HOME

TheInfoList




The Fabian Society is a British socialist organisation whose purpose is to advance the principles of
democratic socialism Democratic socialism is a political philosophy that supports political democracy within a socially owned economy, with a particular emphasis on economic democracy, workplace democracy, and workers' self-management within a market socialist econ ...
via gradualist and
reformist Reformism is a political doctrine advocating the reform Reform ( lat, reformo) means the improvement or amendment of what is wrong, corrupt, unsatisfactory, etc. The use of the word in this way emerges in the late 18th century and is believed to ...
effort in
democracies Democracy ( gr, δημοκρατία, ''dēmokratiā'', from ''dēmos'' 'people' and ''kratos'' 'rule') is a form of government A government is the system or group of people governing an organized community, generally a State (polit ...

democracies
, rather than by
revolution In political science Political science is the scientific study of politics Politics (from , ) is the set of activities that are associated with making decisions in groups, or other forms of power relations between individuals, such ...

revolution
ary overthrow. Fabian Society was also historically related to radicalism, a left-wing liberal tradition. As one of the founding organisations of the
Labour Representation CommitteeLabour Representation Committee may refer to: * Labour Representation Committee (1900), the original name of the British Labour Party * Labour Representation Committee (2004), a 21st-century pressure group within the British Labour Party * Belfast L ...
in 1900, and as an important influence upon the
Labour Party Labour Party or Labor Party may refer to: Angola *MPLA, known for some years as "Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola – Labour Party" Antigua and Barbuda *Antigua and Barbuda Labour Party Argentina *Labour Party (Argentina) Armenia ...
which grew from it, the Fabian Society has had a powerful influence on
British politics The United Kingdom The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, commonly known as the United Kingdom (UK) or Britain,Usage is mixed. The Guardian' and Telegraph' use Britain as a synonym for the United Kingdom. Some pref ...
. Other members of the Fabian Society have included political leaders from other countries, such as
Jawaharlal Nehru Jawaharlal Nehru (; ; ; 14 November 1889 – 27 May 1964) was an Indian Anti-colonial nationalism, anti-colonial nationalist, secular humanist, social democrat, and author who was a central figure in India during the middle third of ...

Jawaharlal Nehru
, who adopted Fabian principles as part of their own political ideologies. The Fabian Society founded the
London School of Economics , mottoeng = To understand the causes of things , established = 1895 , type = Public In public relations and communication science, publics are groups of individual people, and the public (a.k.a. the general public) is the totality of s ...
in 1895. Today, the society functions primarily as a
think tank A think tank, or policy institute, is a research institute A research institute, research centre, or research center is an establishment founded for doing research Research is "creativity, creative and systematic work undertaken to incre ...
and is one of 20
socialist societies A socialist society is a membership organisation that is affiliated with the Labour Party (UK), Labour Party in the United Kingdom, UK. The best-known and oldest socialist society is the Fabian Society, founded in 1884, some years before the creat ...
affiliated with the Labour Party. Similar societies exist in Australia (the Australian Fabian Society), in Canada (the Douglas–Coldwell Foundation and the now-disbanded
League for Social Reconstruction The League for Social Reconstruction (LSR) was a circle of Canadians, Canadian socialists officially formed in 1932. The group advocated for social and economic reformation as well as politcal education. The formation of the LSR was provoked by eve ...
), in Sicily (Sicilian Fabian Society) and in
New Zealand New Zealand ( mi, Aotearoa ) is an island country in the southwestern Pacific Ocean. It consists of two main landmasses—the North Island () and the South Island ()—and more than 700 List of islands of New Zealand, smaller islands, coveri ...

New Zealand
(The NZ Fabian Society).


Organisational history


Establishment

The Fabian Society was founded on 4 January 1884 in London as an offshoot of a society founded a year earlier, called The Fellowship of the New Life, which had been a forebear of the British
Ethical Ethics or moral philosophy is a branch of philosophy Philosophy (from , ) is the study of general and fundamental questions, such as those about reason, Metaphysics, existence, Epistemology, knowledge, Ethics, values, Philosophy of min ...
and
humanist Humanism is a philosophical Philosophy (from , ) is the study of general and fundamental questions, such as those about reason, existence, knowledge Knowledge is a familiarity, awareness, or understanding of someone or some ...
movements.Edward R. Pease, ''A History of the Fabian Society.'' New York: E.P. Dutton & Co., 1916. Early Fellowship members included the visionary Victorian elite, among them poets
Edward Carpenter Edward Carpenter (29 August 1844 – 28 June 1929) was an English Utopian A utopia ( ) is an imagined community or society A society is a Social group, group of individuals involved in persistent Social relation, social interaction ...
and
John DavidsonJohn Davidson may refer to: Politicians *John Davidson (Illinois politician) (1924–2012), American politician *John Davidson (Lower Canada politician) (died 1838), merchant, civil servant and political figure in Lower Canada *John Andrew Davidson ...
,
sexologist Sexology is the scientific study of human sexuality Human sexuality is the way people experience and express themselves Human sexual activity, sexually. This involves biological, erotic, Physical intimacy, physical, Emotional intimacy, emotio ...
Havelock Ellis Henry Havelock Ellis (2 February 1859 – 8 July 1939) was an English physician, eugenicist, writer, Progressivism, progressive intellectual and social reformer who studied human sexuality. He co-wrote the first medical textbook in English on hom ...
, and early socialist
Edward R. Pease Edward Reynolds Pease (23 December 1857 – 5 January 1955) was an English writer and a founding member of the Fabian Society. Early life Pease was born near Bristol, the son of devout Quakers, Thomas Pease (1816–1884) and Susanna Ann Fry ...

