“The official theory in that period theoretically dismissed the possibility of a crisis”


From The Guardian:

Tristram Hunt: At the heart of this book, is there a sense of vindication? That even if the solutions once offered by Karl Marx might no longer be relevant, he was asking the right questions about the nature of capitalism and that the capitalism that has emerged over the last 20 years was pretty much what Marx was thinking about in the 1840s?

Eric Hobsbawm: Yes, there certainly is. The rediscovery of Marx in this period of capitalist crisis is because he predicted far more of the modern world than anyone else in 1848. That is, I think, what has drawn the attention of a number of new observers to his work – paradoxically, first among business people and business commentators rather than the left. I remember noticing this just around the time of the 150th anniversary of the publication of The Communist Manifesto, when not very many plans were being made for celebrating it on the left. I discovered to my amazement that the editors of the [in-flight] magazine of United Airlines said they wanted to have something about the Manifesto. Then, a bit later on, I was having lunch with [financier] George Soros, who asked: “What do you think of Marx?” Even though we don’t agree on very much, he said to me: “There’s definitely something to this man.”

TH: Do you get the sense that what people such as Soros partly liked about Marx was the way he describes so brilliantly the energy, iconoclasm and potential of capitalism? That that’s the part that attracted the CEOs flying United Airlines?

EH: I think that it is globalisation, the fact that he predicted globalisation, as one might say a universal globalisation, including the globalisation of tastes and all the rest of it, that impressed them. But I think the more intelligent ones also saw a theory that allowed for a sort of jagged development of crisis. Because the official theory in that period [the late 1990s] theoretically dismissed the possibility of a crisis.

“Eric Hobsbawm: a conversation about Marx, student riots, the new Left, and the Milibands”, Tristram Hunt, The Guardian