Wednesday, May 01, 2019

A BBC radio documentary on Hobson, Lenin and anti-imperialism

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Before Gavin Williamson was sacked we were all occupied with Jeremy Corbyn's foreword to John Hobson's Imperialism.

There is a radio documentary on Hobson, Lenin and anti-imperialism on the BBC website, where the blurb begins:
Historian Tristram Hunt explores the surprising tale of a largely forgotten English journalist and economist, John Atkinson Hobson, and the book he wrote which inspired Lenin. 
Hobson was a bourgeois liberal - the sort of writer one might think a communist hardliner like Lenin would despise. But as Tristram discovers, Hobson's attack on the economics of the British Empire caught the exiled Lenin's attention in the first years of the 20th century - and formed a major part of his own attack on Imperialism on the eve of his seizure of power in the Russian Revolution. 
Tristram discovers how a visit to South Africa in the descent into the Boer War spurred Hobson into a blistering attack on what he saw as the true motive for Imperial conquest. This was neither glory, nor territorial greed, nor the quest for raw material but a search for new investment opportunities away from an ossified, over-saving British economy. 
This argument was marred by a strain of anti-Semitism against Jewish city financiers on Hobson's part - despite the fact that his chief target was Cecil Rhodes.

1 comment:

Frank Little said...

Wikipedia reckons that "It is likely that Lenin was unaware of his mother's half-Jewish ancestry, which was only discovered by his sister Anna after his death". One wonders whether his view of Hobson would have been different if he had known.