians.[197]

Second World War and final years

Although Shaw's works since The Apple Cart had been received without great enthusiasm, his earlier plays were revived in the West End throughout the Second World War, starring such actors as Edith Evans, John Gielgud, Deborah Kerr and Robert Donat.[198] In 1944 nine Shaw plays were staged in London, including Arms and the Man with Ralph Richardson, Laurence Olivier, Sybil Thorndike and Margaret Leighton in the leading roles. Two touring companies took his plays all round Britain.[199] The revival in his popularity did not tempt Shaw to write a new play, and he concentrated on prolific journalism.[200] A second Shaw film produced by Pascal, Major Barbara (1941), was less successful both artistically and commercially than Pygmalion, partly because of Pascal's insistence on directing, to which he was unsuited.[201]

"The rest of Shaw's life was quiet and solitary. The loss of his wife was more profoundly felt than he had ever imagined any loss could be: for he prided himself on a stoical fortitude in all loss and misfortune."

-- St John Ervine on Shaw, 1959[2]


Following the outbreak of war on 3 September 1939 and the rapid conquest of Poland, Shaw was accused of defeatism when, in a New Statesman article, he declared the war over and demanded a peace conference.[202] Nevertheless, when he became convinced that a negotiated peace was impossible, he publicly urged the neutral United States to join the fight.[201] The London blitz of 1940–41 led the Shaws, both in their mid-eighties, to live full-time at Ayot St Lawrence. Even there they were not immune from enemy air raids, and stayed on occasion with Nancy Astor at her country house, Cliveden.[203] In 1943, the worst of the London bombing over, the Shaws moved back to Whitehall Court, where medical help for Charlotte was more easily arranged. Her condition deteriorated, and she died in September.[203]

Shaw's final political treatise, Everybody's Political What's What, was published in 1944. Holroyd describes this as "a rambling narrative ... that repeats ideas he had given better elsewhere and then repeats itself".[204] The book sold well—85,000 copies by the end of the year.[204] After Hitler's suicide in May 1945, Shaw approved of the formal condolences offered by the Irish Taoiseach, Éamon de Valera, at the German embassy in Dublin.[205] Shaw disapproved of the postwar trials of the defeated German leaders, as an act of self-righteousness: "We are all potential criminals".[206]

Pascal was given a third opportunity to film Shaw's work with Caesar and Cleopatra (1945). It cost three times its original budget and was rated "the biggest financial failure in the history of British cinema".[207] The film was poorly received by British critics, although American reviews were friendlier. Shaw thought its lavishness nullified the drama, and he considered the film "a poor imitation of Cecil B. de Mille".[208]

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Garden of Shaw's Corner

In 1946, the year of Shaw's ninetieth birthday, he accepted the freedom of Dublin and became the first honorary freeman of the borough of St Pancras, London.[2] In the same year the government asked Shaw informally whether he would accept the Order of Merit. He declined, believing that an author's merit could only be determined by the posthumous verdict of history.[209][n 24] 1946 saw the publication, as The Crime of Imprisonment, of the preface Shaw had written 20 years previously to a study of prison conditions. It was widely praised; a reviewer in the American Journal of Public Health considered it essential reading for any student of the American criminal justice system.[210]

Shaw continued to write into his nineties. His last plays were Buoyant Billions (1947), his final full-length work; Farfetched Fables (1948) a set of six short plays revisiting several of his earlier themes such as evolution; a comic play for puppets, Shakes versus Shav (1949), a ten-minute piece in which Shakespeare and Shaw trade insults;[211] and Why She Would Not (1950), which Shaw described as "a little comedy", written in one week shortly before his ninety-fourth birthday.[212]

During his later years, Shaw enjoyed tending the gardens at Shaw's Corner. He died at the age of ninety-four of renal failure precipitated by injuries incurred when falling while pruning a tree.[212] He was cremated at Golders Green Crematorium on 6 November 1950. His ashes, mixed with those of Charlotte, were scattered along footpaths and around the statue of Saint Joan in their garden.[213][214]
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