(Editor’s Note: Please take the time to check out Part 2 of Beck’s history lesson on the Fabian Society as I have added a global socialism timeline from excellent research.)
This particular episode is an excellent history lesson on the Fabian Society’s beginnings in 1884 in England, eugenist George Bernard Shaw, H.G Wells, Margaret Sanger, how the Society influenced the formation of the English Labour Party in 1900, and what the Society has been able to accomplish.
Boston Fabian Society member, Stuart Chase wrote ‘The Road We Are Traveling’ (1932) in which he details events that were occurring at the time that would replace the free enterprise system.
- A strong centralized government.
- A growing executive arm.
- Control of credit, banking, and security exchanges by the government.
- Underwriting of employment by the government either through armaments or through public works.
- Underwriting of Social Security by the government; old-age pension, unemployment .
- Underwriting of food, housing, and medical care.
- Use of deficit spending.
- Abandonment of gold.
- Government control of foreign trade.
- Control of natural resources.
- Control of energy sources.
- Control of transportation.
- Control of agricultural production.
- Enlistment of the youth corp.
- Heavy taxation.
- State control of communications.
Stuart Chase also wrote “A New Deal” and was part of FDR’s ‘kitchen cabinet’.
In 1937, the president told Chase’s father that his son was teaching the American people more about economics than any of the others combined. – Beck on Chase
The Fabian Society is a British socialist movement, whose purpose is to advance the principles of socialism via gradualist and reformist, rather than revolutionary, means. It is best known for its initial ground-breaking work beginning late in the 19th century and continuing up to World War I. The society laid many of the foundations of the Labour Party and subsequently affected the policies of states emerging from the decolonisation of the British Empire, especially India.
Today, the society is a vanguard think tank of the New Labour movement. It is one of 15 socialist societies affiliated to the Labour Party. Similar societies exist in Australia (the Australian Fabian Society), Canada (the Douglas-Coldwell Foundation and in the past the League for Social Reconstruction) and New Zealand.
Immediately upon its inception, the Fabian Society began attracting many prominent contemporary figures drawn to its socialist cause, including George Bernard Shaw, H. G. Wells, Annie Besant, Graham Wallas, Hubert Bland, Edith Nesbit, Sydney Olivier, Oliver Lodge, Leonard Woolf and Virginia Woolf, Ramsay MacDonald and Emmeline Pankhurst. Even Bertrand Russell 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. Together, they wrote numerous studies of industrial Britain, including alternative co-operative economics that applied to ownership of capital as well as land.
The first Fabian Society pamphlets advocating tenets of social justice coincided with the zeitgeist of Liberal reforms 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 in 1906, for the creation of a universal health care system in 1911 and for the abolition of hereditary peerages in 1917.
Fabian socialists were in favour of an imperialist foreign policy as a conduit for internationalist reform and a welfare state modelled on the Bismarckian German model; they criticised Gladstonian liberalism both for its individualism at home and its internationalism abroad. They favoured a national minimum wage 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 class-rooms that the future battles of the Empire for commercial prosperity are already being lost”.
The Fabians also favored 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.
Many Fabians participated in the formation of the Labour Party in 1900 and the group’s constitution, 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.