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Revolutionist's Handbook and Pocket Companion »


By Bernard Shaw

English essays

Revolutionist’s Handbook and Pocket Companion

by

Bernard Shaw

(1856—1950)

Writing as: JOHN TANNER, M.I.R.C. (Member of the Idle Rich Class).

PREFACE TO THE REVOLUTIONIST’S HANDBOOK

“No one can contemplate the present condition of the masses of the

people without desiring something like a revolution for the better.

Sir Robert Giffen. Essays in Finance, vol. ii. p. 393.

FOREWORD

A revolutionist is one who desires to discard the existing social order

and try another.

The constitution of England is revolutionary. To a Russian or

Anglo—Indian bureaucrat, a general election is as much a revolution as a

referendum or plebiscite in which the people fight instead of voting.

The French Revolution overthrew one set of rulers and substituted

another with different interests and different views. That is what a

general election enables the people to do in England every seven years

if they choose. Revolution is therefore a national institution in

England; and its advocacy by an Englishman needs no apology.

Every man is a revolutionist concerning the thing he understands. For

example, every person who has mastered a profession is a sceptic

concerning it, and consequently a revolutionist.

Every genuine religious person is a heretic and therefore a

revolutionist.

All who achieve real distinction in life begin as revolutionists. The

most distinguished persons become more revolutionary as they grow older,

though they are commonly supposed to become more conservative owing to

their loss of faith in conventional methods of reform.

Any person under the age of thirty, who, having any knowledge of the

existing social order, is not a revolutionist, is an inferior.

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