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The Making of British Socialism$
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Mark Bevir

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780691150833

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: October 2017

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691150833.001.0001

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Sidney Webb

Sidney Webb

(p.173) Chapter Nine Sidney Webb
The Making of British Socialism

Mark Bevir

Princeton University Press

Webb was the single most important thinker and actor in the development of Fabian socialism. This chapter looks in detail at his political thought, rejecting the often repeated claim that he was a descendant of the utilitarians and a representative of a new managerial class. Webb's intellectual background lay in the liberal radicalism of the 1870s, which combined ethical positivism with evolutionary sociology. Webb first became a socialist because of his positivist ethic. He soon defined his socialism in terms of an evolutionary philosophy. He later adopted collectivism when he turned away from neoclassical economics to positivist sociology. And his collectivism always remained an ethical ideal embedded in an evolutionary sociology.

Keywords:   Fabian socialism, political thought, British socialism, liberal radicalism, ethical positivism, evolutionary sociology, collectivism, Sidney Webb

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