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Is There a 'Hobson-Lenin Thesis' on Late Nineteenth-Century Colonial Expansion?

A. M. Eckstein
The Economic History Review
New Series, Vol. 44, No. 2 (May, 1991), pp. 297-318
Published by: Wiley on behalf of the Economic History Society
DOI: 10.2307/2598298
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2598298
Page Count: 22
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Is There a 'Hobson-Lenin Thesis' on Late Nineteenth-Century Colonial Expansion?
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Abstract

The idea that there is a 'Hobson-Lenin thesis' that emphasizes investment pressure as the cause of late nineteenth-century colonialism has come under sharp attack in recent years. Revisionist scholars suggest that Hobson and Lenin were concerned to analyse conflict among capitalist states in the present, not the colonial expansion of the past, and that both men emphasized non-economic factors when they did discuss the imperial expansion of the late nineteenth century. The revisionist view has gained wide acceptance. This paper presents the first comprehensive discussion of the new controversy and argues that despite some important insights, the revisionists are fundamentally wrong. Both Hobson and Lenin sought to trace the origins of the dangerous present in the colonial expansion of the immediate past, which made this a subject of vital interest to them; the core of their analysis of colonialism did prominently stress investment pressure; and it can be shown that Lenin derived his ideas here directly from Hobson. There is a 'Hobson-Lenin thesis'

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