Who are Frightful Hobgoblins?

Frightful Hobgoblins
2 min readDec 5, 2020

Frightful Hobgoblins is a collective of socialist activists who came together in response both to the defeat of Corbynism and the eruption of the global Black Lives Matter movement. We were dissatisfied with a set of explanations and analysis for these events which perpetually underestimated the hostile agency of the state, neglected the centrality of working-class anti-racism and internationalism, and paid little attention to the potential power and leverage of social movements. Since our inception in June 2020, members of our expanding collective have presented their ideas and analysis to one another, believing that the collective production of ideas is a much healthier and less elitist way of trying to understand the world than can be achieved in the often individualised and atomising worlds of both social media and universities.

After six months of collective discussion, we made a choice to broaden the remit of our conversations and try to present our ideas to a wider array of activists and organisers in the movement. Whilst we have published some pieces over the last few months on the strategic questions raised by BLM, and on Corbynism and the state, in the next few months we hope to expand on this and publish pieces dissecting the last five years of political struggles in particular. This will include writings on Brexit, race, and post-mortems of Corbynism, as well as constant attempts to understand, promote and support, in whatever small way we can manage, the generalisation of working-class struggle.

We take our name from the first English translation of Marx and Engels’ Communist Manifesto by the feminist and ‘red republican’ Helen MacFarlane, who rendered the opening line as “A frightful hobgoblin stalks throughout Europe…” It’s a tongue-in-cheek reference, and yet we hold out the hope and belief that communism can again instil fear in the hearts of neoliberal technocrats and right-wing ideologues, and that the monstrous power of the proletariat, in all its complexity, may yet rescue the world from the brink of the abyss.