MIA: Encyclopedia of Marxism: Glossary of People




Hobbes, Thomas (1588-1679)

Hobbes took as his starting point Bacon's principle that all knowledge comes from the senses: "There is no conception in a man's mind which hath not at first, totally or by parts, been begotten upon the organs of sense. The rest are derived from that original" (Leviathan). Memory and imagination are like the ripples which continue on after the initial distrubance has ended. While Hobbes points out that what is given in the senses is not equal to what is "pressing upon" the sense organs, he accepts that by means of sensation, we gain knowledge of the objects in the material world. [Interestingly, Hobbes accepts the Biblical story of God telling Adam the names of the animals, and speculates on how language develops from that beginning].

He also advises that this knowledge will fall into error either due to inexperience, which can be corrected by further experience so long as the limitations of experience are attended to, or due to lack of adherence to formal logic in developing knowledge from the initial definitions of things.

Hobbes was 21 when Bacon's Natural History for the Building Up of Philosophy was published in 1609, and Hobbes was in touch with Bacon from 1619 till Bacon's death in 1626. Hobbes visited Galileo in Florence in 1636,and he received Descartes' Discourse on Method in 1637 and participated in the debate with Descartes published as Objections.

Like both Bacon and Descartes, Hobbes had a low opinion of what passed as learning in his day, and his work advises people to call into question the received knowledge of the time, to turn away from recitation of the wisdom of Aristotle and build up Science upon a new and firm basis.

Hobbes was a Royalist, and most of his writing and publishing was done in France, away from the dangers of the English Civil War. He defended the social contract theory of Rousseau, but considered absolute monarchy the best form of state. His advocacy of the unrestricted character of state power was however appreciated by the birthing bourgeois class of the time. He published his De Cive in Paris just as the Civil War began in England, and published Leviathan in 1651, 2 years after execution of Charles I.

The Christian religion for Hobbes was sometimes more of a useful means of pacifying and consoling the masses than an objective truth, and he came close to being denounced by the Parliament as atheist and heretic in 1666.

See Thomas Hobbes Archive.


Hobson, John (1858-1940)

British economist. His writings on imperialism influenced Lenin.



Hobsbawm, Eric (1917-2012)

British Marxist Historian, who specialised in the history of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.

Eric John Ernest Hobsbawm, was a British Marxist historian who specialised in the histories of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, in European history, in world history, in labour history, the history of industrial capitalism, the history of nationalism, the history of socialism, and numerous other historical subjects. He was an important historian of the twentieth-century and made numerous contributions to the study of history, particularly in the areas of economic history, social history and world history.

Hobsbawm was an important figure in Marxist history-writing and Marxist historiography during the twentieth-century. His series of books on the history of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries remains one of the great achievements in twentieth-century historical work and historical scholarship. Hobsbawm was similarly one of the most important Marxist and Communist intellectuals of the twentieth-century, producing varied and powerful research on history, the study of history and political affairs. He became a communist and a socialist in the early 1930s, as a teenager, having joined the Sozialistischer Schülerbund (Association of Socialist Pupils), a section of the Young Communist League of Germany, in Berlin in 1931. He subsequently joined the Communist Party of Great Britain in 1936 and remained a member until shortly before the dissolution of the CPGB in 1991. Hobsbawm remained a member of the CPGB despite the 1956 and 1968 Soviet invasions of Hungary and Czechoslovakia. Hobsbawm is still highly regarded in the profession of history, both as a researcher, writer and teacher.

Politically, Hobsbawm was a loyal Communist for the majority of his adult life, having adopted socialism and communism in his teenage years, and retaining such politics until his death. He was loyal, yet critical, to the Soviet Union and the international Communist movement, especially after 1956 and the Hungarian Crisis. His politics were primarily shaped from his experiences during the Great Depression and in the struggle against Fascism during the 1930s.

