He hated Britain and excused Stalin's genocide. But was he a traitor too?
Hobsbawm (born Obstbaum -- meaning "Fruit-tree") himself was not so surprising. He was after all just another Leftist Jew. There is a lot of fanatical Leftism among Jews. The elitism of the Left seems to appeal to them. And Obstbaum's elitism is noted below.
But it is the adulation he was given that is problematical. It vividly reveals the nihilist values of the British Left
On Monday evening, the BBC altered its programme schedule to broadcast an hour-long tribute to an old man who had died aged 95, with fawning contributions from the likes of historian Simon Schama and Labour peer Melvyn Bragg.
The next day, the Left-leaning Guardian filled not only the front page and the whole of an inside page but also devoted almost its entire G2 Supplement to the news. The Times devoted a leading article to the death, and a two-page obituary.
You might imagine, given all this coverage and the fact that Tony Blair and Ed Miliband also went out of their way to pay tribute, that the nation was in mourning.
Yet I do not believe that more than one in 10,000 people in this country had so much as heard of Eric Hobsbawm, the fashionable Hampstead Marxist who was the cause of all this attention. He had, after all, been open in his disdain for ordinary mortals.
Hobsbawm came to Britain as a refugee from Hitler's Europe before the war, but, as he said himself, he wished only to mix with intellectuals. `I refused all contact with the suburban petit bourgeoisie which I naturally regarded with contempt.' Naturally.
If the name Hobsbawm rings a bell at all, people might recollect that it was also the name of Julia Hobsbawm, a PR expert who, in collaboration with the future Mrs Gordon Brown, was one of the spin doctors who sold New Labour to this country.
There is a world of difference between the ideology of Julia's sleek, modern New Labour ideas and her father's hard-nosed Stalinism, but one of the things they had in common was contempt for `ordinary people'.
Eric Hobsbawm took part in one of the most extraordinary conversations ever on British television. Speaking in 1994 to the author Michael Ignatieff about the fall of the Berlin Wall five years earlier, the historian was asked how he felt about his earlier support for the Soviet Union.
If Communism had achieved its aims, but at the cost of, say, 15 to 20 million people - as opposed to the 100 million it actually killed in Russia and China - would Hobsbawm have supported it? His answer was a single word: `Yes'.
Just imagine what would happen if some crazed Right-winger were to appear on BBC and say that the Nazis had been justified in killing six million Jews in order to achieve their aims. We should be horrified, and consider that such a person should never be allowed to speak in public again - or at least until he retracted his repellent views and admitted that he had been culpably, basely, wrong.
Yet the awful thing about the phenomenon of Eric Hobsbawm is that the exact opposite to this is what happened.
He was awarded a Companion of Honour by Tony Blair - one of the highest accolades it is possible to bestow upon a British intellectual. A professor of history, he was regularly lionised on the BBC and in the liberal newspapers as our `greatest' historian.
It is true he modified his hard-line support for Stalin and his death-camps as the years went by. The elderly Hobsbawm was not the same person who, in 1939, co-wrote a pamphlet defending not only Stalin but Hitler, too - and justifying the Nazi-Soviet pact to carve up Poland and dominate Eastern Europe.
But as far as the history of the 20th century was concerned, he never learned its lessons. The tens of millions dead, the hundreds of millions enslaved, the sheer evil falsity of the ideology which bore down with such horror on the peoples of Russia, Hungary, Czechoslovakia, Poland and Germany, never occurred to this man.
He went on believing that a few mistakes had been made, and that Stalinism was `disillusioning' - but that, in general, it would have been wonderful if Stalin had succeeded.
In 1939 Hobsbawm co-wrote a pamphlet defending not only Stalin but Hitler, too - justifying the Nazi-Soviet pact to carve up Poland
In 1939 Hobsbawm co-wrote a pamphlet defending not only Stalin but Hitler, too - justifying the Nazi-Soviet pact to carve up Poland
Any barmy old fool is, thank goodness, entitled to their point of view in our country. Unlike Stalin's Soviet Union or Hitler's Germany, Britain is a country where you can more or less say or think what you like.
