Sunday, 4 July 2010

Aunt Bo and Uncle Joe

With over 6500 members, the Fabian Society is Britain's leading centre-left think tank, publishing pamphlets, books and magazines, and running seminars...

In my younger, leftier days I occasionally went to Fabian Society events. I wouldn't have countenanced joining it though because of its origins; namely, its founding by the Webbs.

The admirable Harry's Place in its 'From the Archives' series has just put up a post, which underlines these reservations:

WAS MRS WEBB “RUTHLESS”?
A niece’s impressions
Letters to the editor
Manchester Guardian, February 4, 1958, p.6.
…. Aunt Bo, as she [Beatrice Webb] was affectionately known to members of her family (she was my husband’s aunt so it was this capacity that I knew her), despised the working classes with all the zest of her admirable middle-class Victorian upbringing. She disliked their fecklessness, their good nature, and the way they stood up for each other when in trouble…..
Most revealing of all, I remember, was one day after their [Beatrice and Sidney Webb’s] Russian visit, I had asked the headmistress of one of our local secondary schools who had been on an extensive tour down to the Ukraine to come and meet them. Over the teacups the headmistress mentioned her horror at finding her party in a station where several cattle-trucks of “enemies of the State” had been pulled up at a siding on their way to Siberia. “Very bad stage management,” said Aunt Bo severely, “Ridiculous to let you see them; the English are so sentimental!” At which the headmistress, rather shocked said: “But Mrs Webb, they were starving and held out their hands for food – they were in a pitiable condition.” “I know,” the great one replied, “but you can’t make an omelette without breaking eggs.”….
Yours &c.,
KONRADIN HOBHOUSE
Hadspen House, Castle Cary, Somerset.


This hardly has the status of revelation. However, it's worth returning to as it's a reminder of how seemingly respectable people can believe appalling things (see here). And indeed how some can get away with it in some quarters even when their evil - I think that's probably the right word when referring to Aunt Bo - is obvious for all to see. It is rather shocking that the Fabian Society has never been persuaded to disown this person.

2 comments:

zmkc said...

Sadly, Aunt Bo was not alone. I'm sure I don't need to point you in the direction of the various books detailing the doings of all the west's many useful fools.

Gaw said...

The useful fools are always with us it seems. The 'progressive' defenders of Islamism are the latest. They're a minority but still worth keeping an eye on.