Edward R. Pease
. They wanted to transform society by setting an example of clean simplified living for others to follow. Some members also wanted to become politically involved to aid society's transformation; they set up a separate society, the Fabian Society. All members were free to attend both societies. The Fabian Society additionally advocated renewal of Western European Renaissance ideas and their promulgation throughout the world. The Fellowship of the New Life was dissolved in 1899, but the Fabian Society grew to become a leading academic society in the United Kingdom in the
Edwardian era The Edwardian era or Edwardian period of British history spanned the reign of King Edward VII, 1901 to 1910, and is sometimes expanded to the start of the First World War. The death of Queen Victoria in January 1901 marked the end of the Victor ...
. It was typified by the members of its vanguard Coefficients club. Public meetings of the Society were for many years held at
Essex HallEssex Street Chapel, also known as Essex Church, is a Unitarianism, Unitarian place of worship in London. It was the first church in England set up with nontrinitarian, this doctrine, and was established when English Dissenters, Dissenters still face ...
, a popular location just off the Strand in central London. The Fabian Society was named—at the suggestion of
Frank Podmore Frank Podmore (5 February 1856 – 14 August 1910) was an English author, and founding member of the Fabian Society. He is best known as an influential member of the Society for Psychical Research The Society for Psychical Research (SPR) is a ...

Frank Podmore
—in honour of the
Roman Roman or Romans most often refers to: *, the capital city of Italy *, Roman civilization from 8th century BC to 5th century AD *, the people of ancient Rome *', shortened to ''Romans'', a letter in the New Testament of the Christian Bible Roman ...
general
Quintus Fabius Maximus Verrucosus Quintus Fabius Maximus Verrucosus, surnamed Cunctator ( 280 – 203 BC), was a Roman statesman and general of the third century BC. He was consul five times (233, 228, 215, 214, and 209 BC) and was appointed dictator in 221 and 217 BC. He was ...
(nicknamed ''Cunctator'', meaning the "Delayer"). His
Fabian strategy The Fabian strategy is a military strategy Military strategy is a set of ideas implemented by military organizations to pursue desired strategic goals. Derived from the Greek word ''strategos Image:Greek strategist Pio-Clementino Inv306.jpg, ...
sought gradual victory against the superior Carthaginian army under the renowned general
Hannibal Hannibal (; xpu, 𐤇𐤍𐤁𐤏𐤋, ''Ḥannibaʿl''; 247 – between 183 and 181 BC) was a Carthaginian general and statesman who commanded the forces of Carthage Carthage was the capital city of the ancient Ancient Carthage, ...

Hannibal
through persistence, harassment, and wearing the enemy down by attrition rather than pitched, climactic battles. An explanatory note appearing on the title page of the group's first pamphlet declared:
For the right moment you must wait, as Fabius did most patiently when warring against Hannibal, though many censured his delays; but when the time comes you must strike hard, as Fabius did, or your waiting will be in vain, and fruitless.
According to author Jon Perdue, "The logo of the Fabian Society, a tortoise, represented the group’s predilection for a slow, imperceptible transition to socialism, while its coat of arms, a 'wolf in sheep’s clothing', represented its preferred methodology for achieving its goal." The wolf in sheep's clothing symbolism was later abandoned, due to its obvious negative connotations. Its nine founding members were
Frank Podmore Frank Podmore (5 February 1856 – 14 August 1910) was an English author, and founding member of the Fabian Society. He is best known as an influential member of the Society for Psychical Research The Society for Psychical Research (SPR) is a ...

Frank Podmore
,
Edward R. Pease Edward Reynolds Pease (23 December 1857 – 5 January 1955) was an English writer and a founding member of the Fabian Society. Early life Pease was born near Bristol, the son of devout Quakers, Thomas Pease (1816–1884) and Susanna Ann Fry ...

Edward R. Pease
, William Clarke,
Hubert Bland Hubert Bland (3 January 1855 – 14 April 1914) was an English author and the husband of Edith Nesbit. He was known for being an infamous libertine, a journalist, an early English socialist, and one of the founders of the Fabian Society. Early ...
,
Percival Chubb Percival Ashley Chubb (1860–1959) was a founding member of the Fabian Society The Fabian Society is a History of the socialist movement in the United Kingdom, British socialist organisation whose purpose is to advance the principles of democra ...
, Frederick Keddell, H. H. Champion,
Edith Nesbit Edith Nesbit (married name Edith Bland; 15 August 1858 – 4 May 1924) was an English author and poet; she published her books for children under the name of E. Nesbit. She wrote or collaborated on more than 60 books of children's literature ...
, and Rosamund Dale Owen. Havelock Ellis is sometimes also mentioned as a tenth founding member, though there is some question about this.


