Christopher Hitchens, RIP

Farewell to a great friend of Reason - and the world of ideas.

I'm saddened to write that the great essayist and writer Christopher Hitchens is dead at the age of 62. He had been weakened by the cancer of the esophagus that he disclosed publicly in 2010 and the treatments he had undertaken to fight his illness. Reason extends its condolences to his wife, family, and friends.

As is clear to anyone who has read even a sentence of his staggeringly prolific output, Hitchens was the sort of stylist who could turn even a casual digression into a tutorial on all aspects of history, literature, and art. As a writer, you gaze upon his words and despair because there's just no way you're going to touch that. But far more important than the wit and panache and erudition with which he expressed himself was the method through which he engaged the world.

Throughout his life, he remained a man of the left, but he had no patience for orthodoxy and groupthink (the first night I met him in person, we ended up bonding over a softness for the early Oliver Cromwell, of all people). Not surprisingly, his biggest rows came among his political and ideological compatriots. A devout atheist, he abjured abortion and was no fan of Martin Luther King, Jr. He made a huge break with the supporters of Bill and Hillary Clinton in the book-length indictment No One Left to Lie To: The Values of the Worst Family. In the years leading up to but especially in the wake of the 9/11 attacks, he had nothing but righteous contempt for those he perceived as soft on religious terrorism and ended up leaving his longtime perch at The Nation partly as a result.

It's easy to mistake his thoroughgoing iconoclasm - this is the guy, after all, who wrote jeremiads against Henry Kissinger and Mother Theresa - for a reflexive, even juvenile cynicism, but there was far more than that going on. Whether the target of his scorn was much-beloved (he thought Gandhi a great villain for the way he lionized poverty and preindustrial living practices) or thoroughly hated by the wide world (Saddam Hussein, for one), Hitchens was never a cheap-shot artist.

Rather, his positions, attitude, even his jokes stemmed from what can only be recognized as a great Enlightenment belief in Progress with a capital P, rational debate, and the great marketplace of ideas. While I don't share his contempt for religion (he was puzzled by my "apatheism," or indifference to the whole matter), his stance grew out of his conviction that some methods of thought were more advanced and liberatory than others. But because he was committed to rational and public discourse (however caustic at times), you could always argue with him. Which is exactly as things should be. I didn't always agree with him (his positions on the invasion of Iraq, for instance, and his admiration of the awful I.F. Stone leave me scratching my head) and he certainly wasn't infallible. But he was a true public intellectual, giving better than he got, sure, but always up for conversation large and small.

Sometime last night, upon hearing the news of Hitchens' death, Matt Welch tweeted that he was "a startingly generous man in person," which is an understatement if anything. Hitchens was especially generous to Reason over the years. A few months before the 9/11 attacks, we had an intern call him to do a short interview about his forthcoming book Letters to a Young Contrarian. The conversation extended into a couple of hours and was the basis of a long-form interview that is still fascinating to read. It presaged his break with much of the left that would come after the 9/11 attacks and shows that Hitchens was not simply a contrarian but a serious thinker who was constantly rechecking his math:

Karl Marx was possibly the consummate anti-statist in his original writings and believed that the state was not the solution to social problems, but the outcome of them, the forcible resolution in favor of one ruling group. He thought that if you could give a name to utopia, it was the withering away of the state. Certainly those words had a big effect on me.

The reason why people tend to forget them, or the left has a tendency to forget them in practice, has something to do with the realm of necessity. If you make your priority -- let’s call it the 1930s -- the end of massive unemployment, which was then defined as one of the leading problems, there seemed no way to do it except by a program of public works. And, indeed, the fascist governments in Europe drew exactly the same conclusion at exactly the same time as Roosevelt did, and as, actually, the British Tories did not. But not because the Tories had a better idea of what to do about it. They actually favored unemployment as a means of disciplining the labor market.

You see what I mean: Right away, one’s in an argument, and there’s really nothing to do with utopia at all. And then temporary expedients become dogma very quickly -- especially if they seem to work....

Marx’s original insight about capitalism was that it was the most revolutionary and creative force ever to appear in human history. And though it brought with it enormous attendant dangers, [the revolutionary nature] was the first thing to recognize about it. That is actually what the Manifesto is all about. As far as I know, no better summary of the beauty of capital has ever been written. You sort of know it’s true, and yet it can’t be, because it doesn’t compute in the way we’re taught to think. Any more than it computes, for example, that Marx and Engels thought that America was the great country of freedom and revolution and Russia was the great country of tyranny and backwardness.

But that’s exactly what they did think, and you can still astonish people at dinner parties by saying that. To me it’s as true as knowing my own middle name. Imagine what it is to live in a culture where people’s first instinct when you say it is to laugh. Or to look bewildered. But that’s the nearest I’ve come to stating not just what I believe, but everything I ever have believed, all in one girth.

Hitchens spoke at several Reason events over the year, submitted to more interviews, wrote the occasional piece for us, and offered up unsolicited praise of the magazine under the editorship of Virginia Postrel ("I get more out of reading the libertarian magazine Reason than I do out of many 'movement' journals'"). He graciously wrote an intro to the 2004 anthology of Reason, Choice, arguing in part

It is useful and encouraging to have a magazine that approaches matters with an additional dash of hedonism. Freedom might be more efficient, but it also might possibly be more enjoyable....I find that Reason keeps my own arteries from hardening or from flooding with adrenaline out of sheer irritation, because in the face of arbitrary power and flock-like conformism it continues to ask, in a polite but firm tone of voice, not only "why?" but "why not?"

If Reason helped keep Hitch's blood pumping hot for even a minute, that's something we're extremely proud of. And we're extremely grateful for the shelf of books he gave us all to pore over for years to come, and the example of how to move through the worlds of culture, politics, and ideas with an inspiring combination of grace, fun, and seriousness.

In 2003, Hitchens participated in the symposium "Forcing Freedom: Can liberalism be spread at gunpoint?"

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  • Comment Tater||

    Hitch on the existence of god: "What can be asserted without evidence can also be dismissed without evidence."

    Perfect.

  • ola||

    "What can be asserted without evidence can also be dismissed without evidence."

    Like frau Bachmann's assertion that Iran is "months" or "a year" away from getting a nuclear weapon and will drop it on Israel?

  • ||

    Iran has been five to ten years (or whatever term you prefer) from getting nukes for the last fifteen to twenty years, so there is some room for skepticism on the point.

    But IMHO they WILL eventually get some, and they WILL try to use them.

    I liked Hitchens a lot, but on the whole Iraq thing I disagreed. It seems to me that if the end result was a more secular Iraq and by extension a more secular Middle East, the Iraq War could be argued for; since the end result is a more Islamic Iraq (u.s.w.), it has proven to be a disaster.

  • ||

    Eventually, every country will have nukes or other weapons of mass destruction. It's inevitable.

    Not sure that means we ignore it when countries try to develop them, but it's a fact we'll have to deal with sooner or later. Technology continues to advance, after all.

  • jtuf||

    The Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, which Iran signed, forbids the spread of nuclear weapons to other countries. Now, everyone is looking to the USA to enforce it. That's the problem with treaties. They require following and enforcing. What do you think the long term results will be if the USA joins a treaty to limit carbon dioxide emission?

  • ||

    We should get paid for our police services. Like a few trillion a year.

  • ||

    Dreamer!

  • ||

    I agree that nuke and other WMD proliferation is inevitable, if not that every country will have them.

    When they get used, it may be too late for the laggards.

  • ||

    Even the Vatican? Monaco? San Marco?

  • ||

    Although the United States is a very rich country, and San Marcos is a very poor one, there are a great many things we have to offer your country in return for aid. For instance, there... there are locusts.

    And now, as is our annual custom, each citizen of San Marcos will come up here and present his Excellency with his weight in horse manure.

  • Comment Tater||

    No. Try to focus.
    This thread is about the life of a great intellect, not your personal political hangups.

