Their website lists some famous members: George Bernard Shaw, HG Wells , Beatrice and Sidney Webb, Emmeline Pankhurst, E Nesbit, Bernard Crick, Rupert Brooke, Oscar Wilde, Peter Townsend, Ernest Bevin and all Labour prime ministers.
Peter Townsend? No, not the rock guitarist (although who knows?); the economist, author, and university professor at the London School of Economics.
Emmeline Pankhurst? She was an English political activist and leader of the British suffragette movement, which helped women win the right to vote. In 1999, Time named Pankhurst as one of the 100 Most Important People of the 20th Century.
Although she was widely criticized for her militant tactics, her work is recognized as a crucial element in achieving women's suffrage in Britain. However, historians disagree about the effect of her activity on public support for the cause.
Born as Emmeline Goulden and raised in Manchester, England by politically active parents, Pankhurst was introduced at the age of 8 to the women's suffrage movement. Although her parents encouraged her to prepare herself for life as a wife and mother, she attended the École Normale de Neuilly in Paris. In 1878, she married Richard Pankhurst, a barrister known for supporting women's right to vote; they had five children over the next ten years. He also supported her activities outside the home, and she quickly became involved with the Women's Franchise League, which advocated suffrage for women. When that organization broke apart, she attempted to join the left-leaning Independent Labour Party through her friendship with socialist Keir Hardie, but was initially refused membership by the local branch of the Party on account of her gender. She also worked as a Poor Law Guardian, where she was shocked by harsh conditions in Manchester workhouses.
After her husband died in 1898, Pankhurst founded the Women's Social and Political Union (WSPU), an all-women suffrage advocacy organization dedicated to “deeds, not words.” The group placed itself separately from – and often in opposition to – political parties. The group quickly became infamous when its members smashed windows and assaulted police officers. Pankhurst, her daughters, and other WSPU activists were sentenced to repeated prison sentences, where they staged hunger strikes to secure better conditions. As Pankhurst's oldest daughter Christabel took the helm of the WSPU, antagonism between the group and the government grew.
Eventually arson became a common tactic among WSPU members, and more moderate organizations spoke out against the Pankhurst family. In 1913 several prominent individuals left the WSPU, among them Pankhurst's daughters Adela and Sylvia. The family rift was never healed.
With the advent of the First World War, Emmeline and Christabel called an immediate halt to militant suffrage activism in order to support the British government against the “German Peril.” They urged women to aid industrial production, and encouraged young men to fight. In 1918, the Representation of the People Act granted votes to women past the age of 30. Pankhurst transformed the WSPU machinery into the Women's Party, which was dedicated to promoting women's equality in public life. In her later years she became concerned with what she perceived as the menace posed by Bolshevism, and – unhappy with the political alternatives – joined the Conservative Party. She died in 1928 and was commemorated two years later with a statue in Victoria Tower Gardens in London.
Martha Beatrice Webb (née Potter) was an English sociologist, economist, socialist and reformer, usually referred to in association with her husband, Sidney Webb. Although her husband became Baron Passfield in 1929, she refused to be known as Lady Passfield. She coined the term "collective bargaining."
Edith Nesbit (married name Edith Bland) was an English author and poet whose children's works were published under the name of E. Nesbit. She wrote or collaborated on over 60 books of fiction for children, several of which have been adapted for film and television. She was also a political activist and co-founded the Fabian Society, a precursor to the modern Labour Party.
Sir Bernard Rowland Crick was a British political theorist and democratic socialist whose views were often summarized as "politics is ethics done in public". He sought to arrive at a “politics of action,” as opposed to a “politics of thought” or ideology. He was the biographer of George Orwell and a professor at University College London, which is linked to the London School of Economics (and the fruit of the loom bomber).
Rupert Chawner Brooke was an English poet known for his idealistic war sonnets written during the First World War (especially The Soldier). He was also known for his boyish good looks, which prompted the Irish poet William Butler Yeats to describe him as “the handsomest young man in England.” Boy-toy of the Fabian Society, he led a Bohemian life, having relationships with both women and men. He was commissioned into the Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve shortly after his 27th birthday and took part in the Royal Naval Division's Antwerp expedition in October 1914. He sailed with the British Mediterranean Expeditionary Force on February 28, 1915 but developed sepsis from an infected mosquito bite. He died on April 23, 1915 in a French hospital ship moored in a bay off the island of Skyros in the Aegean on his way to battle at Gallipoli.
