Imperialism and social reform english Social-Imperial Thought 1895-1914

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English Social-Imperial Thought 1895-1914




To My Mother

Imperialism and Social Reform was originally published by George Allen & Unwin Ltd., in 1960, as part of the series "Studies in Society" under the editorship of Ruth and David Glass. The Anchor Books edition is published by arrangement with George Allen & Unwin Ltd.

Anchor Books edition: 1968

Copyright © 1960 by Bernard Semmel All Rights Reserved Printed in the United States of America



Curiously, very little scholarly attention has been given to so important a field of study as modern 'social-imperialism,' and that has gone, almost exclusively, to its German, Italian, and French variants. Both the subject of British social-imperialism and that of the development of social-imperial thought, generally, have been badly neglected, a circumstance which may be regarded as justifying a special study. This book grew out of a dissertation submitted in 1955 for the doctorate in history at Columbia University. My interest in the subject stemmed from an earlier study of the strange union of socialism and imperialism in the thought of leading Fabians in the period between the wars. The ideas owe much to discussions with the late J. Bartlet Brebner, under whom it was prepared, and whose loss is keenly felt by students of modern English history. The present work is an expansion and considerable revision of the unpublished dissertation.

The original dissertation was read by, and profited from the comments of H. L. Beales, of the London School of Economics and Political Science, who was Visiting Professor at Columbia University, in 1954-55; Professors Herman Ausubel, R. K. Webb, and David Landes of Columbia University; and a friend, Martin Albaum. Of course, none of these persons ought to be held responsible for the boors deficiencies. I was enabled to prolong a stay in England to consult materials not elsewhere available and to complete the preparation of the book because of a most timely grant from the Rockefeller Foundation, for which I am greatly appreciative. For equally timely help and encouragement, I should like to thank Professor D. V. Glass of the London School of Economics and Political Science.

I should like to make special mention of the advice and

assistance, at every stage, of my wife, Maxine Guse Semmel. It was in the course of talks with her that the ideas took shape, and her painstaking help on editorial matters was of the utmost value. She also typed several drafts of the manuscript.

Sections of the book have appeared in Economica, the British Journal of Sociology, and the Canadian Journal of Economics and Political Science, and I wish to thank the editors for permission to reprint material which first appeared in those journals.

Bernard Semmel

London, November, 1959





I. Social-Imperialism

II. Social-Darwinism: Benjamin Kidd and Karl

III. A Party of National Efficiency: The Liberal-
Imperialists and the Fabians

IV. Joseph Chamberlain's 'Squalid Argument'

V. The Social-Imperialism of the Tariff Reform

VI. Fabianism and Liberal-Imperialism, 1903-14

VII. The Two Imperialisms

VIII. Sir Halford Mackinder: Theorist of Imperialism

IX. Viscount Milner: Social-Imperial Idealist

X. William Cunningham: National Economist

XI. Sir William Ashley as 'Socialist of the Chair'

XII. Lord Roberts and Robert Blatchford

XIII. Conclusion

Selected Bibliography


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