“Dear love, couldst thou and I with fate conspire
To grasp this sorry scheme of things entire,
Would we not shatter it to bits, and then
Remould it nearer to the heart’s desire!” – Omar Kharyyam
We mentioned the Fabian Socialists yesterday (and a few times in the past) – it seemed like a reasonable time to pull out the famed Fabian stained glass window from Beatrice Webb’s house in Surrey England (original headquarters of the society).
First, let’s note that the Fabian’s aren’t exactly a super-secret society … how else is it that we know what we know? Furthermore, they have a website, but not out there on the “hidden” internet, just the regular one. At worst one would say they’re “semi-secret” – which is to say not secret.
In the window, we see early members Sidney Webb (red) and George Bernard Shaw (green) hammering the world, laid out on an anvil, presumably to mold it nearer to their desired worldview. On the left is H.G. Wells, who later quit the Fabians, fanning the flames. Below are others showing reverence (prayers even?) toward a stack of socialist books. Other notable images include the phrase “pray devoutly hammer stoutly” and the coat of arms between Webb and Shaw – a wolf in sheep’s clothing.
OK, so is this some grand conspiracy? Let’s see, we have a group of people who think they are smarter than everybody else, are firmly convinced that the world would be better off if their policies and programs were put in place, and have an interest in moving the world in the direction they deem right. By that measure just about every political party, religion, or perhaps even rotary club would be involved in some measure of global-domination conspiracy.
The Fabian’s certainly weren’t different than any number of other socialist groups. They aspired to communism – just not communism via revolution. They figured (possibly rightly) that slow incremental change could win the war without firing a shot. (Heck, even Marx once said “I am not a marxist” – difference of implementation can count for a lot.) They hope for an incremental drive toward socialism, often veiling the tilt toward totalitarianism with some soft-spoken, feel-good, compassionate objective.
Far more interesting is that they would view themselves as wolves in sheep’s clothing. Those who believe they are bringing light and hope to the world usually view themselves as angelic, not as deceivers.
This self-portrait of the Fabians (or any progressive-socialist group) offers a useful contrast between worldviews. On the one-hand is socialism, or some other brand of statism, where the collective masses are ruled by an elite group of benevolent planners and administrators. On the other-hand, there is freedom, self-determination, and perhaps a republic based on individual rights and liberties. What lies in between is indecision and governmental forms that have yet to fully embrace one or the other, but will certainly trend in one of these directions over time. As we’ve noted before, attempts to combine the two make little sense – each is understandable on its own, but in combination they have inconsistent motives and feedback cycles.
Now, let us consider for a moment all that lies in between (or even outside of) these two styles of governance. Remember “a government big enough to give you everything you want, is big enough to take away everything you have” (this quote is often attributed to Thomas Jefferson, but the veracity is of some question … it is certainly known to have been said by Gerald Ford in several speeches.) I point this out because so much of political discourse today is over what activities and behaviors we should use the government to enforce. Should it be sexual morality, substance-abuse morality, benevolent morality, or workplace morality? Left and Right, moral arguments are used to as a basis for policy and enforcement preferences. I hold that all of this is beneficial to the Fabians and their ilk.
Before one could hope to rule the country or the world through the force of government, one must first build a government powerful enough to rule, a government whose rule in broad swaths of life is accepted (or tolerated) by the masses. When the religious right builds a government strong enough to enforce morals (beyond defense of human rights), they build the necessary government for socialist rule. When the progressives and the religious left build the government strong enough to compel benevolence, they build the necessary government for socialist rule.
The religious right will say “I am not a socialist or a statist – but we need a moral structure!” The American liberal will say “I don’t agree with the totalitarian worldview – I just want to help those in need and ensure fairness with compassion!”
I submit that we have never found a set of ruling conditions, enforcing various moral dictates, that left us satisfied with the outcome. We always needed just a bit more to fix it. And more, when it comes to government oversight, is the direction of socialism.
Do you claim you’re not a socialist or a statist? Yet you support government intervention on behalf of the people to make our lives better? Do you think you’ll be able to control the government machine once it’s big enough to solve every problem and mold society into your image? Have it your way – the game must have its pawns, and those who wish for statism (in whatever form) will gladly take your vote and your support.