Chapter 4 of the book Fabian Freeway.
The demonic spirits of the Fabian Society, Shaw and Webb, lived long enough to see a number of their destructive hopes fulfilled. Progress of their brainchild in the twentieth century far outstripped its fin de siecle promise. Still guarded in its movements and as nearly invisible as possible, the Society became the directing force of Socialism not only in Britain but throughout the Empire it schemed to dissolve. Leading Fabians had been making world tours since 1898, and since that time colonial units of the Society had multiplied and prospered. When the colonial administrators departed, native Fabians, educated at the London School of Economics, were ready and all too willing to take a hand in shaping Socialist-oriented Commonwealth governments.
In Britain the influence of the Society had grown steadily, if imperceptibly, until it dominated a major political party—a far cry from its small beginnings. Even in its fledgling years, however, the Society had been able to obtain cooperation whenever required from all domestic Socialist factions, because individual Fabians were active in each of these splinter groups. At one time or another, Fabian projects and candidates had received support from the Radical Clubs, the Progressives, the Cooperative Union, the National Reform League, the Social Democratic Federation, the Independent Labour Party, and other left wing bodies. By refusing to identify itself with any of them, the Fabian Society survived them all and went on to larger things.
An exception to this rule was eventually made in the case of the Labour Party, founded and directed throughout its history by top-echelon Fabians. (Today, members of the Fabian Society must be eligible for membership in the Labour Party, though the reverse is not the case.) As Fabians gradually moved into positions of power with the support of British Labour, they have utilized that power for the advancement of Socialism abroad as well as at home.
It is not surprising that their first decisive action in foreign affairs was undertaken for the benefit of their brothers-under-the-skin in Moscow. The sweeping threat by British trade unions to “down tools” in 1920 was instigated by an arch-Fabian, Arthur Henderson. This threat effectively ended British military intervention in Russia and enabled the Bolsheviks to capture large stores of British-made munitions—a decisive factor in the survival of Bolshevik armed rule, as Joseph Stalin suggested in an interview with George Bernard Shaw and the Liberal Party leader, Lord Lothian,(1) later Ambassador to Washington.
Throughout the nineteen-twenties, Fabian-instructed Labour groups and Fabian Members of Parliament pressed for renewal of trade relations by Great Britain and other nations with Soviet Russia. Their pretext was that such trade would provide more employment for British workers and more votes for the Labour Party—though it is hard to see how revived commerce between the Soviet Union and Weimar Germany could have aided the British working man. What the Fabians aimed at was a three-cornered interchange between themselves, their Social Democrat confreres in Germany and the Soviet Socialist Republics, all leading, as Shaw remarked, “to Socialist control of trade at the consular level.”
Arthur Henderson, long a member of the Fabian Executive, was the Foreign Minister, who in 1929 engineered British diplomatic recognition of Bolshevik Russia and paved the way for similar recognition by the United States, in a period when the Soviets’ internal economy and external prestige were perilously low. Little was said or even hinted as to just how far such “cooperation” advanced the various Communist five-year plans and permitted the Soviet Union, with its technique of bloodbaths, intrigue, sedition, and guerilla warfare, to acquire the imperial status abandoned after World War II by England. It is noteworthy that Fabian publicists today no longer refer to Great Britain, but simply to Britain.
The once-imperial island, which no foreign force for a thousand years could violate, finally succumbed to Fabian guile. What Phillip’s Spain, Napoleon’s France, the Kaiser’s and Hitler’s Germany had all failed to achieve, a small band of home-grown Socialists peacefully accomplished. How Fabians performed this feat in approximately three-quarters of a century is a mystery that the Society would now prefer to dismiss as fiction. A glance at the record, however, confirms the facts and provides a neat object-lesson for other nations where allegedly “gentle” and “humane” Socialists aspire to power.
From the beginning, the destructive nature of Fabian Socialism was never made sufficiently clear to the British public. The good manners of the Fabians tended to veil their revolutionary purpose and render it improbable to all but the initiate. To gain popular sympathy, the Society concealed its will-to-power behind a series of apparently benign social welfare programs and preached the brotherhood of man for the attainment of purely material ends. Whenever possible, its members attached themselves to existing reform movements which in the long run gained prominence and preferment for Fabian leaders. In every decade of the twentieth century, Fabians have claimed the credit for every Liberal reform.
