Hobsbawm’s Choice

At Cif, Tristram Hunt is trying to claim that the historian Eric Hobsbawm is the victim of a “philistine” campaign by political right-wingers whose “bile” is aroused by Hobsbawm’s communism. Yet the fact remains that in 1940 not only did Hobsbawm oppose any efforts by Britain to oppose Hitler – after 1941 he also actively worked to “make the British people understand their international obligations”, and thus welcome the Red Army. In spite of his generous contribution to the history of French and British society, in retrospect it’s ultimately hard to see him as anything but a willing tool of the Kremlin. Later in life, when asked in a television interview whether 20 million deaths would have been justified if the communist experiment had been successful, he is reported to have replied”yes”.

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