George Bernard Shaw quotes on class and society

George Bernard Shaw hated the injustice of the class structure in society. He spent much of his life working to gain equality for all people. Many of his greatest quotes were born out of his passion to bring a better quality of working and living conditions to the masses. Here are some of the best:
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GB Shaw The difference between a lady and a flower girl is not how she behaves but how she’s treated.

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We are ashamed of everything that is real about us; ashamed of ourselves, of our relatives, of our incomes, of our accents, of our opinions, of our experience, just as we are ashamed of our naked skins.

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Marriage is good enough for the lower classes: they have facilities for desertion that are denied to us.

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I have to live for others and not for myself: that’s middle-class morality.

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GB Shaw "I am of the opinion that my life belongs to the whole community and as I live it is my privelege to do for it whatever I can." Image copyright Ireland Calling

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I like a bit of mongrel myself, whether it’s a man or a dog.

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A man of great common sense and good taste – meaning thereby a man without originality or moral courage.

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Men have to do some awfully mean things to keep up their respectability.

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The ordinary man is an anarchist. He wants to do as he likes. He may want his neighbour to be governed, but he himself doesn’t want to be governed. He is mortally afraid of government officials and policemen.

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gb sHAW Property is organized robbery

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We must reform society before we can reform ourselves.

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Independence? That’s middle class blasphemy. We are all dependent on one another, every soul of us on earth.

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Custom will reconcile people to any atrocity, and fashion will drive them to acquire any custom.

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GB Shaw Perhaps the greatest Image Ireland Calling

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But to admire a strong person and to live under that strong person’s thumb are two different things.

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The more I see of the moneyed classes, the more I understand the guillotine.

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In an ugly and unhappy world the richest man can purchase nothing but ugliness and unhappiness.

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The man with a toothache thinks everyone happy whose teeth are sound. The poverty-stricken man makes the same mistake about the rich man.

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We’re human beings we are – all of us – and that’s what people are liable to forget. Human beings don’t like peace and goodwill and everybody loving everybody else. However much they may think they do, they don’t really because they’re not made like that. Human beings love eating and drinking and loving and hating. They also like showing off, grabbing all they can, fighting for their rights and bossing anybody who’ll give them half a chance.

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I find that socialism is often misunderstood by its least intelligent supporters and opponents to mean simply unrestrained indulgence of our natural propensity to heave bricks at respectable persons.

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People do not become great by doing great things. They do great things because they are great.

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GBShaw A day's work is a day's work

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It is necessary for the welfare of society that genius should be privileged to utter sedition, to blaspheme, to outrage good taste, to corrupt the youthful mind, and generally to scandalize one’s uncles.

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The novelties of one generation are only the resuscitated fashions of the generation before last.

GB Shaw Fashions, after all, are only induced epidemics. Image copyright Ireland Calling

Read about George Bernard Shaw’s life and career
George Bernard Shaw quotesMore on George Bernard Shaw


Quotes Cartoon illustration of shamrocks. Image copyright Ireland Calling

All images copyright Ireland Calling

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