Thus, gradual and penetrating Socialism came to be accepted as mere reformism, and its practitioners escaped the censure directed at Socialists of the catastrophic school. As George Bernard Shaw announced in 1948, the Fabian Society was “still alive and doing its work, which is to rescue Socialism and Communism from the barricades.” One no longer even needed to read Marx and Engels in order to advance their programs. Cunningly, Fabian Socialism represented itself as “a constitutional movement in which the most respected citizens and families may enlist, without forfeiting the least scrap of their social or spiritual (sic) standing.”(2) To emphasize the Society’s regard for family ties, a single membership sufficed for both husband and wife. Their children, instructed in Fabian nurseries for adolescents, grew up into revolution without ever realizing there was any other way.
In the course of nearly four generations, some highly respected names in modern British letters and learning have been connected with the Fabian Society, either as dues-paying members or willing collaborators.(3) In the field of history, there were such gifted individuals as G. M. Trevelyan, Philip Guedalla, Arnold Toynbee. Philosopher-statesman Lord Haldane also belonged to the Society, according to a Fabian News obituary. There was R. H. Tawney, economist, social historian and long time member of the Fabian Executive, known for his personal piety, devotion to the Virgin Mary and bitter anti-capitalist bias. A whole series of Fabians held membership in the Royal Economic Society, which George Bernard Shaw and a few fellow Social Democrats had helped to launch many years before, and contributed regularly to its Journal edited for a time by John Maynard Keynes.
In science, the Society claimed Sir Julian Huxley as well as a number of Nobel prize winners, more noted for their scientific attainments than their political acumen. University tutors and professors were legion—among them such venerated figures as A. D. Lindsay, the Master of Balliol, and Sidney Ball, don of St. John’s, Oxford, until his death in 1918, and founder of the Oxford Social Club that sponsored Fabian lecturers. Military opinion was represented by the late Brigadier General C. B. Thomson, and Captain B. H. Liddell Hart, military correspondent for the Times and proponent of the theory of defensive warfare, who, in recent years, has addressed official Fabian Society gatherings.
Fabian poets included Maurice Hewlett and Rupert Brooke, the Cambridge undergraduate who died in military service during World War I. Among editors holding membership in the Society were Harold Cox, M.P., of the Edinburgh Review, A. J. Orage of the New Age, and S. K. Ratcliffe of the New Statesman, who also served as London representative of the New Republic. The publishing fraternity was represented by Raymond Unwin, of the firm of Allen and Unwin, whose books were reprinted in America by Macmillan; Leonard Woolf, husband of the well-known writer Virginia Woolf, and himself the author of a Fabian document, International Government, which was an early blueprint for the League of Nations; and Victor Gollancz of Left Book Club notoriety, who also published the Fabian News.
So many successful writers and publicists have been aligned with the Fabian Society that an innocent observer might easily have mistaken it for a kind of logrolling literary society. Among them were Arnold Bennett, H. G. Wells, Rebecca West, John Galsworthy, Granville Barker, Harold Nicolson, St. John Ervine, Constance Garnett, (4) Francis Hackett, Jerome K. Jerome, Robert Dell, E. M. Forster, Aldous Huxley, J. B. Priestley, J. C. Squire, Desmond McCarthy, Naomi Mitchison, and a host of others. They have ranged from the frankly Marxist John Strachey to the neo-Catholic Barbara Ward, propagandist for African nationalism. Even Monsignor Ronald Knox confessed to having joined the Oxford Fabian Society and G. K. Chesterton was once a Fabian, but both withdrew from the movement prior to their conversion to the Catholic faith.
