Labour leader, Jeremy Corbyn (L) and Keir Starmer, Shadow Secretary of State for Exiting the EU, look on prior to delivering a Brexit speech at the Harlow Hotel in Harlow, England, on Nov. 5, 2019. (Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)
By: Trevor Loudon | The Epoch Times
Western politics has been pushed so far to the left that small “c” communists, such as former U.S. presidential candidate Bernie Sanders and former British Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn, are often labeled “socialists” or even “democratic socialists.”
Some slightly less obvious socialists, such as Democratic presidential contender Joe Biden, are somehow labeled “moderates.”
A case in point is new British Labour Party leader Keir Starmer, who is being sold as a “soft-left” sensible moderate—just what is needed to bring Labour back to the middle after the far-left adventurism of his predecessor, the ultra-left Corbyn. The truth is far different.
Starmer’s replacement of Corbyn wasn’t a victory for moderate Labour principles over socialism. It was a victory for Starmer’s slower and more insidious “Fabian” form of socialism over the more open (and completely unelectable) Corbyn brand of Marxism.
Starmer is a longtime member of the legendary Fabian Society. He serves on the society’s executive committee alongside Anneliese Dodds, who also serves in Starmer’s cabinet-in-waiting—as shadow chancellor of the Exchequer. In addition to Dodds, all the top positions in Starmer’s shadow cabinet went to Fabian comrades: Angela Rayner, deputy leader and chair of the Labour Party; Lisa Nandy, shadow foreign secretary; Nick Thomas-Symonds, shadow home secretary; and Rachel Reeves, shadow chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster.
Ed Miliband, a former Labour leader and now Starmer’s shadow secretary of state for business, energy, and industrial strategy, also has a long history of Fabian Society affiliation.
Nandy also stood for the Labour Party leadership against Starmer and Rebecca Long-Bailey from the Corbyn faction. One Fabian or another was almost certain to win.
While many students of socialist history know something of the Fabian Society’s early history, few realize it’s still an influential force in British, even global, politics.
According to the society’s website, the Fabians derive their name from the “Roman general Quintus Fabius, known as Cunctator from his strategy of delaying his attacks on the invading Carthaginians until the right moment.”
The first Fabian pamphlet carried the note:
“For the right moment you must wait, as Fabius did most patiently when warring against Hannibal, though many censured his delays; but when the time comes, you must strike hard, as Fabius did, or your waiting will be in vain, and fruitless.”
The Fabian Society began in 1884 and soon attracted some of the most prominent leftist thinkers and activists of the era to its ranks.
“The 1880s saw an upsurge in socialist activity in Britain and the Fabian Society was at the heart of much of it. Against the backdrop of the Match Girls’ strike and the 1889 London Dock strike, the landmark Fabian Essays was published, containing essays by George Bernard Shaw, Graham Walls, Sidney Webb, Sydney Olivier, and Annie Besant. All the contributors were united by their rejection of violent upheaval as a method of change, preferring to use the power of local government and trade unionism to transform society.”
Fabians would go on to found the London School of Economics to educate future leaders and the New Statesman magazine as a “respectable” transmission belt for socialist ideas.
The Fabians helped found the Labour Party in 1900 and have maintained their affiliation for 120 years.
As the Society website describes:
“In 1923, over twenty Fabians were elected to Parliament, with five Fabians in [Prime Minister] Ramsay MacDonald’s cabinet. Future prime minister and Fabian Clement Attlee received his first ministerial post at this time. … 229 Fabian Society members were elected to Parliament in the 1945 Labour landslide, with many of them ministers in the Attlee administration.”
The pattern has continued into modern times: “After Tony Blair’s landslide victory in 1997, over 200 Fabians sat in the House of Commons, including many of the cabinet.”
It’s believed that every British Labour prime minister, including Harold Wilson, Neil Kinnock, Tony Blair, and Gordon Brown, have been Fabian Society members.
The Fabians can claim rightful credit for almost all of the extensive British welfare state measures enacted in the 20th century. These policies didn’t just do huge damage to Britain. They were unfortunately emulated across much of the English-speaking world.
India’s first prime minister, Jawaharlal Nehru, was heavily influenced by Fabianism and almost wrecked his country’s economy attempting to implement it.
Lee Kuan Yew, the first prime minister of Singapore, was initially strongly influenced politically by the Fabian Society according to his memoirs. However, he later abandoned his socialist views after seeing the results. In 1993, Lee said:
“They [Fabian Socialists] were going to create a just society for the British workers—the beginning of a welfare state, cheap council housing, free medicine and dental treatment, free spectacles, generous unemployment benefits. Of course, for students from the colonies, like Singapore and Malaya, it was a great attraction as the alternative to communism. We did not see until the 1970s that that was the beginning of big problems contributing to the inevitable decline of the British economy.”
