The Life and Times of Sydney and Beatrice Webb, 1858-1905: by Royden J. Harrison

By Royden J. Harrison

Sidney and Beatrice Webb are pointed out with many associations that they had a hand in creating--the Fabian Society, the London institution of Economics, the Labour occasion, the hot Statesman, the Political Quarterly, the Tribune. This quantity represents the 1st approved lifetime of the Webbs. The booklet is uniquely winning in illuminating the partnership which contributed to the overseas Socialist culture up to or greater than Robert Owen and William Morris.

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6 To many of these young Fabians it appeared, at least in retrospect, as if Sidney Webb had been sent by Providence to deliver them from these or similar delusions. 7 He thought it had set itself against the immanent tendency in modern society to increasingly complex organisation. He doubted whether it would be either feasible or desirable to rely on such social pressures as ostracism, to do the work of government: any sane person would prefer to be tried in a court of law rather than by public opinion.

Even in Marxian economics this painful social duty, the fulfilment of which increases the product, would seem to merit a share of such increased production. Thanks to the law of diminishing marginal utility, Webb could now (1886) assert that there was a 'surplus value of utility strictly analogous to the Marxian surplus value of commodities'. 85 The Shaping of a Professional Man 1859-85 33 The crucial concept in Webb's economic thought was the notion of the rent of special ability, as the reward of a distinct, scarce and monopolised factor of production.

He never referred to painting beyond remarking that the Sansisto Madonna was the only ancient picture that really touched him. He went to the theatre; he was enthusiastically with William Morris in being AntiScrape; but he trusted his own judgement of the arts only in relation to literature. He was fond of poetry and he frequently read novels, being as well acquainted with Zola and Freytag as with Dickens and Thackeray. 62 What Sidney valued in Silas Marner, Romola and Midddlemarch was the plausible description of bourgeois life, and persuasive insistence on positivist morals.

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