Re Re: Hobsbawm, Amis and Stalinism

Ralph Johansen michele at
Wed Dec 4 12:15:55 MST 2002

Martin Spellman wrote:
>Hobsbawn, an acclaimed writer on working class history
>dismissed the Marxist emphasis on the working class as a myth that existed
>years ago, if ever and probably not even then.

Guardian Unlimited Observer,6903,796531,00.html
The Observer
Sunday September 22, 2002

Man of the extreme century


Are you still drawn to an Enlightenment ideal of societal perfectibility
or have you come to accept the limits of the human condition - what
your friend Isaiah Berlin called, 'the crooked timber of humanity'?

EH: Why I stayed [in the Communist Party] is not a political question
about communism, it's a one-off biographical question. It wasn't out
of idealisation of the October Revolution. I'm not an idealiser. One
should not delude oneself about the people or things one cares most
about in one's life. Communism is one of these things and I've done
my best not to delude myself about it even though I was loyal to it
and to its memory. The phenomenon of communism and the passion it
aroused is specific to the twentieth century. It was a combination of
the great hopes which were brought with progress and the belief in
human improvement during the nineteenth century along with the
discovery that the bourgeois society in which we live (however great
and successful) did not work and at certain stages looked as though
it was on the verge of collapse. And it did collapse and generated
awful nightmares.

I don't think that this particular movement is likely to revive,
certainly not as a global movement of its kind because its particular
historical moment has passed.

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