Organisational growth

Immediately upon its inception, the Fabian Society began attracting many prominent contemporary figures drawn to its socialist cause, including
George Bernard Shaw George Bernard Shaw (26 July 1856 – 2 November 1950), known at his insistence simply as Bernard Shaw, was an Irish playwright, critic, polemic Polemic () is contentious rhetoric Rhetoric () is the art Art is a diverse range ...

George Bernard Shaw
,
H. G. Wells Herbert George Wells"Wells, H. G."
Revised 18 May 2015. ''The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction'' (sf-ency ...

H. G. Wells
,
Annie Besant Annie Besant (''née'' Wood; 1 October 1847 – 20 September 1933) was a British socialist Socialism is a political Politics (from , ) is the set of activities that are associated with Decision-making, making decisions in Social group, ...

Annie Besant
,
Graham Wallas Graham Wallas (31 May 1858 – 9 August 1932) was an English socialist Socialism is a political Politics (from , ) is the set of activities that are associated with Decision-making, making decisions in Social group, groups, or other for ...

Graham Wallas
,
Charles MarsonCharles Latimer Marson (16 May 1859 – 3 March 1914) was an influential figure in the second wave of Christian socialism Christian socialism is a religious Religion is a social system, social-cultural system of designated religious behavio ...
, Sydney Olivier,
Oliver Lodge Sir Oliver Joseph Lodge, (12 June 1851 – 22 August 1940) was a British physicist A physicist is a scientist A scientist is a person who conducts Scientific method, scientific research to advance knowledge in an Branches of science, are ...
,
Ramsay MacDonald James Ramsay MacDonald (; 12 October 18669 November 1937) was the first Prime Minister of the United Kingdom who belonged to the Labour Party (UK), Labour Party, leading Minority government, minority Labour governments for First MacDonald mini ...

Ramsay MacDonald
and
Emmeline Pankhurst Emmeline Pankhurst (née Goulden; 15 July 1858 – 14 June 1928) was an English political activist. She is best remembered for organizing the UK suffragette A suffragette was a member of an activist women's organisation in the early 20th ce ...
. Even
Bertrand Russell Bertrand Arthur William Russell, 3rd Earl Russell (18 May 1872 – 2 February 1970) was a British , , , , , , , , and .Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy"Bertrand Russell" 1 May 2003 Throughout his life, Russell considered himself a , a and ...
briefly became a member, but resigned after he expressed his belief that the Society's principle of entente (in this case, between countries allying themselves against Germany) could lead to war. At the core of the Fabian Society were and
Beatrice Webb Martha Beatrice Webb, Baroness Passfield, (née Potter; 22 January 1858 – 30 April 1943), was an English sociologist, economist, socialist, labour historian and social reformer. It was Webb who coined the term ''collective bargaining Colle ...
. Together, they wrote numerous studies of industrial Britain, including alternative
co-operative economics Co-operative economics is a field of economics Economics () is the social science that studies how people interact with value; in particular, the Production (economics), production, distribution (economics), distribution, and Consumption ( ...
that applied to ownership of
capital Capital most commonly refers to: * Capital letter Letter case (or just case) is the distinction between the letters that are in larger uppercase or capitals (or more formally ''majuscule'') and smaller lowercase (or more formally ''minusc ...
as well as land. Many Fabians participated in the formation of the
Labour Representation CommitteeLabour Representation Committee may refer to: * Labour Representation Committee (1900), the original name of the British Labour Party * Labour Representation Committee (2004), a 21st-century pressure group within the British Labour Party * Belfast L ...
in 1900 and the group's constitution, written by Sidney Webb, borrowed heavily from the founding documents of the Fabian Society. At the meeting that founded the Labour Representation Committee in 1900, the Fabian Society claimed 861 members and sent one delegate. The years 1903 to 1908 saw a growth in popular interest in the socialist idea in Great Britain and the Fabian Society grew accordingly, tripling its membership to nearly 2500 by the end of the period, half of whom were located in London.Kevin Morgan, ''Labour Legends and Russian Gold: Bolshevism and the British Left, Part 1.'' London: Lawrence and Wishart, 2006; p. 63. In 1912, a student section was organised called the University Socialist Federation (USF) and by the outbreak of World War I in 1914 this contingent counted its own membership of more than 500.


Early Fabian views

The first Fabian Society pamphlets advocating tenets of
social justice Social justice is justice in terms of the distribution of wealth Wealth is the abundance of Value (economics), valuable financial assets or property, physical possessions which can be converted into a form that can be used for financial tran ...
coincided with the
zeitgeist ''Zeitgeist'' ( German pronunciation ) is a concept from eighteenth- to nineteenth-century German philosophy, meaning "spirit of the age". It refers to an invisible agent or force dominating the characteristics of a given epoch in world history ...

