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Eric Hobsbawm reiterates the centrality of the Revolution for history on a global basis. He argues that those who wrote about the Revolution in the nineteenth century were convinced it had changed their lives dramatically, improving the economy and the lot of peasants. They saw the Revolution as a prototype of of the bourgeois revolution, enabling the middle class to gain power from the ruling class of aristocrats. Many believed proletarian revolutions would inevitably follow. In the years between 1917 and the 1960s, Marxists continued to use the French Revolution as a point of reference, paying increasing attention to the social and economic factors in the Revolution, not only to the political factors.
In the 1970s and 1980s, many historians began to argue that the Revolution achieved modest results at disproportionate costs. Hobsbawm argues that this massive historiographical reaction against the centrality of the Revolution reflects the personal politics of those contemporary historians for whom Marxism and communism are now out of favor. They are, he maintains, wrong. The Revolution transformed the world permanently and introduced forces that continue to transform it.
Reiterates the centrality of the Revolution for history on a global basis, while explaining the causes of shifts in interpretation.
Posted September 30, 2004
There's nothing like a shaped-eyed, golden penned, old fashioned Marxist intellectual to demolish the neo-conservative nonsense of the moment. Whatever your politics, no intellectually honest person can walk away from Hobsbawn's judicious and systematic analysis of the politics behind competing interpretations across the political spectrum of the French Revolution without being far more aware of the politics behind recent efforts to stigmatize it by those wholly out of sympathy with its legacies and leftist traditions in general. It's a must read for any fair mined person interested in a the issue.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.