“The government of the future will be by experts and we, naturally, want to be the experts.”
(H. SNELL speaking for the Fabian Society.)
So now you know, if you did not before, what the Fabian Society are after. Their “Socialism” is government by bureau, and “naturally” (sweet word) they want to be the bureaucrats. “Naturally” they want the plums. “Naturally” they want to sit in the seats of authority and arrange things for the benefit (naturally for the benefit) of the other and somewhat lower orders who do the mere producing.
“Naturally” these producers will be unable of themselves to administer their own affairs. Because “naturally” such delicately intricate work as will “naturally” be involved in the manipulation of affairs of state, “naturally” demands a special type of mind, specially trained. And obviously, not to say “naturally” the working class qua working class,- the working class that is to say per se,—do not possess such necessary and entirely essential qualities. They must “naturally” look for their administrators, therefore, among the cultured class who, “naturally” endowed with imperial qualities have consecrated their lives to their development and with infinite pains have, rendered themselves fit to enter into the holy of holies from which will issue those inspired directions and words of good counsel without which the labourers in the vineyards (and other places) will be as sheep without a shepherd, as little children stumbling in the dark.
The members of the Fabian Society having quite clearly all the special equipment necessary, therefore quite “naturally” desire that the working class shall acclaim them the saviours of Society and signify implicit confidence in their capacity by unhesitatingly conceding them the right to govern.
But I think, I say I think, it will not work out quite like that. I think, mark, I think that there will be some little hesitancy before the working class admit the necessity for the creation of a bureaucratic staff, or a star chamber, or a holy of holies even to such fierce democrats as the Fabian Society. I think it not unlikely that the working class will look somewhat dubiously upon a method of government such as they have been somewhat painfully familiar with for several generations and may even conclude that, on the whole, they would prefer to try something else—a method, for example, by which they themselves would be the dictatorial authority expressing their requirements through administrators who would be mere delegates with their instructions in their pockets. The intellectual equipment of administrators in these circumstances need not necessarily be exceptional.
Of course the Fabian Society will unanimously agree that such a hypothesis is entirely grotesque. And as the Fabian Society are experts in the grotesque their view may quite properly be given the consideration it so well merits. But as this is my funeral, they need not distress themselves too severely even if I persist in pressing the probability of their super-excellent services being in small demand, and proceed to submit that their idea of government under Socialism is likely to be regarded as antiquated and fitting only to the conditions which obtained in the nightmare days of capitalism. However preposterous it may seem to them, I think it quite possible that as there will be no interests to administer except the interests of the working class, the present geographical unit of alleged representation, based as it is upon the private ownership of the means of life, will be superseded by representation of labour departments. The honourable member for East Loamshire will give way to Citizen Smith, the delegate of the Gasworkers and General Labourers’ Federation or some such labour organisation. As, so far as I have been able to observe, the Fabian Society’s idea of the government of the future rests upon the continuance of the present bureaucratic forms, such an alteration would tend to have the effect of knocking the Fabian Society’s heaven-sent powers somewhat acock.
Let me submit with becoming humility that the Labour organisations of the future being composed of moderately intelligent men (such intelligence being necessarily antecedent to the Socialist State) might understand almost, if not quite, as well as a Fabian expert—I am charitably assuming that the Fabian expert is not knocked acock as aforesaid—what they required for their own comfort and happiness and might (it’s a most outrageous proposition) even be in a better position than the inspired governmental Shavian to decide upon such changes in the machinery and methods of industry in their own department as would facilitate production and ensure them greater leisure and less arduous labour. And their conferences would instruct their delegate accordingly.
It’s an interesting subject and my vagrom speculations could, I am sure, be extended to cover several more columns at least. But the exigencies of space and pressure of many matters force me to an immediate closure. I will only add that in all my anticipations of the probable outworkings of the Socialist Society of tomorrow I can, without allowing my imagination to riot, easily conceive that there will be no overpowering necessity for any legislative holy of holies or for any administrative caste, or for any bureau of inspired experts. And however natural the longing of the “culchawed” Fabian may be for the seat of authority and the halo of beneficent superiority, it may well chance that he will not be appreciated at anything like his own estimated worth, and it may even happen in that event, that he will find himself in the unhappy position of being obliged to devote himself to the acquisition of some information likely to make of him a useful member of Society. I would therefore respectfully advise him to start trying to pick up the rudiments of a helpful calling—say woodchopping—lest the revolution overtake him while he is still endeavouring to articulate his vain regrets—his very vain regrets.