  • Tonio||

    ^This.

  • Hitchens||

    Damn there's sum HOTT babes down here in Hell !

  • Tonio||

    Appalingly inappropriate.

  • ||

    Would the man himself give a shit?

  • goober1223||

    Well, not now.

  • this||

    respect for the dead shit has got to go

    they're dead. what the fuck do they care?

    like when michael jackson died, everyone suddenly opposed joking about and maligning him even though they did so when he was alive and could be affected by it. the joking about someone should INCREASE when s/he dies.

  • ||

    Or not.

  • AT||

    Damn.

  • Trespassers W||

    Double damn. But well said.

  • ||

    Kind of like the government conspiracy theory that a handful of saudis armed with boxcutters pulled off 9/11 all by themselves.

  • Dick's Cheney||

    The Saudis were helped by Iraqi intel who gave them nukes in Prague remember? How many times must I repeat that?

  • STATISTMIKE||

    IT WAS THE JOOS CLEARLY

  • ||

    RIP. I always thought he'd live forever, like Keith Richards.

  • o3||

    wait, keith richards is alive? here i thought that was his death mask. daaaammmmnnnnn...

  • Ice Nine||

    I really dreaded this. I wanted him to keep writing, I don't know, forever? If you haven't read his writings about what it is like to have cancer, look them up and don't miss them. Eloquent and profound - what else?

  • Raven Nation||

    Agreed

  • ||

    I generally don't get choked up when artists and celebrity-types whom I like die, but something about Hitch going out early is really upsetting. I know his type of cancer is generally a death sentence, but I thought a man as stubborn as him would be able to shrug it off.

    RIP Hitch. I'm drinking scotch tonight.

  • ||

    Have a drink on me, Kid.

    RIP Hitch.

  • Skip||

    I liked that he was the only person to go on Bill Maher's show and tell the audience that they were idiots for laughing at every "Bush=Dumb" joke.

  • Yup||

  • ||

    The only man with the sheer charisma and breadth of intellect who- outnumbered 400 to one- could stand up and cow Maher's trained seals of an "audience"... The man was singular in his gifts...

  • Kenneth J||

    That is perfectly put.

  • Atheist Philosophizer Tonio||

    "Trained seals." Nice.

  • Yup||

  • VJ||

    I like your description of Maher's audience. It's apropos

  • ||

    I like your description of Maher's audience. It's apropos

    It was Hitchen's description, but still apt.

  • yomamabitchez||

  • ||

    My new hero. THAT was fucking awesome!

  • ||

    That moment was probably the greatest thing I have ever seen on television.

  • EcoDude||

    Can someone find a link of this show?

  • ||

    Nope. It doesn't exist.

  • jtuf||

    I'll give Hitches credit for being willing to offend people on both teams.

  • fish||

    Not my favorite but you have to admire the ability to shut up a room full of "Tony" like dimwits!

  • Tara||

    Christopher Hitchens, by his own cosmology, will not "Rest In Peace", because he no longer exists.

    Over on my Facebook, I proposed a new condolence acronym for announcing the passing of well-loved atheists and skeptics, "WBM" ("Will Be Missed.") To be used thus:

    Christopher Hitchens WBM.

  • ||

    Then he doesn't get a vote.

  • ||

    He does in Chicago!

  • Tonio||

    Nice, Tara. I'm going to use that.

  • jtuf||

    +1 to Tara

  • ||

    I thought WBM stood for Warty Bangned your Mom. My notation is Troy WBM.

  • ||

    I figure that the lack of an afterlife means that without a doubt he will rest in peace.

  • Saataan||

    RIP?

    bwahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha

  • ryan||

    According to which definition of 'rest' and which definition of 'peace' can that phrase be applied to a dead person, presuming there to be no afterlife of any kind? Consider. Incidentally, 'he' no longer exists neither in the present nor will he in the future according to my beliefs, which are of course necessarily assumptions to an extent. One might dismiss it as an idiom, though I'm inherently opposed to any phrase the understanding of which can not be derived by its constituent words, which one might also define as inevitably esoteric. Furthermore, the term 'rest in peace' is derived from a Catholic prayer. So regardless of your personal interpretation, it did not originally have that meaning, and the original promulgators would likely disagree with you. This is merely a response to your comment, highnumber, and should be treated exclusively as such.

  • hazeeran||

    I like it Tara.

  • DL||

    While I agree with the sentiment behind WBM, I'm afraid it's too readily misused or misconstrued. The acronym could just as easily mean "Won't Be Missed" as "Will Be Missed".

  • I, Kahn O'Clast||

    The good news is that since he lived and wrote and spoke out during the Age of the Internet, he will be accessible to millions of people on-line in a way that others of his character never have been and never will be. I find myself going back and reading past articles and watching clips of Hitch in action all the time.

  • Uh||

    accessible to millions of people on-line in a way that others of his character never have been and never will be

    Yeah. I can't find a word of Thomas Paine anywhere on the net.

  • Atheist Philosophizer Tonio||

    But there are no clips of Paine on the 'webs. Motion video with audio is much more personal than text. Plus, we're moving towards a post-literate society.

  • Eduard van Haalen||

    With computer graphics and text-to-speech technology we should soon be able to have Thomas Paine reading his works live over the Internet.

  • Bill||

    That's right. As long as the net exists, he will always be with us. Wait a minute, does the mean The NET is GOD?

  • ||

    RIP. You didn't always like him, but you had to respect the guy. He had style.

  • Ice Nine||

    And isn't watching the likes of Bill Maher attempting to argue with the likes of Chris Hitchens just beyond pathetic?

  • ||

    Like watching Godzilla stomp a bound, gagged, and passed out baby harp seal (not that Maher even comes close on the cuteness scale to a baby harp seal...)

  • fish||

    And isn't watching the likes of Bill Maher attempting to argue with the likes of Chris Hitchens just beyond pathetic?

    Both fabulously entertaining!

    Although watching Godzilla stomping on Maher might make Hitch reconsider the existence of god.

  • Raven Nation||

    I remember seeing him on a panel at a book festival somewhere. Some guy in the audience asked him a question and Hitchens so brilliantly destroyed the guy's point of view that I'm convinced the questioner sat down believing Hitchens had agreed with him.

  • ||

    And isn't watching the likes of Bill Maher attempting to argue with the likes of Chris Hitchens just beyond pathetic?

    That's what you call fighting outside your weight class.

  • ||

    By an order of magnitude.

  • Fave Quotes||

    Religion is "violent, irrational, intolerant, allied to racism and tribalism and bigotry, invested in ignorance and hostile to free inquiry."

    Feel free to add your own.

  • affenkopf||

    “The only position that leaves me with no cognitive dissonance is atheism. It is not a creed. Death is certain, replacing both the siren-song of Paradise and the dread of Hell. Life on this earth, with all its mystery and beauty and pain, is then to be lived far more intensely: we stumble and get up, we are sad, confident, insecure, feel loneliness and joy and love. There is nothing more; but I want nothing more.”

  • Neu Mejican||

    The death toll is not nearly high enough... too many [jihadists] have escaped. -referring to the Fallujah offensive on November 2004

  • ||

    He was right. The point of war is to kill your enemies.

  • Neu Mejican||

    Yes, John, of course...war is a violent irrational impulse born primarily from tribalism that is invested in perpetuating ignorance and, yes, killing your enemies.

  • War = a staple of civilization||

    So stop the bullshit. Empirical data from archeology and anthropology disproves your city-Statist apology for the glorious city-State (civilization.)

  • Tonio||

    Comment Tater|12.16.11 @ 10:00AM|#
    No. Try to focus.
    This thread is about the life of a great intellect, not your personal political hangups.

  • ||

    No war is a fact of human existence that every civilization in history has had to engage in in order to survive.

    I am sorry that sorry fact intrudes on things over at peacenik rainbow puppy island. But the rest of us have to live in reality.

