Fabian Society
Overview
The Fabian Society is a British socialist
History of socialism in Great Britain
The History of socialism in the United Kingdom is generally thought to stretch back to the 19th century. Starting to arise in the aftermath of the English Civil War notions of socialism in Great Britain and Northern Ireland have taken many different forms from the utopian philanthropism of Robert...

 movement, whose purpose is to advance the principles of democratic socialism
Democratic socialism
Democratic socialism is a description used by various socialist movements and organizations to emphasize the democratic character of their political orientation...

 via gradualist
Gradualism
Gradualism is the belief in or the policy of advancing toward a goal by gradual, often slow stages.-Politics and society:In politics, the concept of gradualism is used to describe the belief that change ought to be brought about in small, discrete increments rather than in abrupt strokes such as...

 and reformist
Reformism
Reformism is the belief that gradual democratic changes in a society can ultimately change a society's fundamental economic relations and political structures...

, rather than revolution
Revolution
A revolution is a fundamental change in power or organizational structures that takes place in a relatively short period of time.Aristotle described two types of political revolution:...

ary, means. It is best known for its initial ground-breaking work beginning late in the 19th century and continuing up to World War I
World War I
World War I , which was predominantly called the World War or the Great War from its occurrence until 1939, and the First World War or World War I thereafter, was a major war centred in Europe that began on 28 July 1914 and lasted until 11 November 1918...

. The society laid many of the foundations of the Labour Party
Labour Party (UK)
The Labour Party is a centre-left democratic socialist party in the United Kingdom. It surpassed the Liberal Party in general elections during the early 1920s, forming minority governments under Ramsay MacDonald in 1924 and 1929-1931. The party was in a wartime coalition from 1940 to 1945, after...

 and subsequently affected the policies of states emerging from the decolonisation of the British Empire
British Empire
The British Empire comprised the dominions, colonies, protectorates, mandates and other territories ruled or administered by the United Kingdom. It originated with the overseas colonies and trading posts established by England in the late 16th and early 17th centuries. At its height, it was the...

, especially India.

Today, the society functions primarily as a think tank
Think tank
A think tank is an organization that conducts research and engages in advocacy in areas such as social policy, political strategy, economics, military, and technology issues. Most think tanks are non-profit organizations, which some countries such as the United States and Canada provide with tax...

 and is one of 15 socialist societies affiliated with the Labour Party.
Encyclopedia
The Fabian Society is a British socialist
History of socialism in Great Britain
The History of socialism in the United Kingdom is generally thought to stretch back to the 19th century. Starting to arise in the aftermath of the English Civil War notions of socialism in Great Britain and Northern Ireland have taken many different forms from the utopian philanthropism of Robert...

 movement, whose purpose is to advance the principles of democratic socialism
Democratic socialism
Democratic socialism is a description used by various socialist movements and organizations to emphasize the democratic character of their political orientation...

 via gradualist
Gradualism
Gradualism is the belief in or the policy of advancing toward a goal by gradual, often slow stages.-Politics and society:In politics, the concept of gradualism is used to describe the belief that change ought to be brought about in small, discrete increments rather than in abrupt strokes such as...

 and reformist
Reformism
Reformism is the belief that gradual democratic changes in a society can ultimately change a society's fundamental economic relations and political structures...

, rather than revolution
Revolution
A revolution is a fundamental change in power or organizational structures that takes place in a relatively short period of time.Aristotle described two types of political revolution:...

ary, means. It is best known for its initial ground-breaking work beginning late in the 19th century and continuing up to World War I
World War I
World War I , which was predominantly called the World War or the Great War from its occurrence until 1939, and the First World War or World War I thereafter, was a major war centred in Europe that began on 28 July 1914 and lasted until 11 November 1918...

. The society laid many of the foundations of the Labour Party
Labour Party (UK)
The Labour Party is a centre-left democratic socialist party in the United Kingdom. It surpassed the Liberal Party in general elections during the early 1920s, forming minority governments under Ramsay MacDonald in 1924 and 1929-1931. The party was in a wartime coalition from 1940 to 1945, after...

 and subsequently affected the policies of states emerging from the decolonisation of the British Empire
British Empire
The British Empire comprised the dominions, colonies, protectorates, mandates and other territories ruled or administered by the United Kingdom. It originated with the overseas colonies and trading posts established by England in the late 16th and early 17th centuries. At its height, it was the...

, especially India.

Today, the society functions primarily as a think tank
Think tank
A think tank is an organization that conducts research and engages in advocacy in areas such as social policy, political strategy, economics, military, and technology issues. Most think tanks are non-profit organizations, which some countries such as the United States and Canada provide with tax...

 and is one of 15 socialist societies affiliated with the Labour Party. Similar societies exist in Australia (the Australian Fabian Society
Australian Fabian Society
The Australian Fabians was established in 1947. Inspired by the Fabian Society in the United Kingdom, it is dedicated to Fabianism, the focus on the advancement of socialist ideas through gradual influence and patiently promoting socialist ideals to intellectual circles and groups with power.The...

