Critique of rewriting history - Mercedes-Benz Forum

 
LinkBack Thread Tools Display Modes
post #1 of 1 (permalink) Old 03-07-2007, 06:24 AM Thread Starter
BenzWorld Elite
 
Date registered: Sep 2004
Vehicle: 95 E300
Location: Inside my head
Posts: 36,850
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Quoted: 392 Post(s)
(Thread Starter)
Critique of rewriting history

Eric Hobsbawm's Stalinist Homage to Catalonia
Stephen Suleyman Schwartz, March 5, 2007

The Anglo-German “historian” Eric Hobsbawm, an unrepentant defender of the political and pseudo-intellectual legacy of Stalinism, committed to print, in The Guardian of February 17, a banal but repellent rehash of long-discredited clichés about the Spanish civil war of 1936-39. The chief intent of this arrant falsification was to undermine the reputation of George Orwell and his classic Homage to Catalonia, and thus to rehabilitate the Soviet purge machine that contributed so dreadfully to the defeat of the embattled Spanish Republic.

Hobsbawm represents, at once, a reprehensible genre of poseurs on Spain and, in his inimitable fashion, a special case. In the first instance, Hobsbawm is but one among a vast assortment of commentators on the Spanish war who know little of the Spanish language, much less Catalan, which is the language of some of the most important historical documentation on the conflict. Their works are typically founded on secondary sources in English. This variety of fakers also reveals little comprehension or even superficial acquaintance with the basic historical issues leading to the war or the ideological foundations of the differing factions in the war. Worst of all, the Hobsbawm school on Spain demonstrates an uninterested arrogance with regard to the collective memory of the Spanish people in general, and the Catalan nation in particular, about the war.

Hobsbawm embodies a principle on which I and others have long written: the distinction that must be made between the war of 1936-39 as experienced by the Spanish people, and the parallel conflict fantasized by intellectuals of a leftist persuasion mainly (and now retrospectively) situated, to paraphrase Trotsky, in the Bronx of the Young Communist League. The two had and have nothing in common.

Anglo-American and Anglo-German authors scribble obsessively about the so-called International Brigades, regarding which they foster despicable lies; about the “heroic” role of the Spanish Communist Party, which before the war and after the restoration of democracy following Franco’s death was and remains repudiated by the majority of the Spanish left; and about various brands of second-hand gossip and what today would be called “sound-bite” pseudo-expertise.

This band of memory-murderers have never come to grips with the fundamental lie of Stalinist propaganda, which holds that the Republicans would have won the war if they had submitted to dictation from Moscow – a claim every educated Spanish individual knows to be absurd. The Hobsbawm con therefore works only outside Spain and among a handful of Spanish academics anxious to parade their knock-off versions of Anglo-American campus fashions.

POUM Man: George Orwell served with the anarchosyndicalist/Trotskyist militia in CataloniaPOUM Man: George Orwell served with the anarchosyndicalist/Trotskyist militia in CataloniaThe Spanish people, fortunately, have memories resistant to fraud, and the majority of them long ago came to agree with the anti-Stalinist intellectual Joaquim Maur*n, who argued that the Spanish war was lost precisely because it was perceived, toward its end, as a confrontation between Franco and Stalin rather than between Franco and the Spanish left. The Spanish would fight for their radical demands, articulated in the specific idiom of their traditions; they would not fight for Stalin. Tragically, they were forced into a situation in which they were neither right nor wrong, but were robbed of the power to make their own decisions.

Thus the Hobsbawmistas cannot grasp that the battle of historical memory was won long ago in Spain, by neither the Francoists nor the Stalinists, but by the indigenous revolutionary forces. These included the Catalan Republican Left party (Esquerra); the Spanish anarchosyndicalist unions (CNT), the largest and most militant radical labor movement in the world during the 1930s; the militant wing of the Spanish socialist party (PSOE); and the Catalanist anti-Stalinists of the Partit Obrer d’Unificació Marxista, or POUM, in the militia of which George Orwell served.

Hobsbawm first became prominent in the field of Spanish war studies with a contemptible exercise in pseudo-history included in a volume with the revealing title Primitive Rebels, issued in 1959. The text in question purported to examine the outlook of CNT militants in the uprising at Casas Viejas, a rural hamlet in Andalusia, in 1933.

Hobsbawm claimed to have perceived in the horrific Casas Viejas events – in which numbers of poor land workers and their relatives were shot down and burned alive by the “progressive” Republican state police known as Storm Troops (Guardia del Asalto) assisted by a handful of the detested Guardia Civil – a manifestation of “archaic,” millenarian, incoherent, pseudo-religious, and other ambiguous forms of social discontent. He based this “analysis” on a brief foray into field work during the Franco regime, 23 years after Casas Viejas occurred, The aim of the Stalinist luminary was obvious: to prove that the CNT, which was one of the most cultivated and articulate intellectual phenomena in global left-wing history, was a grab-bag of hallucinated cranks and deluded visionaries, inferior to the mighty Communist police network to which Hobsbawm remains sentimentally loyal.

