Leonard Trelawny Hobhouse

Leonard Trelawny Hobhouse

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Leonard Trelawny Hobhouse (September 8, 1864 – June 21, 1929) was a British
United Kingdom
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern IrelandIn the United Kingdom and Dependencies, other languages have been officially recognised as legitimate autochthonous languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages...

 liberal
Liberalism
Liberalism is the belief in the importance of liberty and equal rights. Liberals espouse a wide array of views depending on their understanding of these principles, but generally, liberals support ideas such as constitutionalism, liberal democracy, free and fair elections, human rights,...

 politician
Politician
A politician, political leader, or political figure is an individual who is involved in influencing public policy and decision making...

 and sociologist, who has been considered one of the leading and earliest proponents of social liberalism
Social liberalism
Social liberalism is the belief that liberalism should include social justice. It differs from classical liberalism in that it believes the legitimate role of the state includes addressing economic and social issues such as unemployment, health care, and education while simultaneously expanding...

. His works, alongside that of writers such as T.H. Green
Thomas Hill Green
Thomas Hill Green was an English philosopher, political radical and temperance reformer, and a member of the British idealism movement. Like all the British idealists, Green was influenced by the metaphysical historicism of G.W.F. Hegel...

 and John A. Hobson
John A. Hobson
John Atkinson Hobson , commonly known as John A. Hobson or J. A. Hobson, was an English economist and critic of imperialism, widely popular as a lecturer and writer.-Life:...

, occupy a seminal position within the canon of New Liberalism. He worked both as an academic and a journalist: in 1907 he shared, with Edward Westermarck, the distinction of being the first professor of sociology
Sociology
Sociology is the study of society. It is a social science—a term with which it is sometimes synonymous—which uses various methods of empirical investigation and critical analysis to develop a body of knowledge about human social activity...

 to be appointed at the University of London
University of London
-20th century:Shortly after 6 Burlington Gardens was vacated, the University went through a period of rapid expansion. Bedford College, Royal Holloway and the London School of Economics all joined in 1900, Regent's Park College, which had affiliated in 1841 became an official divinity school of the...

. His sister was Emily Hobhouse
Emily Hobhouse
Emily Hobhouse was a British welfare campaigner, who is primarily remembered for bringing to the attention of the British public, and working to change, the poor conditions inside the British concentration camps in South Africa built for Boer women and children during the Second Boer War.-Early...

, the British welfare activist.

Life


Hobhouse was born in St Ive
St Ive
St Ive is a village and civil parish in south-east Cornwall, England, United Kingdom. St Ive should not be confused with St Ives, the well-known seaside town in the west of Cornwall...

, near Liskeard
Liskeard
Liskeard is an ancient stannary and market town and civil parish in south east Cornwall, England, United Kingdom.Liskeard is situated approximately 20 miles west of Plymouth, west of the River Tamar and the border with Devon, and 12 miles east of Bodmin...

 in Cornwall
Cornwall
Cornwall is a unitary authority and ceremonial county of England, within the United Kingdom. It is bordered to the north and west by the Celtic Sea, to the south by the English Channel, and to the east by the county of Devon, over the River Tamar. Cornwall has a population of , and covers an area of...

, the son of Reginald Hobhouse, an Anglican clergyman, and Caroline Trelawny. His sister Emily Hobhouse
Emily Hobhouse
Emily Hobhouse was a British welfare campaigner, who is primarily remembered for bringing to the attention of the British public, and working to change, the poor conditions inside the British concentration camps in South Africa built for Boer women and children during the Second Boer War.-Early...

 was a noted welfare campaigner.

He attended Marlborough College
Marlborough College
Marlborough College is a British co-educational independent school for day and boarding pupils, located in Marlborough, Wiltshire.Founded in 1843 for the education of the sons of Church of England clergy, the school now accepts both boys and girls of all beliefs. Currently there are just over 800...

 before reading Greats at Corpus Christi College, Oxford
Corpus Christi College, Oxford
Corpus Christi College is one of the constituent colleges of the University of Oxford in the United Kingdom...

, where he graduated with a first-class degree in 1887. Upon his graduation, Hobhouse remained at Oxford as a prize fellow at Merton College before becoming a full fellow at Corpus Christi.

Taking a break from academia between 1897 and 1907, Hobhouse worked as a journalist (including a stint with the Manchester Guardian) and as the secretary of a trade union.

