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  1. #61
    Kilbarry1 Kilbarry1 is offline

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    Hobsbawn and Stalinism

    Quote Originally Posted by Ramon Mercadar View Post
    Found it, no defence. Just a comment, the Stalinist Terror wouldn't have started yet at that stage but people died en masse due to famine, some natural, but a lot caused by mismanagement and forced collectivisation.
    I found it myself on the Harry's Place Blog which has an interesting and heated discussion on Hobsbawn.
    Harry's Place Hobsbawm: A Wicked Man Dies

    Your own source has the following comment by a Robert Clayton Dean of Texas. He says something that I strongly believe myself i.e. that left-wingers and academics TODAY who make excuses for Islamic terrorism are the modern descendants of the Fellow-Travellers of the 1930s (the emphasis is mine).
    The face of the enemy | Samizdata.net

    First, note the blatant factual error contained in Hobsbawm's critical premise - the claim that the 1920s and 1930s were a period in which "mass murder and mass suffering were absolutely universal." This is palpably false. During the great Soviet purges, the Soviet state was the only Western nation engaged in mass murder (the Germans didn't get into the wholesale killing business until the 1940s, really, and no other nation in Europe engaged in mass murder unless and until it was occupied by either Germans or Russians). Of course, the rewriting of history is old news when it comes to defending totalitarian states, but one shouldn't let it pass unchallenged. Second, note that even after the failure of the Soviet experiment, the old Marxist still cannot bring himself to condemn its crimes. This isn't even "ends justifies the means" rationalizing, because no ends were achieved. This is just plain amorality on display.

    The larger point is that the collectivist mindset, leading with depressing regularity to the totalitarian state and subsequent mass murder, is greatly aided by fellow-travellers and useful idiots throughout society. To their eternal shame, vast swathes of academia and intelligentsia lauded the Soviet experiment, which continues to be defended and whitewashed to this day by a coterie of academics that are not without significant influence. The hypnotic fascination that collectivism/totalitarianism exerts on the modern academic is a topic for another day; I wish merely with to point out that this mindset, which should have been discredited and driven from the groves of academia by the palpable failure of Communism, if not its positively hyperbolic crimes, is alive and well.

    Not only alive and well, but it has apparently created a new outpost in the Islamic and Middle Eastern Studies departments of our colleges, which seem consumed with apologias for the many failings of modern Islamic society, with the casting of blame on the secular West for the peculiarly self-detonating variety of Islamic evangelism much on display in the Mideast, and with the propogation of a fairy-tale vision of Islam as a "religion of peace" that is quite at odds, as far as I can tell, with both its texts and its history. Martin Kramer's blog Sandstorm is a veritable clearinghouse of indictments of the rotten world of PC-infected, Saudi-corrupted Middle Eastern studies.

    The sorry history of Marxist academia seems, in short, to be well on its way to recapitulating itself in the world of Middle Eastern Studies. The virus, this time, is not Marxism, but rather its late-model mutation, radical relativism and multi-cultural piety.
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  2. #62
    Seanie Lemass Seanie Lemass is offline
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    [QUOTE=Kilbarry1;5851049]

    [i] First, note the blatant factual error contained in Hobsbawm's critical premise - the claim that the 1920s and 1930s were a period in which "mass murder and mass suffering were absolutely universal." This is palpably false. During the great Soviet purges, the Soviet state was the only Western nation engaged in mass murder (the Germans didn't get into the wholesale killing business until the 1940s, really, and no other nation in Europe engaged in mass murder unless and until it was occupied by either Germans or Russians). [QUOTE]


    Excellent point. Hobsbawm was classic example of Stalinist who used Nazism to provide a post facto and dishonest excuse for Soviet Communism. And of course anyone who today dares mention the fact that Stalinism was in alliance with the Nazis for the two years during which they might have won and plunged the world into horror are some sort of deviants!
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  3. #63
    former wesleyan former wesleyan is offline
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ramon Mercadar View Post
    Actually Irving didn't do less than a muttered affirmative. Irving denied that that the Holocaust took place, did so in books and articles.

    I'd like to see this clip and what the mutter consisted of. But if he did it then I cannot defend it.

    I actually think that some of the advice he gave to Labour and the TUC in the 1980s was damaging because he was stuck in the 1930s and saw Thatcher as Fascism reborn. The only response he could find was the Stalinist turn to the Popular Front. He was into campaigns forming fronts with SDP/Lib and vicars instead of building Labour independently.
    Thatcher was not a fascist, just a conservative.
    You....you....you moderate you !!
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  4. #64
    Kilbarry1 Kilbarry1 is offline

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    Hobsbawn and Irving

    Quote Originally Posted by Ramon Mercadar View Post
    Actually Irving didn't do less than a muttered affirmative. Irving denied that that the Holocaust took place, did so in books and articles.

    I'd like to see this clip and what the mutter consisted of. But if he did it then I cannot defend it.

    I actually think that some of the advice he gave to Labour and the TUC in the 1980s was damaging because he was stuck in the 1930s and saw Thatcher as Fascism reborn. The only response he could find was the Stalinist turn to the Popular Front. He was into campaigns forming fronts with SDP/Lib and vicars instead of building Labour independently. Thatcher was not a fascist, just a conservative.
    I don't know enough to do a detailed comparison of David Irving and Eric Hobsbawn. The general impression I have is that both of them did genuinely useful work, in both cases they held extremist political views but only in Irving's case was that enough for his entire output to be trashed and for him to actually serve time in prison for his views. Academics who deny Stalin's atrocities or even justify them are not likely to face any negative consequences.