), Canada (the Douglas-Coldwell Foundation
Douglas-Coldwell Foundation
The Douglas-Coldwell Foundation is a Canadian think tank devoted, in the words of its slogan, to "promoting education and research into social democracy." It was founded in 1971, and is based in Ottawa....

 and in the past the League for Social Reconstruction
League for Social Reconstruction
The League for Social Reconstruction was a circle of Canadian socialist intellectuals officially formed in 1932, though it had its beginnings during a camping retreat in 1931. These academics were advocating radical social and economic reforms and political education. Industrialization,...

) and in New Zealand.

Establishment

The Fabian Society was founded on 4 January 1884 in London as an offshoot of a society founded in 1883 called The Fellowship of the New Life
The Fellowship of the New Life
The Fellowship of the New Life was a British organization in the 19th century, most famous for a splinter group, the Fabian Society.It was founded in 1883, by the Scottish intellectual Thomas Davidson...

. Fellowship members included poets Edward Carpenter
Edward Carpenter
Edward Carpenter was an English socialist poet, socialist philosopher, anthologist, and early gay activist....

 and John Davidson
John Davidson (poet)
John Davidson was a Scottish poet, playwright and novelist, best known for his ballads. He also did translations from French and German...

, sexologist
Sexology
Sexology is the scientific study of human sexuality, including human sexual interests, behavior, and function. The term does not generally refer to the non-scientific study of sex, such as political analysis or social criticism....

 Havelock Ellis
Havelock Ellis
Henry Havelock Ellis, known as Havelock Ellis , was a British physician and psychologist, writer, and social reformer who studied human sexuality. He was co-author of the first medical textbook in English on homosexuality in 1897, and also published works on a variety of sexual practices and...

 and the future Fabian secretary Edward R. Pease
Edward R. Pease
Edward Reynolds Pease was an English writer and a founding member of the Fabian Society.Pease, the sixth of fifteen children, was born near Bristol, the son of devout Quakers, Thomas Pease and Susanna Ann Fry sister of Edward Fry, the judge...

. They wanted to transform society by setting an example of clean simplified living for others to follow. But when some members also wanted to become politically involved to aid society's transformation, it was decided that a separate society, the Fabian Society, also be set up. All members were free to attend both societies. The Fabian Society additionally advocated renewal of Western European Renaissance
Renaissance
The Renaissance was a cultural movement that spanned roughly the 14th to the 17th century, beginning in Italy in the Late Middle Ages and later spreading to the rest of Europe. The term is also used more loosely to refer to the historical era, but since the changes of the Renaissance were not...

 ideas and their promulgation throughout the rest of the world.

The Fellowship of the New Life was dissolved in 1898, but the Fabian Society grew to become the preeminent academic society in the United Kingdom in the Edwardian era
Edwardian period
The Edwardian era or Edwardian period in the United Kingdom is the period covering the reign of King Edward VII, 1901 to 1910.The death of Queen Victoria in January 1901 and the succession of her son Edward marked the end of the Victorian era...

, typified by the members of its vanguard Coefficients club
Coefficients (dining club)
The Coefficients was a dining club founded in 1902 at a dinner given by the Fabian campaigners Sidney and Beatrice Webb. It was a forum for the meeting of British socialist reformers and imperialists of the Edwardian era...

. Public meetings of the Society were for many years held at Essex Hall, a popular location just off the Strand
Strand, London
Strand is a street in the City of Westminster, London, England. The street is just over three-quarters of a mile long. It currently starts at Trafalgar Square and runs east to join Fleet Street at Temple Bar, which marks the boundary of the City of London at this point, though its historical length...

 in central London.

The Fabian Society, which favoured gradual change rather than revolutionary change, was named at the suggestion of Frank Podmore
Frank Podmore
Frank Podmore was an English author, founding member of the Fabian Society, and writer on psychic matters.-Life:...

in honour of the Roman
Roman Republic
The Roman Republic was the period of the ancient Roman civilization where the government operated as a republic. It began with the overthrow of the Roman monarchy, traditionally dated around 508 BC, and its replacement by a government headed by two consuls, elected annually by the citizens and...

 general Fabius Maximus
Fabius Maximus
Quintus Fabius Maximus Verrucosus Cunctator was a Roman politician and general, born in Rome around 280 BC and died in Rome in 203 BC. He was Roman Consul five times and was twice Dictator in 221 and again in 217 BC. He reached the office of Roman Censor in 230 BC...

