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The Fabian Society


The society was founded on 4 January 1884 in London as an offshoot of a society founded in 1883 called The Fellowship of the New Life.[1] Fellowship members included poets Edward Carpenter and John Davidson, sexologist Havelock Ellis, and future Fabian secretary, Edward R. Pease. They wanted to transform society by setting an example of clean simplified living for others to follow. But when some members also wanted to become politically involved to aid society's transformation, it was decided that a separate society, The Fabian Society, also be set up. All members were free to attend both societies. The Fabian Society additionally advocated renewal of Western European Renaissance ideas.

The Fellowship of the New Life was dissolved in 1898[2], but the Fabian Society grew to become the preeminent academic society in the United Kingdom in the Edwardian era, typified by the members of its vanguard Coefficients club.

Immediately upon its inception, the Fabian Society began attracting many prominent contemporary figures drawn to its socialist cause, including George Bernard Shaw, H. G. Wells, Annie Besant, Graham Wallas, Hubert Bland, Edith Nesbit, Sydney Olivier, Oliver Lodge, Leonard Woolf and Virginia Woolf, Ramsay MacDonald and Emmeline Pankhurst. Even Bertrand Russell later became a member. The two members John Maynard Keynes and Harry Dexter White were delegates at 1944's United Nations Monetary and Financial Conference, commonly known as the Bretton Woods Conference.

At the core of the Fabian Society were Sidney and Beatrice Webb. Together, they wrote numerous studies of industrial Britain, including alternative co-operative economics that applied to ownership of capital as well as land.

The group, which favoured gradual incremental change rather than revolutionary change, was named — at the suggestion of Frank Podmore — in honour of the Roman general Quintus Fabius Maximus (nicknamed "Cunctator", meaning "the Delayer"). His Fabian strategy advocated tactics of harassment and attrition rather than head-on battles against the Carthaginian army under the renowned general Hannibal Barca.

The Fabian Society logo of the 1950's evoked Aesop's fable, The Tortoise and the Hare.
The Fabian Society logo of the 1950's evoked Aesop's fable, The Tortoise and the Hare.

The first Fabian Society pamphlets advocating tenets of Social justice coincided with the zeitgeist of Liberal reforms during the early 1900's. The Fabian proposals however were considerably more progressive than those that were enacted in the Liberal reform legislation. The Fabians lobbied for the introduction of a minimum wage in 1906, for the creation of a Socialised healthcare system in 1911, and for the abolition of hereditary peerages in 1917[3].

Fabian socialists were in favour of an imperialist foreign policy as a conduit for internationalist reform and a welfare state modelled on the Bismarckian German model; they criticised Gladstonian liberalism both for its individualism at home and its internationalism abroad. They favoured a national minimum wage in order to stop British industries compensating for their inefficiency by lowering wages instead of investing in capital equipment; slum clearances and a health service in order for "the breeding of even a moderately Imperial race" which would be more productive and better militarily than the "stunted, anaemic, demoralised denizens...of our great cities"; and a national education system because "it is in the class-rooms that the future battles of the Empire for commercial prosperity are already being lost"[4].

The Fabians also favoured the nationalization of land, believing that rents collected by landowners were unearned, an idea which drew heavily from the work of American economist Henry George.

Many Fabians participated in the formation of the Labour Party in 1900, and the group's constitution, written by Sidney Webb, borrowed heavily from the founding documents of the Fabian Society. At the Labour Party Foundation Conference in 1900, the Fabian Society claimed 861 members and sent one delegate.

In the period between the two World Wars, the "Second Generation" Fabians, including the writers R. H. Tawney, G. D. H. Cole, and Harold Laski, continued to be a major influence on social-democratic thought.

It was at this time that many of the future leaders of the Third World were exposed to Fabian thought, most notably India's Jawaharlal Nehru, who subsequently framed economic policy for one-fifth of humanity on Fabian social-democratic lines. Obafemi Awolowo who later became the premier of Nigeria's defunct Western Region was also a Fabian member in the late 1940's. It was the Fabian ideology that Awolowo used to run the Western Region but was prevented from using it on a national level in Nigeria. It is a little-known fact that the founder of Pakistan, Barrister Muhammad Ali Jinnah, was an avid member of the Fabian Society in the early 1930s. Lee Kuan Yew, the first Prime Minister of Singapore, stated in his memoirs that his initial political philosophy was strongly influenced by the Fabian Society. However, he later altered his views, believing the Fabian ideal of socialism to be too impractical.