In 1907, Hobhouse returned to academia, accepting the newly created chair of sociology
Sociology
Sociology is the study of society. It is a social science—a term with which it is sometimes synonymous—which uses various methods of empirical investigation and critical analysis to develop a body of knowledge about human social activity...

 at the University of London
University of London
-20th century:Shortly after 6 Burlington Gardens was vacated, the University went through a period of rapid expansion. Bedford College, Royal Holloway and the London School of Economics all joined in 1900, Regent's Park College, which had affiliated in 1841 became an official divinity school of the...

 where he remained until his death in 1929.

Economic policy



Hobhouse was important in underpinning the turn-of-the-century 'New Liberal' movement of the Liberal party under leaders like Asquith and Lloyd George. He distinguished between property held 'for use' and property held 'for power'. Governmental co-operation with trade unions could therefore be justified as helping to counter the structural disadvantage of employees in terms of power. He also theorized that property was acquired not only by individual effort but by societal organization. Essentially, wealth had a social dimenson; it was a collective product. This means that those who had property owe some of their success to society and thus had some obligation to others. This, he believed, provides theoretical justification for a level of redistribution provided by the new state pension
Pension
In general, a pension is an arrangement to provide people with an income when they are no longer earning a regular income from employment. Pensions should not be confused with severance pay; the former is paid in regular installments, while the latter is paid in one lump sum.The terms retirement...

s.

It is important to note, however, that Hobhouse disliked Marxist
Marxism
Marxism is an economic and sociopolitical worldview and method of socioeconomic inquiry that centers upon a materialist interpretation of history, a dialectical view of social change, and an analysis and critique of the development of capitalism. Marxism was pioneered in the early to mid 19th...

 socialism, describing his own position as social liberalism. Hobhouse occupies a particularly important place in the intellectual history of the Liberal Democrats because of this.

Civil liberty


His work also presents a positive vision of liberalism in which the purpose of liberty is to enable individuals to develop, not solely that freedom is good in itself. Hobhouse, by contrast, said that coercion should be avoided not because we have no regard for other peoples' well-being, but because coercion is ineffective at improving their lot.

Hobhouse rejected classical liberalism
Classical liberalism
Classical liberalism is the philosophy committed to the ideal of limited government, constitutionalism, rule of law, due process, and liberty of individuals including freedom of religion, speech, press, assembly, and free markets....

, noting the work of other liberals who had pointed out the various forms of coercion already existing in society apart from government. Therefore, he proposed that, to promote liberty, the government must control those factors already existing which worked against it.

Hobhouse held out hope that Liberals and what would now be called the social democrat tendency in the nascent Labour
Labour Party (UK)
The Labour Party is a centre-left democratic socialist party in the United Kingdom. It surpassed the Liberal Party in general elections during the early 1920s, forming minority governments under Ramsay MacDonald in 1924 and 1929-1931. The party was in a wartime coalition from 1940 to 1945, after...

 party could form a grand progressive coalition.

Foreign policy


Hobhouse was often disappointed that fellow collectivists in Britain at the time also tended to be imperialists. Hobhouse opposed the Boer war
Second Boer War
The Second Boer War was fought from 11 October 1899 until 31 May 1902 between the British Empire and the Afrikaans-speaking Dutch settlers of two independent Boer republics, the South African Republic and the Orange Free State...

 and had reservations about the First World War. He was an internationalist
Internationalism (politics)
Internationalism is a political movement which advocates a greater economic and political cooperation among nations for the theoretical benefit of all...

 and disliked the pursuit of British national interests as practised by the governments of the day.

Works

  • Labour Movement (1893)
  • Theory of Knowledge: a contribution to some problems of logic and metaphysics (1896)
  • Mind in Evolution (1901)
  • Democracy and Reaction (1905)
  • Morals in Evolution: a study in comparative ethics (1906)
  • Liberalism (1911)
  • Social Evolution and Political Theory (1911)
  • Development and Purpose (1913)
  • The Material Culture and Social Institutions of the Simpler Peoples (1915)
  • The Metaphysical Theory of the State: a criticism (1918)
  • The Rational Good: a study in the logic of practice (1921)
  • The Elements of Social Justice (1922)
  • Social Development: its nature and conditions (1924)
  • Sociology and Philosophy: a centenary collection of essays and articles (1966)

External links