As a historian, Hobsbawm produced a powerful series of major books on European history and World history between the years 1789 and 1991 – the ‘Age’ series – including Age of Revolution: 1789-1848, Age of Capital: 1848-1875, Age of Empire: 1875-1914, and Age of Extremes: 1914-1991. These studies essentially covered the origins and development of the modern capitalist world after the French Revolution and Industrial Revolution, the long nineteenth-century, up to the end of the twentieth-century. Alongside these were studies in Labour history, the history of the socialist, communist and anarchist movements, books on primitive labour movements, bandits, nationalism, the invention of traditions, the historiography of the French Revolution, the history and politics of South America, and a book on Jazz (written under the pseudonym of Francis Newton – stylised after the 1930s communist trumpet player Frankie Newton). He also produced a book of autobiography, Interesting Times, which detailed his life and the events of his times. The book of autobiography is particularly significant as a memoir of a communist intellectual in the mid to late twentieth-century.

Born in Egypt in June 1917 to a British father (Leopold Percy Hobsbaum) and an Austrian mother (Nelly Hobsbaum (née Grün)), Hobsbawm spent his childhood and early education in Vienna and Berlin. Following the death of his parents and the rise of Hitler and the Nazis in 1933, he emigrated with his aunt and uncle to the United Kingdom, and due to the unemployment of the Great Depression. He was educated in Vienna, Berlin, London and Cambridge. He graduated from Cambridge with a PhD in history (1947), on the Fabian Society, after military service in the Second World War. During the Second World War he served in the British Army, in the Royal Engineers and the Royal Army Educational Corps. From 1947 he taught history at Birkbeck College in London, retiring in 1982. Alongside this he also held teaching positions at the New School in New York and visiting Professorships at other Universities. He finished his academic career as President of Birkbeck, and as Emeritus Professor of economic and social history at Birkbeck, University of London.

Hobsbawm was also a member of the CPGB Historians Group – the history section of the British Communist Party, which helped to revolutionise the researching and writing of British history in the post-war years after 1945. Hobsbawm was also a founder member and editor of the historical journal – Past and Present. His contributing essay to the first volume of that journal in 1952, The Machine Breakers, a concise study of Luddism, remains a classic essay of labour history and working-class history. Hobsbawm contributed further essays to the journal – including essays on Seventeenth-Century Economic History (’the General Crisis’ parts I and II), Political Shoemakers, The Social Function of the Past, on Peasant Land Occupations in Latin America and A Life in History. These were preceded and followed by extensive specialist essays on labour history and economic history, alongside significant contributions to social history, and historiography, during the 1960s, 1970s, 1980s and 1990s. Amongst the Marxist historians of the CPGB history group, Hobsbawm was the most interested in global history and making connections across historical periods and areas of the globe. Alongside his comrades, C. Hill, E.P. Thompson, G. Rudé, R. Samuel, R. Hilton, V.G. Kiernan and others, Hobsbawm’s work changed the dynamics of how history was researched, written about and perceived. His historiographical impact was immense and continues to be immense – and not confined to simply historians of the Left.

As a specialist in labour history, Hobsbawm contributed heavily to the development of labour history as a powerful genre of historical research, particularly via the methods of ‘history from below’. This produced key studies of nineteenth and twentieth-century labour movements, particularly those in Great Britain. Hobsbawm was also a specialist in primitive forms of working-class resistance in the early years of industrial capitalism – particularly Luddism, banditry, militant sects, labour sects, peasant/worker leagues in Sicily, Mafia, millenarians, nineteenth-century anarchists, and city mobs. This speciality produced two key historical works – Primitive Rebels and Bandits. Hobsbawm similarly worked in the 1980s and 1990s, on the subject of ‘invented traditions’, the historical justification of social traditions, and the historical origins and historical consequences of nationalism.

Politically, Hobsbawm was a lifelong Communist, Socialist, Marxist and man of the Left, who wrote extensively on political and political-historical matters, particularly the history and politics of the Left. After 1956, Hobsbawm refused to abandon the British Communist Party or his loyalty to the Soviet Union, but he developed friendly relations with the British New Left, and became a key intellectual influence on British Left politics after 1968. After 1956 he produced many key political essays which complemented his historical work. Many of these appeared in the key Left journals of the late twentieth-century – from New Left Review to Marxism Today. Many of his political essays tended to focus on the contemporary problems of the British Left and International Left, alongside frequent discussions on Italian, French and South American Left politics. His 1978 essay The Forward March of Labour Halted, while controversial, highlighted the difficulties that the British Left and International Left would face in the 1980s and during the era of neo-liberalism. Hobsbawm’s relationship with the USSR can be summarised as ‘loyal yet critical’ – Hobsbawm remained loyal to the Soviet Union, but he frequently criticised its shortcomings and its betrayals after 1956. He particularly was critical of the crimes of Stalin and the Hungarian invasion of 1956. Despite the collapse of the Soviet Union and the disintegration of the British Communist Party, Hobsbawm remained a man of the Left for the remainder of his life. He famously refused to renounce Marxism and the possibility of Socialism – while acknowledging the difficulties of Socialist politics after 1991. He still held out for the possibility of a socialist future for humanity.