[edit] Legacy

Through the course of the 20th century the group has always been influential in Labour Party circles, with members including Ramsay MacDonald, Clement Attlee, Anthony Crosland, Richard Crossman, Tony Benn, Harold Wilson, and more recently Tony Blair and Gordon Brown. The late Ben Pimlott served as its Chairman in the 1990s. (A Pimlott Prize for Political Writing was organized in his memory by the Fabian Society and The Guardian in 2005, and continues annually). The Society is affiliated to the Party as a socialist society. In recent years the Young Fabian group, founded in 1960, has become an important networking and discussion organisation for younger (under 31) Labour Party activists and played a role in the 1994 election of Tony Blair as Labour Leader. Following a period of inactivity, the Scottish Young Fabians were reformed in 2005.

The ideology of the Fabians can be encompassed in the famous quote, " Fabianism feeds on Capitalism, but excretes Communism ".

The society's 2004 annual report showed that there were 5,810 individual members (down 70 from the previous year), of whom 1,010 were Young Fabians, and 294 institutional subscribers, of which 31 were Constituency Labour Parties, co-operative societies, or trade unions, 190 were libraries, 58 corporate, and 15 other—making 6,104 members in total. The society's net assets were £86,057, its total income £486,456, and its total expenditure £475,425. There was an overall surplus for the year of £1,031.

The latest edition of the Dictionary of National Biography (a reference work listing details of famous or significant Britons throughout history) includes 174 Fabians.

Four Fabians, Beatrice and Sidney Webb, Graham Wallas, and George Bernard Shaw founded the London School of Economics with the money left to the Fabian Society by Henry Hutchinson. Supposedly the decision was made at a breakfast party on 4 August 1894. The founders are depicted in the Fabian Window[5] designed by George Bernard Shaw. The window was stolen in 1978 and reappeared at Sotheby's in 2005. It was restored to display in the Shaw Library at the London School of Economics in 2006 at a ceremony over which Tony Blair presided.[6]

[edit] Young Fabians

Members aged under 31 years of age are also members of the Young Fabians. This group has its own elected Chair and executive and organizes conferences and events. It also publishes the quarterly magazine Anticipations. The Scottish Young Fabians, a Scottish branch of the group, reformed in 2005.

[edit] Influence on Labour government

Since Labour came to office in 1997, the Fabian Society has been a forum for New Labour ideas and for critical approaches from across the party. The most significant Fabian contribution to Labour's policy agenda in government was Ed Balls' 1992 pamphlet, advocating Bank of England independence. Balls had been a Financial Times journalist when he wrote this Fabian pamphlet, before going to work for Gordon Brown. BBC Business Editor Robert Peston, in his book Brown's Britain, calls this an "essential tract" and concludes that Balls "deserves as much credit – probably more – than anyone else for the creation of the modern Bank of England";[7] William Keegan offers a similar analysis of Balls' Fabian pamphlet in his book on Labour's economic policy,[8] which traces in detail the path leading up to this dramatic policy change after Labour's first week in office.

The Fabian Society Tax Commission of 2000 was widely credited[9] with influencing the Labour government's policy and political strategy for its one significant public tax increase: the National Insurance rise to raise £8 billion for National Health Service spending. (The Fabian Commission had in fact called for a directly hypothecated "NHS tax"[10] to cover the full cost of NHS spending, arguing that linking taxation more directly to spending was essential to make tax rise publicly acceptable. The 2001 National Insurance rise was not formally hypothecated, but the government committed itself to using the additional funds for health spending.) Several other recommendations, including a new top rate of income tax, were to the left of government policy and not accepted, though this comprehensive review of UK taxation was influential in economic policy and political circles.[11]

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Nova Dreamer And Lucid Dreaming

The Nova Dreamer is a device which you wear on your head while you sleep. It is similar to a sleeping mask to block out sunlight, but instead recognises when you are in REM sleep and sends light signals to your eyes. If trained correctly, you can use this as a trigger to induce lucid dreaming.