  • affenkopf||

    While war may be inevitable the prevalence of wars has been steadily declining for centuries (with some outliers). We live in the most peaceful time of human history. That's reality.

    Also: How many war for survival truly are there? Most wars are wars of choice.

  • War = a staple of civilization||

    You're bullshitting again, affenkopf, as an apologists for the peace-keeping benevolence of glorious city-Statism.

    Never in history have humans spoken of "blockbusters" (bombs able to destroy whole blocks" man made firestorms (Dresden, anybody?) megadeaths, and nuclear winters.

  • affenkopf||

    I know you're a troll and I shouldn't respond but I'm bored:

    You don't need technology for massacres. You can kill millions with primitive technologies. Ask Rwandans.

    Also: Pre-agrarian hunter-gatherer societies have death rates from murder & war much higher than any modern state (even Maoist China or Stalinist Russia).

  • Beloved Rev. Blue Moon||

    I know you're a troll and I shouldn't respond but I'm bored

    Then get a hobby that doesn't involve shitting up the threads with this manic nutjob. Just. Stop. Already.

  • War = a staple of civilization||

    Pre-agrarian hunter-gatherer societies have death rates from murder & war much higher than any modern state.

    False.

    You're parroting the bullshit that Steven Pinker is spouting.

    He's a liar. He used data from societies involved in domestication (proto-agriculuture.) Anthropologists recognize that domestication is correlated with much higher violence.

    Psychology Today sees through his deception:

    Steven Pinker's Stinker on the Origins of War
    Did Steven Pinker knowingly mislead his audience at TED?
    Published on March 29, 2011
    Psychology Today
    http://www.psychologytoday.com.....rigins-war

  • ||

    How many war for survival truly are there?

    Depends on which side you are on.

    Also this second statment is way out of wack:

    Most wars are wars of choice.

    Wrong...maybe you can pin a large percentage of wars by the US in last century as wars of choice from the perspective of the US...but that is by no means even a large percentage of most wars in the last century let alone most wars.

  • ryan||

    Technically most wars are a war of someone's choice. The more significant question to be considered is whose choice are the wars, for what purpose, and who are the unwilling victims.

  • ryan||

    Sorry, that should be all* wars.

  • ryan||

    -a war+wars

  • ||

    While war may be inevitable the prevalence of wars has been steadily declining for centuries (with some outliers). We live in the most peaceful time of human history. That's reality.

    One might argue that all wars are wars of survival and that each survivor learns about the excesses of each previous war.

    ie war tends to be more excessive then necessary simply because any war of survival that is fought with inadequate means is lost....but as we move forward the margin between just enough and too much is more easily defined....everyone likes to save money even war mongers.

  • Neu Mejican||

    No war is a fact of human existence

    Born out of the fact that humans are inherently violent, irrational land tribal, no doubt. It takes effort to avoid these tendencies.

    that every civilization in history has had to engage in in order to survive.

    An unsupported assertion based on undefined terms. As per usual, you are full of shit.

    I am sorry that sorry fact thing I pulled out of my ass intrudes on things over at peacenik rainbow puppy island.

    The things you pull out of your ass bother people less than you would think...surprisingly.

    But the rest of us have to live in reality.

    John...you wouldn't know reality if it were all around you on a daily basis. Oh, wait...

  • Beloved Rev. Blue Moon||

    Yes, John, of course...war is a violent irrational impulse born primarily from tribalism that is invested in perpetuating ignorance and, yes, killing your enemies.

    Even the All-Holy Progressive War of WWII?

  • ||

    Rev, do you understand the reality that the average person who has LOST either or both his home and his job could care two shits about what some associate of RP wrote 17 years ago?

    The notion that the millions of unemployed and the tens of millions of underemployed, barely surviving, who have had it up to their eyeballs with race-baiting and quotas and set asides and affirmative action incompetence and whiny group think afro-american welfare pimps, will be persuaded to vote against RP because of one essay, is:

    ONE COLOSSAL LOGIC FAIL.

  • Beloved Rev. Blue Moon||

    You are boring me. I describe reality, not the fanciful world in which you wish to reside.

    And your race-baiting is not helping anyone anywhere with anything.

  • ||

    Rev, I have noticed that when you cannot engage on the facts, you inevitably whimper.

    IOW, instead of specifically addressing the point, you reduce yourself to the ad hominem and generalized assertions unsupported by anything of substance.

  • Beloved Rev. Blue Moon||

    IOW, instead of specifically addressing the point, you reduce yourself to the ad hominem and generalized assertions unsupported by anything of substance

    I addressed the point. Most people do not see things Ron Paul's way. Most people, like it or not, really don't know most of his positions. Someone who tunes in around election time and hears Ron Paul tell the gays to get back in the closet and the blacks to pick up their welfare checks is going to tune him right back out.

    Get a clue: even your fellow libertarians, who know and like RP, are uncomfortable with this stuff. What is Average Not-Libertarian Joe going to do with the information?

    That's the point. And I really don't care at this juncture whether you "get" it or not, because feeding your delusions is seriously getting old.

  • ||

    Are you ignoring the reality that the avergage joe is much more concenred about surviving?

    You seem to think that the average joe who has lost either his job or his home and is looking into that abyss will be swayed by what Chris Wallace or Rachael Maddow has to say about an essay 17 years ago.

    You can't seem to address that point. Average not libertarian joe knows that the BO and Newtie and Mittie types have not helped him at all.

  • ||

    Someone needs to write an alternate history in which the US lost the cold war.

    My guess is the world without international trade would look something like North Korea cut and pasted across the globe.

  • Mike M.||

    Rest in peace, Hitch. You're one of the few lefties I ever respected. I shall enjoy a big glass of wine tonight in your honor.

  • Comment Tater||

    Well put. One may admire his intellect and integrity and wit, if not his politics.

  • Atheist Philosophizer Tonio||

    Hitch said those things that the rest of us (atheists) wanted to, but couldn't. His balls weighed one ton each and were made of brass.

    By staking out the extreme position he also allowed the rest of us to seem far more reasonable. He took innumerable hits for the team.

    I remember reading his takedown of that pious old **** Agnes Gonxha Bojaxhiu (aka "Mother Teresa). I thought I was the only person on the planet, and a bad human being, for daring to question the totality of her alleged saintliness.

    [Expanded Re-post from the cartoon thread. "Atheist Philosophizer" because atheists don't have clergy, per se.]

  • Atheist Philosophizer Tonio||

    Oh, and I'm going to definitely be drinking some scotch and smoking a few fags tonight in memory of the old curmudgeon.

    WBFM

  • Comment Tater||

  • Sparky||

    Hitch said those things that the rest of us (atheists) wanted to, but couldn't

    Couldn't because you didn't have the same audience or couldn't because you were afraid to?

    By staking out the extreme position he also allowed the rest of us to seem far more reasonable. He took innumerable hits for the team.

    Maybe you could just speak for yourself on that one. I didn't realize that just by being atheist I was now part of some grand team.

  • Tonio||

    Yes, afraid. But Hitch led by example and emboldened me to start speaking out.

    Like it or not, you're part of the atheist movement. Doesn't mean that anyone expects you to take orders or fall in line, but it does mean that our enemies will take you to task for anything that Hitchens and other outspoken public atheists say. I'm not happy about being on the same team as That Idiot PZ Myers, but that's the reality.

    His actions did indeed provide cover for all of us on Team Atheist. Whether or not you choose to take advantage of that is your choice.

    That I don't speak for you is duly noted. [Flips bird]

  • Redmanfms||

    Yes, afraid. But Hitch led by example and emboldened me to start speaking out.

    Afraid? Fucking seriously? Afraid of what exactly, that somebody might not agree with your worldview?

    Unless you are in a Muslim country (which I know you aren't), that means you are just a thin-skinned feckless fucking pussy.

    Like it or not, you're part of the atheist movement.

    I always knew you were a tribalist shithead, this is the definitive proof.

  • ||

    Hitch said those things that the rest of us (atheists) wanted to

    Bullshit.