As an authority on the subject has remarked, “Fabians appeared in so many desirable liberal (and cultural) connections that they could scarcely be believed to be subversive of private property or of liberty. (5). The London School of Economics, aided by grants from the Rockefeller Foundation, was growing to world renown as “the Empire on Which the concrete never sets.” Scant attention was paid to the fact that its lecturers in economics and the so-called political and social “sciences” were almost invariably Fabian Socialists or their bedfellows. Many persons who disagreed with its politics relished the good style and literary flair of the New Statesman–a weekly “journal of opinion” founded by the Webbs in 1913, financed, edited and written largely by Fabians though nominally independent of the Society.
In their mannerly, welfare-bent, cultivated and studious fashion, Fabian Socialists were progressively undermining the foundations of the British Empire and the age-old liberties of Englishmen as a more stridently revolutionary movement could hardly have succeeded in doing. “As much freedom as possible consistent with public control of the means of production” became their slogan: a formula that denies liberty itself as a basic human right, and begs the question as to how much of it is possible under State control of private initiative. Only Shaw, in his old age, warned that a great deal more regulation than most people anticipated, including stern restriction of trade union activity, would be inevitable in the elite-ruled Socialist state; but his realistic view of the promised land was dismissed as just another tired, Shavian paradox.
While the Fabian Society consists chiefly of middle class intellectuals, it has never been intolerant of affluence or noble birth if they furthered the Fabian cause. Peers like Lord Parmoor and Lord Henry Bentinck, offshoot of a famous Liberal family, graced the membership lists of the Society even before a Labour Party Government created its own non-hereditary peerage. One of the earliest aristocratic converts to Socialism had been the Countess of Warwick, young, beautiful and a friend of King Edward VII. The Countess was so much impressed by what her new-found friends were doing to “help the poor” that she donated her country house, Easton Lodge, to the Fabians for a perpetual weekend haven and conference center.
Earlier still, Charlotte Payne-Townshend, an Anglo-Irish convert to Socialism known as “the millionairess,” had been induced by Beatrice Webb to contribute a thousand pounds to the London School of Economics. As a reward, Beatrice Webb introduced her to the indigent Fabian, George Bernard Shaw, whose poverty was soon abolished by marriage to Charlotte Payne-Townshend. Before wedding her in a civil ceremony, Shaw insisted on extracting a marriage settlement from his Charlotte—a somewhat cold-blooded procedure, but a clear indication of how highly prized by Fabians was personal solvency. Shaw later earned substantial sums from his propagandizing plays and essays; but fortunately for him and many another Fabian, royalties and dowries were never a form of wealth marked for nationalization by the Society.
It was the wily Shaw who also perceived the possibility of utilizing the poor to finance the political advancement of Socialists. As early as 1893 he had been the first to propose using trade union funds to elect Socialists to Parliament—a scheme whose vast potential was not fully apparent in an era when only a small segment of British labor was organized. As the trade unions grew in numbers and wealth under Fabian-tutored leaders, the method suggested by Shaw would propel Fabian Socialists into positions of national control. Much slow, painstaking political and educational work by Fabians, culminating in a brand-new alignment of political parties in Great Britain, was necessary to bring those hopes to fruition.
When Fabian Essays was published in 1889, only a little over 10 per cent of Great Britain’s industrial workers belonged to trade unions. It was understandable—though not quite pardonable—that the Essays should have failed to include any mention whatever of the subject. This omission was hastily repaired with the publication in 1894 of a History of Trades Unionism by the Webbs, who saw the light in ample time to take advantage of it. As a practical step towards political power, the Labour Representation Committee was formed at Sidney Webb’s suggestion in 1899.
Despite its resounding title, that committee was at first no more than a representative collection of Socialist splinter groups, convoked to find ways and means of obtaining parliamentary seats for Socialists in the name of Labour. Discreetly, the Fabian Society sent only one delegate, the mole-like Edward R. Pease, A well-disciplined committeeman, Pease avoided controversy and in a shadowy way exerted much influence on organization through the years. The Society, as such, remained in the background.