zeitgeist
of
Liberal reforms was one of the 'New Liberals' who passed welfare legislation The Liberal welfare reforms (1906–1914) were a series of acts of social legislation passed by the Liberal Party (UK), Liberal Party after the 1906 general election. They represent the ...
during the early 1900s, including
eugenics Eugenics ( ; from Greek εὐ- 'good' and γενής 'come into being, growing') is a set of beliefs and practices that aim to improve the genetic quality of a human population Humans (''Homo sapiens'') are the most populous and widesp ...
. The Fabian proposals however were considerably more progressive than those that were enacted in the Liberal reform legislation. The Fabians lobbied for the introduction of a
minimum wage A minimum wage is the lowest remuneration Remuneration is the pay or other financial compensationFinancial compensation refers to the act of providing a person with money Image:National-Debt-Gillray.jpeg, In a 1786 James Gillray caricature, ...
in 1906, for the creation of a
universal health care Universal healthcare (also called universal health coverage, universal coverage, or universal care) is a health care system in which all residents of a particular country or region are assured access to health care. It is generally organized aroun ...

universal health care
system in 1911 and for the abolition of hereditary peerages in 1917.
Agnes Harben Agnes Helen Harben (née Bostock; 15 September 1879 – 29 October 1961) was a British suffragist leader who also supported the militant suffragette A suffragette was a member of an activist women's organization in the early 20th century who, ...
and
Henry Devenish Harben Henry Devenish Harben (1874 – 18 May 1967) was a British British may refer to: Peoples, culture, and language * British people The British people, or Britons, are the citizens of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, ...
were among Fabians advocating women's emancipation and supporting
suffrage Suffrage, political franchise, or simply franchise, is the right to vote in public, political elections (although the term is sometimes used for any right to vote). In some languages, and occasionally in English, the right to vote is called a ...
movements in Britain, and internationally. Fabian socialists were in favour of reforming the foreign policy of the
British Empire The British Empire was composed of the dominions, Crown colony, colonies, protectorates, League of Nations mandate, mandates, and other Dependent territory, territories ruled or administered by the United Kingdom and its predecessor states. ...

British Empire
as a conduit for internationalist reform, and were in favour of a capitalist welfare state modelled on the Bismarckian German model; they criticised
Gladstonian liberalism Gladstonian liberalism is a political doctrine named after the British Victorian Prime Minister and leader of the Liberal Party Liberal Party is a name for political parties A political party is an organization that coordinates candidate ...
both for its individualism at home and its internationalism abroad. They favoured a national
minimum wage A minimum wage is the lowest remuneration Remuneration is the pay or other financial compensationFinancial compensation refers to the act of providing a person with money Image:National-Debt-Gillray.jpeg, In a 1786 James Gillray caricature, ...
in order to stop British industries compensating for their inefficiency by lowering wages instead of investing in capital equipment; slum clearances and a health service in order for "the breeding of even a moderately Imperial race" which would be more productive and better militarily than the "stunted, anaemic, demoralised denizens ... of our great cities"; and a national education system because "it is in the classrooms ... that the future battles of the Empire for commercial prosperity are already being lost". In 1900 the Society produced ''Fabianism and the Empire'', the first statement of its views on foreign affairs, drafted by Bernard Shaw and incorporating the suggestions of 150 Fabian members. It was directed against the liberal individualism of those such as
John Morley John Morley, 1st Viscount Morley of Blackburn, (24 December 1838 – 23 September 1923) was a British Liberal Party (UK), Liberal statesman, writer and newspaper editor. Initially a journalist, he was elected a Member of Parliament (United ...
and Sir William Harcourt.Semmel, p. 61. It claimed that the classical liberal political economy was outdated and that imperialism was the new stage of the international polity. The question was whether Britain would be the centre of a world empire or whether it would lose its colonies and end up as just two islands in the North Atlantic. It expressed support for Britain in the
Boer War The Second Boer War ( af, Tweede Vryheidsoorlog, lit. "Second Freedom War", 11 October 189931 May 1902), also known as the Boer War, the Anglo–Boer War, or the South African War, was a conflict fought between the British Empire and the two B ...
because small nations, such as the
Boers Boers () ( af , Boere) refers to the descendants of the proto-Afrikaans-speaking colonist A settler is a person who has migrated to an area and established a permanent residence there, often to colonize Colonization, or colonisation ...

Boers
, were anachronisms in the age of empires. In order to hold onto the Empire, the British needed to fully exploit the trade opportunities secured by war; maintain the British armed forces in a high state of readiness to defend the Empire; the creation of a citizen army to replace the professional army; the
Factory Acts The Factory Acts were a series of acts The Acts of the Apostles ( grc-koi, Πράξεις Ἀποστόλων, ''Práxeis Apostólōn''; la, Actūs Apostolōrum), often referred to simply as Acts, or formally the Book of Acts, is the fifth ...
would be amended to extend to 21 the age for half-time employment, so that the thirty hours gained would be used in "a combination of physical exercises, technical education, education in civil citizenship ... and field training in the use of modern weapons". The Fabians also favoured the nationalisation of land rent, believing that rents collected by landowners in respect of their land's value were unearned, an idea which drew heavily from the work of American economist
Henry George Henry George (September 2, 1839 – October 29, 1897) was an American political economist Political economy is the study of Production (economics), production and trade and their relations with law, Custom (law), custom and government; and ...

Henry George
.


