Chapter 6 of the book Fabian Freeway.
Shortly after the atom bomb burst upon a war-weary world, the Labour Party swept to power in Britain by an overwhelming majority. Both events illustrated vividly the destructive possibilities of long-range research, a type of activity commonly regarded as harmless and benign. Conducted in relays by anonymous teams and applied with explosive effect at a psychological moment, modern Fabian Research more than any other factor assured the comeback of the Labour Party—which had been the third, then the second and was suddenly the first political party in England.
For a number of years prior to that disruptive climax, “research” had been the prime point of Fabian concentration. It flowed from the New Fabian Research Bureau (1) where the rejuvenated leadership and direction of the movement were centered. This source not only supplied a Socialist elite and its allies with tactical guidance on the climb to power, but also produced a series of strategic plans and programs that became the basis for public policy. Thus Fabian Socialists heading the victorious Labour Party in 1945 became the first government leaders in British history to employ privately controlled research as an official weapon for wrecking the economy of the nation and dissolving its far-flung system of Empire.
The process leading to such tragic results began unobtrusively in the summer of 1930. At that time a group of hard-core Socialists, representing many fields of Fabian endeavor, met in rustic privacy as guests of the Socialist Countess of Warwick at Easton Lodge in Essex, the idyllic setting for many a Fabian policy meeting until the spacious old building was finally torn down in 1948. There the cry of peacocks on well-tended lawns mingled with the insistent call of a neighboring cuckoo. Easton Lodge was just next door to East Glebe, country estate of the novelist and errant Fabian, H. G. Wells, where representatives of the Soviet Government were frequently entertained over the years (2) and where Maxim Gorki’s agent and common-law wife, Baroness Boudberg, a mysterious character who wore three wedding rings, was a regular visitor.
Before the house party at Easton Lodge ended, its busy guests had formed a Society for Socialist Inquiry and Propaganda with Ernest Bevin as chairman. The Society was known to its familiars as ZIP— a quality it tried unsuccessfully to instill into the flagging and badly split Labour Party Government of the moment. When that government fell in 1931, ZIP–was transformed into the New Fabian Research Bureau which would plot the future course of Fabian fortunes at home and abroad.
Both organizations were initiated by G. D. H. and Margaret Cole, an energetic husband-and-wife team aspiring to the mantle of the superannuated Webbs. Like so many Fabians of the new generation, G. D. H. Cole did not scruple to call himself a Marxist and an atheist. He proclaimed that the main effort of a Socialist government should be “to destroy confidence . . . in the prospect of sustained profits” by removing “the very foundations on which the opportunities for capitalist profit-making rest.” As a tutor at Oxford and the London School of Economics, Cole recruited a number of promising young disciples—one of whom, Hugh Gaitskell, M.P., became Leader of the Parliamentary Labour Party as well as a top figure in the Socialist International.
