Advertisement

The Peculiarities of British Capitalism: Imperialism and World Development

  • Peter Cain
  • A. G. Hopkins

Abstract

The response to British Imperialism since it was first published in two volumes in 1993 has greatly exceeded our expectations. The books were widely reviewed at the time, and the interpretation they put forward, based on the concept of gentlemanly capitalism, has been extensively discussed subsequently, not only in Britain but also elsewhere in Europe, in the United States and in Asia. We have responded to many of these comments and criticisms in the Foreword of the new, onevolume edition of British Imperialism.2 The publication of the present book, which is the second collection of essays devoted to our work on gentlemanly capitalism and British imperialism, shows that this interest remains strong.3 We are immensely grateful to the ten authors represented here for giving their time and energy to the project. One of them, Shigeru Akita, deserves a special mention. He was the chief organizer of the conference in Osaka from which this book springs, and he has edited the essays with great skill and boundless energy.

Keywords

Free Trade East India Company Interwar Period British Empire Global History 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

Preview

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Notes

  1. 1.
    Our title is adapted from a famous essay by E.P. Thompson, ‘The Peculiarities of the English’ in idem, The Poverty of Theory and Other Essays (1978), which discusses the unique features of the British form of capitalist civilization.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    P.J. Cain and A.G. Hopkins, British Imperialism, 1688–2000 (2001), pp. 1–19.Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    The first was R.E. Dumett (ed.), Gentlemanly Capitalism and British Imperialism: the New Debate on Empire (1999).Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    We make this point in response to the criticism that the concept of a gentleman, and by extension of gentlemanly capitalism, is too vague to be useful. See the valuable discussion in Penny Corfield, ‘The Democratic History of the English Gentleman’, History Today, 42 (1992), pp. 40–7; also our comments in British Imperialism, pp. 8–10.Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    On India see P.J. Marshall, ‘British Society in India under the East India Company’, Modern Asian Studies, 31 (1997), pp. 89–108.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. 6.
    David Armitage, The Ideological Origins of the British Empire (Cambridge, 2000).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. 7.
    H.V. Bowen, ‘British Conceptions of Global Empire, 1763–83’, Jour. Imp. and Comm. Hist., 26 (1998), pp. 1–27.Google Scholar
  8. For a view ‘from below’, see Linda Colley, ‘Going Native, Telling Tales: Captivity, Collaborations and Empire’, Past & Present, 168 (2000), pp. 170–93.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. 8.
    Patrick K. O’Brien, ‘Inseparable Connections: Trade, Economy, Fiscal State, and the Expansion of Empire, 1688–1815’, in P.J. Marshall (ed.), The Oxford History of the British Empire, Vol. II (Oxford, 1998), pp. 53–77, and the further references given there.Google Scholar
  10. 10.
    Bernard Semmel, The Rise of Free Trade Imperialism: Classical Political Economy, the Empire of Free Trade and Imperialism, 1750–1850 (Cambridge, 1970), ch. 2.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. 11.
    For a concise restatement, see John Darwin, ‘Imperialism and the Victorians: the Dynamics of Territorial Expansion’, English Historical Review, CXII (1997), pp. 614–15.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. 12.
    Tony Ballantyne, ‘Empire, Knowledge and Culture: from Proto-Globalization to Modern Globalization’, in A.G. Hopkins (ed.), Globalization in World History (2002), pp. 115–40.Google Scholar