One reason why the Fabian Society preferred to avoid the limelight was in order to avert any direct challenge to its leadership role in the Socialist movement. Another was the harsh fact that some Labour men, then as now, regarded the Society as being almost too high-toned for comfort. For a good many years its sole working-class member was a London house painter, W. L. Phillips, author of Fabian Tract No. 1, Why Are the Many Poor? As late as 1923 there was not one “proletarian” on the Fabian Executive; and even today there are still Divisional Labour Party leaders and agents in Great Britain to whom the term Fabian merely implies “that snob Society.”
Anonymity in the Labour Representation Committee involved no real sacrifice for the Society, because individual Fabians wearing other hats were on hand to defend its interests. Keir Hardie was there as head of the Independent Labour Party, at that early date the leading Socialist political party in Great Britain. Hardie was a member of the Fabian Society, though some called him undisciplined. Similarly, Ramsay MacDonald, who was chairman of the Committee and also headed the new Labour Party, belonged for some years to the Society. Arthur Henderson, a former Wesleyan minister and an admitted Fabian from 1912, was permanent treasurer of the Committee as well as MacDonald’s chief personal aide. Originally the British Labour Party, which grew out of this committee, was just another Socialist splinter group.
It was a strange masquerade, which deceived no one except the public, but in the end it served its purpose—namely, to decoy organized labor into the Fabian Socialist trap. Results were not immediately apparent, and patience was recommended. Though trade unions were urged to affiliate with the Committee, and the Independent Labour Party worked to infiltrate the trade unions, the first acceptance did not come until 1903, from the Gasworkers’ Union. Fabian historians complain that the initial fee for union affiliation was fixed much too low, provoking some difficulties when the Committee found itself obliged to raise the tariff. Socialists were finding that it cost more money to win elections than they had supposed.
The rather modest success of this committee in gaining seats for Socialists in the parliamentary elections of 1906 and 1911 justified its existence. During those years the Labour group in Parliament operated chiefly as a pressure bloc within the Liberal Party, and due to its relative weakness it was neither disliked nor feared. As yet, no one except its Fabian mentors could be sure whether the little Labour Party was an advance guard of Socialism or a mere appendage of Liberalism. It was the outbreak of war in 1914 that offered Fabian Socialism its big opportunity to organize a mass Labour Party on the home front, while the flower of old England was dying on the first traditional, thin, red battle lines.
Many years before, Karl Marx had predicted that a general European war would give Socialists an opening to capture power. That proved to be the case in Russia, and to a more limited extent in other parts of Europe. In England, the country where the capitalism of our era was born and originally demonstrated its dynamic force, the advance of Socialism was more deliberate. Not one, but two World Wars were needed to reduce that island fortress. Nevertheless, the Fabian tortoise, as if guided by Marxian precepts, moved during World War I to strike its first major blow. The men most responsible for inciting it were Sidney Webb and Arthur Henderson, who combined their treacherous efforts in a period of political truce to form a new-style Labour Party quite unlike the old semi-pressure group.
On August 6, 1914, the War Emergency Workers’ Committee was born and proved to be the most influential single event in the creation of the revised Labour Party. The Emergency Committee’s chairman, until he joined the Government, was Arthur Henderson; and its secretary was J. S. Middleton, Assistant Secretary of the Labour Party. Both were members and tools of the Fabian Society. While Sidney Webb held no official position on the War Emergency Workers’ Committee, his skill in drafting statements and bringing unlikely groups together under one roof assured him a leading role.
Looking more than ever like a tintype of Napoleon III, the aging but agile Sidney was cast for the role which suited him best—that of a mastermind behind the scenes, exerting influence without responsibility, the Gray Eminence of a Socialist mass party to be manipulated in Labour’s name. Within a week after the wartime Committee was set up, Webb had prepared and issued Fabian Tract No. 176, The War and the Workers, for distribution throughout the country. This tract urged branches of all participating groups to set up local Emergency Committees, presumably to defend the wartime and postwar living standards of labor and to help keep the working force on the production lines. It is noteworthy that a series of conferences on “Restoring Trade Union Conditions after the War” was held in Fabian Hall and the audiences heard Beatrice Webb and other Fabian Socialists reject the Whitley Council System of capital-labor-government cooperation.
