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Thursday, January 27, 2011

"We are living, then, at the end or at least the beginning of the end", says Eric Hobsbawm


Humans have always been fascinated by endings: the end of life as we know it, the end of our present prosperity or misery, the end of civilisation, the end of the world. Terminal events have long been anticipated by human societies, either in fear of apocalyptic disaster or in hope of the utopia waiting at the end of history. Perhaps our minds think in lineal terms, preferring denouement to the meandering paths of the past. Reaching termination, or some definitive historical turning point, is psychologically satisfying; it imposes order on disorder, narrative onto chaos.
For Hobsbawm the financial crisis changed everything. “A systematic alternative system may not be on the horizon,” he argues, “but the possibility of disintegration, even collapse, of the existing system is no longer to be ruled out. Neither side knows what would happen in that case.”

We are living, then, at the end or at least the beginning of the end. The market, as Hobsbawm writes, creates many problems in its pursuit of limitless growth. “Once again the time has come to take Marx seriously.” Hobsbawm has little time for those on the Left who treat Marx as a prophet whose word is law. “What could be learnt from Marx was his method of facing the tasks of analysis and action rather than ready-made lessons to be derived from classic texts.”

Marx remains a powerful figure and at some point we have been touched by Marxist thinking even if we were not aware of it. Indeed, Hobsbawm, a man firmly on the Left, is one of our greatest living historians. He is certainly one of the most popular: his series of books on global history are widely read classics.


From Ben Wilson's comment in The Telegraph. More Here

"Islam is a very simple religion to adopt" says Eric Hobsbawm

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