Definition Of Lucid Dreaming:

A lucid dream, also known as a conscious dream, is a dream in which the person is aware that he or she is dreaming while the dream is in progress. When the dreamer is lucid, he or she can actively participate in the dream environment without any of the inhibitions or limitations that otherwise would feel natural to persons who incorrectly believe they are in the "real" waking world. Lucid dreams can be extremely real and vivid depending on a person's level of self-awareness during the lucid dream.[1]
A lucid dream can begin in one of two ways. A dream-initiated lucid dream (DILD) starts as a normal dream, and the dreamer eventually concludes that he or she is dreaming, while a wake-initiated lucid dream (WILD) occurs when the dreamer goes from a normal waking state directly into a dream state with no apparent lapse in consciousness.
Lucid dreaming has been researched scientifically, and its existence is well established.[2][3] Scientists such as Allan Hobson, with his neurophysiological approach to dream research, have helped to push the understanding of lucid dreaming into a less speculative realm.

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Vertical Farming

Food, Fuel and Farming: the Sky's the Limit

Sometimes, the answer to a complex problem is so simple, so elegant that you wonder why you didn't think of it yourself. That was my reaction yesterday as I sat at the World Science Festival Summit and listened to Columbia University professor Dickson Despommier describe an ingenious idea that could ultimately ease the world's food, water, and energy crises.

"The Living Tower" by SOA Architects


He calls it vertical farming, and he wasn't talking about growing pole beans. This is agriculture on the 34th floor of a big city skyscraper. Despommier has been working on vertical farming for more than 10 years, inspired by population experts that foresee over 9 billion people on the planet by 2050. The environment also benefits since there's no need for pesticides and other harmful chemicals, you give the land back to trees, shrubs and other natural species, and you use less water for irrigation since you can recirculate. And of course there's the "buy local" idea. You won't have to truck crates of veggies 3,000 miles so that New Yorker's can eat asparagus in November. I can see it now -- the Flatiron building will be the gateway to Silicon Aggie, a farm stand on the corner of 22nd and Broadway.

"The Living Skyscraper: Farming the Urban Skyline" by Blake Kurasek

As our intellectually-challenged government officials continue to screw up our food supply by making corn into ethanol and sending food prices through the proverbial solar roof; and as they green light an outrageous $300 billion on farm subsidies, Despommier's plan becomes even more attractive, if not urgent. If the U.S. government can't see the root of the problem, Dubai probably can. The Emirates seems to be funding all the good ideas lately with their windfall petrodollars. Ironically, they knew what was coming and they actually planned for it. They knew we would not end our dependence on oil when Jimmy Carter was president and Americans were facing gas shortages, gas rationing, a serious recession and no alternative energy policy was implemented.

So before we all have to start speaking Arabic, or Chinese or Hindi because we've sold America to the highest foreign bidder, let's try to plan for our future. One good idea belongs to Dickson Despommier. Let's help it grow.

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Magellan Maestro 4200 Satellite Navigation

Magellan's new range of satellite-navigation products is being sold on the line that they're the slimmest such devices around. We can believe that – the 4200 looks great, with unspoiled lines and a slimline design – but looks aren't everything.

The Maestro 4200 is otherwise relatively basic: it includes navigation, of course, with full postcode searching, and information on speed cameras. That's pretty much it, though. There's a 'Marco Polo' travel guide, but this only extends to major sights in capital cities – you need to pay to unlock the rest of it.

The unit can work in any region of Europe (but no more than one): at the beginning the user must select one (the UK and Ireland for us) and it's then locked in permanently, so get that wrong and you're in trouble.

Navigation was simple, and the touch-sensitive screen was responsive and fast. It was also pretty quick to calculate directions and to pick a new route when we had deviated.

Although there's no Bluetooth connection for your phone, or traffic updates, there are speed camera warnings and the ability to set a route plan. The Magellan Maestro 4200 is certainly portable, and it does its job well, but some of its competitors include more features for a similar price.

Vista compatibility: Yes

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