 (nicknamed "Cunctator", meaning "the Delayer"). His Fabian strategy
Fabian strategy
The Fabian strategy is a military strategy where pitched battles and frontal assaults are avoided in favor of wearing down an opponent through a war of attrition and indirection. While avoiding decisive battles, the side employing this strategy harasses its enemy through skirmishes to cause...

 advocated tactics of harassment and attrition
Attrition warfare
Attrition warfare is a military strategy in which a belligerent side attempts to win a war by wearing down its enemy to the point of collapse through continuous losses in personnel and matériel....

 rather than head-on battles against the Carthaginian
Carthage
Carthage , implying it was a 'new Tyre') is a major urban centre that has existed for nearly 3,000 years on the Gulf of Tunis, developing from a Phoenician colony of the 1st millennium BC...

 army under the renowned general Hannibal.

An explanatory note appearing on the title page of the group's first pamphlet declared:

"For the right moment you must wait, as Fabius did most patiently, when warring against Hannibal, though many censured his delays; but when the time comes you must strike hard, as Fabius did, or your waiting will be in vain, and fruitless."


Immediately upon its inception, the Fabian Society began attracting many prominent contemporary figures drawn to its socialist cause, including George Bernard Shaw
George Bernard Shaw
George Bernard Shaw was an Irish playwright and a co-founder of the London School of Economics. Although his first profitable writing was music and literary criticism, in which capacity he wrote many highly articulate pieces of journalism, his main talent was for drama, and he wrote more than 60...

, H. G. Wells
H. G. Wells
Herbert George Wells was an English author, now best known for his work in the science fiction genre. He was also a prolific writer in many other genres, including contemporary novels, history, politics and social commentary, even writing text books and rules for war games...

, Annie Besant
Annie Besant
Annie Besant was a prominent British Theosophist, women's rights activist, writer and orator and supporter of Irish and Indian self rule.She was married at 19 to Frank Besant but separated from him over religious differences. She then became a prominent speaker for the National Secular Society ...

, Graham Wallas
Graham Wallas
Graham Wallas was an English socialist, social psychologist, educationalist, a leader of the Fabian Society and a co-founder of the London School of Economics....

, Hubert Bland
Hubert Bland
Hubert Bland was an early English socialist and one of the founders of the Fabian Society.Born in Woolwich, south-east London, Bland wanted to join the army but instead became a bank clerk. In 1877, he met 19-year-old Edith Nesbit, a follower of William Morris. They married on 22 April 1880 with...

, Edith Nesbit
E. Nesbit
Edith Nesbit was an English author and poet whose children's works were published under the name of E. Nesbit. She wrote or collaborated on over 60 books of fiction for children, several of which have been adapted for film and television...

, Sydney Olivier
Sydney Olivier, 1st Baron Olivier
Sydney Haldane Olivier, 1st Baron Olivier, KCMG, CB, PC , was a British civil servant. A Fabian and a member of the Labour Party, he served as Governor of Jamaica and as Secretary of State for India in the first government of Ramsay MacDonald...

, Oliver Lodge, Leonard Woolf
Leonard Woolf
Leonard Sidney Woolf was an English political theorist, author, publisher and civil servant, and husband of author Virginia Woolf.-Early life:...

 and Virginia Woolf
Virginia Woolf
Adeline Virginia Woolf was an English author, essayist, publisher, and writer of short stories, regarded as one of the foremost modernist literary figures of the twentieth century....

, Ramsay MacDonald
Ramsay MacDonald
James Ramsay MacDonald, PC, FRS was a British politician who was the first ever Labour Prime Minister, leading a minority government for two terms....

 and Emmeline Pankhurst
Emmeline Pankhurst
Emmeline Pankhurst was a British political activist and leader of the British suffragette movement which helped women win the right to vote...

. Even Bertrand Russell
Bertrand Russell
Bertrand Arthur William Russell, 3rd Earl Russell, OM, FRS was a British philosopher, logician, mathematician, historian, and social critic. At various points in his life he considered himself a liberal, a socialist, and a pacifist, but he also admitted that he had never been any of these things...

 briefly became a member, but resigned after he expressed his belief that the Society's principle of entente (in this case, countries allying themselves against Germany) could lead to war.

At the core of the Fabian Society were Sidney and Beatrice Webb
Beatrice Webb
Martha Beatrice Webb, Lady Passfield was an English sociologist, economist, socialist and social reformer. Although her husband became Baron Passfield in 1929, she refused to be known as Lady Passfield...

. Together, they wrote numerous studies of industrial Britain, including alternative co-operative economics
Co-operative economics
Co-operative economics is a field of economics, socialist economics, co-operative studies, and political economy, which is concerned with co-operatives.-History:...

 that applied to ownership of capital
Capital (economics)
In economics, capital, capital goods, or real capital refers to already-produced durable goods used in production of goods or services. The capital goods are not significantly consumed, though they may depreciate in the production process...

 as well as land.