Fabian Beatrice Webb’s 1909 Minority Report to the Commission of the Poor Law provided the foundation stone for much of the modern British welfare state. After World War II, the Fabians, working through the Labour Party, ushered in a social revolution in the United Kingdom.
“The Labour manifesto Let Us Face the Futurehad been written by Fabian Michael Young and many of the pioneering reforms of the 1945 Labour government had been first developed in Fabian essays or pamphlets,” according to the Society website.
The post-World War II Beveridge Report laid the foundations for the National Health Service (socialized medicine) and other government programs that drove taxes through the roof and caused economic stagnation that lasted well into the 1970s. Many of the Beveridge Report’s ideas were drawn from Fabian William Robson’s essay “Social Security.”
Often, Fabianism overlapped with communism. Sidney and Beatrice Webb, for instance, were avid propagandists for Stalin and the Soviet Union. Their famous two-volume report, “Soviet Communism: A New Civilization?” was much quoted in the communist press.
In 1948, their Fabian Society comrade George Bernard Shaw said: “I am a communist, but not a member of the Communist Party. Stalin is a first-rate Fabian. I am one of the founders of Fabianism and as such very friendly to Russia.”
Starmer also has communist ties—but in his case, of the Trotskyist variety.
In 1986–87, Starmer served on the editorial collective of the Marxist journal, “Socialist Alternatives.” One founder of the publication, Benjamin Schoendorff (pen name Harry Curtis), says the group was “radical anti-imperialist ecosocialists.”
The publication was directly affiliated to a branch of the Trotskyist communist movement led by Egyptian-born Greek activist Michel Raptis aka Michel Pablo and his Paris-based International Revolutionary Marxist Tendency.
Pablo/Raptis was a major proponent of “entryism.” While leading the international Trotskyist formation the Fourth International (FI), Raptis urged his supporters to increase their minuscule influence through systematically infiltrating larger communist parties or “social democratic” formations.
Left-wing British blogger Andrew Coates, citing Wikipedia, put it this way:
“Michel Raptis, is best known for advocating this line, ‘To gain influence, win members and avoid becoming small sectarian cliques just talking to each other, the Trotskyists should — where possible — join, or in Trotskyist terminology enter, the mass Communist or Social Democratic (Labour) parties. This was known as entrism sui generis or long-term entry. It was understood by all that the FI would retain its political identity and its own press.’”
Raptis wrote several articles for Socialist Alternatives under his own name. Communist Party members from several countries contributed to the magazine—most of them likely Trotskyist infiltrators. One regular contributor, Denis Freney, had rejoined the Communist Party of Australia in 1970, after several years working in the revolutionary government of Algeria with Raptis.
Prominent British journalist Paul Mason is a regular speaker at Fabian Society conferences and a former member of the Trotskyist group Workers’ Power—which also practiced “entryism” inside the Labour Party.
In 2018, Mason created five short films for the Berlin-based Rosa-Luxemburg-Stiftung for their “200 Years of Marx Jubilee” celebration.
According to the organization’s website:
“Alienation, communism, revolution, exploitation and the future of machines are the topics of Marx theories Mason is exploring for showing how Marx, who Masons [sic] describes as the most influential thinker of the modern world, is still highly relevant.”
Rosa-Luxemburg-Stiftung is a German taxpayer-funded, wholly-owned subsidiary of the German political party Die Linke—which is a direct descendant of the former East German Communist Party.
Mason (a Corbyn supporter) agitated alongside Starmer in the 1980s. In January, Mason wrote a New Statesman column to defend his old comrade from charges that he’s not left-wing enough:
“You can criticize Starmer for many things. But you cannot say he is not left-wing. From the miners and print workers’ strikes onwards, even if you leave aside co-editing a Trotskyist front magazine in his 20s, Starmer has been of the humanist and socially-liberal left. As someone who stood in the way of the same mounted police charge as he did, at Wapping in 1986, I can tell you it didn’t feel very centrist at the time.”
Whether Starmer is simply a leading “garden variety” Fabian or a Trotskyist “entryist” inside the Fabian Society, he is and always has been a committed revolutionary.
Starmer is not “soft left” and he’s certainly no moderate. But he could, at some point, be the United Kingdom’s next prime minister.
Trevor Loudon is an author, filmmaker, and public speaker from New Zealand. For more than 30 years, he has researched radical left, Marxist, and terrorist movements and their covert influence on mainstream politics. He is best known for his book “Enemies Within: Communists, Socialists and Progressives in the U.S. Congress,” and his similarly-themed documentary film “Enemies Within.” His soon-to-be-published book is “White House Reds: Communists, Socialists & Security Risks Running for U.S. President, 2020.”