Second generation

In the period between the two World Wars, the "Second Generation" Fabians, including the writers , G. D. H. Cole and
Harold Laski Harold Joseph Laski (30 June 1893 – 24 March 1950) was an English political theorist {{unreferenced, date=June 2015 A political theorist is someone who engages in constructing or evaluating political theory, including political philosophy ...
, continued to be a major influence on
socialist Socialism is a political Politics (from , ) is the set of activities that are associated with making decisions In psychology, decision-making (also spelled decision making and decisionmaking) is regarded as the Cognition, cognitive pr ...

socialist
thought. It was at this time that many of the future leaders of the
Third World The term "Third World" arose during the Cold War to define countries that remained non-aligned with either NATO or the Warsaw Pact. The United States, Canada, Japan, South Korea, Western European nations and their allies represented the "First Wor ...

Third World
were exposed to Fabian thought, most notably India's
Jawaharlal Nehru Jawaharlal Nehru (; ; ; 14 November 1889 – 27 May 1964) was an Indian Anti-colonial nationalism, anti-colonial nationalist, secular humanist, social democrat, and author who was a central figure in India during the middle third of ...

Jawaharlal Nehru
, who subsequently framed economic policy for India on Fabian socialism lines. After independence from Britain, Nehru's Fabian ideas committed India to an economy in which the state owned, operated and controlled means of production, in particular key heavy industrial sectors such as steel, telecommunications, transportation, electricity generation, mining and real estate development. Private activity, property rights and entrepreneurship were discouraged or regulated through permits, nationalisation of economic activity and high taxes were encouraged, rationing, control of individual choices and Mahalanobis model considered by Nehru as a means to implement the Fabian Society version of socialism. In addition to Nehru, several pre-independence leaders in colonial India such as
Annie Besant Annie Besant (''née'' Wood; 1 October 1847 – 20 September 1933) was a British socialist Socialism is a political Politics (from , ) is the set of activities that are associated with Decision-making, making decisions in Social group, ...

Annie Besant
—Nehru's mentor and later a president of
Indian National Congress The Indian National Congress (often called the Congress Party or simply Congress, INC) is a political party in India with widespread roots. Founded in 1885, it was the first modern nationalist movement to emerge in the British Empire ...
– were members of the Fabian Society.
Obafemi Awolowo Chief Chief may refer to: Title or rank Military and law enforcement * Chief master sergeant Chief Master Sergeant (CMSgt) is the ninth, and highest, United States Air Force enlisted rank insignia, enlisted rank in the United States ...
, who later became the
premier Premier is a title for the head of government The head of government is either the highest or second-highest official in the Executive (government), executive branch of a sovereign state, a federated state, or a self-governing colony, aut ...
of
Nigeria Nigeria (), officially the Federal Republic of Nigeria, is a country in West Africa West Africa or Western Africa is the westernmost region of . The defines Western Africa as the 17 countries of , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , and as we ...

Nigeria
's now-defunct Western Region, was also a Fabian member in the late 1940s. It was the Fabian ideology that Awolowo used to run the Western Region during his premiership with great success, although he was prevented from using it in a similar fashion on the national level in Nigeria. It is less known that the founder of
Pakistan Pakistan, . Pronounced variably in English as , , , and . officially the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, is a country in South Asia. It is the world's List of countries and dependencies by population, fifth-most populous country, with a popul ...

Pakistan
,
Muhammad Ali Jinnah Muhammad Ali Jinnah (born Mahomedali Jinnahbhai; 25 December 1876 – 11 September 1948) was a barrister, politician and the founder Founder or Founders may refer to: Places *Founders Park, a stadium in South Carolina, formerly ...

Muhammad Ali Jinnah
, was an avid member of the Fabian Society in the early 1930s.
Lee Kuan Yew Lee Kuan Yew (16 September 1923 – 23 March 2015), born Harry Lee Kuan Yew, often referred to by his initials LKY and sometimes known in his earlier years as Harry Lee, was a Singaporean statesman and lawyer who served as Prime Minister of ...

Lee Kuan Yew
, the first
Prime Minister A prime minister or a premier is the head of the cabinet Cabinet or The Cabinet may refer to: Furniture * Cabinetry, a box-shaped piece of furniture with doors and/or drawers * Display cabinet, a piece of furniture with one or more transpa ...
of
Singapore Singapore (), officially the Republic of Singapore, is a sovereign state, sovereign island city-state in maritime Southeast Asia. It lies about one degree of latitude () north of the equator, off the southern tip of the Malay Peninsula, bor ...

Singapore
, stated in his memoirs that his initial political philosophy was strongly influenced by the Fabian Society. However, he later altered his views, considering the Fabian ideal of socialism as impractical. In 1993, Lee said: In the
Middle East The Middle East ( ar, الشرق الأوسط, ISO 233 The international standard An international standard is a technical standard A technical standard is an established norm (social), norm or requirement for a repeatable technical task whi ...

