Connections: Are Modern Progressives Really Old Fashion Socialists? – Part 1 American Fabians

Introduction: Back when Glenn Beck was on FOX News, he introduced his followers to the Fabian Society of England, Progressives and he even went on to show how Socialism can/ will lead to Communism. As to be expected, the Fabian Society and Progressivism became the buzz words on the net and I would venture to say Twitter as well (I wasn’t on Twitter at the time), but if what I HAVE seen lately is any indication, it must have been the buzz and trending hash tags.

When Glenn explained the Fabian Society, he showed the “Fabian” window and explained its symbolism; He also went on to show the logo of the Society, a wolf in sheep’s clothing and of course George Bernard Shaw’s discussion of devaluation of life. However, although Glenn did talk about how the Fabian Socialist ideas have infiltrated America, he did not mention how the Fabian Society of England and its particular type of socialism (Fabian Socialism) actually came to America and really gained a foothold that would eventually lead to the on going assault on freedom in America under the guise of Progressivism.

Although the idea of socialism in the form of Utopian Socialism has been in America since its founding, this series will show how the ideas of the Fabian Society of England came to America and would lead to to the Socialist Party of America and finally what will become to be known as the Progressive Movement (Although many people refuse to call Progressivism by its real name, SOCIALISM – ed.). I will conclude this series, with what I consider proof, that when Hillary Clinton said, “I consider myself a modern progressive“, Maybe she should have admitted the truth, “I consider myself an old fashion Socialist”.

During this series, I will concentrate on the years between 1880 through 1920, although there will be some flashbacks to years prior to 1880 and some fast forwards to the present will be introduced as needed. I will not go into the various definitions of Socialism, Communism or the history of Socialism in America as that is a subject of a greater project currently in work. I will also endeavor to show how various people, some known, some unknown have been involved in the destruction of the American way of life as our Founding Fathers envision.

So, let’s begin with how England’s Fabian Society came to America.

The American Fabian Society:

For Americans, Massachusetts is considered to be the garden where the seeds of Freedom were sown and eventually bloomed into America’s fight for independence from Britain; it may also be considered where the seeds that would blossomed into the destruction of the American way of life.

Long before Lenin said, “Give me four years to teach the children and the seed I have sown will never be uprooted”, the Marxian Socialists realized that in order to spread the Marxist theory of socialism (Scientific Socialism versus Utopian Socialism), they would need to infiltrate the schools, particularly colleges and universities. Shortly after the founding of the Fabian Society in England in 1883, those who believed in and wanted to bring Fabian Socialism to America would soon follow suit. Just as the Marxist Socialist had gained a foot hold on various campuses, the “young” American Fabians would also choose the universities and colleges in general, Harvard in particular, thus Harvard would become the fountain from which Fabian ideology would flow to other educational institutions and into the general pubic.

Some of the early Harvard student pioneers of Fabian Socialism in America were:

James Harvey Robinson, class of 1887. Robinson would become one of the founders and first director of the New School for Social Research (a home for progressive thinkers). His writings and lectures stressed the “new history” – the social, scientific, and intellectual progress of humanity rather than just politics. (Is this not what Common Core is suppose to do as well?…ed)

Oswald Garrison Villard, class of 1893. After gradation, he became a journalist, writing for the New York Evening Post and The Nation. In 1910 he would support and even donated space in the New York Evening Post to advertise the formation of what would become the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP).

W.E.B. DuBois, class of 1890. He became the first African American to earn a doctorate from Harvard, and would later become best known as a spokesperson for African American rights during the first half of the 20th century. While working as a professor at Atlanta University,  Du Bois would gain national prominence when he very publicly opposed Booker T. Washington’s “Atlanta Compromise”, an agreement that asserted that vocational education for blacks was more valuable to them than social advantages like higher education or political office. He criticized Washington for not demanding equality for African Americans, as granted by the 14th Amendment. He would later go on to co-found the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. In 2010, he would be ranked in Nation magazine’s “The Fifty Most Influential Progressives of the Twentieth Century” where in the biography it states “Du Bois was a Socialist (my emphasis), although he often disagreed with the party, particularly on matters of race.”

Harry Frederick Ward received his Master’s degree in Philosophy from Harvard in 1898. Ward is best remembered as the first national chairman of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), leading the group from its creation in 1920 until he resigned in 1940 because of the organization’s decision to bar Communists. He is best known as a political activist who would emerge as a leading fellow traveler of the Communist Party, USA.

