“Socialism’s like flares. It ain’t never going to go away,” Billy Bragg once declared. Well, if it’s like flares, it’s looking decidedly threadbare. So threadbare, in fact, that the vanguard seems to have discarded philosophical flares for something a little more contemporary, the Financial Review reports today:

After almost 60 years the Australian Fabian Society, a left-leaning think tank, is thinking of dumping its commitment to socialism, including the pursuit of collective ownership and the promotion of socialist principles

The society’s national secretary, IT entrepreneur Evan Thornley, has written to the society’s members outlining plans to overhaul its constitution, including scrapping its stated purpose to “further socialism and the education of the public in socialist principles”.

The s-word isn’t to be found on the front page of Fabian Society’s home page. You don’t have to spend much time on the site, however, to find it there – in all it’s William Morris glory.

Thornley says, “We believe that the previous formulation reflected a set of knowledge and understandings that have now been outgrown … We hope we have a new draft that would be, as the software people would say, ‘backwardly compatible’.”

Thornley is a bright lad. One would have hoped that he and his Fabian chums might have stumbled over this knowledge a little earlier – when two of the twentieth century’s greatest embodiments of evil, Hitler and Stalin, were both killing under its banner.

If socialism is like flares, it’s like very badly stained flares.

Peter Fray

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