Friday, July 20, 2012

Regarding the friendly relationship and influences between progressives and fabians

I made a comment in my last posting regarding this, and one of the primary figures I wrote about was Margaret Sanger. H.G. Wells, a Fabian Socialist(who appears in the fabian window) wrote the introduction to her book Pivot of Civilization. In addition to that, Sanger references Fabian writings twice in the book. It's fairly well known that Sanger had an affair with Wells, but putting 2 + 2 together beyond this never seems to happen: (the following from the above link)
To avoid prosecution, Margaret fled the country to England under the assumed name, Bertha Watson. Once the ship entered international waters, Margaret ordered 100,000 copies of Family Limitation to be distributed. In that 16-page pamphlet, Sanger wrote about sex education, abortion and birth control, which included different types of contraceptive methods and instructions for their use.

While in England, Sanger met several British radicals and feminists who helped her to justify the use of birth control. It was then that she met Havelock Ellis, a psychologist whose theories of female sexuality helped Sanger expand her arguments for birth control; arguing, for example, that a woman should be able to enjoy sexual relations without the worry of becoming pregnant.

The way this is written(and any other time I've ever seen this written) it comes off as just a coincidence. She just so happened to end up meeting all these un named radicals, by an off chance! By unnamed, I mean that very rarely is it ever mentioned that they're of the Fabian Society. It seems to make sense that Wells might have suggested she leave for England, and even more likely that he would've told her were to find them knowing the kind of things they could teach her.

Havelock Ellis(one of the Fabian Society's founders) would go on to be a regular contributor to Sanger's "Birth Control Review".

You don't have to look too far to find Fabian influence in/around the Whitehouse. In my last writing I cited Stuart Chase as an example of this, but there's so much more. Stuart Chase is who came up with the phrase "New Deal", and was a member of FDR's brains trust. Walter Lippmann, the father of modern journalism, was a member of the Fabian Society through the ISS/LID. Lippmann also had access to the White House, like Chase, having helped draft one of Wilson's most well known speeches:

At my request Cobb and Lippmann have compiled the following respecting your fourteen points.

John Dewey, the father of modern education was a fabian. From the NY Times:

He was active in organizations such as the New York Teachers Guild, the League for Industrial Democracy, the ...

The League for Industrial Democracy(LID) was the forerunner to SDS. "Industrial Democracy" is the title of one of the books written by one of the most well known Fabians, Sidney Webb. So perhaps you could say that LID is the League for Sydney Webb's ideals and/or writings. The LID was described this way in the Harvard Crimson by a member of LID:

He likened the relationship between the LID and the Fabian Society to that between the ADA and the Harvard Liberal Union.

For someone like myself who is infinitely curious, I looked up this relationship. He's basically(slyly) admitting it. The ADA and the HLU (at least back then) were very friendly organizations who often times did things in conjunction. Not long after this, the two groups joined. But surrogate groups don't have to be so explicit to be active surrogates.

The forerunner to LID is the Intercollegiate Socialist Society(ISS) which was co-founded by Harry W Laidler, a fabian. Note that Laidler was the LID's executive director. Lippmann and Chase mentioned above, were both involved with the ISS/LID. According to a study of the LID in 1980:

The League for Industrial Democracy is the closest equivalent to the British Fabian Society in the history of American socialism.

Now, this guy tries to claim that the LID were dismal failures, which is easily disprovable, considering just three names: John Dewey, Walter Lippmann, and Stuart Chase. So members of the LID(forerunner ISS) would go on to completely remake American education, American journalism, and influence two presidencies by coming up with(the phrase) and facilitating the implementation of the New Deal.(as well as what was done in Woodrow Wilson's day) Not bad for a failed group. Yes, I look at the LID and ISS as the same group. So they changed their name. So what.

The ISS(and later LID) was founded by fabians, for fabians. In that article from 1980, Charlotte Perkins Gilman, William English Walling, Upton Sinclair, and Jack London are all listed as founding members.(Don't forget about Laidler)

Gilman and Walling were both members of the "American Fabian League"(see Fabian Freeway page 178).

Gilman was a contributing editor to the publication of "American Fabian", under her married name, Charlotte Perkins Stetson.

