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  He never changed his tune: Eric Hobsbawm remained steadfastly committed to Communism until his death last month.  

On the morning of Wednesday October 10, 2012, around the time the Prime Minister was addressing the Conservative Party conference, a party of mourners left the chapel at Golders Green crematorium with the words of the "Internationale" ringing in their ears. The Communist anthem sounds more rousing in the original French, so that was the version used. In death as in life, Eric Hobsbawm was proclaiming his loyalty to the cause he had first espoused as a boy in Berlin in the years 1931-33.

Hobsbawm got a good send-off. Tributes were paid to him by Roy Foster, Professor of Irish History at Oxford, who knew him from his days at Birkbeck College, London; by Lady Kennedy, a Labour peer, better known as Helena Kennedy QC; and by his son, Andy. The Labour leader, Ed Miliband, attended the service, as did Jon Snow, Simon Schama, Tariq Ali and Jonathan Miller. Recordings of Beethoven's Archduke Trio and of some jazz were also played.

In the days after his death at the grand old age of 95, Hobsbawm's historical works, especially The Age of Revolution 1789-1848, The Age of Capital 1848-1875 and The Age of Empire 1874-1914, were newly acclaimed. Nor did all the praise come from the Left. Niall Ferguson described these books, together with The Age of Extremes 1914-1991, as "the best introduction to modern world history in the English language", and added: "With his extraordinary erudition and quick wit, Hobsbawm was one of the greatest historical conversationalists I have ever known."

If Hobsbawm had been an unrepentant fascist, instead of an unrepentant Communist, he would not have received such favourable coverage. Nor would Miliband and other members of the intelligentsia have made Hobsbawm's funeral so crowded that there was standing room only. Nor, we can be sure, would Tony Blair have recommended that the great man be made a Companion of Honour: a distinction Hobsbawm accepted in 1998 (he justified doing so by saying how much it would have pleased his mother, who died in 1931).

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Burkeian nonymous
October 24th, 2014
10:10 PM
A good article. Hobsbawm was very bad news. It is astonishing that reputable historians should have been so ready to defend, even commend, the reputation of a man who supported the murderous tyrant, Stalin, responsible for the deaths of 15-20 million of his own people. Hobsbawm was an unre-constructed bigot who through a long life sought to spread the evil and failed doctrines of communism. He was allowed to do this, most damagingly, through his connections with the Open University and the BBC. Many young students will have a warped idea of history due to his advocacy. The History department of the O.U. was his fiefdom where those who did not agree with his warped views could hardly study let alone flourish. The history course resembled a form of indoctrination which must have snared many young and unformed minds. Mentioning Edmund Burke in the same breath as Hobsbawm is almost sacreligious. The former was a political philosopher of unrivalled understanding. He foresaw the terrible and murderous effects of revolution with its ability to spread its chaos and contaminate populations worldwide. The Russian Communist Revolution was a mirror of the French Revolution only even more destructive, even more evil and even more pervasive. It is truly grotesque that even when the perpetrators themselves realised that their system had failed, their deluded advocate and his adherents learnt nothing. What a wasted , futile, life !

October 24th, 2012
4:10 PM
Fine piece. Hobsbawm was just another lying leftie........but one of those who was intellectual, articulate and urbane, and therefore possessed of credibility ........nothwithstanding the bourgeois nature of his tastes and how he generally lived. "Because half a dozen grasshoppers under a fern make the field ring with their importunate chink, while thousands of great cattle, reposed beneath the shadow of the British oak, chew the cud and are silent, pray do not imagine, that those who make the noise are the only inhabitants of the field." As alluded to, this quote encapsulates entirely the decades long struggle of the viciously emotional and unprincipled leftist 'revolutionaries' against honourable, reserved, conservative Britons who don't realise the nature of the fight - or probably even that they are in one? For the Left it really is a visceral power struggle, one that they would sell their grand-mothers to win. The danger is, that since the 1970s they have learnt to mask the nature of their beast, have rejected their fractious ways and now appear wholly 'reasonable' like Ed Miliband and all the other metropolitan power-hungry poseurs. They claim monopolies on fairness, kindness and caring for the planet; they claim to reject the inherent injustices in the establishment, but really only seek to establish their own that cares not a jot for the individual. We are living through dangerous times........Cameron's incompetence will let Miliband through the gate - and 5-10yrs of him, will lead to the abattoir for the 'great cattle' beneath the oak tree. The only hope lies in that the intemperate and greedy Left will probably shoot themselves in the head as usual.

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