  13. 14.
    P.J. Cain and A.G. Hopkins, ‘The Political Economy of British Expansion Overseas, 1750–1914’, Economic History Review, 2nd series, XXXIII (1980), pp. 474–81;Google Scholar
  14. idem, British Imperialism, pp. 82–7, and chs. 2–3; D.C.M. Platt, ‘The National Economy and British Imperial Expansion before 1914’, Journal of Imperial and Commonwealth History, 2 (1973–4), pp. 3–14.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. 18.
    Though we are aligned with him on the broader, diplomatic considerations: see John Darwin, ‘The Fall of the Empire State’, Diplomatic History, 25 (2001), pp. 501–5.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. 20.
    Ibid., ch. 20. Also P.J. Cain, ‘Gentlemanly Imperialism at Work: the Bank of England, Canada, and the Sterling Area, 1932–1936’, Econ. Hist. Rev., 2nd. ser. XLIX (1996), pp. 336–57.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. 22.
    D.K. Fieldhouse, ‘Gentleman, Capitalists and the British Empire’, Journal of Imperial and Commonwealth History 22 (1994), pp. 531–41.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. 24.
    See, for example, Juan R.I. Cole, Colonialism and Revolution in the Middle East: Social and Cultural Origins of Egypts Urabi movement (Princeton, 1992),CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. and Afal Lufti Al-Sayyid-Marsot, ‘The British Occupation of Egypt from 1882’, in Andrew Porter (ed.), Oxford History of the British Empire (Oxford, 1999), pp. 651–64.Google Scholar
  20. 27.
    P.J. Cain and A.G. Hopkins, ‘The Political Economy of British Expansion Overseas, 1750–1914’, Econ. Hist. Rev., 2nd ser. XXXIII (1980), pp. 463–90.Google Scholar
  21. 29.
    A.G. Hopkins, ‘The “New International Order” in the Nineteenth Century: Britain’s First Development Plan for Africa’ in Robin Law (ed.), From Slave Trade to Legitimate Commerce: the Commercial Transition in Nineteenth-Century West Africa (Cambridge, 1995), pp. 240–64, outlines a framework for treating this theme on a continent-wide basis.Google Scholar
  22. Jonathan Glassman, Feasts and Riot: Revelry, Rebellion and Popular Consciousness on the Swahili Coast, 1856–1888 (1994), provides an illuminating case study.Google Scholar
  23. 32.
    It need hardly be said that this is a far more complex matter than this summary suggests. Specialists vary in their emphases on how strong the Sultanate was at the moment of partition. Compare, for example, Norman R. Bennett, Arab versus European: Diplomacy and War in Nineteenth-Century East Africa (1986)Google Scholar
  24. with Abdul Sheriff, Slaves, Spices and Ivory in Zanzibar: Integration of an East African Empire into the World Economy, 1770–1873 (1987). This really is a case where ‘more research is needed’.Google Scholar
  25. 33.
    The best statement of Kirk’s policy, including his links with the ‘unofficial mind’ of imperialism, is now Roy Bridges, ‘Towards the Prelude to the Partition of East Africa’, in Roy Bridges, ed. Imperialism, Decolonization and Africa (2000), ch. 2.Google Scholar
  26. 37.
    See Trevor Lloyd, ‘Africa and Hobson’s Imperialism’, Past and Present, 55 (1972), pp. 130–53. Lloyd makes this point in the broader context of arguing that, in general, flows of capital had little to do with imperialist expansion in Africa.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. 38.
    For example, David E. Torrance, The Strange Death of Liberal Empire: Lord Selborne in South Africa (Liverpool, 1996), p. 29. We are grateful to Professor Torrance for his advice on Selborne’s views of the City and of imperial union, though he is not responsible for the stance we have taken here.Google Scholar
  28. 39.
    Kenneth E. Wilburn, ‘Engines of Empire and Independence: Railways in South Africa, 1863–1916’, in Clarence B. Davis and Kenneth E. Wilburn (eds), Railway Imperialism (1991), pp. 32–5.Google Scholar
