Wednesday, October 06, 2004

Christopher Hitchens and the Neocons

There is an interesting interview of Christopher Hitchens on the blog which, with the accompanying commentary, is a lamentation about Hitchens’ shift to and understanding of, if not sympathy with, the neoconservative rise to power in the current U.S. administration.

"To many of Christopher Hitchens' old friends, he died on September 11th, 2001 ... On September 10th, he was campaigning for Henry Kissinger to be arraigned before a war crimes tribunal in the Hague ... He was preparing to testify in the Vatican - as a literal Devil's Advocate - against the canonization of Mother Teresa ... And then a hijacked plane flew into the Pentagon ... Within a year, Hitchens was damning his former comrades as 'soft on Islamic fascism', giving speeches at the Bush White House, and describing himself publicly as 'a recovering ex-Trotskyite' ... He explains that he believes the moment the left's bankruptcy became clear was on 9/11. 'The United States was attacked by theocratic fascists who represent all the most reactionary elements on earth. They stand for liquidating everything the left has fought for: women's rights, democracy. And how did much of the left respond? By affecting a kind of neutrality between America and the theocratic fascists' ... He believes neoconservatism is a distinctively new strain of thought, preached by ex-leftists, who believed in using US power to spread democracy ... 'We cannnot back tyranny in the [middle east] for the sake of stability. So we have to take the risk of uncorking it and hoping the more progressive side wins.' He has replaced a belief in Marxist revolution with a belief in spreading the American revolution. Thomas Jefferson has replaced Karl Marx."

At the end of it all, Johann Hari wants Hitchens to come back from the dark side.

“I don’t think Hitch is lost to the left quite yet. He will never stop campaigning for the serial murderer Henry Kissinger to be brought to justice, and his hatred of Islamic fundamentalism is based on good left-wing principles. But it does feel at the end of our three-hour lunch like I have been watching him slump into neoconservatism. Come home, Hitch – we need you.”

Hari writes much more on the Hitchens-neocon axis of evil that is worthwhile reading. I first became interested in Hitchens while reading the 2002 book Koba the Dread by Martin Amis. Koba describes the crimes of Stalin and a major segment of the book remonstrates with the left in general, and Hitchens personally, about their support of Communism over the decades in spite of the (nose on their faces) abundant continuing evidence of the crimes of Communism. The next time I remember Hitchens coming to my view was when I saw him give a pro-intervention speech about Iraq on C-SPAN. Now there was a contradiction and I began reading some of his articles on the web as they appeared.

Hitchens writes a regular column on Slate. Hari's blog posting appeared on 23 September 2004 in The Independent newspaper in the UK.

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