After reading this article you will learn about the transition from individualism to socialism.
It was widely claimed that the undesirable consequences of Industrial Revolution were primarily due to individualism. People’s consciousness was growing and they felt that establishment of socialist society was the only antidote. But the spokespersons of social change were against revolution. They were of view that socialism through evolutionary method was the only way.
This principle was borrowed by Fabians from Charles Darwin and Spencer. People’s distrust on individualism was rapidly growing and faith on socialism was gradually increasing. The transition from individualism to socialism was inevitable.
They also believed that this transformation, though at times distressingly slow, was all the more substantial because it had not entailed violence, but grew out of the sober conviction as to its efficiency and justice.
The common people and socialists both were convinced that the British society was ready to welcome socialism through evolutionary methods. Though British democracy achieved maturity, it remained incomplete because of the prevalence of gross economic inequality and extreme form of exploitation.
Individualism and even liberalism emphasized on political liberty and rights. The Fabians proceeded to introduce socialist measures to fulfill the aspirations of people.
In this connection a very apt remark of Webb may be quoted:
“In the teeth of the current political economy and in spite of all the efforts of the mill-owning liberals, England was compelled to put forth her hand to succour and protect her weaker members.” Here the intention of Webb is quite clear. The government must be invited to intervene to make an end of the deterioration of economic condition.
In one of the Fabian Essays we find the following lines:
Advocates of social reconstruction have learned the lesson of Democracy and know that it is through the slow and gradual turning of the popular mind to new principles that social reorganization bit by bit comes.
All students of society who are abreast of their times, socialist as well as individualists, realize that important organic changes can only be:
(1) Democratic, and thus acceptable to a majority of the people;
(2) Gradual, and thus causing no dislocation;
(3) Not regarded as immoral by the mass of people and not demoralizing to them;
(4) And, in this country, constitutional and peaceful.
In the eighties of the nineteenth century there emerged a large-scale consensus among various sections of British society that democracy includes people’s control over the main instruments of production, gradual substitution of organized cooperation for the anarchy of the competitive struggle.
A new and appreciable idea developed in the mind of a large section of British people that political principle of democracy was to be combined with people’s control over the means of production and that would give birth to Socialism.
Fabian Society’s conclusion regarding the inevitability of socialism is based on the fact that the events of post Industrial Revolution and the growing miseries of people will mount pressures upon the government to adopt socialist measures for alleviation of sufferings.
We conclude that behind the emergence of Fabian Socialism a good number of factors were quite active. Briefly stated, these are the curses of Industrial Revolution, British people’s apathy to armed revolution, the inordinate love of British people to parliamentary system of government.