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Thread: Historian Eric Hobsbawm Dies

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    Super Moderator eatmywords's Avatar
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    Default Historian Eric Hobsbawm Dies

    One of the most influential historian's of the 20th Century has died at the age of 95. No less myself has this man influenced my studies of Marxist history. Along with AJ Taylor and EP Thompson these men have shaped the way I, specifically, have seen the past and shaped my thoughts on how the past defined men and monsters. Although most people rave about The Age of Extremes, I always found Industry to Empire a far more meaningful text that tracked the thread of industrialism through the 19th-20th Century on society and the country. And On History led me into my studies of post-modernism, and was probably detrimental in some ways, but remarkably enlightening in other ways.

    I just see this as an end of History in some way, as most historians today just don't have that tenacious desire to reveal the causality of the fine threads that shaped and made history. I do like David Irving's style and narratives, but am nonetheless aware much of what he writes is conjecture; but it is, nonetheless, very entertaining. Today History seems pallid and without the teeth Hobsbawm and Taylor wrote, and I think this makes society all the more poorer.
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    When I went back to University (very late in life in the normal sense...) Hobsbawm was of course a required author. I remember that I enjoyed the point of view of his writings even as my make-up and background was so different myself. In a way he was my first real attempt at looking objectivly at the same history but from a different ideological perspective from my own. I think I started looking at other things other then history differently as well (politics, culture, etc). I certainly agree that the world is poorer whithout such a great historian but the world (our little corner really) doesn't seem able to produce such a mind especially in his field.

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    Super Moderator eatmywords's Avatar
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    I think the lack of focus on World History has made the field poorer. I know I started seeing things in history that other people hadn't seen, in many ways I tried to make it dynamic through a prose style. If you have read David Irving you will know what I mean. But I was equally aware how fallible that style was. However, it was attractive to the right people. I know you are bound by your facts, but one fact does not history book make. I don't think it was totally revisionist, but it was certainly better reading than the dry and dull presentations that were dominating the field and turning off its audience. I think it does need to be made new again, otherwise we are going to be stuck with that bland, nationalistic and relatively conservative style of Schama that was already being written 200 years ago.
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    Quote Originally Posted by eatmywords View Post
    I think the lack of focus on World History has made the field poorer. I know I started seeing things in history that other people hadn't seen, in many ways I tried to make it dynamic through a prose style. If you have read David Irving you will know what I mean. But I was equally aware how fallible that style was. However, it was attractive to the right people. I know you are bound by your facts, but one fact does not history book make. I don't think it was totally revisionist, but it was certainly better reading than the dry and dull presentations that were dominating the field and turning off its audience. I think it does need to be made new again, otherwise we are going to be stuck with that bland, nationalistic and relatively conservative style of Schama that was already being written 200 years ago.
    My own feeling is that Schama is so dull it encourages people to seek more interesting historians. A lively style can be a deceptive recommendation though: try Gwyn A. Williams, 'When Was Wales?' to see the faults and benefits. I tend to feel that Hobsbawm came of an excellent historical parentage but tended to simpify Marxism for the bourgeoisie. I prefer Deutscher.

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    He knew what redistribution did to the Kulaks. He advocated public policy and collectivism over the individual despite knowing how our nation fought for the individual rights in the Magna Carta and the Bill of Right. He knew what happens when you remove the motivation to work by stealing the wealth of those who work well and give it to the lazy and feckless. He knew from history that that means work must be forced. He knew about Lenin's Terror Decrees yet spent his life pretending they were an aberration.

    Anyone who claims a logical consequence of the very policies he advocated were an aberration is a fraud. He advocated collectivisation of property and speedily. 75% of the Ukrainian population dead not enough? He must have seen photos of the Soviet posters ordering the starving population not to eat their children.

    The man was an evil monster.
    Last edited by Cacadores; 01-01-2018 at 09:40 AM.

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    What kind of psychopath, after Stalin's 7 million dead in the Ukraine and perhaps another four million in the work camps could still laud the proportion of the world's population who lived under communism. He wrote that Marx's Communist Manefesto had ' biblical force'. Yes, the same Communist Manefesto that divides humanity into the bad and the good and reads like a bad GCSE essay. The same Manefesto which advocates taking everything from a large proportion of the population and replacing them with the other part of the population. Without even considering that the new masters will simply take on the characteristics of the old lot. The same Manefesto that calls for the destruction of the family.
    Last edited by Cacadores; 01-01-2018 at 09:43 AM.

