Llewellyn H. Rockwell, Jr.
the Russian Revolution, the Communist Party had two wings: Bolshevik
and Menshevik. The Bolsheviks believed in the immediate establishment
of socialism through violence. The Mensheviks (who also called themselves
social democrats) argued for a gradual, non-revolutionary path to
the same goal. Liberty and property were to be abolished by majority
Bolsheviks won, but after committing unimaginable crimes, they have
pretty much disappeared. The Mensheviks, however, are taking over
a recent town meeting in Hyde Park, New York, Bill Clinton was asked
about a national sales tax (also called a value-added tax or VAT).
Clinton who is happily imposing income, corporate, energy, inheritance,
and other taxes said he could not include a VAT "right now." There
is "only so much change a country can accommodate at the same time."
local Menshevism has its roots not in Lenin's Russia, but in the
London of 1883, when a group of go-slow socialists founded the Fabian
Society. Headed by the appropriately named Herbert Bland, its most
famous members were playwright George Bernard Shaw, authors Sidney
and Beatrice Webb, and artist William Morris.
Fabians took their name from Quintus Fabius Maximus, the Roman general
who defeated Hannibal in the Second Punic War by refusing to fight
large set-piece battles (which the Romans had lost against Hannibal),
but only engaging in small actions he knew he could win, no matter
how long he had to wait.
the year of Marx's death to promote his ideas through gradualism,
the Fabian Society sought to "honeycomb" society, as Fabian Margaret
Cole put it, with disguised socialist measures. By glossing over
its goals, the Fabian Society hoped to avoid galvanizing the enemies
revolutionary Marxists, the Fabian socialists also knew the workings
of British public policy. As the original policy wonks," they did
much research, drew up plans, wrote pamphlets and books, and made
legislative proposals, drawing on their allies in universities,
churches, and newspapers for help. They also trained speakers, writers,
and politicians, and Sidney Webb founded the London School of Economics
in 1895 as headquarters for this work.
the Fabian Society never had more than 4,000 members, they originated,
promoted, and steered through parliament most of British social
policy in the last 80 years. The result was a wrecked economy and
society, until Margaret Thatcher began to defabianize England.
Fabians succeeded in their goal of establishing the "provider state,"
a welfare state that would care not just for the poor, but also
for the middle class, from cradle to grave.
it was workmen's compensation, old-age pensions, unemployment benefits,
or socialized medicine, the Fabians always stressed "social reform,"
noted John T. Flynn. They "saw early the immense value of social
reform for accustoming the citizens to looking to the state for
the correction of all their ills. They saw that welfare agitation
could be made the vehicle for importing socialist ideas into the
minds of the common man."
Fabian innovation: social reform invariably involved some sort of
"insurance". People were induced to accept socialism through the
model of the insurance company.
insurance companies, relying on a random distribution of accidents,
pool money to make the world less uncertain for all of us. Pool
everyone's wealth in the state the Fabian argued and we could
be happy, healthy, and wise.
Bevan, the Fabian cabinet minister in the post-war Labor government
who imposed the National Health Service, actually argued that it
would drastically increase everyone's life span, eventually warding
off death indefinitely.
real Fabian vision of the state had been shown, however, in Sidney
and Beatrice Webb's Soviet Communism: A New Civilization?
published in 1935 (the question mark was removed from the title
after the first edition). The book praised Stalin's U.S.S.R. as
a virtual Heaven on earth.
fellow Marxists, if of a different stripe, the Webbs were bound
to approve of Stalinism the end if not the means. "The Fabians
were in a sense better Marxists than Marx was himself," said Joseph
Schumpeter. "To concentrate on the problems that are within practical
politics, to move in step with the evolution of things social, and
to let the ultimate goal take care of itself is really more in accord
with Marx's fundamental doctrine than the revolutionary ideology
he himself grafted upon it."
Clinton was trained by modern Fabians during his Rhodes scholarship
at Oxford. Carroll Quigley, his mentor at Georgetown, was also a
sort of Fabian. Perhaps this is why Clinton calls higher taxes "contributions,"
government spending "investment," blind obedience to him "patriotism,"
and private property owners "special interests."
socialism is what Clinton means by "change." As E. J. Dionne has
said, "President Clinton's economic plan is a blueprint for recasting"
our society into a "social democracy."
example, just as trade unions were about to die a merciful death
in American economic life, Clinton signed several executive orders
to ensure their prospering at the expense of property owners.
his first budget, Clinton called on us to sacrifice ourselves to
the government. The Fabians said the same, advocating, in the words
of Beatrice Webb, the "transference" of "the emotion of self-sacrificing
service" from God to the state.
other social democrats, Clinton lies to the public. He says that
taxing the rich will have no effect on middle class wealth. But
concentration of private capital at the top of the social hierarchy
is good. It makes everyone better off. Plundering that wealth may
lead to more equality, but it's an equality of poverty.
has already shown his disdain for the market economy by berating
drug companies for their prices and threatening controls on them
(while expanding the welfare programs that drive these prices higher).
to Hillary's health and medical commission, we will get something
more socialist than our present system, but short of the total state.
More controls will come later.
Fabian stained glass window, now installed at Beatrice Webb House
in Surrey, England, shows George Bernard Shaw and Sidney Webb reshaping
the world on an anvil, with the Fabian coat of arms in the background:
a wolf in sheep's clothing. That wolf is now at our door.