An academic charmer, handsome, petulant and adored by Fabian women who gladly expended themselves in volunteer political work at his request, the alphabetical Cole was less ponderous but also less patient than Sidney Webb. Prolific in print, Cole was credited with having written ninety-one published books before his death in 1959. Some Socialist leaders, including Beatrice Webb, privately regarded his pert wife Margaret as the more able and tenacious member of the family team, and not wholly on the theory that the female of the Fabian species is deadlier than the male. The Cole household could have served as a model for the three-child family, which Fabian social theorists seek to popularize today—and which Professor Richard M. Titmuss, of the University of London faculty, recommends be encouraged by special family allowances in the far-off and primeval island of Mauritius. (3)
According to G. D. H. Cole, the collective leadership of the New Fabian Research Bureau included the most outstanding figures in the Fabian Socialist movement, some already well-known, others marked for future prominence. (4) Its first chairman was Clement Attlee, a member of the Fabian Society since 1909, who succeeded Ramsay MacDonald as Parliamentary Leader of the Labour Party and became Prime Minister of Britain. The vice chairman was C. M. Lloyd of the New Statesman, for the benefit of whose knowledgeable contributors the Bureau often collected material and even ghosted entire articles. G. D. H. Cole was honorary secretary, and his active assistant was young Hugh Gaitskell, whose labor of love for the Bureau was only briefly interrupted when he went to Austria in 1933-34 on a Rockefeller Foundation scholarship. Professor Harold Laski and Leonard Woolf, who headed its international committee, joined the Bureau’s Executive the following year.(5)
The New Fabian Research Bureau proved to be another of those mysterious hybrids so dear to Fabian organizers and so difficult for outsiders to fathom. For eight years it led a nominally independent life as an affiliate but not a unit of the Fabian Society. Founded to perpetuate the tradition of Fabian “research” after the old Labour Research Bureau had been conveniently captured by Communists, it was the true repository of Fabian leadership during a period of transition and political reverses in Britain. Its modest offices staffed by pretty young volunteers sheltered a top-level Socialist brain trust seeking immunity from Labour Party discipline.
This arrangement offered continuity and privacy for the general staff of the Fabian Socialist movement, self-designated apostle to the gentiles of the English-speaking world. Subservient neither to the Labour Party nor the Fabian Society itself, the Research Bureau operated as a remote-control unit and planning body for both. Control was maintained through a system of interlocking memberships on the Executives of all three organizations, a system still faithfully copied by Fabian-inspired groups in the United States. Top authority, however, resided in the Research Bureau which issued its Executive-approved directives in the form of personal briefings, as well as custom tailored material for speeches, reports, resolutions, articles and books. For publicists and politicians too busy to do their homework or lacking literary skills, it was a most opportune arrangement. Few were aware how closely the functions of the Research Bureau’s Executive resembled those of a master-control unit like the Soviet Politburo, with which one leading Fabian or another usually maintained cordial relations.
With the blessing of the Webbs, Shaw, Henderson and the rest of the Fabian old guard, the New Fabian Research Bureau was formally launched at a House of Commons dinner on March 2, 1931. Sentimentalists noted that the founders’ group numbered about one hundred persons, approximately the size of the Fabian Society in 18&9 when the first Fabian Essays had been published. Without a qualm, the new Bureau pledged itself not to engage in direct propaganda, nor to take part in political or electoral activities. Subsequently it published pamphlets on such “nonpolitical” and “non-propagandist” topics as How to Win a Labour Majority, Labour Propaganda and Class Favoritism in the Armed Services.
Displaying the usual eagerness of Fabians to forgive past Communist aggression, the first field project sponsored by the new Research Bureau was a study of Soviet Russia, the land of full employment and forced labor by forgotten men. A select investigating team trailed the Webb cortege to Moscow in the summer of 1932. After being led around for six weeks by official guides, the team returned to write Twelve Studies in Soviet Russia. Like the Webbs’ book it included a lyric account of “Soviet justice,” evidently derived from similar official sources. As for the famine in the Ukraine, the team’s agricultural “expert,” John Morgan, perceived that dietary conditions on collective farms in the South left something to be desired; but he did not ascribe them to bad weather.(6)
One and all were uplifted at discovering among the Soviets “that sense of collective purpose and planning so notably lacking in England and the United States in 1932.” (7) A less publicized effect of the trip was to establish channels of communication between the Socialist Fatherland and the new Fabian leadership. Informed circles in Britain also aver that in the course of this visit arrangements were made for the return of the old Fabian-Labour Research Bureau files, purloined by the Soviet agent Rajani Palme Dutt and containing names, records and statistical data of special value to Socialists.
