We are developing the social individualist meta-context for the future. From the very serious to the extremely frivolous... lets see what is on the mind of the Samizdata people.

Samizdata, derived from Samizdat /n. - a system of clandestine publication of banned literature in the USSR [Russ.,= self-publishing house]

Samizdata quote of the day

“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.”

- Michael Burleigh

11 comments to Samizdata quote of the day

  • MakajazMonkee

    It have to admit the Age of Extremes was the thing that got me into reading about politics. His suggestion to read the communist manifesto put me off socialism and started a gradual drift to full blown right-wing nutjoberry.

  • Vinegar Joe

    If Hobsbawm had been an unrepentant Nazi, I doubt he’d be getting so many tributes. Strange how that works out.

  • CaptDMO

    Let me guess.
    “The other side just won’t make sensable
    compromise, and meet us at least half way
    in the bat-shit crazy “solutions” we’re pretending to care about until the day AFTER elections.

    Or something like that.

    *sigh* When “leaders” of humanities/political “science” CV/resume ilk can only seem to gaze out the window, daydreaming about “their future”, remind them you’ve been consulting an engineer/architect about defenistration.

  • 'Nuke' Gray

    The difference between Communism and Naziism, is that communism sounds all-inclusive, whilst naziism and fascism are exclusive from the start. the fact that it is not inherently racism is one of the very few good things you might be able to say about communism. Thus hobsbawm can be called a humanitarian, but could you say that about any fascist? Whilst both are wrong, Naziism is more tribal, and thus a deeper shade of wrong.

  • veryretired

    I’ve heard the 20th century described as the “American century”, but, in a very fundamental way, that characterization is badly off the mark.

    While the US was building a wealthy society during the 19th, the intellectual powers of Europe were frantically attempting to devise a replacement collectivist theory to fill the void left by the collapse of the aristocratic/religious autocracy signified by the American, and then the French, revolution.

    All the ideologies which convulsed the 20th century in the wars, pogroms, and mass murders which so characterized it were developed in the fevered minds of various european intellectuals searching for some new organizing principle which could be used to undermine the dangerous theory of individual rights.

    Whether it was blood, or economic class, or national identity, or some other mystical unifying concept, the main objective was the same—deny the validity of any social/political/economic manifestation of the individual as the focus and foundation of society.

    It is hard for people to understand the slow progression of ideas through a culture, especially now, when every “latest thing” seems to last only moments before being whisked away like the froth from the previous wave when the new wave comes crashing into the shore.

    But the progressive movement,as well as several other theories that flowered over the last century from the seeds planted in the 19th, has marched its way through every basic element of our society, until we find ourselves in the current era, when the utter bankruptcy of that model is so clearly evident, even as it is ruthlessly defended and protected by those whose entire existence is predicated on its validity.

    The autocracies which were rendered obsolete by the promulgation of the “Rights of Man” during the Enlightenment staggered on until they self-immolated in the first great 20th century war.

    Their gruesome ideological replacements, elevating the race, or the state, or the class, drowned in oceans of blood shed, not by their opponents, but by their practitioners.

    Even that was not enough, however, to dissuade the legions of true believers from their commitment to whatever variation of utopianism had captured their minds, hearts, and souls.

    And so, here we are, flailing futilely as one remedy after another fails, one economic model after another totters on the edge of collapse, and one elite after another strains to convince itself, and the rest of us, that they can find the solution to all our problems, if only everyone would just have faith that it will all turn out all right if we just skip over that rights and due process and all that other hindering constitutional stuff and let the experts really get going.

    But all the while, I keep hearing that little voice from so many years ago—”Be sure to listen to Mr Thompson. He has the answers to all our problems.”

    Yeah, right.

  • Paul Marks

    Fascism and National Socialism are not the same thing. For example, many Italian Jewish academics were Fascists – many German academics were National Socialists (but not Jewish academics). Mussolini aped Hitler’s racial theories when Hitler became powerful – but Fascist doctrine did not start out with a racial ideology.

    And Franco (often called a “Fascist” – although really he was a military dictator who took over the Spanish Falangist party and castrated it) had no racial ideology – employing Arab Muslims to help him win the Civil War in the 1930s, allowing some Jews to come into Spain to escape the Nazis (rather more, in proportion to the population of Spain, than President Roosevelt allowed in to the United States – indeed “FDR” only allowed 10% of the Jews into the United States that then American immigration would have allowed).

    Fascism, National Socialism and Marxism are all forms of collectivism – no doubt many young people in Germany were attracted to National Socialism out of genuine desire to help people (after all National Socialism dominated the student unions and so on – when it was still a fringe movement in the general voting public), but nice indivdual Nazis (charming young boys and girls singing and so on) do NOT mean that National Socialism itself was humanitarian.

