The great Andrew Undershaft explains US politics

To cut through the analytical fog covering our Presidential elections, here is the transcript of a private meeting held in Washington in which a member of the 1% explains the cold realities of our political system.

Robert Morley as Andrew Undershaft


What is the government of this country?

Remarks to a to senior Senator
by Andrew Undershaft

CEO of the multi-national defense contractor
Undershaft & Lazarus


…I am the government of your country; I, and Lazarus.  Do you suppose that you and half a dozen amateurs like you, sitting in a row in that foolish gabble shop, can govern Undershaft and Lazarus?

No, my friend; you will do what pays us.  You will make war when it suits us, and keep peace when it does not.  You will find out that trade requires certain measures when we have decided on those measures.

When I want anything to keep my dividends up, you will discover that my want is a national need.  When other people want something to keep my dividends down, you will call out the police and military.

And in return you shall have the support and applause of my newspapers, and the delight of imagining that you are a great statesman.

Government of your country!  Be off with you, my boy, and play with your caucuses and leading articles and historic parties and great leaders and burning questions and the rest of your toys.  I am going back to my counting house to pay the piper and call the tune.

——————— End transcript ———————


This is from Act III of “Major Barbara” by George Bernard Shaw. Shaw wrote this for a British audience in 1906. A century later it applies just as well to America. We are not so exceptional, after all.

Plutocrats believe it natural that America choose leaders between plutocrats and those chosen by plutocrats. If you do not want your children and grandchildren to live in such a nation, I suggest you take action. Forces are in motion against us. Time is not our friend.

For More Information

The photo is the actor Robert Morley as Andrew Undershaft in the 1941 film version of “Major Barbara”.

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