London, James Nisbet & Co., 1900. 8vo. Uncut in orig. full red cloth w. gilt lettering to spine and front board. Spine a bit worn and faded, corners a bit bumped. Inscribed by the author on front free end-paper. VIII, 324, (4, -advertisements) pp.
First edition, presentation-copy for "C.P. Scott/ with the writer's/ best wishes", of Hobson's first work on the link between imperialism and international conflict, based on his experiences from South Africa immediately before the Second Boer War.
John Atkinson Hobson (1858 - 1940) was an important English economist and imperial critic, widely popular for his abilities as a writer and lecturer. He studied at Derby School and at Oxford, and in 1887 he moved to London, right in the middle of the economic depression. It is here that he writes his "Physiology of Industry" together with his friend, the mountain climber and businessman A.F. Mummery, which propounded "the theory of underconsumption". Hobson's work was not well received by the academic economists, and ultimately he was pushed out of their circle.
During the 1890'ies he published a number of notable works on capitalism, poverty and social reform, among which his famous "John Ruskin: Social Reformer" from 1898, in which he anticipated the marginal productivity theory of distribution and presented his critique of the classical theory of rent.
Now, Hobson was asked by the EDITOR OF THE "MANCHESTER GUARDIAN", C.P. SCOTT, to become their South-African correspondent, which proved to be a turning point in his personal as well as professional life. It is during this time that he develops the idea that modern capitalism is a direct cause of imperialism. As a correspondent, he covers part of the Second Boer war, and his condemnation of the conflict is very strong.
It is this conflict, and the political situation that immediately precedes it, that is the focus of the present work, in which he, for the first time, demonstrates how international conflict and imperialism are directly connected. The ideas initially presented in the present work are elaborated further in what must be considered his main work, "Imperialism" from 1902.
It is Hobson's theories on imperialism that have gained him the great international reputation that he carries to this day, and it is these theories that have influenced thinkers such as Trotsky, Lenin, etc.
Charles Prestwich Scott (1846-1932) was the editor of the "Manchester guardian" from 1872 until 1929; in 1907 he became its owner. He was a renowned British journalist, publisher and politician.
The "Manchester Guardian" was part of his entire life (the founder was his uncle), and he was responsible for the political line of the paper for more than 50 years. For the first 15 years as its editor, Scott maintained a moderate liberal line, but when Hartington and Chamberlain split the party in 1886, formed the Liberal Unionist Party and backed the Conservatives, Scott, and with him the Guardian, made a left turn and supported Gladstone in his support for Irish Home Rule and "new liberalism". It is after this political turn that Scott asks the controversial economist Hobson to join the paper as its South Africa correspondent, a decision that did not go by unnoticed. The stand that the Guardian, with the published opinions of Hobson, took against the Boer War was highly unpopular, and it nearly cost Scott the election as a Liberal candidate in 1900, the year that Hobson's first work on the subject, "The War in South Africa", was published and evidently presented to his boss, the brave politician.