Ernest Bevin was a British Labour politician, best known for his time as Minister of Labour in the war-time coalition government, and as Foreign Secretary in the post-war Labour Government.
In 1922, Bevin was one of the founding leaders of the Transport and General Workers Union (TGWU), which soon became Britain's largest trade union. Upon his election as the union's general secretary, he became one of country's leading labour leaders, and their strongest advocate within the Labour Party. Politically, he was on the right-wing of the Labour Party, strongly opposed to communism and direct action - allegedly due to anti-Semitic paranoia, seeing communism as a “Jewish plot” against Britain. He took part in the British General Strike in 1926, but without enthusiasm.
Bevin had no great faith in parliamentary politics, but had nevertheless been a member of the Labour Party from the time of its formation. He had poor relations with the first Labour Prime Minister, Ramsay MacDonald, and was not surprised when MacDonald formed a National Government with the Conservatives during the economic crisis of 1931, for which MacDonald was expelled from the Labour Party.
Bevin was a pragmatic trade unionist who believed in getting material benefits for his members through direct negotiations, with strike action to be used as a last resort.
During the 1930s, with the Labour Party split and weakened, Bevin co-operated with the Conservative-dominated government on practical issues. But during this period he became increasingly involved in foreign policy. He was a firm opponent of fascism and of British appeasement of the fascist powers.
In 1935, arguing that Italy should be punished by sanctions for her recent invasion of Abyssinia, he made a blistering attack on the pacifists in the Labour Party, accusing the Labour leader George Lansbury at the Party Conference of “hawking his conscience around” asking to be told what to do with it. The Emergency Powers (Defense) Act gave Bevin complete control over the labour force and the allocation of manpower, and he was determined to use this unprecedented authority not just to help win the war but also to strengthen the bargaining position of trade unions in the postwar future.
Bevin once quipped: “They say Gladstone was at the Treasury from 1860 until 1930. I'm going to be at the Ministry of Labour from 1940 until 1990.” Given that the industrial settlement he introduced remained largely unaltered by successive post-war administrations until the reforms of Margaret Thatcher's government in the mid-1980s, this was a prescient remark.
Finally, there’s Stuart Chase. “For those who believe [in God], no proof is necessary. For those who don't believe, no proof is possible.” Stuart Chase was an American economist and engineer trained at MIT. It has been suggested that he was the originator of the expression a New Deal, which became identified with the economic programs of American president Franklin Delano Roosevelt. He had a cover story in The New Republic entitled "A New Deal for America", during the week that Roosevelt gave his 1932 presidential acceptance speech promising a new deal, but whether Roosevelt's speechwriter Samuel Rosenman saw the magazine is not clear. At the end of his book, he wrote, “Why should the Russians have all the fun remaking a world?"
Among the Fabian Society’s current projects are:
Fighting Poverty and Inequality in an Age of Affluence
The Fabian Society, in association with the Webb Memorial Trust, is conducting a major new research project to celebrate the centenary of a landmark contribution to social justice.
Understanding Attitudes to Tackling Economic Inequality
This project, supported by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, aims to investigate some of the underlying ‘drivers’ of public attitudes towards economic inequality and welfare policy, and explore the elements around which a public consensus for tackling economic inequality might be built.
The Equality Project
With the support of the Commission for Racial Equality, the Equal Opportunities Commission, the Disability Rights Commission and Stonewall, the Fabian Equality Project held a series of discussions on equality issues as well as holding a series of seminars around equality and discrimination and commissioning a nationwide poll on "fair" salary levels.
British Muslim Citizenship and Integration: The Role of Government
John Denham MP, then chair of the Home Affairs Committee, and Sadiq Khan MP, elected for Tooting in May 2005, who are both members of the Fabian Executive, led a Fabian project which sought to make a significant intervention into the debate about British Muslim citizenship and integration
The Fabian Society boasts of over 6,500 members and they have local chapters all over England. The American Liberals think nothing of the fact that this group recommends genocide and eugenics. Yet they were beside themselves at the notion of Pres. George H.W. Bush, as a member of the Skull and Bones Society at Yale, stealing Geronimo’s skull.
The Liberals are convinced that this secret Conservative society – a bunch of college kids – has infiltrated the U.S. government at all levels. They think the Tea Parties are funded by some hidden, wealthy benefactors – Conservative George Soroses. Yet their own treachery they regard as patriotic, no matter how they achieve it.
The ends justify the means.