    On a related point see the following extract from an article about Dr Noel Browne in the Sunday Tribune on 22 February 1987.
    Dr Noel Browne, Soviet Union, Stalinism

    Later Dr Browne said in an interview with the Sunday Tribune that his view was uncritical in so far as he did not think that things like queues and shortages, "the absence of consumerism", were relevant or important. “Socialism does require regimentation and sacrifice by all the community. Also changing a society that is a sub-continent is not something that can be done overnight and I expect terrible things to happen on the way such as the Stalinist period." [My emphasis]

    You will note that Noel Browne wasn't denying Stalin's atrocities - he was defending them. (And if you care to read the entire article you can see that this is NOT a quote taken out of context.) Noel Browne got away with this kind of thing as Eric Hobsbawn did, but people like David Irving do not. So the rot is still there at the heart of academia.
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  5. #65
    Trampas Trampas is offline

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    Quote Originally Posted by Seanie Lemass View Post
    And of course anyone who today dares mention the fact that Stalinism was in alliance with the Nazis for the two years during which they might have won and plunged the world into horror are some sort of deviants!
    The pact was never anything more than a mutually convenient arrangement pro tem. Two months....two years or whatever. That said I find it mildly amusing that a figure with such grotesque political views should be regarded as an eminent historian. I heard Ed Miliband declare that Hobsbawn was a good friend of the family. So no surprises there.
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  6. #66
    former wesleyan former wesleyan is offline
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    Quote Originally Posted by Trampas View Post
    The pact was never anything more than a mutually convenient arrangement pro tem. Two months....two years or whatever. That said I find it mildly amusing that a figure with such grotesque political views should be regarded as an eminent historian. I heard Ed Miliband declare that Hobsbawn was a good friend of the family. So no surprises there.
    Thing is.....and I'm no defender of soviet totalitarianism..... that Hobsbawn and Milliband Snr thought of the old Russia and it's feudalism , virtual slavery , genocidal anti-semitic pogroms, famines etc and thought that communism was an enlightened step out of the darkness. Their utter failure to condemn the Stalinist purges and murder machine is their dangerous legacy.
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  7. #67
    Seanie Lemass Seanie Lemass is offline
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    Quote Originally Posted by Trampas View Post
    The pact was never anything more than a mutually convenient arrangement pro tem. Two months....two years or whatever. .

    The Stalin/Hitler Pact only broke down because of a massive strategic error by the Nazis. During the two years they might well have beaten the Brits. In which case they would have dominated western Europe and it would have been highly unlikely that the Americans would have intervened after Britain had fallen. Stalin appears genuinely to have accepted Hitler's bona fides and thought that the Nazis would have been content for a prolonged period to have left the Soviet Union to its own devices. So convinced was Stalin that right up to June 21 he was executing people who were warning him through the Comintern Rote Kapppele spy network that the Germans were preparing an invasion. Th Stalinist myth that the Pact was evidence of Stalin's genius is nonsense.
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  8. #68
    IvoShandor IvoShandor is online now
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kilbarry1 View Post
    "Also changing a society that is a sub-continent is not something that can be done overnight and I expect terrible things to happen on the way such as the Stalinist period."

    You will note that Noel Browne wasn't denying Stalin's atrocities - he was defending them.
    Browne was less defending the actions of the Stalinists than handwaving them away. (I hope I'm not misusing the term). It's the old excuse whereby its as if these things happened by themselves..nobody's fault...it just happened. Not much better to be sure.

    "HOBSBAWM: Because in a period in which, as you might imagine, mass murder and mass suffering are absolutely universal, the chance of a new world being born in great suffering would still have been worth backing. Now the point is, looking back as an historian, I would say that the sacrifices made by the Russian people were probably only marginally worthwhile. The sacrifices were enormous; they were excessive by almost any standard and excessively great. But I'm looking back at it now and I'm saying that because it turns out that the Soviet Union was not the beginning of the world revolution. Had it been, I'm not sure."

    Very vague and waffly stuff-never mind the amorality of it-from an historian who otherwise was keenly analytical. There was still the notion that,somehow or other, there was some kind of rationality behind the acts of the Stalinists, that they meant something. I think what shocked the apologists in their own minds was the possibility that these atrocities were nothing more than the brutal whims of a tyrant,they could not allow themselves to believe that there was nothing more to it than that, so they imposed an order, a non-existent rationale upon the whole thing. It would have wrecked their world if it had been revealed that,yes, that was all their was to it. (To paraphrase a quotation of George Bernard Shaw: "I refuse to believe either that Trotsky is a spy and a traitor, or that Stalin is a vulgar thug". GBS-trying to have it both ways) Minds,strangely both over-sophisticated and naive, believed that there had to be a plan, an unfolding process of history behind the unfolding carnage and that if we only waited long enough all would be revealed, it would somehow all make sense in the long run.
    Last edited by IvoShandor; 3rd October 2012 at 05:10 PM.
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  9. #69
    Boy M5 Boy M5 is offline
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    This is a good piece in the weekend FT.
    Its by his daughter a PR. its about him, helping an ageing parent, the community rallying around the bereaved (something I think we Irish relate to). Its about Hobsbawm's escape from Nazi Germany.
    I think its a lovely piece, its free to read though there's a short registration process.
    Remembering Dad - FT.com
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