Eric Hobsbawm's historiography is rooted in his biography, which begins with the struggle against fascism in Vienna and Berlin, which he experienced in his youth. He remained loyal to a popular front view of historical action throughout his life and career. His books divide into two kinds. Firstly, histories from below, in which he narrates the heroic failure of mostly premodern forms of resistance; secondly, histories of the totality, in which he tries to narrate the rise and spread of capitalism and its internal contradictions, particularly with organized labor. His last work, The Age of Extremes, is different, in that it is structured in terms of the effects on the West of the simulacrum of Soviet Communism, rather than its threat or actuality. Hobsbawm remains a figure of the twentieth century to the extent that his work missed the rise of new productive forces, the centrality of China, and the problems of the Anthropocene, such as climate change. And yet he at least remained loyal to a vision of enlightenment and liberation, even as his own personal communism was reduced to loyalty to the memory of fallen comrades.
McKenzie Wark; Undeletable Text: Eric Hobsbawm. boundary 2 1 May 2016; 43 (2): 125–140. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/01903659-3469925
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