There has been contention over the causes of the Anglo-Boer War of 1899–1902 for more than a hundred years. Even with the establishment of an entirely new political dispensation in South Africa that owes nothing to that conflict and the dawn of a new millennium, the argument has continued to rage over the role that gold played in the war. Radicals going back to John Atkinson Hobson at the outbreak of the conflict have argued that gold was central to a quintessentially imperialist war. Liberals and conservatives have dismissed these claims and have focused on unconnected political and strategic factors as both the ostensible and the real causes of the conflict. For example, Frank Welsh argues:
The last thing the mine-owners needed was a war. Millions of pounds of investments in plant and equipment, together with all the mine-workings, would be at risk; there was no question of war leading to increased prices or more sales after the fighting was over; the best that could be hoped for would be that production would not stop for too long, and that at least running costs would be reduced, although the considerable expenses of servicing capital and maintenance would remain … In the face of this, the claim made by some Marxists, even such eminent historians as Dr Eric Hobsbawm, that ‘the motive for war was gold’ hardly deserves serious consideration.