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Wednesday, May 5, 2021

The Leftist Historiography of Hobsbawm

“In theory its [The Enlightenment] object was to set all human beings free. All progressive, rationalist and humanist ideologies are implicit in it and indeed come out of it.” ~ wrote Eric Hobsbawm in his 1962 book The Age of Revolution. He saw the Enlightenment as the first step towards the achievement of a global communist utopia. In his 1971 book Primitive Rebels, he posited that “utopianism is probably a necessary social device for generating the superhuman efforts without which no major revolution is achieved.” 

In a 1994 interview with Michael Ignatieff, Hobsbawm said that the death of fifteen to twenty million people for the achievement of a utopia is justified. With his history books, especially his four volume history of the modern age—The Age of Revolution (1789—1848); The Age of Capital (1848-1875); The Age of Empire (1875-1914); and The Age of Extremes (1914-1991)— Hobsbawm has laid the foundation of leftist historiography of the twentieth century. 

Hobsbawm joined the British Communist Party in 1936 and stayed with it until 1991, when the Party was dissolved. He never wavered in his commitment to the Soviet Union. When the Soviet Union invaded Hungary in 1956, he wrote in an article stating that he approved of their action in Hungary, though “with a heavy heart.” In his 2002 autobiography Interesting Times, he wrote that being a communist means “utter emotional identification” and “total dedication” to communism. 

In 1990, when it became clear that the Soviet Union was on the verge of disintegrating, he lamented that the disintegration of the Soviet Union would revive the reactionary forces which the Soviet communists “have been kept frozen for up to 70 years.”

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