Chapter 12-The Perfect Friendship

Chapter 12 of the book Fabian Freeway.

By far the most influential of Woodrow Wilson’s advisers (who always disclaimed responsibility, however, for any errors in Mexican policy) was a gray, neat, quiet, almost wraith-like little man, with luminous blue eyes and receding chin, Edward M. House of Texas. He held the honorary title of Colonel, conferred on him by Governor Hogg, one of two Texas “reform” governors he had propelled into office. In disgust, House gave the gold-braided uniform and regalia that went with the title to his Negro coachman, preferring to be addressed simply as “Mister.”

He was a potent but anonymous figure in Democratic Party councils and knew politics from the grass roots up. His support, pre-convention strategy and adroit instructions to floor lieutenants insured Wilson’s nomination at Baltimore in 1912. So confident was House about the outcome that he felt no need to watch the proceedings and sailed for Europe the day the convention opened. Without his help Wilson could not have been nominated—nor without the Texas delegation and its resounding “Forty Votes for Woodrow Wilson of New Jersey,” repeated throughout 48 ballots.

Since 1902, the very year Woodrow Wilson became president of conservative and Presbyterian Princeton University, House had waited patiently for this moment. He was looking for a fail-proof candidate to replace William Jennings Bryan, perennial Democratic candidate for the Presidency. A brilliant orator, the Great Commoner thundered against the trusts, “the interests” and the gold standard, (1) and deified labor and the common man. Bryan held audiences spellbound, but he could not win elections and would not stop running. What House wanted was a candidate who might be trusted to carry out a program fully as radical but more systematic than Bryan’s—quietly and without alarming the public.

A southerner born and bred, who had migrated to the North and captured the governorship of an important industrial state, Woodrow Wilson seemed the ideal candidate—in fact, almost too good to be true. He was a respected scholar who had been exposed since 1885 to Fabian Socialist views on economics and the social sciences; he was a specialist in American history and constitutional law who wanted to see the Constitution revised; and to top it all, he was a perfect model of decorum and schoolmasterly rectitude. From Sidney Mezes—the brother-in-law whom House elevated by political leverage to the presidency of the University of Texas—and from other professorial friends, House heard about the battles waged by Dr. Wilson at Princeton in the interests of academic “liberalism.”

During what he sometimes referred to as his twilight years from 1902 to 1911, House made a point of cultivating key persons in the academic world. Even President Charles W. Eliot of Harvard was numbered among his friends. As one who had failed to meet the entrance requirements at Yale and barely squeezed through a few years at Cornell, it gave House a good deal of quiet satisfaction to move among the academic mandarins—and even be able through his political connections to name the heads of certain city and state universities. At a later date he arranged to have his brother-in-law made president of the City College of New York, where Mezes instituted a regime of hospitality towards radical professors and students. (2)

From afar House watched Wilson’s progress as governor of New Jersey, previously a Republican stronghold, where the former professor was being educated for still higher things. When the two men finally met in 1911 through publisher Walter Hines Page of World’s Work, afterwards Ambassador to England, an immediate bond of sympathy was established. It was the beginning of what Woodrow Wilson called “the perfect friendship,” one of the strangest friendships in American political history.

Of his second meeting with Wilson, House said: “It was remarkable. We found ourselves in agreement upon practically every one of the issues of the day. I never met a man whose thoughts ran so identically with mine.” And a few weeks later, when Woodrow Wilson again visited him, House could not resist saying as his caller rose to go: “Governor, isn’t it strange that two men, who never knew each other before, should think so much alike?”

Wilson answered: “My dear fellow, we have known each other all our lives?” (3)

Edward M. House has been described by another friend, who actually did know him for more than twenty-five years, as being “highly conventional in the social sense” and “highly radical, more than liberal, in the politico-social sense.” (4) House believed the United States Constitution, creation of eighteenth century minds, was “not only outmoded, but grotesque” and ought to be scrapped or rewritten. (5) As a practical politician, he realized this could not be done all at once, given the existing state of popular education; so he favored gradual changes which, in the long run, would produce the same results.

A similar point of view was expressed in Woodrow Wilson’s campaign speeches, afterwards printed as The New Freedom. Previously it had been voiced by both American and British Fabians. Perhaps the voters who read or heard Wilson’s speeches at the time dismissed the point as mere campaign oratory; but it was one of those basic issues on which Wilson and House found themselves in full agreement, having reached identical conclusions by alternate routes. As a man who never held an official position, though for nearly seven years he was to wield extraordinary power, the Texas Colonel was technically free to subscribe to any ideas he chose. One cannot help wondering, however, by what superior intellectual process President Wilson was able to reconcile such convictions with the oath he took on March 4, 1913, to uphold and defend the Constitution of the United States.

The political and social credo of Colonel House, in which Wilson so warmly concurred, was unveiled in fictional form shortly after the presidential election. Late in the fall of 1912 there appeared a curious novel entitled Philip Dru, Administrator. It was published by B. W. Huebsch, a favorite publisher of the Left and for many years a valued collaborator of American Fabian Socialist groups. (6) Though the book was anonymous, some people surmised that House was the author, and he confessed as much to intimates. The Colonel had written the first draft in December, 1911, while in Austin, Texas, recovering from an illness.

Its radical ideas attracted a degree of attention unwarranted by the book’s literary merits, or lack of them. Philip Dru was a young West Pointer who led an armed rebellion against a tyrannical and reactionary government in Washington subservient to the privileged “interests.” He became the ruler of America and by a series of Executive decrees proceeded to remold the mechanics of administration, revise the Judiciary, reshape the laws affecting labor and capital, revamp the nation’s military forces, and arrange to set up an international body or league of nations.

More specifically, the Administrator appointed a board of economists to work out a tariff law leading to “the abolition of the theory of protection as a government policy.” He also instructed the board to work out a graduated income tax. Philip Dru further called for “a new banking law, affording a flexible currency bottomed largely on commercial assets”; and proposed to make corporations “share with the government and states a certain part of their earnings.” (7) The former foreshadowed the Federal Reserve Bank; the latter, the corporation income tax.

Labor, said Dru, should “no longer be classed as an inert commodity to be bought and sold according to the law of supply and demand.” The Government would give employment to all who needed it. Dru “prepared an old-age pension law and also a laborers’ insurance law,” and provided for certain reforms “in the study and practice of medicine.” Finally, he “incorporated in the Franchise Law the right of labor to have one representative on the boards of corporations and to share a certain per cent of the earnings above wages, after a reasonable per cent upon the capital had been earned.” In return, labor was to submit all grievances to compulsory arbitration.

When the newly installed Democratic Administration announced the legislative program it wished enacted, House’s novel aroused even more pointed comments. Cabinet members remarked on the similarity between Dru’s program and the legislation requested over the years by Woodrow Wilson. “All that book has said should be, comes about,” wrote Franklin K. Lane, Wilson’s Secretary of the Interior, in 1918 to a personal friend. “The President comes to Philip Dru in the end.” (8)

Among the junior officials who read the novel and took it to heart was a handsome young Assistant Secretary of the Navy. His name was Franklin Delano Roosevelt, and his doting mother, Sara Delano Roosevelt, was then and always a close friend of Colonel House. The Texas Colonel was the first important Democrat to support Roosevelt’s nomination for the Presidency in 1932.(9) Whether House presented a copy of Philip Dru, Administrator to the dowager Mrs. Roosevelt or to her son, (10) its contents unquestionably played a part in the political education of still another American president. It even recommended “fireside chats.”

Few works of fiction have so deeply affected, for better or worse, the trends of contemporary life in the United States. In effect, Philip Dru, Administrator became a kind of handbook or Cooke’s Guide for Democratic presidents, who proceeded to throw away the old book of presidential protocol spelling out the Chief Executive’s relation to the Congress, the Judiciary and the military. Those tried and true precepts had been honored by every American president, irrespective of party, until Woodrow Wilson and, whatever the personal inadequacies of the incumbent, had served to hold the country together along constitutional lines and preserve it from the dangers noted by de Tocqueville as inherent in any democratic system of government.

Strongly opposed to the division of powers prescribed in the Constitution, Edward M. House was one of the first Americans to foresee the possibility of evading constitutional safeguards by Executive decree and to perceive the vast power to be derived from control over the mechanics of administration—two lush possibilities further explored by other White House advisers since 1932 on a scale unimagined by Colonel House. In 1963, a Chief Executive even induced the Congress to convey its traditional and long-cherished tariff-making authority to his office, with hardly a voice throughout the country raised in protest.

There was nothing so very mysterious about the source of Woodrow Wilson’s radicalism, which he preferred to call “liberalism.” It developed (and in his case was perhaps deliberately fostered by far-seeing associates) in an academic atmosphere already tinged with Socialist thinking, where the “scientific” approach to economics and sociology was being extended to history and to the law. From John Stuart Mill, whom Wilson admired, it was not such a far cry to Sidney Webb, who claimed Mill had died a Socialist. The real mystery is how a man like Edward M. House, product of the Old Frontier and the pistol-packing politics of the Southwest, happened to become a vehicle for ideas and programs that were plainly Socialist in origin. For some reason, this has never been explained.

Two years younger than Wilson, House was born in Houston, Texas, in 1858. Reared in an era of gunplay, Comanche raids and rule-of-thumb law in the wild Southwest, he was soft-spoken and courteous; but to the end of his life, prided himself on his skill with a pistol. His father, Thomas William House, was an Englishman who had gone to Texas to fight under General Sam Houston and stayed on to make a fortune there. The elder House often remarked that he wanted to raise his sons to “know and serve England.”

Thomas William House acted as an American agent for London banking interests, said by some to be the House of Rothschild, which had invested in Texas rice, cotton and indigo from 1825. At any rate, he was one of the few residents of a Confederate state to emerge from the Civil War with a handsome personal fortune in cotton, land and private banking. (11) He gave his seventh son, Edward, the middle name of Mandell, after a Houston merchant who was a family friend. In later years, this gave rise to a rumor that Edward Mandell House, who became a friend and ally of Kuhn, Loeb and Company in New York City, was of Jewish origin—which was not the case.

As a small boy, Edward attended school for several years in England Much of his youth and adult life was spent in the British Isles, which he regularly revisited. Like his well-cut suits and proper boots, the radical views he affected so unobtrusively from early manhood were made to order for him in London. Being his father’s son, he was readily accepted into those prosperous middle class circles that voted traditionally for a Liberal Party which was increasingly penetrated, after the turn of the century, by Fabian Socialists. Concerning the period from 1895 to 1911 in Britain, a distinguished European visitor, Professor Francisco J. Nitti of Milan, observed:

“Indeed, in no country of the world are the middle classes so much inclined towards Socialism as in England, where eminent men of science, dignitaries of the Church and profound thinkers tend more and more towards Socialist doctrines.” (12)

Personally, House preferred the company of authors, playwrights and professors, of which the British Fabian Society boasted a noteworthy assortment. Among other connections, Edward M. House formed a lasting friendship with the journalist, George Lansbury, (13) a lifelong pillar of the Fabian Society, who for some years represented its more outspokenly radical wing inside the Independent Labour Party and finally became Parliamentary Leader of the Labour Party. Lansbury’s biographer tells how he once persuaded the American soap millionaire, Joseph Fels (a member of the London Fabian Society, thanks to the prodding of Mrs. Fels, nee Rothschild (14)), to lend five hundred pounds sterling to underground Russian Social Democrats including Lenin and Trotsky, when they were stranded in England. (14a) From 1912 to 1925 George Lansbury was the editor of the London Daily Herald, organ of the Fabian-dominated Labour Party until it ceased publication in 1964.

Though few historians mention it, the medical history of Edward M. House accounts in part for a career that might otherwise seem a marplot’s dream. An attack of brain fever in boyhood, followed by a severe sunstroke, had permanently impaired his health. House lived to be nearly eighty, but only by taking precautions not to over exert himself. His preference for remaining in the shadow of large events he had helped shape was due, in the first instance, to a physical inability to endure strong sunlight or heat. He could never spend a summer in Washington.

Passionately interested in politics, domestic and international, House faced the fact as a very young man that he could not hope to withstand the strain and stress of public office. After his father’s death, he arranged matters so as to be assured of a regular income of $25,000 a year—an amount he judged suitable to support him comfortably throughout a lifetime of anonymous and unsalaried “public service.” A similar notion of Socialist “public service,” subsidized by capitalist dividends, was popular among leading British Fabians of Victorian and Edwardian days, notably Sidney Webb, and has its modern counterpart in the support received by outstanding Fabian Socialists from private foundations in the United States.

It is hard to say just when House conceived the bold plan of penetrating America’s Democratic Party at the apex and molding the policies of a sympathetic Chief Executive in the interests of a Socialist program to change the face of America. Whether the idea was his own or inspired by Fabian friends in Britain, every step he took over the years appeared to be directed toward its fulfillment. Though it involved years of obscure political chores and patient waiting, in the end House came closer to achieving his purpose than England’s Fabian Socialists were ever able to do within the framework of the Liberal Party. His career was a living example of Socialist gradualism at work.

With the election of Woodrow Wilson, House became a power at home and abroad. From then until their final break at Paris in 1918, the President relied on House, trusted him completely and never made a move without consulting him. While previous Presidents had their confidants, nothing quite like the association between House and Wilson had ever been seen before in America. The understanding between them was based on ideology as well as affection. It was as if they shared a mutual secret not to be divulged to the American people.

As Bernard Baruch said, and he had reason to know, “the Colonel’s hand was in everything”—from Cabinet appointments to decisions affecting war and peace. The small apartment Colonel House had rented in an unfashionable block on East Thirty-fifth Street in New York City became a nerve center of the nation. There was a switchboard with direct telephone lines to the White House and the State, War and Navy Departments, and a constant stream of callers. People came to House, as they had been doing all his life, because he was too fragile in health to go to them; and this merely enhanced his importance. Even the President visited him incognito, almost as often as the Colonel visited the White House.

From the time the United States declared war on Germany, the apartment above Colonel House’s was occupied by Sir William Wiseman, wartime chief of the British Secret Service in America, whose functions included counterespionage as well as high politics. Introduced to the President by House, the young and enterprising Sir William had already become a great favorite with Wilson, who naively used him as a personal emissary on various confidential missions to London and Paris. When the war ended, Sir William Wiseman remained in the United States and joined the firm of Kuhn, Loeb and Company.

Just after the United States broke diplomatic relations with Germany as a preliminary to declaring war, an episode involving Sir William occurred, which shows the partiality that highly placed American liberals felt for the outbreak of revolution in Russia. In New York City Leon Trotsky—then employed as an electrician at the Fox Film Studios—was the leader of a Russian revolutionary group with headquarters at 63 West 107th Street. (15) Wiseman was interested in this group principally because its activities were financed by a German-language newspaper in New York known to be receiving funds from German Government sources. Following the Kerensky Revolution, Trotsky sailed for Russia with a group of associates on March 27, 1917, via the Norwegian American Line. He was carrying a substantial amount of money.

When the vessel stopped at Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canadian authorities picked Trotsky off the ship and held him. (16) From Petrograd the gentle Social Democrat, Kerensky, cabled Woodrow Wilson asking the latter to intervene. Colonel House informed Wiseman of the President’s desire that Trotsky be allowed to proceed. Wishing to oblige its new and powerful Ally in what did not appear to be a very important matter, London instructed the Canadians to send Trotsky on his way—leaving Sir William Wiseman, who had forwarded the President’s request, technically blameless.

So Washington and London innocently furthered the plans of German Military Intelligence, which at about the same time passed Lenin in a sealed railway car through Germany to Russia, there to assume with Trotsky the leadership of the Bolsheviki. Together, Lenin and Trotsky soon overthrew Kerensky, pulled Russia out of the war, and freed German armies on the Eastern front to fight Allied troops in the West. The release of Trotsky was a prime instance of the dangerous results of high-level civilian meddling in wartime; (17) as well as a classic demonstration, the first in history, of how Socialism opens the door to Communism.

This remarkable episode has been preserved for posterity by the usually well-informed Sir Arthur Willert, London Times correspondent in Washington, who worked closely with Sir William Wiseman. Willert was distressed by what he called the “deplorable” tendencies of a good many British lecturers and travelers who roved the United States during the earlier part of the war “saying whatever their politics and prejudices dictated.” (18) Conspicuous among them was Mrs. F. W. Pethick-Lawrence, distaff member of a well-known British Fabian husband-and-wife team, who waged an energetic “peace campaign” in America after her own country was at war.

Mrs. Pethick-Lawrence stayed at Hull House in Chicago, rallying feminists, social workers and college professors and receiving the wholehearted backing of Jane Addams and her many Socialist friends. (19) Jane Addams, an American Fabian Socialist and an eventual Nobel Peace Prize winner, became a world celebrity as a result of her pacifist activities, which continued throughout the war. Even Colonel House had conferred with her before departing for Berlin on his own peace mission preceding the outbreak of hostilities in 1914. (20) In June, 1915, on her way to the Hague Conference as a leading representative of the “neutral women,” Jane Addams was the admired guest in London of Sidney and Beatrice Webb, who had visited her at Hull House seventeen years before. (21)

What troubled Willert and other more or less official British observers was the fact that so many of these self-styled peace movements were also fostered by representatives of the German Foreign Office, (22) eager to deter the United States at any cost from joining the war on the side of the Allies. Among the groups supporting Mrs. Pethick-Lawrence was the Organization of American Women for Strict Neutrality, founded by a Miss L. N. Miller of Roland Park Baltimore. Supposedly an independent movement, this organization received monetary and other aid from German Government sources and had branches in many American cities. (23) It was reported that the Chicago membership list included Nina Nitze, wife of a University of Chicago professor.

Nina Nitze’s brother, Paul Hilken (24) of Roland Park, Baltimore, was later discovered to have served as the chief paymaster for German saboteurs in the United States, who on instructions from the Dritte Abteilung in Berlin set off the notorious Black Tom and Kingsland explosions.(25) Her son, Paul Nitze, has risen in our own day to become Secretary of the Navy in the Kennedy and Johnson Administrations and a spokesman for civilian as opposed to military defense planning—which only goes to show how neatly World War I memories have been swept under the rug.


In March, 1916, Sir Arthur Willert wrote to his editor in London: “We ought to make it impossible for people like _____, _____, _____ , or _____ to find here the hearing they are refused in England. It is really extraordinary how the country is being penetrated by the wrong sort of Englishmen . . . . I imagine there are plenty of German Social Democrats who would be only too glad to come over here from Germany and air their views. But they do not come for obvious reasons; and I cannot see why our own precautions should be so patently inferior to those of Germany.” (26)

As a result of this pointed suggestion, some official steps seem to have been taken. Soon Willert was pleased to report a “different” type of British lecturer and traveler coming to the United States. Among the “right sort,” he guilelessly listed Emmeline Pankhurst, the suffragist; Granville Barker, the playwright; G. M. Trevelyan, the historian; and S. K. Ratcliffe, author and editor.(27) Ironically enough, they too all belonged to the London Fabian Society which, like American Socialism, was divided on the war issue. S. K. Ratcliffe was a member of the Fabian Executive and its chief wartime courier to the United States. He was an editor of the Fabian-controlled New Statesman (28) and became the London representative of the New Republic, a so-called liberal weekly which had been founded in New York in 191314 as an opposite number to the New Statesman.

Financed by Dorothy Whitney Straight, whose brother was a J. P. Morgan partner, the New Republic was staffed in the beginning by a number of talented, ambitious and socially acceptable young Socialists from Harvard, who dropped the Socialist label but not its program soon after graduation. Among them was the pundit and columnist, Walter Lippmann, who had joined the Fabian Society of London in 1909.(29)

The British Marxist and Fabian, Professor Harold J. Laski, teaching at Harvard from 1915 to 1919, was a frequent wartime contributor, though his articles were discreetly signed H. J. L. The New Republic (30) supported Woodrow Wilson and continued to support him throughout the war—in contrast to its more overtly radical sister weekly, The Nation, which maintained a pacifist and anti-war stand, idolized conscientious objectors like Eugene V. Debs and Scott Nearing, yet did not blanch at bloody revolution in Russia.

Always limited in circulation, the New Republic catered to an intellectual and professional elite rather than to the perfervid mass of Socialist sympathizers in New York City. Apparently, it was in high favor with key personages in the Wilson Administration, especially Colonel House. By what Lippmann prudently calls “a certain parallelism of reasoning,” the New Republic often suggested policies that President Wilson followed. In those years the paper enjoyed a kind of mysterious importance which it never quite equaled again, not even under the New Frontier.

During the winter of 1916 young Lippmann had several interviews, “such as any journalist has,” with the President; but he denied that his personal relations with Wilson were ever close. Thereafter, Herbert Croly, senior editor of the New Republic, and Walter Lippmann met about once every fortnight with Colonel House to discuss problems “relating to the management of neutrality” prior to the reelection of President Wilson in 1916. (31) With S. K. Ratcliffe commuting from London to attend editorial luncheons at the New Republic, the Fabian circuit was complete.

Following the example of top-level British Fabians, New Republic editors moved in good society and were considered eminently respectable. Penetration and permeation were their tasks. Like the Webbs and other worldly-wise leaders of the London Fabian Society, they accepted the war as inevitable and concentrated on planning for the New Order, which all good Socialists felt sure must emerge from social unrest anticipated after the war. (32)

It was no accident that the Fabian Socialist Walter Lippmann, while on the staff of the New Republic, was named by Colonel House in 1917 as executive secretary of a confidential group to formulate war aims and postwar policy for President Wilson. There the famous—or infamous—slogan, “Peace Without Victory” was born, to be revived in a more literal sense many years later during the Korean War.

That postwar planning group, dubbed The Inquiry (or Enquiry), was headed by Dr. Sidney Mezes, president of the City College of New York and brother-in-law of Colonel House. On the pretext that any publicity might give rise to rumors that the United States was preparing to accept a negotiated peace, the existence of the group was kept secret. Meetings were held in the New York headquarters of the National Geographic Society at 156th Street and Broadway by courtesy of Dr. Isaiah Bowman, a director of the Geographical Society and longtime president of Johns Hopkins University. According to Lippmann, some 150 college professors and other “specialists” (who included the Reverend Norman Thomas, later head of the American Socialist Party) were recruited to collect data for eventual use at the Peace Conference. Since no government funds were provided in those days for such lofty projects, the working expenses of the group were privately paid—presumably by President Wilson himself, although he was not a wealthy man.

Eight memoranda, the so-called territorial sections of the Fourteen Points, were prepared by The Inquiry. This document, with several additions, was given by the President to Congress and to a waiting world on January 8, 1918. One impromptu addition was some kind words uttered by President Wilson about the “sincerity of purpose” of the Russian Bolsheviki—though the same might also be said of any forthright thug. While the implications of the Fourteen Points, wrapped as they were in high-flown verbiage, were not generally understood, the document was widely applauded by members of President Wilson’s own party in Congress as well as by Progressive Republicans and Socialists—and, of course, by the college professors whose thinking was guided by the New Republic. (33)

Since then, it has sometimes been said that Walter Lippmann “wrote the Fourteen Points for President Wilson,” a claim Lippmann has taken pains to disavow. Obviously, he assisted at the birth in more ways than one. When a clarification of the Fourteen Points was asked by Allied Prime Ministers in November, 1918, thirteen of the fourteen interpretive sections were written by Walter Lippmann at the request of Colonel House. The fourteenth (relating to the League of Nations) was written by Frank Cobb, editor of the Pulitzer-owned New York World, where Lippmann was subsequently employed as chief editorial writer. The demands outlined in the Fourteen Points, however, did not originate with Lippmann nor with The Inquiry. They were conceived by Sidney Webb and the Fabian Society of London.

In December, 1917, a statement of war aims, prepared by Fabian members of the International Socialist Bureau in London, had been laid before a special conference of the British Labour Party and Trades Union Council. Its authors were Camille Huysmans, a Belgian Socialist, then secretary of the International Socialist Bureau; British Fabians Arthur Henderson and Sidney Webb; and the alleged “ex”Fabian, Ramsay MacDonald. Sidney Webb, whose skill in drafting memoranda has rarely been equaled, did the actual writing. Promptly published as Labour’s War Aims, it was the first general statement of British Fabian Socialist policy in world affairs and was designed to be copied by Socialists in other countries and to establish the primacy of the Fabian Society within the postwar Socialist International.

Labour’s War Aims antedated the Fourteen Points and included every item covered in the later document: universal “democracy”; an end to imperialism and secret diplomacy; arms limitation, and abolition of profits from armaments; plans for settling such thorny issues as Alsace-Lorraine, Poland and Palestine, and for the self-determination of subject nationalities in the Austro-Hungarian and Ottoman Empires; economic controls and an international commission for reparations and war damage. Moreover, it called for collective security, a supranational authority, an international court of justice and international legislation on labor and social matters, (34) in what its Fabian authors fondly hoped might soon be an all-Socialist world.

These were the high-sounding aims which afterwards became the stock in trade of liberal-Socialist and Socialist-labor groups in every Allied country. Somehow, Woodrow Wilson, the President of the United States, became a mouthpiece for the selfsame demands. Walter Lippmann, always gifted at double-talk, would doubtless attribute the resemblance to “a certain parallelism of reasoning.” It hardly seems necessary, however, to invoke extrasensory perception when such well-placed physical facilities existed for transmitting the original Fabian program verbally and textually to the President. How far Woodrow Wilson was aware of his debt to the British Fabian Socialist planners, we may never know; but it seems impossible that the alert, omniscient Colonel House, who shortly before the New Year, 1918, carried all documentary material relating to the Fourteen Points to the White House, could have failed to be informed of or to connive in the transmission.

