The anarchists were not the only ones to challenge the view that socialism was synonymous with Marxism. Toward the end of the nineteenth century there emerged several strands of "new" socialist thinking that developed outside the Marxist tradition. The most important of these was the brand of socialism known as Fabianism, which became an important movement in Great Britain after 1889. Originally comprised almost exclusively of upper-middle class intellectuals—notably, George Bernard Shaw (1856–1950), Annie Besant (1847–1933), and Beatrice Webb (1858–1943), and Sidney Webb (1859–1947)—the Fabian Society advocated a nonrevolutionary form of socialism that was shaped more by the ideas of Herbert Spencer (1820–1903), Jeremy Bentham (1748–1832), James Mill (1773–1836), and John Stuart Mill (1806–1873) than it was by those inpired by Karl Marx. Unlike the Marxists, who saw historical progress in terms of class conflict, the Fabians conceived of society as an organism that evolved gradually over time. Socialism was, in their eyes, a natural outcome of social development, but one that needed to be guided by enlightened thinkers like themselves. Drawing upon their faith in positivist principles, the Fabians were convinced that a "scientific" approach to the study of social phenomena would produce an effective strategy for constructing incrementally a socialist society. By insisting that socialism could be achieved in a peaceful way, the Fabians set themselves against the Marxian parties of the Second International who conceptualized social change in terms of a dialectical struggle.
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