Just as today, very few colligate organizations could exist without the support of the faculty. The same was true with the fledging American Fabian Society. Many professors, including Frank W. Taussig who is credited with creating the foundations of modern trade theory, allowed the Fabians to freely operate on Harvard’s campus. It was this tacit “endorsement” that gave the Fabians a “cloak of respectability” and would allow the Fabians at Harvard, as well as other universities, to be regarded not as groups of conspirators but as people that they could still have disagreements and amiable debates with.

In 1888, the British Fabian leaders Sidney Webb and Edward R. Pease came to the U.S. for an extended visit. During this visit, they instructed the various fledging American Fabian groups in the principles of Fabian Socialism and they would explain to their American audience that in England, “Socialist lectures have lately been given in several colleges by permission of the authorities, this part of the propaganda being chiefly performed by the Fabian Society, which has a standing ‘Universities Committee.’ ” (1)

It was also during this visit that Webb met and eventually would solidify a connection to Professor F.W. Taussig and other economists of the American Economic Association (AEA), which had been founded three years earlier by Richard Ely (Ely served as secretary of AEA 1885 -1892 and went on to serve as president from 1899-1901). Taussig would eventually serve as president of AEA from 1904 – 1905. This connection with the AEA would allow Webb’s essay, Socialism in England based on his The Historical Basis of Socialism, the basic platform for the growth of socialist extremism in England and had been previously published in Fabian Essays In Socialism to be widely circulated throughout academia in 1889.

While Fabian Socialism was taking root on Harvard and other campuses in 1889, Rev. W.D. P. Bliss was organizing the first Christian Socialist Society in the United States. This “Society” sought “To show that the aim of socialism is embraced in the aim of Christianity” (Sound familiar? – ed.). Bliss would also be the editor of The Dawn, the official magazine of the society which advocated the usual political measures of the socialist program coupled to the general principles of Christian Socialism.

The Christian Socialist Society never had more than a nominal impact or did it have much of an influence on the American Socialist movement and would disband a few years after being established. However, some prominent figures involved with the Christian Socialist Society would go on to other socialist pursuits.

Professor George D. Herron would go on to be the chair of Applied Christianity at Iowa College and express his views in a number of books and public speaking engagements. Herron’s belief in socialism began as being more of the ethical rather the political nature because of this he was a quiet supporter of the Socialist Labor Party. However, in later years he would declare his belief in political socialism (2). In 1894 Herron would join with join with Professor Ely of AEA fame to organize the American Institute of Christian Sociology which was designed to furnish churches with Christian Socialist literature. The institute would exert some influence on the socialist scene, but eventually it also would fail. Herron would go on to found the Rand School of Social Science in 1906. 

Rev. W.D. P. Bliss would join with Laurence Gronlund (an author and an executive member of the Socialist Labor Party), and together they would be a leading force in the establishment of the American Fabian Society in Boston in 1895.

Even though the American Fabian Society would establish branches in Boston, New York, Philadelphia and other cities, as well as publishing a monthly magazine, American Fabian, it ended up being an unsuccessful attempt to bring to America the same type of socialism that the older Fabian Society of England was establishing in England.

However, as with the Christian Socialist Society, a number of American Fabians would go to help establish other socialist organizations such as Intercollegiate Socialist Society (1905) which would change its name to The League for Industrial Democracy (L.I.D) after World War I, Rand School of Social Science (1906) and the New School for Social Research (1919), others would become leading figures in various socialist organizations and the Progressive movement. Two American Fabians would even become an influence in two different Presidential Administrations.

(1) Dobbs, Zygmund, Keynes at Harvard Economic Deception as a Political Credo, Probe Research, Inc., 1969 (Chapter 3 of this reference was used multi times)

(2) Hillquit,  Morris, History of Socialism in the United States, Funk & Wagnalls Co., New York, 1917. (This reference was also used multi times)

Additional Reference:

Bliss, William D.P., Encyclopedia of Social Reform, Funk & Wagnalls Co., New York, 1897.

Bliss, William D.P., The New Encyclopedia of Social Reform, Funk & Wagnalls Co., New York, 1908.

Shaw, George Bernard (ed), Fabian Essays in Socialism, The Ball Publishing Co., Boston, 1911.

Social Democracy Red Book #10, Debs Publishing Company, Terre Haute, Indiana, 1900.

Special Thanks to Igor, for putting up with the number of rewrites and his editing skills.

About Old Marine

I was a Vietnam Vet, before being one was popular. After serving 14 years in the Marines, attended college and earned degrees in Chemistry and Geology. Currently working as both for a state agency. @OldMarine1 on Twitter.
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