The Fabians here in London are a band of ambitious folk who have sufficient understanding to comprehend the inevitableness of the social revolution but who cannot trust this gigantic work to the rough proletarian alone, and therefore have the kindness to place themselves at the head of it. Dread of the revolution is their fundamental principle. They are the cultured par excellence. Their socialism is municipal socialism - the commune, not the nation, shall at least be the possessor of the means of production. This Socialism of theirs is then presented as an extreme but inevitable consequence of middle-class Liberalism, and hence their tactics are to fight the Liberals not as decided opponents but to drive them on to socialistic consequences; therefore to trick them, to permeate Liberalism with Socialism and not to oppose Socialist candidates to Liberal ones, but to palm them off to thrust them on under some pretext.
Normally, I have little faith in the commentary of communists, but it needs to be remembered that communists and Fabians had a clash; one believes ardently in the glorious revolution, and the others believe in the glorious evolution. So this is not commentary that was made out of a sheer need to propagandize something for which it is not.
And let's examine the timeline here. Fabian Socialism was imported to the States in 1895. It's right around this time period that the "Reform Movement" which preceded progressivism started to change. Prior to the progressive movement, reformers are hard to pin down. They are not full fledged statists, down the line point by point authoritarians.(some are, but very few) One of the closest to a full fledged statist is Theodore Roosevelt. The first true hardcore, high profile statist, is Woodrow Wilson. The reformers at all levels(national, state, local) went from a disparate movement of people with all kinds of beliefs, ranging from many conservatives might agree with to full fledged statists within about 20 years. How?
Engels' words certainly fit, but ultimately all of this is a bit of conjecture on my part.
And I need to define my term here in this context as well. By "Liberalism", I mean it as it existed 120 years ago, a more classical version. In a lot of ways, they were the descendents of our Founders, and they did not want to do a 'seek and destroy' hit upon the COTUS, the US, or it's people. They still believed in liberty, a fairly limited government, and so forth.
Based on how Engels has described this, you could even go so far as to say that the Fabians were the original Saul Alinsky Radicals. For those of you who own this book like I do, see page 91, paragraph 3. Fits like a glove, doesn't it?
http://tinyurl.com/7x38m5v of this posting.