3. oktober 2012
Eric Hobsbawms 628 sider lange ‘Age of Extremes’ var noget nær den første bog jeg fik lagt i hånden, da jeg for mange år siden startede på historiestudiet. Allerede som teenager meldte han sig ind i ungkommunistiske Sozialistischer Schülerbund, og først efter Murens fald, 60 år senere meldte han sig ud af Communist Party of Britain, kort før partiet opløste sig selv. Han døde tidligt mandag morgen i an alder af 95 år, og Daily Mails barske gennemgang er lige på kornet – He hated Britain and excused Stalin’s genocide. But was hero of the BBC and the Guardian...
“On Monday evening, the BBC altered its programme schedule to broadcast an hour-long tribute to an old man who had died aged 95, with fawning contributions from the likes of historian Simon Schama and Labour peer Melvyn Bragg.
The next day, the Left-leaning Guardian filled not only the front page and the whole of an inside page but also devoted almost its entire G2 Supplement to the news. The Times devoted a leading article to the death, and a two-page obituary.
(The Guardian, 2. oktober 2012)
came to Britain as a refugee from Hitler’s Europe before the war, but, as he said himself, he wished only to mix with intellectuals. ‘I refused all contact with the suburban petit bourgeoisie which I naturally regarded with contempt.’ Naturally.
If the name Hobsbawm rings a bell at all, people might recollect that it was also the name of Julia Hobsbawm, a PR expert who, in collaboration with the future Mrs Gordon Brown, was one of the spin doctors who sold New Labour to this country.
There is a world of difference between the ideology of Julia’s sleek, modern New Labour ideas and her father’s hard-nosed Stalinism, but one of the things they had in common was contempt for ‘ordinary people’.
Eric Hobsbawm took part in one of the most extraordinary conversations ever on British television. Speaking in 1994 to the author Michael Ignatieff about the fall of the Berlin Wall five years earlier, the historian was asked how he felt about his earlier support for the Soviet Union.
If Communism had achieved its aims, but at the cost of, say, 15 to 20 million people – as opposed to the 100million it actually killed in Russia and China – would Hobsbawm have supported it? His answer was a single word: ‘Yes’.
Just imagine what would happen if some crazed Right-winger were to appear on BBC and say that the Nazis had been justified in killing six million Jews in order to achieve their aims. We should be horrified, and consider that such a person should never be allowed to speak in public again – or at least until he retracted his repellent views and admitted that he had been culpably, basely, wrong.
Yet the awful thing about the phenomenon of Eric Hobsbawm is that the exact opposite to this is what happened.
He was awarded a Companion of Honour by Tony Blair… A professor of history, he was regularly lionised on the BBC and in the liberal newspapers as our ‘greatest’ historian.
(The Guardian, 2. oktober 2012)
It is true he modified his hard-line support for Stalin and his death-camps as the years went by. The elderly Hobsbawm was not the same person who, in 1939, co-wrote a pamphlet defending not only Stalin but Hitler, too – and justifying the Nazi-Soviet pact to carve up Poland and dominate Eastern Europe.
But as far as the history of the 20th century was concerned, he never learned its lessons. The tens of millions dead, the hundreds of millions enslaved, the sheer evil falsity of the ideology which bore down with such horror on the peoples of Russia, Hungary, Czechoslovakia, Poland and Germany, never occurred to this man.
He went on believing that a few mistakes had been made, and that Stalinism was ‘disillusioning’ – but that, in general, it would have been wonderful if Stalin had succeeded. …
What is disgraceful about the life of Hobsbawm is not so much that he believed this poisonous codswallop, and propagated it in his lousy books, but that such a huge swathe of our country’s intelligentsia – the supposedly respectable media and chattering classes – bowed down before him and made him their guru. Made him our ‘greatest historian’.
The truth is that, far from being a great historian who sometimes made mistakes, Hobsbawm deliberately falsified history.
In his book The Age Of Extreme, published in 1994, he quite deliberately underplayed the Soviet Union’s attack on Finland in 1939-40, saying it was merely an attempt to push the Russian border a little further away from Leningrad. He also omits any mention of the massacre of 20,000 Polish soldiers by Russian Secret Police at Katyn.
In the same book, he dismisses the appallingly violent suppression by the Nazis of the Polish resistance in the 1944 Warsaw uprising – when a complacent Soviet army ignored desperate pleas to come to the Poles’ aid – as ‘the penalty of a premature uprising’.
These are not mistakes – they are wicked lies.
In his 1997 book On History, he wrote the following: ‘Fragile as the communist systems turned out to be, only a limited, even minimal, use of force was necessary to maintain them from 1957 until 1989.’
This again is a blatant lie. A huge and ever-growing Soviet armaments industry ensured there was continued violence in most of the major trouble-spots of the world through those years before Communism collapsed. …
Ask the inhabitants of Prague, where Soviet tanks rolled into the streets in 1968, if they agreed with Hobsbawm that this was ‘minimal use of force’.
Ask the millions of people who were taken from their homes by KGB thugs and forced to live, often for decades, in prison-camps throughout the Gulag, whether force had been ‘minimal’.
Nor were Hobsbawm’s rewards merely the sycophantic praise heaped on him by Lefty academics and silly chatterers at London dinners. Having cultivated his group of Left-wing protégés at Birkbeck College in London, where he dominated the history department and went on to become President, he was showered with accolades by academics of the Left. …
What his death tells us, however, is that the liberal establishment that really runs this country has learned no lessons from history. It is still prepared to bow down and worship a man who openly hated Britain – and who knowingly wrote lies.”
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