May 03, 2019

Transcript of Professor Cain and Tristram Hunt discussing the antisemitism in Hobson's Imperialism on Radio 3

You will have seen or heard another antisemitism smear of Jeremy Corbyn doing the rounds about how he blurbed a book called Imperialism by J.A. Hobson.  The book contains a an antisemitic reference to Jews by way of an ugly stereotypical description

Here is the BBC Radio 3 Podcast of a discussion between a Professor Cain and Tristram Hunt on the now notorious book, Hobson's Imperialism. 

Anyway, my typing is very poor so it took me forever to type this because there are some people who ought to know better and indeed do know better trying make out that the antisemitism is central to the thesis and that Professor Cain and Tristram Hunt said as much in the podcast.  Needless to say, they didn't.  They said the opposite.

Ok? It starts at about 7:33 into the podcast:

Transcript of Professor Cain & Tristam Hunt discussing Hobson's Imperialism on Radio 3

Tristram Hunt:  Here we see a cartoon in front of us from the Illustrated London News of top-hatted city gentlemen throwing their hats into the air and it says "The reaction on the Stock Exchange to the news of the Boer surrender at Paardeberg 1900".   But there's rather an interesting figure on the far right of it, isn't there?

Professor Cain: Well there's a figure who is clearly drawn as a kind of Jewish financier if you like. And there's no doubt about it that Hobson was quite ambivalent about this side of financial imperialism.  He did show some kind of antisemitic strain.

Tristram Hunt: And the figure we see before us is physically larger than the others. There's the crooked caricature Jewish nose, sideburns and he's not celebrating, he's overlooking it as if to suggest "well this was all in the plan". And is this meant to be in a sense a symbol not so much of a Rhodes as of a Rothschild?

Professor Cain: Yes, I think so and I think the implication is that, although Rhodes is a very prominent figure, it's the senior men in The City who are fundamentally in charge of this operation, this imperialist operation.

Tristram Hunt: Surely there was more than enough to critique in the imperial project and its links with The City without going down the semitic [sic] route.

Professor Cain: [This is at 9 minutes in]  Yes, I think it was a mistake.   What it reflected is the very widespread antisemitic sentiment amongst English intellectuals at that time.  But the fact is that the theory worked perfectly well without invoking any kind of Jewish conspiracy.  What you have fundamentally is what Hobson thinks of as a City conspiracy, not a Jewish conspiracy as such and the theory will work perfectly well without introducing the antisemitic element.

Tristram Hunt: Either way when we look at the power on display at the Stock Exchange and we look at the politicians, the financiers behind the imperial project it suggests some of the strength of the consensus that Hobson was up against, doesn't it?

Professor Cain: Oh yes.

The End
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