FABIANISM AND THE EMPIRE. Fabianism and the Empire is the title of a work by George Bernard Shaw, which he wrote at the request of the Fabian Society in 1900. Formed in 1884, the Fabian Society was primarily interested in educating the public about socialism and gradually winning its acceptance. Domestic policies, therefore, were its primary concerns. Until the Jameson Raid,* the society itself had expressed little interest in imperial policies or in foreign affairs. Even after the raid, the Society avoided taking an official position on imperialism or the crisis in South Africa,* since some individual members had definite and opposing beliefs about imperialism.
At a meeting in December 1899, a few weeks after the start of the Second Anglo-Boer War,* a resolution offered by S. G. Hobson sought to have the Fabians condemn the war. His resolution dismissed the grievances of the Uitlanders* as the cause of the conflict and indicated that the real reason was Britain's desire for more territory. The resolution concluded by denouncing imperialism that was fostered by capitalists and jingoistic nationalism and by supporting only imperial expansion that would promote higher social organization. Shaw then offered an amendment to the resolution indicating that, since the war had already started, the Society should support the government but also insist upon nationalization of the mines and other reforms in the Transvaal* when the war ended. The members present failed to pass either the amendment or the original resolution, and the executive committee decided to poll members by mail to determine if the Society should draft an official statement. The returned votes narrowly favored no statement. The staunch anti-imperialists, about fifteen in number, thereupon resigned from the Fabian Society since they and many others interpreted the vote to be in favor of the war and of imperialism in general.