04.07.2017

04.08.2017

Conspiracy with and Without Conspirators
KAREL VAN WOLFEREN • APRIL 5, 2017 • 3,600 WORDS

Leaving Leninism and anti-Leninism aside, the first thing for the historian to re-establish is the obvious fact, which nobody in the 1890s would have denied, that the division of the globe had an economic dimension. To demonstrate this is not to explain everything about the imperialism of the period. Economic development is not a sort of ventriloquist with the rest of history as its dummy. For that matter, even the most single-minded businessman pursuing profit into, say, the South African gold- and diamond-mines, can never be treated exclusively as a money-making machine. He was not immune to the political, emotional, ideological, patriotic or even racial appeals which were so patently associated with imperial expansion. Nevertheless, if an economic connection can be established between the tendencies of economic development in the capitalist core of the globe at this time and its expansion into the periphery, it becomes much less plausible to put the full weight of explanation on motives for imperialism which have no intrinsic connection with the penetration and conquest of the non-western world. And even those which appear to have, such as the strategic calculations of rival powers, must be analysed while bearing the economic dimension in mind. Even today politics in the Middle East, which are far from explicable on simple economic grounds, cannot be realistically discussed without considering oil.

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Eric Hobsbawm

The Age of Revolution: 1789-1848 – by Eric Hobsbawm (1962)

Industry and Empire: The Birth of the Industrial Revolution – by Eric Hobsbawm (1968)

The Age of Capital: 1848-1875  – by Eric Hobsbawm (1975)

The Age of Empire: 1875-1914  – by Eric Hobsbawm (1987)

The Age of Extremes: A History of the World, 1914-1991  – by Eric Hobsbawm (1994)