The War Emergency Workers’ Committee, in effect, delivered organized British labor into Socialist hands. It embraced The Trades Union Congress and the General Federation of Trades Unions; the powerful Miners’, Railwaymen and Transport Workers’ Unions; the Cooperative Movement and Wholesale Society; the Women’s Labour League and Cooperative Guild; the London Trade Council; the National Union of Teachers—in addition to the Labour Party and the Socialist Societies. Joint local committees of all these organizations would provide the base for a new national party to include “workers of hand and brain.”
Not even the urgencies of wartime can explain why the Cabinet of Lloyd George was so incautious as to present the Labour Party and the Fabian Society with virtually unlimited access to future working-class votes. Obviously, both groups were considered innocuous, a public impression the Party and the Society had taken pains to foster. As far as the War Government was concerned, the Emergency Committee proved quite useful in the summer of 1915 when the penalty clause of the Munitions of War Act was found inapplicable to a large-scale work stoppage. Since Lloyd George could not jail 200,000 striking Welsh coal miners whose output was badly needed, he welcomed the Committee’s diplomatic intervention.
In December, 1915, Sidney Webb was named the Fabian Society’s official representative on the Labour Party Executive and his collaboration with Arthur Henderson became still closer. By war’s end the Labour Party had a skeleton network of local units reaching from the Shetlands to Land’s End. It also boasted a new constitution and an overall program, both the work of Fabians.
The circumstances that produced the Labour Party’s constitution should be remembered because they illustrate so plainly the emotional effect of the Russian Revolution on British Fabians. The 1917 Revolution was hailed as a victory by Socialists of every stripe throughout the world—even though it cost Allied lives by releasing a number of German Army Divisions for service on the Western Front! In his enthusiasm, Arthur Henderson asked permission for British Labour representatives to visit Sweden along with other Allied Socialists and confer with the Russian revolutionaries. When the War Cabinet bluntly refused such facilities, Henderson was so outraged that he sat down and, with Sidney Webb’s help, wrote the new constitution for the British Labour Party.
Promptly adopted in February, 1918, it established the Labour Party as a federation of affiliated bodies to include the trade unions, the Royal Arsenal Cooperative Society, the Socialist Societies and local Labour Party units. Only delegates of these constituent groups were entitled to sit on the Party Executive or vote at its congresses—a provision that forever excluded the mere Labour Party sympathizer and independent voter from any voice or influence in Party affairs. At the same time, its Fabian architects cleverly managed to identify the Labour Party with labor as such; so that anyone opposed to its Socialist program appeared by inference to be a foe of the working man.
It is interesting to note that a similar trick of language was exploited at a later date by the authors of Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal, who contrived to equate the Democratic Party in the United States with the idea of democracy, thereby implying that all opponents of Roosevelt’s policies were enemies of democracy itself—a prime example of false logic purveyed through mass suggestion.
The new Labour Party constitution accomplished the long-hoped-for Fabian fusion of trade unionists, who furnished the votes and the money, and Socialists who dictated policy. It was an unnatural creation resembling the two-faced pagan god Janus, with, in this case, one face looking to labor for power and the other looking to Socialism for heaven on earth. To bind labor more effectively to Socialism, Sidney Webb had organized his first “tutorial class” in 1916 at the London School of Economics. There he lectured on Fabian economics and “doctrineless” Socialism to Britain’s future trade union leaders—as G. D. H. Cole and Harold Laski did after him.
This so-called adult education movement, designed to bring the Socialist-oriented university professor and the labor movement together, had been initiated at Oxford in 1906 under the sponsorship of the Workers’ Educational Association. Sometimes described as the fruit of Edwardian liberalism, it was supported from the start by such eminent Fabian Socialist dons as A. D. Lindsay, R. H. Tawney and Sidney Ball.6 Fabian Society locals at Oxford and Cambridge sent their most promising young men and women to teach at Workers’ Educational Association evening courses in nearby working class centers. It was while teaching at such a school that Lord Pakenham, the Catholic Fabian, met his future bride, a niece of Lord Curzon.
