Fabian Freeway: High Road to Socialism in the U.S.A.
Both prophetic and illuminating, Fabian Freeway documents the rise and progress of socialism in Britain and the United States and tells the story of the many early triumphs of the philosophy of socialist incrementalism known as Fabian Socialism.
Part political history, part intellectual history, Rose Martin’s Fabian Freeway traces the influence of the British Fabian Society in promoting socialism in Britain, beginning in the 1880s. The group favored gradual progress toward socialism rather than violent revolution; and it proved to be a major force in promoting British collectivism. Its influence extended to America as well, where like-minded organizations and persons enhanced its effects. Martin emphasizes Fabian influences on Wilson and FDR, and continues the discussion through the 1960’s, when the book originally appeared.
When the British Fabian Society was first founded, its members, echoing Marx’s own views, believed that socialism could only be introduced to Britain and the United States through a strategy of very gradual change disguised as reform.
Some Fabians suspected that the United States might never adopt the tenets of true socialism.
Less than 150 years, later, however, the Fabian strategy has been enormously successful. Both Britain and the United States are heavily regulated and heavily taxed societies with highly socialized economies where government agents exercise vast control over the movement of capital and currency through an enormous bureaucratic apparatus.
In the original Foreword, Loyd Wright, writing in the midst of the Cold War, discusses Fabian Socialism as “Communism’s helpmate,” and he portrays the ideology as a sort of friendly-looking version of socialism that will nevertheless end up looking very much like Soviet-style communism.
Since the end of the Cold War, however, we find that Fabian Socialism is far more dangerous than revolutionary communism. Highly attractive to so-called “reasonable” and “moderate” people, and compatible with the ideologies of so many center-left and center-right political parties, Fabian Socialism, unlike soviet-style communism, has exhibited a staying-power already shown to be much stronger than anything revolutionary communism has yet produced.
Fabian Freeway provides a well-documented and rigorously compiled account of the first eighty years of Fabian Socialism. Anyone with an interest in the history of socialism and capitalism in the West should not be without a copy of this significant volume.
Western Islands, Boston, MA, 1966.