Parteigenosse Eric Hobsbawm: Still Chained to Communist Slavery
by The Editor
By Dr Frank Ellis - A recent programme of BBC Radio 4’s Archive on 4 was dedicated to the life and works of the Marxist historian, Eric Hobsbawm. One of the striking things to emerge from Simon Schama’s extended interview with Hobsbawm was that the interviewee’s commitment to Marxism had not diminished or even been fundamentally re-evaluated in the light of the final collapse of the Soviet Union and its East European empire in 1985-1991. Hobsbawm even re-affirmed his commitment to Marxism, oblivious or indifferent to the fact that Marxist regimes had slaughtered tens of millions of people in trying to build some global socialist utopia.
Marxism, contrary to Hobsbawm, is not based on reason. Nor does Marxism seek earthly justice: Marxism is anti-man; it is anti-reason; it is anti-thought; it is ideological superstition and witchcraft; it is the assertion of collective power in all circumstances over the individual, a doctrine of absolute power pursued by a small group of ruthless and unscrupulous ideological gangsters who, claiming to have interpreted the meaning of History, demand the right to exercise dominion over mankind (naturally for the benefit of mankind). People who object to being ruled over by economic ignoramuses, venal academic-ideologues and the fanatics of class war will be exterminated, as will all other persons and, above all, all classes deemed to be blocking the way to the new secular order. This is the obscene cult to which Hobsbawm has enslaved his life.
Hobsbawm betrays a great deal of ignorance about England, ignorance which has not been corrected by the many years spent in this country. He tells Schama that compared to the Berlin of the years 1931-1933 England was a boring place. Two immediate observations can be made. First, Hobsbawm could have stayed in Berlin and not been bored, and second, he could have returned there – to East Berlin – in 1945. In passing, I have to ask why Hobsbawm did not return to the socialist paradise being built in East Germany after May 1945. I can well imagine that the Berlin of the years 1931-1933 was rather lively but then continental Europeans often seem to be gripped by periodic bouts of millenarian madness which leads them to believe that they have found the path to paradise. All the viciousness that tore Europe apart in the twentieth century, in order of ascending nastiness - corporatism, fascism, real-existing disgusting socialism, National Socialism and the Supreme Evil of Communism – all found their most fanatical devotees in Central and Eastern Europe. The latest bout of utopian distemper goes by the name of the European Union. Some English Euro-sceptics even refer to the EU as the 4th Reich or the Soviet Union Mk. II, thereby showing that they understand the totalitarianism inherent in all Great Plans. If you wish to understand why the grandiose schemes of social engineering end in murder and mayhem you have to repair to Burke who more honestly and accurately appraises man, his aspirations and his institutions than the mendacious prolixity of Marx and Lenin and their acolyte followers like Hobsbawm.
That Hobsbawm has learned nothing from living in England and that he has failed to grasp the fact that ideologies dedicated to remaking man and transforming him into some gruesome socialist robot have failed, and were doomed to fail, is demonstrated by his admiration of the Communist Manifesto. There are only two types of person that can admire such a hideous manifesto: those who want to exercise power over all other people; and those who are willing to submit to such power provided that their material needs are met, slaves in other words, people born for the whip (but at least they know they are slaves and they enjoy the kiss of the whip). I assume that Hobsbawm sees himself as some kind of Marxist Grand Inquisitor ruling over the dumb proletariat and wielding his whip for their benefit in between sequestering the assets of the hated middle classes and so reducing them to servitude and penury. It goes without saying that no serious Marxist could or would ever derive any envious pleasure from expropriating and defiling the hated expropriators. It is done out of a sense of duty to History (really).
In the interview there are the occasional flashes of common sense. Hobsbawm asserts that history is all about change and how we came from caves out of Africa and ended up where we are. Not bad, but this is basic O level. History is also about continuity amid change. Heraclitus knows what I am on about. Hobsbawm also warns about the dangers of blurring fact and fiction (does that apply to the Communist Manifesto Parteigenosse Hobsbawm?) and upholds the importance of narrative to history because time is of the essence: ‘Without chronology there can be no history’. Historians, he says, must be sceptical and resist the creation of myths. This is all reasonable stuff but where does his call for historians to be sceptical and to oppose myths fit in with his refusal to face the truth about Marxism and its vicious myths, especially the myth of the working class and the myth that Marxism is devoted to freedom, brotherhood of man and equality? Marxism is mass murder not mass enlightenment. Hobsbawm also insists that ‘historians must become a danger to nationalists’. There is nothing wrong with nationalism per se. The dangers arise when Marxists and now multiculturalists try to deny it and to suppress it (look what happened in Yugoslavia). Then you get a nasty backlash. If you try to suppress or to destroy a man’s patrimony do not be surprised if he fights back. If historians should be a danger to anyone it should be to liars, Marxist ideologues and falsifiers. Again, when Hobsbawm states that historians operate through reason and evidence one has to ask whether that prescription applies to Hobsbawm himself and his devotion to Marxism in 2012 or whenever Schama recorded his grovelling interview.