  29. For Rothschild’s views on informal empire in South Africa, see Niall Ferguson, The World’s Banker: the House of Rothschild (1998), pp. 876–90.Google Scholar
  30. 40.
    Bill Nasson, The South African War, 1899–1902 (1999), p. 29. This point, in turn, has to be placed in context: it was still the case that 75 per cent of the Uitlanders were British. Ibid., p. 27.Google Scholar
  31. 41.
    See Peter Henshaw, ‘The “Key to South Africa” in the 1890s: Delagoa Bay and the Origins of the South African War’, Journal of Southern African Studies, 24 (1998), pp. 527–43.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. 43.
    Iain R. Smith, The Origins of the South African War (1996), pp. 268–9.Google Scholar
  33. 44.
    On Chamberlain’s and Milner’s philosophy, see P.J. Cain, ‘The Economic Philosophy of Constructive Imperialism’, in Cornelia Navari (ed.), British Politics and the Spirit of the Age (Keele, 1996), pp. 41–66.Google Scholar
  34. 45.
    Quoted in Iain R. Smith, ‘Joseph Chamberlain and the Jameson Raid’, in Greg Cuthbertson (ed.), The Jameson Raid: a Centennial Retrospective (Houghton, South Africa, 1996), p. 101.Google Scholar
  35. 48.
    Phimister’s earlier argument that the Transvaal’s tariff independence was a barrier to union and to Britain’s trade interests in South Africa takes on particular significance in this context. See I.R. Phimister, ‘Unscrambling the Scramble for Southern Africa: the Jameson Raid and the South African War Revisited’, South African Historical Journal, 28 (1993), pp. 218–19.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. 49.
    The detailed study is R.M. Kesner, Economic Control and Colonial Development: Crown Colony Financial Management in the Age of Joseph Chamberlain (Oxford, 1981).Google Scholar
  37. See also S.B. Saul, ‘The Economic Policy of “Constructive Imperialism”’, Journal of Economic History, 17 (1959), pp. 173–92.Google Scholar
  38. 50.
    On the Crown Agents, see David Sunderland, ‘Principals and Agents: the Activities of the Crown Agents for the Colonies, 1880–1914’, Econ. Hist. Rev. 2nd ser. LII (1999), pp. 284–306.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. 54.
    Gerold Krozewski, Money and the End of Empire: British International Economic Policy and the Colonies, 1947–58 (2001).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. 56.
    W.D. Rubinstein, ‘Britain’s Elites in the Inter-War Period, 1918–39’, Contemporary British History, 12 (1998), pp. 1–18.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. 57.
    Ronald Robinson, ‘The Moral Disarmament of African Empire’, Journal of Imperial and Commonwealth Histoty, 8 (1979), pp. 86–104.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. 58.
    Ronald Robinson, ‘Andrew Cohen and the Transfer of Power in Africa’, in W.M. Morris-Jones and G. Fischer (eds), Decolonisation and After; the British and French Experience (1979), pp. 50–72.Google Scholar
  43. 59.
    E.H.H. Green, ‘The Influence of the City over British Economic Policy, c.1880–1960’, in Youssef Cassis (ed.), Finance and Financiers in European History, 1880–1960 (Cambridge, 1992), pp. 193–218.Google Scholar
  44. 61.
    Scott Newton and Dilwyn Porter, Modernization Frustrated: the Politics of Industrial Decline in Britain since 1900 (1988).Google Scholar
  45. 62.
    See, for example, Philip Murphy, Alan Lennox-Boyd: a Biography (1999);Google Scholar
  46. and the patterns of recruitment revealed by A.H.M. Kirk-Greene, Britain’s Imperial Administrators, 1858–1996 (Basingstoke, 2000).Google Scholar
  47. 63.
    Hugh Thomas (ed.), The Establishment: a Symposium (1959).Google Scholar