Another interesting name on the list of editors to the "American Fabian" is Edward Bellamy, who long before the founding of the Fabian Society of America, enthralled Americans with his concept of "Nationalism". When Bellamy passed away, this is how he was eulogized:

In Bellamy, social science and imagination were combined at their best. He has given us a substantial revelation whose scientific deductions from economic phenomena are unassailable. In the work of speeding the light he has made the valued distinction between Nationalism and Socialism. Nations advance toward their destiny upon lines marked out by the temper of their peoples, the character of their institutions, the conditions of soil, climate, and surroundings. Consequently the forward movement must be by national rather than international pathways. Bellamy saw this clearly, and formulating his Socialism to a purely American applicability, named it Nationalism. What has been the result? We hear no more the philistine cry that Socialism is an alien product. The far-reaching influence of "Looking Backward" has given us a native development of this definite form of Socialism, and has made possible the realization of his dreams in the near future.

Sounds just like what Norman Thomas is rumored to have said. Thomas, who ran for president 6 times was a fabian socialist. He was co-director(1922) for the League for Industrial Democracy, and a frequent writer for them.

Another notable name would be one Felix Frankfurter, nominated to the Supreme Court by Franklin Roosevelt.

While we're at it, regarding members of the Supreme Court, Justice Hugo Black is well known to have been influenced by Paul Blanshard. Blanshard was yet another luminary of the LID.

Beyond specific names of higher-profile individuals(And I'm sure there's some I missed, others I just haven't come across yet), there's the influence of Fabian ideology upon various people. Friedrich Engels noted the effect that Fabian ideology had upon liberal minded people(this would apply to Sanger, at the beginning), as well as whole groups of young individuals exposed to it at the Rand School of Social Science, The Rand School was an attempt by the Fabians here in America to duplicate what they did with the London School of Economics in England.(Fabian Freeway, Bottom of page 196 to 198)

The Fabians even set up a whole colonies here in the US. This to me is one of the most fascinating aspects of all of this. Fabians have two icons, or logos if you will. The wolf in sheeps clothing(as seen on the fabian window) and the turtle. The turtle is often associated with them with the phrase "festina lente", which means "make haste, slowly"(this gets at the fabian ideology of the inevitability of gradualism), but the turtle slogan is "when I strike, I strike hard". Now, all leftists love their iconicism. You can see this with the Occupiers, and the abundance of communist imagery within their movement.

Fabians are identical in this respect, they love the turtle. So in New York(Manhattan), they chose Turtle Bay as the location for their little community. Wikipedia's page is of course sanitized, stating:

the neighborhood went into decay with crumbling tenement buildings. Much of it was restored in the 1920s, and a large communal garden was established.

Restored? That sounds interesting. They gloss over this as if it's nothing, a mere footnote. Hardly, there's a whole backstory to this "restoration" and the people who did it. The book Fabian Freeway opens itself up with chapter 1, exploring all that is Turtle Bay. I need not account more of Turtle Bay, as the book lays it all out just fine. But I do want to make a few notes about it's refounders.

Turtle Bay was re-founded by Prestonia Mann Martin and her husband. Her name seemed familiar to me, and unsurprisingly she's a descendent of Horace Mann, the earlier reformer of education who looked at children as "hostages to our cause".(Her obituary, below, points this family lineage out) That the Mann family went on to find itself among the ranks of Fabians here in the states is not surprising to me.

Prestonia Mann was editor of The American Fabian. In this April 6th, 1945 obit in the Winter Park Topics, the following is pointed out:

Under the name of Prestonia Mann Martin she gained international fame from her sociologal thesis, "Prohibiting Poverty," which proposed a remedy for periodical depressions by a division of labor and a distribution of the necessities of life under government regulation. Her proposal brought comment and a large measure of approval from leaders of thought all over the world. Mrs. Eleanor Roosevelt gave the book favorable comment in her public statements.

There's yet more of that Fabian influence. Right there into the Whitehouse. At some point the Martins' went to upstate New York to a small town called Keene, and founded a utopian experiment in communal living similar to Emerson's Brook Farm, also mentioned in the obit:

She attended the Concord School of Philosophy at Concord, Mass., and remembered well Ralph Waldo Emerson, imbibing much of the philosophy which went into the Brooke Farm experiment and later putting it into use at Summerbrook, Keene, N.Y., where she met and married John Martin in 1900.