That view is confirmed by the curious mission on which Ray Stannard Baker, the former muckraker who became press chief at the Paris Peace Conference, was sent by House in February, 1918. Baker was to “report fully for the information of the President and the State Department on the state of radical opinion and organization, especially the attitude of labor in England, and later possibly in France and Italy.” (35) He was given confidential introductions to various left wing leaders in Great Britain and instructed to send his letters via Embassy pouch and his cabled reports in secret code. At House’s suggestion that it would be better if Baker were not known to be an agent of the government, he was accredited as a correspondent of the New Republic and the New York World—though he never sent dispatches to either.

The first person Baker met in England was Professor Gilbert Murray, an Asquith Liberal of long-standing Fabian sympathies. Murray told him that the Asquith faction, opposing Prime Minister Lloyd George, was prepared to accept Wilson’s leadership and program of action, and in this was supported by nearly all of the labor groups, including the Labour Party. The next Englishman he saw was Graham Wallas, one of the original Big Four of the Fabian Society, who had delivered the Lowell Lectures at Harvard and dedicated his book, The Great Society, to young Walter Lippmann. A further list of the persons interviewed by Baker reads like a Who’s Who of the London Fabian Society—G. M. Trevelyan, Arthur Ponsonby, Philip Snowden, H. W. Massingham, George Lansbury, Arthur Henderson, Bertrand Russell and Mary Agnes Hamilton, to mention only a few.

Though he met several Lords of the Round Table group, who backed Lloyd George and the Empire, Baker felt they had outlived their time. His real enthusiasm was reserved for the Fabians; although he did not appear to be aware of the existence or function of that discreet Socialist Society. To him the Fabians were merely “thoughtful intellectuals” and Labourites. Finally, at the invitation of the playwright, Granville Barker, he lunched with Sidney and Beatrice Webb —and pronounced it one of the great experiences of his life to sit between them and be instructed in the laws of economic affairs. Baker found the Webbs “great admirers of President Wilson, and anxious for a better understanding between the ‘democratic’ groups of England and the United States.” (36)

Even now, almost half a century after the fact, it is humiliating for an American to find an emissary of the White House displaying such worshipful admiration for the leaders of a foreign secret society, anxious only to utilize the world-wide prestige of the President of the United States to further their own radical intrigues at home and abroad. Yet Baker’s abject performance was praised by House’s man in the State Department, the then-Counselor, Frank Polk. And much later, Wilson himself told Baker, “Your letters at that time helped me.” (37) Ray Stannard Baker was the individual finally chosen by Wilson to be his official biographer.

As Sidney Webb’s honored guest, Baker was present at the fateful conference of June, 1918, when the British Labour Party was formally constituted under Fabian Socialist control and adopted Webb’s blueprint for chaos, Labour and the New Social Order, as its permanent platform. Baker appraised that managed conference as being quite the most revealing exhibit of British opinion he had yet seen. In a lyric report to Washington he described the new Party as “the most precious and vital force in British life today”—differing sharply with America’s wise old labor chieftain, Samuel Gompers, who said the Labour Party in England did not really represent the rank-and-file of the British working class. (38)

The confidential reports sent by Baker were calculated to persuade President Wilson that labor in Britain, as well as on the Continent, regarded him as a man of supreme vision, called by destiny to unite the forces of “true liberalism” throughout the world. Slightly reversing the true order of events, Baker assured Wilson that British labor was not only in sympathy with his “democratic” policies, but “indeed, had incorporated them in its own statement of War Aims!” At the same time, Baker’s letters warned that “Mr. Wilson can never hope for whole-hearted support upon the reconstructive side of his program from those at present in power, either here or in France.” Thus the ground was prepared for the Peace Conference, even before the bloodshed had ended; and seeds of personal prejudice were planted in the President’s mind against the Allied statesmen, representing old-line Liberal Parties, with whom he would be obliged to deal.

Such advice from a trusted source naturally tended to strengthen Wilson in his determination to hold out for unconditional acceptance of the Fourteen Points as a basis for peace, and to insist that the League of Nations be considered an integral part of any peace treaty. The first American version of a “convention” for a League was drafted by the President’s friend, Colonel House, on July 13 and 14, 1918, in his summer home at Magnolia, Massachusetts, with the aid of Professor David H. Miller of The Inquiry group. Colonel House did not undertake this task until after he received a copy of the British Government’s draft plan, which was forwarded to him, unread, by the President.(39) It was by no means the first plan for a supranational authority, purporting to be a preventive against war, that had come to the Colonel’s attention.

Fully three years earlier the Fabian Research Department in London, then shepherded by Beatrice Webb, had prepared two reports of its own on the subject, together with a project by a Fabian Committee for an international authority along Socialist lines. Bearing the signature of Leonard Woolf, it was printed in 1915 as a special supplement of the New Statesman and hailed with rapture by Herbert Croly’s New Republic. Under the title International Government, this Fabian Socialist document was published the following year by Brentano’s in New York.

The draft so speedily produced by Colonel House on two summer days m Massachusetts bore a striking resemblance to the Fabian proposals, whose Socialist authors were not otherwise in a position to impose their ideas on the British Foreign Office. House’s twenty-three articles formed the basis for the President’s tentative draft, which adopted all but five of those articles and became the first official American plan for a League of Nations. Eventually the so-called Wilson plan was incorporated with a revised British Government version for presentation to the League of Nations Commission at the Paris Peace Conference.

From such motley materials the Covenant of the League was stitched together. And yet, when it was finally completed, Woodrow Wilson considered it so peculiarly his own that he was willing to invite personal and political defeat, to sacrifice the fortunes of his Party and his own far from robust health rather than allow a single line of it to be changed. To a practical politician like Colonel House —who had long since learned, as Sidney Webb also had, the necessity for graceful compromise when no better recourse offered—Wilson’s attitude must have seemed fantastic as well as suicidal.

The perfect friendship of Woodrow Wilson and Edward M. House ended as abruptly as it began. All the world knows that the break between the two men, predicted annually for seven years by newsmen, occurred at the Peace Conference in Paris. No two historians agree on the reasons, and the principals have never divulged them. Certain facts, however, are evident. Public sentiment in America had turned against the President and his internationalist views. In November, 1918, he lost the Congress and with it any hope of securing rubber-stamp approval for the Treaty or the League. House attributed this, in part, to Wilson’s own indiscretion. For Wilson, House had lost his political magic.

In December, 1918, Woodrow Wilson went to the Peace Conference in Paris, a defeated man too unfamiliar with defeat to recognize it. Such authority as he enjoyed was derived from popular acclaim in Europe and was largely ceremonial. Though hailed as a savior by millions, his power was strictly limited. He was a president nearing the end of his second term who had forfeited his support at home— and every politician in the world knew it. While he might persuade, he could not command.

Shrewdly, House had advised Wilson to make no more than a brief appearance and a few speeches in Europe, and return to pull strings from the White House. The Colonel also recommended sending a bipartisan committee of Congress to the Peace Conference. But their relationship had already changed: Wilson no longer listened to anything so unflattering as common sense. As Sir William Wiseman cynically remarked, the President was drawn to Paris as a debutante is entranced by the prospect of her first ball.

In those days it was a generally accepted fact that the treaty-making power of the United States resided not merely in the President, but in the President with two-thirds of the Senate present and voting. The Constitution said so; and as yet no techniques had been devised by faceless bureaucrats or Executive aides for diverting or assigning that power, or preempting it piecemeal. Philip Dru, Administrator, was not yet in the saddle—Yalta and Teheran were still undreamed of—and nobody in America except a handful of Socialist intellectuals and foreign-born radicals wanted any part of International Government. So Wilson, the bitter-ender, went home to failure and~collapse; while House, the gradualist who never stopped trying, remained in Paris, attempting to salvage by negotiation whatever fragments of his program could still be saved. As it had been from the beginning, their real quarrel was still with the Constitution, and on that rock they foundered separately.

The first attempt by Fabian Socialists to penetrate and permeate the Executive branch of the United States Government failed in the end. But they would try again, and go on trying, until fortress America was leveled, or until their own long-range subversion was definitely exposed. Colonel House was only one man, where a multitude was needed. He had set the pattern and outlined goals for the future, and he still had a scheme or two in mind. In particular, he foresaw it would be necessary for the Fabians to develop a top-level Anglo-American planning group in the field of foreign relations which could secretly influence policy on the one hand and gradually “educate” public opinion on the other. His experience in Paris had shown him that it must be a bipartisan group.

To the ambitious young Fabians, British and American, who had flocked to the Peace Conference as economists and junior officials, it soon became evident that a New World Order was not about to be produced at Paris. Most of the younger men in whom House placed his hopes for the future of liberalism and a positive foreign policy in America had already departed—Walter Lippmann, Felix Frankfurter, and above all, young Franklin D. Roosevelt. The few American intellectuals still remaining in Paris, who clustered around Professor James T. Shotwell, were young men of still undefined political affiliations and excellent social standing—such as John Foster and Allen Dulles, nephews of Wilson’s Secretary of State, Robert Lansing; Christian Herter, and Tasker Bliss, the political general who did not get along well with Pershing.

For them, Colonel House arranged a dinner meeting at the Hotel Majestic on May 19, 1919, together with a select group of Fabian-certified Englishmen—notably, Arnold Toynbee, R. H. Tawney and John Maynard Keynes. All were equally disillusioned, for varied reasons, by the consequences of the peace. They made a gentlemen’s agreement to set up an organization, with branches in England and America, “to facilitate the scientific study of international questions.” As a result two potent and closely related opinion-making bodies were founded, which only began to reach their full growth in the nineteen-forties, coincident with the formation of the Fabian International Bureau. The English branch was called the Royal Institute of International Affairs. The American branch, first known as the Institute of International Affairs, was reorganized in 1921 as the Council on Foreign Relations.

Edward M. House, the lifelong radical whose name was listed in the New York Social Register, in his quiet way had set the wave of the future in motion.


1. Bryan’s famous Cross of Gold speech proclaimed, “You shall not crucify mankind on a cross of gold!”

2. See Appendix II for names of professors at the City College of New York who were student-leaders and/or valued “cooperators” of the Intercollegiate Socialist Society and its successor, the League for Industrial Democracy.

3. Arthur D. Howden Smith, Mr. House of Texas (New York, Funk and Wagnalls, Co., Inc., 1940), p. 43.

4. Ibid., p. 23.

5. Ibid., pp. 23; 93.

6. In 1922, B. W. Heubsch was a member of the Executive Committee of the American Civil Liberties Union, a Socialist-inspired organization; and in April, 1961 he was one of the sponsors of a rally in New York City to abolish the House Un-American Activities Committee.

7. The Intimate Papers of Colonel House, Charles Seymour ed. (Boston, Houghton Mifflin Co., 1926), pp. 152-159.

8. Smith, op. cit., pp. 49-50.

9. Arthur Willert, The Road to Safety (London, Derek Verschoyle, 1952), p. 172. From a letter of Sir William Wiseman to Lord Grey of Falloden.

10. Smith, op. cit., pp. 366-367.

11. Ibid., pp. 8-11.

12. Francisco, J. Nitti, Catholic Socialism (London, Sonnenschein, 1895; New York, The Macmillan Co., 1911), p. 312.

13. Smith, op. cit., pp. 35; 102.

14. Fabian News (March, 1905), in an article entitled “New Farm Colonies,” refers to Joseph Fels as “one of our members.” Beatrice Webb, in her diary during May, 1904 quoted by Margaret Cole, Beatrice Webb (New York, Harcourt, Brace, 1946), p. 189 confirms the fact that both Joseph and Mary Fels belonged to the Fabian Society of London. A descendant, Joseph Fels Barnes, currently on the editorial staff of a New York publishing house, was in Moscow on a Rockefeller fellowship during 1931-32, where he was warmly received in deference to his family history.

14a. Raymond Postgate, The Life of George Lansbury (New York, Longmans, Green and Company, Ltd., 1951), pp. 69-70.

15. Willert, op. cit., p. 29.

16. On the night before his departure, Trotsky had made a speech before a joint meeting of German and Russian Socialists at Harlem River Park Casino in New York City. Speaking in both German and Russian, he said: “I am going back to Russia to overthrow the provisional government and stop the war with Germany and allow no interference from any outside government.” A report on this meeting had been submitted to Colonel Van Deman and General Churchill of United State Military Intelligence. Senate Document No. 62, 66th Congress, Report and Hearings of the Subcommittee on the Judiciary, United States Senate, 1919, Vol. II, p. 2680.

17. Willert, op. cit., p. 29. Based on information obtained from the private papers of Sir William Wiseman.

18. Ibid., p. 89.

19. Revolutionary Radicalism, Its History, Purpose and Tactics. Report of the Joint Legislative committee Investigating Seditious Activities, filed April 24, 1920, in the Senate of the State of New York (Albany, J. P. Lyon Co., 1920), Vol. I, p. 974. Report by Louis P. Lochner, January 18, 1915: “Almost coincident with Mme. (Rosika) Schwimmer (A German agent) came a noted Englishwoman, Mrs. Pethick-Lawrence of London, England. For several weeks she was a guest of Miss Addams, and came before many organizations with her Woman’s Movement for Constructive Peace.”

20. Smith, op. cit., p. 102.

21. Cole, Beatrice Webb, p. 40.

22. Senate Document No. 62, 66th Congress. Extensive testimony and exhibits to this effect are presented throughout Vol. I and Vol. II. See especially Vol. II, pp. 1394-95; 1791-1795.

23. Ibid., p. 1792.

24. A special Act of congress was passed compelling Paul Hilken to testify concerning his World War I dealings with German sabotage agents. This testimony became a part of the Mixed Claims Commission Record, now preserved at the National Archives in Washington. It was reviewed in Justice Owen D. Roberts’ report on his decision of October 30, 1939, rendered as Umpire for the Commission.

25. The Dritte Abteilung, or Section III of German Military Intelligence, planned for and recruited volunteers for sabotage and terrorist acts abroad. See Records of the Mixed Claims Commission, National Archives, Washington.

26. Willert, op. cit., p. 89.

27. Ibid., p. 93.

28. In the Jubilee Issue of the New Statesman (April 19, 1963, p. 543) the editor, John Freeman, stated: “We were founded in April, 1913, by a group of Fabians, among whom Beatrice and Sidney Webb, Bernard Shaw and J. C. Squire were most closely concerned. Clifford Sharp was the first editor. He was succeeded in 1931 by Kingsley Martin, who occupied the editorial chair for 30 years.” In the same issue, R. H. S. Crossman, a former chairman of the Fabian Society, stated (p. 551): “During 50 years the fortunes of the New Statesman and the Labour Party have been more intimately linked than either side would care to admit. Why have successive editors and successive Party Leaders deliberately underestimated this intimacy?”

29. Fabian News (October, 1909).

30. In addition to Lippmann, the original staff of the New Republic included Herbert Croly, author of The Promise of American Life, who secured the financial backing; Philip Littell, Walter Weyl, Charles Rudyard and Francis Hackett. Soon Charles Merz and Alvin Johnson, later to head the New School for Social Research, joined the board of editors. In 1922 Robert Morss Lovett became its book review editor.

31. Walter Lippmann, “Notes for a Biography,” New Republic (July 16, 1930).

32. In 1919, the Reverend Lyman P. Powell, President Wilson’s old friend, edited a two volume symposium published by The Review of Reviews Company, entitled Social Unrest. It contained articles by many well-known British and American Fabian Socialists as well as some non-Socialists.

33. John Dos Passos, Mr. Wilson’s War, Lewis Gannett, ed. (New York, Doubleday & Co., 1962), p. 307.

34. Margaret Cole, The Story of Fabian Socialism (London, Heinemann Educational Books, Ltd., 1961), pp 169-171.

35. Ray Stannard Baker, An American Chronicle (New York, Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1945), p. 306.

36. Baker, op. cit., p. 339.

37. Ibid., p. 355.

38. Ibid., pp. 343-345.

39. Smith, op. cit., pp. 259-260.

Chapter 11 << | >> Chapter 13

Chapter 11-The Professor Goes To Washington

Chapter 11 of the book Fabian Freeway.

Far from the noise of popular celebrations which hailed the hopeful opening of the twentieth century, a small but crucial event occurred in England that seemed straight out of Alice in Wonderland. Sidney Webb induced the Royal Commission of London University to declare economics a science—and once declared so by that August body, it was assumed to be so! On February 20,1900, Beatrice Webb confided to her diary, “This divorce of economies from metaphysics and shoddy history is a great gain,” that is, for the advancement of scientific Socialism in the English-speaking world. She admitted blandly that the coup had been achieved by trickery, through successfully packing the University of London Commission.(1)

In those days science was a word to conjure with and the Webbs were gifted at legerdemain. While attracting little general notice, the Royal Commission’s pronouncement went a long way toward establishing the authority of research and teaching methods pursued with political intent by British Fabians—not only at the little London School of Economies (2) where they ruled supreme, but also at the larger universities of England and America where they were making converts.

Soon other types of social inquiry were invested with the lofty title of “social science” and presumed by a guileless public to be as free as the physical sciences from subjective or doctrinal bias. Thus professors who happened to be Socialists could present propagandist conclusions as though they were laws of nature, determined by “impartial” research. No wonder the British Fabian Socialist, John Atkinson Hobson—who wrote Free Thought in the Social Sciences, pointing out the uses of social psychology as a tool for manipulating the masses—could assert so confidently, if somewhat after the fact, that the future secret weapon of strategy would be the university professor!

More speedily than in England, Hobson’s dictum proved true in the United States, where professors as well as students aspired to become the future rulers of America. All across the continent at the turn of the century, little clusters of college professors had begun studying Socialism in secret, because an open avowal of such interest might have led to their dismissal. Recalling his youth as an instructor at the University of California, Dr. Harry L. Overstreet—long a professor of Philosophy at the City College of New York and sponsor of many Socialist causes—said: “We were studying Socialism [at California] and didn’t want anyone to know we were doing it.” (3)

At the Philadelphia University Extension, a group of self-styled liberals gathered around Woodrow Wilson, professor of Jurisprudence and Political Science at Princeton University. Most of them held regular positions elsewhere, as Wilson did, commuting to Philadelphia (4) to lecture in their free time as a means of augmenting their incomes and improving their extracurricular contacts. Some, like Professor Henry C. Adams and, at a later date, Professor Richard T. Ely, were the acknowledged leaders of academic Socialism in their day.

Others belonging to the Wilson circle were Dr. Albert Shaw, of the Review of Reviews; Professor William Graham Sumner, who explained morality in terms of folkways and tribal taboos, and who helped blur the distinctions between primitive and civilized man to an extent still reflected today in United States foreign policy; and the Reverend William Bayard Hale, editor and correspondent, who had gone to Oxford in 1695 and returned to write The Eternal Teacher, advocating a species of Christian Socialism akin to that of W. D. P. Bliss. They contributed to the University Extension World, which became the American Journal of Sociology; and they brought to the group, if nothing more, an awareness of the municipal politics of Sidney and Beatrice Webb.

With other American intellectuals of British ancestry, they attended summer meetings at Oxford announced in The Citizen (1895-1901), a publication of the Philadelphia University. British extension-type lecturers such as J. Hudson Shaw (better known as Broughman Villiers) and the arch-Fabian Graham Wallas—both of whom also taught at summer sessions in Philadelphia and New York—addressed the visiting scholars. The ancient halls and towers of Oxford provided a mellow setting for spokesmen from the London School of Economics still in its somewhat unpromising infancy. It is remarkable, and certainly a tribute to the Fabian talent for impressing Americans, that so small and ill-favored a nursling, which the London School continued to be for some years, had already gained so large a reputation among leaders of liberal thought in the United States.

Even after he became president of Princeton University in 1902 and could no longer participate actively in the work of tho Philadelphia University Extension, Woodrow Wilson continued to take a lively interest in that little backwater of academic ferment. New personalities appeared there from time to time whose interest in national politics was undisguised. Among them were William T. Harrison, United States Commissioner of Education under Theodore Roosevelt, and Columbia University’s chief political economist, Dr. E. R. A. Seligman, one of the earliest to perceive the presidential possibilities of Woodrow Wilson.

There was also Lincoln Steffens, who wrote “The Shame of the Cities” for McClure’s Magazine—a series purporting to expose corruption and poverty in American cities and suggested by the Fabian tract, “Facts for Londoners.” An early article in the New England Magazine (June, 1894) by the migrant British Fabian William A. Clarke had quoted the poet Shelley as saying, “Hell is a city very much like London,” and remarked that Shelley was unfair to Hell. The same Manichean spirit pervaded Steffens’ work, though expressed in the astringent journalistic style, known as muckraking, then coming into vogue. For a dozen years Fabian-type “fact finding” in a popular vein—practiced not only by outspoken Socialists like Lincoln Steffens and Upton Sinclair, but by such skilled reporters as Ray Stannard Baker and Ida Tarbell, who only leaned toward Socialism—enjoyed a field day in the American press.

In a period when Fabian Socialists were devoting themselves to penetration and permeation of the Liberal Party in England, a mixed bag of professors and publicists who had borrowed the liberal label prepared the way for a similar parasitic development in the United States. To a greater or lesser degree, they had been touched by Socialist ideas—a condition unsuspected by the general run of Americans. Within a surprisingly short time, Dr. Woodrow Wilson, the professors’ choice, became the Democratic Party’s candidate for the Presidency of the United States. He was elected due to a split in Republican ranks, fomented in part by old-fashioned patriots, in part by Eastern liberals and Midwestern progressives.

Immediately after Wilson’s election, the United States Department of Labor was established. It absorbed the old Bureau of Labor, now the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The Bureau furnished, like the factory inspectors’ reports in England, facts and figures Socialists have utilized to advantage for agitation and propaganda purposes. The Bureau of Labor Statistics is known today chiefly as the oracular source of the monthly Consumer Price Index, to which the “escalator-clause” in many modern union contracts is tied and which assures an overall, if gradual, inflationary spiral.

That move to consolidate Federal labor agencies in Washington had been promoted by the Fabian W. D. P. Bliss, who became a Bureau of Labor investigator in 1907, the first of a flock of Socialist bureaucrats who have quietly roosted in the Department of Labor ever since. The wide and variegated connections enjoyed by Bliss were evident in the list of contributors to his New Encyclopedia of Social Reform, published by Funk and Wagnalls in 1908. There the names of well-known British Fabians (Percy Alden, M.P., Right Honorable John Burns, Sidney Webb, Edward R. Pease) and leading American Socialists of the day (Professors E. W. Bemis and F. H. Giddings, Morris Hillquit, Robert Hunter, Upton Sinclair) appeared side by side with names of such eminent non-Socialists as Samuel Gompers, Honorable Oscar Straus, Booker T. Washington and Cardinal Gibbons.

Under the Wilson Administration still another long-desired Fabian Socialist objective became a reality: the income tax, which was super-imposed on the older and kindlier American tradition of indirect taxation. Originally proposed by Karl Marx in the Communist Manifesto, a heavily graduated income tax had been urged by American Fabian Leaguers as well as by their mentors of the London Fabian Society. Twice branded unconstitutional by the United States Supreme Court, it was finally legalized by pushing through the Sixteenth Amendment to the Constitution after the outbreak of World War I— at a time when distracting questions of foreign policy were uppermost in the public mind. The income tax became law in 1918, just in time to help pay for the war, a war out of which Woodrow Wilson had vowed to keep the country. Feather light at the beginning, like the “Old Man of the Sea” it has proved a progressively heavier burden upon the shoulders of an entire people—as well as a subtle political device for altering the basic economy and social structure of the nation.

While Woodrow Wilson could not actually be named a Socialist, he was the first Chief Executive of the United States to accept Socialist-minded intellectuals as aides and advisers and to present Fabian Socialist programs as his own. His book, The New Freedom, was an early attempt to equate the Democratic Party with a strange new concept of democracy which mirrored the Industrial or Social Democracy of the British Fabians. As he admitted in the preface, with a frankness seldom matched today, he did not write the book at all.5 It was compiled by a former colleague of the Philadelphia University Extension days, the Christian Socialist William Bayard Hale, on the basis of Wilson’s 1912 campaign speeches.

From first to last, The New Freedom denounced capitalism as being contrary to the interests of the common man. Justice, not charity, was its theme. Somewhat quaintly, it identified the captains of industry of the day with the trustees of Princeton University who seemed to have given Dr. Wilson a hard time during his presidency of that institution. Opening with the bleak assertion (reiterated by Wilson’s political successors during half a century of unparalleled industrial growth) that the American economy was stagnant and individual opportunity was dead, it stated:

“We stand in the presence of a revolution—not a bloody revolution, America is not given to spiring of blood—but a silent revolution, whereby America will insist upon recovering in practice those ideals which she has always professed, upon securing a government devoted to the general and not to special interests.” (6)

And it concluded with the premature but eerie prediction:

“. . . We are just upon the threshold of a time when the systematic life of this country will be sustained, or at least supplemented, at every point by government activity. And we have now to determine what kind of governmental activity it shall be; whether, in the first place, it shall be direct from the government itself, or whether it shall be indirect, through instrumentalities which have already constituted themselves and which stand ready to supersede the government.”(7)

The instrumentalities referred to by Wilson were large industrial and financial concerns, headed by the United States Steel Corporation and J. P. Morgan and Company, which according to the Socialist demonology of the period constituted a kind of invisible government. Whatever instrumentalities may stand ready to supersede the American Government today are internationalist in character and Fabian Socialist-directed; and it was in Wilson’s time that such left wing groups made their first tentative efforts to grasp power in the United States by exerting influence over the Chief Executive.

