Reuters blog archive

from The Great Debate:

The great paradox of Hobsbawm’s choice

The words “communist” and “socialist” are now used so recklessly in the United States that their meaning has been devalued. But Eric Hobsbawm, the British historian who died Oct. 1, was the real deal.

Born in 1917, the year of the Bolshevik Revolution in Russia, Hobsbawm used Karl Marx as the inspiration for both his personal politics and his successful transformation of our understanding of history. He was an unabashed and unwavering supporter of communism in theory and practice, who only let his party membership lapse at the final moment, when the Berlin Wall fell.

His singular contribution to the telling of the human story was to reject the traditional method of viewing history through the actions of great men and women, in favor of describing the larger economic and social tides on which leading figures are often mere flotsam. Though history was usually taught through the lives of kings and queens, Hobsbawm demonstrated that economic and social history offered a fuller explanation of why events happened. He also gave prominence to previously ignored political agitators, whose courageous actions obliged leaders to agree to benign reforms.

His quest for discovering explanations for historical movements beyond the usual bold-faced names was inspired by his personal experience as a young Jewish man growing up in Austria and Germany, when Hitler and Nazism were on the rise. His choice to join the Communist Party in 1936 was both an act of faith and a practical solution to his personal dilemma. Though moderate opponents of Nazism were soon swept aside in their attempts to counter the threat to freedom by democratic means, Communists offered firm, direct action to subvert the burgeoning Nazi state.

from Christopher Whalen:

Paul Krugman and the neo-Keynesian myth of full employment

In the most recent issue of Housing Wire Magazine, economist Paul Krugman suggests more government spending as the means of dealing with the economic slump and the housing crisis.

"We will be seeing low interest rates for a very long time," the Nobel laureate said. "The thing about housing … housing prices were stable for a long period of time, then they soared and came back down."  So now we know that what goes up must come down.  Thank you Dr. Krugman.

from Tales from the Trail:

Red Alert: Gorby dines with Democrats!

Just as Republicans have been trying to tar President Barack Obama and his fellow Democrats as socialists, guess who's coming to lunch on Capitol Hill?

RUSSIA/None other than Mikhail Gorbachev -- the last leader of the Union of Soviet SOCIALIST Republics.

from Tales from the Trail:

Obama visit to North Carolina restaurant stirs mixed emotions

obama-bbq.jpgFAYETTEVILLE, N.C. - There was a sharp exchange among patrons during Barack Obama's visit to a barbecue restaurant on Sunday, highlighting the strong emotions the U.S. presidential race is stirring in the final weeks of the campaign.

Obama stopped by Cape Fear BBQ in Fayetteville, North Carolina, to pick up some chicken, collards and baked beans and court voters in this traditionally Republican state.

from Photographers' Blog:

Cook the Hunt

The recent general elections in Spain were held in the wake of an ex-socialist councillor shot dead in the Basque Country in a place near my hometown. I was working on the afternoon shift when I saw the first alert of the assassination appear on our text service. I almost jumped out my chair. Somehow my internal alarm bell still goes off instinctively whenever something happens in the area where I used to work. It was only after a couple of seconds that I realized I'm 12,000 kilometers from where the assassination took place, and I couldn't just grab a camera and go. There wasn't much I could do, except get in touch with the photographer in the Basque Country, make sure he was aware of the breaking news, and then prepare for his pictures to land on the desk.
Above: Basque police collect evidence outside the house of a former socialist councillor after an attack in Mondragon, northern Spain, March 7, 2008.  Photograph by Vincent West

Above: People stand during a silent protest in Burgos, northern Spain March 7, 2008, against the murder of Isaias Carrasco. Photograph by Felix Ordonez