Colonialism and Welfare

Colonialism and Welfare

Social Policy and the British Imperial Legacy

Edited by James Midgley and David Piachaud

The British Empire covered three centuries, five continents and one-quarter of the world’s population. Its legacy continues, shaping the societies and welfare policies of much of the modern world. In this book, for the first time, this legacy is explored and analysed.

Chapter 8: Fabianism, Social Policy and Colonialism: The Case of Tanzania

David Piachaud

Subjects: social policy and sociology, comparative social policy


David Piachaud The close link between Fabianism and colonialism is personified in the life of Sidney Webb. Webb entered the Colonial Office in 1881 as a clerk; nearly 50 years later he became, as Lord Passfield, Secretary of State for the Colonies in the 1929–31 Labour Government. In between he was founder of the London School of Economics and the New Statesman, author of the Labour Party Constitution and the leading Fabian. Webb was also a member of a small, secret discussion group, the Coefficients, comprising some of the most prominent people in Britain. When discussing the Empire in 1903 they: generally agreed that one’s rule over subject races was a duty which we could not abandon and which conferred considerable advantages. It provided a large field for our commerce, it contributed to our military strength and it afforded scope for the development of a very high type of individual whose existence tended to react upon and stimulate our democracy at home ... It was also further suggested that if these people were not directly ruled by a higher race, they would acquire some of the powers conferred by modern civilisation, such as the use of arms and machinery, without absorbing the moral and political elements of civilisation, and thus become a menace to the civilised world. (Harrison, 1999, p. 329) Another leading Fabian, the playwright George Bernard Shaw, wrote in 1900 a Fabian Pamphlet Fabianism and the Empire which stated that: ‘a Great Power, consciously or unconsciously, must govern...

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