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Home -> Articles -> Groups and movements Home Contents Catalogue Bookshop Links Contact Us Fabianism An essay by G.D.H. Cole From the Encyclopaedia of the Social Sciences, ed. Edwin R. A. Seligman, 1932 Fabian Tracts Fabian Research Series Young Fabian Pamphlets FABIANISM is the doctrine of the Fabian Society, a small but influential group of British socialists. This society grew out of the Fellowship of the New Life, founded in 1883 under the influence of Professor Thomas Davidson, which looked to ethical reform and utopian community making, rather than to political action, for the regeneration of society. A group which included Frank Podmore and Edward R. Pease broke away from the Fellowship to found the Fabian Society in 1883. George Bernard Shaw joined in 1884, Sidney Webb in 1885. With the advent of these two Fabianism began to assume its distinctive character and the society became definitely socialist in 1887 with the adoption of its "basis," or statement of policy. The society first became famous with the publication of the Fabian Essays in 1889 by Shaw, Webb, Annie Besant, Graham Wallas and others. This volume was followed up by a series of over two hundred Fabian Tracts designed for popular consumption and the application of Fabian doctrines in a practical way to particular questions of immediate policy. The Fabian Society at first set out largely to present an alternative to the then dominant Marxist Social- Democratic Federation. Fabian socialism was and has remained essentially evolutionary and gradualist (hence its name, from the tactics of Fabius Cunctator), expecting socialism to come as the sequel to the full realization of universal suffrage and representative government. The essence of Fabian doctrine lay in Sidney Webb's theory of the continuity of development from capitalism to socialism. Whereas Marxism looked to the creation of socialism by revolution based on the increasing misery of the working class and the breakdown of capitalism Page 1 of 6 Fabianism - An essay by G.D.H. Cole 2/2/2006 http://www.wcml.org.uk/group/fabianism.htm
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through its inability to solve the problem of distribution, Webb argued that the economic position of the workers had improved in the nineteenth century, was still improving and might be expected to continue to improve. He regarded the social reforms of the nineteenth century (e.g. factory acts, mines acts, housing acts, education acts) as the beginnings of socialism within the framework of capitalist society. He saw legislation about wages, hours and conditions of labor, and progressive taxation of capitalist incomes as means for the more equitable distribution of wealth; and he envisaged the next steps toward socialism in terms of such social reforms as public ownership and administration of industries and services. There was no room in Webb's ideas either for a theory of increasing
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This note was uploaded on 07/17/2008 for the course ECON 508 taught by Professor Fleisher during the Winter '06 term at Ohio State.

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fabianism - Fabianism - An essay by G.D.H. Cole Page 1 of 6...

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