The first Fabian Society pamphlets advocating tenets of social justice
Social justice
Social justice generally refers to the idea of creating a society or institution that is based on the principles of equality and solidarity, that understands and values human rights, and that recognizes the dignity of every human being. The term and modern concept of "social justice" was coined by...

 coincided with the zeitgeist
Zeitgeist
Zeitgeist is "the spirit of the times" or "the spirit of the age."Zeitgeist is the general cultural, intellectual, ethical, spiritual or political climate within a nation or even specific groups, along with the general ambiance, morals, sociocultural direction, and mood associated with an era.The...

 of Liberal reforms
Liberal reforms
The Liberal welfare reforms were acts of social legislation passed by the British Liberal Party after the 1906 General Election. It has been argued that this legislation shows the emergence of the modern welfare state in the UK. They shifted their outlook from a laissez-faire system to a more...

 during the early 1900s. The Fabian proposals however were considerably more progressive than those that were enacted in the Liberal reform legislation. The Fabians lobbied for the introduction of a minimum wage
Minimum wage
A minimum wage is the lowest hourly, daily or monthly remuneration that employers may legally pay to workers. Equivalently, it is the lowest wage at which workers may sell their labour. Although minimum wage laws are in effect in a great many jurisdictions, there are differences of opinion about...

 in 1906, for the creation of a universal health care
Universal health care
Universal health care is a term referring to organized health care systems built around the principle of universal coverage for all members of society, combining mechanisms for health financing and service provision.-History:...

 system in 1911 and for the abolition of hereditary peerages in 1917.

Early Fabian views

Fabian socialists were in favour of reforming Britain's imperialist
British Empire
The British Empire comprised the dominions, colonies, protectorates, mandates and other territories ruled or administered by the United Kingdom. It originated with the overseas colonies and trading posts established by England in the late 16th and early 17th centuries. At its height, it was the...

 foreign policy as a conduit for internationalist reform
Liberal internationalism
Liberal internationalism is a foreign policy doctrine that argues that liberal states should intervene in other sovereign states in order to pursue liberal objectives. Such intervention can include both military invasion and humanitarian aid. This view is contrasted to isolationist, realist, or...

 and a welfare state modelled on the Bismarckian German model; they criticised Gladstonian liberalism
Gladstonian Liberalism
Gladstonian Liberalism is a political doctrine named after the British Victorian Prime Minister and leader of the Liberal Party, William Ewart Gladstone. Gladstonian Liberalism consisted of limited government expenditure and low taxation whilst making sure government had balanced budgets...

 both for its individualism at home and its internationalism abroad. They favoured a national minimum wage
Minimum wage
A minimum wage is the lowest hourly, daily or monthly remuneration that employers may legally pay to workers. Equivalently, it is the lowest wage at which workers may sell their labour. Although minimum wage laws are in effect in a great many jurisdictions, there are differences of opinion about...

 in order to stop British industries compensating for their inefficiency by lowering wages instead of investing in capital equipment; slum clearances and a health service in order for "the breeding of even a moderately Imperial race" which would be more productive and better militarily than the "stunted, anaemic, demoralised denizens...of our great cities"; and a national education system because "it is in the classrooms...that the future battles of the Empire for commercial prosperity are already being lost".

In 1900 the Society produced Fabianism and the Empire, the first statement of its views on foreign affairs, drafted by Bernard Shaw and incorporating the suggestions of 150 Fabian members. It was directed against the liberal individualism of those such as John Morley
John Morley, 1st Viscount Morley of Blackburn
John Morley, 1st Viscount Morley of Blackburn OM, PC was a British Liberal statesman, writer and newspaper editor. Initially a journalist, he was elected a Member of Parliament in 1883...

 and Sir William Harcourt
William Vernon Harcourt (politician)
Sir William George Granville Venables Vernon Harcourt was a British lawyer, journalist and Liberal statesman. He served as Member of Parliament for various constituencies and held the offices of Home Secretary and Chancellor of the Exchequer under William Ewart Gladstone before becoming Leader of...

