J.A. Hobson (1858-1940)

Sesquicentenial of the Birth of J.A. Hobson

John A. Hobson (1858-1940) was an historian and economic journalist who was one of the so-called “New Liberals” who emerged at the end of the 19th century. The New Liberals advocated much greater state intervention in the economy than the classical liberals had done. One of the things that makes Hobson especially interesting is his support for Cobdenite ideas of peace and free trade. Although his lack of understanding of markets and marginal analysis led to his being ostracized by his contemporary academic economics circles, his thoughtful critique of the justifications of imperialism and his work taking the topic back to first principles stands today as an example of respect for all peoples throughout the world. He was a member of the Fabian Society, and although he wrote for several socialist journals, he was an independent thinker who argued that capitalist goals had been perverted by special interests and misdirected governments. His best known work is Imperialism: A Study (1902).

[For further reading see Richard Cobden]