The future of the left since 1884

Crying wolf

Fabian conspiracies can be put into two categories: those that claim the society want to dominate the world, and those that believe it is already successfully doing so, writes Vanesha Singh.

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Opinion

Who are the Fabian Society? This, I imagine, is the question on the lips of everyone  unfamiliar with us, until Ben Carson’s accusation this weekend that we are fuelling allegations of sexual assault against Brett Kavanaugh (President Donald Trump’s nominee to the Supreme Court) as part of an elaborate plan to take over America. I recommend you keep your wits about you as you try to find out more about us: steer far enough away from our website and you’re likely to stumble upon a number of blogs, threads and YouTube videos titled “beware of the Fabian Society”, “the truth about the Fabian Society”, “the Fabian Society EXPOSED” and so on.

Because in truth, there are a lot of people posting online about the society’s supposedly nefarious intentions – although our ‘socialist plot to take over America’ is certainly the first of its kind to be peddled by a senior US politician – read into that what you will. Welcome to the world of Fabian conspiracy theories …

As an overview, most Fabian conspiracies have right-wing undertones. They tend to be backed by very few facts and are fuelled, instead, by a staunch opposition to socialism. Note how Carson refers to the fact we are a ‘centuries-old socialist group’ trying to destroy American institutions. More widely, this disdain for a socialist society then results in the claim that the Fabians are, for instance, “working to destroy Western civilisation”.

Largely, Fabian conspiracies can be put into two categories: those that claim the society want to dominate the world, and those that believe it is already successfully doing so. The latter, in my opinion, are much more fascinating. Here, the society is described as a powerful global actor that ‘captured’ and now ‘controls’ not only the Labour party, but the entirety of British society – with a particularly strong hold over the working classes.

Websites also lay out, in immense detail, how the Fabian Society influences multinational corporations, or how it represents the financial interests of global institutions such as the United Nations. Needless to say, despite some fairly busy periods, this is considerably more dramatic than any day I’ve had at Petty France so far.

And yet, there is one key detail that seems to fuel this suspicion and paranoia the most: the society’s original coat of arms, the wolf in sheep’s clothing. Featured on George Bernard Shaw’s famous Fabian Window, the emblem has given the society a somewhat sinister reputation to those on the outside.

Though it hasn’t been used for many decades, the original coat of arms was intended to symbolise the society’s rejection of violent revolution in favour of cautious, evolutionary change. The wolf in sheep’s clothing was therefore a metaphor for gradually advancing socialism. Yet, many see it as proof that the Fabians are concealing a dark agenda and ‘deadly intentions’ whilst fronting as an ‘harmless institution’. As one website reads, it is “chillingly clear that the Fabian Society is a devious, subversive organisation”.

Another site claims the society’s objective is to manipulate “education, culture, the economy, the legal system and even medicine and religion”. And a third is convinced that  our ultimate goal is world governance. Quite impressive, if you consider the size of the staff team.

Conspiracists also regularly tie the Fabian Society to other organisations shrouded in mystery and mistrust. American right-wing conspiracy theorist Fritz Springmeier, for example, claims that the Fabian Society is, in fact, ‘a prominent member of the Illuminati’.

Another very popular theory is that the Fabian Society – like the Freemasons – has several secret levels of initiation with ‘an inner Fabian elite’. According to this theory, most people involved in the society actually “have no idea of its true agenda” and are just “a front for the fraud at the heart of the organisation” – sorry, members.

Topping them all is the claim that the Fabian Society works in close contact with the Windsor family, who, together, are “trying to take control of world government”. If this is true, I do hope the Queen caught our debate at this year’s summer conference on whether the monarchy should be abolished.

While it is easy to make light of all these conspiracy theories, there is a more serious side worth considering. For claims to stick, they must be plausible; there needs to be proof that the dots being connected do actually connect. So theorists research intently to find ‘reliable’ evidence. They quote from history books on Fabianism, or from the diaries and biographies of the society’s founders. And worryingly, by doing so, their claims often appear convincing.

The theorists extrapolate from information found on the society’s own website: that we once had 200 members sitting in the House of Commons, is turned into evidence that we “write Labour’s policy statements, manifestos and party programmes”, for instance. Facts can be manipulated to suit warped versions of the truth.

But most dangerous of all is that these conspiracy theories are going unchallenged, and are even reinforced – not only by a community of people who believe them – but now by a senior US politician.

For a long time we’ve ignored these conspiracies, but calling them out was certainly overdue. Then again, if you don’t hear from me after this, do some digging.

Vanesha Singh

Vanesha Singh is the Editorial Officer at the Fabian Society.

@_vaneshasingh

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