Utopia and endless war: Bernard Shaw's Major Barbara

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Bernard Shaw's Major Barbara (1905) revives the premodern notion of utopia and in doing so bears a more complex relation to modernism and capitalist culture than previously acknowledged. In keeping with his lifelong commitment to a radical reorganization of urban society, Shaw uses the cooperative form of urban polity that is Perivale St. Andrews to challenge the claim that unfettered markets go hand in hand with urban democracy; rather, Undershaft's fundamentalist brand of "disaster" capitalism engenders a brutal form of coercion masquerading as a better, more rational model of urban existence predicated on a state of endless war.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)158-182
Number of pages25
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2019


  • Bernard Shaw
  • Capitalism
  • Major Barbara
  • Utopia
  • War


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