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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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Permeation and Independent Labor

Permeation and Independent Labor

(p.195) Chapter Ten Permeation and Independent Labor
The Making of British Socialism

Mark Bevir

Princeton University Press

This chapter discusses George Bernard Shaw's and Sidney Webb's respective political strategies and their roles in inspiring Fabian policy. The Fabians did not share a commitment to permeating other parties in order to promote incremental measures of socialism. For a start, Shaw would have liked an independent socialist party, but for much of the 1880s and 1890s he did not think that such a party was possible. Moreover, insofar as the leading Fabians came to agree on “permeation,” they defined it differently. Shaw thought of permeation in terms of luring Radicals away from the Liberal Party in order to form an independent party to represent workers against capitalists. In contrast, Webb defined permeation in terms of giving expert advice to the political elite. The response of the Fabian Society to the formation of the Independent Labor Party reflected the interplay of these different strategies.

Keywords:   Fabians, Fabianism, George Bernard Shaw, Sidney Webb, Fabian policy, British socialism, permeation

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