Thursday, May 17, 2012
Remarkable Admission from Hobsbawm
Innumerable college students have been told by left-leaning professors that Eric Hobsbawm, a British historian, is the greatest living historian. More needs to be known about him, however. He is only British in terms of his place of residence, being in fact a Jewish refugee from Nazi Germany. David Pryce-Jones, writing in National Review in 2001, is one who dares to dispute his greatness, finding Hobsbawm to be "a liar." Pryce-Jones details Hobsbawm's career as an apologist for Stalin. Hobsbawm himself has always been forthright about being a Communist.
It is a pity that refugees from one brand of totalitarianism have too often proved to be apologists for another brand of totalitarianism. Hobsbawm's defense of the Soviet Union, therefore, makes all the more remarkable his admission last year that
Nobody seriously thinks of returning to the socialist systems of the Soviet type - not only because of their political faults, but also because of the increasing sluggishness and inefficiency of their economies - though this should not lead us to underestimate their impressive social and educational achievements. On the other hand, until the global free market imploded last year, even the social-democratic or other moderate left parties in the rich countries of northern capitalism and Australasia had committed themselves more and more to the success of free-market capitalism....
Hobsbawm then proceeds to claim that free-market capitalism has failed as tremendously as has the Soviet Union and raises the question of how we are to proceed. I fear that he may be correct in his assessment of capitalism as we know it today, at least finance capitalism. Finance capitalism has not solved that great contradiction of capitalism: It produces the goods, but the masses of the people lack the purchasing power to buy those goods. This great contradiction is before our eyes now when we look around us every day and see no lack of automobiles and houses for sale, but a catastrophic lack of purchasers for those products.
Some sort of third position, a solution incorporating the best of capitalist productivity with necessary regulation, seems to be what is urgently needed. The baleful question now is this: Will we have time to develop and implement such a third position economic strategy?