Middle East
, the theories of Fabian Society intellectual movement of early-20th-century Britain inspired the
Ba'athist Baathism ( ar, البعثية ''al-Bathīyah'' , from بعث ''bath'' , meaning "renaissance" or "resurrection") is an Arab nationalist ideology An ideology () is a set of beliefs or philosophies attributed to a person or group of persons, ...
vision. The Middle East adaptation of Fabian socialism led the state to control big industry, transport, banks, internal and external trade. The state would direct the course of economic development, with the ultimate aim to provide a guaranteed minimum standard of living for all.
Michel Aflaq Michel Aflaq ( ar, ميشيل عفلق‎, , 9 January 1910 – 23 June 1989) was a Syrian Syrians ( ar, سوريون, ''Sūriyyūn''), also known as the Syrian people ( ar, الشعب السوري, ALA-LC: ''al-sha‘ab al-Sūrī''; sy ...
, widely considered as the founder of the Ba'athist movement, was a Fabian socialist. Aflaq's ideas, with those of
Salah al-Din al-Bitar Salah al-Din al-Bitar ( ar, صلاح الدين البيطار) (1 January 1912 – 21 July 1980) was a Syrian politician who co-founded the Ba'ath Party, Arab Ba'ath Party with Michel Aflaq in the early 1940s. As students in Paris in the ...
and
Zaki al-Arsuzi Zakī al-Arsūzī ( ar, زكي الأرسوزي; June 18992 July 1968) was a Syrian philosopher, philologist Philology is the study of language in oral and written historical sources; it is the intersection of textual criticism, literary critic ...
, came to fruition in the Arab world in the form of dictatorial regimes in
Iraq Iraq ( ar, الْعِرَاق, translit=al-ʿIrāq; ku, عێراق, translit=Êraq), officially the Republic of Iraq ( ar, جُمْهُورِيَّة ٱلْعِرَاق '; ku, کۆماری عێراق, translit=Komarî Êraq), is a country i ...
and
Syria Syria ( ar, سُورِيَا or ar, سُورِيَة, ''Sūriyā''), officially the Syrian Arab Republic ( ar, ٱلْجُمْهُورِيَّةُ ٱلْعَرَبِيَّةُ ٱلسُّورِيَّةُ, al-Jumhūrīyah al-ʻArabīyah as-S ...
. Salama Moussa, Salāmah Mūsā of Egypt, another prominent champion of Arab Socialism, was a keen adherent of Fabian Society, and a member since 1909. Fabian academics of the late 20th-century included the political scientist Bernard Crick, Sir Bernard Crick, the economists Thomas Balogh and Nicholas Kaldor and the sociologist Peter Townsend (sociologist), Peter Townsend.


Contemporary Fabianism

Through the course of the 20th century, the group has always been influential in Labour Party circles, with members including
Ramsay MacDonald James Ramsay MacDonald (; 12 October 18669 November 1937) was the first Prime Minister of the United Kingdom who belonged to the Labour Party (UK), Labour Party, leading Minority government, minority Labour governments for First MacDonald mini ...

Ramsay MacDonald
, Clement Attlee, Anthony Crosland, Roy Jenkins, Hugh Dalton, Richard Crossman, Ian Mikardo, Tony Benn, Harold Wilson and more recently Shirley Williams, Tony Blair, Gordon Brown, Gordon Marsden and Ed Balls. 229 Society members were elected to Parliament in the 1945 United Kingdom general election, 1945 General Election. Ben Pimlott served as its chairman in the 1990s. (A Pimlott Prize for Political Writing was organised in his memory by the Fabian Society and ''The Guardian'' in 2005 and continues annually.) The Society is affiliated to the Party as a socialist society (Labour Party), socialist society. In recent years the Young Fabians, Young Fabian group, founded in 1960, has become an important networking and discussion organisation for younger (under 31)
Labour Party Labour Party or Labor Party may refer to: Angola *MPLA, known for some years as "Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola – Labour Party" Antigua and Barbuda *Antigua and Barbuda Labour Party Argentina *Labour Party (Argentina) Armenia ...
activists and played a role in the 1994 election of Tony Blair as Labour Leader. Today there is also an active Fabian Women's Network and Scottish and Welsh Fabian groups. On 21 April 2009 the Society's website stated that it had 6,286 members: "Fabian national membership now stands at a 35 year high: it is over 20% higher than when the Labour Party came to office in May 1997. It is now double what it was when Clement Attlee left office in 1951". The latest edition of the ''Dictionary of National Biography'' (a reference work listing details of famous or significant British people, Britons throughout history) includes 174 Fabians. Four Fabians, Beatrice Webb, Beatrice and Sidney Webb,
Graham Wallas Graham Wallas (31 May 1858 – 9 August 1932) was an English socialist Socialism is a political Politics (from , ) is the set of activities that are associated with Decision-making, making decisions in Social group, groups, or other for ...

Graham Wallas
, and
George Bernard Shaw George Bernard Shaw (26 July 1856 – 2 November 1950), known at his insistence simply as Bernard Shaw, was an Irish playwright, critic, polemic Polemic () is contentious rhetoric Rhetoric () is the art Art is a diverse range ...

George Bernard Shaw
, founded the
London School of Economics , mottoeng = To understand the causes of things , established = 1895 , type = Public In public relations and communication science, publics are groups of individual people, and the public (a.k.a. the general public) is the totality of s ...
with the money left to the Fabian Society by Henry Hutchinson. Supposedly the decision was made at a breakfast party on 4 August 1894. The founders are depicted in the Fabian Window designed by
George Bernard Shaw George Bernard Shaw (26 July 1856 – 2 November 1950), known at his insistence simply as Bernard Shaw, was an Irish playwright, critic, polemic Polemic () is contentious rhetoric Rhetoric () is the art Art is a diverse range ...

