Assyrians or the Arabs of the early middle ages.2 Both Schumpeter and Neumann asserted that such a 'people's im perialism' was an impossibility in the modern world; they in sisted that it would be resisted by the industrial working class. Both, however, admitted that a temporary mood of imperialism could be fostered among the workers.3 During the past three quarters of a century, there have been several efforts, some more, some less successful, to revive such a people's imperial ism, to demonstrate to the masses of the more industrially advanced nations of western Europe that their interests would be furthered by the advantages their nation-state gained over other nation-states. This work is an investigation of the ideological background of one such effort.
Imperialism and social-imperialism have been the subject of several inquiries in the past half-century-though they have not received all the attention they merit. The Marxists have probably written the most about imperialism and its relation to capitalist production. Some Marxist writers-Hilferding, Lenin, Renner, for example-have made pregnant suggestions concerning the phenomenon of social-imperialism which have proved stimulating for more recent writers, and it was prob ably the Austrian socialist Karl Renner who first employed, in 1917, the term 'Sozialimperialismus.'4 But the Marxists have taken their cue from the writings of the English Liberal econo mist, John A. Hobson. For Hobson, writing after the Boer War, imperialism was promoted by certain business interests which profited enormously thereby, to the great loss of the rest of the nation. Manufacturers of war materials, industrialists
who required export markets, capitalists with idle funds-all these, and only these, gained by imperialism. 'The economic root of Imperialism,' Hobson wrote, 'is the desire of strong organized industrial and financial interests to secure and de velop at the public expense and by the public force private markets for their surplus goods and their surplus capital.' Hobson put the chief onus for modern imperialism upon the owners of capital who wished more profitable investments than were available at home. For Hobson, imperialism was the result of the maldistribution of the national product which left huge surpluses in the hands of the possessing classes. A more just distribution, he urged, would remove this surplus income and at the same time broaden the home market suffi ciently to enable it to absorb the goods and the capital which had heretofore been destined for shipment abroad. 'Trade Unionism and Socialism are thus the natural enemies of Im perialism,' wrote Hobson, 'for they take away from the "im perialist" classes the surplus incomes which form the economic stimulus of Imperialism.' Hobson hinted at social-imperialism when he suggested that the 'tendency of Imperialism is to crush Trade Unionism and to "nibble" at or parasitically ex ploit State Socialism.'5
Basing themselves largely upon Hobson's Radical anti- imperialism, the so-called 'Neo-Marxists'-Rosa Luxemburg and Rudolf Hilferding, in particular-subjected imperialism to the closest scrutiny in the years which preceded the war of 1914. For them, imperialism was the latest, and probably the last, stage of capitalist development. In this stage, free com petition no longer existed-trusts, cartels, monopolies were the rule. New technological advances, they argued, had resulted in a fall in the rate of profits (as a result of the increasing pro portion of capital invested in machinery rather than in la bour). Capital therefore had been compelled to turn to unde veloped areas in order to realize more satisfactory returns. In addition, agreeing with Hobson, they asserted that capitalism's fatal tendency toward irrational accumulation, a tendency as sociated with a vast working class living on the bare minimum of subsistence, has resulted in a tremendous capacity to pro
duce goods without the simultaneous development of domestic markets to absorb this production. Hence the necessity for markets abroad. All this gave rise to imperialism and wars, from which the capitalists alone benefited, although the Marxists were willing to admit that the working class might possibly achieve some 'temporary' advantage.6
Lenin repeated the doctrines of Hobson and the Neo- Marxists and added some words on social-imperialism. The re ceipt of 'monopolistically high profits' by the capitalists, he wrote, 'makes it economically possible for them to corrupt certain sections of the working class, and for a time a fairly considerable minority, and win them to the side of the bour geoisie of a given industry or nation against all the others. The intensification of antagonisms,' of competition, 'between im perialist nations for the division of the world increases this striving,' he added. Lenin further suggested that this 'bond be tween imperialism and opportunism' had 'revealed itself first and most clearly in England' since 'certain features of im perialist development were observable there much earlier than in other countries.'7 Lenin quoted at some length from remarks which were made by Cecil Rhodes, in 1895, as an example of this tendency in Great Britain:
'I was in the East End of London yesterday and attended a meet ing of the unemployed. I listened to the wild speeches, which were just a cry for "bread," "bread," "bread," and on my way home I pondered over the scene and I became more than ever convinced of the importance of imperialism. . . . My cherished idea is a solu tion for the social problem, i.e., in order to save the 40,000,000 inhabitants of the United Kingdom from a bloody civil war, we colonial statesmen must acquire new lands to settle the surplus population, to provide new markets for the goods produced by them in the factories and mines. The Empire, as I have always said, is a bread and butter question. If you want to avoid civil war, you must become imperialists.'
