August 22, 2005 2 Comments
Before the Russian Revolution, the Communist Party had two wings: Bolshevik and Menshevik. The Bolsheviks believed in the immediate establishment of socialism through violence. The Mensheviks (who also called themselves social democrats) argued for a gradual, non-revolutionary path to the same goal. Liberty and property were to be abolished by majority vote.
The Bolsheviks won, but after committing unimaginable crimes, they have pretty much disappeared. The Mensheviks, however, are taking over America.
Our local Menshevism has its roots not in Lenin’s Russia, but in the London of 1883, when a group of go-slow socialists founded the Fabian Society. Headed by the appropriately named Herbert Bland, its most famous members were playwright George Bernard Shaw, authors Sidney and Beatrice Webb, and artist William Morris.
The Fabians took their name from Quintus Fabius Maximus, the Roman general who defeated Hannibal in the Second Punic War by refusing to fight large set-piece battles (which the Romans had lost against Hannibal), but only engaging in small actions he knew he could win, no matter how long he had to wait.
Founded the year of Marx’s death to promote his ideas through gradualism, the Fabian Society sought to “honeycomb” society, as Fabian Margaret Cole put it, with disguised socialist measures. By glossing over its goals, the Fabian Society hoped to avoid galvanizing the enemies of socialism.
The Fabian stained glass window, now installed at Beatrice Webb House in Surrey, England, shows George Bernard Shaw and Sidney Webb reshaping the world on an anvil, with the Fabian coat of arms in the background: a wolf in sheep’s clothing.
That wolf is now at our door.
Lew Rockwell, “The New Fabians”
For more on the Fabians, listen to this half-hour talk by Robert LeFevre: