November 5, 2013
HIST 102 T02
Criticisms of Imperialism: John A. Hobson
European imperialism in the 19th century was a process in which more powerful and wealthy European countries took over and dominated smaller and underdeveloped countries—either formally or informally—for economic interests, such as resources and labor. The most compelling criticism of imperialism would have to be John A. Hobson’s, an English economist and critic of industrialization and capitalism, “Criticisms of Imperialism” (1902), where he addressed imperialism as a chauvinistic business initiative where powerful nations exploited weaker nations, driven by economic greed which would eventually end in war. Hobson’s criticisms of imperialism are most compelling because they were indeed true.
Imperialism didn’t begin in the late 19th century, but the brutality of it did. There was always a “backward” race dependence upon a “civilized” power as a colony or sphere of influence, Hobson stated. During competitive the scramble for land, the great European powers abused their colonies—politically and economically oppressed them—took their resources to produce goods only to sell it back to them and made many enemies in the process—foreign and domestic. Hobson suggested that powerful nations simply utilizing the natural, undeveloped resources of their colonies would be more acceptable than compelling its dwellers to utilize the resources themselves. It would be unfair to make someone who has done little labor and has a low standard of life to do more complex work although we don’t consider it so.
He was not against the idea of imperialism, just the ruthless way that they were going about it at the time, for it was inhumane—they had no concern for the feelings or needs of the countries or the people they cruelly colonized and dominated. They could have colonized countries in a more pleasant manner, for “compulsion is wholly illegitimate.” The inhabitants of...