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Imperialism (Cambridge Library Collection - British and Irish History, 19th Century) 1st Edition

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ISBN-13: 978-1108025140
ISBN-10: 1108025145
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Book Description

J. A. Hobson (1858-1940) was an English economist and early social theorist. In Imperialism, published in 1902, he argues that imperial expansion was caused by the need to find new markets for the output of the Industrial Revolution, resulting in capitalistic exploitation of the colonies, and leading to international conflict.

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--This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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Product Details

  • Series: Cambridge Library Collection - British and Irish History, 19th Century
  • Paperback: 418 pages
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press; 1 edition (February 17, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1108025145
  • ISBN-13: 978-1108025140
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.9 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,164,533 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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36 of 37 people found the following review helpful By James R MacLean on June 17, 2003
Format: Paperback
The word "imperialism" today has become worn from misuse. Many of us have come to expect the word to signify that the speaker is a radical Marxist, or perhaps an embittered citizen of a defunct imperial power. Unfortunate indeed, because discussion of imperialism as a type of foreign policy decision has thereby been squelched.
But in 1902, when Hobson wrote Imperialism, it was not yet a term of odium. Imperialism was a foreign policy strategy advocated as a benefit to the colonial power and to the subjugated nation alike; one advocate referred to it as "...the greatest secular agency for good known to the world," and some of the greatest minds of the day--John Stuart Mill, John Ruskin, William Gladstone, Joseph Chamberlain and Alfred Milner--were "social imperialists," partisans of a mission to bring liberal institutions to the rest of the world, and create markets for British manufactured goods. More common by far were advocates of imperialism as an alternative to redistributive socialist policies, as an outlet for surplus population (Britain was widely regarded as being overpopulated), and as a backyard for flagship companies. Hobson was addressing these arguments without acrimony, and without assuming a radical agenda his readers were unlikely to share.
The fact that self-described socialists and lassez-faire dogmatics alike, in 1902, regarded "imperialism" as a means to their rival ends, shows that this was not merely a right-left debate, and Hobson attacks the idea of solving the problems of capitalist societies by making war on other nations. His analysis of imperialism and its allure for the industrialized world makes this one of the most revealing books on 19th century history.
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Format: Paperback
When a powerful country invades another with the express intention of changing their culture or system of government, there are several things that can happen. The invasion can be military, economic or various combinations of both. In the first case, the invaded country can mount armed resistance until the invaders eventually leave. For the second case, a small percentage of the natives can adopt the ways of the invaders and become the ruling class while the majority simply continues their lives. In the third case the invaded country can assimilate the ways of the invaders into their culture, becoming a synthesis. All three cases have happened in response to the policy that we now know as imperialism.

In the century since this book was written, imperialism has become somewhat of a derogatory term, so it is avoided when describing modern actions. The strategy advocated by the American group known as neo-cons is a modified version of what the European countries did a century ago under the banner of imperialism. Their policy is that the United States invades a Middle Eastern country and imposes a local democratic government. The country then becomes a powerful role model for others in the region and they also adopt a democratic government. Once democracy becomes the norm, the countries will be transformed into modern states that are friendly to the west.

Those who adhere to that thought should have read this book first. Hobson is very non-judgmental about the motives of people who advocated imperialism, but he is not restricted in his conclusions regarding the results. When the powerful states carved up Africa and Asia between them, imperialism was touted as an effective way to change the world for the better.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By not me VINE VOICE on August 11, 2011
Format: Paperback
John Hobson's "Imperialism" is one of those social science classics that never really ages because the fundamentals of power, class and wealth never really change. The book was written in 1902 in the wake of the Boer War, a bloody, three-year-long conflict instigated by mining companies bent on British annexation of South Africa's gold-rich Afrikaaner republics. Hobson saw the Boer War as emblematic of a wider British push to gobble up colonies in Africa and Asia in the last three decades of the 19th century. He wanted to know why.

His answer: Economics. According to Hobson, Britain's upper classes earned more income than they could realistically consume or invest. Chronically weak spending led to gluts of unsold goods and a drying up of investment opportunities. Seeking a way out of this trap, British financiers and manufacturers looked to foreign markets for salvation. However, these markets couldn't absorb Britain's excess savings (via exports and investment) unless they were under British control. Business and financial interests thus organized and led an Imperialist lobby supported by military officers, colonial civil servants, missionaries, arms manufacturers, and the jingo press. Imperialism was engineered by elites, but the wider British public went along. Ignorant of foreign cultures, ordinary Britons thrilled to the exploits of Empire and flattered themselves that they were in the vanguard of humanity. As always, the stupid enabled the greedy.

Hobson was not an economic determinist or a revolutionary. He argued that higher levels of public spending and a more egalitarian distribution of income would keep domestic demand in line with supply, thus neutralizing the need for imperial expansion.
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