What is disgraceful about the life of Hobsbawm is not so much that he believed this poisonous codswallop, and propagated it in his lousy books, but that such a huge swathe of our country's intelligentsia - the supposedly respectable media and chattering classes - bowed down before him and made him their guru. Made him our `greatest historian'.
The truth is that, far from being a great historian who sometimes made mistakes, Hobsbawm deliberately falsified history.
In his book The Age Of Extreme, published in 1994, he quite deliberately underplayed the Soviet Union's attack on Finland in 1939-40, saying it was merely an attempt to push the Russian border a little further away from Leningrad. He also omits any mention of the massacre of 20,000 Polish soldiers by Russian Secret Police at Katyn.
In the same book, he dismisses the appallingly violent suppression by the Nazis of the Polish resistance in the 1944 Warsaw uprising - when a complacent Soviet army ignored desperate pleas to come to the Poles' aid - as `the penalty of a premature uprising'.
These are not mistakes - they are wicked lies.
In his 1997 book On History, he wrote the following: `Fragile as the communist systems turned out to be, only a limited, even minimal, use of force was necessary to maintain them from 1957 until 1989.'
This again is a blatant lie. A huge and ever-growing Soviet armaments industry ensured there was continued violence in most of the major trouble-spots of the world through those years before Communism collapsed.
Thanks to the provision of Soviet support, weapons and armour, there was continued violence in Africa and, closer to home, in Ireland, where the IRA used Soviet arms.
Ask the inhabitants of Prague, where Soviet tanks rolled into the streets in 1968, if they agreed with Hobsbawm that this was `minimal use of force'.
Ask the millions of people who were taken from their homes by KGB thugs and forced to live, often for decades, in prison-camps throughout the Gulag, whether force had been `minimal'.
Nor were Hobsbawm's rewards merely the sycophantic praise heaped on him by Lefty academics and silly chatterers at London dinners. Having cultivated his group of Left-wing prot‚g‚s at Birkbeck College in London, where he dominated the history department and went on to become President, he was showered with accolades by academics of the Left.
In 2003, he won the Balzan Prize for European History, worth one million Swiss Francs - about half-a-million pounds at that date. The Leftist Sir Keith Thomas, a former president of Corpus Christi College, Oxford, was on the board that awarded him the prize.
There is also an intriguing question which hangs over Eric Hobsbawm. When he was at Cambridge during the Thirties he knew Anthony Blunt, Guy Burgess and the other Soviet agents, who were recruited there by Marxist academics. Was he ever an agent himself?
In extreme old age, four years ago, Hobsbawm attempted, under the Data Protection Act, to read the files kept on him by MI5. When talking about this, he used a very revealing phrase. He said he wanted to find out who had `snitched on him'.
It was always asserted by his pals that Hobsbawm was harmless, that he was not a traitor to Britain, and that he had certainly not recruited traitors.
But if that was the case, why did he use the word `snitched'? Why did he not say: `It was monstrous that MI5 spied on me, and I'd like to see what is contained in the files'?
Instead, he implied that he had done something of which the authorities were entitled to take a dim view - possibly something actively criminal.
We, the petit-bourgeois of the suburbs whom he so despised, shall probably find out the truth one day.
Hobsbawm himself will sink without trace. His books will not be read in the future. They are little better than propaganda, and, in spite of the slavish language in the obituaries, are badly written.
What his death tells us, however, is that the liberal establishment that really runs this country has learned no lessons from history. It is still prepared to bow down and worship a man who openly hated Britain - and who knowingly wrote lies.
Prominent British do-gooder was a pedophile
From the first moment I saw anything of him, I felt that he was "bent". And I was apparently not alone in that. But his position with the BBC and his "charitable" works kept everybody silent. A picture of the thing below -- JR
Esther Rantzen uses a striking phrase in her on-screen response to allegations, to be broadcast tomorrow, that her friend Jimmy Savile, the DJ and charity fundraiser extraordinaire, traded on his celebrity status to sexually abuse underage girls. "We all blocked our ears to the gossip," says the chastened founder of ChildLine of her broadcasting colleagues. "In some way we colluded with him as a child abuser."
