The Journal of Politics

Research Article

Fabian Socialism; Some Aspects of Theory and Practice

Gordon K. Lewisa1

a1 Universidad de Puerto Rico

No modern school of political thought and action has been so diverse in its membership or so catholic in its outlook as that of Fabian Socialism. For nearly seventy years it has helped to shape the philosophy of the British Labour Party; and the quasi-socialism of contemporary Britain stands as its legitimate achievement. There have been, of course, other influences: guild socialism during one war, the effort of the Commonwealth party to base socialism upon the Christian ethic during another, a Nonconformist radicalism from which types like Bevan and Shinwell still emerge and, not least of all, the sense of public service in the British aristocratic tradition which the Webbs were always ready to recognize with generosity. But the mind, if not the heart, of the movement has been Fabian. The Fabian qualities—the sense of compromise, the quiet reasonableness with its distrust of mere rhetoric, the intense conviction of the importance of social service as the standard of life, the sedulous excavation of facts as the necessary basis of policy-making—have become the seminal qualities of the Labour Party at its best.

Gordon K. Lewis' earlier article, “From Faith to Skepticism,” was published in Volume 13 of The Journal of Politics. He is now at the University of Puerto Rico.