By 1934 the Fabian Society had turned over all its research activities and most of its propaganda work to the New Fabian Research Bureau. With the “nonpolitical” help of the Bureau, a number of Fabian intellectuals won parliamentary seats in the 1935 elections. That year the Labour Party formally renounced the slogan, “No Arms for a Tory Government,” but as a matter of practical politics the Party’s spokesmen and allies still contrived to delay every effort by patriotic Britons to rearm their country swiftly in the face of Hitler’s mounting military might. How much the Labour Party politicking and Fabian-fabricated propaganda in educational, trade union and social circles weakened the position of British diplomats and speeded the drift to war is a chapter Fabian historians prefer to pass over lightly. Those pacifist intrigues were calculated to transcend party lines and to enlist confused individuals at all levels of society.
Most people today have forgotten that Sir Oswald Mosley and his wife, the former Cynthia Curzon, were ardent Fabian Socialists in the nineteen-twenties and early nineteen-thirties. A wing of the Society shared their misplaced admiration for Hitler, who also called himself a Socialist. Even George Bernard Shaw—more intimately informed than some on Soviet trends, and possibly anticipating the Nazi-Soviet Pact—uttered warm words in favor of the former Austrian house painter. In the years leading up to World War II the Mosley faction, due in part to Sir Oswald’s elegant antecedents, succeeded in permeating certain upper-class circles and inducing them to oppose arms appropriations by Parliament.
As leader of a neo-Fascist Party in Britain today—a noise-making fringe organization which gives no evidence of mass support—Sir Oswald still appears to serve Fabian ends by indirection. His frequent rowdy weekend demonstrations tend to alarm moderate elements among British voters and give Socialists an- opportunity to picture themselves as the desirable happy medium between a largely fictitious right-extremism and a very real left-extremism that Fabians at no time have seriously opposed.
With the announcement of the Munich Pact, dictated as much by Britain’s military weakness as by the visible strength of the Nazi war machine, it became obvious to almost everyone that a general European war was imminent. Though Fabians have invariably depicted themselves as the world’s greatest peace lovers, their political philosophy obliged them to welcome the coming cataclysm as a priceless opportunity for Socialist expansion. Here was the long-awaited conflict which ( as Karl Marx had foretold, and as every Socialist devoutly hoped) would at last destroy the capitalist system and lead straight to social revolution in even the most persistently capitalist countries! In a mood of preparedness which they had notably failed to display in their country’s defense, Britain’s Fabian Socialists closed ranks and regrouped their forces in expectation of a postwar takeover.
After some preliminary palaver, the New Fabian Research Bureau and the Fabian Society agreed in 1938 to amalgamate, thus making a long-standing liaison official. The fifty-five year old Basis was scrapped in favor of a new constitution with more modern phrasing but identical aims, which remains the present constitution of the Society. After announcing as usual that “The Fabian Society consists of Socialists, “ the revised document stated:
“It therefore aims at the establishment of a society in which . . . the economic power of individuals and classes (shall be) abolished through the collective ownership and democratic control of the economic resources of the community. It seeks to secure these ends by the methods of political democracy.”
The new constitution also specified:
“The [Fabian] Society shall be affiliated to the Labour Party. Its activities shall be the furtherance of Socialism and the education of the public along socialist lines by the holding of meetings, lectures, discussion groups, conferences and summer schools; the promotion of research into political, economic and social problems, national and international; the publication of books, pamphlets and periodicals; and by any other appropriate means.” (9)
In self-defense, the rules of the modernized Society included the same “self-denying ordinance” adopted by the Research Bureau. No resolution of a political nature, taking a stand or calling for action, was to be issued in the name of the Society. Delegates to the Labour Party and other conferences were to be nominally uninstructed. Thus the Fabian Society retained freedom from Labour Party discipline, while its informally coached members could exert their influence separately or in concert within the Labour Party and other outside organizations.
The Research Bureau still remained supreme, being authorized to name nine members to the joint Executive “by co-option,” that is, without the formality of election by the Society’s general membership—a strange example of political democracy at work. It continued, as before, to transmit Executive-approved material to allegedly “independent” persons and organizations that might or might not be known as Socialist: a classic subterfuge reminiscent of that old master of the political black arts, Sidney Webb.