Some 36 minutes into the programme and I have still not picked up any mention of Lenin, Stalin, Pol Pot or any reference to the genocide carried out by communist regimes in the 20th century. Finally, in the 45th minute, we reach the question for which I had been waiting. Hobsbawm is asked why he stayed in the Communist Party. Ever solicitous and unctuous, Schama and the programme editor avoid posing any awkward questions by the expedient of citing part of an earlier interview with Sue Lawley on 5th March 1995 (I am sure it is pure coincidence but Stalin died on 5th March 1953). When asked about mass murder in the Soviet Union by Lawley, Hobsbawm says that he did not know; he says he did not believe the details, perhaps, he says, he did not want to believe them (so much for evidence then and the reliability of Marxist historians). He says: ‘We did not know the extent of it’ [communist mass murder]. Lawley then asks whether such was his dedication to the dream of communism that any kind of sacrifice was worth the price:
Hobsbawm: “Yes, I think so”
Lawley: “Even the sacrifice of millions of lives?”
Hobsbawm: “Well that’s what we felt we had fought WWII for, didn’t we?”
Lawley: “Is there a difference between killing some one in war and killing your own?”
Hobsbawm: “We didn’t know that”.
As Hobsbawm says ‘We didn’t know that’ you can detect the utter fear and panic in his voice. This is the question he has known would come and has dreaded. Hobsbawm clumsily dodges the question and Lawley lacks the killer instinct to press the point of the knife to his throat. No listener can be convinced by Hobsbawm’s repulsive denial. There is, of course, a universe of difference between killing the enemy in war for survival and butchering millions of kulaks, so-called class enemies in the 1930s (circa 11,000,000) in order to build socialism. The fact that Hobsbawm claims not to see any difference between communist class war and a national fight for survival denigrates the struggle that Britain waged against Nazi Germany. According to Hobsbawm’s perverted view there is no difference between British soldiers killing German soldiers and Communist Party activists murdering millions of unarmed and innocent peasants in Ukraine by shooting and mass starvation.
When Hobsbawm says ‘We didn’t know that’, one has to ask when he did finally know THAT, that being the real nature of the totalitarian Soviet Union and its imitators. Why did Lenin create the most brutal and long-lasting system of censorship in the twentieth century? What was Hobsbawm’s reaction to the news of the Soviet-German Non-Aggression Pact (Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact)? What did he make of the publication of Doktor Zhivago? Why did the Red Army invade and rape Hungary (1956), Czechoslovakia (1968) and threaten to invade Poland in 1981? What did he make of Solzhenitsyn, the Truth Teller? Why did the Soviet state kill and imprison writers? Why did the KGB arrest the manuscript of Vasilii Grossman’s Life and Fate? Why did Stalin judicially murder some of his most talented army commanders at the moment when the threat posed by National-Socialist Germany was all too clear? How does Hobsbawm explain and justify Order № 00447? When did he realise that the massacre of 21,857 Polish prisoners at Katyn and other sites in 1940 was a Soviet crime not a Nazi one? When did he finally accept that the full scale of the Ukrainian genocide, the Holodomor, with its 6,000,000 dead from genocide by starvation and another 5,000,000 dead from cold, disease and shooting? Does Hobsbawm even accept that the Holodomor took place? Or is he a Holodomor-denier?
Hobsbawm says that his continuing membership of the Communist Party is a Cold War question and is irrelevant. This is a self-serving, cowardly evasion and Hobsbawm knows it. If a 95 year old former member of the National Socialist German Workers’ Party was asked about his continuing loyalty to National Socialism would Hobsbawm be satisfied with an answer along the lines that ‘this is a WWII question and is irrelevant’? Thousands of questions that historians ask about the Soviet regime are Cold War questions: are they irrelevant as well? Recall Hobsbawm’s views on chronology: ‘without chronology there can be no history’. That is true of an individual as well and in a BBC programme dedicated to a ‘life in history’, questions about Hobsbawm’s membership of the most genocidal political institution in man’s history are utterly relevant.
