This paper has been submitted by Miriam Yevick Retired Assoc. Prof of Mathematics Rutgers, The State University 22 Pelham Street Princeton N.J. 08540 gandmyevick@rcn.com "The first duty is to educate the people to understand what their present position is and what the future might be" William Morris, Member of the Fabian Society The Fabian Society was a British progressive organization In 1884 the first founders Frank Podmore and Edward Pease were quickly joined by George Bernard Shaw and Sidney Webb. Eminent members were among others: the designer William Morris, the writer H.G. Wells, the psychologist and political scientist Graham Wallas, the colonial expert Sydney Haldane, the Theosophist Annie Besant and many others The Fabians were opposed to the revolutionary theories of Marxism and anarchism, holding that social reforms and socialistic "permeation" of existing political institutions would bring about the natural development of socialism. Their labor committee evolved into the Labor Party. They built up the London School of Economics and founded, the magazine The New Statesman. The group achieved wide recognition with the publication of the Fabian Essays (1889) and maintained their influence through the Fabian Tracts The range of topics dealt with in these tracts is quite remarkable, and the whole collection make worthwhile reading for both historians and modern political, social, and economic theorists. TITLES OF SOME FABIAN TRACTS Nr 1. Why are the Many Poor? (W.L. Phillips) 1884 Nr. 3. To Provident Landlords and Capitalists. A Suggestion and a Warning. (G.B.Shaw) 1885 Nr. 8. Facts for Londoners (S.Webb) 1889 Nr. 10. Figures for Londoners (S.Webb) 1889 Nr. 11. The Workers Political Programme (S.Webb) 1990 Nr. 17. Reform of the Poor Law (S.Webb) 1890 Nr. 23. The Case for an Eight Hours Bill(S.Webb) 1891 Nr. 24 Questions for Parliamentary Candidates Nr. 25. Questions for School Board Candidates (S.Webb) 1891 Nr 30. The Unearned Increment (S.Webb) 1891 Nr.36. The Scandal of London's Markets (S.Webb) 1891 Nr. 37 A Labour Policy for Public Authorities (S.Webb) 1891 Nr. 39. A Democratic Budget (J.I,Oakeshott) 1892 Nr. 43. Vote! Vote! Vote! (G.B.Shaw) 1892 Nr. 47. The Unemployed (John Burns) 1893 Nr. 48. Eight Hours by Law (H.W. Macrosty) 1893 Nr. 49. A Plan of Campaign for Labor (G.B.Shaw) 1894 Nr. 50. Sweating: Its Cause and Remedy (H.W. Macrosty) 1894 Nr. 55. The Workers' School Board Programme (J.W.Martin) 1894 Nr. 69. The Difficulties of Individualism (S.Webb) 1896 Nr. 73. The Case for State Pensions in Old Age (G.Turner) 1896 Nr. 79. A Word of Remembrance and Caution to the Rich (J.Woolman) 1897 Nr. 83. State Arbitration and the Living Wage (W.H.Macrosty) 1899 Nr. 84. The Economics of Direct Employment (S.Webb) 1897 Nr. 88. The Growth of Monopoly in English Industry (W.H.Macrosty) 1899 Nr. 89. Old Age Pensions at Work (J.Bullock) 1899 Nr. 101.The House Famine and How to Relieve It (C.Edwardsu.a.) 1900 Nr. 104.How Trade Unions Benefit Workmen (E.R.Pease) 1900 Nr. 106.The Education Muddle and the Way Out (S.Webb) 1901 Nr. 116. Fabianism and the Fiscal Question: an Alternative Policy (G.B.Shaw) 1904 Nr. 119. Public Control of Electric Power and Transit. (S.G.Hbson) 1905 Nr. 120. After Bread, Education. (H.Bland) 1905 Nr. 121. Public Service versus Private Expenditure. (O.Lodge) 1905 Nr. 130 Homework and Sweating: The Causes and Remedies Nr. 235 The Limitations of the Expert (H.J.Laski) 1931 Nr.236 A New Reform Bill (S.Webb) 1931 Close to 3 million of these tracts were distributed in the three decades after their inception. Their publication was accompanied by numerous public lectures in evening schools, in libraries, in Union Halls, in the open. The proposals of the Fabians in contrast with that of other reformers contained an immediate political and administrative applicability. The Fabians became in some sense a social science information service which provided the practical preconditions for social reform. A SUGGESTION The topics which were addressed in the above tracts sadly appear to have regained relevance to the economic, social and political conditions which have evolved in the U.S. since leaving the progressive track (The New Deal, The Great Society). Emulating the Fabians is potentially an important undertaking for the Democrats who lack any kind of thought-through practical plan of action, accessible to an understanding in the general public. What is needed is a "Brain Trust" of the kind F.D.R. put together to plan the New Deal. To achieve this, a collection of American Fabian Tracts based on serious research would be invaluable. Perhaps some of us, scholars, students, scientists, artists and writers might emulate the Fabians in their ability to reach a large public as a collective effort. We could undertake to write such short pamphlets combining history, current research and proposed action to be disseminated in cheap printed form as well as on the web and other public venues such as town meetings. (The Simple Facts about Health Care; A Look at our Federal Budget; Are Untamed Market Forces and the Pursuit of Profit the Best for the Public Good?; Saving Energy by Redesigning our Public Transportation System; Supplying Decent Housing to all Americans etc. etc.) Perhaps such tracts could be made the basis of undergraduate thesis. The social interactions of the Fabians were marked by a spirit of tolerance and fun. Their work was most impressive in setting a direction for the body politic. A similar imaginative effort by committed liberals can look forward to "supplying intelligent direction and giving potency to a new progressive thought wave." (H.Bland, Fabian) A quite complete collection of the Fabian Tracts can be found in The Firestone Library of Princeton University, Call Number HX531.F11 , sn89026836 or on Microfilm, MICROFILM 04418. I recommend the reading of Tract Number 39, A Democratic Budget, as a potential template for the writing of such. Miriam Yevick Retired Assoc. Prof of Mathematics Rutgers, The State University 22 Pelham Street Princeton N.J. 08540 gandmyevick@rcn.com

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