The Marxist proponents of proletarian socialist interna tionalism were not the only enemies of imperialism or social imperialism, as we have seen in Hobson's case. From a slightly
different standpoint, Joseph Schumpeter, in a brilliant and highly stimulating essay on imperialism, suggested that far from being an inevitable stage in the development of capital ism, capitalism was by its essential nature anti-imperialist. Were not the Cobdenites, the spokesmen of the rising British capitalism of the nineteenth century, the opponents of militar ism and imperialism? Modern imperialism was not a product of rational, economic factors, but of irrational sentiments which had managed to survive from feudal, pre-capitalist times. Placing his opposition to the position of the Marxists in their own language, Schumpeter wrote: 'Imperialism thus is atavistic in character. . . . In other words, it is an element that stems from the living conditions, not of the present, but of the past-or, put in terms of the economic interpretation of history, from past rather than present relations of production.'8 Schumpeter explained modern imperialism as an alliance be tween 'expansive interests' within capitalism, selfish interests constituting a minority of the capitalists, and the survivals of feudal, pre-capitalist classes. Imperialism, he held, was rooted in the irrational sentiments still lodged in the breasts of the feudal and military classes.
Schumpeter developed his theory of imperialism largely upon the basis of English politics up until the war of 1914. He published his essay in 1919 and he had the recent conflict between England and Germany very much in mind. Schum peter's sympathies were with England, the home of the most highly developed capitalism, rather than with a Germany in which the industrial machine was still under the control of pre-capitalist classes. He noted with interest the conflict within British capitalism between the advocates of a tariff and the defenders of free trade-a conflict concerning which we will have much to say. Schumpeter was convinced that protection, too, was a pre-capitalist survival, was 'not an essential char acteristic of the capitalist economy.'9 He agreed with the sup porters of protectionist-imperialism that imperialism, if it were properly launched, required a protectionist base, but added that protection harmed both the workers and the capitalists (mean ing here the rentier, the beneficiary of industrial loan capital,
as opposed to the entrepreneur, who, however, only benefited in so far as the tariff affected his own industry). Only the large landowners stood to benefit unreservedly from protection, he asserted. Most assuredly, Schumpeter added, the working class could only lose from a policy of protection and imperialism.
Imperialism was also subjected to analysis by one of the principal groups of German social-imperial theorists -- the Katheder-Sozialisten. Curiously, the 'Socialists of the Chair' appear to have accepted many of the pre-suppositions and conclusions of the Marxists, the nation-splitting international socialists whom they regarded as one of their principal enemies (along with the cosmopolitan Cobdenite Free Traders). The German historical school which had provided the doctrinal basis for Bismarckian protectionism and social-imperialism of the 1880's agreed, for example, that capitalism needed exter nal markets if it were to survive, though it emphasized the common interest of industrialist and worker in that survival. Gustav Schmoller, the leader of the so-called 'younger' his torical school and the leading Katheder-Sozialist, asserted that only three world-states -- the British Empire, Russia and the United States-possessed territories so vast and populations so numerous that they would be able to rely entirely upon inter nal markets and not be compelled to seek new markets abroad.10 This argument, of course, had the effect of excusing German imperialism without at the same time justifying that of Germany's principal competitors. But much of this same reasoning underlay the widespread support given Joseph Cham berlain's campaign to create a protected imperial market, a campaign which forms a central thread in our subject. It was, as we shall see, an English disciple of the school of Schmoller, W. J. Ashley,11 who also accepted many Marxist arguments in his analysis, though likewise turning them into an anti- Marxist direction, who was to advocate this view during the tariff controversy. However, this use of Marxist argument, and even Marxist terminology, in an effort to defeat the goal of proletarian internationalism, was to become a hallmark of con tinental, rather than British, social-imperialism, as we shall note.