As Bellamy had done, The New Freedom called for “a new declaration of independence.” (8) It deplored the system of checks and balances in government, devised by well-meaning but sadly outdated Founding Fathers, and demanded an “evolutionary” interpretation of the Constitution, as well as sweeping changes in the Judiciary. “Development” and “evolution” were the “new scientific watchwords.”(9)

Having been a teacher of law in its political aspects, Wilson found the judicial outlook of Louis D. Brandeis, Harvard Law School professor, highly congenial. Brandeis was the author of the historic “Brandeis Brief,” which ushered in a whole new phase of constitutional law based more on sociological than legal interpretations. He was a frequent caller at the White House during the first Wilson Administration, when others found it difficult to see the President. Together with the Progressive Senator La Follette of Wisconsin, he plied Wilson liberally with advice and information.(10)

Brandeis had read and greatly admired Wealth Against Commonwealth by Henry Demarest Lloyd of the American Fabian League. (11) In fact, it was through Lloyd that Brandeis was asked to serve on a panel of lawyers to present the miners’ case before Theodore Roosevelt’s Anthracite Coal Commission of 1902. For a time, American Fabians and their “liberal” satellites had hoped to advance their cause through the “New Nationalism” of the first President Roosevelt. But they found that Roosevelt’s interest in genuinely needed regulation and reforms stopped short of tampering with the Constitution.

The Harvard jurist was a close friend of Florence Kelley, of the National Consumers League,(12) whose activities in behalf of working-class women and children demonstrated dramatically how middle class Socialists in the early nineteen-hundreds managed to capture the momentum of legitimate reform drives for their own far-flung ends. Brandeis was for years a neighbor of Elizabeth Glendower Evans, Socialist hostess and financial angel with whom Florence Kelley’s daughter lived while studying at Radcliffe. When the Oregon Ten Hour Law for Women was due for a test before the Supreme Court, Florence Kelley enlisted the services of Brandeis.

His niece, Josephine Goldmark—aide and biographer of Florence Kelley—has described the circumstances under which the now-famous Brandeis Brief was prepared in 1907.(13) For two hectic weeks Josephine Goldmark and Florence Kelley assembled and sifted a huge mass of statistics, reports and precedents from foreign lands, hastily supplied by Socialist researchers. The result was something new in legal presentations, with a mere page and a half of legal argument attached to many pages of carefully slanted social and economic research, which the honorable Justices were scarcely equipped by training or experience to evaluate. Termed revolutionary at the time, this method (based on a novel concept of “juridical notice”) has by now become standard practice and serves, at least in part, to explain some otherwise teaming Supreme Court decisions of recent years.

Significantly, Woodrow Wilson named Louis D. Brandeis, nominally a Progressive Republican, to the Supreme Court in 1915, where he continued to work for liberalization of the Constitution. His appointment was bitterly contested in the Senate, along with the appointment of a former Harvard Law School instructor and fellow Progressive, George Rublee, to the Federal Trade Commission. Born in Wisconsin, Rublee was a polished product of both Groton and Harvard. His vacations in Cornish, New Hampshire, dated from an era when visitors to Washington, who had tried and failed to reach the President, complained: “Wilson stays in Cornish and communes with God.”(14) During the summer of 1914, Wilson occupied the spacious red brick home of the American novelist, Winston Churchill, in Cornish, while the chief presidential adviser, Colonel Edward M. House, resided in nearby Manchester.

Members of the discreet summer colony which developed in Cornish and survived for decades included Edward Burling, Sr., Rublee’s colleague on the World War I Shipping Board, and his partner in a Washington law firm that specialized in hiring Harvard alumni who had been law clerks in Justice Brandeis’ office. Cornish familiars also included Philip Littell, later an editor of the liberal-Fabian weekly, the New Republic; and the very personable Professor Robert Morss Lovett, who was to serve as the leading front man for revived American Fabian Socialist organizations after World War I. (15) Some wintered at the Turtle Bay colony in Manhattan.

All had been honor students at Harvard together in the late eighteen-eighties and early eighteen-nineties when Bellamy’s Nationalism, adorned with touches of John Ruskin and William Morris, captivated young campus intellectuals. The old school tie endured, and in a rarefied, profitable and mysterious fashion, certain of its wearers permeated the highest circles in Washington politics and New York finance—particularly after a third partner in the Burling-Rublee law firm, Dean Acheson, became Under Secretary of the Treasury and Secretary of State in later Administrations.

Still another member of that long-lived Harvard group was Thomas W. Lamont, Sr.—affectionately known to old college chums as “Tommy”—who never ceased to be impressed by the superior wisdom of George Rublee, an upperclassman when Lamont was a sophomore. From financial reporter on a New Jersey newspaper, Lamont rose to become a senior partner of J. P. Morgan and Company, in the dismantlement of which he eventually assisted. In 1933 Lamont signed the so-called Bankers’ Report advocating diplomatic recognition of Soviet Russia.

As President of the United States, Woodrow Wilson did not hesitate to name outspoken Socialists to obscure but critical posts in government A case in point was Fred C. Howe, Wilson’s Commissioner of Immigration at the Port of New York. A writer and lecturer by profession, Howe resigned after a congressional investigation into alleged neglect of duty, in connection with his unauthorized action in releasing alien radicals held for deportation by the Department of Justice.(16) Both before and after the incident, he figured prominently in a number of Socialist-dominated organizations. (17)

Wilson had also sent the Christian Socialist William Bayard Hale (18) as his special representative to revolution-torn Mexico in 1913-14, instituting a species of presidential diplomacy which has since become almost routine. In Mexico Wilson received private reports both from Hale and from another erstwhile lecturer at the Philadelphia University Extension, Lincoln Steffens, who was in Vera Cruz to attend a Socialist conference in 1914. Those reports helped to effect some curious results, including support and eventual recognition of the junta of General Venustiano Carranza, at a time when the latter controlled no more than ninety square kilometers in all Mexico and when his councils were deeply infiltrated by agents of German Military Intelligence.

In 1940-41 the writer of this book was permitted to examine the Woodrow Wilson Papers in the Library of Congress. A folder relating to Mexico contained a personal letter from Secretary of State Robert Lansing commenting on Wilson’s preference for soliciting amateur advice often contrary to the observations of seasoned and responsible officials.

Recent hearings before the Senate Subcommittee on Internal Security disclosed that, in a more recent Latin American crisis, diplomatic policies of the United States, which placed and have maintained Fidel Castro in power, were similarly instigated by reports from a “liberal,” journalist, Herbert L. Matthews, of The New York Times. Meanwhile, well-founded advance warnings by professional diplomats, concerning Castro’s long-standing Moscow ties, were ignored or suppressed.(19) Compounding that folly, plans for the ill-starred Bay of Pigs invasion were entrusted to amateurs under presidential supervision rather than to military technicians. So, from all indications, history repeats itself; and the same brand of Socialist-suggested ineptitude as practiced by President Wilson, has once more invited penetration of the Western Hemisphere by a European military power.


1. Beatrice Webb, Our Partnership (London, Longmans, Green & Co., Ltd., 1948), p. 195.

2. In 1895, five years after its founding, the London School of Economics, then occupying two rooms in Adelphi, boasted exactly eight registered students and two lecturers. One of these instructors was the Director, W. A. S. Hewins, who voiced conservative views on economics but faithfully followed Sidney Webb’s lead in matters of organization. The other was the radical Graham Wallas, whose field was politics. Max Beer, Fifty Years of International Socialism (London, Allen & Unwin, 19350, pp. 83-83.

3. Forty Years of Education (New York, League for Industrial Democracy, 1945), pp. 46-47.

4. From 1893 to 1898 the Nationalists continued to maintain their “Bureau of Nationalist Literature” in Philadelphia, which distributed Bellamy’s speeches and Looking Backward, and Professor Frank Parsons’ Public Ownership of Monopolies and Philosophy of Mutualism–all known to Woodrow Wilson. Sylvia E. Bowman, The Year 2000–A Critical Biography of Edward Bellamy (New York, Bookman Associates, 1958), p. 136.

5. Woodrow Wilson, The New Freedom, A Call for the Emancipation of the Generous Energies of a People (New York, Doubleday, Page & Co., 1913), p. vii.

6. Ibid., p. 30.

7. Ibid., p. 217.

8. Ibid., pp. 48-49.

9. Ibid., pp. 4247.

10. Ray Stannard Baker, An American Chronicle (New York, Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1945), p. 276. Wilson later excoriated Senator La Follette as one of “a little group of wilful men” for his continued opposition to United States participation in World War I, even after war had been declared.

11. Josephine Goldmark, Impatient Crusader, Florence Kelley’s Life Story. (Urbana, University of Illinois Press, 1953), p. 153.

12. Florence Kelley, who called herself a Marxist, had been a Nationalist and an American Fabian. She later served as president of the Intercollegiate Socialist Society, and vice president of the League for Industrial Democracy, affiliates of the London Fabian Society. See Appendix II.

13. Goldmark, op. cit., pp. 143-159. On page 159, Miss Goldmark states: “The Brandeis Brief in the Muller case, reprinted together with Judge Brewer’s opinion, was in great demand from law schools and universities as well as from labor unions and libraries . . . Gone was the deadening weight of legal precedent.”

14. Baker, loc. cit., p. 276.

15. To the end of his life, Professor Lovett was the house guest of Edward Burling, Sr., when visiting Washington.

16. Record of the Sixty Sixth Congress (Washington, U. S. Government Printing Office, 1919), pp. 1522-23.

17. Railway Review, Chicago (January 27, 1923). “Fred C. Howe, New York City; National Committee, American Civil Liberties Union; special writer, Federated Press; . . . chairman, committee on resolutions and member of National Council, Peoples’ Legislative Service; contributing editor, Labor Age; Defense Committee, I. W. W.; organizer, School of Thought, Siasconset, Nantucket, Mass.” Howe was also a director of the League for Industrial Democracy. See Appendix II.

18. A telegram of June, 1916, from the German Ambassador in Washington to the German Foreign Office, furnished by the United States Department of State and presented by Bruce Bielaski testifying before the Senate Subcommittee on the Judiciary on December 6, 1918, revealed that from the outset of World War I William Bayard Hale held a contract extending until June 23, 1918, as a confidential agent of the German Foreign Office at a salary of $15,000 per year. Subsequently he went to Germany as correspondent for an American press service which, as the telegram also reveals, was not aware of Hale’s connection with the German Government. He returned to America following the entry of the United States into World War I. Senate Document No. 672, 66th Congress. Report and Hearings of the Subcommittee on the Judiciary, United States Senate (Washington, U. S. Government Printing Office, 1919), Vol. II, pp. 1393-94.

19. Hearings before the Subcommittee to Investigate the Administration of the Internal Security Act and Other Internal Security Laws of the Committee on the Judiciary, United States Senate. (Washington, U. S. Government Printing Office, 1962), 87th Congress, Part 5 (January 9, February 8, 1961. February 2, 1962). Testimony of William Wieland, pp. 485-681, Part 13 (July 13, 1962). Testimony of Whiting Willauer, pp. 861-888.

Chapter 10 << | >> Chapter 12

Chapter 10-Putting The Silk Hat On Socialism

Chapter 10 of the book Fabian Freeway.

For a few years, the Bellamy cult spread like a brush fire across the United States. By November, 1890, its leaders reported 158 Nationalist clubs in twenty-seven states. Sixteen of these clubs were located in New York and sixty-five in California, which Laurence Gronlund exuberantly judged to be more nearly ripe for the Cooperative Commonwealth than any other state in the Union. The movement bypassed former Confederate states and made few overtures to the Catholic church, generally viewed in the nineteenth century as an immigrant church—notwithstanding the fact that Catholic colonists in Maryland and Pennsylvania had fought almost to a man in the War of Independence.

According to Edward Bellamy, his new social gospel was to be spread “not by foreign malcontents, but by Americans descended from generations of Americans.” In February, 1891, 165 chartered clubs existed throughout the country, a majority of them in the Far and Middle West. Fully fifty newspapers supported the Nationalist cause in whole or in part, and Sylvester Baxter declared you could not go into a major newspaper office in New York, Philadelphia or Boston without finding one or more Nationalists on the staff. Though the Atlantic remained aloof, other respected monthly magazines of the age opened their pages to Nationalist propaganda. Bellamy himself contributed a brief article to the North American Review on the “Progress of Nationalism in the United States.”(1)

The first issue of a brand-new periodical called The Literary Digest, launched in March, 1890, featured a lead article by General Francis A. Walker, president of Massachusetts Institute of Technology and original president of the American Economic Association. It was a critique, mildly critical but none the less friendly, of that much-reviewed novel, Looking Backward. Early numbers of The Literary Digest were loaded with references to Nationalism in America and Socialism in Great Britain, though no connection between the two was inferred. There were items on Nationalist clubs in California and elsewhere; as well as an article by one Angelo Majorama on “Socialism in England,” reporting that “Socialism has invaded the Universities” and “in England is closely allied with religion.” And the reelection of Annie Besant to the London School Board was politely noted.

Repeatedly, the middle class character of the Nationalist clubs was stressed—especially in their own club notes, printed in a short-lived official monthly, The Nationalist. Started in Boston with fifty members, the clubs attracted some rather well-known personalities of the day; and the movement as a whole was stamped with the hallmark of New England culture. The membership of the Boston club was a good deal more impressive, if less cohesive, than the London Fabian Society’s had been at the time of its founding only five years earlier.

There was William Dean Howells, venerable and kindly dean of American letters;(2) the Reverend Edward Everett Hale, product of the Harvard Divinity School and scion of Mayflower Pilgrims, widely known as the author of that patriotic classic, The Man Without a Country; Hamlin Garland, writer of homespun tales from the mid-western prairies; and John Storr Cobb, a founder of the Theosophical Society in America. While subscribing to the club’s Socialist program, most of these respectable gentlemen were apparently unaware of the Marxist philosophy that prompted it. Each in his own fashion was a prototype of the non-analytical do-gooder who has contributed so liberally ever since to the spread of what Eleanor Marx called “unconscious Socialism” in America.

Like the Fabian Society of London, the Nationalist clubs welcomed members of both sexes, a somewhat daring innovation in a nineteenth century politico-cultural movement. Active women who joined the Boston club included Julia Ward Howe, author of “The Battle Hymn of the Republic”, Frances E. Willard, reformer and temperance leader; Anne Whitney, the sculptress who made a bust of James A. Walker, president of Harvard University; Mary A. Livermore, editor and suffragette; and Lucy Stone, the feminist whose followers embarrassed three decades of hotel clerks by their insistence that married ladies should use their maiden names.

In Fort Dodge, Iowa, and Fall River, Massachusetts, it was said the best people in town attended Nationalist meetings. In San Francisco, a popular rabbi resigned from his synagogue to preach the tidings of Nationalism to Jew and Gentile alike. The Chicago club, which assembled by written invitation on May 6,1889, in the gilt and plush elegance of the recently opened Palmer House, was composed of merchants, bank officers, lawyers and other presumably solid citizens. Nationalist groups, like their cousins of the British Fabian Society, always claimed to have the working man’s welfare at heart, but apparently desired few personal contacts with him.

A handful of confirmed Socialists steered the organizational work and controlled policy statements. Besides Bellamy himself, they included Laurence Gronlund, the bridge from an earlier Marxism; Eltweed Pomeroy, owner of an industrial plant in New Jersey, who sponsored one of the country’s first employee profit-sharing schemes; and the Reverend W. D. P. Bliss, Fabian apostle to the clergy, who spent much of his time trying to convince various Protestant churchmen and their flocks that Christianity and Socialism were compatible in practice—contrary to what they might chance to read in Papal Encyclicals. (3) On Manhattan Island, Percival Chubb, a charter member of the London Fabian Society who sailed to America in 1888 and lived there till his death at the age of ninety-nine, proselyted cheerfully among the Ethical Culturists. (4)

In their delight at the movement’s sudden growth, its organizers failed to follow the cautious example of the English Fabians, who refused to identify their Society with the fortunes of any political splinter party. As a result, the Nationalist clubs were quickly absorbed into the People’s Party, which in the national elections of 1892 gleaned over a million votes and won twenty-two seats in the electoral college. William Dean Howells claimed that Edward Bellamy virtually founded the Populist Party, and indeed its platform clearly reflected the ideas of Looking Backward.

By the close of 1892, most of the Nationalist clubs had disappeared. By that time, also, Bellamy’s much-vaunted Americanism had begun to ring a bit hollow, thanks to an editorial of his which appeared in the Boston Globe for July 4, 1892. There he proclaimed that “in the year 1992… the Fourth of July will have ceased to be a popular holiday of much note.” He predicted “another Declaration of Independence in America” which “in importance will quite eclipse the document (great in its way as that was) promulgated in Philadelphia a hundred and sixteen years ago.” It would, he said, abolish distinctions between employer and employed, capitalist and proletarian, and put an end to economic inequality. Without specifying the precise day, month or year when this “newer and greater Declaration of Independence” would come, he announced: “I believe it will come and that society will be, peaceably or forcibly, conformed to its terms within the expectations of men now middle-aged.”

Those explosive remarks were made in an era when “the Glorious Fourth” was celebrated with picnics, parades and firecrackers everywhere in the United States, and when the day itself was regarded by adults and children alike as being only second in importance to Christmas. While Bellamy’s editorial was greeted with cheers by all convinced Socialists, including a close-knit group of upperclassmen and recent alumni of Harvard University who had succumbed to the Nationalist lure, it offended public opinion in Boston and the country as a whole. His prediction that society would be peaceably or forcibly transformed within a relatively few years rather deflated the claims made by Bellamy admirers, then and since, to the effect that he was “one of the most peaceful and humane revolutionists who ever lived.”

Partly because of this incident, partly because the novelty of the whole thing had worn thin, the Nationalist movement was soon extinct, despite efforts of Bellamy and his friends to revive it. Nevertheless, it accomplished the one practical purpose for which it had been so hastily launched. When the Congress of the United States, impelled by the violence-scarred Homestead and Pullman strikes, passed a law in 1894 declaring Anarchism illegal, Socialism escaped the prohibition.

Having caught the fancy, however fleeting, of many middle class folk in urban communities throughout the United States, Socialism had acquired some veneer of respectability. As Edward Bellamy noted in his introduction to the 1894 American edition of Fabian Essays, Nationalism was, chiefly, the form in which “scientific Socialism” had thus far been brought to the attention of the American people. Older, more literal Marxists were impressed in spite of themselves and agreed with something like relief that Bellamy had succeeded in “putting the silk hat on Socialism in America.”

To a number of younger men and women, Nationalism also provided the starting point for future careers in other Socialist-dominated enterprises to come. Along with the aging Colonel Thomas Wentworth Higginson, such youthful sprigs as Mary Livermore and Mary Austin of the Boston Nationalist Club in time became pillars of the Intercollegiate Socialist Society (ISS), afterwards the League for Industrial Democracy. So did Florence Kelley of the New York club, who had studied Marxism in Switzerland. She became a self anointed crusader against child labor, and as chairman of the National Consumers League lobbied incessantly throughout the country for state and federal control of wages and working conditions.

William J. Ghent, a fellow member of New York’s Nationalist Club, and Algernon Lee of the Milwaukee club, became successive directors of the controversial Rand School of Social Science. From the Chicago club came Clarence Darrow, dramatic defender of the McNamara brothers and other accused dynamiters, and a charter member of the ISS; and Henry Demarest Lloyd, author of Wealth Against Commonwealth and an inspirer of the Public Ownership League of Chicago which eventually fathered the Tennessee Valley Authority. Lloyd’s son,-David Demarest Lloyd, followed in his papa’s footsteps, becoming Director of Research and Legislation in the Fabian-instigated Americans for Democratic Action (6) and serving just prior to his death in 1951 as a White House speech writer for Fair Deal President Harry S. Truman. By that time the Fabian technique of “penetration” had developed into a fine art in America.


For the time being, however, a good many budding radicals of Anglo-American stock and middle class education found that with the collapse of the Nationalist movement they had no place to go. When the need for a helping hand became evident, William A. Clarke of the London Chronicle and a member of London’s Fabian Executive was dispatched to assist those drifting American intellectuals who still dreamed of achieving a gradual and bloodless revolution in their native land. For the March, 1894, issue of The New England Magazine, highly rated in academic and literary circles, Clarke wrote an article simply entitled, “The Fabian Society.”

An able journalist and propagandist, William Clarke was well qualified to pen an official apology for the British Fabian Society in the United States. Almost casually, he brushed aside the view “still expressed sometimes in American newspapers, that the Socialist movement is largely made up of cranks and scoundrels.” On the contrary, he said, “In Marx, Lassalle, Rodbertus and others, the Socialist movement has been served by some of the best brains of our century …. I know the inside of the Socialist movement well, and it certainly numbers among its adherents the ablest men I know. The Fabian Society contains not a few of these men …. At present, almost all callings are represented in the Fabian Society of London and its forty-eight provincial societies …. Lawyers, artists, journalists, doctors, workingmen; clergymen, teachers, trade union leaders; literary people, shopkeepers, and persons of no occupation …. No millionaires … but quite a few well-to-do people. A large proportion are bright young men, and there are not a few bright and active women.”

This seems to have been the first public image of the London Fabian Society to be formally unveiled in America by one of its own leading spokesmen. The Society was falsely depicted as being no more than a mild-mannered reform movement—”not looking for the millennium or any perfectly blissful earthly paradise.” Its ultimate revolutionary aims, as expressed in the Basis, were not stated. What the article sought chiefly to convey was an impression that most Fabian Socialists were “educated, intelligent, of sweet disposition . . . people who enjoy books and music and the theater and good society. . . . The Socialist movement . . . has taught them there is a great suffering world beyond the four walls of home to be helped and worked for.” Clarke’s artful press agentry was not only a timely prelude to the American edition of Fabian Essays, which appeared the same year, but served in a general way to whitewash the Fabians and their friends at home and abroad.

Somehow he contrived to suggest that the still youthful London Fabian Society was a solid, long-established British institution: one that could serve (although he tactfully refrained from saying so) as a model for Socialist intellectuals aspiring to develop a similar leadership group in America. Just as soon as it became evident that Socialist activities in the United States were not going to be declared illegal, William Clarke offered his personal services in helping to found an American Fabian Society in Boston, with branches in other cities.

Early in 1895, the irrepressible W. D. P. Bliss—stimulated by a recent visit to London, where he had mingled happily with the Fabian masterminds and arranged for the publication by Sonnenschein of his own Handbook of Socialism–assumed the editorship of a new monthly journal, The American Fabian. Published by the Fabian Educational Company of Boston, it was to become the organ of a projected American Fabian League, as soon as such a body could be formed. Subscriptions were solicited from erstwhile Nationalists and other Socialist sympathizers on or off the university campuses, at the modest price of fifty cents a year—eighty cents if ordered jointly with The Dawn, a Christian Socialist sheet started by Bliss in 1889 Headquarters of the Fabian Educational Company were located at 241 Tremont Street by arrangement with the People’s Party Club of Boston.

A twenty-page monthly, more pretentious in format than the slim but durable little Fabian News of London, The American Fabian first saw the light of day in February, 1895. Disarmingly, the front page of its inaugural issue carried a photograph and profile of the British utopian philosopher, William Morris, who believed in embellishing social reform with art, poetry and other cultural adornments. The masthead featured a quotation from Mazzini, the Italian Anarchist: “The next great word is Association”—a seemingly innocent word which the Nationalists had employed in their platform as a synonym for nationalization.

On an inner page a new, long-term revolutionary objective of the journal’s founders was succinctly stated. It was not merely to rewrite the Declaration of Independence, as Bellamy had once suggested; but to effect a series of basic changes in the Constitution itself that would make possible the introduction of State Socialism step by step in the United States. With all the valor of inexperience the editors announced, more boldly than most of their modern counterparts would care to do today:

“We call our paper “The American Fabian” for two reasons: we call it Fabian because we desire to make it stand for the kind of educational Socialist work which is so ably done by the English Fabian Society …. We call our paper “The American Fabian” because our politics must in a measure differ from those of the English Fabians. England and America are alike in some things. in some things they are utterly unlike. England’s [unwritten] Constitution readily admits of constant though gradual modification. Our American Constitution does not readily admit of such change. England can thus move into Socialism almost imperceptibly. Our Constitution being largely individualistic must he changed to admit of Socialism, and each change necessitates a political crisis. This means the raising of great new issues. . . . .” (7)

Such far-reaching calculations were not wholly the fruit of American thinking, as can be deduced from the fact that the very next issue of The American Fabian printed the text of the London Fabian Society’s Basis. The “need” to alter the Constitution of the United States as a preliminary to radical social change was reaffirmed just three years later by the British Fabian Socialist, Ramsay MacDonald. Returned from a trip to America, he gave a talk on the United States at the London Fabian Society’s headquarters in Clement’s Inn. “The great bar to [Socialist] progress [in the United States],” said he, “is the written constitutions, Federal and State, which give ultimate power to a law court.” This assertion by a future Socialist Prime Minister of England was made on January 14, 1898; (8) and there is no reason to presume he or his Fabian associates in Britain and America ever deviated from that view.