The deceit employed by Hobsbawm in his discussion of Casas Viejas was so extensive and outrageous it would take a whole book to adequately expose it – and that task was, in fact, successfully undertaken by the late Jerome Mintz, an American ethnologist, in his most excellent 1982 volume The Anarchists of Casas Viejas. Mintz, with devastating accuracy, exposed Hobsbawm as a mendacious tourist in Spanish war topics, noting that notwithstanding the latter’s claim to have gone to the scene and interviewed local people, “his account is based primarily on a preconceived evolutionary model of political development rather than on data gathered in field research.” Mintz correctly states, “The model scales labor movements in accord with their progress toward mass parties and central authority… [Hobsbawm] explains how anarchosyndicalists were presumed to act rather than what actually took place… his evolutionary model misled him on virtually every point.”

Of course the Stalinist Hobsbawm despised the anarchosyndicalists; of course he did not comprehend that Casas Viejas was a moment in Spain’s march toward civil war comparable in notoriety to the Pearl Harbor attack of 1941, and that he therefore trod on risky ground in improvising a version of it for consumption by gullible English-speakers. In Spain today Mintz’s work, based on extensive and serious research and interviews, enjoys high esteem, and in the international ethnological profession it has legitimately become a classic. (Full disclosure: my review of Mintz’s book was one of my first publications in Spanish, and appeared in the historic and admirable anarchist journal Orto, formerly known as Ideas, and forever associated with the anti-Stalinist tradition in Spanish historiography.)

Anti-Stalinist Anarchist: Francisco Sabate LlopartAnti-Stalinist Anarchist: Francisco Sabate LlopartHobsbawm’s meretricious methodology on Spanish matters was not limited to his examination of the martyred poor of Casas Viejas. He went on to produce a despicable jumble regarding the Catalan anarchist Francisco Sabate Llopart (1915-60), a veteran anti-Stalinist who carried on an active armed struggle against the Franco regime until his murder, again by the hated Civil Guard along with members of the Catalan rural parapolice body, the Sometent. Hobsbawm’s assault on Sabate was published in another book with a revealing title, Bandits (1969). Of that effusion I will say little more than that the surviving comrades of Sabate were once my comrades; and on reading Hobsbawm’s stupidities on Sabate I was moved to hurl the book into a river, an act I do not regret.

It was therefore entirely predictable that Hobsbawm would take to the pages of the Guardian in 2007 to attack Orwell, the POUM, and the general legacy of the Spanish revolution. I will take his contemptible impostures point by point:

Hobsbawm begins by quoting two non-Spanish sources on the war: the French historian François Furet and the British filmmaker Ken Loach. He states “It was not, as the neoliberal François Furet argued it should have been, a war against both the ultra-right and the Comintern – a view shared, from a Trotskyist sectarian angle, by Ken Loach’s powerful film Land and Freedom (1995).” But the Spanish, I am glad to say, know better than Hobsbawm what happened; they understand that the war involved five main forces. On the right, the counter-revolutionary military and, outside the Basque country, traditionalist Catholics, were supported by a tiny fascist movement.

By contrast, three distinct trends appeared on the Republican side:

a) the Catalan Left, Basque nationalists, and other liberal bourgeois trends who wanted to carry out a Jacobin-style modernization;

b) the proletarian upsurge of the CNT, Socialists, and POUM;

c) the Stalinist conspiracy to create a one-party dictatorship.

Moscow tried to unite a) with c) to overcome b), but a) and b) had more in common with each other, and the attempt failed. Stalin, however, succeeded in effectively sabotaging the Republican defense; his discreet 1938 message to Hitler indicating Soviet willingness to withdraw support for the Republic was a crucial step.

more at: Eric Hobsbawm's Stalinist Homage to Catalonia | Jewcy.com
Botnst is offline  
Sponsored Links
Advertisement
 
Reply

  Mercedes-Benz Forum > General Mercedes-Benz Forums > Off-Topic

Quick Reply
Message:
Options

Register Now



In order to be able to post messages on the Mercedes-Benz Forum forums, you must first register.
Please enter your desired user name, your email address and other required details in the form below.

User Name:
Password
Please enter a password for your user account. Note that passwords are case-sensitive.

Password:


Confirm Password:
Email Address
Please enter a valid email address for yourself.

Email Address:
OR

Log-in











  • Currently Active Users Viewing This Thread: 1 (0 members and 1 guests)
     
    Thread Tools
    Show Printable Version Show Printable Version
    Email this Page Email this Page
    Display Modes
    Linear Mode Linear Mode



    Similar Threads
    Topic Author Forum Replies Last Post
    History of the w124 janos_z W124 E,CE,D,TD Class 23 02-13-2009 02:25 PM
    96-97 E 320 WHAT'S THE HISTORY? Dallas W210 E-Class 13 08-12-2005 10:41 PM
    Critique my Routine, Please...Thanks, lucky1899 Detailing and Car Care 18 09-30-2004 07:33 AM
    Dealer History? Guest (MBNZ) W202 C-Class 0 06-28-2002 04:02 PM
    Taped a Mercedes SL history show on History Channel... Guest (MBNZ) R/C107 SL/SLC Class 0 03-31-2002 06:27 AM

    Posting Rules  
    You may post new threads
    You may post replies
    You may not post attachments
    You may not edit your posts

    BB code is On
    Smilies are On
    [IMG] code is On
    HTML code is Off
    Trackbacks are On
    Pingbacks are On
    Refbacks are On

     

    Title goes here

    close
    video goes here
    description goes here. Read Full Story
    For the best viewing experience please update your browser to Google Chrome