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Eric Hobsbawm:
Life in history

by richard j. evans:

oxford, 800 pages, $ 39.95

W:Alter Scott once observed that although astrology, which enjoyed an almost universal rating in the mid-eighteenth century, had already become a mockery, it was still maintained by a number of devotees, even learners.

The dominant and the study men wanted to abandon the calculations that had long been the main focus of their studies and were reluctant to go down to the predominant height that they had assumed a conceivable future with the power of abstract influences and contextual counseling. on the rest of humanity.

And so with Marxism, because in the middle of the twentieth century it moved from intellectual authority to virtual inattention at the beginning of the twenty-first. Eric Hobsbawm, whose life has witnessed the rise and fall of Marxism, is the epitome of a studying man who reluctantly descends from the heights he assumed to occupy. Born in 1917 in Alexandria, educated in Vienna, Berlin, London and Cambridge, Hobsbawm became a professional historian and a member of the Communist Party of Great Britain from 1936 to 1991. It ended in World War II. who saw him conscripted into the Army Education Corps. (His unsettled Communist loyalty ensured that he would never be allowed elsewhere for a job for which his linguistic and analytical abilities would otherwise qualify him. After his demobilization, he returned to Cambridge to complete his doctorate, and has become a friend for some time. Lecturer at King's College as well as Birkbeck in London. His career took place in Birkbeck (part of the University of London), where he was slowly nominated for a professorship in 1970, and remained associated with the institute until his death in 2012.

Richard Evans in this fascinating and monumental biography offers a fascinating story of Don with a characteristic long but unusually interesting life. Hobsbawm was a man of enviable talent and meticulous learning, traveling extensively, mastering the clutches of languages, at home with at least three major European literatures, a charismatic lecturer and a subtle but not flawless prose writer, economical, lively, and so on. convincing. His story as a historian was a high-level synthesis, endowed with a long-lasting vision across Europe and indeed around the world, but illuminated by the abilities of notorious houses, telling the details of minute features. This gift has been shown to be the greatest result in a sequence of four stories that we can call the four "centuries" of Hobsbawm: The Era of Revolution: Europe 1789–1848 (1962), Century of the capital. 1848–1875: (1975), Empire era. 1875–1914: (1987), and: Century of Extremes. Short Twentieth Century, 1914–1991 (1994): The first volume created his name, and in the fourth century, he was fortunate enough to win a huge international readership and reputation that opened to him at the end of his career in political journalism. He went to Hobsbawm Exciting times (and the title of his autobiography), and while this study cannot justify the boast of gossip that it is "the life of the century," it is a major contribution to the "history of history." There are people who claim that it's biography. not a proper occupation for a real historian, but it's good to see Richard Evans not being one of them. History begins with stories, and stories begin with human life.

The good story of this life, built on a massive archive, which is obviously compiled by its subject in the very sense of Churchill's personal destiny, certainly sheds light on the intellectual history of Marxism, though it is not the focus of the book. Because this is the biography of a man whose life and work really turned out to be not so much a contradiction as a refutation of one's own principles. This is no ordinary cheap shot of a "champagne socialist", but a serious insist on how much Hobbsau's public career and personal life reflects the true poverty of the philosophy that he has formally dedicated himself to. He had to see through it. other people did.

Q:obsbawm's death met the usual praise of a dying scientist for years and success. But the convention de mortuis nil nisi bonum: was broken by a number of voices still protesting against his life and undiscovered Marxism. The period underlying the criticism was the exchange in the infamous television interview with Michael Ignatieff in October 1994. Evans is somewhat sensitive to such criticism. He, like Hobsbawk himself, sees such criticisms as old-fashioned and no less good-tasting, super-thought-out super-tired cold warriors. Critics, however, saw it as the decisive moment in Hobbsbaum's public career. Because Ignatiyev put his finger on the inseparable part of Hobsbawm's moral anatomy, a dead-end point, in challenging him as a lifelong Marxist and first-time supporter of the Soviet Union on a genuine moral record of a regime which, nevertheless, is difficult to find.