Through the Adult School and the “Labour Church,” Socialist intellectuals were able in a single generation to shape the minds and politics of those who were to bring the trade unions into the Labour Party. Such men as Ernest Bevin, who headed the Transport and General Workers’ Union representing 4,000,000 electoral votes, and Emanuel Shinwell, who succeeded Ramsay MacDonald as the idol of the radical Clydesiders, had known only four or five years of grammar school education. (7)
While Shinwell claimed to have educated himself through reading at public libraries, Bevin supplemented his formal schooling, or the lack of it, by attending the Fabian-backed Adult School classes of the Bristol Town Council. (8) In after years, as Britain’s Foreign Minister, Bevin paid tribute to the Adult School movement and especially to his teacher, H. B. Lees-Smith, a Fabian Socialist labor theoretician who later served in the MacDonald government of 1929 and for a time during World War II was Acting Leader of the Parliamentary Labour Party. A good many Labour M.P.’s of 1945 owed their “university education” to the Workers’ Educational Association and its offshoots. (9)
Fabians estimated that only 5 per cent of the working class was worthy of being groomed for leadership; but every member of their own handpicked Society was regarded as a potential leader in his chosen field. After 1918, Fabians wishing to enter politics would do so through the Labour Party. At the same time, the Society continued to disclaim responsibility for the political views or activities of its members—just as it also disclaimed responsibility for the tracts published under its imprint—asserting that the world movement towards Socialism was above and beyond mere individual or Party bias. This delicate distinction puzzled and sometimes irritated the more forthright trade union men.
The revolutionary program of the reborn Labour Party, which in essence has not changed to this day, was primarily the work of one Fabian, the durable Sidney Webb. In 1916 Sidney had published a series of “studies” on How to Pay for the War. There he proposed nationalizing mines and mineral production, railways and canals. He advocated a State Insurance Department, and a revolution in income taxes and inheritance taxes (in England called “death duties”). It was the first public announcement of what Fabian Socialism had in store for postwar Britain—and nearly all of its proposals have since been put into practice.
Less than two years later a special committee of the Labour Party Executive issued a report entitled “Labour and the New Social Order.” While embodying the suggestions previously made by Webb, it went a great deal further. Everyone familiar with Sidney’s cast of mind and style of writing recognized it as a product of his peculiar genius —even to the characteristic parade of capital letters. A subsequent president of the Fabian Society, the widow of G. D. H. Cole, has described this egregious document as being “purest milk of the Fabian word.”
It began by announcing cheerfully that, as a result of World War I, “the individualist system of capitalist production has received a deathblow.” And it continued:
“We of the Labour Party . . . must insure that what is to be built up is a new social order—based not on fighting but on fraternity—not on the competitive struggle for a means of bare life, but on a deliberately planned cooperation in production and distribution for the benefit of all who participate by hand and brain . . . not on an enforced domination over subject nations, subject races, subject colonies, subject classes or a subject sex ….”
The Four Pillars of the House that we propose to erect, resting upon the common foundation of the Democratic control of Society in all its activities, may be termed respectively:
(a) The Universal Enforcement of the National Minimum
(b) The Democratic Control of Industry
(c) The Revolution in National Finance
(d) The Surplus Wealth for the Common Good. (10)
Under those four discreetly phrased headings (Pillars), the intention of Fabian Socialists to destroy the competitive system of production, strip the Empire of its overseas possessions and vest control of all domestic activities in the State was spelled out with precision. The first Pillar covered most of the proposals for State” financed social “welfare” that Fabians had supported from time to time. The second Pillar advocated women’s suffrage, whose vote-getting potential the Fabians had been somewhat slow to recognize; abolition of the House of Lords; nationalization of land ownership, electric power, maritime and railway transport, and the mining and metals industries; and “elimination of private profit” from insurance and from the liquor trade.