Though the total listed membership of the Fabian Society then numbered fewer than two thousand, every one was a hard-core Socialist, frequently boasting a personal following and a well-established reputation in the political, labor, education or communication fields. As a symbol of the Society’s longevity, the elderly Beatrice Webb was invited to serve as first president of the reconstituted body. Despite the rigged Moscow treason trials and blood-purges, the Nazi-Soviet Pact that triggered World War II, the rape of Finland, the seizure of Poland and the Baltic States, the old lady’s devotion to the Soviet Fatherland never wavered.
Other Fabians, who sometimes found such vagaries hard to explain, were almost indecently prompt in condoning them when the Nazis invaded Russia in June, 1941, and the Soviet Union became a wartime Ally of Britain. While Winston Churchill remarked wryly, “If the devil declared war on Hitler, I should feel obliged to mention him favorably in the House of Commons,” members of the Fabian Society took a more cordial view. Communist treachery and brutalities were forgotten in their delight at feeling together again. (10) Hastily the Research Bureau assembled a volume of essays entitled Our Soviet Ally and issued a best-seller pamphlet. Fabian lecturers, following the example of Victor Gollancz, stirred intellectual and trade union audiences by telling them that as allies of the “noble Socialist State” it now became their duty to achieve Socialism in Britain as rapidly as possible!
“Leave the conduct of the war to the Tory politicians, and prepare yourselves to take over at war’s end,” Fabian insiders were coolly instructed. Obviously, the advice was not meant to deter Fabian stalwarts from securing the best available civilian openings for themselves in the wartime Ministries and Civil Service; it rather urged them to utilize such positions for advancing postwar aims, as formulated by the Society’s War Aims Research Committee.
With the fall of the Chamberlain government in 1940, four veteran Fabians had already been named to the War Cabinet—Clement Attlee, Hugh Dalton, Arthur Greenwood (11) and Herbert Morrison. Four junior Ministers were Fabians, and more than a dozen others served as parliamentary private secretaries. As wartime Ambassador to Moscow, Beatrice Webb’s favorite nephew, Sir Stafford Cripps, labored to ensure the survival of the Socialist Fatherland. Cold-shouldered in public by the Russians, he continued to treat them with loving kindness.
While the war lasted, Fabians of Cabinet rank were obliged to render lip service to the War Government, which they did in a bland and superficially correct manner. At the same time, they were able to open many official doors to Fabians of secondary rank, who pursued their Socialist objectives freely. Various members of the Society, including Hugh Gaitskell and E. F. M. Durbin, climbed happily in the wartime Civil Service; while other Fabian Socialist nominees were planted in key spots on special commissions and investigative bodies. Sir William Beveridge, a protégé of the Webbs for over thirty years, bluntly asked Ernest Bevin, Minister of Labour, to put him in charge of a manpower survey for the United Kingdom, including colonial manpower. When his request was granted in 1940, the liberal Sir William quickly enlisted the services of G. D. H. Cole and a whole crew of Fabian researchers, who familiarized themselves at first hand with a wealth of current data relating to the working-class electorate.
In 1940, while the rest of the country was mourning the disaster at Dunkirk, the fertile planners of the Fabian War Aims Research Committee spawned a sinister offshoot—their own private Colonial Bureau! It was set up to deal directly with the colonial territories, then becoming increasingly involved in the war. Under cover of war’s confusion and Great Britain’s desperate need for support, this conspiratorial Bureau devoted itself to fostering nationalist movements in colonial areas—chiefly, but not exclusively, British. The Fabian Colonial Bureau (since renamed the Fabian Commonwealth Bureau) was established in October, 1940, as a separate section of the Society, with the globe-trotting Arthur Creech-Jones as chairman and Rita Hinden, Ph.D., as permanent secretary.
