Thursday, February 28, 2013

What did American Progressives teach to British Fabians?

When I wrote some months ago about how Fabians employ what they call "permeation" in order to advance their causes, I quoted an interesting passage from Margaret Cole's book "The Story of Fabian Socialism", page 85:
'Permeation' is a peculiarly Fabian term, with a very long history. It is first found in print in Hubert Bland's Fabian Essay - curiously enough Bland was not there advocating but warning the Society against it; but the casual reference shows that it was already in common use. Occasionally it seems to mean no more than what the Americans have taught us to call 'pressure groups' - persons organised with the purpose of forcing a particular measure, a particular interest, or a particular point of view upon those in power.

At the time, I mused that groups like the ACLU, or the NAACP were the groups she was talking about. Which is probably true, but is only a guess. Here, though, is more likely what she means: (Walter Weyl, "The New Democracy", page 166)

Nor do all these revolutionists comprehend that they are allies. One group in the community strives to end the exploitation of child labor. Other groups seek to extend and improve education, to combat tuberculosis, to reform housing conditions, to secure direct primaries, to obtain the referendum, to punish force and fraud at the polls, to secure governmental inspection of foods, to regulate railroad rates, to limit the issue of stocks and bonds of corporations doing an interstate business, to change the character and incidence of taxation, to protect and recreate our forests, to reserve and conserve our mines, to improve the lot of the farmer, to build up trade-unions among workingmen, to Americanize incoming immigrants, to humanize prisons and penal laws, to protect the community against penury caused by old age, accident, sickness, and invalidity, to prevent congestion in cities, to divert to the public a larger share of the unearned increment, to accomplish a thousand other results for the general welfare. Every day new projects are launched for political, industrial, and social amelioration, and below the level of the present he the greater projects of the future. Reform is piecemeal and yet rapid. It is carried along divergent lines by people holding separate interests, and yet it moves towards a common end. It combines into a general movement toward a new democracy.

(What I wrote yesterday will help you understand Weyl's lead in to the progressive revolution, for greater context)

It makes much more sense that Cole was looking at the whole picture as progressives employed it all across the country, not just one high profile group here or there. Care needs to be taken here in my writing: Many of these efforts that he is naming are valiant efforts to pursue if they are pursued so as not to be in the hands of government. That's the difference. Weyl makes clear that these efforts are not just efforts to achieve the stated end, the real end goal of all these efforts together is an ever expanding state. "Revolution" is his chosen word.

It's not like I'm just making this up from a theoretical standpoint, we know that the final logical end of progressivism is total government control, because here we are a century later watching it unfold with the vantage point of history's perfect 20/20 hindsight. If these progressives did not truely aim for total government control, then all these outside groups in existence today who are seemingly disconnected would be on the front lines wailing right now as we speak, because today's progressive government is destroying all the work that was done previously by previous and some still current groups.(many of today's reform minded groups were founded a long time ago) Heck, how many of these groups in existence today can you think of that have tied themselves to government, and could not survive in any way without their subsidy? Now do you really think that's just a coincidence, given what you now know?

All of this requires you to take these groups at face value. He named around 20 different general "disconnected" efforts, all with different goals, yet the reality of this is the word government should be typed in a row over 20 times. It's not about the forests, it's not about housing conditions, it's not about old age, it's not about the farmer, it's not about any of the others, their face value has absolutely no value. It's about government, government, government, government.

Those of you who have chosen to open the links to read the books in their actual context(I really hope many of you will) may have seen what appears to be a discrepancy. Margaret Cole describes "What they learned" being put into action by a group formed by the Webbs in 1910-1911, while Weyl's book was written in 1914. It's not a contradiction, as Weyl himself states:

I use the word "revolution," despite its fringe of misleading suggestion, because no other word so aptly designates the completeness of the transformation now in process.

So as Weyl is describing these seemingly disconnected groups in his book written in 1914, he's not prescribing and saying "This is what you guys should do", he's saying "this is what is already being done" and relishing it as a spectator.

These groups today manifest themselves as NGOs and non-profit groups. Doesn't George Soros use non-profits as his basis to launch his revolution? He does. He says so in his own words:

It was kind of what developed a matrix in fact that we had, national foundations, and then we had certain specialized activities

That's what Walter Weyl described in his book, but Soros employs it in its highly developed modern form. By having all these groups highly de-centralized, that's how progressives have achieved invisible government. Through the use of these pressure groups.

The British Fabians, of course, being a group of socialists see what the progressives over here are doing and seek to emulate it. Why wouldn't they? Socialism, just like progressivism is about the all powerful state in control of every aspect of life from top to bottom. That, and several of the Fabians at the time enjoyed plenty of friendly relationships with their counter parts here on this side of the ocean.

I've often referred to progressivism and fabianism as sister movements, and this is another illustration.

1 comment:

  1. "divert to the public a larger share of the unearned increment"

    Another euphemism for "wealth redistribution".