Franklin Delano Roosevelt Liveblogs World War II: December 9, 1941
Why Oh Why Can't We Have a Better Press Corps? Yet Another Washington Post/Robert Samuelson Edition

Quote of the Day: December 9, 2011

"The most obvious damage is to his prose. Whenever Hobsbawm enters a politically sensitive zone, he retreats into hooded, wooden language, redolent of Party-speak. “The possibility of dictatorship,” he writes in The Age of Extremes, “is implicit in any regime based in a single, irremovable party.” The “possibility”? “Implicit”? As Rosa Luxemburg could have told him, a single irremovable party is a dictatorship. Describing the Comintern’s requirement in 1932 that German Communists fight the Socialists and ignore the Nazis, Hobsbawm in his memoirs writes that “it is now generally accepted that the policy... was one of suicidal idiocy.” Now? Everyone thought it criminally stupid at the time and has thought so ever since—everyone, that is, except the Communists.

"As Hobsbawm half concedes, he might have been wiser to stick to the nineteenth century—”given,” as he puts it, “the strong official Party and Soviet views about the twentieth century.” He still seems to be writing in the shadow of an invisible censor. When describing the survival into the 1920s of Habsburg-era links between independent Austria and Czechoslovakia, he concludes: “The frontiers were not yet impenetrable, as they became after the war destroyed the Pressburg tram’s bridge across the Danube.” Younger readers might reasonably infer that a fractured tram line was the only obstacle to Czechs and Slovaks seeking to visit postwar Austria after 1948; Hobsbawm avoids mention of any other impediment.

"After that it comes as less of a surprise to read Hobsbawm’s curious description of Khrushchev’s famous “secret speech” in 1956 as “the brutally ruthless denunciation of Stalin’s misdeeds.” Note that it is the denunciation of Stalin that attracts the epithets (“brutal,” “ruthless”), not his “misdeeds.” In his enthusiasm for the Communist omelet, Hobsbawm has clearly lost little sleep over the millions of broken eggs in unmarked graves from Wroclaw to Vladivostok. As he says, History doesn’t cry over spilled milk."

--Tony Judt, Reappraisals: Reflections on the Forgotten Twentieth Century