To subvert the underlying principles of the United States Constitutions, Federal and State, which upheld the right to own and operate private property as a corollary of the Natural Law, was a project of real magnitude. When proposed in The American Fabian, most Americans deemed such a thing to be impossible—just as it seemed impossible that a handful of “gentle” Fabian intellectuals in England could seriously shake the foundations of the British Empire. Confession of intent to revise the Constitution in America of the eighteen-nineties appeared more visionary than alarming. If it was ever to be accomplished, it would have to be done obliquely, secretively and gradually over a period of years by a Socialist elite schooled to take advantage of every local and national crisis for their own covert ends.

The first step was to develop a leadership group and a receptive body of public opinion, through the organized promotion of Socialist thought and study. To that end, the April, 1895, issue of The American Fabian offered a tentative constitution for an American Fabian League. It was to be a federation of clubs, with national executive and publication committees but without other national officers. Any club working in any way to spread Socialist ideas or to advance any Socialist measures could join the American Fabian League by applying to the secretary of the Executive Committee.

The various local clubs or societies were free to organize in any manner they wished and choose their own special objectives, methods of work, and time of meetings. They could use any name they preferred, and could exercise full autonomy over their own members, who might or might not be outright Socialists. One thing, however, was essential: the American Fabian League constitution specified that in any club only those persons who communicate in writing to the Secretary of the Executive Committee their acceptance of the principle of ownership and conduct of industry by the community shall have a right to hold office in the National Executive Committee, or to vote in the National League ….” The Publications Committee would draft a program of “measures or subjects for the federated clubs to consider and study or agitate upon, month by month, in order to produce systematic concerted action.”

Here was the blueprint for a semi-secret national organization whose sole visible link with its members was The American Fabian. It is noteworthy that the magazine during its five-year existence printed few names except those of publicists already well-known. Club officers and personnel of the Executive Committee were not identified, and no membership figures were announced. Articles were generally unsigned, or signed with only an initial, except when reprinted from other periodicals. In fact, it was several years before The American Fabian ventured to print a list of its own contributing editors—all Socialists and former Nationalists. As of February, 1898, they were: Edward Bellamy, W. D. P. Bliss, Helen Campbell, Eltweed Pomeroy, (10) Henry Demarest Lloyd, Prestonia Mann, Professor Frank Parsons, (11) and Charlotte Perkins Stetson.

The Christmas issue of 1895 displayed a Nativity scene, captioned “The Birth of the First Socialist,” on the same page with a brief biography of the profoundly anti-religious Karl Marx. It also contained the following modest organizational items: “The Kensington Fabian group meets every Tuesday evening. Mr. Bliss is giving his course of lectures and the hall is filling up …. The Philadelphia group meets every Saturday at 1305 Arch Street…. The New York Society (formerly the Altrurian Society) meets every Wednesday evening at 10 East 33rd Street. It has weekly discussions and debates, and on January 8 will have a supper.”

No attempt was made to conceal the fact that the American movement maintained close ties with the British Fabian Society. A note in the same issue stated: “Mr. E. R. Pease, secretary of the London Society, writes us that if secretaries of American Fabian Societies will send him their names and addresses, he will send them the Fabian News and tracts as they appear. Let us accept this generous offer and bind the English and American movements together. We need not and should not copy the English movement, but surely we may learn from the older and parent movement.”(12)

Besides establishing direct contacts between the London Executive and key individuals in American Fabian groups throughout the country, the generous offer made by Pease had other uses. Both the Fabian News and the tracts issued by the British Society, which appeared to the general reader to have a purely informational and propagandist content, could be construed by the faithful as providing quiet but unmistakable directives from the fountainhead of Fabian Socialism in London. A full set of selected Fabian tracts for Americans was advertised at seventy-five cents in The American Fabian, bolstered by an admiring quotation from the Review of Reviews which said: “The peculiarity of the Fabian tracts is that every fact and statement in them has been verified [sic].”

The American Fabian League was not planned as a mass organization. Its avowed purpose was to unite all existing reform movements in America under the leadership of individual Socialists, who in turn received their instructions from a single national Executive Committee. The original program included planks on sound currency, a national eight-hour law, women’s suffrage, state employment bureaus and aid for the unemployed? and control over the sale of alcoholic beverages. Most of these proposals, since enacted into law, were not in essence Socialist. They simply made it easier for individual Socialists to penetrate labor, women’s and temperance groups, with a view to winning mass support for other, more far-reaching Socialist objectives outlined by the League’s Executive Committee.

Americans today may be surprised to find that the same Fabian program advocated a severely graduated income tax and a heavy and graduated inheritance tax, as well as a tax on land values. It also called for proportional representation, which aimed to give left wing splinter parties a voice in government, local and national; the initiative and referendum, which would permit legislation to be initiated outside of the legislatures; and “any Constitutional amendments that might be needed” to legalize the Fabian Socialist plan for America.

A strictly non-partisan approach to Socialism was recommended for the American Fabian League. This would leave individual Fabians free to join any political party, Socialist or otherwise, and work inside it to promote Socialist legislation. When W. D. P. Bliss, in his capacity as editor of The American Fabian, came out strongly for Bryan and free silver in 1896, he was rebuked by Edward R. Pease for committing the American Fabian movement to the platform of a political party.

Prestonia Mann, a well-to-do bluestocking who aspired to become the Madame Recamier of a Socialist salon, inherited the editorship of The American Fabian from Bliss. She had heartily endorsed the stand taken by Pease. “The British Fabian Society,” she wrote in a letter of December 30, 1896, to Henry Demarest Lloyd, “owes most of its strength to its steadfastness in standing by its determination not to be beguiled into becoming a political party …. We must follow the example of British Fabians.”

In April, 1898, The American Fabian, whose editorial offices had been transferred from Boston to New York, reported briefly: “Sidney and Beatrice Webb, the distinguished authors of a History of Trade Unionism and Industrial Democracy, arrived in New York last week. They will remain in the country for a few months, returning to London about Christmas by way of New Zealand and Australia.” Sydney Olivier, of the original Fabian Big Four, traveled with them as far as Washington on business for the British Colonial Office, (13) lending a spuriously official aura to their journey.

The Webbs encountered none of the disagreeable publicity which had attended the tour of Wilhelm Liebknecht and Eleanor Marx a dozen years before and which marked the visit of the Russian Socialist, Maxim Gorki, several years later. For one thing, they were properly married and acceptable in good society. For another, they shunned the limelight. With the caution and worldly wisdom that always characterized their personal behavior, they spoke at no mass meetings, made no conspicuous public appearances or political pronouncements. They lectured only to small groups of serious thinkers or handpicked audiences on university campuses, and mingled with leading lights of the American Economic Association whose books were regularly advertised in The American Fabian.

In New York City, they dined with Prestonia Mann, at whose summer place in the Adirondacks and town house in Manhattan upperclass Socialists met and mingled. The Webbs established the pattern for future visits to the United States by British Fabians, in which social diversion and Socialist purpose were discreetly combined.

In Chicago the Webbs stayed at Hull House as guests of the very ladylike spinster, Jane Addams, whose beautifully modulated voice and great, inscrutable dark eyes masked a defiant and firebrand spirit. Beatrice Webb recalled the event long afterwards im her diary (14)— failing to mention, however, that thereafter almost every British Fabian who visited the United States included a stop at Hull House on his schedule. Founded in 1889 and modeled after Toynbee Hall in London where so many members of the London Society made their first carefully limited contacts with slum dwellers, Hul1 House launched the social-settlement phase of the Socialist movement in America which afterwards spread to other cities. Like the earlier gospel missions, it combined the occasional soup kitchen and the supervised playground with indoctrination in a new gospel of “social reform.” It preceded by some fifty years the enactment of legislation creating politically administered city, state and federal welfare agencies; and, in addition to its many incidentally charitable aspects, it served as an early experimental laboratory for the Fabian-invented “social sciences.” By now the golden legend of Hull House has been so assiduously cultivated in book and story by friends and former residents that any attempt to expose its persistent Socialist connections would be viewed as a sacrilege. (15)

And yet, as a sympathetic historian records, the doors of Hull House were always open to social and economic “reformers” and political radicals. (16) There the Social Democratic Party was organized by Eugene V. Debs in 1898, to replace what American Fabians termed the “barbarous”(17) Socialist Labor Party headed by the Curacao-born and German-educated Marxist, Daniel De Leon—subsequently professor of International Law at Columbia University. Like future Socialist splinter parties, the short-lived Social Democratic Party sought to win working-class votes under the guidance of Socialist intellectuals; but in no sense represented the full spectrum of intellectual Socialism’s activities and aims in the United States.

A sudden upsurge of patriotic feeling in America preceded the outbreak of the Spanish-American War. In that atmosphere of hostility to all types of European penetration of the Western Hemisphere, it was once again obvious to sophisticated observers that no movement in the United States could survive which acknowledged foreign inspiration and leadership. Laurence Gronlund raised the question, saying he preferred to be known as a collectivist rather than a Fabian. So did the former Altrurian Society of New York, which had objected to the name Fabian because “it seemed English” and “because a successful Socialist movement in this country should be distinctly American.” (18) Evidently the Webbs reached a similar conclusion, and their tour of 1898 signaled the beginning of the end for The American Fabian— though not for the movement it had helped to form.

In the fall of that year John W. Martin—graduate of London University, former vestryman from Hackney and member of the Fabian Executive from 1894 to 1899—followed the Webbs to America. Nominally, he was to deliver a series of lectures arranged for his benefit by branches of the American Fabian League. (19) Additionally, his mission was to liquidate The American Fabian and to serve as a personal link between the surviving Executive Committee of the American Fabian League and the Fabian Executive of London. With Prestonia Mann, Martin edited the last issues of the journal under the joint pseudonym of “John Preston.” The final issue appeared in 1899, approximately a year after the death of Edward Bellamy.

Following the example of his London confreres—like himself of lower middle class origin—who improved their fortunes and social position by wedding women of property, John W. Martin duly married the energetic Prestonia Mann. Settling in New York, he dabbled in local school board politics and enjoyed the status derived from authorship of an occasional unpopular book. After gaining some slight notoriety in World War I as a financial backer of the Liberator magazine, he became, in his latter days, a consultant on international affairs at Rollins College. Martin and his wife appear to have remained lifelong Fabians, maintaining contacts with high-level Fabian Socialists, British and American, both in New York and at their ultimate retreat in Winter Park, Florida. (20)

Though the official organ of American Fabianism folded in 1899, the movement itself lived on in many seemingly disconnected small reform clubs across the nation. A Bellamy Memorial Meeting of June 7, 1898, presided over by William Dean Howells and described in The American Fabian, had been sponsored by a Fabian group calling itself The Social Reform Club. In September, 1898, W. D. P. Bliss was reported to be organizing a Union Reform League on the Pacific Coast, with tracts being prepared by Professor Commons of Syracuse University, Professor Frank Parsons of Boston University, Professor E. W. Bemis of the University of Chicago, and Dr. Charles B. Spahr of The Outlook. Already the name Fabian and even the name Socialist were being discarded as a matter of procedure—though as late as 1919 local groups calling themselves Fabian Societies were revived in Boston and Chicago.(21)

The brief public appearance of an American Fabian League in the eighteen-nineties coincided with what has been called the London Society’s first blooming. Just as some persons still aver that the Fabian Society of London—which not only dominates the British Labour Party today, but the Socialist International as well—died at the turn of the century; so it is misleadingly claimed that Fabian Socialism died long ago in America, at the time when the American Fabian League dropped out of sight. A conveniently premature death notice found its way into American encyclopedias—confirmed with tongue in cheek by such an authority on Socialist affairs as the late Morris Hillquit, himself a leading member of more than one Fabian-affiliated organization.(22)

The long-range objectives of Fabian Socialism in the United States were clearly and permanently defined in The American Fabian. Techniques for achieving them had still to be developed, along with the openings for putting those techniques into practice. From the first, it was recognized that the difficulties of organization in the United States were very great. Such difficulties were variously attributed to the size of the country; the diversity of races, religions and national! origins; the patriotic spirit innate in the majority of Americans; the opportunities for self-improvement offered by an expanding capitalist system. To this the secretary of the London Fabian Society, Edward R. Pease, who had no love in his heart for America, added contemptuously: “European countries with their great capitals have developed national brains. America, like the lower organisms, has ganglia for various purposes in various parts of its gigantic frame.”(23) The task of Fabian Socialism in America was to discover means of transmitting self-destructive impulses to those hidden ganglia.

By announcing its own apparent demise and voluntarily going underground at a well-chosen moment, the Fabian Socialist movement in America, steered and manipulated with cold-blooded determination by British Fabians, has succeeded in outliving its founders and in becoming an integral, potent and progressively more deadly tool of the international Socialist movement. The future was forecast by William Dean Howells in words that seem more ominous today than when they were spoken. Asked “What are the prospects for Socialism in America?” Howells replied: “As to that, who can say? One sees the movement advancing all around him, and yet it may be years before its ascendancy. On the other hand, it may be but a short time. A slight episode may change history. A turn here or a turn there, and we may find our nation headlong on the road to the ‘ideal’ commonwealth.” (24)

Howell’s statement was made in February, 1898. History has proved that Fabian Socialism in America, wearing the silk hat of respectability, did not end there. It was only the beginning.


1. Edward Bellamy, “Progress of Nationalism in the United States,” North American Review, CL (June 1892), pp. 362-363.

2. In February, 1898 William Dean Howells was quoted as saying: “It was ten years ago that I first became interested in the creed of Socialism. I was in Buffalo when Laurence Gronlund lectured there before the Fortnightly Club. Through this address I was led to read his book, The Cooperative commonwealth, and Kirkup’s article in the Encyclopaedia Britannica. Afterward I read the Fabian Essays; I was greatly influenced also by a number of William Morris’s tracts. The greatest influence, however, came to me through reading Tolstoi. Both as an artist and as a moralist I must acknowledge my deep indebtedness to him.” The American Fabian (February, 1898), p. 2. Published in an article signed G. for Gronlund.

3. In three Encyclicals Pope Leo XIII traced the social rules to be followed by Christian democrats: 1) In “Quod Apostolici Muneris,” December 28, 1878, he indicated that “the equality existing among the various members of society consists only in this: that al men have their origin in God the Creator, have been redeemed by Jesus Christ, and are to be judged and rewarded or punished by God exactly according to their merits or demerits.” 2) In “Rerum Novarum,” May 15, 1891, he affirmed that “the right of private property, the fruit of labor or industry, or of concession or donation by others is an incontrovertible natural right; and everybody can dispose reasonably of such property as he thinks fit.” 3) In “Graves de Communi,” January 18, 1901 he pointed out that “Totally different from the movement known as ‘Social Democracy,’ [Christian democracy] has for its basis the principles of Catholic faith and morals–especially the principle of not injuring in any way the inviolable right of private property.” These views of Leo XIII were specifically reaffirmed by his successor, Pope Pius X, in the “Motu Proprio on Popular Christian Action” given at Rome, December 18, 1903. Quotations cited above are form that document.

4. Percival Chubb was for many years Director of Education at the Ethical Culture High School in New York City. He retained his interest in Socialism and his membership in the Fabian Society of London to the end. In the August, 1923 issue of Fabian News the following personal note appeared: “Percival Chubb, who was the first secretary of the Fellowship of the New Life on its formation in 1883, is on a visit to London from America where he has resided since 1888. He would like to be remembered to any old friends still in the Society.

5. Had italicized, but now removed.

6. To be treated in detail in a later chapter.

7. Had italicized, but now removed.

8. Fabian News (February, 1898).

9. Had italicized, but now removed.

10. Eltweed Pomeroy was also president of the National Direct Legislation League.

11. Of Boston University.

12. The American Fabian (December, 1895), p. 5.

13. Fabian News (April, 1898).

14. Beatrice Webb, My Apprenticeship (London, Longmans, Green & Co., Ltd., 1919), p. 40.

15. On February 3, 1945, Robert Morss Lovett, president for nearly twenty years of the Fabian-affiliated League for Industrial Democracy and a long time resident of Hull House, sent a telegram on the occasion of the League’s fortieth anniversary, saying: “. . . I always regard my connection with the League as one of the happiest of my life–perhaps next to Hull House.” Forty Years of Education (New York, League for Industrial Democracy, 1945), p. 53.

16. Howard Quint, The Forging of American Socialism (Columbia, University of South Carolina Press, 1953), p. 320.

17. Papers of Henry Demarest Lloyd. Letter of Prestonia Mann to H. D. Lloyd, December 30, 1896. (University of Illinois, Urbana, Illinois).

18. The American Fabian (April, 1895), p. 5.

19. The American Fabian (May, 1898), p. 12. Under the heading, “Proposed Fabian Lecture Tour,” it was announced: “Mr. John W. Martin, a member of the London Fabian Executive Committee, intends visiting this country this fall, if a sufficient number of lectures can be arranged for him. . . . Here will be an excellent opportunity for American groups or individuals to assist in propagating the faith by securing Mr. Martin for one or more lectures. Application for further information should be sent to Mr. J. W. Martin, 49 Downs Roads, London, N. E., or to Edw. R. Pease, Secretary of the Fabian Society, 276 Strand, London, W. C.”

20. Fabian Society 73rd Annual Report, July, 1955-June, 1956, contains a notation (p. 17) regarding “the death overseas of Dr. John Martin, who served on the Executive from 1894 to 1899 and founded the American Fabian Society [sic]–itself, alas, no more.”

21. Fabian News (April, 1919). Letter from Stuart Chase.

22. Fifty Years of Education, 1905-1955 (New York, League for Industrial Democracy, 1955). Morris Hillquit is listed as having served from 1908-15 as treasurer of the Intercollegiate Socialist Society, later called the League for Industrial Democracy, which British Fabian Margaret Cole, The Story of Fabian Socialism (London, Heinemann Educational Books, Ltd., 1961), p. 347, designates as a connection of the London Fabian Society.

23. Edward R. Pease, History of Socialism (London, A. & C. Black, 1913), p. 341.

Max Beer, Fifty Years of International Socialism (London, Allen and Unwin, 1935), pp. 108-115. This book is dedicated to Fabian Professor R. H. Tawney.

24. The American Fabian (February, 1898), p. 2.

Chapter 9 << | >> Chapter 11

Chapter 9-The Fabian Turtle Discovers America

Chapter 9 of the book Fabian Freeway.

Part 2–United States

Shortly after the New Year in 1888, a shy, frail and previously undiscovered young American awoke to a new life. For the next ten years—until his death at the age of forty-eight—he was not only to experience the rewards of literary success but to be acclaimed as the lay prophet of a new and fashionable political cult. His name, Edward Bellamy, would soon be known from Massachusetts to California, and even in such world capitals as London, Paris and Berlin. The reason? One of the most ingenious manuscripts ever received by Benjamin Ticknor of the Boston publishing firm, Lee and Shepherd, had just been published over Bellamy’s signature, and it proved to be the best-selling American novel since Uncle Tom’s Cabin.

Edward Bellamy was a former editorial writer and book reviewer who appeared to have been something of a drifter. Son of a New England minister, he had studied for a few terms at Union College in Schenectady and then spent a year in Dresden, Germany, where he pursued an already awakened interest in Socialism.(1) Everything he started seemed to be cut short either by illness or his own restless temperament; for Bellamy suffered intermittently from tuberculosis, that plague of early America.

Returning from Europe Bellamy prepared for the bar, but practiced only briefly. Instead he went to New York City with a letter of recommendation from Colonel Thomas Wentworth Higginson, the well-known Abolitionist and latter-day Socialist, and began writing for the New York Evening Post. When he was only twenty-two, Bellamy delivered a lyceum address on the “barbarism” of competitive industry and the beauties of a socialized system, which apparently resulted in his leaving New York and joining the staff of the Springfield Union.

Poor health made regular work difficult; but an early retirement brought Bellamy the fame that had so far escaped him. Though he had published some two dozen short stories in respected American magazines of the day, his circle of admirers was small. Settling down in the little cotton-mill town where he was born and fortifying himself with generous infusions of whiskey and black coffee, he produced several novels that gained him but slight attention. At last he wrote Looking Backward, the tale of an American utopia and a singularly effective piece of propaganda for a non-American doctrine.

Like many another popular novel, it was not destined to become a classic. By now it remains little more than a literary curiosity, bused in libraries throughout the world and resurrected only occasionally. A briefer edition, reprinted in the nineteen-thirties, (2) gives hardly a clue to its original impact. When the book first appeared, however, it was noted for its novelty and for the fact that it was a socialist romance which never once mentioned Socialism.

A book review of March 29, 1888, in The Nation (then owned by the New York Evening Post, where Bellamy had been a contributor) did not hesitate to mention the proscribed word. Hailing the work as a “glowing prophecy and gospel of peace,” the anonymous critic added that even if Bellamy’s schemes for solving the land question “ought theoretically to have restored the society of ancient Peru instead of banging about the millennium, . . . Mr. George himself would rejoice in a realized ideal of Socialism such as this.”

The “Mr. George” referred to was, of course, Henry George, author of Progress and Poverty, who had run unsuccessfully for mayor of New York City less than two years before and polled the surprising total of 67,000 votes—7,000 more than a muscular young Republican named Theodore Roosevelt. As The Nation’s reviewer noted, the brand of Socialism offered in fiction-coated form by Bellamy was stronger medicine than any prescribed by Henry George, who urged a Single Tax on land as the remedy for humanity’s ills. Looking Backward predicted that America’s golden age would be achieved not merely by making real estate unprofitable, but by making all other investments equally unprofitable.

This marvel was to be wrought, presumably by peaceful means, through “the national organization of labor under a single direction.” For like its predecessor, Uncle Tom’s Cabin, which had sparked anti-slavery agitation in New England, Looking Backward was Abolitionist in spirit. In the most polite and indirect way, it preached to the questing Puritan conscience the abolition of “wage slavery.”

There was nothing accidental about it, as some biographers assert today. In the same year that Edward Bellamy began writing his long-projected utopian novel, Karl Marx’s daughter Eleanor—George Bernard Shaw’s Dark Lady (3)—toured the United States, noticed a great deal of “unconscious Socialism,” and announced that some day “the Uncle Tom’s Cabin of Capitalism would be written.” (4) A mutual friend, Laurence Gronlund, transmitted the word to Bellamy, with a further specification that the book should be designed to attract persons of “judgement and culture.” Five other utopian novels were published in 1888; but Bellamy’s was the only one to be promoted by a clique of Socialist-tinged intellectuals even then in the process of formation. Though its popularity waned as fashions in fiction changed, the long-range movement it served to launch has persisted in various related forms for some three-quarters of a century.

Julian West, the hero of Looking Backward, was a properly well-to-do Bostonian of the type Bellamy and Gronlund hoped to reach. In 2000 A.D. Julian awoke £rom a long, hypnotic sleep to find that the United States had evolved painlessly into something called the Cooperative Commonwealth, where everyone was happy, comfortable and behaved like an angel. Looking backward, he was able to detect many flaws in the society of his birth and to perceive that they had all been corrected by the new collectivist system. It was, as the British social evangelist, William Morris, rather snobbishly remarked, “a cockney Paradise” which he personally would not care to inhabit. (5)

Sweetened by a sentimental love-interest, this optimistic fantasy appealed to America’s kindly, culture-hungry middle class, in an era when the routine of daily life was brightened by the Lend-a-Hand Clubs and the Chatauqua Circles. For a time Looking Backward sold at the then fantastic rate of a thousand copies a day. Total sales in the United States eventually topped half a million and in England reached nearly half that amount. As a result, Edward Bellamy became the figurehead and symbol of an American Fabian Socialist movement, whose future pattern of growth he could not foresee in detail. British Fabians, however, and their disciples in the United States were available to guide its development, from the eager beginnings to the grim conclusion which a veteran American Socialist, Upton Sinclair, (6) assures us blithely was never closer than it is today.

Lee and Shepherd, original publishers of Looking Backward, were promptly besieged with questions about its unknown author. Among others,, Frances E. Willard, then heading the very respectable National Council of Women in Washington, D.C., wrote to a friend employed by the firm: “Have been reading Edward Bellamy’s Looking Backward and think it’s a revelation and an Evangel. Who and where is he? . . . What manner of man is he in private?” To which she received the reply: “We do not know, except that his letters are mailed from Chicopee Falls, Massachusetts.”(7)? Three weeks later Frances Willard, ever an ardent advocate of women’s causes, wrote to say, “Some of us think that Edward Bellamy must be Edwardina —that a big-hearted, big-brained woman wrote the book. Won’t you please find out?”

As the moving spirit of the International Women’s Christian Temperance Union, Frances E. Willard was a lifelong intimate of English temperance leader Lady Henry Somerset and a perennial house guest at her country estate. Like a number of early American feminists and reformers, Frances Willard also joined the Fabian Society of London.(8) Though disappointed to learn that the author of Looking Backward was no female, her enthusiasm for the novel was not diminished. Frances Willard quickly brought it to the attention of British friends and claimed credit for introducing the book to students at Oxford, besides commending it to her many lecture audiences in America. In a face-to-face discussion, Bellamy even persuaded her that references to after-dinner wine and cigars in the year 2000 were permissible, since by then the curse of intemperance would have been safely removed.

In private life, Edward Bellamy was addicted to stronger beverages than wine; (9) but his frequent inability to appear in public was usually ascribed to “dyspepsia.” He was no less guarded about revealing the origins of his Socialist creed. In a letter to William Dean Howells, the silver-haired New England poet and essayist, he stated: ‘I have never been a student of Socialist literature, or have known more of Socialist schemes than any reader of newspapers might.” This careful denial may be doubted, for Bellamy was a voracious reader of German as well as English books. In his lyceum address of 1872, he had already shown more than a bowing acquaintance with Socialist doctrines.