    I am an atheist and yet I could give half a shit about what other people believe....Hitch's atheism was of a militant sort that I found personally distasteful.

    Anyway I liked Hitch and he has died and this is a thread about him so i will leave it there.

  • ||

    His positions on the invasion of Iraq, for instance...leave me scratching my head.

    I'll never understand why Orwell's "Shooting an Elephant" didn't matter too. How could someone so steeped in post-colonialism not see Iraq as the imperialist adventure it was?

    Like I wrote yesterday, though, I've never enjoyed reading anyone more who I disagreed with so thoroughly.

    Hitchens' writing and speaking made the world a smarter place.

  • Evolved neanderthal||

    After reading "Christopher Hitchens and His Critics" I understand his position on Iraq better. He builds an argument like no other, with an incredible rhetorical tool box. Not tha I agreed with him on it, but these writings did give me pause.

  • ||

    He builds an argument like no other, with an incredible rhetorical tool box. Not tha I agreed with him on it, but these writings did give me pause.

    Yeah, but, he wrote a book titled Why Orwell Matters and yet seems to have completely ignored the central point of Orwell's greatest essay.

    British Imperialism in Africa had its impetus in good-will and abolitionism and an attempt to stamp out the slave trade at its source. Orwell writes an essay about how imperialism ultimately compels even the well meaning into brutality and imperialistic behavior, and a guy like Hitchens--who was once all about post-colonialism--writes a book titled Why Orwell Matters and supports the Iraq War--but doesn't bother to mention "Shooting an Elephant"?!

    There was either a hole in his thinking or some serious intellectual gymnastics behind that--it would have been like advocating for the British to reimpose martial law in Ireland, writing a book titled Why Swift Matters and then completely ignoring "A Modest Proposal".

    If I could have asked Hitchens any question at all, it would have been about "Shooting an Elephant" and the Iraq War.

  • ||

    Ah Ken. We are leaving Iraq. And whatever brutalism we engaged in was a shadow of the brutalism of the imperialism you are talking about. To Iraq, a war where the country was left with self government after six months of occupation and in which all combat forces were withdrawn when the government asked them to be an "Imperialist endeavor" is to deprive the term of all meaning.

    He didn't see it as an "Imperialistic endeavor" because he was one of the few public figures who could think straight about the matter.

  • ||

    By calling Iraq an Imperialist War, I'm actually giving it the benefit of the doubt.

    Most people who supported the Iraq War--whether they remember it or not--supported it because they thought Saddam Hussein was personally complicit in 9/11, especially in regards to the anthrax attack.

    http://www.usatoday.com/news/w.....iraq_x.htm

    I don't think Hitchens was in that camp. He supported the overthrow of Saddam Hussein because he wanted the free world to use its power to overthrow totalitarian regimes like the one in Iraq--and to spread democracy.

    Using the military to spread freedom and democratic values ("civilization") was what Imperialism was all about. The British didn't go into Africa and elsewhere in the beginning with the purpose in mind of subjugating the local population, exploiting their natural resources and devastating their local culture. They went in with the "White Man's Burden" to spread the values of justice and freedom to stamp out slavery--to spread what they called "civilization"...

    That was Hitchens' justification for Iraq from the beginning. Why he couldn't see--like Orwell did so clearly--that inflicting "civilization" on a people at the point of a gun invariably ends in tears--even as he wrote a book called Why Orwell Matters?

    Remains a mystery.

    Regardless of how you feel about the Iraq War.

  • ||

    The Iraq war was about the UN and enforcing the1991 ceasefire and subsequent resolutions. It was about the international order not 911. One bogus push poll doesn't outweigh what the people who made the decision said at the time.

  • ||

    The American people did not support the Iraq War out of deference to the UN.

    And that wasn't a bogus poll. The American people believed what Colin Powell and President Bush told them about Iraq's WMD program and its ties to Al Qaeda. The American people thought Saddam Hussein was complicit in the anthrax attack.

    Hitchens didn't have that problem. We're talking about Hitchens, aren't we?

  • ||

    Bottom line, he was a fucking hypocrite who was not the intellectual giant some here imagine he was.

  • ||

    The folks who are attracted to government "work" are folks of low character.

    The John Galts do not need to join a state sponsored military or paramilitary organization. Only those who are not self actualized and those of low character sign up to wear Caesar's uniforms.

  • Divine Right to Property?||

    The folks attracted to big-Government enforced Land enTITLEment borders that restrict the free movement of Non-State societies are agricultural city-Statists of low character.

    Officer, am I free to gambol about plain and forest?

  • Another Phil||

    Mike,
    I know you see yourself as a courageous iconoclast, but you're just a garden-variety douche. You don't have to praise the guy, but have a modicum of respect and just refrain from pissing on the guy's grave for a few days.

  • ryan||

    Another Phil:

    'Mike,
    I know you see yourself as a courageous iconoclast, but you're just a garden-variety douche. You don't have to praise the guy, but have a modicum of respect and just refrain from pissing on the guy's grave for a few days.'

    Expressing an opinion, albeit expressed vehemently, neither equates to disrespect nor to pissing on graves within an unacceptable number of days. And if pissing on graves after a few days is acceptable (don't vandalize property which isn't your own, kids) then I see no reason why it wouldn't be immediately permissible after the event of one's death.

    I judge your insult to be irrespective of the subject specified.

  • Beloved Rev. Blue Moon||

    Bottom line, he was a fucking hypocrite who was not the intellectual giant some here imagine he was.

    Hypocrite? Aren't you an attorney? What would you call the legal field other than a giant state-run monopoly? Oh, the irony.

  • ||

    The legal field, particularly the judiciary, the prosecutorariat and the counsel for regulatory bodies, is

    AGSOLUTE SCUM!

    Of course, there are exceptions like:

    Pro Lib

    R C Dean

    In addition, the lawyers at the Institute for Justice rate a huge atta boy.

    Moreover, any lawyer who seeks to end the following are okay:

    (1) non-consensual, judicially imposed alimony

    (2) collective bargaining

    (3) judicial immunity

    (4) prosecutorial immunity

    (5) minimum wage laws

    (6) licensing of any occupation

    (7) presumptions that one is an employee and not an independent contractor

    (8) the presumption that all legislation is constitutional

    (9) the income tax

    (10) the estate tax

    (11) affirmative action

    AND

    those lawyers who seek to end state control / licensing of the legal profession.

    Irony?

  • Beloved Rev. Blue Moon||

    Regardless, I believe that not too long ago you were arguing that any sector of the economy that receives protectionism or other benefits from the state is a Welfare Moocher rather than a productive enterprise. And here you are in a profession that locks-up value for your benefit through State Control.

    Parasite.

  • ||

    It is you who are asserting that I part of that profession. Not me.

    Otherwise, you are right.

  • ||

    Most people who supported the Iraq War--whether they remember it or not--supported it because they thought Saddam Hussein was personally complicit in 9/11, especially in regards to the anthrax attack.

    As a reformed ex-supporter of the Iraq war I can assure you that was not the case for me at all.

    You can google Reason and my name if you want.

  • Cytotoxic||

    No John's right. The liberation of Iraq was no more imperialist than the liberation of Germany or Japan. As long as you leave and you leave it freer than you came, it's not imperialism at all.

  • ||

    "The liberation of Iraq was no more imperialist than the liberation of Germany or Japan. As long as you leave and you leave it freer than you came, it's not imperialism at all."

    Hitchens' justifications for it were imperialist.

    Surely somebody can keep on topic for a bit here? We are talking about Hitchens in this thread, right?

    Hitchens justified the war as a war of liberation--just like the British originally justified their Imperialism in Africa.

    If our purpose there was to inflict the benefits of what we call "civilization" at the point of a gun? Then it was an imperialist war for as long as we were there--and that's what Hitchens was advocating and defended.

    It sure as hell wasn't a war of self-defense.