The roots of British social-imperialism lie in the nineteenth century history of the working class. Although there is some disagreement on the part of a few historians, the condition of the working man in the early decades of industrialism is gen erally acknowledged to have been miserable. Karl Marx had told the grim story in Das Kapital-but his principal source of information, it is important to observe, was recorded testimony before parliamentary committees. In these blue-books, the facts were all set down-stories of eighteen hours a day of work for women, of little children being dragged, still half- asleep, to draughty, damp, dark, factories after only four hours of sleep, of children who were strapped if they could not main tain the rapid pace of the shop. Wages were so frightfully low that frequently the entire family was compelled to work if all were to survive. The great critics of mid-Victorian laissez-faire, Thomas Carlyle, John Ruskin and Charles Dickens had at tempted to awaken the consciences of Englishmen to these sordid conditions. The spokesmen for the new industrialism, on the other hand-radical leaders like John Bright and Richard Cobden-had defended the factory-system, citing the 'laws' of political economy; they suggested not only that mill-hands owed their unhappy position to intemperance or to lack of thrift but that the factory owner was in some fashion an altru istic servant and even a saviour of the community. The Marxist opponents of capitalism declared that the wages of the working men had been set at the lowest amount necessary for bare survival. The defenders of the factory-system replied by citing Ricardo's Iron Law of Wages: higher wages, they argued, would only encourage large families and depress the labour market of the future. The socialists pointed to the irrational tendency of capitalism to accumulate more and more wealth in fewer and fewer hands. The defenders of the new capitalism insisted that such savings were the heart-blood of the economic system upon which the welfare and employment of the entire community depended.
These economic conditions had their counterpart in politi cal affairs. In 1832, the new middle classes had gained admit tance into the governing class, but the working class was still excluded, despite repeated efforts to enfranchise them. In
'Yes,' resumed the younger stranger after a moment's interval. 'Two nations; between whom there is no intercourse and no sym pathy; who are as ignorant of each other's habits, thoughts, and feelings, as if they were dwellers in different zones, or inhabitants of different planets; who are formed by a different breeding, are fed by a different food, are ordered by different manners, and are not governed by the same laws.' 'You speak of----' said Egremont, hesitatingly. 'THE RICH AND THE POOR.'12
In the 'thirties and 'forties, the Chartist movement organized the British working classes to seek the vote -- a vote which every one understood would be used to gain a greater share of the produced wealth. Chartism failed in 1848, but the chief politi cal aim of Chartism was realized less than twenty years later in 1867, when the British working man was finally enfran chised, at the conclusion of nearly two decades of unexampled British prosperity.
What was true in Great Britain was true, in varying de grees, throughout Western Europe. ( Western Europe, in mid- century, was not, however, as far advanced, industrially, as its insular offshoot.) Just as the repressions of the working class had led to Chartism in England, so it had led to social ism on the continent. The harshness of the factory-system drove working men into opposition; in many instances, in Ger many in particular, the standard of socialism flew above the battalions of 'working men' even before the factory system had established itself. French working men attached themselves to the doctrines of Louis Blanc and Proudhon. Ferdinand Lassalle rallied the German workers. By the 'seventies, however, the al most universally acknowledged leader of European socialism was Karl Marx, and each year thousands of recruits flocked to the banner of the Marxist parties. Marx addressed himself to the 'international' working man, for, he had insisted, the pro letarian had no country. The working men of all countries were brothers united in seeking the destruction of the capital ists of all countries. Everywhere the proletarian was exploited.