  48. We note that Krozewski does not attempt to engage with our, admittedly limited, defence of the idea that gentlemanly capitalist elites continued to flourish after 1945, as presented in British Imperialism, pp. 620–2, or with the references contained therein. In this context, we would draw attention especially to W.D. Rubinstein, ‘Education and the Social Origins of British Elites, 1800–1970’, Past and Present 112 (1986), pp. 163–207.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. 65.
    Important recent contributions to this subject include: R.L. Tignor, Capitalism and Nationalism at the End of Empire: State and Business in Decolonizing Egypt, Nigeria, and Kenya, 1945–1963 (Princeton, 1998);Google Scholar
  50. Philip Murphy, Party Politics and Decolonization: the Conservative Party and British Colonial Policy in Tropical Africa, 1951–1964 (Oxford, 1995);CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Nicholas J. White, Business, Government and the End of Empire: Malaya, 1942–1957 (Oxford, 1996).Google Scholar
  52. 68.
    There were two prominent considerations: making friends rather than enemies out of nationalists by turning them into statesmen, and devising strategies for keeping colonies that might become independent ‘sterling minded’. See, for example, A.G. Hopkins, ‘Macmillan’s Audit of Empire, 1957’, in Peter Clarke and Clive Trebilcock (eds). Understanding Decline: Perceptions and Realities. Essays in Honour of Bany Supple (Cambridge, 1997), pp. 234–60.Google Scholar
  53. 73.
    The phrase is from J.A. Hobson, Imperialism: a Study (1988 ed.), p. 332.Google Scholar
  54. 74.
    See Roberta Allbert Dayer, Finance and Empire: Sir Charles Addis, 1861–1945 (1989).Google Scholar
  55. 76.
    Paul Kennedy, The Realities behind Diplomacy: Background Influences on British External Policy, 1865–1980 (1981), esp. Pt.I.Google Scholar
  56. 78.
    David McLean, ‘The Foreign Office and the First Chinese Indemnity Loan’, Historical Journal 16 (1973), pp. 303–21;CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  57. F.H.H. King, History of the Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corporation, II (Cambridge, 1988), pp. 264–75.Google Scholar
  58. 79.
    The most thorough account is E.W. Edwards, British Diplomacy and Finance in China, 1895–1914 (Oxford, 1987).Google Scholar
  59. 80.
    David Kynaston, The City of London: the Golden Years, 1890–1914 (1995), pp. 564–71.Google Scholar
  60. 83.
    See the summary in Hans van de Ven, ‘The Onrush of Modem Globalization in China’, in A.G. Hopkins (ed.), Globalization in World History (2002), pp. 167–93.Google Scholar
  61. 88.
    See P.J. Marshall, ‘Britain and China in the Late Eighteenth Century’, in Robert A. Bickers (ed.), Ritual and Diplomacy: the Macartney Mission to China, 1792–1794 (1993), pp. 11–29.Google Scholar
  62. James L. Hevia’s study, Cherishing Men from Afar: Qing Guest Ritual and the Macartney Embassy of 1793 (1996), also cited by Shunhong, is an interesting postmodernist account but is of tangential relevance to the issue in hand.Google Scholar
  63. 89.
    Macartney’s humanitarian, pacific and also prejudiced outlook is assessed by P.J. Marshall, ‘Lord Macartney, India and China: the Two Faces of the Enlightenment’, South Asia, 19 (1996), pp. 121–31.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  64. 90.
    The established means being shipments of silver. Macartney’s involvement with India and the Company is dealt with by L.S. Sutherland, ‘Lord Macartney’s Appointment as Governor of Madras, 1780: the Treasury in East India Company Elections’, English Historical Review, 90 (1975), pp. 523–35.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  65. 91.
    Rudrangshu Mukherjee, ‘Trade and Empire in Awahd, 1765–1804’, Past and Present, 94 (1982), pp. 85–106.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  66. 92.