    Oh, and in terms of leaving it "freer than you came"? In whose estimation? Yours and Hitchens' or the Iraqi people's?

    Maybe someday future Iraqis will thank us for blowing up their country--but I wouldn't hold my breath.

    I'd expect the Iraqi people to thank us for blowing up their country just as soon as the Japanese thank us for nuking them.

  • ||

    Well, that sucks. It's the Brookses and the Friedmans who live forever.

  • ChrisO||

    Yup. :(

  • Trespassers W||

    Way to pile on the misery, Warty.

  • VJ||

    It's always like that, unfortunately. The good/creative/talented people always tend to die young, while the hacks live forever

  • ||

    Oh fuck, you had to remind me.

  • affenkopf||

    No need to invoke Brook or Friedman: Peter Hitchens is still alive.

  • ||

    Nicely done, Nick.

    We have far too few of the sort who are both committed to their beliefs and willing to engage rather than dismiss those who disagree.

    WBM, and RIP*.

    *As an apatheist who kinda hopes I'm wrong about the whole afterlife thing.

  • Divine Rights||

    With God gone, it's difficult to keep the masquerade of Divine Right of Kings going.

    Next, on the intellectual chopping block: Divine Right of Property

    He that, in obedience to this command of God, subdued, tilled, and sowed any part of it, thereby annexed to it something that was his property... ~John Locke, Of Property

  • Tonio||

    STFU, WI.

  • ||

    But, sadly, Divine is also dead.
    And was much more into Queens than Kings.

    no hugs for thugs, nor pig-ignorant gambolers,
    Shirley Knott

  • Divine Right to Property?||

    Then you don't get a hug, city-Statist thug.

  • ||

    Why not take down the Divine Right of Government or the State or Do Gooders?

  • Divine Right to Property?||

    Suits me.

    But, aren't libertarians beholden to the agricultural city-State (civilization) for all the supposed Do Good it has done?

    You can't talk about "progress" without being a progressivist.

  • ||

    brb gotta invent fire kthxbye

  • Divine Right to Property?||

    You're not healthy enough to do it now, with your frail, domesticated poodle body beset by Diseases of Civilization.

  • Mike M.||

    This is a memorial thread for a great thinker who just passed away. Please, just this one time, try to act like a normal, decent human being.

  • Trespassers W||

    No, no. WI is a perfect contrast here: a person whose arguments convince no one, who is respected by no one, whose passing will go unnoticed, but will nevertheless leave the human race richer for it.

    This makes Hitch's passing all the more poignant.

  • Divine Right to Property?||

    a person whose arguments convince no one, who is respected by no one, whose passing will go unnoticed

    Don't psychologically project your libertarianism onto me.

    "Do bear in mind that the cynics have a point, of a sort, when they speak of the 'professional naysayer'." "To be in opposition is not to be a nihilist. And there is no decent or charted way of making a living at it. It is something you are, and not something you do." – Christopher Hitchens, Letters to a Young Contrarian

  • Tonio||

    Well said, TW.

  • Divine Right to Property?||

    Why not, in the memory of a great man, start thinking as well as he did. Mike?

  • Ice Nine||

    Well, because that is not generally possible.

  • ||

    Someone's re-entering the manic phase.

  • ||

    Next, on the intellectual chopping block: Divine Right of Property

    I wonder when a wolf is marking its territory what rationale it uses to justify its claim on land?

    Are there multiple justifications depending on the wolf and how it was brought up?

  • Tim||

    The Four Ages of Man
    WB Yeats

    He with body waged a fight,
    But body won; it walks upright.

    Then he struggled with he heart;
    Innocence and peace depart.

    Then he struggled with the mind;
    His proud heart he left behind.

    Now his wars on God begin;
    At stroke of midnight God shall win.

  • Nope||

    God shall win

    Not.

  • ||

    Prove it.

  • Tim||

    It's a fucking literary classic. Is this better:

    Now his wars on death begin;
    At stroke of midnight death shall win.

  • Nope||

    Prove a negative? Nah.
    The burden of proof is on the believers.
    See the quote in the first comment.

  • Tim||

    You're so busy being offended by g-o-d you've missed the beauty of the thing.

  • ||

    No, if you assert that there is no god, the burden is upon you to prove so and if you are intellectually honest, you do not cop out with "I dont have to prove a negative".

  • ryan||

    The burden of proof is upon no one, because this is a section for noncommittal commentary on a noncommittal website. One is free to disagree and proceed to that which one views as a better use of one's time, without expounding one's personal dictum.

    Intellectual honesty is not imperiled here.

  • ryan||

    I should say that it is voluntarily, but not necessarily, noncommittal.

  • ChrisO||

    I truly enjoyed reading his political writing, regardless of whether I agreed with him. There aren't many writers I've been able to say that about.

  • ||

    He was a schmuck who liked to shiv his friends and had as his pole star the idea that, no matter what happened, he was always right.
    And the reams of hagiography pouring out today give the lie to his own self-identity. You're not a contrarian if, after you die, there's a line a million people long waiting to kiss your corpse's ass.

  • -||

    Pissing on somebody's grave is a waste of energy and perfectly good piss, not to mention vulgar and ineffectual. You couldn't touch him when he was alive and he remains beyond your reach in death.

  • affenkopf||

    Partly true.
    As great as a writer he was he still remained a marxist and a supporter of the Bolshevik revolution to the very end, something many libertarians like to overlook.

  • Jeesum H. Crowbar||

    Of the libertarians I know who admired Hitchens, not a single one did so because they agreed with him (on practically anything), or pretended they did. No one's whitewashing his beliefs. We're just admiring his massive brain and unassailable wit.

  • ||

    "You're not a contrarian if, after you die, there's a line a million people long waiting to kiss your corpse's ass."

    He was a leftist who has people from the right mourning their loss. He was a graduate from Marxism that has libertarians mourning their loss. He assailed leftist leaders from the Clintons on down, and he has people on the left mourning their loss...

    So now he has a million people lining up to kiss his ass--all of whom strongly disagreed with him on something. If that doesn't demonstrate that he was a contrarian, then what the hell does?

  • ||

    That would prove my point. He was really, really good at telling people what they wanted to hear-so good that they would ignore the fact that he was telling their ideological opponents what they wanted to hear, and getting equal applause from both.

  • ||

    getting equal applause from both.

    He was getting equal condemnation from both--from all sides.

    I guess I'm a prime example. I was a critic of the Iraq War. My criticism was based on humanitarian concerns to some extent, but it was also based on pragmatism and realism. I saw it as a strategic blunder vis a vis Iran, among other problems.

    We couldn't have been much more opposed ideologically in terms of Iraq, but I was glad to read everything he wrote--but not because he agreed with me on anything.

    I was glad to read what he wrote because I knew he'd write the best arguments against my position. I was eager to watch him debate because I knew he would make the best arguments--the arguments against my position that were really worth considering.

    He was an adamant atheist. I remain a cautiously optimistic cultural Christian. He was an enlightened Trotskyist. I'm a voracious capitalist.

    I can't think of anything we agreed on--except that moral opprobrium has a proper place in intellectual debate and a belief in free expression and intellectual honesty.

    Those last three things are the only things I needed to love the guy's work--even though I disagreed with his conclusions almost all the way across the board.

    So, just because I loved the guy's work, doesn't mean he agreed with me on anything. I certainly wasn't a fan because I agreed with him on any position.

    That makes me just like a lot of other people mourning our loss today--whose positions and assumptions were completely contrary to his for a whole host of issues.

  • ||

    "He was getting equal condemnation from both--from all sides."

    He got far more adulation than condemnation. Today proves it. You'd think the freakin' pope died-except when this pope actually does die, the media coverage will be far more ambiguous.

  • ||

    A leftist who attacked the Clintons and Michael Moore.

    A public intellectual, who attacked Mother freakin' Theresa and the Dalai Lama?

    And you're gonna tell me he wasn't a contrarian?