It is that question of collusion that goes to the heart of the allegations - which Rantzen says she accepts as true, but which Savile's family vehemently deny. In the case of young girls in Rochdale who were groomed and abused by a gang of perverts, it was the police and social services who stood accused of collusion - for their failure to take seriously the allegations made by those girls when they first reported their ordeal to the authorities.
And in the ongoing scandal of paedophile priests in the Catholic Church, it is bishops, cardinals and even popes whose judgment is criticised. By sweeping reports of abuse of children under the ecclesiastical carpet and transferring deviant priests to other parishes, they were, it has been suggested, colluding in these appalling crimes.
But with the allegations against Savile - who, according to the documentary, abused and raped underage girls on BBC premises, in his trademark Rolls-Royce and, in one instance, in a caravan after he had made a "celebrity visit" to the girl's school in Surrey - the circle of those guilty of collusion by silence or inaction is potentially much wider.
Paul Gambaccini, once a colleague at Radio 1, has said that he has been "waiting 30 years" for these charges to surface against Savile. Another veteran broadcaster, who spoke to The Daily Telegraph but asked not to be named, confirms that, in BBC circles, "it was always said that Jimmy likes them young".
One interpretation is that Savile's inappropriate behaviour with youngsters had repeatedly raised eyebrows at the corporation, but no one ever saw fit to do anything about it because, in his heyday, he was just too big a star. This version of events has been rejected by BBC spokesmen. They say there is no record of complaints being registered, and cite "editorial reasons" for the recent shelving of a Newsnight investigation containing similar allegations to those about to be broadcast on ITV in Exposure: The Other Side of Jimmy Savile.
Back in the early 1990s, I had a good friend who was an investigative reporter with the Sun. She spent weeks following up reports of Savile's inappropriate behaviour with young girls; eventually, though, the paper's management told her that the material she had assembled would not be printed, "because it is not what the public wants to read".
Gambaccini seems to confirm this memory. Savile, he says, played the popular press "like a Stradivarius". If he got a hint that they were planning to publish abuse allegations about him, he would warn that, if the story appeared in print, his extraordinary fund-raising efforts would be brought to an end. And his charity work was considerable: he is estimated to have raised œ40 million for good causes over his lifetime, notably by running a series of marathons (his last was in 2005 at the age of 79). The National Spinal Injuries Centre at Stoke Mandeville Hospital, Broadmoor Hospital and his home-town Leeds General Infirmary and University of Leeds were among recipients of his largesse.
Such efforts won him universal applause, but he was always a little too eccentric to merit the tag "national treasure". Something about him, if we're honest, made us slightly wary. In a 2000 BBC documentary, for instance, Louis Theroux took us inside Savile's Scarborough home and the wardrobe where he lovingly preserved all of his mother's dresses. In a filmed conversation, Theroux touched on the question marks about his behaviour and obtained what appears to be Savile's only public reply to the allegations.
"The rumours were well known, even then," recalls Theroux today, "but he did say something about it being a case of when you are a 'single fella' in the public eye, people would make malicious assumptions about you. And I remember he told me that his way of dealing with that was to say he didn't even like children, which is perhaps more significant with hindsight than it felt at the time. But that was his line, how he dealt with it. And without credible evidence, that was as far as I could go."
And so Savile continued successfully to silence the whispers. The fact, for instance, that he was interviewed under caution in 2007 as part of an investigation by Surrey Police into abuse of young girls at Duncroft Approved School in Staines has only come to light this week.
Indeed his defiance may even have enhanced his reputation. Here was an elderly man, still exhausting himself raising money for good causes, being dogged by unsubstantiated and unpublished gossip. He could present himself, as he did to Theroux, as a victim. When he died in October last year, crowds queued up to process past his gold coffin at a wake held in a Scarborough hotel: a final act of eccentricity by this devout Catholic, or a last attempt to cover his tracks?