Personally. Hobsbawm married twice. His first marriage, to Muriel Seaman, lasted from 1943 to 1951, ending in divorce. His second marriage, to Marlene Schwarz, in 1962, ended with his death in 2012. He had two children, Julia Hobsbawm and Andy Hobsbawm, from his second marriage. A third child, Joshua Bennathan, was born from an out-of-wedlock relationship with educational psychologist Marion Bennathan in 1958. As mentioned Hobsbawm wrote extensively on Jazz – producing both a book on the politics and history of Jazz, as well as Jazz reviews for the New Statesmen.

Eric Hobsbawm died in London in October 2012, at the age of 95. He was buried in Highgate Cemetery, close to the grave of Marx.

Selected Publications: Labour’s Turning Point (1948), Primitive Rebels (1959), The Jazz Scene (1959), The Age of Revolution (1962), Labouring Men (1964), Industry and Empire (1968), Bandits (1969), Capitan Swing (1969), Revolutionaries (1973), The Age of Capital (1975), The Invention of Tradition (1983), Worlds of Labour (1984), Age of Empire (1989), Echoes of the Marseillaise (1990), Nations and Nationalism Since 1780 (1991), The Age of Extremes (1994), On History (1997), Uncommon People (1998), The New Century (2000), Interesting Times (2002), How to Change the World (2011), Fractured Times (2013), Viva la Revolucion (2016).


Höchberg, Karl (1853-85)

Author. Son of a merchant. Philanthropist who attached himself to the German Social Democrats in the late 1870's. He put material assistance at the disposal of the party and tried to draw the movement into the path of reformism. He published a series of journals (Zukunft 1877-78; Jahrbücher füur Sozialwissenschaft und Sozialpolitik 1879-82; Staatswirtschaftliche Abhandlungen 1879-82). At the beginning of the period of the Anti-Socialist Laws he organized around himself in Zürich a group of Social-Democratic literary men (Bernstein, Schramm, Kautsky, etc).



Holbach, Paul Henri Thiry, Baron d' (1723-1789)

Baron d'Holbach was German by birth (Paul Heinrich Dietrich) and education, but he inherited his French uncle’s money, estate and title. Holbach’s estate was a meeting place for the leading French radical thinkers of the late 18th century. He was an atheist, a determinist, and a materialist: the universe is a complex system of physical substances organized according to mechanistic laws of cause and effect, rather than designed by God (the view of most of his contemporaries, though not the common view among the philosophes).

Holbach was an opponent of absolute monarchy, state religions and feudal privilege. It is fair to describe him as one of the most radical intellectuals of his time. He authored many works whose radical ideas had to be published in Holland without his name on the title page. His most famous work is The System of Nature (1770). A briefer account of his atheistic materialism was published in 1772: Common Sense, or Natural Ideas vs. Supernatural Ideas.

Holbach tried to prove by his life that one could be virtuous and an atheist, contrary to a common view of the time. Rousseau, who disliked Holbach, used him as the model of the ‘virtuous unbeliever’ in The New Heloise. Holbach held that atheism is a prerequisite for any valid ethical theory. Religion, he thought, is based on useless and meaningless dogmas and rituals; whereas ethics must be based on social utility and human cooperation.

See Holbach Archive.


Horsing, 0. F. (1874-1937)

Leading SPD figure in Silesia. A notorious Prussian militarist. With Severing organized the police provocation which led to the ‘March Action’ (qv) while he was senior administrator of the Prussian province of Saxony. Headed the republican Reichsbanner. In 1932 split from SPD to the right.