    Amar Farooqui, ‘Opium Enterprise and Colonial Intervention in Malwa and Western India, 1800–1824’, Indian Economic and Social History Review, 32 (1995), pp. 447–73.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  67. This was also a key consideration in the subsequent annexation of Sind: J.Y. Wong, ‘British Annexation of Sind in 1843: an Economic Perspective’, Modern Asian Studies, 31 (1997), pp. 225–44.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  68. British shipping, and British merchants based in India and the Far East, gained significantly from the opium trade. See the important article by Freda Harcourt, ‘Black Gold: P & O and the Opium Trade, 1847–1914’, International Journal of Maritime History, 6 (1994), pp. 1–83.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  69. 93.
    Anthony Webster, ‘The Political Economy of Trade Liberalization: the East India Company Charter Act of 1813’, Economic History Review, 2nd ser. XLIII (1990), pp. 404–19.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  70. 100.
    Robert Gilpin, U.S. Power and the Multinational Corporation: the Political Economy of Foreign Direct Investment (1975), especially chs. 1 and 2. Gilpin’s study influenced our early thinking on this subject but has been rather neglected by historians, possibly because its title disguises its substantial historical content.Google Scholar
  71. 101.
    This is explored in P.T. Marsh, Bargaining on Europe: Britain and the First Common Market, 1860–93 (New Haven, 1999).Google Scholar
  72. 102.
    A. Marrison, ‘Insular Free Trade, Retaliation and the Most-Favoured-Nation Treaty, 1880–1914’, in idem, Free Trade and its Reception, 1815–1960 (Manchester, 1998).Google Scholar
  73. 105.
    British Imperialism, ch. 3. See also C.H. Lee, ‘The Service Sector, Regional Specialisation and Economic Growth in the Victorian Economy’, Journal of Historical Geography, 10 (1984), pp. 139–55.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  74. 110.
    William Cunningham, The Rise and Decline of the Free Trade Movement (1904), pp. 115–17, and quoted in Cain, ‘The Economic Philosophy of Constmctive Imperialism’, p. 51.Google Scholar
  75. 112.
    An extended version of this argument can be found in P.J. Cain, ‘Was it Worth Having? The British Empire, 1850–1950’, Revista de Economica Historia, 16 (1998), pp. 351–76, especially 362–72.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  76. 113.
    A.C. Howe, Free Trade and Liberal England, 1846–1946 (Oxford, 1997);Google Scholar
  77. A. Marrison, British Business and Protection, 1903–1932 (Oxford, 1996).Google Scholar
  78. 114.
    Kenneth Pomeranz, The Great Divergence: China, Europe and the Making of the Modern World Economy (Princeton, 2000).Google Scholar
  79. 115.
    Fernand Braudel, Capitalism and Material Life, 1400–1800 (1973);Google Scholar
  80. Eric Williams, Capitalism and Slavery (1944).Google Scholar
  81. 116.
    Patrick O’Brien, ‘Metahistories in Global Histories of Material Progress’, International History Review, 23 (2001), pp. 365–7.Google Scholar
  82. 124.
    On the cotton-trade rivalries, see Ishii Osamu, ‘Markets and Diplomacy: the Anglo-Japanese Rivalries over Cotton Goods Markets, 1930–36’, in Ian Nish and Yoichi Kibata (eds), The History of Anglo-Japanese Relations, 1600–2000, Vol. II: The Political-Diplomatic Dimension, 1931–2000 (Basingstoke, 2000), pp. 51–77. The three-cornered trade conflict between Britain, Australia and Japan in 1936–37 was clearly aggravated by British and Japanese cotton interests. Ibid., pp. 71–3.Google Scholar
  83. 134.
    With a strong leaning towards finance and an accompanying cosmopolitan worldview. See Maarten Kuitenbrouwer, The Netherlands and the Rise of Modern Capitalism: Colonies and Foreign Policy, 1870–1902 (Oxford, 1991); idem, ‘Capitalism and Imperialism: Britain and the Netherlands’, Itinerario,Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Palgrave Macmillan, a division of Macmillan Publishers Limited 2002

Authors and Affiliations

  • Peter Cain
  • A. G. Hopkins

There are no affiliations available

Personalised recommendations