"There is still a lot of denial about child abuse," says Chris Cloke, head of child protection awareness at the NSPCC. "I have been working in the field for 20 years and, though progress has undoubtedly been made, there are still too many instances where children are not taken seriously when they reject the pressure not to tell and actually report abuse. And among other parties, who may have known about it, or suspected it, there is too often an attitude of not telling because they're not sure, or it is all rumour, or because - and this comes up often - they think someone else is dealing with it."
This may explain why so many people who knew Savile now seem unsurprised by the charges made in the documentary presented by former detective Mark Williams-Thomas. Challenged as to why they are only speaking up now, after the star's death and when he can't sue for libel, one of his alleged victims replies that she felt no one would believe her, given his reputation with the public. As Esther Rantzen comments: "We made him into the Jimmy Savile who was untouchable".
The programme will, at least, put an end to that. Those who were aware of Savile's penchant for young girls, however, quote in mitigation the context in which his activities took place. His peak as a DJ coincided with a time when he and his fellow Radio 1 presenters were treated by fans as pop royalty, on a par with their favourite bands.
"I can't comment on the charges made against Savile," says Simon Garfield, author of The Nation's Favourite: The True Adventures of Radio 1, "but it is certainly true to say that in the 1970s and 1980s, DJs on the station were mobbed wherever they went. Once they got to present Top of the Pops as well, it happened more. There were as many groupies throwing themselves at them as there were for the pop stars."
Some of Savile's colleagues exploited their seat on a station with 20 million young, impressionable listeners. Chris Denning, one of the launch team in 1967, was convicted of gross indecency in 1974, the first of a string of convictions here and in Eastern Europe for abuse of young boys.
There were some rudimentary safeguards in place: you had to be 18 to get into the studio for Top of the Pops. Yet compared to today's standard procedures, this was another age. Cloke believes that much has changed for the better. "We have, hopefully, got past the old stereotypes of what a child abuser looked like - a man in a dirty raincoat. But assumptions still are made about being able to spot abusers. Most people, for instance, think they will be strangers, whereas abuse often happens within families, or with individuals in positions of trust."
The current storm around the allegations against Savile, however they are resolved, will, Cloke feels, make a contribution if it leads to all of us taking more seriously allegations made by children. "What we need to be very clear about is that there is never, ever any excuse for child abuse. Every time that we introduce the idea that there are excuses as to why an abuser acted as they did, we deter other children who are suffering abuse from speaking up."
The Vilification of Freedom of Speech
Slate joined the tut-tut mob of dhimmified American pundits and commentators by endorsing the abridgement of the First Amendment, at the behest of thin-skinned, super-sensitive Muslims, in its September 25th article, "The Vile Anti-Muslim Video Shows That the U.S. Overvalues Free Speech."
Slate is proof that the Internet isn't wholly a refuge from the Mainstream Media. It has its complement of liberal, leftist and myopic sites that range from banal to bizarre to outlandishly vitriolic. It isn't immediately apparent in the Slate article, written by Editor Eric Posner, that it denigrates not only the First Amendment, but anyone upholding its sanctity, because it took him ten paragraphs of irrelevant commentary to reach the conclusion that the First Amendment is ready for a tweaking and perhaps even a rewrite that would favor Muslims and Islam.
Robert Spencer zeroed in on the key statement in the Slate article in his Jihad Watch article of September 26th, and dismisses it with brevity. He quotes from Slate first:
"That's because the First Amendment protects verbal attacks on groups as well as speech that causes violence (except direct incitement: the old cry of "Fire!" in a crowded theater). And so combining the liberal view that government should not interfere with political discourse, and the conservative view that government should not interfere with commerce, we end up with the bizarre principle that U.S. foreign policy interests cannot justify any restrictions on speech whatsoever. Instead, only the profit-maximizing interests of a private American corporation can. Try explaining that to the protesters in Cairo or Islamabad." (Bold emphasis is Spencer's)That's all that need be said.
Spencer: "In other words, surrender before they hit us again."