Ho Chi Minh (1890-1969)

Left Vietnam for France in 1911, and in December 1920 voted with the majority of French Socialist Party members to affiliate to the Communist International. Visited Moscow in 1922, and accompanied first Bolshevik visitors to China. Set up a youth movement in Vietnam in 1924, which he led from Canton, China, where he worked closely with both the Chinese Communist Party and the Kuomintang, until 1927. Arrested for sedition in Hong Kong in 1931, and presumed dead by his comrades in Vietnam. In fact, Ho was 'recalled' to Moscow, where he did routine duties. Meanwhile, he was blamed for the disastrous results of the Comintern's disastrous ultra-left policies in Vietnam. Worked with the Chinese Red Army. Following the Japanese invasion of Vietnam, Ho returned to Vietnam in 1941, where he set up a base in the hills near the Chinese border, where many workers and youth fled from Hanoi. Founded the Viet Minh to fight the Japanese, and sought assistance from the US. Truman promised independence for Vietnam in exchange for support against the Japanese. The Viet Minh assisted in suppressing the uprising of the Saigon workers in 1945. French colonialism reclaimed the country, and Ho took the leadership of the war for independence which ended in victory at Dien Bien Phu in 1954. Accepting the peace negotiated at Geneva, Ho withdrew his troops to the North, and allowed the US to occupy the South. Then began the 20 years war against the US. Ho died in 1969, not living to see the victory of the Vietnamese forces in April 1975.


Hoeglund, Seth (1884-1956)

Journalist who wrote in the Swedish CP paper, that communist and religious views could be compatible. Between 1923 and 1924 he led a struggle against the Executive Committee of the Comintern on this and other questions, and was expelled in August 1924.


Hoelz, Max (1889–1933) .

Son of worker, sawyer of timber. Emigrated to Britain in 1905, became mechanic. In army in 1914, seriously wounded, joined USPD, worked on railways. In 1919 organised unemployed in the Vogtland, and practised ‘direct action’. In KPD (Kommunistischen Partei Deutschlands/German Communist Party) in 1919, began ‘urban guerrilla’ operations, which he developed on large scale at time of Kapp Putsch. Hunted by police, came close to KADP (Kommunistische Arbeiterpartei Deutschlands/Communist Workers Party of Germany ) when in clandestinity. Organised armed struggle in Mansfeld region in March 1921. Arrested, escaped, recaptured and sentenced to life imprisonment. Set free in 1928, made lecture tour, went to Moscow in 1929. Accidentally drowned; hypothesis that he was assassinated has often been advanced.


Hoernle, Edwin (1883–1952) .

Son of pastor, studied theology. Pastor for three months during 1909, joined SPD (Sozialistische Partei Deutschlands, Social-Democratic Party) in 1910, associated with Mehring and Luxemburg, then journalist in Stuttgart with Westmeyer. Member of Spartacus League nucleus during War, several times arrested, sent to front and wounded. Member of USPD in 1917, of KPD(S) at its foundation. Imprisoned during January-June 1919. Specialised in work amongst children and adolescents. Member of Zentrale in 1923, member of ECCI and candidate member of Comintern Presidium. Supported centre tendency in 1924, but protested against exclusion of leftists, worked during 1928–33 in campaigns department of Zentrale. Emigrated to USSR in 1933, member of Freies Deutschland committee during War, returned to Germany in 1945, and filled important posts until his death.


Hoffmann, Adolf (1858–1930) .

Son of worker, gilder, then metalworker. In SPD (Sozialistische Partei Deutschlands, Social-Democratic Party) when Exceptional Laws in operation. Journalist, then publisher for SPD (Sozialistische Partei Deutschlands, Social-Democratic Party) in 1893. In 1900 deputy to Prussian Landtag; very popular. In Reichstag in 1904. Pacifist in 1914, opposed both majority and revolutionaries. In USPD in 1917, played important role in strikes in January 1918. Minister of Education in November 1918. On USPD Left, in VKDP (Vereinigte Kommunistische Partei Deutschlands/United Communist Party of Germany) and member of Zentrale in 1920. Supported Levi, followed him into KAG and USPD, but not into SPD. Remained up to his death in USPD fragment which maintained its independence.