Ignatieff. In 1934, millions died in the Soviet experience. If you knew that, would that change the timing for you? At your commitment. Being a Communist.

Hobsbawm: . . Probably not.

Ignatieff. Why?

Hobsbawm. Because at a time when, as you can imagine, mass killings and mass suffering are absolutely universal, the possibility of a new world born of the suffering of the great world was still worth supporting. . . . It turns out that the Soviet Union was not the beginning of a world revolution. If it were, I'm not sure.

Ignatieff. What does it say that if tomorrow's brightness were really created, the loss of fifteen, twenty million people could be justified?

Hobsbawm. Yes.

Evans is doing his best to drive it out. "But, as Eric confessed, no bright tomorrow was created," he writes. "His apparent defense of the mass killings in Stalin's name was based on a hypothetical statement, not on what actually happened." So to speak, to put it mildly, it is an interesting mitigating request. The reader is urged to move on, but it is not so clear that there is nothing to see here. All you can really say is that Hobsbawm was lucky that he lived ahead of Twitter (though even in this age of viral social media, which are dishonest sins on the Right, fall to the simple peccadilloes when found on the left). His stubborn and arbitrary faith, against all reason and experience, reveals a real moral blind spot. Evans presents all this as a legacy of youthful self-forgetfulness and tribalism, but in such a broad and deep culture, the guilt is not so easily removed.

Evans's story is quite skillful and strongly reflects the quasi-religious nature of young Hobbsbah Marxism and its faithful adherence to it. Evans sows the seed of this commentary for many comments before making the point explicit. Of course, Marxism's interpretation of secular religion or messianism is quite familiar. Its lasting calling as the "doctrine of salvation" (in Joseph Ratzinger's words) were its "great moral promises", "for all righteousness." And Hobsbawm's lifelong sympathy for the poor and the lowly shows that this was his attraction: But the second half of the twentieth century is measured by the points on the road away from Marxism that passed through Hungary in 1956, and in Prague in 1968, the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989. There were many apostles. God that failed (1950), by Richard Guide from Richard Wright, a book of essays by half a dozen former Communists, appeared after the first stalwart betrayals of freedom and democracy in the post-war years. In all his travels, Hobbsbaum never came to Kronstadt. His devotion to Marxism was, indeed, an act of faith, a metaphysical commitment that really deserves only the divine or at least spiritual, and is completely incompatible with the materialism which he, as a Marxist, neglected.

All of this is important because, as stated by G. K. Chesterton, "The most practical and important thing about man is his view of the universe." Hobbesheim's Marxist loyalty is a soft-spoken stronghold, taking the risk by omitting the main point about it. After discovering someone's philosophy, the most important questions are: Can it live? Can you believe it? Hobbesbau tried to live up to his Marxism. His first marriage (1943–1951) was a sad and even horrifying story, as Evans relates, a doomed private life on the basis of a party whose two members were then husbands. (When First Lady Hobsbawn began to declare her unfaithfulness, she did so, warning a very conservative Daily Telegraph: at breakfast:) After her divorce, Hobbsam progressively passed through various loving surroundings and relationships into a long, happy, and fulfilling marriage. The "bourgeois convention" proved to be a better guide to life than the Marxist ideology.

Q:The absurd development as a historian proves more effective against his philosophy. Doctrinal Marxists, of course, make terrible historians, and Hobsbawm was a very good historian for becoming a party hacker. He did his best to be a Marxist philosopher, but history was always intrusive. But, equally, Marxism tended to distort history. He shaped his historical constructions along Marxist lines: privileged links between capital and labor, developments in production and communication in the great work of explaining the past. Politics tended to go sideways, as perceived hints noted, and Hobbesbah was somewhat toned down with the power of nationalism, no doubt the strongest ideology of the last two centuries. Even his own life showed the power of politics. As he was well aware, his conversion to Marxism stemmed from his experience of living in Germany during the first years of Nazism. His historic career was partially but not fully liberated from this youthful commitment. The early influence of Marxist preference allowed him, as a contemporary historian, to advocate seventeenth-century English civil war as the first "bourgeois revolution" and an important event in "the transition from feudalism to capitalism." his career continued. By the 1970s, hinters had indicated that it was his account The era of capital (which opens with Karl Marx's ritual invitation, which is more prominent than Bismarck or Darwin) was in fact less Marxian in analysis than the public image of its author was supposed to be.

