Over a century ago, John A. Hobson provided a polemic on how social liberal domestic reforms could cure the international disease of imperialism by removing its 'economic taproot'. When read alongside his other works, Hobson saw how state intervention through taxation could boost broader consumption, create wealth, and encourage a peaceful multilateral world order. Conversely, should the state not intervene, rentiers would generate socially negative wealth, or 'illth',that fostered imperialism and protectionism. This article explores Hobson's moral categories for economic action that link taxation, consumption and imperialism, and then applies his arguments to Britain during his lifetime, to the US in the 1965-2000 period and, especially, to contemporary US imperialism under George W. Bush's administration. Hobson's arguments do assist us in understanding the 'economic taproot' of US imperialism, with the conclusion that the US has 'illth at ease' with no means for correction other than Bush's expulsion from office.
|International Politics: a journal of transnational issues and global problems
|Published - 2004