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The Age of Extremes: In it, Hobsbawm comments on what he sees as the disastrous failures of state socialismcapitalismand nationalism ; he offers an equally skeptical take on the progress of the arts and changes in society in the latter half of the twentieth century. Hobsbawm calls the period from the start of World War I to the fall of the so-called Soviet bloc ” the short twentieth century “, to follow on ” the long 19th century “, the period from the start of the French Revolution in to the start of World War I inwhich he covered in an earlier trilogy of histories The Brev of Revolution: Europe,The Age of Capital: Hobsbawm points out the abysmal record of recent attempts to predict the world’s future.

Speaking of the future himself, Hobsbawm largely seecolo himself to predicting continued turmoil: The only thing uncertain about them is where they will lead,” [3] and expressing the view that “If humanity is to have a recognizable future, it cannot be by prolonging the past or the present.

In secoli of his few more concrete predictions, he writes that “Social distribution and not growth would dominate the politics of the new millennium. The Russian Revolution of was not the revolution of the most advanced capitalist societies predicted by Karl Marx.

As Hobsbawm puts it, “Capitalism had proved far easier to overthrow where it was weak or barely existed than in its heartlands. It is a central thesis of Hobsbawm’s book that, from the start, State Socialism betrayed the socialist and internationalist vision it claimed to uphold.

Il secolo breve : Eric J. Hobsbawm :

In particular, State Socialism always dispensed with the democratic element of the socialist vision: Togliatti withdraw the suggestion that, perhaps, social-democracy was not the primary danger, at least in Italy.


As for support for international revolution, “The communist revolutions actually made Yugoslavia, Albania, later China were made against Stalin’s advice. Secilo Soviet view was that, secol internationally and within each country, post-war politics should continue within the framework of the all-embracing anti-fascist alliance There is no doubt that Stalin meant all this seriously, and tried to prove it by dissolving the Comintern inand the Communist Party of the United States in On the other hand, he is no friend of the Maoist doctrine of perpetual revolution: Socialism, Hobsbawm argues, ultimately fell because, eventually, ” Hobsbawm has very mixed feelings about the end of the nineteenth-century imperial order, largely because he is no happier with the nation-states that replaced the empires.

This was largely a reaction against the secret treaties arranged among the Allies during the war The Bolsheviksdiscovering these sensitive documents in the Tsarist archives, had promptly published them for the world to read. A militant of the group involved in this mission eventually became prime minister of Israel: None of this throws Hobsbawm into the embrace of free-market capitalism: The historian cannot but note that the two attitudes are contradictory.

Ultimately, in world terms, he sees capitalism being gobsbawm as much of a failure as state socialism: Denying fascism’s claim to philosophical respectability, Hobsbawm writes: Hobsbawm often uses statistics to paint a broad picture of a society at a particular time. With reference to the contemporary United States at the time of writing he points out, “In58 per cent of all black families in the United States were headed by a single woman and 70 per cent of all children were born to single mothers,” [26] and “In 15 per cent of what was proportionally the largest prison population in the world — prisoners perpopulation — secloo said to be mentally ill.

He finds damning statistics to back up his claim of the total failure of state socialism to promote the general welfare: The great [Chinese] famine ofprobably the greatest famine of the twentieth century: According to official Chinese statistics, the country’s population in was At the natural growth rate of the preceding seven years, which was at least 20 per thousand per year, one would have expected the Chinese population in to have been millions.


In fact it was Similarly, “Brazil, a monument to social neglect, had a GNP per capita almost two-and-a-half as large as Sri Lanka inand over six times as large at the end of the 80s.

In Sri Lanka, which had subsidized basic foodstuffs and given free education and health care until the later s, the average newborn could expect to live several years longer than the average Brazilian, and to die as an infant at about half the Brazilian rate inat a third of the Brazilian rate in The percentage of illiteracy in was about twice as great in Brazil as on the Asian island.

Il secolo breve 1914-1991

Hobsbawm also comments on popular culture, a subject he has left alone in other books. What made such deaths symbolic was that youth, which they represented, was impermanent by definition.

However, he does use youth culture as a lens to view the changes in the reic social order:.

Hobsbawm goes on to write that “The cultural revolution of the latest twentieth century can thus best be understood as the triumph of the individual over society, or rather, the breaking of the threads which in the past had woven human beings into social textures” [34] and evokes this as paralleling Margaret Thatcher ‘s claim that ‘There is no society, only individuals’.

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The Age of Empire: