By Terence H. Qualter
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Extra resources for Graham Wallas and the Great Society
What, he kept asking, was the purpose of political activity? This increasing concern with the nature ofthe end was to be one of the sources of friction which finally led to his resignation from the Fabians. While one distinguishing feature of Fabianism was that social change had to be democratic and constitutional, perhaps even more characteristic was the further requirement that change be gradual. The revolution would be achieved, not in one bloody holocaust, but in an irresistible sequence of reforms.
The progressive socialisation ofland was high in the list ofFabian priorities, and a critical element in Wallas' road to socialism. ' 32 Apart from land, the Fabians adopted a pragmatic, ad hoc approach to property. They had no doctrinaire scheme for the total elimination of all forms of private property. The Basis ofFabianism, published in 1887, set the policy: The Fabian Society consists of Socialists. It therefore aims at the reorganization of society by the emancipation of Land and Industrial Capital from individual and class ownership, and the vesting of them in the community for the general benefit.
5 This declaration of faith, which had also guided Francis Place, was clearly part of what attracted Wallas to both Place and the Fabians. Wallas' whole life reflected his concurrence with that most Fabian-like statement, which could have been made, in its spirit, equally well by Beatrice Webb. The Life of Francis Place was a reflection of the social values, and of the concept of the most efficient techniques of social reform, which drew Wallas into association with the Fabians. The single most coherent exposition of Fabian political and economic philosophy is contained in the Fabian Essays in Socialism, published in I88g, and since reissued several times.