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    #1

    What does "We oppose socialism to capitalism" mean?

    It looks to mean "We oppose socialism and we support capitalism", but actually it means the reverse. Am I on the right track?


    Context:

    ON HIS SEVENTIETH BIRTHDAY
    George Bernard Shaw
    July 26, 1926

    Of late years the public have been trying to tackle me in every way they possibly can, and failing to make anything of it they have turned to treating me Bs a great man. This is a dreadful fate to over- take anybody. There has been a distinct attempt to do it again now, and for that reason I absolutely decline to say anything about the celebration of my seventieth birthday. But when the Labor Party, my old friends the Labor Party, invited me here I knew that l should be all right.
    Now, however, we have built up a constitutional Party. We have built it up on a socialistic basis. My friend, Mr. Sidney Webb, Mr. Macdonald and myself said definitely at the beginning that what we had got to do was to make the Socialist Party a constitutional party to which any respectable God-fearing man could belong without the slightest compromise of his respectability. We got rid of all those traditional that is why Governments in the present day are more afraid of us than they were of any of the Radical people.
    Our position is a perfectly simple one and we have the great advantage of understanding our position. We oppose socialism to capitalism.
    According to the capitalists, there will be a guara11tee to the world that every man in tile country would get a job. They didn't contend it would be a well-paid job, because if it was well paid a man would save up enough one week to stop working the next week, and they were determined to keep a man working the whole time on a bare subsistence wage - and, on the other hand, divide an accumulation of capita1.
    They said capita1ism not only secured this for the working man, but, by insuring fabulous wealth in the hands of a small class of people, they would save money whether they liked it or not and would have to invest it. That is capitalism, and this Government is always interfering with capitalism. Instead of giving a man a job or letting him starve they are giving him doles - after making sure he has paid for them first. They are giving capitalists subsidies and making all sorts of regulations that are breaking up their own system. All the time they are doing it, and we are telling them it is breaking up, they don't understand.
    We say in criticism of capitalism: Your system has never kept its promises for one single day since it was promulgated. Our production is ridiculous. We are producing eighty horsepower motor cars when many more houses should be built. We are producing most extravagant luxuries while children starve. You have stood production on its head. Instead of beginning with the things the nation needs most, you are beginning at just the opposite end. We say distribution has become so glaringly ridiculous that there are only two people out of the 47,000,000 people in this country who approve of the present system of distribution-one is the Duke of Northumberland and the other is Lord Banbury.
    We are opposed to that theory. Socialism, which is perfectly clear and unmistakable, says the thing you have got to take care of is your distribution. We have to begin with that, and private property, if it stands in the way of good distribution, has got to go.

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    #2

    Re: What does "We oppose socialism to capitalism" mean?

    They hold up socialism in opposition to capitalism. Shaw was a socialist.

    This is not a construction that is very common, at least not today. I would not guarantee I understood it if you gave me the sentence without the context.

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    #3

    Re: What does "We oppose socialism to capitalism" mean?

    Quote Originally Posted by SoothingDave View Post
    They hold up socialism in opposition to capitalism. Shaw was a socialist.

    This is not a construction that is very common, at least not today. I would not guarantee I understood it if you gave me the sentence without the context.
    Thank you Dave.

    The word oppose here seems to mean "press". "We press A to B" means "we put A on the top of B and then press A to B".

    Do you agree.

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    #4

    Re: What does "We oppose socialism to capitalism" mean?

    No.

    Oppose | Define Oppose at Dictionary.com

    To act against or provide resistance to

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    #5

    Re: What does "We oppose socialism to capitalism" mean?

    Quote Originally Posted by NewHopeR View Post
    Thank you Dave.

    The word oppose here seems to mean "press". "We press A to B" means "we put A on the top of B and then press A to B".

    Do you agree.
    The collocation with 'to' is odd. Even before his 70th birthday, GBS was a contrary old stick. It looks, at first glance, like a rather lazy conflation of 'We oppose capitalism' and 'We prefer socialism to capitalism'.

    But, as SD suggested, I think Shaw is just using a rather archaic construction - 'We oppose' doesn't mean the rather infra dig 'We think it's a bad thing' but 'We propose that socialism should be regarded as a viable and desirable alternative to capitalism.' (Incidentally, the old curmudgeon probably put the stress on the second syllable of 'capitalism'.)

    b

  2. 5jj's Avatar
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    #6

    Re: What does "We oppose socialism to capitalism" mean?

    Quote Originally Posted by BobK View Post
    (Incidentally, the old curmudgeon probably put the stress on the second syllable of 'capitalism'.)
    I did for the first twenty years of my life.

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