Jeremy Corbyn described century-old antisemitic book as ‘brilliant’ and ‘a great tome’
London – Jeremy Corbyn praised an antisemitic book which says “international capitalism” is “controlled…by men of a single and peculiar race, who have behind them many centuries of financial experience”, describing it as a “great tome” that is “brilliant, and very controversial at the time.”
Imperialism: A Study, written by John Atkinson Hobson in 1902, asks rhetorically, “Does anyone seriously suppose that a great war could be undertaken by any European state, or a great state loan subscribed, if the house of Rothschild and its connections set their face against it?”
As uncovered by Daniel Finkelstein in his column for the Times on Tuesday, in 2011 Mr Corbyn was asked to write a foreword for the reprint of Mr Hobson’s book.
The book describes the financial system as controlled by people “united by the strongest bonds of organisation, always in closest and quickest touch with one as other, situated in the very heart of the business capital of every state, controlled, so far as Europe is concerned, by men of a single and peculiar race, who have behind them many centuries of financial experience, they are in a unique position to control the policy of nations.”
The book also says: “There is not a war, a revolution, an anarchist assassination, or any other public shock, which is not gainful to these men; they are harpies who suck their gains from every new forced expenditure and every sudden disturbance of public credit”.
Furthermore, it describes how the direct influence exercised by these financial houses “is supported by the control which they exercise over the body of public opinion through the press”.
Mr Corbyn, in his foreword, directly references Mr Hobson’s discussion of what the now-Labour leader calls “the commercial interests that fuel the role of the popular press with tales of imperial might”.
Mr Corbyn called the book “correct and prescient”.
A Labour party spokesperson said: “Jeremy praised the Liberal Hobson’s century old classic study of imperialism in Africa and Asia.
“Similarly to other books of its era, Hobson’s work contains outdated and offensive references and observations, and Jeremy completely rejects the antisemitic elements of his analysis.”
But journalist and JC columnist Jonathan Freedland responded: “If that’s true, why didn’t he reject them in the foreword where he so warmly praised the book?
“He could have said ‘the author was a man of his time, expressing prejudices that we now know are wrong.’ But he didn’t say anything like that.”
Euan Philipps, of the Labour Against Antisemitism group described the latest revelation as “damning”.
“A man with his apparent views on Jewish people shouldn’t be allowed anywhere near Downing Street, yet this week across the country Labour supporters will be urging British voters to endorse his party – a move that will only tighten his grip on power,” Mr Philipps said.
“Our only hope is that an external organisation such as the Equalities and Human Rights Commission will step in and bring a halt to this increasingly terrifying situation, in the interests of the British public and British democracy.”