Rob Schaap rws at
Tue May 23 21:35:20 PDT 2000

G'day Charles,

There's something worryingly familiar about implying Hobsbawm must no longer be on the side of the angels because he disagrees with you about something - I reckon it's the kind of argument we've come to associate with 'bureaucratic centralism'.

Hobsbawm has shifted on a couple of issues during his long life, which the honest thinker ever must (as Marx and Lenin did), but his history is the history of a scholar who deeply understands and respects the materialist conception of history, for mine (he's never turned into his opposite, that's for sure_. Sure,we can safely assume North Korea is regularly misrepresented to us (I mean why should North Korea be any different?), but North Korea's polity is an outrage against Marxist principles no less than it is against Brad's liberal ones.

We are allowed occasionally to agree with each other, aren't we?

And Hobsbawm's 'Age' series is quite simply the best big-picture histories of the last few hundred years that exist (amongst historical works - my lifelong favourite genre - only EP Thompson's *Making of the English Working Class* has ever filled me with the awe elicited by Hobsbawm's genuineness, ambition, breadth, clarity, consistency, erudition and insight).

So tread lightly when you have a go at the great man, eh?

Cheers, Rob.

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