The Fabians took their name from Quintus Fabius Maximus, a Roman general famous for his tactics of delay and guerilla-style attacks designed to wear the enemy down over time. The Fabian socialists agreed to work for a socialist future covertly, gradually, without direct confrontation or call for revolution. As such, they used the turtle as a symbol of their movement: slow and steady, “Make haste, slowly!”1
With the exception of officially shunning noisy or violent revolution, the Fabians adopted basic Marxist ideas including the inevitability of socialism in the future. This involved the rejection of the Christian doctrine of private property and ownership as well as the overturning of the social order in most other areas: finance, education, politics, family, sex, etc. The Fabians, however, endeavored to advance this agenda without appearing to oppose the traditional system; they hoped to advance something like Marxism without being detected as Marxists. Call it stealth Socialism.
The amount of deceit involved in this endeavor defies all comprehension. Two of the founding members, Sidney and Beatrice Webb, provide a great example of wolves spinning lies in sheep’s wool. During their 1932 visit to Soviet Russia, Stalin had waged war against Ukrainian farmers who refused to collectivize. The dictator closed railways, roads, and blocked all shipments of food, stock, fuel, and seed. In a short time, anywhere from two to ten million people starved to death (estimates vary). The Webbs crossed Ukraine through the worst of this slaughter, but denied seeing anything. Worse yet, in 1935 the couple published Soviet Socialism—A New Civilization?, in which they denied that any famine had occurred period.2 The question mark disappeared from the title in later editions. They approved of the Bolshevik Revolution, and vaunted Soviet Russia as a model. Later it turned out that Soviet army officials had written much of the text themselves, and that “The entire text of the Webbs’ book had been prepared in the Soviet foreign office.”3 Propaganda about their “humane” prison camps and denials of atrocities filled the whole work.
Their willingness to spin lies in defense of socialism extended into every sphere of their activity. As they attempted to mold the world toward their own hearts’ desires, they purposefully adopted another symbol: a wolf in sheep’s clothing (see the crest between the two hammering men in the picture below). The emblem appears in a stained-glass window (that once adorned their headquarters) picturing the worldview of these socialists. Designed by G. B. Shaw himself in 1910, it now resides at the London School of Economics for which it seems to have been originally intended as a gift. Nevertheless, the content of the stained-glass spectacle concerns us, for it displays the dark mission and methods of Socialism.
Despite the fact that most of the Fabians (like Marx and the later Bolsheviks) promoted atheism or at least agnosticism, they had no problem employing religious language or even overtly tagging the name “Christian” on their devices. They disguised their wolf’s-head atheistic system under the white-as-snow wool of Christian faith in such an “impudent contrivance,” as Martin calls it, as the “Christian Book Club.”4 For a grand opening in this disguise, they offered Christians the Webb’s Soviet Socialism—A New Civilization. Martin comments:
The inference seemed to be that, since Christians were not overly bright, they could easily be led down the garden path to Socialism by a false appeal to ideals of brotherhood and social justice. . . . To churchgoers among the voting population, Sidney Webb had reasoned shrewdly, Socialist goals must be presented cautiously—in terms that did not appear to conflict with their religious beliefs. . . . For the most part its spokesmen prudently avoided outraging the beliefs of religious minded persons, while soliciting their support for Socialist candidates and persons.5
The faux-religiosity of the socialist program extended well beyond the mere presentation of the message. The whole system intended to replace Christianity from Marx onward, only while Marx favored open confrontation and conquest, the Fabians promoted subversion and gradualism. Either way, Socialism was a new messianism, a humanistic, God-replacing messianism. Martin again:
In the Fabian Socialist movement, as in Soviet Marxism, there was always a strong element of political messianism, diametrically opposed to the religious messianism of One who proclaimed: “My Kingdom is not of this world.” Both Socialist and Communist literature stressed the supposedly communal character of early Christianity, undetectable to anyone familiar with the Epistles of St. Paul. Revolutionary Marxism, open or disguised, was presented as being the “Christianity of today.” Voluntary charity and renunciation of one’s own goods were confused with the forcible confiscation of other people’s property, as illustrated in the famous phrase of John Maynard Keynes, “the euthanasia of the rentier,” that is, the mercy-killing or painless extinction of those who live on income from invested capital.6
Nowhere does the messianic worldview of the socialists find a better visual expression than in the aforementioned window. All the major themes shine through: while founding member Edward Pease mans the bellows, fanning the flames of a smith’s furnace, fellow founders G. B. Shaw and Sidney Webb place the globe—heated like iron to an orange glow—upon an anvil and hammer away to the caption “REMOULD IT NEARER TO THE HEARTS DESIRE.” Between the hammering atheists and above the globe stands a crest displaying a wolf in sheep’s clothing with the initials “F.S.”—“Fabian Socialists.” Below this grizzly vision of Socialist “remoulding” of the world, ten more of the original members kneel with hands folded in prayer towards a stack of their holy scriptures: the works of G. B. Shaw, the writings of the Webbs, and the Fabian Society Tracts and Essays. The group of disciples even has a “Judas,” H. G. Wells, who later left the group in disillusionment. He kneels on the left end while thumbing his nose at the rest of the group and their devotion.
