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A Wolf in Sheep's Clothing: Symbol Analysis of the Fabian Society Crest

Updated on February 26, 2014
Crest of the Fabian Society
Crest of the Fabian Society | Source

This symbol really got me thinking. What exactly is the meaning? It is well known that subliminal messages are used in marketing, and secondary meanings are often hidden in plain sight. But is that the case here?

The Fabian Society is a socialist intellectual movement founded in Britain in 1884. The goal of the society was to advance a gradualist variety socialism by slowly reforming capitalism rather than through revolutionary Marxism. In the twentieth century, the society's members included Edward Mandel House, adviser to Woodrow Wilson who was instrumental in passing the Federal Reserve Act, the philosopher Bertrand Russel, and the economist John Maynard Keynes, who's theories now generally guide the world economy.

Fabian George Bernard Shaw, the playwright, stated, "We urged our members to join the Liberal and Radical Associations in their district, or, if they preferred it, the Conservative Associations - we permeated the party organizations and pulled all the strings we could lay our hands on with the utmost adroitness and energy, and we succeeded so well that in 1888 we gained the solid advantage of a Progressive majority full of ideas that would never have come into their heads had not the Fabians put them there."

But this organization's crest is puzzling. Why choose a wolf in sheep's clothing symbol for what is ostensibly a beneficent organization seeking to improve the lives of the working class? The wolf in sheep's clothing reference is biblical in origin. "Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves." Matthew 7:13-27 (KJV). But why use this symbol on the Fabian Society crest? Do the founders know that socialism is actually a wolf, but want to make it appealing to the public by pretending that it is a sheep?

If anyone has a different interpretation, I'd be glad to hear about it.


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    • Leah Gold profile image

      Leah Gold 3 years ago

      Communism killed itself, capitalism is killing itself. Both are great in theory, corrupt in actual practice because of a lack of ethics. Greed takes over in both cases; either through collusion in the market or by high party officials siphoning off what is generated by the proletariat.

      Because of the historical human tendency towards corruption, I would hesitate to dismiss the socialist boogeyman just yet. Nor would I write off the dangers inherent in any statist or total government solution or ideology. The state, and by extension the individuals making up government, should ideally have less power, not more.

    • charlieword profile image

      charlieword 3 years ago

      Good comment Rambo… you must be American

      " They also took up prison reform and children working many hours a day and other causes, but it was all a way to push anti capitalism."

      Yes how horrible that was too… I think we should do away with all this business, beat those prisoners, and get those children and women back into the factories working long long hours for very little pay… That's the capitalist way!…

      Capitalism is killing itself, it doesn't need be plagued by the socialist boogeyman.. anymore. What predatory free market capitalists forgot to mention is that you can't base an economy on a model of unlimited growth…. Once the resources run out - the people/population/workforce will become useless… as we see resources dwindle education is becoming more inaccessible, higher education becomes undesirable because there aren't jobs when people graduate to massive debt… once the population is uneducated,… then we will see how long the precious rights and freedoms we once cherished, will last then.. sad picture.

      but true…



    • profile image

      Rambo 3 years ago

      The only good commie, is a dead one.

    • Leah Gold profile image

      Leah Gold 3 years ago

      Thanks, I'll check out that book. I agree that there is a Fabian agenda behind the animal rights movement, however, I also think that there are ethical concerns surrounding vivisection which are troubling in their own right, regardless of context or any underlying social engineering agenda. I find vivisection particularly disturbing when it comes to frivolous things, such as cosmetic testing and other non-medical testing. So, I would hesitate to throw the baby out with the bathwater when it comes to discussing ethical concerns related to vivisection.

    • profile image

      Millissa S 3 years ago

      See Henry Salt's Book, "Animal Rights". It is free online. He was a lifelong Fabian. Antivivisection came about because of a general distrust in medicine and those who used animals for research at first to learn about physiology. Also the tales of grave robbing and the selling of bodies of the poor were well known.

      Vegetarianism came about some for religious reasons first, then to help feed the poor of the influx of immigrants during and after the industrial revolution, and finally, anti meat eaters, or blood lickers as they were called. Also you will find that the influence of India on not eating meat of those in the UK but the Indians belief of hinged on reincarnation. Of course during the time the abbatoirs were in the main section of London where people passed every day and saw the sites and smells of the killing of animals for food and was reported "women would swoon as they passed by!"

    • Leah Gold profile image

      Leah Gold 4 years ago

      Thank you! I'll certainly look into George Bernard Shaw.

    • profile image

      Gail Combs 4 years ago

      I suggest you read the "Real George Bernard Shaw" for an insight into the Fabians. It has direct quotes.

      The Fabians view the rest of us as 'Cattle' to be put to work or killed if we are not useful.

    • Leah Gold profile image

      Leah Gold 4 years ago

      I agree with the first part, but I really dislike the association of animal rights and anti-vivisectionism with socialism. Maybe historically there was a connection, and I agree that there is a social engineering element pushing vegetarianism from the top down, but I am strongly against vivisection as well.

      I'd have to do more research on what you are saying about the historical anti-vivisection movement, but the big Rockefeller controlled medical universities, pharmaceutical companies, and research labs all still vivisect today. I don't really see modern Fabian socialists as being anti-vivisectionist at all based on current practices.

      I affirm that animals do have inherent rights, but I don't think that it is up to the state to enforce the inherent rigths of animals or people. It comes down to individual moral choice. While I am strongly anti-socialist, I eat meat rarely by choice, because it is healthier to limit meat consumption unless the meat is organic. This is an individual choice for health and humane reasons. I don't see that there is anything near a connection with modern Fabians to animal rights.

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      Milissa S. 4 years ago

      The Fabian Society spread socialism slowly so that no one would recognize it. That was their goal and they were indeed wolves in sheep's clothing. They wanted to change society. The modern animal rights movement started in the Fabian Society. They also took up prison reform and children working many hours a day and other causes, but it was all a way to push anti capitalism. Many of the animal rights philosophers of the day were members of the Fabians. Mostly they were concerned with vivisection or using animals in research because in the UK at the time people were very suspect of medicine and innoculations and at that time discoveries were being made to save lives and thus animal research was done. Many advances in medicine came out at this time. Out of vivisection came vegetarian ideas along with killing animals to eat. People who ate meat were called blood lickers. It was definitely a socialist against the rich, hunting with hounds, they felt was a rich man's sport. The dress of the rich, one may have a hat adorned with feathers and fur, and the Fabians were also against this as it was part of the people of money who dressed like this. The Fabians also moved to areas of the USA to carry their ideas. The animal rights movement, PETA, HSUS and ASPCA have done more to remove capital from the USA in all their endeavors which appeart to help animals, but only one percent is spent to help any animals. Most is spent on lobbying and advertising. So please if you donate, give it to your local animal welfare group, not to an animal rights organization that was born in socialistic thought 100 years ago.