ACLAIM: Hobson, Imperialism 1902

Author: John A. Hobson; English economist and critic of imperialism. Born into upper-middle class family. Hobson was highly educated and associated with several different political groups after moving to London in 1887. He had rather extreme views concerning imperialism and was ultimately outed by the academic community for the overly forward nature of his writing.
Context: 1902; English production begins to be rivaled by Germany, the United States, and Belgium. These states encroach on international markets previously monopolized by Great Britain. The rate of production outmatched the rate of consumption and England needed to find other markets for the surplus of goods. Hobson emphasized his theory of underconsumption.
Language: Intellectual language; not meant for average working class, however also not filled with economic jargon.
Audience: Educated middle and upper-classes; clearly not written to be understood by a borderline illiterate working class.
Intent: To analyze and critique the causes and effects of imperialism. Hobson considered the state of international economics, especially international markets previously dominated by the UK. Hobson critiqued the underconsumption that results in surpluses. Lower demand, higher supply, lower prices, lower profit margins.
Message: Imperialism is the result of production outpacing consumption. Imperialism would not be necessary if domestic consumption increased to match the rate of production. “So long as England held a virtual monopoly of the world markets for certain important classes of manufactured goods, Imperialism was unnecessary.”

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