'Workmen of the world, unite. You have nothing to lose but your chains.' These were the final words and the chief message of the Communist Manifesto. There was sufficient truth in the phrase, as we have seen, for the socialist doctrine to seize hold of large sections of the working classes of Europe. It was Nietzsche who spoke of 'the two opposing parties' which faced each other in every European country. They were, he wrote, 'the socialist and the national-or whatever they may be called in the different countries of Europe.'13
England proved able to withstand socialism until the 'eighties. At that time, economic depression and widespread unemployment signalled the end of the blissful decades of trade prosperity. Many factors were no doubt at work in the trade fall-off, but many in Great Britain blamed the growing competition in foreign markets-and in the home market it- self-of new and powerful trade rivals, in particular Germany and the United States. Trade depression activated the latent sentiments of Chartism-and London meeting-halls began to ring with the same phrases which had converted the working classes of the continent. In 1881, Henry George, the American social reformer, was welcomed to England and stirred men to ask along with him how there came to be such great poverty amid such evident signs of progress. In 1882, a Cambridge man, Henry Mayers Hyndman, formed the Social Democratic Federation, the first Marxist society in Great Britain. In 1883, the Fabian Society was formed-and soon that famous group, which was to be dominated by Sidney and Beatrice Webb and Bernard Shaw, began its work of investigation and publication. The Dock Strike of 1889 spurred the trade union movement to organize the unskilled, ill-paid trades and initiated the startling growth in unionized workers during the 'nineties and after wards. In 1893, the first popularly-based party of English, non-Marxist socialism appeared with the establishment of the Independent Labour Party under the leadership of Keir Hardie. During the 'nineties the annual conferences of the Trades Union Congress regularly passed socialist resolutions; there was little or no opposition. In 1900, the socialist societies -- the I.L.P., the S.D.F., the Fabians-joined with the trade unions
in founding a Labour Representation Committee. Three years later this Committee was to proclaim itself independent of the two old parties, and in 1906, after winining 30 parliamen tary seats, it adopted the name of Labour Party. England at last found itself face to face with the socialist difficulties which were besetting the continent.
The main-body of English socialism was not Marxist, but it was internationalist. Its internationalism stemmed not only from socialist feelings of world-wide solidarity against capital ism but from the laissez-faire cosmopolitanism of British Radicalism. The suspicion that the growing socialist working class would prove untrustworthy in an international conflict was widespread among the middle classes. The Labour and Socialist International-to which the British Labour Party, the I.L.P., the Fabian Society and the S.D.F. were all affiliated -- continued to assure European governments that this, in truth, was the case. The socialists of each nation repeated the doc trine of Marx and Engels that the working classes of all nations were brothers and that their enemy was international capital ism. The average middle-class Englishman may have half be lieved that it was the purpose of the working-class socialists not only to expropriate his property in the United Kingdom, if they got the chance, but to sit supinely by as the Germans, or French, or Russians expropriated British property in Asia or Africa and possibly even in the homeland itself.
The aristocracy in England and throughout Europe was of course thoroughly nationalist and patriotic. Even the French aristocracy which hated the republic still consented to serve it in military and diplomatic capacities, in those positions where they could advance the 'eternal' national interest of France rather than the transient political interests of the Third Repub lic. As for the middle-classes, the nationalism of the nineteenth century can be regarded as peculiarly their own. Although the suffrage had been granted to the better part of the urban working classes in 1867, the working class had still not been admitted to power, to the responsibility of governing. The 'depression' of the 'seventies, the revival of socialism in the 'eighties, the organization of the unskilled workers in the 'nineties, combined to give the working class a new conscious
All this posed a serious problem for the late nineteenth- century governing classes. In the new world of the twentieth century -- the American Civil War and the Franco-Prussian War had already demonstrated-international conflicts were going to be fought by mass national armies. Could the hun dreds of thousands of able-bodied, loyal soldiers the mass armies required be obtained from an unpatriotic and stunted working class? This seemed an especially serious problem to the fin-de-siècle statesmen who heard repeated warnings about war as a natural law of history, the struggle for existence, and the 'survival of the fittest' from the Social-Darwinists-and who saw in Imperial Germany a 'national organism' determined to prove itself the fittest.
