Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Hobsbawm's Choice

To be a historian in denial of historical fact, because it's a market niche;

Where many of his comrades left the Communist Party in protest after the Soviet invasion of Hungary in 1956, for example, [Eric] Hobsbawm did not. Refusing to give up his party card, he explained that he “did not want to lose that narrow high ground”, and did not want to betray the memory of old comrades – “enormously good people” who had devoted their lives to the “liberation of mankind”. It was only a little while before the party itself dissolved in 1991 that he let his membership lapse.
Hobsbawm kept the apologetics going until well after the Soviets themselves had given up the struggle; in the 1990s he was one of the few Marxist academics who still argued that a system which even its practitioners considered to have been an unmitigated catastrophe had “great and sometimes astonishing achievements to its credit”.
....Most startlingly, Hobsbawm gave Stalin the credit for the post war “miracles” experienced in the West. Soviet communism, he argued, had provided its antagonist “with the incentive — fear — to reform itself” and “by establishing the popularity of economic planning, furnished it with some of the procedures for its reform.” In a television interview, Hobsbawm was asked whether, for such an accomplishment to take place, “the loss of fifteen, twenty million people might have been justified?”
“Yes”, replied Hobsbawm.
Because it was material for an intellectual? 

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