Spencer handily runs other publication over the coals in his Jihad Watch/Atlas Shrugs article, "The Suicide of the Free Press," on how and why other publications are picketing against the First Amendment. Citing the example of the Los Angeles Times' Op-Ed by Sarah Chayes, a career do-gooder currently with the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, Spencer asks:
But the larger question is, why is the Los Angeles Times coming down on the side of restrictions on the freedom of speech in the first place? Are they not aware that such restrictions, if implemented, can and probably will be used against them? While the Los Angeles Times editors are no doubt serene in their certainty that they will never print anything that will insult Islam or Muslims, there could all too easily come a time when a governing authority deems something they have published to be "hateful" or even "deliberately tailored to put lives and property at immediate risk," and - if free speech by then has been restricted - that will be the end of the Times as an outpost of the free press.Further, there is Posner's "profit-maximizing" qualifier coupled with the "interests of a private American corporation" that reveals Slate's anti-capitalist leanings. We'll leave that alone for the time being, although it would be interesting to know why Posner thought it necessary to say that and not something to the effect, "Only the speech of private individuals can be restricted or interfered with in political discourse," because it boils down to the same thing: restrictions à la carte. And what has "commerce" to do with the issue? I don't think Posner agrees with Ayn Rand that freedom of speech is dependent on the status of private property. So, one can only scratch one's head in trying to comprehend the legal universe Posner occupies and speaks from.
President Barack Obama said at the U.N. that "The future must not belong to those who slander the prophet of Islam."
Or criticize him? Or resort to Charlie Hebdo level cartoons? Or to awful video trailers whose Muslim funding is just now coming to light? (See Walid Shoebat's revelations here; apparently the "Innocence of Muslims" has a not-so-innocent pedigree.) One might be tempted to say, "Nor should the future belong to those who slander Jesus. Or Ayn Rand. Or any one of H.L.Mencken's dead gods." But that would be conceding the premise that speech about these figures ought to be "restricted."
Sorry, old chap, but the future belongs to me, a slanderer, mocker, blasphemer, and critic of Muslims and Islam and its pedophilic icon, Big Mo. What's the government going to do about it? Ask Huma Abedin to send some ski-masked jihadist thugs to beat me up? Give me the Daniel Pearl treatment? Or perhaps Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will request that a joint DHS/TSA Swat team swoop down on me and take me in for questioning.
Posner opined that Obama's speech contained "a strong defense of the First Amendment." In fact, it was one of the most tepid but insidious "defenses" of an American freedom on record. Why? Posner is a professor at the University of Chicago Law School. He ought to have noted the quid pro quo which Obama had no business offering the United Nations, the OIC, the world that doesn't like our First Amendment, and Muslims: You stop slandering Jesus, we'll stop slandering Mohammad.
That's tantamount to agreeing to give the school yard bully your money and your lunch, and he agrees to stop giving you a black eye and dunking your head in a commode.
Muslims won't stop slandering other creeds' icons - try and stop them- but how does Posner propose to stop the slandering, libeling, or mockery of Mohammad, except by applauding the criminalization of speech at the behest of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, the United Nations, Hillary Clinton, and anyone else who doesn't like the First Amendment?
The criminalization of speech about Islam is a proposed exercise in people management and Platonic guardianship by elitists ensconced in the ivory tower of indemnified statism. It is supposed to combat violence and bridge the gap between Western and Islamic civilizations. But Islam isn't a "civilization"; it is an ideology hell-bent on conquest. But as Daniel Greenfield points out in his essay, "Muslim Multiculturalism and Western Post-Nationalism" notes:
The left's post-national identity is based on a secular political multiculturalism. Islam's post-national identity is based on a religious theocratic multiculturalism. The left has heresies that it prosecutes as hate crimes and Islam has heresies that it prosecutes as blasphemy.My advice to Eric Posner: Think about what you're asking for. You just might have your way. But, you may regret your not being able to say what you wish to say about anything. Criminalizing speech about Islam doubtless will set a poison pill precedent to criminalize speech about anything the state deems protected, sacrosanct, and not open to discussion.