To others, he “confessed” that he learned all he knew of “scientific Socialism” from a little volume by Laurence Gronlund, a Danish-American lawyer then living in Philadelphia. It was called The Cooperative Commonwealth—a term that modern Socialists still use interchangeably with the term “industrial democracy,” given currency some years later by Sidney and Beatrice Webb. Published in 1884, also by Lee and Shepherd, The Cooperative Commonwealth was the first book deliberately to present the doctrines of Marxian Socialism in non-Marxist terms for American readers. Four years later Gronlund ordered his own work withdrawn from circulation, in order to help promote the sales of his friend Bellamy’s novel—a rare example of literary altruism.

Educated in Europe, Laurence Gronlund was already a full-blown Marxist when he emigrated to the United States. As a lawyer, teacher and would-be labor organizer in this country, he had come to the conclusion that neither European methods nor an alien terminology could ever succeed in making Socialism acceptable to the great majority of Americans. (10) Social revolution must be disguised. It must be a gradualist movement for social reform. Perhaps it was not purely by coincidence that a similar idea occurred at precisely the same time to the founders of the London Fabian Society. This idea coincided with the long-term plan for England and America of the two tireless arch-conspirators, Karl Marx and Frederick Engels, from whom modern Social Democracy stems.

As early as 1872 Karl Marx, speaking in Amsterdam, had intimated that social revolution might be accomplished by peaceful means in England and America—that is, by taking advantage of libertarian traditions and free institutions to subvert them. Both countries were well-known to Marx and had treated him kindly. London was his home during years of exile. There he set up the First International, known as the Workingmen’s International Association, on September 28, 1864 at a public meeting in St. Martin’s Hall, Long Acre. While Marx never visited the United States, the weekly five dollars which he received as a special correspondent for the New York Tribune was for a time his chief source of income. (11) He sent articles on the Crimean War to that newspaper, whose editor, Horace Greeley, likewise called himself a Socialist—although Greeley seems to have perceived little difference between the utopian farm colonies inspired in antebellum America by Charles Fourier and Robert Owen and the “scientific socialism” of a Karl Marx.

The father of modern Social Democracy believed that in certain respects the United States held the key to world revolution. In the preface to Volume I of Das Kapital, Marx wrote: “As in the eighteenth century, the American War of Independence sounded the tocsin for the European middle class, the American Civil War sounded it for the European working class.”

Following the collapse of the Paris Commune which he had backed after its formation, Marx ordered the headquarters of his First International transferred to New York City in 1872, under the direction of a trusted aide, Friedrich Adolph Sorge. Seventy years later a grandson of that selfsame Sorge headed a Communist spy ring in Tokyo, whose intrigues precipitated the Japanese decision to strike southward at Pearl Harbor and brought the United States into World War II in time to save Communist Russia.

In his lifetime, Karl Marx freely deplored the fact that his Socialist followers in the United States were no more than a displaced group of angry trade unionists—refugees from the revolutions of 1848 and 1870. Their meetings were held and minutes were written in German. Socially, politically and psychologically, they were not only isolated from the main current of American life, but for years they rebuffed attempts by English-speaking Socialists to join them. Laurence Gronlund; his friend Charles Southeran, the biographer of Horace Greeley; and Florence Kelley, who translated Engels’ Condition of the Working Class in England in 1844 (pristine Marxists, all), were expelled in turn from America’s Socialist Labor Party for being unorthodox— and non-German.

A British Fabian Socialist and charter member of the London Fabian Society, Edward R. Pease, once observed tartly that the early Social Democrats in the United States resembled some small dogmatic sect whose every action required a Marxian text to sanctify it.(12) For years, this remained the characteristic mood of working-class Socialism in America. Though the General German Workingmen’s Union and the Socialist Labor Party made some temporary headway in centers of immigrant population—notably New York City, where the slogan “Down with German Socialism and German lager!” became a war cry of Tammany Hall—Engels remarked in a private letter to Sorge that the disappearance of the stubborn, unruly old German comrades would be a healthy thing for the Socialist movement in America. Revolutions and barricades, dynamite and rifles were all the talk among the German-American Marxists of the eighties, and anybody who suggested anything else was unworthy of the name of Socialist.

The decade had been a stormy one for the comrades. In Russia, social revolutionaries conspired to kill grand dukes and ministers of state, and in 1882 had actually succeeded in assassinating the Czar. In Chicago three German-American Anarchists and one native American, Albert Parsons, were hanged in 1887 for complicity in the Hay-market Square bombings the year before. Socialist protests against these executions had led the American public to believe that Socialists and Anarchists were identical—and in some instances, they were, as persistent Anarchist infiltration of the First International and the Socialist Labor Party demonstrated.

To the average American of the eighties, as Edward Bellamy said, the very word Socialism brought to mind ideas of atheism, revolution and sexual novelties. Visits to the United States in 1884 by Frederick Engels and in 1886 by Wilhelm Liebknecht, a co-founder of Germany’s Social Democratic Party, did nothing to dispel that impression. Engels’ godless views on religion and marriage, as expressed in his Origin of the Family, were widely publicized. Wilhelm Liebknecht, who prophesied the future triumph of Socialism in the United States one Sunday afternoon at Brommer’s Park in New York City, (13) was accompanied by Eleanor Marx and her common-law husband, Edward Aveling, translator of Das Kapital into English. During a fifteen week lecture tour as guests of the Socialist Labor Party, the couple’s unconventional union provoked a public scandal. Here, it seemed, was living proof that Socialists favored free love and flouted family ties; and the topic was revived at intervals long after the unhappy Eleanor Marx, in England, had committed suicide as a result of Aveling’s desertion.

Abhorred by native American workingmen and members of the urban middle class, Socialist ideas nevertheless began in the middle eighties to exert a certain fascination in learned circles. They were spread by professors and students of a new, somewhat occult science known as Political Economy. Foremost among these campus soothsayers was Professor Richard T. Ely of Johns Hopkins University— later of the University of Wisconsin, where, notably, he influenced the thought of a future governor of Wisconsin and Progressive Senator, Robert M. La Follette, Sr. It was Professor Ely who took the initiative in organizing the American Economic Association, which convened for the first time on September 9, 1885, at the fashionable United States Hotel in Saratoga, New York. (14)

Minutes of this historic meeting show that the Socialist-minded element at once captured a majority of the Association’s elective offices. Professor Ely, who served as chairman, was voted general secretary of the organization. Two like-minded colleagues, Professors H. C. Adams of Cornell and E. J. James of Pennsylvania, were elected first and second vice presidents; and Professor E. W. Bemis (later on the faculty of the University of Chicago) attended as secretary of the Connecticut branch. Included among the several hundred charter members, not yet a recognized authority, was the future Professor John R. Commons of Indiana and Michigan Universities, whose outline of political economy became a standard textbook for several generations of college students throughout the country.

Those five were the main leaders of academic socialism, (15) which in their day cast a shadow no larger than a man’s hand. They argued privately, and sometimes publicly, for the municipal or national ownership of what they termed “natural monopolies,” but for the time being did not profess to the full Socialist program of nationalizing all land and capital. (16) The new learned society provided a dignified sounding board for their doctrines, as it does for their modern counterparts. It is interesting to note that the American Economic Association very soon published over its imprint two essays by an amateur economist who also happened to be the chairman of the London Fabian Society —the emerging Sidney Webb.

Lending the authority of the cloth to the Association’s original meeting were the Reverend Lyman Abbott and the Reverend Washington Gladden, both to become prominent in the Christian Socialist movement. There was also Dr. E. R. A. Seligman of Columbia, the Association’s first treasurer, who became something of a power behind the scenes in national politics as well as in the academic world. Member of a wealthy German-American banking family in New York and privately tutored as a lad by Horatio Alger of the rags-to-riches precepts, Dr. Seligman was usually regarded as a conservative; yet throughout a long lifetime he condoned every heterodoxy in the name of academic freedom. The Reverend Abbott (a future editor of The Outlook) and Dr. Seligman were promptly named to the council of the American Economic Association together with a reserved, lantern-jawed young associate professor from Bryn Mawr College, Dr. Woodrow Wilson, who none suspected would one day be President of the United States.

Appointed to the Labor Committee was Woodrow Wilson’s good friend, Dr. Albert Shaw, then editor of the Tribune in Minneapolis with its strongly German-Socialist population, and later chosen to edit the influential Review of Reviews. Dr. Shaw’s personal contacts with British Fabians were established in the nineties, when he published a book entitled Municipal Government in Great Britain.

Other characters of incidental interest attending the founders’ meeting of the American Economic Association were Thomas Davidson, who had inadvertently helped to found the Fabian Society of London, and F. H. Giddings, editor of the Springfield Union, where Edward Bellamy was employed for five years. It must be recorded that representation from the New England colleges was slight and not a single professor from Harvard was elected to office that year—an omission long since rectified. In those post Civil War years education was moving westward, along with the expanding economy.

At its annual meeting three years later, members of the same Association listened to a paper by a solemn, bearded little Englishman wearing a beribboned pince-nez. It was Sidney Webb in person, appearing as an emissary of the British Economic Association (afterwards the Royal Economic Society) which a fellow-Fabian, George Bernard Shaw, had been instrumental in founding. Flanked by his faithful lieutenant, Edward R. Pease, Webb came to America for the first time in September, 1888, and remained for a full three months. (17) In his portmanteau he carried the manuscript of an essay, “The Historical Aspects of the Basis of Socialism”—shortly to be published as “Socialism in England” over the imprint of the American Economic Association, and later included in the Fabian Essays, for whose American edition of 1894 Edward Bellamy wrote a foreword.

In America of the late eighteen-eighties the cocksure young Londoner found a strange new world, pulsating and throbbing with gigantic economic forces that were producing fresh forms of wealth undreamed of by even the most utopian imagination; (18) but his conceit was equal to the challenge. He had no scruples in recommending the same gradualist tactics of revolution which he felt were destined to conquer England for Socialism. To Webb’s calculating eye, it was plain that any frontal attack against the vast new citadel of capitalism was doomed to failure. In fact, owing to the furor already created by a handful of Anarchists and militant Socialists, the little Socialist movement in the United States faced the possibility of being outlawed by act of Congress unless it could speedily muster the support of a large body of respectable middle class opinion around the country.

For that purpose Edward Bellamy’s well-contrived novel, which its author acknowledged was written “to convert the cultured and conservative classes,” provided a practical springboard. New England with its close cultural ties to Old England and its susceptibility to New Thought of all kinds, seemed the logical place from which to launch a new and less vulnerable type of Socialist movement. Sentimental memories still lingered there of Brook Farm and other utopian communities, and the influence of the English Christian Socialists had lately made itself felt through the writings of Dr. Elisha Mulford and the Reverend Washington Gladden. Theosophy, which stressed the brotherhood of a fatherless humanity, was also winning converts. Bostonians had heard of the beautiful Annie Besant, a leading British Theosophist who was likewise a member of the London Fabian Society.

When Sidney Webb and Edward Pease appeared im Boston during the autumn of 1888, armed with letters of introduction to literary folk, college professors, clergymen and assorted uplifters, no more than ten thousand copies of Looking Backward had been sold.(19) Enough to make it a best-seller at the time, but only a glimmering of what was to comer While literary promotion was not the Fabians’ prime purpose, from first to last they have never objected to making the fortune of an author or a publisher, provided they could, in the process, create a cordial climate of opinion for Socialism. Chief beneficiary in this instance was the Houghton Mifflin Company,(20) which purchased the rights from Lee and Shepherd and, as a result of certain activities set in motion by the two English visitors, was able to develop Bellamy’s book into a uniquely valuable property.

The previous June, a pair of Boston newspapermen had already written to Bellamy expressing their desire to form a club for the propagation of his ideas. They were Cyrus Field Willard, labor reporter for the Boston Globe and a relative of Frances E. Willard, and Sylvester Baxter, editorial writer for the Boston Herald, who had penned the first ecstatic review of Looking Backward. Both were Theosophists, devotees of Madame Blavatsky and Annie Besant. Since summer hardly seemed the best season for rounding up an organization of cultured Bostonians, Baxter seized the opportunity for making a trip to Germany with a stopover in London.

Meanwhile, several former army officers in Boston wrote to Bellamy on September 7 telling him of their own plan to found a club in his name. The leaders were Captain Charles E. Bowers and General Arthur F. Devereux, a Civil War hero who had made a name for himself at Gettysburg. Whatever their intention, it was certainly not to advance the cause of Socialism. In common with other thoughtful citizens, they viewed the sudden eruption of trusts and monopolies in the United States with concern. At the same time, they could not fail to be aware of the problems created by wave after wave of immigrant labor pouring into a country largely unprepared to receive them, so that the newcomers were often victimized both by earlier arrivals from their own native lands and by chaotic new conditions of industry.

In establishing a club “for the elevation of man,” General Devereux and his friends hoped to suggest the need for specific reform measures to both major political parties in America before the problems at hand became too acute for an orderly solution. On September 18 their little group, named the Boston Bellamy Club, held an initial meeting with twenty-seven charter members. At this point it began to look as if more patriotic elements had stolen a march on the Socialists. In haste,` Edward Bellamy sent a letter from his retreat in Chicopee Falls, begging the military men to postpone further meetings and to unite with the group which Willard and Baxter still hoped to organize. The moment was a delicate one, calling for some diplomacy, and just then, as if by prearrangement, a master diplomat in embryo, Sidney Webb, appeared on the scene. Minutes of the British Fabian Society indicate that by September 21 Webb had already left London for the United States.

In October a conference was held, and the two factions agreed to combine. On December 6 a committee was named to draft a joint statement of policy quite unlike that previously adopted by the military group. Besides the two army officers and the two journalists, another voice was introduced on the committee. It was the voice of the Reverend W. D. P. Bliss, carefully prompted by Sidney Webb. Bliss was a local clergyman, soon to assume the duties of pastor at Grace Church in South Boston and to be dismissed a few years afterwards for his Socialist activities, Christian and otherwise.

Born in Constantinople of American missionary parents, Bliss was a frequent visitor to London where he fell under the Fabian spell. For some twenty years he proved himself an eager spokesman of Fabian Socialism in the United States and an exponent of the superior virtues of the London Fabian Society. As a writer, editor and organizer, he was almost abject in his adulation of Webb and Pease, who sometimes found themselves embarrassed by his misplaced zeal. Ousted from one church after another and unable to support himself by writing, he later secured a position with the United States Bureau of Labor— the first but by no means the last old Socialist to withdraw to that snug harbor.

The twelve weeks Webb and Pease spent in the United States during the autumn of 1888 coincided exactly with the period when the revised Boston Bellamy Club was in process of being formed. In certain respects the club was similar to the London Fabian Society, with a declaration of principles corresponding to the Fabian Basis, and subscribed to by members of the parent club and affiliates to be set up throughout the country. The name proposed for the new organization was typical of the Webb talent for compromise. It was to be called the Nationalist Club, a name which appealed on one hand to patriotic pride, and on the other hand suggested the club’s final goal: namely, the nationalization of private industry. The purpose of the club was to “educate” the American people through lectures, books and publications in the reform measures and general ideas advocated by Looking Backward, and thereby to stimulate such political action as might ultimately lead to the establishment of the Cooperative Commonwealth—a polite synonym for the all-embracing State foretold in other terms by Marx and Engels.

The declaration of principles showed the imprint of Sidney Webb’s hand, down to the use of the words “practical” and “practicability” which characterized so many impractical documents drafted by him over the years. (21) The statement is worth quoting at least in part, because of its devious nature and because of its subsequent acceptance by thousands of well-meaning, if ingenuous, Americans:

“The principle of the Brotherhood of Humanity is one of the eternal truths that govern the world’s progress on lines which distinguish human nature from brute nature. . . .

“No truth can avail unless practically applied. Therefore those who seek the welfare of man must endeavor to suppress the system founded on brute principles of competition and put in its place another based on the nobler principles of association. . . .

“We advocate no sudden or ill-considered changes; we make no war upon individuals who have accumulated immense fortunes simply by carrying to a logical end the false principles upon which business is now based.

“The combinations, trusts and syndicates of which the people at present complain demonstrate the practicability of our basic principle of association. We merely seek to push this principle a little further and have all industries operated in the interests of the nation—the people organized— the organic unity of the whole people.”

At a meeting on December 15,1888, where Edward Bellamy made one of his rare personal appearances and was elected vice president of the club, this declaration was approved by the leaders. Private papers of the president, General Devereux, reveal that a member of the Fabian Society of London, presumed to be Sidney Webb himself, attended incognito. The same statement was read and adopted by the general membership at the first public meeting of the Boston Nationalist Club in Tremont Hall on January 18, 1889.

By that date Sidney Webb had resumed to England, leaving behind a lively memento of his visit. Historically, it was only the first in a long series of informally linked undertakings to be promoted under Fabian Socialist tutelage in the United States. All have been marked by the same superficial candor and mildness, and an air of bland self-righteousness which seems to be the peculiar contribution of New England to the American psyche. And yet, from the very beginning, all these organizations were penetrated at the core by a Fabian Socialist conspiracy to capture the mind of America and eventually the machinery of government, in the interests of a revolutionary future wholly alien to the American tradition.


1. Sylvia E. Bowman, The Year 2000–A Critical Biography of Edward Bellamy (New York, Bookman Associates, 1958), pp 97-98.

2. Modern Library Edition, New York, Random House, no date, with a foreword by Heywood Broun. A new British edition of Looking Backward was published in 1948 and advertised in reviving “native Communism.”

3. Hesketh Pearson, Bernard Shaw (London, Methuen & Co., Ltd., 1961), p. 120.

4. Bowman, op. cit., pp. 116-177.

5. E. P. Thompson, “William Morris,” Monthly Press Review (New York, 1961), p. 632. Letter form Morris to Glasier, May 13, 188.

6. In a television interview with Upton Sinclair by Paul Coates, originating at Station KTTV, Los Angeles, May, 1962.

7. Frances E. Willard, “An Interview with Edward Bellamy,” Our Day, Vol. IV, 1889.

8. William A. Clarke, “The Fabian Society,” New England Magazine (March, 1894), p. 91.

9. Bowman, op. cit., pp. 149-150.

10. Richard T. Ely, Socialism and Social Reform (Boston, T. Y. Crowell & Co., 1894), p. 102.

11. John Spargo, Socialism, A Summary and Interpretation of Socialist Principles (New York, The Macmillan Company, 1913), p. 210.

12. Edward R. Pease, History of Socialism (London, A. & C. Black, 1913), p. 339.

13. The New York Times (September 21, 1886).

14. Minutes of the American Economic Association, Vol. I.

15. W. D. P. Bliss, A Handbook of Socialism (London, Sonnenschein, 1895), p. 146.

16. Ibid.

17. Edward R. Pease, The History of the Fabian Society (London, A. C. fifield, 1916), pp. 75-76.

18. Max Beer, Fifty Years of International Socialism (London, Allen & Unwin, 1937), p. 109.

19. Edward Bellamy, Edward Bellamy Speaks Again (Kansas City, Peerage Press, 1939), p. 206. This sales statement was made by Bellamy himself.

20. Bowman, op. cit., p. 115. A new edition subsequently issued by Houghton, Mifflin was based on the amended text prepared by Bellamy in 1888 for Rabbi Solomon Schindler of Boston, who translated Looking Backward into German.

21. See “Labour and the New Social Order,” written by Webb and adopted by the British Labour Party Conference in June, 1918, which similarly denounces “the competitive struggle” and advocates “the socialisation of industry so as to secure the elimination of every kind of inefficiency and waste.” It also refers to “practical programmes of the Labour Party often carelessly derided as impracticable.”

Chapter 8 << | >> Chapter 10

Chapter 8-Tomorrow, The World?

Chapter 8 of the book Fabian Freeway

Today, as ever, the Fabian Society of London together with its affiliated provincial societies consists of several hundred well-known publicists and politicians whose connections with the Society can readily be confirmed, although the general public seldom identifies them as Fabians; plus a larger number of unknown and unsung adherents, engaged in a wide variety of more or less obscure tasks. Frequently, their long and faithful services are recorded only by a brief death notice in Fabian News or the Fabian Society Annual Report. On the whole, it is a case of “join for five years, join for fifty, and Fabians are notoriously long-lived.” (1)

As always, the Society is composed mainly of middle class professionals, many engaged in writing, teaching and various types of “research.” Leading symbol of Fabian Research in 1963 was a lean, hollow-eyed pundit from the London School of Economics, with a name reminiscent of the Mad Hatter’s tea party: Professor Richard Titmuss. More and more, the Society seeks to enlist engineers, technicians and managerial personnel; and a special effort has been made to penetrate the modern communications industries—radio, television and motion pictures(2)—with an eye to their “educational,” that is, propagandist value for Socialism.

There is a firm nucleus of Fabian civil servants in every government department, and Fabian Socialists have been regularly appointed as Opposition members on government Advisory Boards, notably Labor, Commonwealth Affairs and Immigration—as well as to key posts in the United Nations. A. D. K. Owen, better known as David Owen, who served as personal assistant to Sir Stafford Cripps in 1941-43, has been a fixture at the United Nations since its inception.(3) As director of the Office of Technological Services in the UN Secretariat, he has been for years in a position to dispense patronage to Fabian Socialists on a world-wide basis.

Though the terminology has changed with the times, the Fabian Society remains a secret society of Socialists, dedicated to transforming the existing world order by methods necessarily devious and not always short of sedition. Despite its nominal emphasis on “democratic” practices and parliamentary means to accomplish its ends; despite its respectable front of good manners, charm and learning; despite the fact that its Summer Schools stress such sources of innocent merriment as croquet, table tennis and country dancing—in essence, the goals of the Fabian Society parallel those of the Communists and at some point short of infinity find a common meeting place.

Rosa Luxemburg, the Left Wing Polish Social Democrat who was “executed” under mysterious circumstances in Germany following the abortive Spartacus revolt of 1919, long ago noted a disturbing likeness between the British Fabian Society and Lenin’s Bolshevik Party. Each, she pointed out, was a secret society of intellectuals grasping for power through control of the working-class—and she feared and distrusted them both. (4)

It is true that methods of discipline governing the two organizations vary—the Bolshevik parties being operated along quasi-military lines, while the Fabian Society appears to impose little or no control over its members. Inquiry reveals, however, that major policy decisions of the Fabian Executive are binding; and that virtually all important speeches or publications by Fabians are prepared and/or cleared by the New Fabian Research Bureau, even when they appear for tactical reasons to be mutually contradictory. The Society’s bylaws provide that members or associates may be dropped for “want of confidence,” and in some cases, individuals condemned to that silent treatment have been known to drop completely from political sight. Except in the strictly superficial give-and-take of conversation and debate, the boasted Fabian tolerance is a myth, and Fabians are by no means the “gentle people” they claim to be.

During a prolonged period of political Opposition in Britain, Fabian Socialists nursed their strength at the municipal level, while gradually increasing the number of their seats in Parliament. For instance, on the London County Council, Sidney Webb’s old stronghold from which he moved into national politics, Fabians still retain a majority (including the chairmanship) that assures them control of local educational institutions. In September, 1956, Fabian News announced that “the new leader of the Labour Group (majority) on the Leeds County Council, Frank O’Donnell, is a member of the Leeds Fabian Society” and that “all four sitting M.P.’s” (including Hugh Gaitskell, M.P. and Denis Healey, M.P.) are “members of the Leeds Society.”

This item was interesting in the light of an Associated Press dispatch of November 12, 1962, announcing that Owen Lattimore, the former Johns Hopkins University professor, had just been appointed to a teaching post at Leeds University, a public institution. Many Americans will recall that Owen Lattimore, author of books on Communist Asia and alleged secret agent of the Soviet Foreign Office, was indicted for perjury for his testimony before a United States Senate Subcommittee investigating the notorious Institute of Pacific Relations case. Fabian writers and publicists in England rallied volubly to his defense at the time—though the same circles later professed to be shocked by reports that Soviet spies and informers had succeeded in filching some British Government secrets.

From 1956 to his sudden death in January, 1963, Hugh Gaitskell of the Leeds Fabian Society was Parliamentary Leader of the British Labour Party. As a member of the Leeds County Council, he could scarcely have failed to be aware of Lattimore’s appointment to Leeds University. Yet Gaitskell was the man slated to become Britain’s next Prime Minister, in the event of a Labour Governments return to power! While publicly mourned, his demise may have proved providential for British Socialism. At least the Labour Party was able to present a new, youthful and relatively noncontroversial face to the world, at a time when aggressive new tactics were urgently needed.

Gaitskell’s successor, Harold Wilson, M.P., was named on St. Valentine’s Day, 1963. A Fabian victory in the mock contest for the post was a foregone conclusion, following an “election” in which all three candidates for the Opposition leadership turned out to be long-standing members of the Fabian Society. Harold Wilson, a former chairman of the Society who more recently headed its Local Societies section, had been an active Fabian Socialist since his undergraduate days at Oxford. Somehow, that pertinent fact was not featured in general press and television accounts, which heralded his “election” as Opposition Leader as respectfully as if he were already the effective Prime Minister.