. It claimed that the classical liberal political economy was outdated, and that imperialism was the new stage of the international polity. The question was whether Britain would be the centre of a world empire or whether it would lose its colonies and end up as just two islands in the North Atlantic. It expressed support for Britain in the Boer War
Second Boer War
The Second Boer War was fought from 11 October 1899 until 31 May 1902 between the British Empire and the Afrikaans-speaking Dutch settlers of two independent Boer republics, the South African Republic and the Orange Free State...

 because small nations, such as the Boers, were anachronisms in the age of empires. In order to hold onto the Empire, the British needed to fully exploit the trade opportunities secured by war; maintain the British armed forces in a high state of readiness to defend the Empire; the creation of a citizen army to replace the professional army; the Factory Acts
Factory Acts
The Factory Acts were a series of Acts passed by the Parliament of the United Kingdom to limit the number of hours worked by women and children first in the textile industry, then later in all industries....

 would be amended to extend to 21 the age for half-time employment, so that the thirty hours gained would be used in "a combination of physical exercises, technical education, education in civil citizenship...and field training in the use of modern weapons".

The Fabians also favoured the nationalisation of land, believing that rents collected by landowners were unearned, an idea which drew heavily from the work of American economist Henry George
Henry George
Henry George was an American writer, politician and political economist, who was the most influential proponent of the land value tax, also known as the "single tax" on land...

.

Many Fabians participated in the formation of the Labour Party
Labour Party (UK)
The Labour Party is a centre-left democratic socialist party in the United Kingdom. It surpassed the Liberal Party in general elections during the early 1920s, forming minority governments under Ramsay MacDonald in 1924 and 1929-1931. The party was in a wartime coalition from 1940 to 1945, after...

 in 1900 and the group's constitution
Constitution
A constitution is a set of fundamental principles or established precedents according to which a state or other organization is governed. These rules together make up, i.e. constitute, what the entity is...

, written by Sidney Webb, borrowed heavily from the founding documents of the Fabian Society. At the Labour Party Foundation Conference in 1900, the Fabian Society claimed 861 members and sent one delegate.

Second generation

In the period between the two World Wars, the "Second Generation" Fabians, including the writers R. H. Tawney
R. H. Tawney
Richard Henry Tawney was an English economic historian, social critic, Christian socialist, and an important proponent of adult education....

, G. D. H. Cole
G. D. H. Cole
George Douglas Howard Cole was an English political theorist, economist, writer and historian. As a libertarian socialist he was a long-time member of the Fabian Society and an advocate for the cooperative movement...

 and Harold Laski
Harold Laski
Harold Joseph Laski was a British Marxist, political theorist, economist, author, and lecturer, who served as the chairman of the Labour Party during 1945-1946, and was a professor at the LSE from 1926 to 1950....

, continued to be a major influence on social-democratic thought.

It was at this time that many of the future leaders of the Third World were exposed to Fabian thought, most notably India's Jawaharlal Nehru
Jawaharlal Nehru
Jawaharlal Nehru , often referred to with the epithet of Panditji, was an Indian statesman who became the first Prime Minister of independent India and became noted for his “neutralist” policies in foreign affairs. He was also one of the principal leaders of India’s independence movement in the...

, who subsequently framed economic policy for India on Fabian social-democratic lines. Obafemi Awolowo
Obafemi Awolowo
Jeremiah Obafemi Awolowo was a Nigerian politician, trade unionist, author and statesman. A Yoruba and native of Ikenne in Ogun State of Nigeria, he started his career as a regional political leader like most of his pre-independence contemporaries and was responsible for much of the progressive...

, who later became the premier of Nigeria's defunct Western Region was also a Fabian member in the late 1940s. It was the Fabian ideology that Awolowo used to run the Western Region but was prevented from using it on a national level in Nigeria. It is a little-known fact that the founder of Pakistan
Pakistan
Pakistan , officially the Islamic Republic of Pakistan is a sovereign state in South Asia. It has a coastline along the Arabian Sea and the Gulf of Oman in the south and is bordered by Afghanistan and Iran in the west, India in the east and China in the far northeast. In the north, Tajikistan...

, Barrister Muhammad Ali Jinnah, was an avid member of the Fabian Society in the early 1930s. Lee Kuan Yew
Lee Kuan Yew
Lee Kuan Yew, GCMG, CH is a Singaporean statesman. He was the first Prime Minister of the Republic of Singapore, governing for three decades...

, the first Prime Minister
Prime Minister of Singapore
The Prime Minister of the Republic of Singapore is the head of the government of the Republic of Singapore. The President of Singapore appoints as Prime Minister a Member of Parliament who, in his opinion, is most likely to command the confidence of a majority of MPs.The office of Prime Minister...

 of Singapore
Singapore
Singapore , officially the Republic of Singapore, is a Southeast Asian city-state off the southern tip of the Malay Peninsula, north of the equator. An island country made up of 63 islands, it is separated from Malaysia by the Straits of Johor to its north and from Indonesia's Riau Islands by the...

, stated in his memoirs that his initial political philosophy was strongly influenced by the Fabian Society. However, he later altered his views, believing the Fabian ideal of socialism to be impractical.

Among many current and former Fabian academics are the late political scientist Bernard Crick
Bernard Crick
Sir Bernard Rowland Crick was a British political theorist and democratic socialist whose views were often summarised as "politics is ethics done in public"...

