Hobsbawn is a historian who mostly focused his pieces of writing on the history of modern Europe. The history of this continent is characterized by a series of undeniable events and counter events that foresaw its transition from a land full of rebellious sects to a rather peaceful continent.
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The author of the book ‘The Age of Empire’, Hobsbawn, clearly shows the transition of the continent from the revolution period to the period of ‘empire’ which occurred in the 19th century. This paper is aimed at giving a comprehensive distinction of these two periods that marked an unforgettable history on the European continent. It is also meant to give ample answers to some frequently asked questions concerning Hobsbawn and his pieces of literature.
Hobsbawn divides historians into two broad and distinct classes. He indicates in his book that these groups of historians base their pieces of work on different perspectives. However, the two groups of writers scrutinize historical contents and information to come up with comprehensive documents and books of history. Hobsbawn categorizes the 19th century historians as forward and backward lookers. He describes forward lookers as historians who base their works on the future effects of some past historical events.
Backward lookers, on the other hand, focus their pieces of writing on the causative factors of historical events. Hobsbawn himself belongs to backward lookers and a number of incidences in his book clearly depict this statement. In most instances, he tries to explain the causes of European historical events like the transition from the age of revolution to the age of empire and gives reasons why these happened.
The ways, which help Hobsbawn to distinguish between the renowned liberal bourgeois capitalism and its aftermath
The European continent experienced the liberal bourgeois capitalism, characterized by the age of revolution, in early 19th century. This was the period when Europe experienced a series of rebellions from a number of countries that revolted against oppressions. The distinguishing factor that Hobsbawn uses to differentiate bourgeois capitalism and its aftermath is the war that arose.
The wars experienced during that period marked the transition between the age of revolution and the aftermath that was the age of empire. This form of capitalism gave rise to limitless productive systems that saw capitalist economies have a great influence on other economies. The economy of the bourgeois society is described in the book as being ‘unproblematic’ during this time.
War, the most outstanding characteristic of this period, was suppressed in a bid to thrive capitalism. The French revolution, for instance, was an emergent force that struggled to shun capitalism.
Hobsbawn points out that the rebellious forces had succumbed to suppression and gradually accepted the domination of capitalism. They had accepted the cultural and economic domination and were subjected to compliance with any policies that were enforced. Hobsbawn noted that the age of revolution had brought about detrimental effects to the European economy in mid 19th century.
He clearly points out the tremendous decrease in the number of socialists across the vast continent of Europe. However, the enormous victory of liberal bourgeois capitalism turned a blind eye on the internal tension that was building up. At the beginning of 20th century, therefore, contradictions exploded and this gave rise to the age of empire from the age of revolution.
The eruption of contradictions had great economic impacts on the empire age. Because of the devastating economic impacts, all the European nations that shared political and economic ideologies ganged up to fight for supremacy. This then brought about the interruption of peace all over the western hemisphere.
Hobsbawn states in his book that this was also a major cause of the world wars experienced in the 20th century. For instance, wageworkers grouped to protest against the stunning preeminence of capitalism. Because of the campaigns of wageworkers, quite a number of political and cultural organizations of the bourgeois liberalism were extended.
The difference in Hobsbawn and John Merriman’s interpretations of the late European colonialism
From the article presented by John Merriman, we realize that political rivalry was the main tool used in the 1870 to 1914 era of colonialism in Europe. Merriman’s critique gives a clear impression that imperial anxiety brought about by colonialism was a direct implication that power had deteriorated considerably in Europe.
It further points out that political rivalry played an imperative role in all of these. Hobsbawn, on the other hand, had a contradictory point of view to that of Merriman. As opposed to political rivalry, he believed that political alliances brought about the anxiety and unrest.
This is evidenced by the alliances between a number of countries including Germany and Italy. Hobsbawn also gives an example of the political alliance between Hungary and Russia. As opposed to rivalry, these two nations merged in friendship to join in the fight against capitalism. Additionally, Hobsbawn believed that there were geopolitical alliances in the continent. For instance, the alliance between Germany and Russia was geographically instigated.