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    What did he say after the Gulag Archipelago had been published in the West? He changed his views not one iota. This details how Stalin achieved his agricultural five-year plans and infrastructure projects in the absence of the ability to accrue capital - which Hobsbaum was in favour of. Stalin did it by setting up a slave state within a state. Who but a psychopath could be in favour of that and willing to make excuses for it? Hobsbawm did.
    Last edited by Cacadores; 01-01-2018 at 09:44 AM.

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    Pilger made excellent documentaries shown on British television detailing the lead up to the two million deaths in Cambodia caused by Sorbonne-educated Pol Pot trying to manifest a Marxist state. Hobsbawn didn't alter his views one jot. He wrote how 1/3 of the human race lived under communism as an example of the strength of Marx's thought. And had the cheek to state that it was the job of historians to be the 'rememberencers' for people who would rather forget.

    Well, perhaps if he'd done some public remembering himself in European academic circles after the Ukrainian genocide and Mao's slave economy became known, the Sorbonne professors might have prevented Pol Pot from swallowing the Marxist ideology which lead to the deaths of 2 million. Even later, when Pol Pot had been forced out of the capital, Hobsbawn could have influenced the French and British political leaders who continued to prop him up in power.

    Mao's Great Leap Forward: a direct implementation of Marx's ill-formed concepts about re-structuring society and the continuous implementation of what Hobsbawn called progressive policy: public collectivism over private economic well-being. 45 million deaths over four years.

    Hobsbawn 's response? That Marxism might lack a little 'homogeneity'. Yes. That Marx's thesis by which his criticisms of capitalism lead him to hope for the take over byvthe proletariat after the contradictions of capitalism lead to its collapse, might leave a step or two out.
    Last edited by Cacadores; 01-01-2018 at 09:48 AM.

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    .... but he still had faith that the 'socialisation of labour' (what a monstrous phrase - it means removing the wealth and land from those who worked for it, by force. Exactly what caused both the Ukrainian and Chinese famines, Pol Pot and Stalin's forced removal and resettlement and deaths of whole peoples and the slave camps in the USSR, Cambodia and China) and the 'centralisation of the economy' (i.e. the end of democracy, the end of individual decision-making and the allocation of people into jobs without their consent) would lead to people realising the 'full potential of their faculties'.

    After all these genocides and the re-introduction of slavery (the man was an historian - he knew intimately the simple human processes which inevitably lead, very quickly, in a matter of months of collectivisation to Lenin's Terror Decrees and then to Stalin, Mao and Pol Pot's slave nations) Hobsbawn turned to Britain and wrote that 'the time has come to take Marx seriously.'

    He lied about the Soviet invasion of Finland (Wilson uses the word 'downplayed'), he made pathetic excuses for the Soviet-Nazi pact, lying that the Soviets were 'weaker' when he knew it was Germany that weaker - their military commisariate was horse drawn for goodness sake. It was only that pact which allowed Hitler to invade other countries to get the resources he needed as the Nazis were then almost backrupt.

    He supported Lenin's actions right thought the Bolshivic atrocities. He believed Stalin's stated methods for implimenting collectivism were in accord with 'what I understood Marxist' thought to be. He made excuses for and then ignored the Soviet invasions of Hungary and Czechoslovakia...

    His only criticism of Marxist implementation was when he learnt about Peru's Shining Path. A conveniently little-known footnote in history. He visited Russia in 1954, saw some girls and then expressed no desire to ever visit it again. His research was shoddy, he wrote theses and picked facts to jistify his preconceptions. He was a liar and he left stuff out.

    He was no AJP Taylor. He had a regressive influence on politics both in Europe and America. It could be argued his political advice or lack of it when he had influence caused deaths.

    He was a polemicist who disguised himself as an historian. He had the psychopath's willingness to deny humanity our individualism and the egotist's propensity to laud his own. He had the arrogance to want to tear apart the country and culture which helped him flee the Nazis with the ungratefulness of a particularly twisted psychie. He hated our country, its culture and its people. He never ceased espousing the virtues of wealth redistribution while accruing it himself. Hipocritically, he was not known for giving it away. Despite his reverence for the longevity of the written word, future historians will, as usual, search for the verifiable and support their commentaries with more commentaries than his. Liars are soon forgotten.
    Last edited by Cacadores; 01-01-2018 at 09:55 AM.

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