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hnTmBjk-M0c

  • Calvin||

    You're right 'BOB' he should've died in the way you wanted him to die to remain a rebel. You silly idiot.

  • ||

    If anything, I think his dying so young was the proverbial great career move. The straddling act would have gotten harder with time.

  • Cytotoxic||

    He got far more adulation than condemnation.

    So? WTF does that prove?

  • Nup||

    I think you're getting asshole and contrarian confused.

  • Brian Doherty||

    What I think BOB is getting at is, he was on almost all points within the pale of ONE side of the establishmentarian consensus (unlike, say, any consistent libertarian who would never get this kind of adulation, no matter how brilliant or scabrous) that he always had a comfortable home.

  • Brand||

    Johnnie Walker and cigarettes tonight.

    WBM

  • Comment Tater||

    There's a special nonexistent pub in nonexistent heaven for Johnnie Walker drinkers, where smoking is not only tolerated but encouraged. Make mine a good Dominican cigar.

    Cheers, Hitch.

  • foie gras||

    I asked the same thing when Jobs died and never got any good responses... Heard any good jokes yet?

  • El Commentariaso||

    Atheists have no humor.
    Prowling twitter for jokes gets a lot of :
    "I normally make an offensive joke after a tragedy, but I don't want fundies thinking I'm on their side. Christopher Hitchens will be missed."

  • Or||

    Hitchens had made plenty of death jokes of late at his own expense. Try googling if you want gallows humor direct from the horse's mouth.

  • Evolved neanderthal||

    "He was no fan of Martin Luther King, Jr." Really? I got the distinct impression from Hitch-22 that he WAS a fan of King.

  • ||

    This puts me in mind of Adam Smith writing about David Hume's death.

    Thus died our most excellent and never to be forgotten friend; concerning whose philosophical opinions men will, no doubt, judge variously, every one approving or condemning them, according as they happen to coincide or disagree with his own; but concerning whose character and conduct there can scarce be a difference of opinion. His temper, indeed, seemed to be more happily balanced, if I may be allowed such an expression, than that perhaps of any other man I have ever known.
  • ||

    Alt text: Michael Stipe wants you!

  • Old Mexican||

    I am truly sorry for his passing. He was a man of great prose and wit. His writting was beautiful and elegant enough to at least pay attention to his social criticisms.

  • Divine Right to Property?||

    To date, however, no philosopher has ever successfully divorced Lockesian property rights from monotheism.

    ~ The Right to Property
    by Jason Godesky
    http://rewild.info/anthropik/2.....-property/

  • fish||

    Hey Fat Boy....how bout [GAMBOLING] off the thread today.

  • Divine Right to Property?||

    Got dodge and weave today?

    Enjoy your "nameless act which all of you practice, but struggle never to admit: the act of blanking out, the willful suspension of one’s consciousness, the refusal to think—not blindness, but the refusal to see; not ignorance, but the refusal to know."

  • fish||

    Got dodge and weave today?

    I'll stop dodging and weaving if you repost your photo with the red punk rock mohawk doo. I want to show it to my hairstylist so next time I go in I can request "The Gamboler".

  • Divine Right to Property?||

    Still dodging and weaving, LOL!

    It's ok, you don't really have a rational response, especially after reading (probably for the first time) all the God-Talk jibberish in John Locke's Of Property.

    You've been had.

  • ||

    Godesky? That tub of lard ain't good enough to lick the crap stains outta Hitch's toilet.

    Now begone you fucking coward.

  • Divine Right to Property?||

    Don't psychologically project your intellectual cowardice onto me, true believer in the religio-economic priestcraft's divinely proclaimed hierarchy, (even if you've taken out God, and reduced the sexism somewhat,) as follows:

    • GOD
    • MAN (owner of the "property" below:)
    • WOMAN (submits to husband)
    • ANIMALS (submit to husbandry)
    • NATURE (valuable only if used-up by the hierarchy)

  • ||

    Ahhh, is that sobbing I hear behind that Guy Fawkes mask? How do you fit that thing on your big fat head?

    Psychological projection? Is that all you've got? Really? The troll's equivalent to, "I'm rubber you're glue...nanananaaa" is all you've got.

    Is that what you say to yourself in real life to get by?

    "Oh, I'm not cowering and intimidated by this person, he's merely psychologically projecting his fears onto me!"

    You know how I know that you're a coward, coward? It's the fact that you'd never try this shit in the real world. You'd never harass a group of people like you do here. And you wouldn't do it out of fear.

    I'm gonna take a stab in the dark and guess that you've never done anything in your entire life that took the courage of your convictions. I'm also gonna take another guess, and say that the annoyance you cause here is directly proportional to the fear and intimidation that you feel every goddamn day of your sorry life.

    I truly feel sorry for you.

  • Divine Right to Property?||

    Wow, a whole laundry list of your vagaries psychologically projected onto me.

    That's ok, domesticated city-Statist poodles like you are sorry-ass weaklings like that.

  • ||

    I truly feel sorry for you.

    I hope that one day you get over what's bugging you, man.

  • Divine Right to Property?||

    I hope one day you can write without insulting — and actually address an issue.

    So far, you've demonstrated all the mendacious behavior of a sulking Leftist.

  • ||

    Sometimes the truth is insulting, especially when we don't want to face it. Do you honestly think that the content of your posts are the issue to be addressed, White Indian?

    One day you'll find something that truly makes you happy, and we'll never hear from you again.

  • Divine Right to Property?||

    The truth is, you're psychologically projecting your sorry self onto me.

    One day you'll find a goat that truly makes you happy, and we'll never hear from you again.

  • ||

    C'mon man, doesn't it get tiring carrying around that crutch all the time?

    It's going to take a little more than parroting and repetition if you want to inflict some damage, Mr. Indian.

  • Mike M.||

    Like that guy said in "Cool Hand Luke", there are some people you just can't reach.

  • Divine Right to Property?||

    Reaching with....what? Locke's magical God-talk as an apology for property?

    I suppose you can't "reach" me with the divine right of kings either.

    Maybe try some reason?

  • Beloved Rev. Blue Moon||

    Stop responding to it.

    Look, seriously, it is not going to change its viewpoint. It is not going to go "OMG your logic is so overwhelming I am going to magically stop griefing the board!" It is here to get a response, any response, and all you are doing is feeding it.

  • Divine Right to Property?||

    Blue Moon, I might respond to logic, which has been quite absent in libertarian's retorts.

    But then, if you used logic, you'd agree with me.

  • ||

    Oh, come now Mr. Indian, you're interest in logic proceeds no further than twisting it to get an emotional response from your(perceived)opponents.

    I've often wondered if you vote, Mr. Indian, and if so, for whom? Just a simple question, no socratic hammer ready to fall, and if you'd be so kind to indulge my curiosity by answering it, I'd be much obliged.

  • Beloved Rev. Blue Moon||

    capitol l, are you done? Please tell me you are done.

  • Divine Right to Property?||

    Following presidential politics is like following sports:

    • You have no influence on the outcome,

    • and the outcome has no effect on the world.

    Dennis Kucinich and Michele Bachmann would be more different in their performance as janitor

    than their performance as president,

    because the office is now utterly controlled by the giant blocks of money.

    ~Ran Prieur
    www.ranprieur.com/

  • For the win||

    I have successfully divorced Lockesian property rights from monotheism. It goes like this:

    • GODs
    • MAN (owner of the "property" below:)
    • WOMAN (submits to husband)
    • ANIMALS (submit to husbandry)
    • NATURE (valuable only if used-up by the hierarchy)

  • Old Mexican||

    Re: White Imbecile,

    To date, however, no philosopher has ever successfully divorced Lockesian property rights from monotheism.


    You would still cry like a little girl at the sight of a wasp stinging you if you had to be foraging in your beloved "original affluent society."

    Like a little, wussy, wussy girl. Waa waa waa.

  • Divine Right to Property?||

    Psychologically projecting your fear of wilderness onto me, feeble ol' poodle-boy?