The website for Adirondack Realty(who better to ask about local history, than the locals?) has a section labeled "History of the Town of Keene, New York", which opens this way:

Prestonia and John Martin had been drawn to Keene by Glenmore and their "Summerbrook" was adjacent to it. Her most famous guest was the Russian author Maxim Gorky, who, while staying at another Martin cottage, "Arisponet," nearby during the summer of 1906, wrote his novel "Mother." Gorky had arrived persona non grata in New York City and Prestonia, an intellectual extrovert, rescued his party with an invitation to her Adirondack home. Gorky's adopted son, Zeno Pechkoff, returned to this country and Glenmore on two occasions. "Summerbrook" is somewhat of a shrine to modern Russians and the subject of a major article in Soviet Life Magazine, April 1979. 1 (1.. Visiting The Gorky sites in USA, Gennadi Gerasinmov, Soviet Commentator)

And how did Mrs. Martin herself describe what they do at Summerbrook? She published a 10 page pamphlet for the place in 1896, stipulating various things:

The rules of Summer Brook are three: 1. Each person shall give two hours' daily manual labor to the service of the community (to be received in payment for room). 2. Each must be prepared to share with the community whatever intellectual wealth he may possess, to the extent of teaching one hour per day if desired. . 3 The living expenses are to be shared equally by all the members of the community.

Tha'ts on page 8. And here's their list of reading material: (page 9)

There will be a few moments' reading before each meal. "Plato's Republic," "The Fabian Essays," Ruskin's "Unto This Last," and Howell's "A Traveller From Altruria" are the books chosen for this year.

Now isn't that neat?

High and low, they needed ways to spread their ideological leanings, and they certainly appear to have been successful at getting the job done.

But before I finalize this I do need to point out that this is a two way street. I wrote this last year, noting how Henry George was important in the makings of the Fabian Society. Henry George was an American. So as Georgist ideals spread throughout America and helped to bring American "reformers"(the forerunner to progressivism) closer to becoming the progressives they became at the end of the 19th/beginning of 20th century, it makes sense that American reformers/progressives would be open to the ideas of Fabians given their common lineage.

There's so much information here, it was at times hard to always keep the same pieces of information together and thus easier to deal with, but I wanted to make a strong case for the claim I'm making here. And also, it should be noted that I didn't directly call Sanger a Fabian. I point this out because at most other times I do directly apply the label. Some of these people may not have in the end been "card carrying Fabians" in the strictest sense, but if you are founding groups like the LID or very high within that group's ranks, if you're an editor for the "American Fabian", or some other such clearly distinguished role then what we're dealing with is a distinction without a difference. A communist is a communist for the things they believe and the actions that they take first and foremost, secondary in who they associate with. After that, that they never officially "held the card" becomes a forgettable side note. The same applies for a Fabian.


  1. have some fun..
    dig up moses harmon, lucifer bringer of light which became a eugenics mag.

    the feminits are following the theories of the sex commune progressives... his daughter was lillian harmon...

    you can spend your whole life digging in this history and be completely blown away by the list of movers and shakers that were all on the same page on this

    then be amazed how almost no one knows.

    bout the only ones that know are those that read and kept following things to other things to read.

    sadly. if you go the other way, you can find the links lead all the way up to UN, agenda 21 (Who the wiki points out obama and pelosi and those are on board with), and so on.

  2. oh
    forgot to mention
    Harman has been credited as one of the founders of what became the eugenics movement. "He gave the spur and start to this effort. Through his journals, Lucifer, the Light Bearer, later re-christened The Eugenic Magazine, encouraged by a small circle of earnest men and women, he dug down below the surface endeavoring to bring forth a stronger and better type of men"

    and the fabians were outraged he was put in jail under comstock laws.

    you can follow a direct line from him, to germany and its fall from morals, then hitler, which you then follow the line back with the frankfurt school, etc.

    though as i think you lead to.. it also leads to bellamy who one could say was a founder of nationalism (socialism)