Like his “rivals,” George Brown, M.P., and James Callaghan, M.P., Wilson belonged to the Opposition’s Shadow Cabinet chosen to man a future Labour Government. His place as “Shadow” Foreign Minister was promptly filled by Denis Healey, M.P., member of the Advisory Council of the Fabian International Bureau as well as a stalwart of the Leeds Fabian Society. Of the twelve Labourites named to the Gaitskell Shadow Cabinet in 1959, nine belonged to the Fabian Society.(5) If and when they became Cabinet Ministers in substance, it was certain beyond the shadow of a doubt that plans and programs prepared in advance by New Fabian Research would once more become the official policies of the British Government.

In February, 1957, the official Fabian News reported: “Fabians are playing a major part in the preparation of Labour policy documents. The Party’s National Executive has recently set up working parties to report to the Party Conferences in 1957 and 1958 on the Ownership of Industry, Control of Industry, Public Industries, Agriculture and Education. The first working party is composed entirely of Fabians, and there are several Fabians on each of the others.”

Whatever the Fabian Society had in mind for Britain, the privations, indignities and follies from 1945 to 1951 were merely a foretaste of things to come. Enlarged schemes, glimpsed in publications of the Socialist International, seemed to include a coolly calculated timetable for synchronizing “peaceful social revolution” in England with simultaneous developments in the other nations of Atlantica. Even emigration would no longer afford an escape for the regimented Britons of the future.

Domestic plans for a Socialist Britain were outlined in the flood of publications which the Society continued to issue on virtually every subject under the sun. Over the signature of John Hughes, a basic plan to renationalize the steel industry was distributed to all members of the Society in 1962 as Document No. 198 of the Fabian Research Series. Other happy suggestions, guaranteed to finish off the free enterprise system by more indirect methods, have been announced since 1956. They propose to control existing industrial and business corporations via government purchase of shares (stocks); to set up new plants with government funds, plants that will work towards the gradual extinction of competitive private industry; to “decentralize” the management of nationalized industries (6) and to require government-owned enterprises to show a profit ( along lines remarkably similar to those proposed in Soviet Russia as of November, 1962).

There were political plans for “reforming” the House of Lords and for downgrading and humiliating the Monarchy, approved by Eirene White, M.P., a chairman of the Fabian Society.(7) In fact, more outspokenly radical elements of the Society—typified by Hugh Gaitskell’s teacher, the late G. D. H. Cole, and until recently by Harold Wilson himself—had long urged complete abolition of the Monarchy and the watchdog House of Lords. A favorite pupil of the departed G. D. H. Cole tells how the latter, after freely describing the various revolutionary changes he hoped to see the next Labour Party Government make, suddenly realized he had failed to mention a particular reform dear to his heart. As the students to whom Cole had imparted his plans were leaving, he exclaimed: “Why, I forgot to include the abolition of God!”(8)

Since the day when that graceless quip was uttered more in earnest than in jest, G. D. H. Cole has gone to his reward. He died in 1959 as president of the Fabian Society, a post awarded to his widow in 1962; but his destructive ideas still survive among his numerous disciples in Britain and the Commonwealth countries. G. D. H. Cole’s influence on the current crop of Fabian Socialist leaders has been profound, however obliquely it was sometimes expressed in statements from the Opposition benches. When Hugh Gaitskell and Harold Wilson opposed Britain’s entry into the Common Market in 1962, even Socialists seemed puzzled by the unaccustomed strain of patriotism in their arguments. Yet, on closer inspection, their stand was neither surprising nor prompted by abnormal respect for tradition.

For any Cole-tutored Marxist, the obvious if unspoken complaint against the Common Market was quite simply that it did not “destroy confidence in the prospect of sustained profits,” but on the contrary seemed to produce general prosperity by a capitalist formula. If Socialist administrations held office simultaneously in France, Holland, Italy, West Germany, Belgium and England, as they have long been striving to do, opposition to the Common Market by British Fabians might be expected to subside. Gaitskell and Wilson left the door open against that eventuality; but General de Gaulle, (9) for reasons best known to himself, slammed it shut.

The imminence of a Labour Party victory in England was somberly underscored by the tribute paid to the departed Fabian Socialist, Hugh Gaitskell. On January 31, 1963, memorial services for him were held in Westminster Abbey, an honor usually reserved for a Prime Minister. The Queen, so often derided from the Labour benches, was courteously represented in the Abbey by the Earl of Eldon; the Duke of Edinburgh by Rear Admiral D. C. Bonham-Carter; and Sir Winston Churchill by Lady Churchill.

Prime Minister Harold Macmillan and his colleagues in the Government shared the choir stalls with the Shadow Cabinet of the Opposition. In the procession to the sanctuary, the Archbishop of Canterbury was accompanied by the Moderator of the Free Church Council. At the close of the service, spectators seated in the nave and standing in the cloisters joined with mixed emotions in singing William Blake’s hymn which envisages the building of Jerusalem in England’s green and pleasant land. (10)

In that overflow congregation of diplomats, nobles, civil servants, parliamentarians and trade unionists, the Socialist International was well represented. The Prime Minister of Denmark, J. O. Krag, head of the Danish Social Democratic Party; Willy Brandt, Socialist Mayor of West Berlin; and D. Segall, of the Social Democratic Party of West Germany, flew to London for the occasion. Other representatives of foreign Socialist groups who were present remained discreetly nameless, including a delegation from the United States. Gaitskell’s stepson, Raymond Frost, who came from Washington for the funeral, could not attend the Abbey tribute because he had to leave England on a World Bank mission to Colombia. (11)

The obsequies over, Britain’s Fabian Socialists applied themselves hastily to transmuting Gaitskell’s cold-eyed successor into what they fondly hoped would be the irresistible image of a future Prime Minister. In this alchemy they were assisted by the British version of a Madison Avenue advertising agency, which distributed photographs of Harold Wilson in several unlikely attitudes. One showed the forty-seven year old Opposition Leader with eyes downcast, hands prayerfully raised as in the Duerer etching—and a pipe clamped between his teeth! Another was a photomontage of Harold Wilson at the age of eight, posed outside the door of 10 Downing Street.

Such primitive publicity stills made older and more sophisticated Fabians shudder, and were frowned upon by trade unionists who paid the bills. Soon it was announced that a new group of assorted image-makers, resembling the Advertising Council in the United States, had volunteered to promote Harold Wilson’s campaign gratis. They would use billboards, buttons, stickers and other visual aids to which the frugal British electorate was still unaccustomed. Names of advertising men involved and the amounts of money to be spent were not revealed. Labour Party spokesmen at Transport House, however, were quoted as saying their early-bird campaign would be styled along the lines of the 1960 campaign that put John F. Kennedy into the White House, with Theodore H. White’s book, The Making of the President, 1960, serving as a text. (12)

It was a neat compliment to those “democratic” Americans who, after having been initially trained and cued by British Fabians (as we shall subsequently see), were now in a position to furnish aid and comfort to their tutors. Returning from a visit to Washington in April, 1963, Harold Wilson wrote ecstatically: “. . . for sheer quality, the United States Government from President Kennedy downward, is without equal in any administration in any country.”(13) The harsh treatment accorded Prime Minister Macmillan in the Slybolt affair, followed by the exquisite kindness shown to visiting Opposition Leader Harold Wilson in upper echelons of the New Frontier, helped to convey the notion that Conservative Party leaders could not “deal effectively” with Washington.

In England the shopworn promises of “a new dynamism” to “get the country moving again,” heard during the 1960 Kennedy-Johnson campaign in America, were dusted off by Fabian orators and presented as fresh merchandise to the British electorate. Wilson was billed as the only leader capable of “mobilizing the energies of Britain in the sixties.” One advantage of such rousing generalities was that they sounded vigorous and bold, without obliging the speaker to commit himself to any particular philosophy of action. They tended to reassure moderates, and to head off discussion of specific methods by which Harold Wilson and his associates planned to impose full-scale Socialism in Britain and the Commonwealth, once they succeeded in recapturing power.

If any doubted this to be Wilson’s intention, his answer to Sir Gerald Nabarro’s query on the floor of the Commons was plain enough to dispel uncertainty. Brusquely, the newly chosen Opposition Leader reaffirmed his Party’s Socialist pledge to work without qualification for public control of the means of production, distribution and exchange. Wilson has long been identified with the irreconcilable or Jacobin wing of the British Labour Party, which views taxation more as a means of “ensuring social justice” than of raising revenue. His Party’s program of “tax reform” disclosed on February 26, 1963—extracts from which were proudly published in Socialist International Information (14)—included a scaled increase in Social Security contributions obtained via payroll deductions; a steep rise in corporation taxes; and an annual capital levy on all wealth exceeding twenty thousand pounds. Personally, Wilson has favored retributive taxes ever since he decided, as a precociously embittered schoolboy in Huddersfield, to become Chancellor of the Exchequer someday and to tax phonograph records because his family did not own a phonograph! This bit of prophetic nonsense was related in campaign biographies of Wilson, and may or may not be true. Eventually, of course, he would decide to serve as First Lord of the Treasury rather than Chancellor of the Exchequer, the better to negotiate funds for his government in the course of discreet periodic visits to Washington.

Another Fabian Socialist spokesman for the Labour Party, James Callaghan, M.P., explained mildly that the proposed capital levy would not affect more than one voter out of a hundred. (15) He failed to mention, however, that confiscatory taxation, by sharply reducing the area of private investment, could affect the employment of millions, and within a relatively short time make them wholly dependent on government bounty. To cope with unemployment—or “redundancy,” as it is quaintly called by present-day Fabian economists— Harold Wilson proposed that new factories be built, equipped, financed and run by the State. “We have to have State factories,” said Wilson brightly, “to provide some of the goods the Commonwealth is going to want.” (16)

The plump, prematurely silver-haired Oxonian, whose formal speeches and occasional witticisms are handily supplied by Fabian Research, was described by news correspondents as a Socialist in a gray flannel suit. He might just as well have been called a wolf in sheep’s clothing—the Aesopian symbol, which George Bernard Shaw long ago suggested was more appropriate than the tortoise as a heraldic device for the Fabian Society—and which appears in the Shavian stained-glass window at Beatrice Webb House in Dorking. It is not the outer apparel, but the inner nature of the Fabian Society that has made Harold Wilson what he is today.

As a scholarship student at Oxford during the middle nineteen-thirties, he attached himself to the Society in an era when Marxist doctrines were openly professed by its leaders, and when Socialist and Communist undergraduates merged in the activities of the Popular Front. The pacificism of the Oxford movement was perpetuated in Wilson’s prolonged association with the extreme left wing Fabian, Aneurin Bevan. (17) It persists today in Harold Wilson’s frank opposition to nuclear deterrents for Britain, (18) and his advocacy of conventional military forces for Western Europe to confront the Soviet hordes. He is committed to abandoning Formosa and to procuring a seat for Red China in the United Nations. (19) Though no trace of traditional Marxian phraseology appears today in the cautiously stated Aesopian programs of Harold Wilson and his Fabian associates, to paraphrase Napoleon: Scratch a Fabian, and find a Marxist.

Wilson succeeded to the political leadership of Britain’s Labour Party at a moment when International Socialism appeared more confident of being able to move into a position of world-wide control, than at any time since the Russian Revolution. With left wing Social Democratic administrations in office or on the verge of it in a majority of countries throughout the so-called Free World, few Socialists doubt that they can readily establish a modus vivendi with the economically embarrassed Socialist Fatherland and its satellites. As in the nineteen-twenties—though on a far more imposing scale—world trade once more becomes the medium by which Socialist governments plan to aid each other to retain power at home, as well as to strengthen the strained Communist economies. Production surpluses are to be siphoned off without counting the cost, to build or bolster Socialism in other lands.

Having served at the age of thirty-one as president of the Board of Trade in Britain’s former Labour Party Government—he was the youngest member of any British Cabinet since William Pitt!—Harold Wilson was the logical candidate to promote Socialist world hegemony via foreign-trade channels. He envisaged Socialist control, not only of raw materials but of manufactured goods as well, through price-fixing commodity agreements and foreign-exchange control. The ever generous United States would be expected to supply the “monetary lubrication.”

“Now, for the first time,” exulted Harold Wilson on February 11, 1963, “we have an American government in active sympathy!” What Wilson meant was that the United States now had a program of international commodity agreements. He went on to say:

“Commodity agreements for temperate foodstuffs must provide the machinery for channeling the overspill of our advanced countries into the hungry countries. But why food only? There is a surplus of steel in many advanced countries, and in this country the steel mills are working at 80 per cent capacity. We all want to help India and a score of other developing countries. Why not send them a million tons of ingot steel? We might go further . . .” (20)

We might, indeed, go further! The world giveaway program projected by Harold Wilson and his colleagues of the Socialist International has endless possibilities, limited only by the resources of the donor countries. Launched by an international cartel of Socialist rulers and administered by a supranational authority, (21) it might well go on and on—until the advanced nations of the earth are drained, exhausted and reduced to a common level of weakness and confusion. At that point, the sole military power still permitted to retain its independence, the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, can move to take over, with hardly a struggle, its progressively enfeebled benefactors.

Initially, the Fabians propose to maneuver within the “mixed economy,” part nationalized and part seemingly free, but in fact wholly controlled by government fiat, punitive taxation, and negotiated price-fixing arrangements inside and outside the British Commonwealth. By such means they hope to disarm preliminary opposition and to accomplish their ends more adroitly than by outright confiscation. The more extreme dangers and discomforts of a manipulated world economy, based on international agreements between all-powerful Socialist planners, still remain to be experienced. As with other attempts to subject living creatures to a totally controlled environment, unpredictable malignancies and painful side effects can be expected to result.

Still, as Harold Wilson points out, “the sacrifices, if sacrifices there must be, will at least be fairly shared”(22)—that is, by the captive industrialists and the helpless, security-drugged population. Only the salaried bureaucrats of the Fabian-approved inner circle can hope to better themselves individually. For the rest, we are led to believe, there will at least be freedom of discussion, if not of decision. In the New Britain, the Go-Ahead Britain, as planned by the fertile brain trusters of Fabian Research, men will learn to bear with docility the yoke of public happiness!


A new generation of voters had grown to manhood and womanhood since a previous Labour Party Government ruled the United Kingdom. Children of a Fabian-permeated educational system, they were exposed from infancy to a barrage of direct and indirect Fabian Socialist propaganda, not only in the schools and universities, but also through the popular news and entertainment media. Those young people never knew that virtually every key post in the Government between 1945 and 1951 was filled for some time at least by a Fabian.(23) As for their elders, the painful memories of postwar scarcity had dimmed, and many were prepared to gamble that Labour would do better next time.

Among nearly thirty-six million Britons who went to the polls in October, 1964, few realized that Fabian Socialists invariably framed the policies and supplied the top personnel for the so-called Labour Party. In 1964 (as in the 1959 General Election) over one-third of all Labour Party candidates belonged to the Fabian Society; (23) but they refrained from mentioning that interesting fact in their campaign speeches and literature. Of 220 Fabians seeking election to Parliament, 120 were successful. (24) Blandly the Fabian News assured its own limited circle of readers that the proportion of Fabians in the Executive branch of the new government would be very much higher.

So, for the fourth time in precisely forty years, the Fabian-controlled Labour Party came to power in England. It received only a plurality of the total vote, winning by a frail majority of six parliamentary seats. Immigrants of color moving to Britain from Commonwealth countries reputedly furnished the margin of victory— even though popular feeling against the newcomers in some localities led to the defeat of several old Fabians. Prominent among the casualties was Patrick Gordon Walker, who lost the Smethwick seat he had held since 1945.

As a student and teacher at Christ Church College, Oxford, Gordon Walker was a contemporary of Dean Rusk, Walt Whitman Rostow and other liberally disposed Rhodes Scholars who attained high office in Washington under the Kennedy-Johnson Administration. After World War II he served as parliamentary private secretary for a year to Harold Laski’s great friend and ally, Herbert Morrison. Appointed Under Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations in 1947, Gordon Walker was properly helpful in “solving the Palestine question.” As Commonwealth Secretary in 1950-51, he speeded the dissolution of the British Empire: a process initiated by his former chief, the late Arthur Creech-Jones, an early chairman of the Fabian Colonial Bureau.(25)

Following an American visit in 1947, Gordon Walker had played host in London to moving spirits of Americans for Democratic Action, (26) a group whose outlook on world affairs closely resembled his own. Members and friends of that organization were frequently in a position to exert decisive influence in Washington. Like them, Gordon Walker was an enthusiastic advocate of the Socialist International’s plan for aid to underdeveloped countries: (27) a plan whereby, among other things the United States was induced to assume the major burden of financial support for Britain’s orphaned ex-colonies.

When a debate on foreign affairs was held in the British Parliament on June 16-17, 1964, it was Gordon Walker who spoke for the Labour Party, expressing views shortly to become the official policy of Her Majesty’s Government. It happened to be the occasion of Winston Churchill’s final appearance in the House of Commons. For that old warrior the debate must have stirred painful memories of the arms limitation arguments of the nineteen-thirties, which encouraged Adolf Hitler to plunge the world into war.

Like a voice from the tragic past, tinged again with overtones of disaster, Patrick Gordon Walker declared: “The supreme objective of foreign affairs must be the achievement of disarmament…. The most important hope of advance lies, I think, in the idea of a minimum deterrent.” Naively, he continued, “The Soviet Union seems genuinely interested in this.” And well it might be, since a minimum deterrent is as good as none at all! Persons seated near Churchill saw his eyes flash as in the past, and heard the old patriot growl quietly under his breath. The speaker concluded by saying hopefully that “when the British and United States elections are over there may be a real chance of a breakthrough in disarmament.” (28)

Considering Gordon Walker’s failure at the polls in October, 1964, Prime Minister Wilson must have had strong personal reasons for appointing him to the post of Foreign Secretary. In the normal course of events, that place would have gone to Denis Healey, M.P., an equally devout Fabian Socialist and a past chairman, like Gordon Walker, of the Fabian International Bureau. As a consolation prize Healey was named Secretary of Defense in a government pledged to the gradual erosion of Britain’s military defenses.

Such assurance was given by Prime Minister Wilson himself, who told the House of Commons on November 23: “A Defense policy which does not contain within itself the seeds of further progress towards disarmament is one which in the present state of the world we can no longer regard as appropriate.”(29) He did not deign to explain how it is possible to arm and disarm at the same time. Apparently Healey knew the answer without being told.

Nevertheless, it was evident to Fabian insiders that with Gaitskell’s death Denis Healey lost his best friend at court. He, too, knew a number of important people in America, and in 1962 had been a featured speaker before a Council of World Affairs seminar at Asilomar in California. But what John Freeman of the New Statesman charitably described as Healey’s “offbeat sense of humor” almost proved his undoing. In 1958, for instance, a political journalist from West Germany interviewed various prominent Britons on the technical question of the Bonn Government’s reluctance to accept the Oder-Neisse boundary for a united Germany. They were asked: “Would the British nation, in a similar situation . . . ever accept the loss of one-quarter of the United Kingdom, including the complete denationalization of those territories by the mass expulsion of their inhabitants?” With one exception they replied, “No, of course not” The exception was Denis Healey, M.P., who said, “Certainly, we would agree.” (30)

There is some question as to whether Healey’s famous sense of humor might not again betray him and his associates. His answer in 1964 to the question, “Why are we still fighting overseas?” contained statements that could prove lethal to multitudes, if taken seriously in high quarters. “The idea that international Communism is the problem which we face in Africa and Asia is a nonsense from the start,” declared Healey, “because Communism is no longer as it once was, a single monolithic bloc.” (31) Did he, with typical Fabian conceit, regard himself as more than a match for the wily Russians and wilier Chinese?

Like his colleagues of the Socialist International at home and abroad, Denis Healey accepted at face value the Communist world’s amoeba-like application of the ancient adage, Divide and Conquer. In a fine-spun argument that undoubtedly caused some mirth in Moscow and Peking, Healey pointed out that it was Britain’s duty to seek agreements with other world powers, and above all with the Soviet Union, for achieving stability in Asia and Africa. Ever mindful of the “necessity” for being fair to the Red Chinese, he explained:

“. . . in those parts of Asia where Communism is clearly at work subverting institutions of the non-Communist world, it would be a mistake to assume without evidence that Communism is centrally directed from Moscow or even from China. There is much evidence to suggest that even the Vietnamese Communist Party, although it holds heavy responsibility for Laos and South Vietnam, is not acting as a satellite of Peking.” (32)

The names of Denis Healey and Patrick Gordon Walker appeared on an unusually long list of official appointments marking the advent of the Labour Party Government in Britain. A number of brand new departments had been created, sometimes with functions that overlapped the old. More than ever veteran Fabians predominated. According to the Fabian News of November-December, 1964, which printed a list of government appointments and conveniently marked with a cross the names of members of the Society, they filled nearly two-thirds of all ranking government posts.(33) The cross mark was inadvertently omitted from some well-known old Fabian names, such as Lord Gardiner, a former member of the Fabian Executive, Jennie Lee, Alice Bacon and others, who may have allowed their formal memberships to lapse. So the actual count was probably higher. Far from being a composite picture of youthful vigor, the Cabinet represented the unchangeable old guard of the Society. Practically all had served in one capacity or another in the Labour Government from 1945 to 1951, and their average age was fifty-seven years.

On the authority of Fabian News, nineteen of twenty-three Cabinet Members could be counted as belonging to the “National Fabian Society”—a term not hitherto used. (34) The others (such as Sir Frank Soskice, the new Home Secretary, or Frank Cousins of the Transport Workers Union, appointed to head the new Ministry of Technology and Science) were almost equally well-known and trusted in Fabian circles. Yet no whisper of that open secret reached the air waves or percolated into the general press.

So strictly was Fabian security maintained, that the informed New Statesman felt free to indulge in a little discreet private fun on the subject. “Most of the reformist movements,” remarked a columnist on that Fabian-controlled weekly, “seem to have lost to the Government either a chairman or a valued committee member. Flourishing limbs have thus been lopped off the National Campaign for the Abolition of Capital Punishment, the Howard League, the Albany Trust, the New Bridge, the Josephine Butler Society and the Prison Reform Council, to name only a few. Letters of congratulatory regret have been flowing into ministers’ offices.” (35)

Unmentioned, of course, was the fact that names of five past chairmen of the Fabian Society turned up on the revised roster of Her Majesty’s Government, (36) released by British Information Services in November, 1964. Or that nine Cabinet Members and at least five Ministers outside the Cabinet had seen service on the Fabian Executive. (37) These statistics were already known to delighted members and friends of the Fabian Society (sometimes referred to by Communists as a “reformist movement”), which had also relinquished most of its current officers and committee heads to the Government.

Chief Secretary of the Treasury with rank of Minister was John Diamond, a longtime honorary treasurer of the Society. Postmaster General Anthony Wedgwood Benn was the Fabian Society’s current vice chairman, as well as the chairman of its combined International and Commonwealth Bureau. William Rodgers, general secretary of the Fabian Society, went to the Ministry of Economic Affairs as a parliamentary Under Secretary. Few, indeed, of that suddenly exalted company saw fit to record in Who’s Who their lifelong organizational ties with Britain’s oldest and boldest Socialist Society, bellwether of the world-wide Socialist International.

Dedicated for years to the idea of social revolution and the gradual but total extinction of private enterprise, they now preferred for publicity purposes to be described as “moderate” Socialists. In reality, there is no such breed. There are only patient and impatient Socialists—just as Dorothy Day, a left wing Catholic newspaper editor in New York, suggested long ago that there are patient and impatient virgins.(38)

So the same dreary old programs that had proved incapable once before of producing a brave new world were freshened up and given a new look by Fabian Research. Like rabbits pulled from a magician’s hat, they were presented with an air of proud discovery and some variations in the patter designed to divert attention from the timeworn routine. The new Minister of Economic Affairs, George Brown, M.P., might talk ever so brightly about “the development and implementation of a national incomes policy covering all forms of income and related to productivity.” But in the end, it still meant wage controls, price controls, export-import controls, and a capital levy.

Management and unions were invited to collaborate in the “plan,” with government holding the whiphand and deciding just “where the behavior of prices or wages, salaries or other money incomes is in the national interest.” (39) The bureaucrats still had the last word, and for the average Briton there could be no escape and no hiding place from the government’s all-seeing computers.

True, there seemed to be something different about Her Majesty’s opening address to the Parliament on November 3. She no longer spoke in the first person plural, but referred instead to “My Armies, My Ministers, My Government.” Grammatically, at least, the Queen had been stripped of the royal prerogative in an apparent move to belittle the Monarchy. Reading the text prepared by Labour Party Ministers, she likewise found herself compelled to say: “My Government will initiate early action to reestablish the necessary ownership and control of the Iron and Steel Industry ….” (40)

Harrying the throne had been for some time an approved left wing blood sport in England, and there is no question that it was Fabian-instigated. During the fifties Malcolm Muggeridge, a privileged scion of Fabian Socialism’s first family, specialized in taking potshots at royalty. He was a nephew of the autocratic Beatrice Webb and a former Moscow correspondent. He was also a former editor of Punch and a contributor to the New Statesman as well as more highly paid weeklies in Britain and America. While he denied being a Fabian, he was frequently advertised in Fabian News as a speaker at the Society’s meetings and weekend schools. (41)

In the sixties the Queen and her circle became the target of two sharply critical Fabian tracts.(42) With that intellectual snobbery so characteristic of the Socialist elite, it was asserted that the Court lacked appreciation of the finer things of life. Somehow those attacks on the Establishment culminated in a scheme for “integrating” the historic public schools of England into the State-controlled educational system, at an estimated cost to public funds of 15 million pounds. The project was eagerly seconded by the incoming Labour Party Government and promised high priority on its schedule of things to come.