George Bernard Shaw
. The window was stolen in 1978 and reappeared at Sotheby's in 2005. It was restored to display in the Shaw Library at the
London School of Economics , mottoeng = To understand the causes of things , established = 1895 , type = Public In public relations and communication science, publics are groups of individual people, and the public (a.k.a. the general public) is the totality of s ...
in 2006 at a ceremony over which Tony Blair presided. As of 2016, the Fabian Society had about 7,000 members. In June 2019 it had 7,136 individual members.


Influence on Labour government

After the election of a Labour Party Premiership of Tony Blair, government in 1997, the Fabian Society was a forum for New Labour ideas and for critical approaches from across the party. The most significant Fabian contribution to Labour's policy agenda in government was Ed Balls's 1992 discussion paper, advocating Monetary Policy Committee (United Kingdom), Bank of England independence. Balls had been a ''Financial Times'' journalist when he wrote this Fabian pamphlet, before going to work for Gordon Brown. BBC Business Editor Robert Peston, in his book ''Brown's Britain'', calls this an "essential tract" and concludes that Balls "deserves as much credit – probably more – than anyone else for the creation of the modern Bank of England"; William Keegan offered a similar analysis of Balls's Fabian pamphlet in his book on Labour's economic policy, which traces in detail the path leading up to this dramatic policy change after Labour's first week in office. The Fabian Society Tax Commission of 2000 was widely credited with influencing the Labour government's policy and political strategy for its one significant public tax increase: the National Insurance rise to raise £8 billion for National Health Service spending. (The Fabian Commission had in fact called for a directly hypothecation (taxation), hypothecated "NHS tax" to cover the full cost of NHS spending, arguing that linking taxation more directly to spending was essential to make tax rise publicly acceptable. The 2001 National Insurance rise was not formally hypothecated, but the government committed itself to using the additional funds for health spending.) Several other recommendations, including a new top rate of income tax, were to the left of government policy and not accepted, though this comprehensive review of UK taxation was influential in economic policy and political circles, and a new top rate of income tax of 50% was introduced in 2010. In early 2017 Fabian general secretary, Andrew Harrop, produced a report arguing the only feasible route for Labour to return to government would be to work with the Liberal Democrats (UK), Liberal Democrats and Scottish National Party. The report predicted Labour would win fewer than 150 seats in the 2017 United Kingdom general election, the lowest number since 1935, due to Brexit, lack of Scottish Labour Party, support in Scotland, and Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn’s supposed unpopularity, although in reality the party won nearly double the amount of seats predicted by this report.


Fabianism outside the United Kingdom

The major influence on the Labour Party and on the English-speaking socialist movement worldwide, has meant that Fabianism became one of the main inspirations of international social democracy. An American Fabian Society was established in Boston in February 1895 by W. D. P. Bliss, a prominent Christian socialist.William D.P. Bliss (ed.), ''The Encyclopedia of Social Reforms.'' Third Edition. New York: Funk and Wagnalls Co., 1897; pg. 578. The group published a periodical, ''The American Fabian'', and issued a small series of pamphlets. Around the same time a parallel organisation emerged on the Pacific coast, centred in California, under the influence of socialist activist Laurence Gronlund. Direct or indirect Fabian influence may also be seen in the liberal socialism of Carlo Rosselli (founder, with his brother Nello Rosselli, Nello, of the anti-fascist group Justice and Freedom, Giustizia e Libertà) and all its derivatives such as the Action Party (Italy), Action Party in Italy. The Community Movement, created by the socialist entrepreneur Adriano Olivetti, was then the only Italian party which referred explicitly to Fabianism, among his main inspirations along with federalism, social liberalism, fighting partitocracy and social democracy. During 2000 the Sicilian Fabian Society was founded in Messina.


Structure

It is written into the rules of the society that it has no policies. All the publications carry a disclaimer saying that they do not represent the collective views of the society but only the views of the authors. "No resolution of a political character expressing an opinion or calling for action, other than in relation to the running of the Society itself, shall be put forward in the name of the Society."


Executive committee

The Fabian Society is governed by an elected executive committee. The committee consists of 10 ordinary members elected from a national list, three members nationally elected from a list nominated by local groups, representatives from the Young Fabians, Fabians Women's Network and Scottish and Welsh Fabians. There is also one staff representative and a directly elected honorary treasurer from the membership. Elections are held every other year, with the exception of the Young Fabians and staff representation which are elected annually. The committee meets quarterly and elect a chair and at least one vice-chair annually to conduct its business. The current chair of the Fabian Society is Martin Edobor.


Secretariat

The Fabian Society have a number of employees based in their headquarters in London. The secretariat is led by a general secretary, who is the organisation's CEO. The staff are arranged into departments including Research, Editorial, Events and Operations.


Young Fabians

Since 1960 members aged under 31 years of age are also members of the Young Fabians. This group has its own elected Chair, executive committee and sub-groups. The Young Fabians are a voluntary organisation that serves as an incubator for member-led activities such as policy and social events, pamphlets and delegations. Within the group are five special interest communities called Networks that are run by voluntary steering groups and elect their own Chair and officers. The current Networks are Economy & Finance, Health, International Affairs, Education, Communications (Industry), Environment, Tech, Devolution & Local Government, Law, and Arts & Culture. It also publishes the quarterly magazine ''Anticipations''.


