In Hobson's work, which is very strongly influenced by Marxist theory, he argued that what lay behind Imperialism as a project was the chilling logic of the capitalist system where the rich invested their money in production and growth and demand outstripped actual need. In order to find a market for products and services, countries like Britain had to turn to other nations in order to increase their own wealth. Note how he explains this process in the following quote:
When productive capacity grew faster than consumer demand, there was very soon an excess of this capacity (relative to consumer demand), and, hence, there were few profitable domestic investment outlets. Foreign investment was the only answer. But, insofar as the same problem existed in every industrialized capitalist country, such foreign investment was possible only if non-capitalist countries could be “civilized”, “Christianized”, and “uplifted” — that is, if their traditional institutions could be forcefully destroyed, and the people coercively brought under the domain of the “invisible hand” of market capitalism. So, imperialism was the only answer.
The logic behind the Imperial project is therefore based, Hobson argued, on capitalism, and the need to find markets to further increase production and profit. Hobson argued throughout his book that the need for Imperialism would have been obsolete had wealth and goods been shared more equitably in society. The mis-distribution of wealth and property in capitalist society created its own internal drive which therefore naturally led to Imperialism. Those that benefited most from Imperialism were therefore those that benefited most from capitalism: the rich, upper-classes, who had the money and helped to perpetuate a societal system where the gap between the rich and poor only widened. Imperialism therefore, Hobson argued, was driven by the rich capitalists who sought foreign markets for their goods but used the guise of nationalistic pride and the mantra of "civilisation" in order to disguise their real motive.