Hobbesau's trajectory is beautifully captivated by Fabian's attitude towards society, the subject of his doctoral dissertation. The Fabians called in their memory the memory of the Quintus Fabius Maximus Cunctator (whose delayed tactics angered Hannibal's entry into Italy), and advocated socialism through gradual rather than revolutionary. For young Hobsbawm, they were doomed to their own lack of faith in Marx and the class struggle. Thirty years later, on the eve of the 1983 meeting of the British Labor Party, he gave a lecture at a public event in Fabia. His appearance there could only be seen as a retreat from the railroad definiteness of his Marxist youth, but it would have been more gratifying for him to have recognized the change from tearing his party card down anyway.

Hobsbawm's intellectual strengths and weaknesses are most evident in his best idea, the "Invention of Tradition," through which he was able, at the same time, to develop a profound insight into lapid expression and not miss the point. The view is that traditions have emerged, and often this is intentional. Hobsbawm pursued this intuition at King's College, Cambridge, where he discovered that their famous Christmas celebrations, the Festival of the Nine Lessons and Carols, were first celebrated in 1918, a few years before the dean. Eric Miller-White has decided that the traditional liturgy in the Church of England needs to be enriched. Of course, traditions have to start somewhere. But the current historical perspective allows us to see "tradition" in the way we want to think "objective" to follow its origin, its adjustments, its developments. The perception that it can produce can, though it is a tempting response, go wrong. It is easy to imagine how so many modern philosophers have assumed, when historical stories have analyzed the traditions, that a new society can be built on new, rational principles. But building these new societies has not proved easy.

Hobsbawm had the same misconception about the nations, now known as "imaginary communities," and Evans rudely observes how he instinctively opposes nations, as such, with "real communities" that he has never defined or explained. But all communities need to be imagined, and then brought to life, above the family. No family just exists. all families must be brought to life. This fact does not make them any less "real". We cannot be people without traditions and we cannot be people without communities. Communities are a vehicle of traditions, and traditions are community matrices. The recurring delusion of Western culture, from Luther to Descartes, Robespierre, Comte, and Marx to many prophets and guru's, is that we can set aside traditions in the name of some fundamental dogmas on the basis of which a healthy and flourishing society can come from scratch, not as formal as the Ford Focus.

In Hobbesum's own life, good things have been created around the cultural traditions that people have inherited and inhabited. They were not again built on the first principles – Marxist or otherwise. While still a young man trying to renounce Judaism as a religious obligation, he had pleaded with his mother that he should never be ashamed of being a Jew. Undoubtedly, the promise is that Kadish uttered his recitation during an otherwise secular memorial service. Even his hopeless and indescribable loyalty to Marxism is neither the rationale for enlightenment nor materialism, but a kind of traditional loyalty. Hobbsown understood many liberal truths and radical half-truths, but not many conservative truths, but if any.

Father:Rough Hobsbawk was a lifelong Marxist, but he wasn't, because Evans was sorry to stress that he was too good to be aware of his shortcomings. For Marx, the meaning of philosophy was not to understand the world but to change it. But Hobsbawm was an intellectual, a man of ideas, not a man of action, and he knew that this made him a very painful Communist. It is hardly surprising that, like so many Western Marxist intellectuals, he was more attracted to Gramsci's "revisionism" than to a strict Marxist-Leninist orthodoxy. He was always too intellectual not to think for himself. And the party did not confirm that they thought for themselves. The Communist Party of Great Britain considered him highly suspicious. However, if some heresy Marxism in Hobsbawm makes him a more sympathetic figure, it also makes his loyalty more cunning for this misguided cause.