Although questions relating to India and Palestine were still routed to the Fabian Society’s Executive, the rest of the colonial world was the Bureau’s oyster and Africa its particular pearl. The first research pamphlet published by the Fabian Colonial Bureau, Labour and the Colonies, gave a Socialist twist to material obtained from the manpower survey. Its first book-length offering was Rita Hinden’s Plan for Africa; and it printed at least one pamphlet, America’s Colonial Record, by John Collier who headed the United States Government’s (American) Indian Bureau under Harold Ickes!
Flagrantly anti-imperialist, the Fabian Colonial Bureau fanned the sparks of discontent by publicizing every controversial aspect of British colonial rule—through parliamentary questions, briefing of M.P.’s for debate, letters to the press and a monthly journal, Empire. (12) During the war and after, it maintained personal contacts with a network of chosen native politicians, many already versed in Socialist doctrines derived from Fabian professors at English universities—including Kwame Nkrumah of Ghana, Tom Mboya, Secretary of Kenya’s KANU Party and Jomo Kenyatta,(13) leader of postwar Mau Mau atrocities in Kenya. While Great Britain battled for survival against the most efficient war machine in history, this strictly unauthorized, private Bureau had the hardihood to draft postwar plans for separating the colonies from the mother country, according to a gradualist Fabian timetable.
When a Labour Party Government was acclaimed in 1945, the chairman of the Fabian Colonial Bureau, Arthur Creech-Jones, was promptly posted to the Government’s Colonial Bureau—first as Assistant Secretary for the Colonies, then as Secretary. There he was at liberty to translate Socialist programs, privately concocted by Fabian researchers, into official action by the British Government. In a remarkably short time one jewel after another was plucked from the Imperial Crown, sometimes to the accompaniment of native turmoil and bloodshed—India first, then a succession of territories step by step. What the various colonial demands for independence, presented by a handful of highly articulate native leaders skilled at arousing the primitive masses, owed to Fabian tutelage and prodding is a question that still merits research. Certainly Great Britain’s postwar decision to divest herself progressively of her colonies (as the Fabian News proudly proclaimed) “owes more than can yet be properly assessed to painstaking Fabian work which permeated, in true Fabian tradition, the thinking, not only of the Labour Movement, but gradually of wider circles as well.” (14)
With the creation of the Fabian International Bureau in December, 1941, the structure of the mid-century Fabian Society was complete. Nominally, the International Bureau was organized as a secretariat and clearing house for Socialists in exile, who had found asylum in wartime London and dreamed of heading postwar governments in their homelands after liberation. Actually, it became the directing force of the Socialist International in which German Social Democrats had once played the leading role. Due to its interest in the political aspects of the various liberation movements and its connections with underground groups in the occupied countries, the Fabian International Bureau operated from the start under rules of extreme secrecy. No membership lists or details of its activities were ever published, although the names of its officers and Advisory Committee were always public property.
The first chairman of the International Bureau, which like the Colonial Bureau operated as a separate section of the Society with its own membership lists and affiliates, was Philip Noel-Baker, M.P.—a future Nobel peace prize winner like Dr. Martin Luther King and a Minister in the 1945-51 Labour Governments. This particular Bureau combined underground work with research in international matters; ran a lecture bureau that scheduled propaganda tours for selected publicists; and drafted plans for Britain’s postwar foreign policy, which it proposed to dovetail with an international Socialist policy in foreign affairs. Failing to take into account factors of power-politics, the Fabian International Bureau looked forward starry-eyed to an era of mutual trust and reciprocity between the Soviet Union and Britain after the war. For the United States, the Bureau advocated the scheme of Federal Union with Britain as a prelude to Socialist World Government—a Fabian doctrine promoted even before America entered the war by R. W. G. Mackay, member of the International Bureau’s first Advisory Committee, together with the well-known Anglo-American publicist, Clarence K. Streit.
