Eric Hobsbawm’s dialectical materialism in the postwar period 1946-56

Autumn 2020

This article aims to demonstrate that Eric Hobsbawm was a dialectical materialist. It considers what dialectical materi- alism meant for him by analysing four prominent characteristics of Hobsbawm’s Marxist study of history found in his writings between 1946 and 1956. That class-struggle analysis was the primary analyt- ical lens for Hobsbawm is the major claim that this work challenges. Hobsbawm’s thinking was guided by dialectical materialism, which was a scientific outlook based on analysis. It always accounted for unpredictable human agency and, though economic factors played the principal role in the development of history, this study rejects the claim that Hobsbawm was a mechanical determinist. Further, dialec- tical materialism aimed at fostering the socialist revolution, with its ultimate goal being to overcome struggle and reach unity.

Twentieth Century Communism 19 cover