Nevertheless, the overall picture is clear, and it comports with the thesis of this book: the God of Holy Scripture stands in total contrast to Socialism. The two are irreconcilable and must necessarily wage war until one lay vanquished. This window into the socialist soul reveals an attempt at a complete replacement of Christianity. Instead of God’s will they follow their own “heart’s desire.” In place of dominion under God, we have man-directed dominion and refashioning of the world in man’s image. Instead of the heart-refining fire of the Holy Spirit, we have man generating the flames of passion and ambition. Instead of Christ’s disciples, we get twelve apostles of socialism (minus Wells) “praying” and “hammering”—a theft of St. Benedict’s rule ora et labora, “pray and work.” Above all we see the central object of their obeisance: the words of Shaw, Webb, and their Society. That is, above all they have replaced God’s word with man’s.
To intensify the insult, they openly declare that they will engage in trickery and deception—as wolves in sheep’s clothing—to carry out their ends. They will attempt to deceive Christians, feeding them their atheistic agenda in the name of Christianity, all the while denying the Christian faith as ardently as Marx, Lenin, or Stalin themselves. In continuance of such mockery-disguised-as-agreement, the Socialist-dominated government at the time interred the ashes of the two atheists, Beatrice and Sidney Webb, within the grounds of Westminster Abbey.7 This should not surprise us, as they had buried Charles Darwin there over a generation earlier, thanks to the urging of fellow agnostics Francis Galton and Thomas Huxley.
But while Darwin denied God and appealed to natural selection for evolutionary change, the Fabian atheists created a belief system in which man (they themselves at the head, of course) direct the evolutionary change, including the evolution of mankind (meaning, “other men”). This is a new providence—the providence of man. This apostate providence justifies the forced redistribution of wealth, erosion of personal freedom, and other measures of violence that have accompanied socialism throughout its history. There is no safeguard from this tyranny except for the doctrines of private property, privacy, individual liberty, and personal accountability taught by God in the Bible.
God and socialism stand in complete contradiction and eternal conflict. We must choose one, and cannot choose neither. Without God, mankind is doomed to the judgment of mankind, including his political contrivances leading to theft. Christians must recognize this antithesis and choose the good. We must stand and defend private property and individual freedom. Thankfully, we have the Holy Spirit, the Word of God, and the mandates and the will of God behind us in history, in order to combat the idolatrous man-contrived Socialism that confronts us in so many forms today. Let us use the forces in favor to discern.
[From the author’s God versus Socialism: A Biblical Critique of the New Social Gospel.]
- Rose L. Martin, Fabian Freeway: The High Road to Socialism in the U.S.A., 1884–1966 (Chicago: Heritage Foundation, 1966), 1–7.(↩)
- Wendy McElroy, “A Webb of Lies,” The Free Market, 18/2 (Feb. 2000); (Rose L. Martin, Fabian Freeway, 29.(↩)
- Rose L. Martin, Fabian Freeway, 29–30.(↩)
- Rose L. Martin, Fabian Freeway, 54.(↩)
- Rose L. Martin, Fabian Freeway, 55, 57.(↩)
- Rose L. Martin, Fabian Freeway, 55.(↩)
- Rose L. Martin, Fabian Freeway, 30.(↩)