Fabian Society. The Society took its name from the Roman dictator Fabius, nicknamed ‘Cunctator’, or delayer. It was founded in January 1884 by a group of middle-class intellectuals to further ‘the reconstruction of Society in accordance with the highest moral principles’, but gradually. Its first pamphlet, or ‘Tract’, Why are the Many Poor?, made it plain that the highest principles were socialist ones. Shortly afterwards Sidney Webb and Bernard Shaw, its most famous members, joined. The latter penned some of its most brilliant tracts. The society's main importance thereafter was as an amazingly fecund womb of ideas for the infant and maturing Labour parties, not all of which were predictable. In 1900, for example, it came out in support of the British empire, on the grounds that it could be made into a gigantic welfare state, which seemed perverse to other socialists. When Labour came to power, however, the Fabians' willingness to engage with the realities around them was a definite boon. It survives: the most senior of all Britain's socialist organizations.
Fabian Society British society of non-Marxists founded in 1883, who believed that socialism could be attained through gradual political change. With George Bernard Shaw and Sidney and Beatrice Webb as leaders, the society gained widespread recognition and helped found the Labour Representation Committee in 1900, which became the Labour Party in 1906. The Fabian Society is affiliated to the Labour Party and publishes a journal and pamphlets.
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