Progressives have been always too stupid to understand that the consequences of their progressivism in undermining the current, more advanced, phase of human society is the restoration of reactionary social and political systems. In Russia, the Bolsheviks toppled an intermediary government and restored a Czar named Stalin and feudalism under the name of collectivism, to the proud cheers of the world's leftists at the progress they were making. In the Arab Spring, they brought back Islamism and they have brought it back in London and Sydney, and Paris and New York as well.
You may someday need to shout "Fire!" and won't, because you've surrendered your right to. To you, it won't seem practical. Or right. You've "progressed" to a more "mature" standard of speech. Besides, it would be against the law. Shouting "Fire!" might provoke someone to throw a Molotov cocktail.
You would be hard-pressed to prove to the authorities that it wasn't your intention to provoke the thrower of the Molotov cocktail. You would protest: That was his action, not yours. You were merely trying to save lives. He was trying to take lives. How awful! Still, your action "triggered" his action.
You would be held responsible. The law would say so. Hands behind your back, please. These are plastic cuffs, and won't hurt a bit.
Conbservative Dutch MP postpones Australia visit after delaying tactics by Australia's Leftist government
Anti-Islamic Dutch politician Geert Wilders has postponed a visit to Australia because of delays in obtaining a visa, despite today's announcement that his application would be approved.
Immigration Minister Chris Bowen said he had decided to issue a visa to the controversial MP, declaring Australia's democracy is strong enough to withstand a visit by the "extremist commentator".
Mr Wilders was due to speak at events in Sydney and Melbourne later this month at the invitation of the Q Society, which is concerned by what it calls the "Islamisation" of Australia.
But the group says "extraordinary delays" in getting a visa have forced Mr Wilders to delay his visit until mid-February next year.
"Minister Bowen's (announcement)... is too little too late," the Q Society said in a statement.
"When Mr Wilders' visa may be issued is still uncertain; it could be tomorrow, it could be next week, it could be a week after the scheduled departure.
"Q Society asks Minister Bowen why, after lodging papers in late August, has his visa still not been issued?"
A spokesman for Mr Bowen says Mr Wilders was advised by email this morning that his visa application had been approved.
Q Society's spokesman Andrew Horwood has told the ABC that Mr Wilders' speaking tour may now be expanded to include Perth given the strong public interest.
"We've been really inundated by what I'd call the silent majority in Australia who've been looking back and concerned about what's been happening," Mr Horwood said.
Last month, the ABC's 7.30 program reported the processing of the Dutch MP's visa had stalled because it triggered a notification on the Movement Alert List - a database of people of concern to Australia.
It meant his application was held up at the Department of Immigration headquarters in Canberra while more thorough checks were done.
But Mr Bowen this morning announced that after long and careful consideration, he would not be intervening in the process to stop Mr Wilders coming to Australia.
"I've taken the view that he's a provocateur who would like nothing more than for me to reject his visa so that he could become a cause célèbre ," Mr Bowen told ABC radio's AM program.
"I'm not going to give him that opportunity to be the cause célèbre for his cause which is radical and extremist.
"I think our society's robust enough, our multicultural is strong enough, and our love of freedom of speech entrenched enough that we can withstand a visit from this fringe commentator from the other side of the world.
"We should defeat his ideas with the force of our ideas and the force of our experience, not by the blunt instrument of keeping him out of Australia."
As one of the world's most prominent anti-Islam campaigners, Mr Wilders has attracted controversy in many parts of the world.
In 2009 he was refused entry to the UK but later appealed and won.
He was also tried and acquitted in the Netherlands on hate charges over his controversial public comments.
The website for the Q Society, which invited Mr Wilders to Australia, states that: "Aggressive or stealth proselytising and brazen imposition by Islamic organisations and Islamic religious fanatics were our 'call to arms'".
And it has accused the Federal Government of "kowtowing to Islamic supremacists".
Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.
American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of other countries. The only real difference, however, is how much power they have. In America, their power is limited by democracy. To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges. They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did: None. So look to the colleges to see what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way. It would be a dictatorship.
For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN (Note that EYE ON BRITAIN has regular posts on the reality of socialized medicine). My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here.