Hobsbawm

Chris Brady cdbrady at attglobal.net
Fri Sep 20 23:56:44 MDT 2002


Henry's mention of Third World revolutionary communists made me recall
Jim Blaut's excellent
MARXISM AND EUROCENTRIC DIFFUSIONISM
(see marxism-digest V1 #2670, Fri, 29 Sep 2000 ).

When Hobsbawm was last in Chile he spoke at the old National Assembly in
Santiago (Pinochet moved the Assembly to the port city of Valparaiso,
for whatever reason).  November 1999 I think it was. The place was
packed.  They had to turn people away.  Old and young.  Many students.
Hortensia Allende, Salvador's widow, was there by his side.  The
octogenarian Communist intellectual Volodia Teitelboim was present,
too.  I did not see the CP leader Gladys Marin, but she is fairly short
and it was a mob scene.  Cameras flashed.  CPers and SPers, etc., sat
together in the great hall; it was the socialist social event of the
season.  Of course it was free.  Literature tables ringed the lobby.  I
purchased my Spanish CM, and some other publications not available in
the kiosks.  I barely squeezed into standing room by the rafters.

When he addressed the crowd I found Hobsbawm's Spanish very easy to
follow, much easier to comprehend than the native Chileans who
surrounded me in the crowded balcony.  Shouts, laughter and applause
punctuated his talk.  They gave him a long standing ovation at the end.
The papers were filled with articles and reports about him and his
visit.  It was all very astounding to me.  Any of this sort of thing
would be snuffed in norteamerica.  I would welcome such wonderful
opportunities!  Yes, what does Marxism mean?  It would be discussed.
Injustice in the world would be presented as tangible, frangible, not a
fait accompli (I am tempted to write a "fiat accompli" but I am afraid
some would think I made a slip).

Around the same time Carlos Altamirano, the ultraleftist firebrand of
Allende's UP government, conceded that he had let his Marxism slip away.

Too many tangled ironies, eh, my com/rads?

Back on the coast in my way back from the highway bus stop to the house
in Las Cruces, I headed down the steep hill to La Playa Chica. I saw red
flags snapping in the sea breeze along the stone walk around the beach.
New red flags, bright, bold. The bright, bold, new taste of Coca Cola.
They were red banners, like our flag, but purloined for pop profit.  It
was all so surreal.  I knew you, of all people, would understand at
least that feeling.  The dirt road up the other side from the playa was
bordered by huge pink blooms.  In North America they are called
hydrangias.  My father taught me that one could change the colour of
their multifoliate blossoms from pink to blue by altering the pH of the
soil around their roots.  Hummingbirds flitted around the flowering top
of the towering stalk of a century plant.  It takes a long time to
bloom.
But it can survive through harsh periods of aridity and heat .

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