July 18, 2007

Joseph and Ringo

As we are so often wont, we, the crack young staff of “The Hatemonger’s Quarterly,” recently perused a copy of The New Statesman. On this side of the pond, of course, no one much talks about TNS—if, in fact, they’ve ever heard of it. Yet, for some reason, we’ve taken a shine to hating it, and thus it figures into our regular reading schedule.

For those not in the know about TNS, allow us to inform you that it’s pretty much a glossy British version of The Nation, only with a better—though still not great—grasp of argument. Oh, and it doesn’t feature the writing of Eric Alterman, which is a mammoth plus in our collective books.

Anyway, one regular feature of TNS is its so-called “From Our Archive” section, which offers a blast from the past penned by some famous contributor or other. In the July 2 number of the rag, this section features an article originally from the November 8, 1963 issue called “Beatles and Before.”

It’s (obviously) a music column, and its claim to fame is that Marxist historian Eric Hobsbawm wrote it under the pseudonym Francis Newton. Although Mr. Hobsbawm is more of a jazz enthusiast, the article allows its author to demonstrate his erstwhile take on a pop group.

The following sentences were culled from this review:

They [the Beatles] are probably just about to begin their slow descent: the moment when someone thinks of making a film with a pop idol normally marks the peak of his curve. In 29 years’ time nothing of them will survive.

Ah, Eric Hobsbawm—prophet of the ages! Boy, he sure turned out to be right on the money. Maybe he thought Herman’s Hermits were likely to be more long-lived.

But this is just par for the course for Mr. Hobsbawm. After all, he was a longtime member of the Communist Party of Great Britain, outlasting the Hitler-Stalin pact, the Soviet invasion of Hungary, &c.

And, as befits a British intellectual, he has no regrets for his lifelong cheerleading for totalitarian mass murder. In fact, in his autobiography Interesting Times, Mr. Hobsbawm reserves his scorn for sundry anti-Communists and the administration of George W. Bush. Apparently, good ole’ Joseph Stalin isn’t as offensive as, say, Henry “Scoop” Jackson. What a buffoon!

It’s nice to see, perhaps, that Mr. Hobsbawm’s talent for political prognostication equals his record on pop music prognostication.

Posted at July 18, 2007 12:01 AM | TrackBack