    Typical behavior of a city-Statist domesticated and trained pet.

    woof a little louder while you nip at my heals

  • Beloved Rev. Blue Moon||

    Stop responding to it! Goddamn it, how hard is it to have some discipline and not respond?

  • fish||

    Point taken. I'm done.

  • Divine Right to Property?||

    Insults that studiously avoid issues — why do you call them a "response?"

  • ¢||

    offered up unsolicited praise of the magazine under the editorship of Virginia Postrel

    Then she left.

    And he got cancer from drinking.

    ò_ô

  • ||

    Hitchens wrote some good things. And he was right about a lot of stuff. And God knows he was one of the great artists of the insult of all time.

    But the bottom line is that he was a fucking commie. And I really can't shed too many tears when a commie finally buys it.

    Sorry.

  • ||

    Commies are commies, but Trotskyists are about as inoffensive as commies are capable of being. And didn't he repudiate his commie friends, anyway?

    But, regardless of being a filthy pinko, it's a shame to lose such erudition.

  • GILMORE||

    Your opinion is noted, John, even if its misinformed, infcorrect, and frankly, kinda boorish to go out of your way to publically announce your lack of concern at a man's death... as though your personal weight of opinion is necessarily required to provide a final estimation of Chris Hitchens worth as a human being. Do you also plan to tell all the children you meet this month that there is in fact no Santa Claus, and that it really doesn't matter if they're naughty or nice?

    Regardless of his political beliefs - which at best were confounding, causing revulsion by liberals and conservatives alike - the man was pretty much the best sentence-crafter of this generation. Anyone who takes writing even slightly seriously must at least acknowledge him as a master who we will never likely ever see again.

    For some, I suppose, that's a good thing. My dad despised the mans writing as well as his politics.

  • ||

    Hitchens made an entire career out of being a lout and pissing on those who were dead and no longer able to defend themselves. So I am just following his lead.

    And yes he was a wonderful sentence crafter and a great writer. But he was also an insufferable asshole who spent a good part of his life believing in the most vile ideology man has ever created. And he never to my knowledge ever fully repudiated those beliefs.

    Who cares that he insulted people well and wrote a good sentence? Being a communist is just as bad as being a Nazi. Yet, if he had been Nazi in his younger days no one on either side of the political spectrum would have anything good to say about him. Sorry but I don't find Marxism or Nazism to be a quaint hobby of your youth.

    Fuck Hitchens. He was an insufferable bore and basically an asshole. The fact that he was a smart writer and wrote lots of things that even I could like, doesn't excuse that fact or make it inappropriate to point it out after his death.

  • Beloved Rev. Blue Moon||

    Shorter John: "TEAM RED tells me I have to throw the baby out with the bathwater. Aren't I good Culture Warrior?"

    *pats John on head*

    Yes, John, you have served the Kulturkampf well today. It is certainly appropriate to politicize everything and not just shut the hell up once in a while.

  • ||

    Fuck off moon. Either something is right or it is wrong. Hitchens was an unrepentant communist. And team red loved the guy. I am hardly doing their bidding by pointing out what an asshole the rights favorite pet communist was.

  • Beloved Rev. Blue Moon||

    Either something is right or it is wrong.

    Fine - you are wrong. See, isn't it great that I can reduce the fact that you sometimes have good observations and decent opinions and on the other hand you can be a total asshole, down to one simple statement?

    Who needs complexity?

  • ||

    Some things are unforgivable. Being a good writer doesn't make up for being a communist. What if he had been a nazi? Would you feel the same way? If not why is being a communist any better than being a Nazi?

  • Audrey the Liberal||

    Fine - you are wrong. See, isn't it great that I can reduce the fact that you sometimes have good observations and decent opinions and on the other hand you can be a total asshole, down to one simple statement?

    Who needs complexity?This

  • Audrey the Liberal||

    Fine - you are wrong. See, isn't it great that I can reduce the fact that you sometimes have good observations and decent opinions and on the other hand you can be a total asshole, down to one simple statement?

    Who needs complexity?

    Sorry 'bout the tag screw up.

  • ||

    Try answering the question Audrey. What if Hitchens had been a fascist? Would you still find his writing so fascinating then? If not why not?

  • Audrey the Liberal||

    What if Hitchens had been a fascist?

    If he was a fascist in the seventies and eighties, then no. In the twenties and thirties, then perhaps so.

  • ||

    The only fascist writer they ever really rehabilitated was Heidegger. And he was one of the worst if you ask me. I am not totally sure how or why they did that. I guess Hannah Arrendt really was that well liked and respected.

  • Audrey the Liberal||

    The only fascist writer they ever really rehabilitated was Heidegger. And he was one of the worst if you ask me. I am not totally sure how or why they did that. I guess Hannah Arrendt really was that well liked and respected.

    My knowledge of history can be a bit spotty, so I have to ask: What are you talking about? Seriously, who's they, and what do you mean by rehabilitated?

  • Britt||

    Of course your knowledge of history is spotty. You're a liberal.

    Personally I think John is doing something Hitchens himself would applaud: refusing to canonize the dead just because they are in fact dead.

    Communism is an evil ideology, and it has always been so. A lot of the leftists like to pretend it was Stalin, or the crushing of Hungary in '56, or Prague in '68 that made communism evil. This is a whitewashing of history. The Bolsheviks in 1917 were executing thousands without trial. Being a communist in 1930 was much worse then being a fascist, because in 1930 the fascists had not yet committed their most heinous crimes. The evil of communism predates the evil of fascism, and John is absolutely right here: the only defensible stance of communism would be those who were communists before Lenin unleashed its horrors. Anyone who held onto that ideology after the rivers of blood that flowed from that revolution should be held accountable for it.

  • GILMORE||

    Fuck Hitchens. etc.

    I will point out for the record that this is the same person who thinks Sarah Palin is a paragon of wit and virtue.

    Just sayin'. Judge of character may not be John's strongest suit.

  • ||

    I have never said Palin was anything but a good politician. Nice try. Now try defending your love of Hitchens, a communist turned socialist and the neocon's neocon.

  • Audrey the Liberal||

    I have never said Palin was anything but a good politician.

    And nobody is saying Hitchens was anything but a good writer. Hell, even Orwell was an economic simpleton (i.e. a socialist). He was still a good writer.

  • ||

    Who cares if he was a good write. So was Marat. It doesn't excuse his vile views.

  • Audrey the Liberal||

    It doesn't excuse his vile views.

    Like supporting the Iraq War?

  • ||

    In your view yes, Audrey. If you are willing to kiss Hitchens' ass, I would say you really don't think supporting the Iraq war is that big of a deal do you?

  • Audrey the Liberal||

    When did I kiss his ass?

  • ||

    The fact that Orwell could so well understand the horrors of communism and still embrace socialism is one of the great mysteries of the last hundred years. In Orwell's defense, he didn't live as long as Hitchens or see the end of communism the way Hitchens did. In the end, Hitchens is much less defensible.

  • Audrey the Liberal||

    I think the reason even very intelligent people can have trouble gorking libertarianism is because, while accurate (as I believe), it's not particularly intuitive. As such, it can be a challenge to properly convey what classical liberalism is about. This is why I try not to judge people to harshly for, as I like to say, wanting to get to the same place, but, in my opinion, taking the wrong path.

  • ||

    To some degree you are right Audrey. But there are two issues here. One, the degree to which they embrace the ideology. And two, the vileness of the ideology. In Hitchens' case, his embrace was pretty much complete. And he never repudiated it. And he embraced about as vile ideology as one can. I just don't see how being a great writer makes up for that.

    Pound was a better writer than Hitchens. And we haven't rehabilitated him have we?

  • Audrey the Liberal||

    Pound was a better writer than Hitchens. And we haven't rehabilitated him have we?

    Well, maybe we should. For the record, I think you are an okay writer (for an amateur), even though I disagree with you more often then not.

