Harvest of Despair



b. 26 July 1856, Dublin, Ireland, d. 2 November 1950, Hertfordshire, England.

Shaw was a world-renowned playwright, novelist, literary critic, and political activist. He is the only person ever to have won both a Nobel Prize and an Academy Award. Shaw became an ardent socialist in the late 19th century because of what he saw as the decay of the democratic system and its exploitation of the working class.

Shaw visited the USSR in the early 1930s, and after meeting Stalin, became an ardent supporter of the Stalinist USSR. He wrote an open letter to the Manchester Guardian in 1933 in which he denounced reports of the Famine as slanderous, and condemned accounts of the exploitation of workers. In the letter, he wrote  about his recent trip to the USSR: “Particularly offensive and ridiculous is the revival of the old attempts to represent the condition of Russian workers as one of slavery and starvation… Everywhere we saw a hopeful and enthusiastic working-class.”

Shaw also attempted, in his play On the Rocks (1933), to justify the campaign of terror carried out by the OGPU. There is no evidence that Shaw was in the pay of the USSR – it seems, rather, that he was an exceptionally naïve and myopic person who, because of his position of respect and authority, did much to ensure that the real truth about the Stalinist system was repressed and that Stalinist lies spread throughout the free world.