The recent passing of the eminent historian Professor Eric Hobsbawm precipitated a flurry of tributes acclaiming his qualities as a scholar and writer, as a literary and academic giant, and as an engaging conversationalist. And these tributes came from across the ideological divide, for it seems as though it is not possible to talk about Hobsbawm’s writing without talking about his Marxism. Indeed, when his own texts form a dialectic – from The Age of Revolution (1962) to The Age of Extremes (1994) – the political dimension of his view of history was never obviously repressed. A selection of files found amongst our records relating to Professor Hobsbawm show that the UK Government of the late 1960s found it difficult to look past his politics too.
April 1970 marked the centenary of the birth of Vladimir Lenin, prime theorist behind the October Revolution in Russia in 1917 and first leader of the USSR in the early 1920s. Accordingly, UNESCO (the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) decided to hold a symposium to celebrate his ‘great contribution to the development of education, science, and culture,’ to be held in Finland in April.