In 1902, journalist John A. Hobson published Imperialism: A Study. The book was among the first to connect the rise of finance capital with the growth of imperial expansion after 1870. Hobson’s theory would fast number among the most influential critiques of imperialism. Although Hobson himself was not a Marxist (he was a classical liberal), his theory would play a key role in shaping subsequent Marxist theories of imperialism, most notably that of V. I. Lenin.
In this Talking Empire podcast, Centre Director Richard Toye discusses Hobson’s Imperialism with Dr. Marc-William Palen.
History Department, University of Exeter
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In preparation for our upcoming free course on The Controversies of Empire I’ve been thinking hard about the legacy of J.A. Hobson (1858–1940), one of England’s most famous critics of imperialism.
A clue to Hobson’s thinking can be found in the title of his 1938 autobiography, Confessions of an Economic Heretic. His core idea was that capitalism’s boom-and-bust cycles were caused by over-saving by the richer classes, or, to put it another way, by the forced ‘under-consumption’ of the poorer ones; their lack of spending power, a consequence of the unequal distribution of income, led to the repeated pattern of depression and unemployment.
What, though, did this have to do with Empire? Continue reading “Why should we still study J. A. Hobson’s Imperialism?”