What was to be done? Many in England pointed to the 'state socialism' introduced by the German Chancellor Bis marck in the 'eighties. Bismarck's 'system,' constructed to win the support of all classes for the 'national' interest, had been inaugurated by the tariff of 1879, enacted to protect agrarian interests and to promote the growth of heavy industry. This tariff protection secured for Germany an iron and steel indus try which was to outstrip British output by the turn of the cen tury. Observers had also testified that the Bismarckian system had resulted in increased wages and greater employment for the German working class. In 1878, Bismarck had secured the passage of laws which outlawed the Social-Democrats and banned the socialist press, though the party could still contest elections. Growing social discontent had nonetheless resulted in the increase in the number of Social-Democrats in the Reichstag. Bismarck then embarked upon a social programme designed to undermine this growing German socialism. In 1883, Bismarck secured the passage of the Sickness Insurance Law; in 1884 and 1885, of Accident Insurance Laws; and
finally in 1889, of an Old Age Insurance Law. The various features of Bismarck's programme became, successively, the goals of British social reformers-and of social-imperialists.15
Social-imperialism was preached on other parts of the con tinent. In France, it had its exponents in Charles Maurras and Georges Sorel; in Italy, Corradini and the socialist Labriola espoused its doctrines; in Germany, it had a host of advocates. Both German and Italian social-imperialism adopted Marxist ideological concepts and terminology -- inevitable in countries where Marxism had made important gains among the working class. The Germans and Italians described their countries as 'proletarian' nations, poor and over-populated, late arrivers on the international scene, who had found most of the colonial plums already in the possession of other nations. Just as the socialists were urging the proletarians within each nation to battle that nation's plutocratic capitalists if they wished to solve the social problem, so the social-imperialists turned that advice down national lines and urged war by the proletarian nation -- whether Germany or Italy-against the plutocratic na tions -- usually Great Britain.16
Social-imperialism was designed to draw all classes together in defence of the nation and empire and aimed to prove to the least well-to-do class that its interests were inseparable from those of the nation. It aimed at undermining the argu ment of the socialists and demonstrating that, contrary to the Marxist allegation, the workers had more to lose than their chains.
In his The Economic Consequence of the Peace, Keynes described the economic structure of pre-1914Europe:
' Europe was so organized socially and economically as to secure the maximum accumulation of capital. . . . Society was so framed
as to throw a great part of the increased income into the control of the class least likely to consume it.' 17
If the factory-owner had spent in wasteful fashion what he had accumulated, industrial progress would have been halted. But he did not play the part of the prodigal -- nor did he forget the parable of the talents: he saved and he re-invested his savings to expand the industrial plant and, therefore, in the long run, the stock of commodities available for consumption. If this stock had been shared more equitably by the first generation in the factories, there would have been comparatively little to go about-and all of it would have been consumed. In effect, the first few of the factory generations were sacrificed in order to produce a larger stock of commodities to be shared in the future. By the end of the nineteenth century, there was, finally, enough produced so that the capitalist could respond to the demands of the proletarian Oliver Twists for 'more! without endangering investment capital. That the capitalist actually did so doomed the prophecies of Marx.
The Marxist theory of increasing misery was proving false and, most especially in the decade before 1914, the condition of the working class had much improved through most of Europe. The governments of Europe, during the decades before the war, had erected barriers against socialist internationalism by their programmes of social reform which gave the workers a further stake in national well-being. The Italian working class, to cite one example, which had attempted to sabotage the ill-fated Ethiopian War of 1896, joyously supported the successful war against Turkey to acquire Libya in 1911. One Socialist even described it as imperialism in the primary interest of the Italian working classes. What had intervened was a decade of Giolittian social reform, a system of national insurance, and a promise of universal suffrage, all of which had sapped the revolutionary ardour of Italian socialism.
A growing awareness of the immense popularity of imperialism among the British working classes had brought many politicians of both political parties, by the time of the Boer
War, to share the view which Austen Chamberlain recorded in his journal during the first decade of the century. 'The democracy,' Chamberlain observed, 'want two things; imperialism and social reform.' The Conservative party was successful when -- under Disraeli -- it combined the two; its success ended when it failed to satisfy the aspirations of the working class in the matter of social reform. 'We can only win by combining them again,' Chamberlain had concluded. 18 Disraeli had 'combined' the two-he had called himself both a social reformer and an imperialist-but had made no attempt to integrate them. In the first decade of the twentieth century, several attempts were made in Great Britain not only to combine these ideals but at the same time to demonstrate their interdependence, to say that the realization of one was not possible without the realization of the other.