Hoffmann, Max (1869-1927)

German general and prominent figure in German reactionary militarist circles. In September 1916 he became Chief of Staff and, in effect, was in command of the German forces on the Eastern front. He played a prominent part in the Brest negotiations between Soviet Russia and the Austro-German coalition.



German royal family that produced Prussian kings and German emperors until 1918.


Höllein, Emil (1880–1929) .

Son of worker, emigrated to Belgium, toolmaker. In SPD (Sozialistische Partei Deutschlands, Social-Democratic Party) in 1905. At front during 1915–18. In USPD in 1917, Chief Editor of its daily paper in Jena. On USPD Left, in VKDP (Vereinigte Kommunistische Partei Deutschlands/United Communist Party of Germany) in 1920, elected to Zentrale after Levi resigned. Responsible in 1923 for links between KPD (Kommunistischen Partei Deutschlands/German Communist Party) and French Communist Party. Arrested, released shortly afterwards, very ill, thereafter played only secondary role.


Honecker, Erich (1912-1992)

Building worker; joined German Communist Party (KPD) in 1929; imprisoned by Nazis in 1937, released by Red Army in 1945; leader of CP youth movement 1949-58; deputy to Ulbricht 1958; First Sec. 1971, President 1976; resigned October 1989 in face of huge demonstrations in Leipzig and elsewhere; found refuge in USSR.



Hook, Sidney (1902-1989)

Born in New York City, Hook began his political activity and support of Marxist ideas while still a high school student. Excelling especially in philosophy, he began teaching, first in public schools and then as a professor of philosophy at New York University from 1927-1969, after which he served as a senior research fellow at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University. Through the 1930's Hook continued to write and polemicise on Marxist subjects, including the program for the American Workers Party, a new Trotskyist party formed due to the failure of the Communist Party to work for the interests of the working-class. Hook, would later reject communism and turned dramatically to the right. Hooks works include Toward the Understanding of Karl Marx and Marx and the Marxists.



Horkheimer, Max (1895-1973)

German philosopher and social scientist; director of the Frankfurt Institute for Social Research 1930-1958; close associate of Theodor Adorno, who mixed Marxism with influences as diverse as Schopenhauer, Dilthey, Nietzsche and Freud.

The Institute for Social Research was founded in 1923 by Felix Weil to be an independent academy for Marxism intended to rival any University in the standards of scholarship, and the institute carried out important research on the history and condition of the German workers' movement. It was possibly the first body to use opinion polls as a research tool.

Others to be associated with the Institute as well as Horkheimer and Adorno included Leo Lowenthal, Raymond Aron, Erich Fromm, Herbert Marcuse, Walter Benjamin and Ernst Krenek.

After the 1923 defeat of the German Revolution, Horkheimer and other members of the Institute to some degree, drew the conclusion that the working class could never be the vehicle for social change simply as a result of its position within the production process, and concluded that only the development of theory itself could be the scene of liberation. Horkheimer co-authored Dialectic of Enlightenment with Theodor Adorno while in the US during the 1940s, and his 1947 Critique of Instrumental Reason is also widely read. In 1949, Horkheimer returned to Frankfurt and re-established the Institute, and retired to Switzerland in 1958.

See Marx Horkheimer Archive.



Horvat, Branko (1928-2003).

Economist and politician. He worked a long time at the Institute of Economic Sciences (Institut Ekonomskih Nauka), the former Planning Institute of the Socialist Federation of Yugoslavia (SFRJ). He was the editor of the journal Economic Analysis and Worker’s Self-Management, and collaborator of the journal Praxis, to which he contributed much from the economic viewpoint, though he was not a member of the Praxis group. He was also a member of the Economic Institute of Zagreb.

Horvat has tried to unite democratic forces on a common platform, but without much success. He was highly critical of the economic policy of the Franjo Tudman regime (as he was before of the communist). He advocates a sort of market socialism, a combination of social democracy and market economy. He founded and became president of the Social Democratic Union (Socijalno-demokratska Unija). Horvat organized a Balkan Conference with the primary aim of restoring cooperation between Yugoslav forces. He was mentioned as a serious candidate for the Nobel Prize for economy.

