I quote him in my own book, just published. In his 1962, Age of Revolution, he presented a thesis, in typically pellucid poise. In many respects, my book is an extended commentary on this very passage. I often wondered what he might have made of it. I'll never know now.
Here is the passage:
The main shape of French and all subsequent bourgeois revolutionary politics were by now clearly visible. This dramatic dialectical dance was to dominate the future generations. Time and again we shall see moderate middle-class reformers mobilizing the masses against die-hard resistance or counter-revolution. We shall see the masses pushing beyond the moderates’ aims to their own social revolutions, and the moderates in turn splitting into a conservative group henceforth making common cause with the reactionaries, and a left wing group determined to pursue the rest of the as yet unachieved moderate aims with the help of the masses, even at the risk of losing control over them. And so on through repetitions and variations of the pattern of resistance - mass mobilization - shift to the left - split-among-moderates-and-shift-to-the-right - until either the bulk of the middle-class passed into the henceforth conservative camp, or was defeated by social revolution. In most subsequent bourgeois revolutions the moderate liberals were to pull back, or transfer into the conservative camp, at a very early stage. Indeed in the nineteenth-century we increasingly find … that they became unwilling to begin revolution at all, for fear of its incalculable consequences, preferring a compromise with king and aristocracy.No twentieth-century Communist lacks the burden of historical baggage. But Hobsbawm was a great, great historian. I fear we shall not see his like again.