Harvey J. Kaye
Ben & Joyce Rosenberg Professor of Social Change and Development University of Wisconsin-Green Bay, USA.
For "Hi'storia e Debate" Thematic Session: FANNING
THE SPARK OF HOPE IN THE PAST: THE BRITISH MARXIST HISTORIANS
Walter Benjamin wrote "in his Theses in the Philosophy of History "Qnly historian win have the gift o-f fanning the spark of hope in the past h firmly convinced that even the dead will not be safe from the enemy [til ruling class] if he wins. And the enemy has not ceased tu be victor-ion The British Marxist historians - such as Rodney Hilton, Christopher Hil Victor Kiernan, George Rude, E.P. Thompson, Eric tiobsbawm - had that gift.
Possessed with Marx's grand hypothesis that "The history
of all li exiting societies has the been the history of class
struggle", and con to recovering the past "frorri the
bottom up", especially the experiences .struggles and aspilrations
of the working classes, the British Marxist histonah's
refashioned the history of the making of the modern world in
critical and democratic manner. I will review their collective
contrib to historiography and political thought, and I win
consider their intellectual legacy as we confront the historical
and political challe" the twenty-first century. Although we
win have to ask new questions n and present and develop new means
of connecting our labors to popular historical memory,
consciousness and imagination, I will argue that - i too, are to
"fan the spark of hope in the past" contra those who
would; the end of history - we would do well to appreciate the
gifts of the Br Marxist historians.