Eric Hobsbawm: A believer in the Red utopia to the very end
Michael Burleigh is a historian and author of 'Moral Combat: Good and Evil in World War II', and winner of the Nonino International Master of His Time Prize (2012)
...Everything Hobsbawm wrote deceitfully downplayed the grim role of the Communists in Spain in the Thirties or the forcible nature of the coups the Soviets carried out in Eastern Europe after 1945. Such a cosmopolitan thinker had ironically become imprisoned within a deeply provincial ideological ghetto, knowing or caring nothing for the brave Czechs or Poles who resisted Stalin’s stooges, while being manifestly nonplussed by the democratic transformations of Central Europe since 1989-90. That the secret police – the Sword and Shield of the Revolution – would end up running Vladimir Putin’s FSB-mafia state was literally inexplicable to him.
Hobsbawm’s implacable refusal to recant his views when faced with their grotesque consequences tells us something about the belligerent mindset of the wider British Left. But the eminence that he and his fellow travellers have enjoyed also speaks to the bovine complacency with which, since Mrs Thatcher, the Conservatives have allowed such dubious figures licence to dominate the soft culture of the BBC and our universities.
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