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Tag: academic

AN Wilson on the nauseating Eric Hobsbawm

Tuesday, 29 January, 2019

“It was apt that as the most beguiling of communist intellectuals, he was born in 1917, the year of the Russian Revolution.” So wrote AN Wilson as he warmed up to his task in The Times on Sunday. The job at hand was a review of Eric Hobsbawm: A Life in History by Richard J Evans.

Who was Hobsbawm? He was a popular British historian and an academic who taught for many years at Birbeck, University of London. “His best book was Captain Swing, a study of mob violence, which he wrote in collaboration with the French intellectual George Rudé in 1969,” says Wilson before turning the screw. “Evans says that ‘most of the detailed research [was] carried out by Rudé.’ The sentence would probably be truer if the word ‘most’ were changed to ‘all'”.

Getting into his stride now, Wilson charges: “His books sold in enormous quantities in translation, especially in South America. Many of the sloppy half-thoughts of the Left, in this country and abroad, owe more than is sometimes realised to a perusal in student days of Hobsbawmn’s eminently readable left-wing hogwash, in which the Americans always come out as the villains of history and the Soviet and Maoist mass murders are glossed over, or even condoned.”

Hobsbawmn, the admirer of monsters, was admired in his day, not least because of the “legendary” dinner parties his wife, Marlene, hosted for the chattering classes in their bourgeois residence in Hampstead in London. However, “If Hobsbawm had meant what he wrote and said, and if a Stalinist revolution in Britain had occurred, then nearly all the guests eating Marlene’s delicious dinners in Nassington Road, would have been sent to the gulag, and Social Democrats such as Evans would probably have been shot.”

AN Wilson’s parting shot is an appeal to readers to “think of the population of Eastern Europe condemned to 50 years of enslavement after 1945; they will remember the millions who died in the gulag, in Ukraine, in China, countless more than were killed by Hitler. For them, the preparedness of a comfortably placed British don to sit in a warm drawing room in north London justifying such horrors can create only feelings of nausea.”

That same feeling of nausea is created by those who justify the actions of socialist thugs such as Maduro in Venezuela and his enablers in Cuba, another thuggery.

Stalin