There is another Cold War question that requires an answer: was Hobsbawm ever recruited by any Eastern European intelligence agency, say, the KGB or Stasi, with the aim of spying on academics and students known to be hostile to socialism? Hobsbawm could remove all doubt and speculation by stating unequivocally that he was not recruited by any Soviet bloc intelligence agency and that he never provided any information to any intelligence agency. Hobsbawm should also ask himself whether an academic, let us say the existentialist philosopher Martin Heidegger, who remained a committed National Socialist until his death in 1976, would have found employment in a British university. Hobsbawm’s continuing belief in Marxism in 2012 reflects a state of mind that, despite all the earlier, reasonable talk about evidence and reason, is one that is demonstrably impervious to evidence and reason: the hallmark of the true revolutionary-believer slave.
Hobsbawm’s position on Soviet genocide is nauseating and hypocritical even by the standards of British academics that played down Stalin’s crimes. Why does Schama not press the case about genocide committed in the name of communism to the point of destruction? In fact, a more aggressive and less easily deflected interviewer than Lawley could easily have brought about Hobsbawm’s psychological collapse on air. Hobsbawm sounded very close to breaking: he knows that Marxism is repulsive and he knows that for all his adopting the pose of the learned academic that his support of Marxism and his failure to acknowledge the full scope of communism’s hideous crimes against humanity, far worse than anything committed by the Nazis, is disgusting, cowardly and immoral. There is no difference between the person that denies National-Socialist crimes against Jews, the Holocaust, and communist propagandists like Hobsbawm who deny the Holodomor and other crimes committed by communist regimes. Schama’s role here is also disgraceful and shameful since by failing to ask and to press home the forensic questions that should have been pressed home he allows Hobsbawm’s prevarication and mendacity to pass unchallenged.
A striking thing about this interview was the absence of any mention of the following names and events all of which are associated with communism: Lenin; Stalin; Pol Pot; Terror Famine; Great Terror; Show Trials; Gulag; Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact (Non-Aggression Pact) Katyn; Berlin Air Lift, Berlin Wall, 1984, The Captive Mind, Year Zero; Great Leap Forward; and Solzhenitsyn. Why did Schama fail to ask Hobsbawm about his reaction to the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact? The reason that Schama so conspicuously failed to mention any of these subjects was because any one of them would lead back to Hobsbawm’s fanatical commitment to Marxism and thus expose all his talk of commitment to reason and evidence as vile posturing. Hobsbawm’s response to people who press him about his communism is: ‘The hell with you’: so much for reason then. One has to ask how a person who supported, and still believes in, communism and claims not to have known what was going on in the Soviet Union could always have been, in Schama’s words ‘a clear-eyed analyst’?
This interview reveals Hobsbawm to be morally and intellectually bankrupt. His attitude to the truth – I do not recall his having used the word ‘truth’ at all throughout the interview – and evidence shows that where the truth, evidence and reason get in the way of building the socialist paradise they will be slaughtered just as Stalin, Mao and Pol Pot slaughtered millions to build their perverted and depraved socialist hells. This interview with Hobsbawm also reveals that the BBC is controlled by people who have totally internalised the Marxist worldview and who will do everything to suppress or to bypass the truth. Schama’s failure to ask the right questions, to speak out on behalf of the millions of people butchered in the name of socialism was as obscene as Hobsbawm’s pitiful attempts to deny the truth about communism.
To the extent that Hobsbawm was and remains a communist he must bear some individual responsibility for the carnage that overwhelmed Europe. His continued refusal to face up to the Satanic and bestial essence of communism should render him an object of contempt. That the BBC and the obsequious Simon Schama should beat a trail to this man’s door bears witness to the moral and intellectual debasement of the BBC. Listening to Hobsbawm I was more than once reminded of some of the intellectually and morally debased party creatures that appear in Grossman’s Life and Fate and Everything Flows. No matter how many millions are butchered, no matter how they themselves are treated by the party, no matter what policies the party pursues, no matter how many the party betrays its they will accept any act any judgement of the party provided that they can remain within its ranks. The true party member is a slave who lovingly polishes his chains. Parteigenosse Hobsbawm: Du bist zum Kotzen.
1. BBC Radio 4, 2000-2100hrs, 14th April 2012, Archive on 4, Hobsbawm: A Life in History.