Britain’s so-called public schools were, of course, private and independently financed boarding schools, where many of the men who contributed to England’s past greatness had received their early training. If it was true, as the Duke of Wellington remarked, that the Battle of Waterloo was won on the playing fields of Eton, a future Red Napoleon should have nothing to fear from coming generations of English schoolboys. What a leading Fabian educator calls the “bad characteristics” of such schools—namely, their “emphasis on leadership and character” (43)—will presumably be eliminated by making them tuition-free and by offering their admittedly superior classroom facilities to “children who have had the least opportunities in life.” (44)

According to John Vaizey of the Fabian Executive and the London School of Economics, entry to the better schools where places are scarce must be distributed on the same principle as food rationing. And he asked significantly, “Is not this the better English tradition?” (45) So despite all predictions of plenty made by Fabian orators in the 1964 election campaign, the principle of rationed scarcity was elevated to the status of an enduring tradition!

Undismayed by the slimness of his parliamentary majority, the Right Honorable Harold Wilson, M.P., Prime Minister, First Lord of the Treasury and Vice Chairman of the Socialist International, (46) announced he would proceed without delay to implant full-scale Socialism in Britain—and eventually in the world. If anyone misunderstood him, it really was not Wilson’s fault.

Like his predecessors of the postwar era, Wilson’s initial move was to raise four billion dollars abroad, nominally to strengthen the British pound but, in fact, to finance his government’s elusive schemes for what it termed the “social democratic revolution.” The first billion came from the International Monetary Fund, providentially set up twenty years earlier by Lord Keynes and described by a Socialist International spokesman as being “in essence a Socialist conception.”(47)

The remaining sum was contributed by eleven sympathetically minded governments, chief among them being the United States which proffered a cool billion.

Visiting Washington to confer with the newly elected President Johnson, Wilson solemnly told White House correspondents that the theme of these discussions was”‘interdependence.” What at first blush might have seemed no more than a classic bit of Fabian impudence, was spoken in deadly earnest. For the route of “interdependence,” taken in the literal sense and pursued to its logical conclusion, leads in the end to World Government: a goal to which Harold Wilson and his colleagues are profoundly pledged.

In that centennial year of the Socialist International, a Fabian Socialist clique had assumed control of the Mother of Parliaments, whether briefly or enduringly. The Labour Party Platform, which Fabians drafted and on which they stood, stated clearly: “For us World Government is the final objective. . . .” (48) It was no coincidence that the platform of the Socialist International, approved two years before in Oslo, proclaimed the same objective and designated the United Nations as an interim medium for achieving it. Nor was it purely wishful rhetoric when Socialist International Information declared that the British Labour Party’s victory marked “a renaissance of the power and influence of democratic Socialism throughout the world.”(49) The nineteenth century dream of Socialist World Government, which some called a specter, seemed closer to becoming a reality than ever before.

From the first, the strongest obstacles to fulfillment of that conspirators’ dream had been the two great English-speaking nations. It was to capture those twin citadels of personal liberty and private initiative that the Fabian Socialist movement had originally been founded, seeking to accomplish by patient indirection what quite obviously could not be done by frontal attack. After eighty years, with Britain apparently won, all that remained was to persuade the mightiest of her erstwhile colonies to renounce independence without a struggle. And then ….

What deterred the Fabian tortoise from striking, and striking hard, was the slight matter of a parliamentary majority—and the abiding common sense of the British people. With Churchill lingering on his deathbed, Englishmen were moved somehow to remember their fighting heritage and to ignore the counsels of submission. They may also have been influenced by the fact that in less than one hundred days of the Wilson government, the price of virtually every household article had soared—due in part to the new 15 per cent tax on imports, in part to the weakness of the pound sterling. Capital was in flight, and who could blame it?

Thus when Patrick Gordon Walker stood again for a presumably safe seat in Parliament, for the second time he suffered an inglorious defeat. The Labour Party’s margin in Parliament was by then reduced to three, with four safe Conservative seats yet to be filled. Nine Liberals in the House had already served notice that they would not vote with Labour on the issue of steel nationalization. Unless a miracle occurred, or unless Wilson could manage to sidestep every controversial issue, it looked very much as if he would be forced to call another general election in a matter of weeks—or months.

Meanwhile, Patrick Gordon Walker resigned as Foreign Secretary. The post went to Michael Stewart, recent Secretary of State for Education and Science—another professor, like Wilson and Gordon Walker. Young Anthony Crosland of the Fabian Executive moved up from a lesser spot in the Treasury to be Secretary of State for Education. And for the first time since October there was gloom at 10 Downing Street. The Prime Minister no longer whistled as he polished his boots.

In the face of all the portents, however, Wilson was grimly determined to hang on. The appointment of Michael Stewart as Foreign Secretary was further proof that the Prime Minister did not propose to trim his Socialist sails. Though Stewart was described by press correspondents as a relative unknown, this only meant his background was relatively unknown to the public. In Fabian Socialist circles he was very well-known indeed.

Ten years older than Wilson, Michael Stewart began his career as a young Fabian Socialist official in the Royal Household during 1931. Some years later he stood for the House of Commons, becoming a parliamentary secretary in the Labour Government from 1945 to 1951. He and his wife Mary were another of those high-level Fabian husband-and-wife teams, comparable in spirit if not in productivity to the Webbs or the Coles. In 1962-63 Mary Stewart served as chairman of the Fabian Executive; while Michael owed his ideas on foreign affairs to years of service with the Fabian International Bureau and its important directing committee.(50) He was the author of Fabian Tract No. 296, published in 1955 by the International Bureau: Policy and Weapons in the Nuclear Age.(51)

In January, 1958, Michael Stewart approvingly reviewed Professor Blackett’s book, Atomic Weapons and East-West Relations, (52) in which the theory of the “minimum deterrent” was advanced. “It is hard to dispute the main contention,” wrote the future Foreign Secretary in a properly defeatist vein, “that an attempt to keep world peace by staving for a permanent Western superiority in science and technique is bound to fail ….”

Whether or not the Fabian-packed Labour Party Government was able to hang on, Britain’s Fabian Socialist movement would remain a formidable and destructive power in the future as it had proved to be in the past. Its connections and its influence are world-wide; it has demonstrated more than once that it can be as dangerous in defeat as in victory. Following a political failure at home in 1931, it proceeded to develop really effective plans and means for the greatest coup of its history: the penetration and transformation of the United States of America. And with the help of American admirers, Fabians were returned to office some years later in England. The wealth and power of the largely unsuspecting United States is still the Fabian Society’s trump card.

Certainly no tears were detected in official circles in Washington when Wilson’s Labour Party was handily reelected on March 30, 1966, winning a substantial parliamentary majority. This victory empowered Wilson to move forward along Socialist lines as rapidly as he could do so without alienating the Commonwealth countries or embarrassing his American friends. It also seemed to assure Fabian control in Britain for a full five years to come. By the end of that time, who knows? In the words of an old, sad song, “It may be for years, or it may be forever.”


1. “Fabians Old and New,” Fabian News (May, 1958). As an example of that longevity, Fabian News (May, 1960) reported that Percival Chubb, who attended the first meeting of the Fabian Society at 17 Osnaburgh Street, Regent’s Park, on January 4, 1884, died on February 10, 1960 in St. Louis, Missouri at the age of 99.

2. Fabian News (May, 1958). “The Chairman and Vice Chairman [of the Society] share a serious interest in the Cinema: Roy Jenkins as a Governor of the British Film Institute, and Eirene White as a member of the Cinematograph Film Council.”

3. An alumnus of Leeds University, David Owen flew from New York to attend the memorial service honoring the late Hugh Gaitskell, M. P., at Westminster Abbey on January 31, 1963. The Times of London (February 1, 1963).

4. Robert Hunter, Revolution, Committee for Constitutional Government (New York, Harper & Brothers, 1940), p. 350.

5. “Shadow Fabians,” Fabian News (November-December, 1959). Cited as Fabians in the Shadow Cabinet were: Harold Wilson, James Callaghan, Anthony Greenwood, Tom Fraser, George Brown, Patrick Gordon Walker, G. R. Mitchison, Fred Willey and Denis Healey. Two peers on the Parliamentary Committee, Lord Faringdon and Lord Lucan, were also described as Fabians.

6. Hugh Gaitskell, M P., “Socialism and Nationalisation,” Fabian Tract No. 300 (London, The Fabian Society, 1956).

7. Eirene White, “Noble Lords and Others,” Fabian News (May, 1958). Eirene White, M. P., was named Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Colonies in the Labour Part Government of October, 1964.

8. “Tribute to G. D. H. Cole,” Fabian Journal (April, 1959).

9. Margaret Cole states that in the early years of World War II the Fabian International Bureau, after “receiving de Gaulle at first with caution, then backed him strongly . . . . returning after the Liberation to more strongly expressed doubts of his political intentions. . . .” Margaret Cole, The Story of Fabian Socialism (London, Heinemann Educational Books, Ltd., 1961), p. 288.

10. The Times of London (February 1, 1963).

11. Ibid.

12. United Press International dispatch from London (May 19, 1963).

13. From an article signed by Harold Wilson and distributed by North American Newspaper Alliance. It appeared on April 14, 1963, in the San Francisco Chronicle under the headline, “Future British Premier.”

14. Socialist International Information (March 9, 1963), Vol. XII, No. 10. “British Labor Party Proposals for Tax Reform”, by James Callaghan, M. P., British Labor Party Spokesman for Economic and Financial Affairs.

15. Ibid.

16. Harold Wilson, M. P., “The Labour Party’s Plan for Britain’s Future,” Socialist International Information (February 23, 1963), Vol. XIII, No. 8.

17. Bevan’s widow, Jennie Lee, M P., a frequent guest speaker over the years before Socialist and left wing labor bodies in the United States, was appointed Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Public Buildings and Works in the Wilson Cabinet of October, 1964.

18. Article written by Harold Wilson for the North American Newspaper Alliance (April, 1963).

19. Ibid.

20. Harold Wilson, M. P., “The Labour Party’s Plan for Britain’s Future,” Socialist International Information (February 23, 1963), Vol. XIII, No. 8.

21. Harold Wilson, North American Newspaper Alliance (April, 1963).

22. Harold Wilson, M. P., “The Labour Party’s Plan for Britain’s Future,” Socialist International Information (February 23, 1963), Vol. XIII, No. 8.

23. Fabian News. General Election Supplement. (December, 1959).

24. Fabian News. (November-December, 1964).

25. R. W. Sorenson, “Obituary: Arthur Creech-Jones,” Venture (London, The Fabian Society, Vol. XIV, No. 12, December, 1964), p. 5.

26. Fabian Society 67th Annual Report. (July, 1949-June, 1950).

27. “Socialist Policy for the underdeveloped Territories. A Declaration of Principles Adopted by the Second Congress of the Socialist International,” Milan 17-21 October, 1951. Yearbook of the International Socialist Labour Movement 1956-1957. Edited by Julius Braunthal, Secretary of the Socialist International. Under the Auspices of the Socialist International and the Asian Socialist Conference (London, Lincolns-Prager, 1957), pp. 47-52.

28. Patrick Gordon Walker, “Foreign Policy in a changing World,” Socialist International Information (July 4, 1964), Vol. XIV, No. 14.

29. Official text supplied by British Information Services, References and Library Division, T 48, New York (November 24, 1964).

30. Bolko von Richthofen, “All Out of Step But Healey.” Sudeten Bulletin. A Central European Review. (Munich, December, 1958), Vol. VI, No. 12, p. 266.

31. Denis Healey, “Why Are We Still Fighting Overseas?” Socialist International Information (July 4, 1964), Vol. XIV, No. 14.

32. Ibid.

33. “The General Election,” “The Labor Government” Fabian News (November-December, 1964). See Appendix I, pp. xxxix-xli.

34. Ibid. See Appendix I, p. xxxix.

35. Quoted in the National Review Bulletin (January 5, 1965), p. 7.

36. Cf. Fabian Society Annual Reports, 1954-55 through 1961-62. (The five former chairmen were: Prime Minister Harold Wilson, chairman of the Society, 1954-55; Arthur Skeffington, Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Land and National Resources, chairman of the Society, 1956-57; Roy Jenkins, Minister of Aviation, chairman of the Society, 1957-58; Eirene White, Under Secretary of State at the Colonial Office, chairman of the Society, 1958-59; C. A. R. Crosland, Economic Secretary to the Treasury, chairman of the Society, 1961-62.

37. Ibid., p. 2. Cabinet members formerly on the Fabian Executive were: Harold Wilson, Prime Minister and First Lord of the Treasury; Lord Gardiner, Lord High Chancellor; Patrick Gordon Walker, Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs; Denis Healey, Secretary of Defense; James Griffiths, Secretary of State for Wales; The Earl of Longford, Lord Privy Seal and Leader of the House of Lords; Douglas Houghton, Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster; Michael Stewart, Secretary of State for Education and Science; R. H. S. Crossman, Minister of Housing and Local Government.

38. Cf., Dorothy Day, The Eleventh Virgin (New York, A. & C. Boni, 1924).

39. British Record, Political and Economic Notes Issued by British Information Services. Supplement to British Record No. 19 (December 22, 1964).

40. Text of Her Majesty’s Most Gracious Speech to Both Houses of Parliament (November 3, 1964), British Information Services.

41. Fabian News (April, 1963), reported that Malcolm Muggeridge, son of H. T. Muggeridge, a leading early Fabian, had contributed an article to London’s Sunday Times entitled “Follies of the Fabians.” There he stated that: “the Fabians’ aloof benevolence and sublime certainties have worked on the corrupt minds of demagogic politicians to produce the telly-watching, bingo-playing, hire-purchasing democracy we have today.” Nevertheless, in the same year he also contributed an article of amiable reminiscences about his family to the fiftieth anniversary issue of the New Statesman.

42. John Vaizey, Education in a Class Society. The queen and Her Horses Reign, Fabian Tract No. 342 (London, The Fabian Society, January, 1962).

Howard Glennerster and Richard Pryke, The Public Schools, Young Fabian Pamphlet, No. 7 (London, The Fabian Society, November, 1964).

43. Vaizey, op. cit.

44. Glennerster and Pryke, op. cit.

45. Vaizey, op. cit.

46. Another Vice Chairman of the Socialist International, former Foreign Minister Giuseppe Saragat, was elected President of Italy in December, 1964.

47. Hilary Marquand, “The Theory and Practice of Planning,” Economic Development and Social Change (London, Socialist International Publication, no date–1962 or 1963), p. 28.

48. The New Britain, The Labour Party’s Manifesto for the 1964 General Election. (London, The Labour Party, Transport House, 1964), p. 22.

49. “The Significance of the Labour Party’s Victory,” Socialist International Information (October 24, 1964), Vol. XIV, No. 23.

50. Fabian Society 75th Annual Report, 1957-58, p. 20. Under the heading, “Members of Main Committees,” Michael Stewart is listed as a member of the International Bureau Committee. Fabian Society 80th Annual Report, 1962-63, p. 4, announces the election of Mary Stewart as chairman of the Fabian Executive.

51. With Rex Winsbury, a past chairman of the Young Fabian Group, Michael Stewart was also the author in October, 1963 of Fabian Tract No. 350, An Incomes Policy for Labour. Stewart was described as “an economist and prospective parliamentary candidate for Folkestone and Hythe.”

52. “Grim but Enthralling,” Fabian News (January, 1958).

Chapter 7 << | >> Chapter 9

Chapter 7-Trial By Ordeal

Chapter 7 of the book Fabian Freeway.

“A thousand years of English history went out the window” between 1945 and 1951—to borrow a phrase from Harold Wilson, M.P., chairman of the Labour Party in 1962. Wilson was subsequently Fabian leader of the Labour Party in Parliament in 1963, and Prime Minister from 1964. That headlong dissipation of national glories and personal liberties was effected by strictly lawful means. Indeed, this was accomplished by a whole series of parliamentary acts drafted well ahead of time by the ebullient pioneers of the New Fabian Research Bureau.

Over a decade before, in 1934, the Bureau had published a study on what it termed Parliamentary Reform, over the signature of Sir Ivor Jennings. Little noticed at the time, it later proved to be quite significant; for it prescribed certain changes in established parliamentary procedure, by means of which a Socialist government could work its will “democratically” on a trusting people. In 1945, most of those suggested changes were hastily adopted by the newly elected Labour Party majority in the House of Commons, over two-thirds of whom belonged to the Fabian Society. No legal or moral barriers remained to block the rush of the prefabricated Socialist legislation that followed. Within a few short years a Labour Party government, manned at every key point by Fabian Socialists, had, for all practical and impractical purposes, socialized the economy of Britain. This was done by nationalizing about one-quarter of the island’s economic processes outright and socializing the rest indirectly through an overall system of government planning that controlled both production and credit.

Basic industries and services commandeered by the State included: the Bank of England (finance and credit); utilities (gas and electricity, which furnished the power for industry); coal mines (which supplied the basis for electrical power); internal transport (railways, bus, truck and inland waterways); civil aviation (both domestic and overseas); cables, wireless and broadcasting (which afforded control of propaganda channels as well as communications). In 1949, the Fabian-packed House of Commons finally voted to nationalize the iron and steel industry.

The inconvenience resulting from these State-run enterprises was only exceeded by their inefficiency. Former stockholders, who were paid off in bonds, proved to be the sole beneficiaries,(1) since the bonds drew interest when dividends were unwarranted. Could the Fabians have failed to foresee that unless nationalized industry was operated at a profit, either the British taxpayer or Uncle Sam would be called upon to make up the losses? The railroads ran at a deficit. Each ticket sold on British Overseas Airways cost the government, on the average, $250 more than was taken in. While production and export figures in most sectors of industry showed a monetary paper increase, the rise was in terms of inflated postwar values but obscured a decline in the real amount of goods and services.

Under political management, British coal production in 1947 fell seven million tons below the output of privately owned mines ten years earlier, even though several hundred million dollars had been spent to modernize the mines and increase their output! That year Emanuel Shinwell, Fabian-trained Minister of Fuel and Power, was obliged by the coal shortage to cut off industrial electricity in the London and Midlands areas for a three-week period. The effect was to close down 75 per cent of British industry, put two million working-class families on the dole, and lose Britain over three-quarters of a billion dollars in much needed export orders.

Moreover, it appeared that national planning involved other arbitrary features for which the public was unprepared. Planned production, while failing visibly to produce abundance, had certain other unavoidable corollaries. It demanded wage controls, price controls, rationing at home; currency control and export control in foreign trade. Though such measures might be accepted as necessary during a war, in time of peace they proved as oppressive as they were economically unsound.

At a moment when other victorious nations were moving as quickly as possible to lift war-imposed restrictions, Britain’s Fabian Socialist Government acted to prolong them. In addition to being continued, their effects were multiplied, almost beyond the capacity of the people to endure, by a swarm of subsidiary regulations. Daily the press announced new decrees affecting not only the management of business and industry but the lives of every householder and small shopkeeper as well. The earthly paradise Labour Party spokesmen had promised the common man still glimmered beyond the horizon, more distant than ever. But even the glimmer was imaginary.

Far from ending wage slavery, the Fabian Socialist leaders of Britain gave literal meaning to what had formerly been a figure of speech. Ignoring trade union protests, they actually decreed a job freeze in 1946. Their Control of Engagements Order enabled the Ministry of Labour to compel workingmen and women to take and hold specific jobs at a fixed wage. Rules, permits and excessive paper work not only killed personal initiative but poisoned the daily life of the average citizen. In cases of dispute, which were frequent, some indifferent bureaucrat in London always enjoyed the final word.

In February, 1947, as Fabian Prime Minister Attlee admitted in the Commons, seventeen Government Ministries were free to enter private homes without search warrants. Ten thousand officials had authority to invade the Englishman’s traditional castle for purposes of inspection. Due process was abandoned as farmers and workingmen became subject to arrest or eviction by official order. In a single year, over thirty thousand prosecutions for violating routine regulations were recorded—an impossible burden on the law courts as well as the taxpaying public.

For all the boasts of Labour Party propagandists about new housing provided for the masses, progress in that department was slow and extremely dear. The Government constructed 134,000 fewer houses per year at a much higher per unit cost than were built in either of the two years preceding the war. The Government was consciously building Socialism into the community structure of its dreary New Towns. As late as 1949, in one Midlands industrial city alone, nearly fifty thousand families were still on the waiting list for unfinished public housing.

While wages were frozen at wartime levels, prices soared as stocks of food declined—a fact hardly improved by the government’s donation of $2.50 per week to each householder’s grocery bill. Premiums for social insurance were a further drain on the income of employed persons and pensioners. Failure to make these payments was punish able by fine and/or jail. Yet the cost to the Government of such social services far exceeded the sums collected annually for the purpose.

Although the widely touted Beveridge Plan was in effect, it had by no means succeeded in abolishing want. As one left wing American commentator noted, (2) the plan merely furnished a thin cushion against total disaster for the most impoverished third of the population. True, every citizen (whether or not he needed it) was entitled to prenatal care, a~birth subsidy, hospitalization and medical care of sorts, unemployment insurance, an old-age pension, funeral costs, and an allowance for his widow and dependent orphans. The subsidies and allowances were tiny, and, with mounting inflation, barely sufficed for the poorest—sixteen dollars at birth and eighty dollars for a pauper burial. Medical services were spread so thin that even at the price of nationalizing the existing medical profession, it was impossible to guarantee first-rate care. With food rations hovering near the starvation level, sickness became more frequent and national production fell still lower.

So poverty was not eliminated but increased to plague proportions, and life was a nightmare for everyone but the most dedicated bureaucrats. A man might have “social security,” yet he could not go out and buy a dozen eggs. After four years of Socialist government, he was only entitled to an egg and a half per week, as decreed by Marxist No. 1, John Strachey, Fabian Minister of Food and Supply.

A vacation in Ireland where food was plentiful became the dream of every famished Briton. In those years an Irish-American writer for the New Yorker magazine described his stay at a seaside resort in Ireland, once known as a land of famine. He marveled at the huge breakfasts being consumed by an English family sitting near him in the hotel dining room, and was touched by the concern of the Irish waiter who remarked: “Ill just run and get some more eggs for the children. They still look a little hungry to me!”

Inadequate as the British social services were, their overall costs, added to deficits in nationalized industries and to swollen administrative payrolls, created a condition verging on national bankruptcy. This would have been evident much sooner, except for the fact that a free-handed administration in Washington had been paying most of the bills for Britain’s Fabian Socialist experiments at home and in the dwindling colonies. In 1947 alone, the Labour Party used over two and three-quarter billion dollars from funds voted by the United States Congress. During the same year British planners drew an impromptu one-quarter billion dollars from the International Monetary Fund, of which the late Harry Dexter White was chief architect (3) and first Executive Director from the United States.

As Under Secretary of the United States Treasury from 1934 to 1946, wielding powers far beyond public knowledge and beyond his nominal title, (4) White had personally engineered arrangements for the multi-billion dollar American loans to Britain’s postwar Socialist Government. Negotiations for the first of these so-called loans—all handled independently of the Marshall Plan—began even before the Labour Party assumed office, but at a time when informed British Fabians like Arthur Creech-Jones and Harold Laski already felt assured of the election results. Without the active connivance of Harry Dexter White, it would have been impossible for Britain’s spendthrift planners to carry on as long as they did. A crony of Lord Keynes, who fathered the theory of deficit spending, White was also a warm admirer of Professor Harold Laski, whose Marxist views he once extolled in an hour-long interview with a United States Treasury Department publicist, Jonathan Mitchell. (5)

Shortly after Harry Dexter White’s mysterious death, documentary evidence in White’s own handwriting was introduced on the floor of the United States House of Representatives. This document, made public January 26, 1950, proved conclusively that, in addition to his other key functions, the late Under Secretary of the Treasury had also acted as a Soviet agent and informer.(6) So for several years the Labour Party Government owed its survival as much to undercover Soviet favor as to American largesse! Were British support of Soviet policy in Asia and recognition of Red China the favors exacted in return?

When the United States Congress finally served notice that it would no longer finance the Socialist fiasco in London, there was consternation in the Fabian Executive now meeting for convenience’s sake at the House of Commons, because so many members of that Executive held seats in Parliament. (7) As a final expedient, Fabian Chancellor of the Exchequer, Sir Stafford Cripps, was reduced to telling the British people the truth: that future costs of Socialism in Britain must come from the taxes, production and privations of the British workingman. Attempting to prolong the agony a little further, he submitted his notorious budget of “taxation and tears.”

Socialism in practice, unlike its glowing predictions, was turning out to be a dreary treadmill for the great majority of the British people. Confiscatory taxes on land, inheritance and income, coupled with the restrictions on productive investment, had driven into flight whatever capital was left, or forced it to remain idle. By 1949, according to statistics cited by a sympathetic reporter, there were just forty-five individuals in Britain with incomes of $24,000 a year or more after taxes, and only thirty-five thousand with incomes from $8,000 to $16,000. Yet the disappearance of affluence for the few did not insure it for the many. Future government payrolls, even under a pattern of deficit financing, could only be met by imposing still heavier taxes on the common man, by limiting food imports still more rigidly and increasing per man production for export.

Though the best brains of the Fabian Society were engaged in the futile effort to make Socialism work, it was becoming obvious that the new system of improvisation and promises simply could not deliver the goods. Socialist theory in action was wrecking the economy of Britain, which for several centuries had prospered from the profitable sale and brokerage of goods and services around the world. If persisted in, the new policy would end by reducing the once tight little island to a status no more impressive than some Caribbean isle like Cuba. Several Socialist Members of Parliament and Labour Peers (8) openly announced their disillusionment in 1949 and resigned from the Labour Party. The bright slogan, “Fair Shares for Everyone,” on which that Party rode to victory four years earlier, turned out to mean ever smaller shares in a contracting and top-heavy economy.