The Labour Party’s return to power at war’s end was virtually assured three years earlier, as the result of a shrewdly planned and carefully stage-managed propaganda coup that bypassed the political truce which all parties in Britain had pledged themselves to respect during the war. On December 9, 1941, just two days after Pearl Harbor, t~ very social-minded Sir William Beveridge celebrated the ending of his War Manpower Committee with a cocktail party—”the high point,” as he remarked frivolously, “of a day which included a thirty-five minute personal interview with H. M. the King.” (15) On December 11, he submitted a basic memorandum to the Government regarding the cause and cure of poverty. Within a month, at the instigation of two Fabian Cabinet Ministers, Arthur Greenwood and Ernest Bevin, Sir William was appointed a one-man committee to report on the possibilities of ending poverty through a system of State-financed social insurance.
Since his youth, Fabian patronage had molded the career of Sir William (later Lord) Beveridge. Back in 1909, when Fabians were busily penetrating the Liberal Party, Sidney and Beatrice Webb had recommended “the boy Beveridge” to Winston Churchill, himself an active Liberal at the time. Ten years later Beveridge was the Webbs’ chosen candidate for director of their beloved London School of Economics. Before assuming that position, which he held from 1919 to 1937, Sir William recalls that Sidney Webb was the only trustee with whom he conferred. In 1923 Beveridge received a postcard from Graham Wallas—one of the original Big Four of the Fabian Society— informing him that Beardsley Ruml, a director of the Laura Spelman Rockefeller Fund, was en route to England and would make a special trip to Liverpool to confer with him. As a result of that meeting and the contacts ensuing from it, Sir William eventually extracted some millions of dollars from private foundations in the United States to endow chairs in the social sciences, as well as to erect the new buildings in Bloomsbury now occupied by the leftist school.
Sir William was something of a social lion in his later years. His Olympian dignity, conversational gifts and talent for moving in high society made him a priceless tool of Fabian permeation on both sides of the Atlantic. Always one of Beatrice Webb’s “obedient young men,” his reputation for profundity was assured by a succession of Fabian researchers and ghostwriters—who at one time included Harold Wilson, M.P. (16) Through the agency of this synthetic but imposing personage, the Fabian turtle struck—and struck hard enough to assure the political defeat three years later of the noblest Briton of them all, Sir Winston-Churchill!
Early in the war, a subcommittee of the Fabian Society had prepared a volume of essays on Social Security, edited by W. A. Robson of New Fabian Research but not published until 1943. All the material contained in those essays was presented to Beveridge in the form of “collective evidence” when the authors “testified” before Sir William and a group of interdepartmental employees called in for appearance’s sake to “assist” him. Such testimony formed the basis for a report signed and submitted by Sir William alone—”one man disguised as a Committee,” he noted gleefully, a situation without precedent in British Government circles. (17) Published in December, 1942, the widely-touted Beveridge Report had repercussions which in the opinion of Sir William and his friends quite eclipsed the painful war news of the day from North Africa.
In his effort to muster the virtually unarmed British people for the battles and sacrifices ahead, all that Winston Churchill had honestly been able to promise was blood, toil, tears and sweat. Unless and until the war was won, there was no security on earth; and in December, 1942, the outcome of the war was still problematical. Yet here was Sir William Beveridge offering everyone paradise unlimited, as if victory were already assured. He announced that poverty could and should be abolished through a species of State-administered insurance extending from the womb to the tomb. To a bomb-shattered, blitz-shocked nation and to the anxious troops overseas, his message was enticing. That was precisely what the Fabians, with their cynical grasp of mass psychology, had planned.
