Fabian Society

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Fabian Society

Fabian Society, British socialist society. An outgrowth of the Fellowship of the New Life (founded 1883 under the influence of Thomas Davidson), the society was developed the following year by Frank Podmore and Edward Pease. George Bernard Shaw and Sidney Webb (see under Webb, Beatrice Potter joined soon after this and became its outstanding exponents. The group achieved recognition with the publication of Fabian Essays (1889), with contributions by Shaw, Webb, Annie Besant, and Graham Wallas. The Fabians were opposed to the revolutionary theory of Marxism, holding that social reforms and socialistic “permeation” of existing political institutions would bring about the natural development of socialism. Repudiating the necessity of violent class struggle, they took little notice of trade unionism and other labor movements until Beatrice Potter (who later married Sidney Webb) joined the group. They subsequently helped create (1900) the unified Labour Representation Committee, which evolved into the Labour party. The Labour party adopted their main tenets, and the Fabian Society remains as an affiliated research and publicity agency.


See studies by A. Fremantle (1960), P. Pugh (1984), and F. Lee (1988).

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Fabian Society

a society founded in Britain in 1884 to advance democratic SOCIALISM while pursuing a policy of gradualism’ rather than REVOLUTION. The name derives from a Roman general, Fabius Cunctator, who gained victories by avoiding pitched battles. Well-known Fabians include Sydney and Beatrice WEBB, and the dramatist George Bernard Shaw. The society still survives, and as an approach to social research and social policy and SOCIAL REFORM, Fabianism remains an important orientation in British left-wing politics.
Collins Dictionary of Sociology, 3rd ed. © HarperCollins Publishers 2000
The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Fabian Society


a reformist organization in Great Britain, founded in 1884. The society’s members were drawn primarily from the bourgeois intelligentsia, such as G. B. Shaw, S. Webb, B. Webb, and H. G. Wells. The society’s organizers took their name from Fabius Maximus Cunctator (“the Delayer”), who was known for his cautious, delaying tactics in fighting Hannibal.

Although they considered socialism the inevitable result of economic development, the Fabians regarded that development as evolutionary and rejected revolutionary change. They opposed the class struggle of the proletariat and the creation of an independent proletarian political party. V. I. Lenin characterized Fabianism as “the trend of extreme opportunism” (Poln. sobr. soch., 5th ed., vol. 16, p. 338).

The widespread demand among the British working class for an independent workers’ policy resulted in the Fabians’ endorsing the creation of the Independent Labour Party in 1893. The Fabians supported the Labour Party (created in 1900, but known as the Labour Representation Committee until 1906) and were affiliated with it, but retained their own organization. To the present day the Fabian Society has formed the ideological center of the Labour Party, elaborating the programmatic and tactical principles of Labourism. Many prominent leaders of the Labour Party have come from the Fabian Society.


Vinogradov, V. N. Uistokov leiboristskoi partii. Moscow, 1965.
Kertfnan, L. E. Rabochee dvizhenie v Anglii i bor’ba dvukh tendentsii v Leiboristskoi partii (1900–1914). Perm’, 1957.
Cole, M. The Story of Fabian Socialism. London, 1961.
Pease, E. R. The History of the Fabian Society, 2nd ed. London, 1925.
The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
References in periodicals archive ?
As well as continuing to support the rights of women she associated with a circle of "free-thinking" artistic and literary friends, and played an active role within the Fabian Society. Her cousin, Charlotte had married George Bernard Shaw in 1898, and the famed author was an admirer of Caroline's work.
Yet Fabian Society calculations show how a government in 2015 can return the public finances to a sustainable position without neglecting the economic and social investment which will lay the foundation of national success in the future.
Ed Balls speaking at the Fabian Society conference yesterday
Katwala said: "The Fabian Society is pleased to be associated with this new award, which seeks to celebrate the best reporting and analysis of employment issues at local and national level as well as encourage more and better public discussion of issues that are crucial, not just to our economy but to opportunity, life chances and the health of our society."
Wells did become disenchanted with Soviet-style Marxism, and it is true that he left the Fabian society (in 1906, not 1908, as Keller inaccurately states) after a falling-out with Shaw and the Webbs.
How tolerant the Fabian Society was to publish such heresies!
to defend its commitment to democracy against calls for social revolution, the Fabian Society, which was formed in 1884, forced it to do so against too ready an acquiescence in the existing parliamentary system.
She was one of the founders of the association known as the Fellowship of New Life, out of which grew the Fabian Society.
He was active in the Labour Party, the Fabian Society, the Left Book Club and lectured regularly in America, where he picked up a new generation of friends, especially Max Lerner and Edward R.
(For a long time I thought the ITT-Progressive game was a unique institution on the Left, but I've learned that Britain's Fabian Society plays an annual cricket match against the leftist New Statesman & Society.
The Fabian Society was a political society founded in 1884.
The Fabian Society in England attempted to popularize the socialist cause.