32 I CHRONICLESnhead, in a way that would have lastingn(and unfortunate) intellectual impactnthroughout the 20th century.nThe context was another furiousnBritish political debate, this time overnthe Boer War (1899-1902). The warninspired J. A. Hobson to write Imperialism:nA Study (1902)—an absolutelynseminal book. Hobson fiercely op­nposed the war, and from what henbelieved to be the circumstances of itsnoutbreak, he came up with an entirentheory of empire-building. Hobsonnnow defined “imperialism” (a wordnwith old bad associations) purely as thenannexation of foreign territory bynforce. He argued that such annexationnoccurs when capital, unable to findnnnsufficiently profitable investments atnhome, is forced to search for new areasnof investment abroad. Thus Rhodes,nBeit and the Rothschilds had conspirednto bring on the war with thenBoers because of their eagerness fornsafe investment in the great Randnmines, which lay in Boer (not British)nterritory.nHobson may well have been correctnin his analysis of this one particularnwar. But there are two aspects of hisnbook to keep in mind. First, his “analysis”nof “imperialism” was merely anthinly disguised condemnation, part ofnhis polemic against the war. The pointnof his book was that the Boer Warnought to be opposed because filthyncapitalists (especially Jewish capitalists:nHobson was a ferocious anti-Semite)nwere spilling the blood of innocentnBoer and British lads for their ownnpurposes. Second, Hobson didn’t hesitatento generalize: All empires, he proclaimed,nderived from the greed ofnfinanciers for profits overseas. Hobsonnthus stands at the well-spring of thenmodern theory of “rational (i.e.,nprofit-seeking) imperialism.”nJohn Hobson may seem an obscurenfigure, but he deeply influenced someonenonly too familiar to us all —nnamely, Vladimir Ilyich Lenin. Leninnread and absorbed Hobson’s Imperialism,noften praised the book, and endeavorednto take its ideas even further.nLenin argued that the European “imperialism”nof the late 19th and earlyn20th centuries was not the product ofnspecial circumstances (as Hobsonnthought), but rather represented thenintegral nature of capitalism in itsn”final stage,” a stage where (as Hobsonndescribed) the capitalists divided upnthe world for financial profit. And ifn”imperialism” was integral to the finalnstage of capitalism, then obviously reformnwas impossible; the situationncould be ameliorated only by violentnrevolution, sweeping away the entirenexisting socioeconomic structure.nThese ideas were set forth in Lenin’snImperialism: The Highest Stage ofnCapitalism (1919).nThus the ever-growing power of thenUSSR was put behind the ideas ofnHobson and Lenin — as part, ofncourse, of the political struggle of thenSoviet Union against the West. Severalnresults followed. First, since “imperialism”nwas defined as the final stage ofn