J.A. Hobson's Strong Aversion to the British Imperial System

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POV: J.A. Hobson, a wealthy liberal who sought to initiate economic and social reform, was strongly averse to the British imperial system because he viewed it as a corrupt scheme meant to deplete Britain’s national resources and secure more profits for the individual benefit of British elite classes. Hobson saw that imperialism facilitated conservative capitalism by “securing private material benefits [for entrepreneurs]...at the public cost,” consequently allowing business owners to advance to higher social positions (Hobson 2). By promoting entrepreneurs further up the social hierarchy ladder, imperialism widened the social division between elite business holders and proletariat workers As a liberal, Hobson was naturally opposed to such divisions between social classes: he protected the working class and sought to promote equality among the various classes. Since imperialism promotes divisions between social classes, Hobson was instinctively opposed to Britain’s imperial system. As one of the greatest European empire builders of all time, Cecil Rhodes was a huge supporter of imperialism, sharply contrasting Hobson. He founded the De Beers Mining Company in South Africa and gained tremendous profits from his foreign enterprise. Ambitiously seeking to earn even more profits, Rhodes expanded his claims to various diamond mines around the world, eventually owning about 90% of the world’s production of diamonds. Even though he became one of the richest men in the world, Rhodes’ main ambition was not actually to obtain massive wealth; his true wish was “to render [him]self useful to [his] country” (Rhodes 4). His ambition to expand his diamond company by acquiring new mining territory and his wish to serve his country eventually ... ... middle of paper ... ...d world (Rhodes 3). The fact that the Society should be committing that much time and energy to search for members reveals the high cost and negative aspect of imperialism. Although Kipling supports the objective of imperialism, he identifies several flaws associated with it. Firstly, he refers to the duties of the empire as a “burden,” which portrays the negative aspects of imperialism. Secondly, he warns the reader that if he “take[s] up the White Man’s burden” (Kipling line 34), “the blame of those [he] better[s]” and “the hate of those [he] guard[s]” will haunt him. Even though he will supposedly be helping the uncolonized by imposing British rule upon them, they will blame him and hate him. Kipling tells the reader that the White Man’s burden is in fact a “burden”: it is a hardship that he takes upon himself for the sake and goodness of the uncolonized peoples.

In this essay, the author

  • Compares j.a. hobson, a wealthy liberal who sought to initiate economic and social reform, and cecil rhodes, one of the greatest european empire builders of all time.
  • Analyzes how hobson recognized that entrepreneurs and business holders were driven towards imperialism by personal gain and economic motive.
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