    And the idea that Hobsbawn was a “humanitarian” is absurd – although that is (utterly false) image of him that the “mainstream” media are presenting.

    Hobsbawn was a Marxist – i.e. he was a member of a cult that has murdered at least 150 million human beings (see “The Black Book of Communism”, “Mao: the Untold Story” and many other works).

    The idea that Marxism is somehow less bad (or less wrong) than National Socialism (let alone Fascism) is simply wrong.

    Karl Marx (ignoring his own background) called businessmen (“capitalists”) “inwardly circumcised Jews” and quoted (word for word – see Paul Johnson’s “A History of the Jews”) Martin Luther’s demented rants against the Jews – accept that Karl Marx applied them to “capitalists”. Almost needless to say – even those people who owned nothing (but still defended private property in the means of production, distribution and exchange) were not spared the hatred of Karl Marx – all opposition was to be utterly exterminated.

    Even rival socialists were not spared – Karl Marx’s chief rival in German socialism was denounced as a “Jewish nigger” and Karl went into complex theory about how some Jews had “nigger” blood from cross breeding in Egypt before Moses led the Jews out.

    Karl Marx and the leaders of the cult he founded are best thought of as like the “Daleks” of “Doctor Who” – they have (at base) one policy – “Exterminate, Exterminate, EXTERMINATE!”.

    “No Paul, Hobsbawn accepted the theorectical framework of Marxism – not its methods”.

    I would argue that the two can not be, fundementally, divided. However, Hobsbawn did not even try and divide them.

    Take the matter of deception (telling lies). Like Islam and Muhammed – Marxism and Karl Marx practice an organised doctrine of deception.

    Muhmmed used to pledge friendship and peace to people – before attacking them (often at night, or by surprise in some other way) he would also send killers who would pretend to have broken with him – and then murder their hosts (such as an old blind poet who had mocked Muhammed, and then a female poet who had protested over the murder of the old blind poet).

    Karl Marx blatently lied over key elements of his theory (not once or twice – but as matter of course0. For example his pretense that wages were falling (when they were rising) – it was vital to his theory (or at least its “scientific” pretentions – the efforts of Karl Marx to prevent people seeing that his system was a cult) that wages were falling – so Karl Marx pretended that they were. He even quoted Gladstone to the effect that wages were falling – takeing Gladstone’s words wildly out of context and twisting their meaning 180 degrees (as a victim of such a tactic myself, I hope Gladstone never found out about this as it is very irritating).

    “Just because Karl Marx was a blatent liar does not mean that Hobsbawn was”.

    It is true that some Marxists tried to avoid lying – and tried to tell the truth (as they believed it to be).

    Indeed there was a British Marxist historian whose name springs to mind in this regard – but his name was E.P. Thompson not Hobsbawn.

    Hobsbawn (like Karl Marx) lied without shame – his “humanitarianism” was a front, a deception. And one that does not stand up to even basic checking.

    Even the pages of tables in Hobsbawn’s works were filled with lies. He could not even leave the freaking numbers uncorrupted.

    The fact that the BBC, the Guardian (and so on) treat this evil man as if was some sort of saint does not tell us anything about Hobsbawn.

    But it does tell us a lot about them – and the rest of the “mainstream” media and academia.

    Mrs Thatcher tried to oppose the BBC and the education system verbally.

    Verbal opposition will not work. Only cutting off their taxpayer financed subsidies will work.

  • Vinegar Joe

    Hobsbawm was a great intellectual while David Irving is a right-wing thug and goes to jail……

  • Jobrag

    Has anyone else noticed how apposite yesterday’s quote of the day is when looking at Hobsbawm.

  • RRS

    Strange that the Paul Marks Organization left out Edward Hallett Carr; guess he died too long ago, but after the USSR disintegrated.

  • Edward

    Hobsbawn was one of those few true believers who acknowledged after the fall of the Berlin Wall that not only did Soviet communism fail, but it was always doomed to fail. On the other hand, he did say that the millions that died under Lenin and Stalin would have been worth it if his ideal socialist state had been established. So fuck him. Fuck him in the fucking face. If there were a hell, he’d be rotting in it right now. As it is, obscurity will have to do. (I am prepared for the kittens).

  • Paul Marks

    E.H. Carr – the apologist for both Hitler and Stalin.

    And who then went on to help Harold Laski write the U.N. declaration on rights – so that this document is (if anything) actually a threat to limited government not a safeguard for it (as only Americans appear to have noticed).

    Well the Paul Marks organisation can not do anything about E.H. Carr.

    But a higher court does have jurisdiction over his sorry excuse for a soul.