, the late economists Thomas Balogh
Thomas Balogh
Thomas Balogh, Baron Balogh was a Hungarian economist and member of the British House of Lords....

 and Nicholas Kaldor
Nicholas Kaldor
Nicholas Kaldor, Baron Kaldor was one of the foremost Cambridge economists in the post-war period...

 and the sociologist Peter Townsend.

Contemporary Fabianism

Through the course of the 20th century the group has always been influential in Labour Party circles, with members including Ramsay MacDonald
Ramsay MacDonald
James Ramsay MacDonald, PC, FRS was a British politician who was the first ever Labour Prime Minister, leading a minority government for two terms....

, Clement Attlee
Clement Attlee
Clement Richard Attlee, 1st Earl Attlee, KG, OM, CH, PC, FRS was a British Labour politician who served as the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from 1945 to 1951, and as the Leader of the Labour Party from 1935 to 1955...

, Anthony Crosland
Anthony Crosland
Charles Anthony Raven Crosland , otherwise Tony Crosland or C.A.R. Crosland, was a British Labour Party politician and author. He served as Member of Parliament for South Gloucestershire and later for Great Grimsby...

, Richard Crossman
Richard Crossman
Richard Howard Stafford Crossman OBE was a British author and Labour Party politician who was a Cabinet Minister under Harold Wilson, and was the editor of the New Statesman. A prominent socialist intellectual, he became one of the Labour Party's leading Zionists and anti-communists...

, Tony Benn
Tony Benn
Anthony Neil Wedgwood "Tony" Benn, PC is a British Labour Party politician and a former MP and Cabinet Minister.His successful campaign to renounce his hereditary peerage was instrumental in the creation of the Peerage Act 1963...

, Harold Wilson
Harold Wilson
James Harold Wilson, Baron Wilson of Rievaulx, KG, OBE, FRS, FSS, PC was a British Labour Member of Parliament, Leader of the Labour Party. He was twice Prime Minister of the United Kingdom during the 1960s and 1970s, winning four general elections, including a minority government after the...

 and more recently Tony Blair
Tony Blair
Anthony Charles Lynton Blair is a former British Labour Party politician who served as the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from 2 May 1997 to 27 June 2007. He was the Member of Parliament for Sedgefield from 1983 to 2007 and Leader of the Labour Party from 1994 to 2007...

 and Gordon Brown
Gordon Brown
James Gordon Brown is a British Labour Party politician who was the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom and Leader of the Labour Party from 2007 until 2010. He previously served as Chancellor of the Exchequer in the Labour Government from 1997 to 2007...

. The late Ben Pimlott
Ben Pimlott
Benjamin John Pimlott, known as Ben Pimlott , was a British historian of the post-war period in Britain...

 served as its Chairman in the 1990s. (A Pimlott Prize for Political Writing was organised in his memory by the Fabian Society and The Guardian
The Guardian
The Guardian, formerly known as The Manchester Guardian , is a British national daily newspaper in the Berliner format...

in 2005 and continues annually). The Society is affiliated to the Party as a socialist society. In recent years the Young Fabian group
Young Fabians
The Young Fabians is the under 31 years of age section of the Fabian Society, a socialist society in the United Kingdom.- History :The Fabian Society was founded by a group of young idealists in the late 19th century . For example HG Wells was 27 when he joined the Committee as was George Bernard...

, founded in 1960, has become an important networking and discussion organisation for younger (under 31) Labour Party
Labour Party (UK)
The Labour Party is a centre-left democratic socialist party in the United Kingdom. It surpassed the Liberal Party in general elections during the early 1920s, forming minority governments under Ramsay MacDonald in 1924 and 1929-1931. The party was in a wartime coalition from 1940 to 1945, after...

 activists and played a role in the 1994 election of Tony Blair
Tony Blair
Anthony Charles Lynton Blair is a former British Labour Party politician who served as the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from 2 May 1997 to 27 June 2007. He was the Member of Parliament for Sedgefield from 1983 to 2007 and Leader of the Labour Party from 1994 to 2007...

 as Labour Leader. Following a period of inactivity, the Scottish Young Fabians were reformed in 2005.

The society's 2004 annual report showed that there were 5,810 individual members (down 70 from the previous year), of whom 1,010 were Young Fabians
Young Fabians
The Young Fabians is the under 31 years of age section of the Fabian Society, a socialist society in the United Kingdom.- History :The Fabian Society was founded by a group of young idealists in the late 19th century . For example HG Wells was 27 when he joined the Committee as was George Bernard...

 and 294 institutional subscribers, of which 31 were Constituency Labour Parties, co-operative societies, or trade union
Trade union
A trade union, trades union or labor union is an organization of workers that have banded together to achieve common goals such as better working conditions. The trade union, through its leadership, bargains with the employer on behalf of union members and negotiates labour contracts with...

s, 190 were libraries
Library
In a traditional sense, a library is a large collection of books, and can refer to the place in which the collection is housed. Today, the term can refer to any collection, including digital sources, resources, and services...