The third Pillar supported confiscatory increases in taxation (including the capital levy) which in time would abolish private savings as well as private investment. The fourth Pillar foreshadowed the transformation of the British Empire into the British Commonwealth; limitation of armaments and abolition of profit in the munitions industry; an international court; international economic controls; international legislation on social matters—and finally, a supranational or “one world” authority. Many of the objectives listed under the fourth or final heading had appeared in a Fabian-prepared Labour Party pamphlet published in 1917 under the title Labour’s War Aims, which antedated and supplied the basis for Woodrow Wilson’s Fourteen Points. (11)
Labour and the New Social Order was a sweeping Fabian prospectus for the gradual and orderly achievement of Socialism in the Empire and the world—so thoroughly revolutionary in what it proposed to do that more sober Englishmen, if they knew of it at all, must have dismissed it as mere campaign verbiage. It is a document that deserves to rank with Mein Kampf or the Communist Manifesto as one of the most plain-spoken announcements of destructive intent ever framed. In June, 1918, it was adopted as the official program of the British Labour Party, and except in details, such as the temporary inclusion of a birth control plank in 1927, it has never been really changed.
Strangely enough, when the program was concocted, there were labor groups in Britain who favored an even speedier rate of nationalization. To please them, Arthur Henderson in September, 1919, asked Sidney Webb to submit a plan for nationalizing the whole of British industry. Arthur explained that it “would be better for electioneering,” but Sidney declined to oblige. Already Webb perceived, as some others did not, that by nationalizing certain key industries and at the same time securing State control of both finance and social welfare, total nationalization could be achieved in fact, if not in name.
The irony of it is that a majority of British labor today, after some unhappy experiences with State-administered industry and some snubbing at the hands of State-appointed managers, no longer demands speedy nationalization but, on the contrary, mistrusts and fears it. As a result, the late Leader of the Parliamentary Labour Party and veteran member of the Fabian Executive, Hugh Gaitskell, M.P., was forced to take the alternate route conveniently left open by Webb and to stress the more oblique methods of attaining State capitalism, as foreseen in general, if not always in detail, by the Fabian master planner. (12) For this, Gaitskell was unfairly criticized as being a lukewarm Socialist by more impetuous elements among his own followers. The question of how to satisfy both Right and Left wings of the Labour Party, while presenting a bland non-Socialist face to the Liberals and Independent voters, is a dilemma he has bequeathed to his successor, Harold Wilson.
In origin, policy and leadership, the British Labour Party was definitely a creature and a creation of the Fabian Society, and remains so today. Guided by Fabian Socialist politicians, whose ties with the Society were seldom noted outside of official Fabian publications, that Party became the Society’s chosen instrument for wrecking the national economic structure and dismantling the overseas Empire.
still a literal statement of destructive intent.
1. Hesketh Pearson, Bernard Shaw, (London, Methuen & Co. LTD., 1961), p. 358.
2. George Bernard Shaw, “Sixty Years of Fabianism,” Fabian Essays, Jubilee Edition, (London, The Fabian Society and Allen and Unwin, 1945), p. 287.
3. All the names which follow are listed by official Fabian historians, Edward R. Pease and Margaret Cole, or recur frequently in the pages of the official Fabian publications, Fabian News and the Fabian Annual Reports.
4. Constance Garnett was a translator of Tolstoi and other pre-revolutionary Russian novelists.
5. M. P. McCarran, Fabianism in the Political Life of Britain, 1919-1931, (Chicago, Heritage Foundation, 1954), p. 439.
6. J. F. C. Harrison, Learning and Living, A Study in the History of the English Adult Education Movement, (London, Routledge and Kegen Paul, LTD., 1961), p 264.
7. Emanuel Shinwell, Conflict Without Malice, An Autobiography. (London, Odhams Press, Ltd., 1955), pp. 18-19.
8. Francis Williams, Ernest Bevin, Introduction by the Rt. Hon. Clement Attlee, O.M., C.H., M.P. (London, Hutchinson & Co., Ltd., 1952), pp. 15-22.
9. Margaret Cole, The Story of Fabian Socialism, (London, Heinemann Educational Books, LTD., 1961), p. 208 (footnote).
10. (Italics added.)
11. To be treated in a later chapter.
12. Hugh Gaitskell, M.P., “Socialism and Nationalisation,” Fabian Tract No. 300, (London, The Fabian Society, 1956)