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Reordering the WorldEssays on Liberalism and Empire$
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Duncan Bell

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780691138787

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: January 2018

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691138787.001.0001

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Democracy and Empire

Democracy and Empire

J. A. Hobson, L. T. Hobhouse, and the Crisis of Liberalism

(p.341) Chapter 14 Democracy and Empire
Reordering the World

Duncan Bell

Princeton University Press

This chapter analyzes two renowned “new liberal” thinkers, J. A. Hobson and L. T. Hobhouse. It first highlights how they figured themselves within narratives charting the evolution of liberal thought and practice, allowing them simultaneously to pay homage to their predecessors while carving out a space for the new liberal project. It then discusses their writings about the settler colonies in Australia, Canada, and New Zealand. Their accounts of colonialism undermine neat distinctions between “domestic,” “international,” and “imperial” politics and political theory. For Hobson and Hobhouse, as well as for many of their contemporaries, the colonies exhibited characteristics of all three: constitutive elements of the empire, they were nevertheless semi-autonomous states purportedly composed of people of the same nationality and race as the inhabitants of the United Kingdom.

Keywords:   J. A. Hobson, L. T. Hobhouse, political thought, liberalism, liberal thought, settler colonies, colonialism

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