The dominant form of British social-imperialism was that of Joseph Chamberlain and the adherents of the programme of Tariff Reform and imperial preference. Bismarck had welded the policies of nationalism and social reform in an effort to 'dish' the socialists by the use, among other instruments, of protection. With this example at hand and mindful of the minor successes among the working class of their Fair Trade protectionist predecessors, the Tariff Reformers appealed for working class support on the grounds that the condition of the working man was dependent upon the prosperity of British industry which required tariff protection against foreign rivals and that only imperial preference could prevent the disintegration of the empire, whose unity, strength, and markets were essential to the welfare of the working class. Since the adoption of a preferential system would mean a sacrifice in the form of higher food prices for the working man, the working man was offered 'compensation' in the form of more work at better pay and the promise of old-age pensions financed from tariff revenues. This was the social-imperial argument advocated by the bulk of the Unionist party from 1903 to 1912 and presented to the working man in many millions of leaflets and in many thousands of street-corner speeches.
The social-imperial system of Joseph Chamberlain and the Tariff Reform League served as a basis for the more abstract conceptions of others further removed from the hurly-burly of politics. Among these were Viscount Milner, who had served as British High Commissioner in South Africa during the Boer War; the noted economic historian and distinguished churchman, William Cunningham; W. J. Ashley, who held the chair of commerce at the newly established University of Birmingham; and the economist and political geographer, H. J. Mackinder. All were Unionists and regarded the Chamberlain programme as the best political device to meet the new conditions of the twentieth century. The Chamberlain programme seemed to them the best immediate solution to such problems as the undermining of British industrial and commercial hegemony by foreign rivals, the impairment of key British industries, the loosening of imperial ties and the threatening dissolution of the empire, the challenge of German power, the menace of socialism and open class struggle, and the demand for social reform by a working class entering political maturity. Yet despite this substantial area of agreement, they all developed their theories and arguments in a highly individual manner.
There were socialists who shared much of the outlook and many of the goals of these Unionist social-imperialists, although they did not necessarily give detailed support to the Chamberlain programme. These 'imperial socialists' -- some Marxists have called them 'social-chauvinists' -- included the Fabian leaders George Bernard Shaw, Sidney and Beatrice Webb, and Clifford Sharp, the editor of the Fabian weekly New Statesman, established in 1913, and Robert Blatchford, the editor of the popular socialist weekly, The Clarion. The Fabians and Blatchford -- nationalists, militarists, and imperialists-regarded the Cobdenite opponents of the social-imperialists as their principal enemies. Hostile to laissez-faire in all its phases, they found themselves in theoretical agreement with the tariff proposals of Chamberlain, although some distrust for the class motives of the Unionists' tariff and revenueraising programmes, as well as their own commitment to the socialist organization of industry, made political support of the Chamberlain programme difficult. The Fabians-like Mac-
The programme of the Liberal Party constituted a rival species of social-imperialism, though less explicitly advocated as such by triumphant pre-war Liberalism. The Liberal programme of 1906-14 was certainly not that of the Cobdenite anti-imperialists. It was a combination of Radical social reform and imperialist foreign and military policy. The LiberalImperialist integration of imperialism and social reform had been outlined during the early years of the century: in a word, it emphasized the necessity for breeding an imperial race in Great Britain if the Empire were to remain both British and strong. Representing those interests which continued to be dependent upon Free Trade, the Liberal-Imperialists offered -- through the agency of the Budget of 1909-to make available part of the fruits of this 'Free Trade imperialism' in exchange for continued working-class support for the economic system which made such benefits possible.
That imperialism and interest in social reform had become deep and widespread in the decades before the war of 1914, is proved by the three elections of the first decade of our century-one in 1906 and two in 1910 -- in which both parties made fever-pitched appeals based upon these motifs. A key issue in each of these electoral campaigns was Tariff Reform's challenge to Free Trade, and the interests committed to each trade policy sought support on grounds that their programme would strengthen the Empire and would best provide for needed social reforms. Imperial preference was presented to the electorate as a means of maintaining a colonial market essential for employment and a protective tariff was pictured as a device for providing revenues for social reform. Similarly, beneath the surface of the social reform programme of the Liberals was the theme of the need to breed an 'imperial race.' There were efforts upon all political levels to demonstrate the interdependence of imperialism and social reform, to show that each was essential if the other were to be realized.
This social-imperial thinking of the period between the Boer War and the war of 1914 was closely allied to the 'nonSpencerian' Social-Darwinism of the 'nineties, as it was set
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