Jeremy Corbyn, Hobson’s Imperialism, and antisemitism | WHAT REALLY HAPPENED

Jeremy Corbyn, Hobson’s Imperialism, and antisemitism

The campaign about antisemitism in Corbyn’s Labour party is getting absurd (Corbyn urged to explain his praise for antisemitic book, 2 May). Hobson’s Imperialism: A Study has been taught for years in universities up and down the country (I taught it myself). No one has ever felt the need to highlight the 10 lines or so, in a book of 400 pages, which are antisemitic, but Corbyn was expected to do so.

Anyone who had not heard of this text would be forgiven for thinking this is antisemitic text. It is not. It was an extremely influential study of imperialism (it even influenced Lenin) and has always been read as such. I do not remember any article in scholarly journals making a point about that paragraph on the Rothschilds and the “race” which, Hobson claims, was so influential. The paragraph is completely marginal to the text. Far less marginal are Hobson’s comments about the “lower races” (ie black Africans) and what to do with them – also very common at the time (Part 2, Chapter 4). So why expect Corbyn (did he really read the entire book, it’s heavy going, believe me) to even mention that passage?

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