Friday, April 20, 2012

Was Soviet Russia the world's first "Fabian State"?

In The Letters of Sidney and Beatrice Webb: Volume 3,(Introduction) the author makes the following observation about the Webbs' and Shaw's view of Russia:

Shaw, visiting Russia before them, came to the same conclusion and reported that Lenin had established a Fabian state.

This was being written as far back as 1932; in "Bernard Shaw, playboy and prophet":(Page 250)

Shaw even claims the Russian Soviet Republic, founded on uncompromising Marxism but soon forced by hard facts to recognize Webb's "inevitability of gradualness," as a Fabian State.

This is what I find so infuriating about copyright laws(which I do respect and support, but nonetheless), is that there's so much important information that's sitting right there, yet hidden from view. It's also why I'm willing to record an audiobook and just give it away, because this information needs to be known, these stories need to be told. However, every now and then a stroke of luck brings to surface a partial quote, which enables me to dig out a piece of information that never should've been forgotten. From CSMonitor, who quotes Shaw in 1945:

None of us foresaw then that the revolution would be achieved in Russia (of all places!) by a minority of excessively sophisticated Marxists; and that they would make every possible catastrophic mistake until they were driven by sheer force of facts to establish the present Russo-Fabian state.

Now we're getting somewhere. Shaw on the U.S.S.R.:(Page 131)

Why do you recommend me to go to Russia? I've been there. It is a paradise: no ladies and gentlemen there. The Catholic church is like Democracy, an eternal ideal, noble and beneficent as such; but all attempts to manufacture it in the concrete reduce it to absurdity.

I couldn't find the Webb's exact wording though. Too bad. But looking for the exact phrase "Fabian State" may be looking at this the wrong way. As Margaret Cole writes (Cole, who was herself a Fabian, so this is written with all approval), Page 220:

It was in 1932 that the Webbs went to Russia, and 'fell in love', as Beatrice said, with the Soviet system; for three years thereafter they were engaged in the preparation of their massive Soviet Communism, and tended to judge all political characters - and all their visitors to Passfield Corner! - by the amount of interest they showed in Soviet affairs.

In the end, all centrally planned societies largely look the same.

So then the whole book "Soviet Communism" is a testament to the Webb's initial love for the world's first Fabian State.(they would later change their minds, but it still was what it was)

1 comment:

  1. It sometimes amazes me how many different groups and people set out to snuff out the flame of liberty, with all their different schemes and plans and promises, yet they end up at the same place and they can't see it.