Eric John Ernest Hobsbawm, CH (9 June 1917 – 1 October 2012) was a British Marxist historian and author, once the leading theorist of the defunct Communist Party of Great Britain, and former president of Birkbeck College, University of London.
- First, utopianism is probably a necessary social device for generating the superhuman efforts without which no major revolution is achieved.
- (Carmine Crocco) A farm-labourer and cowherd, had joined the Bourbon army, killed a comrade in a brawl, deserted and lived as an outlaw for ten years. He joined the liberal insurgents in 1860 in the hope of an amnesty for his past offences, and subsequently became the most formidable guerilla chief and leader of men on the Bourbon side.
- Bandits (Penguin, 1985), p. 25.
- Liberalism was failing. If I'd been German and not a Jew, I could see I might have become a Nazi, a German nationalist. I could see how they'd become passionate about saving the nation. It was a time when you didn't believe there was a future unless the world was fundamentally transformed.
- As quoted by Eric Hobsbawn, in “A Question of Faith,” Maya Jaggi, The Guardian (Sept. 14, 2002)
- Xenophobia looks like becoming the mass ideology of the 20th-century fin-de-siecle.
- Divided Europeans: Understanding Ethnicities in Conflict (1999), p. 41.
- Look at London. Of course it matters to all of us that London's economy flourishes. But the test of the enormous wealth generated in patches of the capital is not that it contributed 20%-30% to Britain's GDP but how it affects the lives of the millions who live and work there. What kind of lives are available to them? Can they afford to live there? If they can't, it is not compensation that London is also a paradise for the ultra-rich. Can they get decently paid jobs or jobs at all? If they can't, don't brag about all those Michelin-starred restaurants and their self-dramatising chefs. Or schooling for children? Inadequate schools are not offset by the fact that London universities could field a football team of Nobel prize winners.
- The Guardian (2009).
- As the global expansion of Indian and Chinese restaurants suggests, xenophobia is directed against foreign people, not foreign cultural imports.
- Mapping the Nation (Mappings Series) (13 November 2012), p. 263.
Nations and nationalism since 1780 programme, myth, reality (1992)
Eric Hobsbawm (1992). Nations and nationalism since 1780 programme, myth, reality. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press. pp. 76–77. ISBN 0-521-43961-2.
- [N]o serious historian of nations and nationalism can be a committed political nationalist... Nationalism requires too much belief in what is patently not so.
- Nations and Nationalism since 1780: Programme, Myth, Reality (Cambridge University Press, 2nd ed. 2012), p. 12.
- Nevertheless it is evident — if only from the Greek example just cited — that proto-nationalism, where it existed, made the task of nationalism easier, however great the differences between the two, insofar as existing symbols and sentiments of proto-national community could he mobilized behind a modern cause or a modern state. But this is far from saying that the two were the same, or even that one must logically or inevitably lead into the other. For it is evident that proto-nationalism alone is clearly not enough to form nationalities, nations, let alone states.
- pp. 76–77.
- However, mass expulsion and even genocide began to make their appearance on the southern margins of Europe during and after World War I, as the Turks set about the mass extirpation of the Armenians in 1915 and, after the Greco Turkish war of 1911, expelled between 1.3 and 1.5 millions of Greeks from Asia Minor, where they had lived since the days of Homer.1 Subsequently Adolph Hitler, who was in this respect a logical Wilsonian nationalist, arranged to transfer Germans not living on the territory of the fatherland, such as those of Italian South Tyrol, to Germany itself, as he also arranged for the permanent elimination of the Jews.
- p. 133.
The Age of Extremes (2004)
Eric Hobsbawm (2004) The Age of Extremes, Abacus Publishing, London, p. 414
- In the simplest terms the question who or what caused the Second World War can be answered in two words: Adolf Hitler.
- p. 36 
- Human beings are not efficiently designed for a capitalist system of production.
- p. 414.
- The paradox of communism in power was that it was conservative.
- p. 422.
- Communism as an ideology had been passionately committed to women's equality and liberation, in every sense including the erotic, in spite of Lenin's own dislike of casual sexual promiscuity. (However, both Krupskaya and Lenin were among the rare revolutionaries who specifically favored the sharing of housework between the sexes)...Yet, with rather rare exceptions...they were not prominent in the first political ranks of their parties, or indeed at all, and in the new communist-governed states they became even less visible. Indeed, women in leading political functions virtually disappeared...When women streamed into a profession opened to them, as in the U.S.S.R., where the medical profession became largely feminized in consequence, it lost status and income. As against Western feminists, most married Soviet women, long used to a lifetime of paid work, dreamed of the luxury of staying at home and doing only one job...whatever the achievements and failures of the socialist world, it did not generate specifically feminist movements,and could indeed hardly have done so, given the virtual impossibility of any political initiatives not sponsored by state and party before the mid-1980s
- The greatest cruelties of our century have been the impersonal cruelties of remote decision, of system and routine, especially when they could be justified as regrettable operational necessity.
Quotes about Hobsbawm
- Presented as a pendant to Age of Extremes, a personal portrait hung opposite the historical landscape, what light does Interesting Times throw on Hobsbawm’s vision of the twentieth century, and overall narrative of modernity? In overarching conception, The Age of Revolution, The Age of Capital, The Age of Empire and Age of Extremes can be regarded as single enterprise – a tetralogy which has no equal as a systematic account of how the contemporary world was made. All display the same astonishing fusion of gifts: economy of synthesis; vividness of detail; global scope, yet acute sense of regional difference; polymathic fluency, at ease with crops and stock markets, nations and classes, statesmen and peasants, sciences and arts; breadth of sympathies for disparate social agents; power of analytic narrative; and not least a style of remarkable clarity and energy, whose signature is the sudden bolt of metaphoric electricity across the even surface of cool, pungent argument.
- Perry Anderson, "The Vanquished Left: Eric Hobsbawm", published in Spectrum: From Right to Left in the World of Ideas (2005)