chapter  2
3 Pages

Who The Fabians Are

Society wants it to be small, but because reasoning has, and probably always will have, a limited appeal. The Fabian Society's essential appeal is to certain particular kinds of people, and not to all and sundry. It wants, of course, to influence as many people as it possibly can, and it has been, throughout its long history, an agent in converting to Socialism, directly or indirectly, very many times as many persons as have joined it. But it does not expect more than a small fraction of those to whom it appeals actually to join its ranks, or at any rate the ranks of the parent Society. Of course, the more who do join it the better it is pleased, and it seeks to enrol in its local Societies and groups many more than are likely to become national members of the parent body. This is partly because the effectiveness of its work depends on supplying its members with a great deal of literature, itself the product of a great deal of careful research. Such a service cannot be financed, even with the aid of some large ponations, without a rate of subscription that is bound to seem high to those who are used to small weekly payments The parent Fabian Society cannot afford weekly collections from a membership scattered all over the country. It has to collect an annual sum from each member, and this in practice limits its membership. In fact, a guinea a year is not much more than fourpence a week; but it is apt to seem much more, when it is asked for as a lump sum.1 Moreover, our smaller subscribers contribute little or nothing to the general expenses of the Society • they get back from it most of what they pay in the actual expenses of supplying them with literature and keeping them in touch with the Society's work. So the parent Society has to get larger subscriptions from all who can afford to pay them-and of course a good deal more from some of its members, or it could not go on at all. The local Fabian Societies do not suffer under this particular handicap, and can therefore aim at a wider membership.