Horvat died in December 2003.



Hoxha, Enver

(b. Oct. 16, 1908, Gjirokastër, Albania - d. April 11, 1985, Tiranë, Albania)

Albania's first Communist head of government, a capacity in which he served for four decades. He is perhaps best remebered for his polemics with the post-Stalin leadership of the USSR and with Maoist China.

Hoxha was a school teacher at the French lycée in Korcë until the Italian invasion of Albania in 1939, whereupon he was dismissed for refusing to join the newly-formed Albanian Fascist Party. Hoxha then opened a tobacco shop in Tiranë, which, in time, became the center for a communist cell. After the German invasion of Albania in 1941, Hoxha and other militants formed the Albanian Communist Party, which was later renamed the Party of Labor of Albania (PLA). Hoxha was named secretary of the party's Central Committee and political commissar for the Army of National Liberation, which fought against the German army and fascist and feudal Albanian forces. From 1944 until 1954 he was Albania's prime minister, and later held other posts in the government, but as secretary of the PLA's Central Committee, effectivel controlled the government until his death.

Following liberation from the Italian and German occupations, Albania's society and economy were revolutionized. The feudal relations which had remained from Ottoman rule were swept away and agriculture was collectivized, enabling Albania to eventually attain near-self sufficiency in food. Simultaneously, industry, which had previously been almost nonexistent, grew to contribute more than 50% of the gross national product by the 1980s. Electricity was brought to every rural district, epidemicdiseases were controlled, and illiteracy was made a thing of the past.

These gains, however, were accompanied by brutal Stalinist tactics. The PLA government imprisoned, executed, or exiled thousands of landowners, rural clan leaders, Muslim and Christian clerics, peasants who resisted collectivization, and party officials. Hoxha's social and economic policies, whicheven prohibited private ownership of automobiles, exercised a brake on Albania's development and meant that in some areas collective agriculture was not even mechanized. Despite gains in food production and industrialization, by the 1980s Albania was widely regarded as having the lowest standard of living Europe, but Hoxha's isolationist policies left a populace so out of touch with the outside world that many thought that Albania was the most prosperous country in Europe.

In 1948 Hoxha broke relations with Yugoslavia and drew closer to the Soviet Union, and to Joseph Stalin, for whom he held a life-long admiration. Indeed, after Stalin's death and Nikita Krushchev's "secret speech" denouncing him, Hoxha and the PLA broke with the Soviet Union and formed a bloc with the Communist Party of China in denouncing the post-Stalin USSR as "revisionist" and "social-imperialist" . (See, for example, his speech at the Meeting of 81 Communist Parties in Moscow in 1960, "Reject the Revisionist Theses of the XX Congress of the CPSU and the Anti-Marxist Stand of Krushchev's Group! Uphold Marxism-Leninism!".)

However, Hoxha's relations with the Maoists were not entirely smooth. For one thing they had differing notions of "protracted people's war." Mao and his followers world-wide insisted that in peasant countries urban insurrection must occur in the last stages of the revolutionary war, which until then would have the countryside as its theater of operations. Hoxha insisted, on the other hand, that the cities ought not to be left until last but that actions must be carried out simultaneously in city and countryside. As revolutionary movements gathered momentum in Latin America, Africa, and Asia, continents with large rural populations, these issues were at the center of intense debates between "Hoxhaists" and Maoists.

Relations grew further strained as the cult of personality around Mao grew, China drew closer to the United States and other capitalist countries, and as China's stature and influence increased internationally. Eventually, Hoxha broke with that country in 1978 after the death of Mao Zedong and China's rapprochement with the West. In that year he published Imperialism and the Revolution, in which he declared that Mao Zedong was not a Marxist-Leninist and that there were no Marxist-Leninists in China. From then on, Hoxha's Albania turned in on itself as Hoxha, having alienated every ally and workers' government, declared that Albania not only would become a model socialist republic on its own, but that it was the only socialist country left in the world.

Hoxha retired from active politics in 1981, but not without carrying out a final purge in which the several leading party members and government officials were executed. The reins of government were handed to Hoxha's protegé, Ramiz Alia, who suceeded him upon his death in 1985.

Further Reading: Hoxha Reference Archive