His staunch adherence to Marxism probably achieved one simple trait. She did not like to make mistakes, and much less she liked to admit or correct them. On the back of an anecdote by Neil Askeran, Evans notes: "Eric has never liked to be recognized as the best in knowledge." But, like all of us, he also made mistakes. And, like all of us, he tended to be misled by his preferences and predictions. Undoubtedly, his sympathy for the downward retreat (his first major book bears the title) Primitive rebels) This led him to hand over to the leader of Ireland, Daniel O'Connor, a peasant. O'Connell, who was part of the Catholic rug family, became a wealthy barist. Բայց տասներեքերորդ անգամ վերահրապարակելիս ՝ 1997-ին, նա, ինչպես և 1962 թվականը, մնաց «գյուղացիական բաժնետոմսերի ոսկեգույն իրավաբան-դեմագոգ»:

Վերջնական վերլուծության մեջ Հոբսբաուի սոցիալիզմը շատ «Պր. Գ. Ուոդհաուս» անմահ նախկին նախկին Էտոնյան Փսիթի կողմից նկարագրված «գործնական» բազմազանությունից էր. «Ես պարզապես դարձել եմ սոցիալիստ: Դա հիանալի սխեմա է: Դուք պետք է լինեք մեկը: Դուք աշխատում եք գույքի հավասար բաշխման համար և կսկսեք հավաքել այն ամենը, ինչ կարող եք և նստել դրա վրա »: Որպես հաջողակ հեղինակ և լրագրող ՝ Հոբսբաումը հանրահայտ սոցիալիստ էր, իսկ մարքսիզմը նրա յուրօրինակ վաճառքի կետն էր: Նա նույնքան պրոֆեսիոնալ, ոչ սենսիմալ և անկեղծ առևտրային գործունեություն էր ծավալում, որքան Վոդհաուսը: Առաջխաղացումները և հոնորարները ստացան րոպեական ուսումնասիրություն, և երբ հարց դրվեց նրա վերջին մեծ գիրքը տեղադրելու հարցը, Ծայրահեղությունների դարաշրջաննրան անտեղի էր ցանկացած անհեթեթ պատկերացում `անբարյացակամ վերաբերմունքն իր բիզնեսը Վեյդենֆելդից խլելու համար, որն այդքան բան արել էր նրա համար, հօգուտ Մայքլ Josephոզեֆի առաջարկած ավելի լավ գործարքի: Վերջին տարիներին նա առանձնակի խնամքով էր վերաբերվում նվազագույնի հասցնելու իր անձնական ունեցվածքի այն մասը (ավելի քան 1,8 միլիոն ֆունտ), որը նրա մահից հետո կհատկացվի Ներքին եկամուտներից: Նասինգթոնյան ճանապարհի 10 հասցեում գտնվող նրա սիրուն վիկտորիանական տունը նշանակալից հատկություն էր: (Վերջերս այդ ճանապարհի երեք սենյականոց վերգետնյա բնակարանը շուկայում դրվեց 1 միլիոն ֆունտ ստերլինգ): Էլ չենք խոսում Ունի հովտում գտնվող տնակում: Իհարկե, լավն ու լավը, և ամոթի պատճառ չկա, այլ որպես տարբերակ աղքատների համար, ոչ թե հենց Ասիսիի Ֆրանցիսկոսը: Ի վերջո, Հոբսբաուի մարքսիզմը ավելի շուտ նման էր Չեյշեր կատվի դեմքի ժպիտին: Սակայն այս ցնցող ներկայությունը, զուրկ որևէ նյութից, դեռ ունակ էր նրան մոլորության մեջ գցել: Իր կյանքի ավարտին `2008-ի ցնցումների հետևանքով, նա վերջապես մտածեց, որ ապրել է` տեսնելու կապիտալիզմի շատ կանխատեսված ձախողումը: Նա, կարծես, չի գնահատել, որ ինքը ապրել է ՝ տեսնելով մարքսիզմի ձախողումը:

Ռիչարդ Ռեքսը Քեմբրիջի համալսարանի Ռեֆորմացիայի պատմության պրոֆեսոր է:

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