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How To Change The World: Tales of Marx and Marxism [Hardcover]

Eric Hobsbawm
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)

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Book Description

20 Jan 2011

In the 144 years since Karl Marx's Das Kapital was published, the doctrine that bears his name has been embraced by millions in the name of equality, and just as dramatically has fallen from grace with the retreat of communism from the western world. But as the free market reaches its extreme limits in the economic and environmental fallout, a reassessment of capitalism's most vigorous and eloquent enemy has never been more timely.

Eric Hobsbawm provides a fascinating and insightful overview of Marxism. He investigates its influences and analyses the spectacular reversal of Marxism's fortunes over the past thirty years.

Product details

  • Hardcover: 480 pages
  • Publisher: Little, Brown (20 Jan 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1408702878
  • ISBN-13: 978-1408702871
  • Product Dimensions: 4.3 x 15.3 x 23 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 214,112 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Eric Hobsbawm was born in Alexandria in 1917 and educated in Vienna, Berlin, London and Cambridge. A Fellow of the British Academy and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, with honorary degrees from universities in several countries, he is the author of many important works of history.

Product Description

Book Description

* Brilliant and incisive, HOW TO CHANGE THE WORLD leaves us in no doubt that Karl Marx is as much a thinker for our century as he was for the preceding two

About the Author

Eric Hobsbawm was born in Alexandria in 1917 and educated in Vienna, Berlin, London and Cambridge. A distinguished historian, he is a Fellow of the British Academy and of the American Academy of Arts & Sciences, with honorary degrees from universities in several countries.

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Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars
4.2 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
84 of 90 people found the following review helpful
By Diziet TOP 1000 REVIEWER
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I think the cover and title of this book are a bit misleading. The book certainly doesn't contain any blueprint for 'changing the world'. What it does contain is a collection of essays written between 1956 and 2009, most never previously published before in English, many considerably extended, that provide a history of both Marx and Marxism.

The book is divided into two sections. Part 1 is entitled 'Marx and Engels' and consists of 'Marx Today', 'Marx, Engels and pre-Marxian Socialism', 'Marx, Engels and Politics', 'On Engels' The Condition of the Working Class', 'On the Communist Manifesto', 'Discovering the Grundrisse', 'Marx on pre-Capitalist Formations' and 'The Fortunes of Marx's and Engels' Writings'.

Part 2 - 'Marxism' - includes 'Dr Marx and the Victorian Critics', 'The Influence of Marxism 1880-1914', 'In the Era of Anti-fascism 1929-45', 'Gramsci', 'The Reception of Gramsci', 'The Influence of Marxism 1945-83', 'Marxism in Recession 1983-2000' and finally 'Marx and Labour: the Long Century'.

I have to admit I found some of the essays pretty hard work. 'The Fortunes of Marx's and Engels' Writings' looks at the publication histories of the works, how they have developed (for example, the MEGA or 'Marx-Engels-Gesamtausgabe' projects), the changing fates of the works in relation to the rise and fall of communist states and parties. A bit dry.

But, on the other hand, the second essay, 'Marx, Engels and pre-Marxian Socialism', is a fascinating contextualisation of the thoughts of Marx and Engels. Generally, as Hobsbawm points out, 'the origins can be found in French socialism, German philosophy and British political economy' (P34). Looking at these in some detail well illustrates the foundations of Marx's and Engels' thoughts.
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26 of 29 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Marxism in the history of ideas 19 April 2011
Professor Eric Hobsbawm, perhaps the world's most famous living Communist intellectual, hardly needs any introduction. His great age has not diminished the impact of his works or their popularity, and for good reason. It may therefore disappoint some to learn that this most recent publication is not a wholly new production. This despite its somewhat incongruous title ("How To Change The World: Tales of Marx and Marxism"), and its equally silly cover with Ernesto Guevara on the front, whom Hobsbawm generally dislikes. Instead, it is a collection of essays and prefaces hitherto either unpublished entirely or unpublished in English, having been written for his German and Italian publications. The fact alone that these are other major intellectual languages Hobsbawm is entirely familiar with despite being a native speaker of English does him credit among his colleagues.

