Hobson, John Atkinson

Hobson, John Atkinson,

1858–1940, English economist and journalist. He achieved wide popularity as a lecturer and writer. Criticizing classical economics, which centered on man's mechanical response to inflexible economic laws, he held that economic theory was bound up with the ethical problems of social welfare and should be a guide to reform. The economic measures he supported prefigured the more fully developed ideas of John Maynard Keynes. Hobson advocated partial socialization, and in Imperialism (1902) he interpreted imperialism as a product of the economic excesses of capitalism. His other works include The Evolution of Modern Capitalism (1894), The Economics of Distribution (1900), The Economics of Unemployment (1922), and the autobiographical Confessions of an Economic Heretic (1938).


See H. N. Brailsford, The Life-Work of J. A. Hobson (1948).

Hobson, John Atkinson


Born July 6, 1858, in Derby; died Apr. 1, 1940, in London. English economist and reformer.

Hobson graduated from Lincoln College, Oxford, in 1878. He gave a course in political economy at Oxford and London universities from 1887 to 1897. He was a proponent of the theories of marginal utility, marginal productivity, and underconsumption. In his main work, Imperialism (1902), Hobson, in the words of V. I. Lenin, “gives a very good and comprehensive description of the principal economic and political features of imperialism” (Poln. sobr. soch., 5th ed., vol. 27, p. 309). Rejecting Hobson’s concepts entirely, Lenin used factual material and individual conclusions from the work in his book Imperialism as the Highest Stage of Capitalism. Hobson, criticizing imperialism, calls in Utopian fashion for a return to the conditions of premonopolistic capitalism, the particular evils of which he thinks can be eliminated by means of parliamentary reforms. In the third edition of Imperialism (1938), Hobson expressed solidarity with the democratic forces battling against fascism.


Problems of Poverty, London, 1891. In Russian translation, Problemy bednosti i bezrabotitsy. St. Petersburg, 1900.
The Evolution of Modern Capitalism. London, 1894. In Russian translation, Razvitie sovremennogo kapitalizma. Moscow-Leningrad, 1926.
The Economics of Distribution. New York, 1900. In Russian translation, Ekonomika raspredeleniia. Moscow, 1903.
Imperialism. London, 1902. In Russian translation, Imperializm. Kharkov, 1918.


Lenin, V. I. “Retsenziia na knigu D. Gobsona ‘Evoliutsiia sovremennogo kapitalizma,’ St. Petersburg, 1898.” Poln. sobr. soch., 5th ed., vol. 4.
Lenin, V. I. “Imperializm, kak vysshaia stadiia kapitalizma.” Ibid., vol. 27.
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