Fabian Women's Network

All female members of the Fabian Society are also members of the Fabian Women's Network. This group has its own elected Chair and Executive Committee which organises conferences and events and works with the wider political movement to secure increased representation for women in politics and public life. It has a flagship mentoring programme that recruits on an annual basis and its president is Seema Malhotra, a Labour Party and Co-operative MP. The Network also publishes the quarterly magazine, ''Fabiana'', runs a range of public speaking events, works closely in partnership with a range of women's campaigning organisations and regularly hosts a fringe at the Labour Party conference.


Local Fabians

There are 45 local Fabian societies across the UK, bringing Fabian debates to communities around the country. Some, such as Bournemouth and Oxford, have long histories, dating from the 1890s, though most have waxed and waned over the years. The Fabian local societies were given a major boost in World War Two when re-founded by G.D.H. Cole and Margaret Cole, who noted renewed interest in socialism and that wartime evacuation created chances for Fabians to strengthen influence outside London. Many local societies are affiliated to their local constituency Labour party and have their own executive bodies. These local branches are affiliated to the national Fabians and local members have the same voting rights as their national counterparts.


Influence on the political right

When founded in 1884 as a parliament, parliamentarian organisation, there was no leftist party with which the Fabians could connect. As such, they initially attempted to 'permeate' the Liberal Party (UK), with some success. The foundation of the Labour Party (UK) in 1900 signalled a change in tactics, though Fabian-Liberal links on specific topics such as welfare reform lasted well into the interwar period. More recent studies have examined their impact on the Conservative Party (UK), such as the foundation of Ashridge College, explicitly designed in the 1930s to create 'Conservative Fabians'.


Critiques of the Fabians

As one of the world's oldest and most prominent think tanks, the Fabians have sometimes fallen under attack, more often from the left than the right. Most older critiques focused on the Fabians' political organisation efforts, and claims to have been influential. Although H. G. Wells was a member of the Fabian Society from 1903 to 1908, he was a critic of its operations, particularly in his 1905 paper "The Faults of the Fabian", in which he claimed the Society was a middle class talking shop. He later parodied the society in his 1910 novel ''The New Machiavelli''. During World War One, Vladimir Lenin wrote that the Fabians were 'social-chauvinists', 'undoubtedly the most consummate expression of opportunism and of Liberal-Labour policy'. Drawing from Friedrich Engels, Lenin declared the Fabians were 'a gang of bourgeois rogues who would demoralise the workers, influence them in a counter-revolutionary spirit'. In the 1920s, Leon Trotsky critiqued the Fabian Society as provincial, boring and unnecessary, particularly to the working class. He wrote that their published works 'serve merely to explain to the Fabians themselves why Fabianism exists in the world'. The postwar Communist Party Historians Group was critical of the Fabians, and indeed the post-war consensus, with its strong social-democratic influence. The marxist historian Eric Hobsbawm wrote his PhD thesis attacking claims from the early Fabians to have been originators of the Labour Party (UK) and the post-war consensus. Instead, he argued, the credit should be given to the more autonomous, working class Independent Labour Party. In more recent years, critiques of the early Fabians have focused on other areas. In an article published in ''The Guardian'' on 14 February 2008 (following the apology offered by Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd to the "stolen generations"), Geoffrey Robertson criticised Fabian socialists for providing the intellectual justification for the eugenics policy that led to the stolen generations scandal. Similar claims have been repeated in ''The Spectator''. In 2009, at a speech in the United States the then Member of Parliament (United Kingdom), British MP George Galloway denounced the Fabian Society for its failure to support the 1916 Easter rising, uprising of Easter 1916 in Dublin where an Irish Republic had been proclaimed.


Funding

The Fabian Society has been rated as "broadly transparent" in its funding by Transparify and has been a given an A grade for funding transparency by Who Funds You?


See also

* Ethical movement * Keir Hardie * Labour Research Department * List of Fabian Tracts to 1915 * List of think tanks in the United Kingdom * ''New Statesman'' * ''The New Age''


Footnotes


Further reading

* * * McKernan, James A. "The origins of critical theory in education: Fabian socialism as social reconstructionism in nineteenth-century Britain." ''British Journal of Educational Studies'' 61.4 (2013): 417-433. * * * * * *


External links

*
Finding Aid for the Fabian Society archives
British Library of Political and Economic Science, London School of Economics
Fabian Society and Young Fabian Collection
British Library of Political and Economic Science, London School of Economics
Annual Reports 1894–1918

Fabian Tracts 1893–1990
{{Authority control Fabian Society, 1884 establishments in the United Kingdom Democratic socialism Edwardian era Labour Party (UK) socialist societies London School of Economics Organisations based in London Progressivism in the United Kingdom Political and economic think tanks based in the United Kingdom Radicalism (historical) Social democracy Socialist organisations in the United Kingdom Socialist think tanks Socialist think tanks based in the United Kingdom Think tanks based in the United Kingdom Victorian era