If the Beveridge Report had been shelved until after the war, as at first seemed likely, it might have caused little commotion. Fabian Socialists had no intention, however, of allowing their master stroke to be quietly deflected. Somehow, word of the Report’s “exciting” contents was leaked in advance to news correspondents, not by Sir William in person, but by a “friendly Embassy” to which he had submitted a preliminary draft. It was the friendly American Embassy, headed by John G. Winant—whose appointment as an “ideal Ambassador” to the Court of St. James had been suggested to President Roosevelt by the arch-Fabian, Harold Laski. (18) For several weeks following the news leak, Sir William was in disgrace and ignored by his government.
All at once, Beveridge was summoned to a press conference at which the Minister of Information, Brendan Bracken, presided. The same evening he was invited to discuss his report over a world-wide British Broadcasting Company hook up that reached the fighting troops abroad. Brendan Bracken, who had served as Winston Churchill’s private secretary, did not act in this instance without authorization. Pressure had been exerted by highly placed “friends” in America to insure the widest possible publicity for the Beveridge Report—pressure which Prime Minister Churchill, as a suppliant for United States war aid, was in no position to resist and to which he yielded without comment.
As Sir William himself confided, in a memoir modestly entitled Power and Influence: “My friend Mrs. Eugene Meyer of the Washington Post, when at last I did manage to get a copy to her by the Embassy bag, cabled to me on December 9 that the effect over there was electrifying. Professor A. D. Lindsay, just returned from a visit to America, wrote me on December 24 that he had found universal interest in the report all over the United States, and that President Roosevelt had talked of getting it made into a congressional document and having a million copies distributed. Though this did not happen, the British Government [sic] arranged with Macmillan”s in New York for an American edition to be printed at top speed and netted $5,000 for the [British] Treasury.”(19)
In Britain, the public boom of the report was fantastic—partly due to skillful briefing of the press, partly because the report itself played so shamelessly on the deep-rooted hopes and fears of ordinary Englishmen. Lord Pakenham, the Fabian peer and absentee Irish landlord who served as Sir William’s aide, admits to having been “extremely active” in his contacts with the newspaper world. Describing the effect of those news stones on the British housewife, His Lordship tells how, early in the morning after the Beveridge Report was made public, he stopped at a newspaper shop to see the headlines he had helped to plant. (20)
“Papers?” said the old lady in charge. “You don’t think I’ve got any left. It’s that Sir William Beveridge!”
“What’s he done now?” asked Lord Pakenham, pretending innocence as usual.
“It’s what he’s going to do!” answered the poor old lady. “He’s going to abolish want!”
In retrospect the whole performance seems a cruel farce, perpetrated for the shabbiest reasons of political advantage on a hungry and hopeful nation at war. Within a few weeks Sir William was the best-known character in England, more conspicuous for the moment than Sir Winston Churchill himself. A Gallup Poll showed that nineteen of every twenty adults in Britain had heard of his report, and the average Briton was dazzled by that picture of a bright, new world. Such results were not casually achieved. Lord Pakenham confesses that he alone made 250 speeches to help sell the Beveridge Report to the public; and other Fabian propagandists swung simultaneously into action throughout the land.
Shortly after its publication, the National Council of Labour (representing all trade unions), the Cooperative Union and the Labour Party unanimously approved the report, and called on the Government to introduce the necessary legislation for an overall program of cradle-to-grave “security”—literally, an impossibility in time of war or peace! Generously, the Fabian Society loaned its research secretary, Joan Clarke, to the Labour Party to aid in organizing a nationwide Social Security League and in keeping the issue alive among the voters. Whenever the agitation seemed in danger of subsiding, Fabian Members of Parliament on the Labour benches revived it by needling the War Government for an official statement of postwar intentions, and by demanding proof that government leaders could be “trusted” in that regard. Socialism was never mentioned—only social benefits. Most Englishmen were unaware that the blessings so freely promised must be paid for in time, not merely out of earnings but at the price of total dependence on a bureaucratic State.