, 58 corporate and 15 other—making 6,104 members in total. The society's net assets were £86,057, its total income £486,456 and its total expenditure £475,425. There was an overall surplus
Economic surplus
In mainstream economics, economic surplus refers to two related quantities. Consumer surplus or consumers' surplus is the monetary gain obtained by consumers because they are able to purchase a product for a price that is less than the highest price that they would be willing to pay...

 for the year of £1,031.

On 21 April 2009 the Society's website stated that it had 6,286 members: "Fabian national membership now stands at a 35 year high: it is over 20% higher than when the Labour Party came to office in May 1997. It is now double what it was when Clement Attlee left office in 1951."

The latest edition of the Dictionary of National Biography
Dictionary of National Biography
The Dictionary of National Biography is a standard work of reference on notable figures from British history, published from 1885...

 (a reference work listing details of famous or significant Britons
British people
The British are citizens of the United Kingdom, of the Isle of Man, any of the Channel Islands, or of any of the British overseas territories, and their descendants...

 throughout history) includes 174 Fabians. Four Fabians, Beatrice
Beatrice Webb
Martha Beatrice Webb, Lady Passfield was an English sociologist, economist, socialist and social reformer. Although her husband became Baron Passfield in 1929, she refused to be known as Lady Passfield...

 and Sidney Webb, Graham Wallas
Graham Wallas
Graham Wallas was an English socialist, social psychologist, educationalist, a leader of the Fabian Society and a co-founder of the London School of Economics....

 and George Bernard Shaw
George Bernard Shaw
George Bernard Shaw was an Irish playwright and a co-founder of the London School of Economics. Although his first profitable writing was music and literary criticism, in which capacity he wrote many highly articulate pieces of journalism, his main talent was for drama, and he wrote more than 60...

 founded the London School of Economics
London School of Economics
The London School of Economics and Political Science is a public research university specialised in the social sciences located in London, United Kingdom, and a constituent college of the federal University of London...

 with the money left to the Fabian Society by Henry Hutchinson. Supposedly the decision was made at a breakfast party on 4 August 1894. The founders are depicted in the Fabian Window
Fabian Window
The founders of the Fabian Society are depicted in the famous stained-glass Fabian Windowdesigned by George Bernard Shaw. The window was stolen in 1978 and reappeared at Sotheby's in 2005...


designed by George Bernard Shaw
George Bernard Shaw
George Bernard Shaw was an Irish playwright and a co-founder of the London School of Economics. Although his first profitable writing was music and literary criticism, in which capacity he wrote many highly articulate pieces of journalism, his main talent was for drama, and he wrote more than 60...

. The window was stolen in 1978 and reappeared at Sotheby's in 2005. It was restored to display in the Shaw Library at the London School of Economics
London School of Economics
The London School of Economics and Political Science is a public research university specialised in the social sciences located in London, United Kingdom, and a constituent college of the federal University of London...

 in 2006 at a ceremony over which Tony Blair
Tony Blair
Anthony Charles Lynton Blair is a former British Labour Party politician who served as the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from 2 May 1997 to 27 June 2007. He was the Member of Parliament for Sedgefield from 1983 to 2007 and Leader of the Labour Party from 1994 to 2007...

 presided.

Young Fabians

Members aged under 31 years of age are also members of the Young Fabians
Young Fabians
The Young Fabians is the under 31 years of age section of the Fabian Society, a socialist society in the United Kingdom.- History :The Fabian Society was founded by a group of young idealists in the late 19th century . For example HG Wells was 27 when he joined the Committee as was George Bernard...

. This group has its own elected Chair and executive and organizes conferences and events. It also publishes the quarterly magazine Anticipations. The Scottish Young Fabians, a Scottish branch of the group, reformed in 2005.

Influence on Labour government

With the advent of a Labour Party government in 1997, the Fabian Society has been a forum for New Labour ideas and for critical approaches from across the party. The most significant Fabian contribution to Labour's policy agenda in government was Ed Balls
Ed Balls
Edward Michael Balls, known as Ed Balls, is a British Labour politician, who has been a Member of Parliament since 2005, currently for Morley and Outwood, and is the current Shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer....

' 1992 pamphlet, advocating Bank of England independence
Monetary Policy Committee
The Monetary Policy Committee is a committee of the Bank of England, which meets for two and a half days every month to decide the official interest rate in the United Kingdom . It is also responsible for directing other aspects of the government's monetary policy framework, such as quantitative...