To the mounting chorus of popular complaints, the Labour Party Conference at Blackpool retorted by approving an expanded program of nationalization and public spending. Defiantly, it proposed to take over cement manufacture, sugar refining, cold storage and meat packing, much of the chemical industry, and, most controversial of all, industrial and marine insurance. Fortunately for British consumers and their commercial creditors overseas, more pressing problems intervened before this plan could be put into effect. Faced by labor unrest, vanished gold reserves and the threat of total fiscal collapse, Britain’s Labour Party Government was booted out of office a year later by a popular vote of no confidence.

Repudiated in the General Elections, the Party was forced to postpone new nationalization schemes for a future day. It retired in confusion, leaving behind it a truncated Empire, a bankrupt economy, and as many Socialist officials as it had been able to blanket with permanent Civil Service. No wonder that the Fabian Society declined responsibility and chose to minimize its controlling interest in the discredited Labour Party Government of 1945-51. More than ever the Society’s “self-denying ordinance” proved to be a self-serving device.

The Society’s preference for the shadows was dictated by instincts of preservation rather than modesty. While incoming Conservatives were left to repair as far as possible the damage caused by their predecessors, Fabians (starting with Lord Attlee) who had served in the defeated Administration sat down comfortably and dictated their memoirs. In that avalanche of ghostwritten prose, it is noteworthy that even veteran and dedicated Fabians mention the Society in the briefest, most fugitive manner, if at all! Confirmation of such longstanding ties can be more readily obtained from the files of the Fabian News and Fabian Journal, from the information sheets of the Socialist International, and from official histories of the Society all destined for more or less limited circulation.

Though the enthusiasm with which rank-and-file labor had spurned them was a slight shock to Fabian Socialist chiefs of the Labour Party, outwardly they accepted it calmly as no more than a battle lost in the long-range struggle for power. In a sense, they could hardly help but count it a blessing in disguise. Defeat saved them, after all, from having to cope with the consequences of their own folly and provided a timely exit from the house of cards they had erected. They did not foresee that it would be a full thirteen years before they returned to power in Britain.


As they had done after previous political reverses at home, British Fabians promptly consoled themselves with adventures abroad. Among other projects, they moved to reorganize the old Labor and Socialist International, where they occupied the lordly position once held by the German Social Democrats. The Fabian Society’s handwriting was plain in the International’s 1951 Frankfurt manifesto which declared “democratic planning” to be the basic condition £or achieving Socialism.(9) Statism and the welfare state, as demonstrated by the British Socialists during their spell of majority Labour Party Government, were being packaged deceptively for export around the world.

Gilded with the prestige of the high offices they had recently held and the patents of nobility conferred on them, top Fabians now applied themselves discreetly to promoting the same system in other lands that had just failed so dismally in Britain. Their plans provided for leveling the wealth of nations as well as individuals—with the United States the prime target and natural victim. The barbarian practice of stripping the more developed nations to satisfy the primitive hordes of Asia and Africa had been advocated centuries before in less polite accents by the Tartars, Huns and Moors. It was urged again in September, 1962, by Fabian Socialist Hugh Gaitskell, M P., writing in Socialist International Information on “The British Labour Party’s Foreign Policy.” Calling for a “mobilisation of our Western resources for the crusade against world poverty,” that none-too-Christian soldier concluded:

“The British Labour movement dedicated to equality and the ending of the divisions between the haves and have-nots in these islands, recognises that a Socialism which stops at our own shores is a hypocrisy; that the coexistence of the privileged with the under-privileged is as indefensible between nations as it is within nations.”

Coexistence with the Soviet Union and its satellites, however, was defensible, and remained a basic point of Fabian foreign policy. It was echoed by the Socialist International, whose forty-two member and “observer” parties claim to speak for 11.8 million persons and to control 64.5 million votes around the world; (11) it was echoed by a succession of Fabian Socialist Ministers in the Commonwealth countries, typified by Prime Minister Walter Nash of New Zealand. (12) In August, 1954, Morgan Phillips of the Fabian International Bureau, a former chairman of both the British Labour Party and the Committee of the International Socialist Conference (COMISCO), had led a British’ Labour delegation that included Lord Attlee on a junket to Moscow and Red China. En route, the group also visited Stockholm, Helsinki, Singapore, Beirut and Tokyo; met representatives from Malaya and Burma; and “exchanged views with many Socialist Parties at these places.” As a result, the Asian Socialist Conference met for the first time in a joint congress with the Socialist International in July, 1955.

Before departing on that global tour, Morgan Phillips had a warm and animated meeting in Geneva with Chou En-lai, Red China’s Foreign Minister. The Chinese Communist leader, “wearing his simple blue-gray uniform,” came in hurriedly and announced through an interpreter that he had just seen Charlie Chaplin, so much admired and touted by Fabians in other years. After a further exchange of civilities, Phillips “reflected that a great new age was now dawning for Asia, an age that the Labour Government in Britain had helped to usher in when it granted independence to India, Pakistan and Burma.” And he reflected, too, “that Chou En-lai must inevitably play one of the leading roles in guiding the newly-awakened Asia.”(13)

Fabian lenience towards Communist movements and leaders was held to be justified not only by their joint Socialist heritage, but by their common purpose of achieving Socialism throughout the world. In the lead essay of the New Fabian Essays, published in 1952 as a “restatement” in modern terms of unchanging Fabian objectives, R. H. S. Crossman (14) of the Fabian Executive noted that Communist movements are often the most effective way of introducing Socialism into backward countries which lack parliamentary experience.

By inference, “Democratic Socialism” as preached by Fabians is designed~primarily to captivate advanced industrial nations, where the more direct Communist methods of attack do not appeal and cannot so easily penetrate. Plainly the two movements supplement each other, even if their vocabulary is different and their tasks are divided. Thus Crossman urged coexistence with the Communists; though he protested almost too emphatically that coexistence did not mean cooperation.

Evidently Fabian Socialists still preferred to retain their separate identity and their perennial “right to criticize,” which is the Fabian definition of freedom. A critical attitude towards friend and foe alike has characterized the movement from its earliest days, and confirmed in its practitioners a satisfying sense of being superior persons. At tunes, that habit makes it difficult for an outsider to distinguish the Fabians’ friends from their foes. Anyone reading the critical “tributes” to G. D. H. Cole in the Fabian Journal, following his death in 1959, finds it hard to believe they were penned by some of his warmest friends and admirers. Similarly, Fabian Socialist criticism of Communist behavior cannot be interpreted as pure hostility.

Outspoken cooperation with the Communists, Crossman implied, must be reserved for a future day when every country on earth should be either Communist- or Socialist-ruled; and the two kindred movements could finally merge their differences on the basis of some higher dialectic not yet apparent. Meanwhile, Fabian contacts with Communist leaders were cultivated at the uppermost level; and the vice-president of the British Communist Party, Rajani Palme Dutt, was invited to speak at the Fabian Society’s Autumn Lectures in 1956.

The Fabian-steered Socialist International continued, through its socially acceptable friends and individually respected leaders, to put pressure on its various home governments in support of Soviet foreign policy goals in Asia, Africa and Latin America. Thus the Socialist International, which takes precedence historically over the Communist International, presented itself as a kind of Third Force, maintaining and manipulating the balance between the two major world powers, the United States and the Soviet Union, but somehow always leaning towards the latter.

Among the North Atlantic Treaty nations already joined in a military defense pact, British Socialists promoted the cause of Atlantic Union and continue to do so today. This high-flown scheme was merely an enlargement of Federal Union, the scale model engineered at the outbreak of World War II by a key member of the Fabian International Bureau, R. W. G. Mackay, aided by the Fabian-approved Rhodes Scholars, Clarence K. Streit and Herbert Agar. (15) Federal Union calls among other things for the Government of the United States to reunite with Britain, while Atlantic Union marshals European support for the same plan. Both in its original and expanded forms, Federal Union has appropriated the secret dream of nineteenth century Empire builder Cecil Rhodes and remolded it along lines more adapted to the schemes of the Socialist International. Such eminent personages of the International as Foreign Minister Paul Henri Spaak of Belgium have lent the luster of their names to Atlantic Union.

What it proposes is that the world’s most advanced Christian nations should revise their idea of national sovereignty and pool their economic as well as their military resources. Its Fabian framers attempt to justify the plan by quoting copiously from the writings of early American Federalists, although the new type of union projected is very far from anything James Madison or Alexander Hamilton had in mind. Atlantic Union, or Atlantica, would embrace a group of fifteen highly industrialized welfare states on both sides of the North Atlantic and culminate in one World Government. The Socialist character of that eventual World State is not emphasized in the smoothly written propaganda and even smoother social functions designed to attract industrialists, financiers, educators, statesmen and military figures of the several NATO nations. Many no doubt believe they are merely helping to further the cause of mutual defense.

Seeking to permeate the upper crust of the North Atlantic community, Atlantic Union has made membership on its 538-man international council a status symbol, and, in some instances, a springboard to higher business and professional opportunity. By indirection its authors also aim to weaken resistance among the socially elite to the adoption of Socialist-sponsored programs in their homelands and in the world. Significantly, a number of British peers who achieved nobility by the grace of the Labour Party have been active in Federal Union and related enterprises. Prominent among them was that well-known international bleeding heart, Sir William (later Lord) Beveridge, the much-publicized “father” of the Welfare State.

After the collapse of Britain’s Socialist Government of 1945-1951 (which in 1949 named him chairman of the British Broadcasting Corporation), Lord Beveridge says he “returned to Federal Union across national boundaries, as a necessary step towards World Government and substitution of world justice for war.” (16) Previously, he had been a charter member of the Inter-Parliamentary Committee for World Government. Indeed, he headed a coterie of economists who actually undertook to draft a “practical” plan for Atlantic Union merger (17) and to apportion the wealth of nations on an “equitable” basis. Reports prepared by his committee on the economic aspects of federation, though perhaps a trifle dated, would no doubt prove edifying to members of the United States Congress today.

While striving to render patriotism outmoded and to discredit the concept of national sovereignty in the more literate countries, British Fabians at the same time speeded up their efforts to promote nationalist movements in so-called backward areas of the globe. At first glance, this might seem a contradiction. Closer scrutiny reveals that Fabian aid to national independence movements in colonial and semi-colonial lands stems from theories advanced as long ago as 1902 by the early Fabian, John Atkinson Hobson, in his book Imperialism, which antedated and influenced Lenin’s writings on the subject.

Among latter-day Fabians such aid has assumed two principal forms. First, education of native leaders under Fabian tutelage. In 1951 the Labour Party Government had four thousand colonial-students in England, (18) most of them being carefully schooled in the “social sciences” by Socialist professors. And second, the promotion of trade unions in colonial territories, not simply to raise standards of living for native labor, but as organs of mass pressure for independence. It is planned that ex-colonial nations shall eventually form regional federations under Socialist leadership.

In 1949 Sir Stafford Cripps, then a Minister of the Crown, made the remarkable announcement that “The liquidation of the British Empire is essential to Socialism.” This statement appeared in the March, 1949, issue of Venture, published by the Fabian Colonial Bureau (renamed the Fabian Commonwealth Bureau in 1958). During the same year the International Confederation of Free Trade Unions (ICFTU) was formed, as an adjunct of the Fabian-led Socialist International, to speed colonial liquidation not only in British territories but in other regions as well—excluding, of course, the Soviet Empire! Making certain that the coolies of Asia and the tribesmen of Africa would not suspect it of being pro-Christian, the Confederation refused to accept the Christian Trade Unions of Europe as affiliates.

After the fall of the Labour Party Administration, Fabian spokesmen continued to urge Empire liquidation from the Opposition benches. Since their ranks in the Commons were thinner, they were obliged to lean more heavily than ever on outside sources of support and agitation in order to complete this unfinished business. In 1953 the mild-mannered Sir Stafford—who had just completed a term as president of the Fabian Society—urged the need for exerting all possible pressure on Britain’s Conservative Government to carry out the Fabian-planned schedule of Empire dissolution.

By that time, the ICFTU boasted one hundred affiliated organizations in seventy-five countries, including Poland and Yugoslavia. It claimed the support of fifty-four million trade unionists throughout the world, many of whom had certainly never heard of that body as such.(19) As a “labor-minded” international pressure group oriented towards Socialism, the Confederation maintained close and cordial relations with the “political-minded” Socialist International. It also worked closely with the Fabian Colonial Bureau, much of whose own globe-girdling activity was financed by donations from the large British trade unions. (20)

The ramifications of Fabian Socialism in Africa, Asia, Latin America and the West Indies, during the nineteen-fifties and after, can be traced in the pages of Venture. Here Fabian ties with international unionism are plainly revealed, as well as the drive to use the trade unions as mere stepping stones to Socialism.

The methods and aims of those fantastically widespread operations were summarized with perfect clarity by Fabian Socialist Arthur Skeffington (21) in a speech delivered before the Commonwealth Section at Transport House, headquarters of the British Labour Party. His speech was reprinted in Socialist International Information for October 16, 1954, under the title, “From Crown Colony to Commonwealth,” and it is by way of being a historic document.

First of all, Skeffington noted “the fine practical cooperation of the British Trades Union movement in sending out colonial trade union officers, assisting the budding trade unions in the colonies, bringing their officials over here for training and advice, and now agreeing to a levy of 2d. per member on their whole [British] membership to increase their colonial activities.” In the next breath he praised the initiative of the defunct Labour Party Government in promoting colonial independence, saying, “We introduced no less than forty new colonial constitutions—bringing Nigeria and the Gold Coast to the doorstep of self-government, besides giving independence to 400 million people in Asia.”

While admitting that the same Administration had freed India with no assurance or evidence of “democratic” government except the Socialism of Nehru, on the whole Skeffington opposed self-government in colonial countries unless it was sure to be “democratic”— that is, socialistic. “We must be certain,” he continued blandly, “that all the people have the machinery and the ability to express their own will before self-government is accorded.” Then, in a burst of frankness, he concluded: “We must take the opportunity, indeed, we must create the opportunities to associate them with our movement, for, as Socialists, we surely believe that the only future healthy development [sic] in the colonial territories must be based on the principles of Socialism.”

This speech, which gives every indication of having been prepared in the New Fabian Research Bureau, unquestionably reflects the policy of the Fabian Society which named Skeffington its chairman three years later. Trade unions around the world were to be inoculated with Socialism and to press for the political independence of colonial regions. Such pressure was employed to spur the further dismemberment of the British Empire. It strengthened the hand of the enfeebled Labour Party Opposition in the Commons, and eventually helped to win acceptance for such Communist-trained and Fabian-approved native leaders as Jomo Kenyatta in Kenya. (As Crossman remarked in the New Fabian Essays, the success of Communist methods in backward countries must be recognized!)

More feverishly than ever before in the history of the Society, overseas contacts and affiliations were cultivated under the personal supervision of leading British Fabians. New front organizations and their offspring in the political, educational and cultural fields sprang up all over the map, usually based on plans originating in the fertile New Fabian Research Bureau. There seemed to be Fabians everywhere, Rita Hinden of the Colonial Bureau reported in 1957. (22) In Tokyo she and Arthur Lewis were feted, together with Fabians from India and Yugoslavia, by the Fabian Institute of Japan—a body “quite independent of the British Society, but performing a similar function.”

Delegations from Poland, Germany, Scandinavia and all the Commonwealth countries visited London, to be entertained graciously at Lord Faringdon’s town house in Brompton Square and to confer with representatives of the Fabian International and Commonwealth Bureaus on matters of peculiar interest to Socialists. Members of Americans for Democratic Action from the United States were welcomed regularly at Fabian Summer Schools.(23)

In recent years top British Fabians, taking advantage of jet-age facilities and, at times, of their own privileged positions as Members of Parliament, have become world commuters on a grand scale. Typical of the breed was Kenneth Younger, Minister of State at the Foreign Office in 1950-51, whose schedule of arrivals and departures would have exhausted a diplomatic courier—though his colleague on the International Bureau’s Advisory Committee, Denis Healey, seemed to be a close runner-up for the title of Most Traveled Fabian. In the space of a week or two, Younger might be reported Hitting in and out of half a dozen countries, and he slipped through the Iron Curtain as if by osmosis.

On his travels Kenneth Younger wore a variety of hats. He was billed as a Member of Parliament; as a representative of the Fabian Executive; as the chairman of the British-Asian and Overseas Fellowship, an organization set up to establish residential centers in Britain for “overseas comrades”; or as director general of the August Royal Institute of International Affairs (British counterpart of the American Council on Foreign Relations), with headquarters at Chatham House, 10 St. James Square, London. Whatever title he might have used at a given moment, there is little doubt that he ranked for many years as Fabian Socialism’s foremost flying salesman.

In the summer of 1962, just a fortnight after it had been announced that Kenneth Younger was in Saudi Arabia, the world press carried a pronouncement in favor of Socialism by a younger member of that oil-rich country’s royal family. Prince Talal, challenging the rule of his brother, King Ibn Saud, in the age-old Middle Eastern tradition, had discovered a new approach. “I am a Fabian Socialist,” he told reporters.(24)

Combining infiltration and propaganda with ceremonial duties, the globe-trotting routine merely confirmed the leadership role of British Fabians in world Socialist affairs. Almost any issue of Fabian News, selected at random, contained items like these:

“Arthur Skeffington, the Society’s Chairman, is spending a very busy Parliamentary recess. He returned from a visit to East Germany to direct the Summer School at Oxford, and then left on a Parliamentary delegation to Tanganyika. He will return for the Labour Party Conference at the end of September.

“Another Fabian with a tight schedule is T. E. M. McKitterick, who is at present commuting between France, Turkey, British Guiana and New York.

“Colin Jackson is again visiting the Middle East, and James MacColl is visiting Virginia for Tercentenary Celebrations.” (25)

Or this:


“There were probably some eminent Fabians still left in the UK [United Kingdom] during the summer [of 1963] but not very many. Robert Heild has been in India studying India’s economic problems under the auspices of the M.I.T. Center for International Studies; Thomas Balogh has been in Algeria on behalf of a U.N. agency; Anthony Crosland was lecturing in Australia, and Brian Abel-Smith was last heard of in the Congo; John Parker and Tom Ponsonby are leading lots of other Fabians around Russia.” (26)

Returning to England, eager voyagers regaled the more earthbound and anonymous majority of the Society’s members with eyewitness accounts of “conditions” in other lands. Their reports were featured events at Fabian Summer Schools and weekend conferences, giving audiences the vicarious and cost-free pleasure of foreign travel as well as the feeling of being directly involved in exciting events abroad. All of which stimulated the rank-and-file in the local societies to carry on the more pedestrian work of home research, propaganda and organization needed to prepare for a Labour Party comeback in Britain.

In July, 1952, a weekend school headed by Kenneth Younger and sponsored by the Fabian International Bureau was announced in Fabian News. Lectures were devoted to various aspects of Anglo-American relations. Among others attending it were a French Senator belonging to the left-of-left NRP; a representative of the Yugoslav Embassy in London; and an unnamed United States Embassy attache. Although Younger, in answer to an inquiry from a non-Fabian, conceded that other Americans were present as well, he firmly declined to identify them.

Occasionally, there were “reports” from other foreign friends of the Society which suggested a deeper degree of involvement in foreign intrigue than the Fabian Society officially admits. During a 1962 Easter Weekend School held at Beatrice Webb House, Dorking, the young unofficial Algerian envoy to London, Cherif Guellal, foretold with uncanny accuracy the role an independent Algeria would play in international affairs. He not only predicted that his country would range itself after “liberation” with the “non-aligned”—neutralist and pro-Soviet—nations; but made it clear that on the domestic front Algeria would pursue a Socialist policy. (27) This prophetic declaration was made several months before the rest of the world had heard of Ahmed Ben Bella or could guess he was plotting a left wing coup to seize power in Algeria.

While accelerating its movements and expanding its influence outside the British Isles, the Fabian Society is never idle at home. True, its listed membership (which rose to an all-time peak after 1945, when many people regarded the Society as a means of entry into politics and government) was cut back to the usual serviceable hardcore following the defeat of 1951. Much of that trusted membership has proved to be hereditary. It includes children and grandchildren, nephews and nieces of bygone Fabians—an ironic touch, since the Society objects so vigorously to the hereditary principle in other areas, especially in the House of Lords. Its present (unpublished) list of dues-paying members, which the Society estimates at about five thousand, (28) gives no inkling of the uncounted thousands who quietly follow the Fabian line in Britain. Long before Communists adopted the practice, the Fabian Society found it convenient, in the main, to abolish card-carrying memberships.


1. Permission was secured from the U. S. commission to use some 80 million dollars in United States funds advanced to Britain, to pay interest on these bonds.

2. John W. Vandercook, “Good News Out of England,” Harper’s Magazine (March, 1947).

3. Post War Foreign Policy Preparation, U. S. Department of State (Washington, U. S. Government Printing Office, 1949), p. 142.

4. United States Treasury Department Order No. 43, dated December 15, 1941, and signed by the Secretary of the Treasury, gave Harry Dexter White “full responsibility for all matters with which the Treasury had to deal having a bearing on foreign relations.” Pursuant to a further Order of February 25, 1943, White became the official Treasury representative on all interdepartmental and international bodies. Cited in the Report of the Subcommittee on Internal Security to the committee on the Judiciary, U. S. Senate, 83rd Congress, First Session (Washington, U. S. Government Printing Office, July 30, 1953), pp. 29-30.

5. Hearings of the Subcommittee on Internal Security of the Committee on the Judiciary, U. S. Senate, 83rd Congress, Interlocking Subversion in Government Departments (Washington, U. S. Government Printing Office, March 25, and April 6, 1954), Part 19, pp. 1933ff.

6. Report of the Subcommittee on Internal Security of the Committee on the Judiciary, U. S. Senate, 83rd Congress (Washington, U. S. Government Printing Office, July 30, 1953, p. 32.

7. Margaret Cole, The Story of Fabian Socialism (London, Heinemann Educational Books, Ltd., p. 309.) Of the twenty-five members of the Fabian Executive, at least te held seats in the Commons, 1945-1951.

8. John T. Flynn, The Road Ahead (New York, The Devin-Adair Company, 1949), p. 58. In July, 1949, Lord Milverton, Labour Whip in the Lords, who had been crated a peer by the Labour Party in 1947, renounced his party affiliation during the debate on steel. In a speech on the floor, quoted in the Times of London, he declared that “he had certain aims and ideals, and he had thought the Labor Party could ‘deliver the goods.’” Previously, Albert Edwards, M.P. had stated in the Commons, “I have spent years discoursing on the defects of the capitalist system. I do not withdraw those criticisms. But we have seen the two systems side by side. And the man who would still argue for socialism as the means of ridding our country of the defects of capitalism is blind indeed. Socialism just does not work.”

9. C. A. R. Crosland, “The Transition from Capitalism,” New Fabian Essays, edited by R.H.S. Crossman (London, Turnstile Press, 1952), pp. 59-60. Crosland, a long time member of the Fabian Executive, became Economic Secretary to the Treasury with rank of Minister in the Fabian-dominated Labour Party Government of October, 1964.

11. Socialist International Information, Vol. XIII, No. 34-35 (August 24, 1963).

12. Fabian News (March, 1958).

13. Socialist International Information (August 21, 1954).

14. Named Minister of Housing and Local Government with Cabinet rank in the British Labour Party Government after the October, 1964 elections.

15. Both have been cited favorably in Fabian News.

16. Beveridge, Power and Influence (New York, The Beechhurst Press, Ltd., 1955), p. 356.

17. George Catlin, The Atlantic Community (London, Coram, Ltd., 1959), p. 82.

18. Socialist International Information (October 16, 1954).

19. Ten years later, in a press release of May 20, 1963, from its world headquarters at 37-47 Rue Montague aux Herbes Potageres, Brussels, the ICFTU claimed over fifty-seven million members in 108 countries.

20. Cole, op. cit., p. 318.

21. Named Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Land and National Resources in the Labour Party Government of October, 1964.

22. “Fabians in a Japanese Tea House,” Fabian News (July, 1957).

23. “Invitation,” Fabian News (July, 1947). This item states: “The Society has often welcomed to summer schools members of Americans for Democratic Action . . . . Now A.D.A. is offering places at its summer school at half-rates to visitors from Britain . . . . Lecturers will include Mrs. Eleanor Roosevelt, and the school is to be held in Dutchess county overlooking the Hudson River. . . .”

24. Fabian News (November 1962).

25. “Busy Chairman,” Fabian News (September, 1957).

26. “Travelers,” Fabian News (September, 1963).

27. “Easter School,” Fabian News (June, 1962).

28. According to the Fabian Society Annual Report, national membership figures were listed at 2,692 full members and 91 associate members as of June 30, 1963. These figures are somewhat misleading, since the national membership figures include subscribing bodies and organizations which are listed as individual members. As of June 30, 1963, subscribing bodies numbered 137 Labor Parties, Cooperatives and Trades Unions, and 92 libraries. On the same date the Commonwealth Bureau claimed 167 members and the International Bureau 57; but these apparently modest figures also included subscribing bodies. Since that time the Commonwealth and International Bureaus have merged to form a single bureau. Membership of local societies as of March 31, 1963, was listed at 1,848, organized into 76 societies. Total: 4,855.

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