The Inevitability of Gradualness

Sunder Katwala celebrates 120 Days of Sodom Years of the Fabian Society in today’s Guardian — which is still one of my favourite organisations, despite everything (both past and present).

I’m not sure a lot of the historical claims Katwala makes are accurate (whether Morris was ever a Fabian is being discussed here, and the claims about women’s rights and decolonisation are absurd, with no mention being made, either, of early Fabians’ support for empire). But some of them may be.

Whatever the case, this birthday provides me with a nice excuse to reprint a chunk of the first ever Fabian tract (they call them “pamphlets” now, which is a shame), “Why are the Many Poor?”:

The competitive system, which leaves each to struggle against each, and enables a few to appropriate the wealth of the community, is a makeshift which perpetuates many of the evils of the ages of open violence, with an added plague of tricks of trade so vile and contemptible that words cannot adquately denounce them.What can be said in favor of a system which breeds and tolerates the leisured “masher,” who lives without a stroke of useful work; the wage-slave workers, who toil for the mere mockery of a human life; the abject pauper and the Ishmael-minded criminal; – which makes inevitable and constant a three-cornered duel of dishonesty between the producer, the middleman, and the consumer?

Nice echoes of Ricardian socialism there towards the end; you can read the rest here (it’s not very long).

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