Perhaps somewhat unorthodox in my judgement on Hobsbawm, while I think he is an excellent writer and a very good social historian, I do not think his political history or his political analysis worth much. He has been consistently mediocre when it comes to writing about practical politics, especially those of the last century, as shown also in his memoirs. I was therefore very pleased to see that this book concerns itself entirely - with the exception of the last chapter - with the history of ideas, the discipline Hobsbawm commands best. The various essays in this collection, ranging from notes on the prehistory and the contemporary reception of Marxism to musings on Gramsci and Marxist thought in the postwar world, are all concerned with Marxism as one major intellectual influence and current in the history of ideas.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not what you might expect 6 May 2012
I agree that the title and cover are misleading. No, I wasn't expecting instructions on how to change the world; but I was expecting some discussion of the way Marx and Marxists thought they were going to do that (or, indeed, did it). The object of the book seems to be to contextualise various aspects of Marxian history, without telling us much about the aspects themselves - it's characteristic that several of the chapters were originally introductions to original texts. I had hoped that an historian of Hobsbawm's experience would provide, here, a useful introduction to Marxist theory, but this is almost entirely avoided.

Incidentally I found the writing awkward in places. This seemed particularly true of the early chapters, but maybe I just got used to it.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars De Marxismo nil nisi bene (propemodo) 3 May 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
In these tales of Marx and Marxism E. Hobsbawm explains why Marx is still highly relevant today, despite the bankruptcy of communist regimes all over the world. He also summarizes Marx's main works and socio-economic ideas as well as his political praxis and the influences of other people on his work.

Relevance today
The globalized capitalist world of the last decades had been anticipated in crucial ways by Marx: the concentration of Western economic and financial power in a few hands, high socio-economic inequalities and systemic (capitalist) crises.

Marx's ideas were influenced by Hegel (dialectics - destroyed by B. Russell in his `Unpopular Essays'), J.-J. Rousseau (egalitarianism), R. Owen (communities without private property), H. de Saint-Simon (the all importance of productive industry for progress) and C. Fourier (labor is the essential factor in the satisfaction of human instincts).

Political theory (to change the world)
With an inevitable historical development on its side, the working class had to be united in a class movement and consequently into a political party. Change (distribution of the surplus value) could also be induced by trade union action and favorable legislation.
For Marx, politics is essentially a class struggle within the State. The State through its government represents the ruling class and must therefore be eliminated, together with its monopoly on violence.

Marx and Engels didn't give guidance for the coming communist society or the socialization of the economy; however, Marx rejected elected assemblies of parliamentary representatives.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Good history of Marxist thought
Eric Hobsbawm writes in a clear style about Marxist thought and how it developed in various communist and non-communist states. Read more
Published 5 months ago by Kenneth Ball
4.0 out of 5 stars A Marxist history of Marxism
Eric Hobsbawm is arguably the greatest Marxist historian of the twentieth centuary, who had profound influence upon students and scholars of history, sociology and politics. Read more
Published 19 months ago by Simon J Speddy
3.0 out of 5 stars good research
Bought it for my son he loved it took it to uni for research purposes in politics and economics course
Published 19 months ago by Belinda
5.0 out of 5 stars How To Change The World; By Eric Hobsbawm
The author - Eric Hobsbawm (b. 1917) - is an academically esteemed British historian of some considerable note, who has written widely on the subject of (European) political,... Read more
Published on 7 July 2012 by ShiDaDao Ph.D
3.0 out of 5 stars Inspiring with flaws
Hobsbawm's book provides a well-written and informed overview of the long-term influences of
Marxist theory and practice. Read more
Published on 29 Mar 2012 by gsbg
5.0 out of 5 stars KINDLE PRICE
I would buy this in an instant for my Kindle, but have noticed that the Kindle price is more expensive than the paperback, despite have no printing costs and few material costs. Read more
Published on 14 Jan 2012 by Malcom X
5.0 out of 5 stars A wise assessment
Hobsbawm again takes apart a complex subject and tackles the difficult intellectual issues by rooting them historically and demonstrating their relevance to the lives of people... Read more
Published on 28 Feb 2011 by M. J. Knudsen
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