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New Liberalism

New Liberalism

Series: Heritage
Copyright Date: 1981
Pages: 275
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  • Book Info
    New Liberalism
    Book Description:

    This study presents an integral analysis of the life, times, and thought of the profound and original thinker John A. Hobson.

    eISBN: 978-1-4426-5628-4
    Subjects: Political Science

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Preface
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Table of Contents
    (pp. ix-2)
  4. 1 The Life and Times of J.A. Hobson
    (pp. 3-46)

    John Atkinson Hobson was born on 6 July 1858 in Derby, England. Seven years earlier, Britain had celebrated its industrial supremacy in the world by holding the Great Exhibition of 1851. For the moment, the social classes in England were experiencing a respite from the conflicts of the 1840s. The manufacturers had gained a victory over the landlords with the repeal of the Corn Laws in 1846, whilst the last Chartist demonstration, held in 1848, had been, all told, a quiet affair.

    For the most part Hobson’s childhood experiences shared in this mid- Victorian calm. ‘Born and bred in the...

  5. 2 Economics and Ethics: A Human Valuation
    (pp. 47-69)

    Science knows no hard facts, absolute laws, or dry reasoning. Everywhere human selection and arrangements come in.Rationalism and Humanism, 29

    For Hobson economics was properly a branch of ethics. Consequently he was both fascinated and appalled by the development of economics as a separate science. It was a lesson in how men became entrapped within systems of their own making, by conceiving them ‘as mechanical processes, abstracted and divorced from the wills of men.’¹ This chapter examines Hobson’s analysis of the development of classical economics, and the basis upon which he sought to challenge its conclusions and substitute for...

  6. 3 Society as a Maker of Values
    (pp. 70-95)

    The individualist notion of production… regards the immediate producers of an article as the rightful owners of that article and of the money it will fetch on the market, disregarding all social determinants of value.

    The Conditions of Industrial Peace, 55

    One obvious thesis of economic analysis has been that the cooperation of individuals within society, their combination as parts in a social whole, produces far greater results than would be secured by the same individuals working in isolation. Adam Smith, the founder of the discipline, began with the proposition that the nation’s income is a function of the labour...

  7. 4 The Theory of Underconsumption
    (pp. 96-130)

    The basis on which all economic teaching since Adam Smith has stood, viz., that the quantity annually produced is determined by the aggregates of Natural Agents, Capital, and Labour, is erroneous,… on the contrary, the quantity produced, while it can never exceed [these] limits… may be… reduced far below this maximum by the check that undue saving and consequent accumulation of over-supply exerts on production; i.e.,… consumption limits production and not production consumption. Mummery and Hobson,The Physiology of Industry, vi.

    Underconsumption theory had a longer history than Hobson first realized. As Keynes was to write,¹ Hobson brought the underconsumptionist...

  8. 5 Hobson’s Theory of Imperialism
    (pp. 131-177)

    Hobson’s interest in the motivations behind Britain’s rapid addition of some 4,750,000 square miles of territory to her empire between 1870 and 1900¹ was primarily aroused by the events in South Africa immediately preceding the Boer War.² The circumstances surrounding Hobson’s visit to South Africa at this time have already been described in chapter 1.

    The first intellectual product of Hobson’s visit wasThe War in South Africa: Its Causes and Effects(1900), consisting of articles Hobson had originally published in theManchester Guardianand theSpeaker. Written in the heat of battle, as it were,The War in South...

  9. 6 The Foundations of a Welfare State
    (pp. 178-207)

    Hobson’s examination of the political and philosophical tenets of liberalism is best considered an outgrowth of his studies in economics. The key elements in Hobson’s critique of classical economics were, first, his rejection of the ‘individualist notion of production,’ and, second, his criticism of the economists’ ‘separatist treatment’ of social phenomena, or methodological individualism. Recast in political terms, the first of these criticisms led Hobson to question the liberal doctrine of self-reliance, especially the way in which this notion had come to be associated with the principle oflaissez-fairein the works, for example, of such varied thinkers as Cobden,...

  10. 7 Democracy and the General Will
    (pp. 208-254)

    Philosophers and statesmen often speak contemptuously of what they call ‘the herd-mind,’ denying it any rational or moral quality. But it is not possible to explain how any of those social institutions which make a civilised society have arisen without imputing some common urge based on the recognition that all the members of the human herd are very much alike, want the same things and can best attain them by peaceful regular cooperation. The herd-mind has within it the nucleus of what philosophers call a ‘general will.’The Recording Angel, 109-10

    Hobson’s organic theory of society inevitably raised the question...

  11. 8 Conclusion: Hobson’s Place in the Liberal Tradition
    (pp. 255-262)

    It has been argued in this study that behind Hobson’s better-known (though sometimes misunderstood) theories of underconsumption and imperialism is to be found a much less credited doctrine, the theory of organic surplus. Further, it has been maintained that, unless this idea of an organic surplus is appreciated, the coherence of Hobson’s thought is lost, for it alone provides the bridge between Hobson’s economic and political thought. For this reason, emphasis has been placed upon Hobson’s contention that the organic surplus marks the point at which the ‘co-operative whole’ is no longer represented by the sum of its separate, individual...

  12. Bibliography of Hobson’s Writings
    (pp. 263-270)
  13. Index
    (pp. 271-275)