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Fabianism

Personalities or Principles?

 The conflict now raging between Social Democrats and Communists in almost every European country is receiving far more attention than it deserves. From the working-class view-point the questions in dispute are of little or no importance, and personalities, not principles, are the chief issues.

 The corresponding parties in this country are the Labour Party, now in power, and the Communist Party. Both these parties claim to be out for a fundamental change, and to base their respective policies on this aim. Yet the activities of both parties are concerned solely with the advocacy of reforms within the capitalist system.

The Waning Status of the "Intellectual"

 The death of H. G. Wells and the celebration of the ninetieth birthday of G. B. Shaw is a reminder of the social influence of a group of which they were outstanding representatives. Wells may have been a first-class novelist and Shaw an equally first-class dramatist, but what concerns us is their advocacy of the pernicious doctrine of “ intellectualism,” based upon a mythical middle-class layer of society; this group of self-styled intellectuals have so often, during the post hundred years, striven to control the working-class movement, basing their claim to leadership upon the alleged incapacity of the workers to handle their own affairs. Although the modern claim is rooted in the losing battle of small and pushful proprietors for independence and for protection against the crushing power of large industry, it is not new in history.

Socialism and the Intellectuals: A Confession of Impotence

The Fabian Society have just issued Tract No. 304. It is by Kingsley Amis and is entitled Socialism and the Intellectuals. On the inside of the cover we are told that he is “a poet, novelist, literary critic and lecturer in English at the University College of Swansea. Author of the widely-acclaimed and best-selling Lucky Jim” Having read this we rubbed our eyes and looked at the title again, but right enough it was Socialism and the Intellectuals.

That the Fabian Society should have thought that this statement of Mr. Amis' qualification was a reason for giving weight to his pronouncements in a field quite foreign to him is an example of how foreign the field is to the futile Fabian Society—futile as far as understanding and changing the present basis of society is concerned.

Where Reformism Fails

The dispute between Reformists and Socialists is not a very easy one to disentangle. This is partly due to the variety of arguments put forward by reformists, but above all to the failure of reformists to grasp the Socialist explanation of the problem that has to be solved.

The problem is not that of a social system that is satisfactory on the whole and only needs improvements here and there. If it were the reformist would be on the right road —but then there would be nothing in the Socialist case for the abolition of Capitalism.

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