. Balls had been a Financial Times
Financial Times
The Financial Times is an international business newspaper. It is a morning daily newspaper published in London and printed in 24 cities around the world. Its primary rival is the Wall Street Journal, published in New York City....

journalist when he wrote this Fabian pamphlet, before going to work for Gordon Brown. BBC Business Editor Robert Peston
Robert Peston
Robert Peston is a British journalist. Since February 2006, he has been the Business Editor for BBC News. He became known to a wider public with his reporting of the late-2000s financial crisis, especially with his scoop on the Northern Rock crisis.-Early life and education:Peston is the son of...

, in his book Brown's Britain, calls this an "essential tract" and concludes that Balls "deserves as much credit – probably more – than anyone else for the creation of the modern Bank of England"; William Keegan offers a similar analysis of Balls' Fabian pamphlet in his book on Labour's economic policy, which traces in detail the path leading up to this dramatic policy change after Labour's first week in office.

The Fabian Society Tax Commission of 2000 was widely credited with influencing the Labour government's policy and political strategy for its one significant public tax increase: the National Insurance
National Insurance
National Insurance in the United Kingdom was initially a contributory system of insurance against illness and unemployment, and later also provided retirement pensions and other benefits...

 rise to raise £8 billion for National Health Service
National Health Service
The National Health Service is the shared name of three of the four publicly funded healthcare systems in the United Kingdom. They provide a comprehensive range of health services, the vast majority of which are free at the point of use to residents of the United Kingdom...

 spending. (The Fabian Commission had in fact called for a directly hypothecated
Hypothecation (taxation)
The hypothecation of a tax is the dedication of the revenue from a specific tax for a particular expenditure purpose. Hypothecation is the pledging of assets....

 "NHS tax" to cover the full cost of NHS spending, arguing that linking taxation more directly to spending was essential to make tax rise publicly acceptable. The 2001 National Insurance rise was not formally hypothecated, but the government committed itself to using the additional funds for health spending.) Several other recommendations, including a new top rate of income tax, were to the left of government policy and not accepted, though this comprehensive review of UK taxation was influential in economic policy and political circles.

Further reading

  • David Howell, British Workers and the Independent Labour Party, 1888-1906. Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1983.
  • A.M. McBriar, Fabian Socialism and English Politics, 1884-1918. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1962.
  • Edward R. Pease, A History of the Fabian Society. New York: E.P. Dutton & Co., 1916.
  • Lisanne Radice, Beatrice and Sidney Webb: Fabian Socialists. London: Macmillan, 1984.
  • George Bernard Shaw (ed.), Fabian Essays in Socialism. London: Fabian Society, 1931.
  • George Bernard Shaw, The Fabian Society: Its Early History. [1892] London: Fabian Society, 1906.
  • Willard Wolfe, From Radicalism to Socialism: Men and Ideas in the Formation of Fabian Socialist Doctrines, 1881-1889. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1975.

External links


See also

  • Fabian strategy
    Fabian strategy
    The Fabian strategy is a military strategy where pitched battles and frontal assaults are avoided in favor of wearing down an opponent through a war of attrition and indirection. While avoiding decisive battles, the side employing this strategy harasses its enemy through skirmishes to cause...

  • Gradualism
    Gradualism
    Gradualism is the belief in or the policy of advancing toward a goal by gradual, often slow stages.-Politics and society:In politics, the concept of gradualism is used to describe the belief that change ought to be brought about in small, discrete increments rather than in abrupt strokes such as...

  • Keir Hardie
    Keir Hardie
    James Keir Hardie, Sr. , was a Scottish socialist and labour leader, and was the first Independent Labour Member of Parliament elected to the Parliament of the United Kingdom...

  • Labour Research Department
    Labour Research Department
    The Labour Research Department is an independent trade union based research organisation, based in London, that provides information to support trade union activity and campaigns. LRD's publications Labour Research, Bargaining Report, Fact Service and LRD Booklets, along with an Enquiry Service...

     
  • List of UK think tanks
  • Reformism
    Reformism
    Reformism is the belief that gradual democratic changes in a society can ultimately change a society's fundamental economic relations and political structures...

  • Young Fabians
    Young Fabians
    The Young Fabians is the under 31 years of age section of the Fabian Society, a socialist society in the United Kingdom.- History :The Fabian Society was founded by a group of young idealists in the late 19th century . For example HG Wells was 27 when he joined the Committee as was George Bernard...

  • Democratic socialism
    Democratic socialism
    Democratic socialism is a description used by various socialist movements and organizations to emphasize the democratic character of their political orientation...

  • Ethical movement
The source of this article is wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.  The text of this article is licensed under the GFDL.
 
x
OK