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| | |-+  Eric Hobsbawm supported the Stalinist counterrevolution in Spain in 1936-7?
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Author Topic: Eric Hobsbawm supported the Stalinist counterrevolution in Spain in 1936-7?  (Read 1496 times)
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Miamiu1027
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« on: April 25, 2012, 04:23:52 am »
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wtf?  just came across this cite in re-reading Chomsky's f'ing classic 'Objectivity and Liberal Scholarship'; I guess the first time I read it, I didn't know who Hobsbawm was, or I was just half-drunk, or both... now I will dig through the New Left Review of yore and find it!
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« Reply #1 on: April 25, 2012, 04:43:06 am »
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writing in 1966... (if by citing this piece at such length I am putting the site in copyright danger-zone, please alter this post.  that said I doubt that the New Left Review is at the forefront of copyright-hawking.)


there can be no denying that social revolution actually broke out
in 1931–36, that it did so without any significant assistance from the
international situation, and that the case is practically unique in
western Europe since 1848.


For in the 20th
century the forces of social revolution grew stronger than they had
been in the 19th, because revolution retained its ‘primitive’ assets while
acquiring two new and formidable assets: peasant revolution and the
Labour movement. It is their failure which poses the major problem of
Spanish history and may perhaps throw light on a number of other
under-developed countries. That failure was due to the anarchists.


Anarchism
succeeded so well, because it was content to provide a mere label for
the traditional political habits of revolutionary Spaniards. Yet political
movements are not obliged to accept the historic characteristics of
their environment though they will be ineffective if they pay no attention
to them. Anarchism was a disaster because it made no attempt to
change the style of primitive Spanish revolt, and deliberately reinforced
it.


Spanish anarchism is a profoundly moving spectacle for the
student of popular religion—it was really a form of secular millennialism—
but not, alas, for the student of politics...The Communists, whose policy was undoubtedly the only one which could have won the Civil War, gained strength too late, and
never overcame the handicap of their original lack of mass support.


http://newleftreview.org/?page=article&view=677

I mean, most of this seems to me like a kneejerk anti-'Infantile leftism' and generally just misinformed and immature... does anyone (Al perhaps being the most likely candidate here) know if Hobsbawm's views on this have matured?

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Sibboleth
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« Reply #2 on: April 25, 2012, 04:47:30 am »
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Hobsbawm was a member of the CPGB until it folded.
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"I have become entangled in my own data, and my conclusion stands in direct contradiction to the initial idea from which I started. Proceeding from unlimited freedom, I end with unlimited despotism. I will add, however, that there can be no solution of the social formula except mine."
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« Reply #3 on: April 25, 2012, 05:29:29 am »
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Its a very accurate description of Spanish anarchism. His belief that the Communists could have led a successful revolution is of course subjective, but not without merit.
I see this first and foremost as an analysis of the situation and as such it is actually a good one.
For those of us who dislike Communism the prospect of a Communist Spain in the Stalin Era is of course highly unattractive - maybe even worse than Francos regime.

no, it's not really accurate, or at least not exhaustive, nor is it based on facts, as far as I can gather.  Chomsky paints a convincing picture as to why he may be wrong, in Section II, here:

http://www.ditext.com/chomsky/1968.html

the Spanish Stalinists went as far as they could in restoring pre-revolutionary property relations, bringing the agricultural collectives run by worker/peasant committees under control of the state, and explicitly allied with the counter-revolutionary petit bourgeoisie in hopes of placating the Western democracies.  this can justified in Marxist-Leninist dogma through the argument that a revolution at this stage of Spanish history would have been fatal, as bourgeois-led development had not yet fully occurred, but I don't think it's a real justification and the facts lay that out.
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« Reply #4 on: April 25, 2012, 10:42:58 am »
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Noam weighs in.

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« Reply #5 on: April 25, 2012, 12:48:22 pm »
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The description of Spanish anarchism is not wrong, if slanted. The Commie cheerleading is hilarious or would be if it weren't just sad that this kind of thing is exactly what Stalinist intellectuals were forced to do all the time to rationalize their political choices.

I see one error (or what I think is an error) in the Chomsky paragraph, regarding the Anarchists' joining the central government and his taking Montseny's rationalization of the decision at face value. IIRC being forced to join the government was basically step one in reining the Anarchists in.
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« Reply #6 on: April 30, 2012, 01:02:20 am »
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That's interesting that you email Chomsky. In addition to all of his political stuff, he did some work with normal logical forms for Computer Science back in the 1950s. Definitely not a 1 dimensional fellow.
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« Reply #7 on: April 30, 2012, 01:04:39 am »
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Not only did he respond to your email, he spent his own money on a product that you recommended, and an intellectual product at that.

As for this Hobsbawm fellow, he does not sound like a raging Stalinist in the Age of Revolution... the book reads as from any straightforward historian, although it contains more analysis and less play-by-play.
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« Reply #8 on: May 06, 2012, 03:37:50 pm »
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ftr here is the book I recommended to Chomsky.

http://www.amazon.com/Anarchism-City-Revolution-Counter-Revolution-Barcelona/dp/1849350124
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