1     	<ONLINE MODERN HISTORY REVIEW>               March 1994  
4     	P. J. Cain and A.G. Hopkins, <British Imperialism, 2 vols:
5     	Innovation and Expansion, 1688-1914; Crisis and Deconstruction,
6     	1914-1990>; Longman, London and New York, 1993, xvi, 504; xvi,
7     	337 pp.        
9     		Reviewer: Robert Kubicek
10    			  University of British Columbia
12    	     If this work is assessed on the authors' terms it is hard to
13    	fault. They argue that insufficient analysis and weight have been
14    	assigned to the role of the "service sector" in shaping the
15    	imperial programme. Services "supply a demand but are not
16    	physical commodities." They subsume numerous activities,
17    	especially "banking, insurance, the professions, communications,
18    	distribution, transport, public service and a multiplicity of
19    	personal services."  These services, located in the City of
20    	London, more than manufacturing located in the north of England,
21    	shaped the imperial factor even during "the classic phase of
22    	industrialisation." (I: 20-21) Such services predated and were
23    	maintained during the Industrial Revolution and persisted in the
24     	post-industrial era. They were provided by "gentlemanly
25    	capitalists," a term the authors coined in articles appearing in
26    	1986-87 in the <Economic History Review>. It refers to attitudes
27    	grounded in landed interests and sustained by wealth accumulated
28    	through finance and commerce in the City.  This group, schooled
29    	in the same institutions which produced the administrative and
30    	political elites of Whitehall and Westminster, had access to the
31    	corridors of power. Thus the concerns and interests of the City's
32    	gentlemanly capitalists were listened to and acted upon by
33    	imperial policy makers.       
35    	     Readers familiar with the work of John A. Hobson may detect
36    	his influence. While the authors discount his "resort to
37    	conspiracy theories" they recognize him as a "valuable source of
38    	inspiration." (I: 16) Finance capital did not direct state
39    	agendas, but when it came to tariff issues, currency controls,
40    	banking regulations, debt repayment and investment practices in
41    	the empire it was influential and more likely to be better
42    	accommodated than industrial capital. Neo-marxism is given an
43    	airing too.         
45    	     The work incorporates three centuries of metropolitan
46    	activity, but also discusses numerous peripheral case studies 
47    	(India, Canada, Australasia, Egypt, South Africa) in the formal
48    	and (South America, the Middle East and China) in the informal
49    	empires. It draws on a rich and varied literature. Indeed, the
50    	packed footnotes are a treasure trove .      
52    	     The scholarship is outstanding and the argument so
53    	significant that it will take its place alongside the work of
54    	Ronald Robinson and John Gallagher (see especially <Africa and
55    	the Victorians>, 2nd ed., 1981) as a seminal statement in the
56    	historiography of the British Empire. But like that work it will
57    	spark controversy.  What might some of the contentious issues be? 
58    	First, coverage is bothersome. Though the work's titles suggest a
59    	time period of three hundred years it is very largely devoted to
60    	a 100 year period (1850-1950). The fifty years before 1990
61    	receive less than twenty pages. Secondly, some areas of imperial
62    	activity are omitted. These include Burma, Ceylon and the West
63    	Indies. Thirdly, Scotland as an important centre of metropolitan
64    	activity gets little treatment.  Fourthly, elements of the
65    	service sector set out in the authors' working definition get
66    	short shrift. For example, communications and transportation are
67    	not treated as fully as banking.  Finally, peripheral
68    	developments are down played as a fundamental cause of 
69    	imperialism. Peripheral pulls are central in the work of Robinson
70    	and Gallagher, and evident also in Anthony Hopkins' important
71    	earlier work, <The Economic History of West Africa> (1973), but
72    	he and Peter Cain now suggest that the City, as a power house of
73    	fiscal and monetary controls, should be cast in a more proactive
74    	rather than reactive role in discussing developments in the
75    	empire. The City and the metropolitan state are seen as
76    	initiators.  Australian or Canadian colonies cannot easily use
77    	collaborative arrangements to manipulate metropolitan financiers
78    	or politicians.  Proto-nationalist forces in Egypt or South
79    	Africa should not obscure the interventions of the metropole's
80    	finance capitalists.
82    	     Clearly, the authors highlight the importance of the service
83    	sector in their analysis of the dynamics of empire and show that
84    	metropolitan initiatives need to be more fully recognized, but
85    	they underestimate the role of peripheral developments.
86    	Furthermore, the role of "physical commodities", or say, the
87    	tools of empire transferred to the periphery, is insufficiently
88    	stressed.  However, to refine or rebut effectively the work of
89    	Cain and Hopkins one will be expected to exhibit their scholarly
90    	dedication and revisit the role of manufacturing interests.       
91    			=======================