On February 3, 1945, Arthur Creech-Jones, M.P., member of the Executive of the British Labour Party and chairman of the Fabian Colonial Bureau, addressed the 40th Anniversary dinner event of the League for Industrial Democracy at the Hotel Astor in New York City. There he announced brazenly: “We anticipate before long that our movement will be in power …. We believe that the time will not be very far after making of peace in Europe …. The movement is preparing for this great opportunity.” (21)
Before the year ended, his prediction had become a reality. To the astonishment of most of the world, the British people renounced their wartime leader, Winston Churchill. Instead, they voted into office a Labour Party government dominated by a secret society of Fabian Socialist intellectuals who were pledged to dissolve the Empire and the economic structure sustaining it. Only the Fabians and their friends showed no surprise. That little band of prophets knew in advance what the election returns would be. Through a combination of long-term “research,” a coldly calculated appeal to mass psychology and a deep-dyed duplicity, Socialism had achieved full power in Britain by “constitutional” means. While congratulating themselves on exploiting the methods of political democracy, Englishmen overlooked the fact that only a few years earlier the late Adolf Hitler’s party had been elected no less legally and democratically—and with equally firm intentions of subverting the constitution that made possible its rise to power.
So Britannia won the war and abandoned her symbol of victory. In doing so, she moved to release colonies which promptly developed into pensioners instead of assets—and of which many have since signed separate trade and “technical aid” treaties with Soviet Russia or its satellites. At the same time, Britons voted themselves quite cheerfully into Socialist bondage at home, transposing the major strains of “Rule Britannia” into a plaintive minor key. What had once been a stirring victory march became, for the time being, a dirge. So Britons never, never, never shall be slaves? Never? Well, hardly ever!
1. “Our research department has not yet discovered (though success is hourly expected) how to produce any virtue.” C. S. Lewis, The Screwtape Letters (New York, The Macmillan Co., 1960), 1960 ed., p. 146, Letter XXIX.
2. Kingsley Martin, Harold Laski: A Biographical Memoir (New York, The Viking Press, Inc., 1953), pp. 52-53.
3. Richard M. Titmuss and Brian Abel-Smith assisted by Tony Lynes, Social Policies and Population Growth in Mauritius. A report to the Governor of Mauritius. (London, Methuen & Co., Ltd., no date).
4. G. D. H. Cole, “Remembering the New Fabian Research Bureau,” Fabian Journal, No. 19 (July, 1956), pp. 2-5 (Newsletter).
6. As late as 1946, Margaret Cole stated cold-bloodedly: “It was not until after the experiences of the winter of 1932-33 that the Soviet collective farming really got on its feet.” Margaret Cole, Beatrice Webb, (New York, Harcourt Brace, 19460, p. 195.
7. Margaret Cole, The Story of Fabian Socialism (London, Heinemann Educational Books, Ltd., 1961), pp. 228-229.
9. As a condition for full membership, the Fabian Society required that applicants be eligible for membership in the Labour Party. Associate memberships in the Society were provided for “members of other radical parties,” including the Communist Party.
10. Cole, op. cit., p. 270.
11. Arthur Greenwood’s son, Anthony Greenwood, M.P., became the Fabian Socialist Secretary of State for Colonies in the Labour Party Government of October, 1964.
12. “The Fabian Commonwealth Bureau,” Fabian News (April, 1958).
13. Nkrumah and Kenyatta also studied in Moscow.
14. “The Fabian Commonwealth Bureau,” Fabian News (April, 1958).
15. Lord Beveridge, Power and Influence (New York, The Beechhurst Press, Inc., 1955), pp. 306ff.
16. Beveridge, op. cit., p. 260.
17. Ibid., pp. 317-318.
18. Letter from Harold Laski to Felix Frankfurter, quoted by Kingsley Martin, op. cit., p. 139.
19. Beveridge, op. cit., p. 320.
20. Lord Pakenham, Born to Believe, An Autobiography (London, Jonathan Cape, 1953), pp. 125ff.
21. Forty Years of Education (New York, League for Industrial Democracy, 1945), p. 31.