  • ||

    Thank you Audrey, I think. We live in the shadow of hundreds of millions of deaths in the 20th Century thanks to these vile ideologies. It just drives me crazy that people are allowed to embrace them without any effect on their reputations. I am sorry but I think being a communist, especially in the 1960s when it mattered, was immoral. And Hitchens, like everyone who embraced it, owed the world an apology for doing so. He never gave it. And that fact should not go unremarked on his death.

  • Audrey the Liberal||

    Seriously John, calm down. So a man hopped aboard a sinking ship. He's a human being, he's allowed to make mistakes.

  • GILMORE||

    Now try defending your love of Hitchens, a communist turned socialist and the neocon's neocon.

    I don't need to; just read some of his essays - I will repeat the link that i included below =

    http://www.theatlantic.com/pas.....tchens.htm

    Read the article. Its good. He points out that many of the longest-lasting and bloody conflicts of the 20th century are all places the British hastily decided to draw a border when they got tired of trying to run the place...see: Palestine, India/Pakistan/Afghanistan, Iran/Iraq, Cyprus, Ireland, etc.

    You may not like how he writes, but I think you'd be hard pressed to actually make a point disagreeing with him.

    And for the record, you couldnt throw a rock around Oxford in the 70s without hitting 2 dozen 'trotskyites'; it was about as common as bad teeth in England; I think your one-dimensional view of anyone who has less than knee-jerk reactions to Marx is maybe a little silly in context. He was certainly more complicated than you, to say the least.

    Hitchens became a Marxist and a Trotskyist in his teens, beliefs that further developed during his time at Oxford University. In the 1960s Hitchens joined the left, drawn by his anger over the Vietnam war, nuclear weapons, racism and "oligarchy", including that of "the unaccountable corporation". He became a socialist "largely [as] the outcome of a study of history, taking sides ... in the battles over industrialism and war and empire".

    But by 2001, Hitchens had disavowed socialism, declaring "capitalism is the only revolutionary system".[2] In the same year he flirted with libertarianism, telling Rhys Southan of Reason magazine that he could no longer say "I am a socialist". Socialists, he claimed, had ceased to offer a positive alternative to the capitalist system. Capitalism had become the more revolutionary economic system, and he welcomed globalization as "innovative and internationalist". He suggested that he had returned to his early, pre-socialist libertarianism, having come to attach great value to the freedom of the individual from the state and moral authoritarians.[3] Although by 2004 he described himself as "a recovering ex-Trotskyite",[4] in a 2006 debate he remarked that "I am no longer a socialist, but I still am a Marxist".[5]

    Hitchens, as recently as 2009, has again referred to himself as "a Marxist". Hitchens continues to affirm his respect for Marxist theory, including his 2009 article for The Atlantic entitled "The Revenge of Karl Marx". There he explains how Marx's economic analysis in Das Kapital has predicted many of the failures of the U.S. economy, including the late-2000s recession. He continues to regard both Vladimir Lenin and Leon Trotsky as great men, and the Bolsheviks' October Revolution as a necessary event in the modernization of Russia.[6]

  • ||

    He continues to regard both Vladimir Lenin and Leon Trotsky as great men, and the Bolsheviks' October Revolution as a necessary event in the modernization of Russia.[6]

    He is worse than I thought. Lenin was one of the worst humans in history. And the Russian Revolution one of the greatest tragedies. How the hell can anyone who calls themselves a Libertarian embrace someone with those views.

    Sorry, when you tell me you think one of the great mass murderers in history is a "great man", you are disqualified from any sort of respect.

  • Beloved Rev. Blue Moon||

    It just doesn't stop with you, does it John? Guy "flirts" with libertarianism, disavows socialism, says that capitalism is the only revolutionary system (a compliment, I am sure), and you cannot do anything but press your foot on the gas.

    I should know better - once you get into a corner, you double-down on stupidity rather than repudiate it.

  • ||

    Read the quote again Reverend. He said those things in the 00s. By the end of the decade, he was back to being a communist. Let me quote again so it is clear.

    Although by 2004 he described himself as "a recovering ex-Trotskyite",[4] in a 2006 debate he remarked that "I am no longer a socialist, but I still am a Marxist".[5]

    Hitchens, as recently as 2009, has again referred to himself as "a Marxist". Hitchens continues to affirm his respect for Marxist theory, including his 2009 article for The Atlantic entitled "The Revenge of Karl Marx". There he explains how Marx's economic analysis in Das Kapital has predicted many of the failures of the U.S. economy, including the late-2000s recession. He continues to regard both Vladimir Lenin and Leon Trotsky as great men, and the Bolsheviks' October Revolution as a necessary event in the modernization of Russia.[6]

    That guy is getting love on a Libertarian website?

  • Beloved Rev. Blue Moon||

    John, it's OK. I said you were right. You can stop arguing now.

  • GILMORE||

    How the hell can anyone who calls themselves a Libertarian embrace someone with those views.

    Miles Davis beat his wife. His music is still awesome.

    Celine was a Nazi collaborator: "Journey To the End of the Night" is still one of the best novels of the 20th century.

    Hitchens was a marxist. He is still one of the greatest writers in the English language of the last half-century.

    See how it works? I'm not *voting for the man's politics*; I'm acknowledging my admiration for *his work*

  • Audrey the Liberal||

    Miles Davis beat his wife. His music is still awesome.

    Celine was a Nazi collaborator: "Journey To the End of the Night" is still one of the best novels of the 20th century.

    Hitchens was a marxist. He is still one of the greatest writers in the English language of the last half-century.

    See how it works? I'm not *voting for the man's politics*; I'm acknowledging my admiration for *his work*

    Seriously, THIS.

  • Cytotoxic||

    He continues to regard both Vladimir Lenin and Leon Trotsky as great men, and the Bolsheviks' October Revolution as a necessary event in the modernization of Russia.

    Wow. At first I thought John was being a bit fast-and-loose and kind of an asshole but that is incredibly disturbing. Lenin was worse than Hitler. I'd like to think Hitchens was just going fuddy-duddy in his later years. I want to like him his writing was amazing.

  • ||

    And Gilmore, I have never said he wasn't smart and a great writer. I said his vile views on communism and socialism make respecting him impossible.

  • ||

    He was a Trotskist. Directly opposed to Stalinism. Did anyone hate Stalinism more than that socialist, Orwell? I think Hitchens hated Stalinism too.

    Hitchens had a very public spat over Amis' criticism of his lackluster criticism of Stalinism. But why listen to me talk about it?

    http://www.theatlantic.com/pas.....tchens.htm

    I think Hitchens did come around in a lot of ways. The question isn't whether he was a libertarian. The question for me was always whether he was honest in his views.

    When I'm looking for someone to read on current events, I read some stuff by people I'm likely to agree with--like I do around here. But I'm looking for someone that I know I disagree with too. That doesn't work much in politics, because almost all political pundits are boring. They quickly descend into hackery.

    Hitchens wasn't like that. I disagreed with him on almost everything, but I don't have to agree with somebody to like him. And I don't learn much from people that already agree with me either.

    I argue with my best friends all the time. Why would I have to agree with someone to like him or to value his criticism. If you're not having your ideas criticized by people who disagree with you, then your ideas probably aren't going to be very good for very long.

    Having your ideas, in effect, criticized by people like Hitchens makes you smarter. If you have an answer to Hitchens' criticisms, then you've probably got some ideas worth sharing.

    If you judge the criticism you should listen to based on whatever label they call themselves, be it libertarian or something else? Then your arguments may never be any more effective than they are right now.

  • Evolved neanderthal||

    I can't remember where I heard him say it, but I do recall around the time Hitch-22 was published that he had come to believe that it was capitalism that was truly revolutionary. So much for being a communist to the end.

  • ||

    And for the record, I love telling kids there is no Santa Klaus.

  • But there is! ||

    Although he was clearly not libertarian.

    The real Santa lived a long time ago in a place called Asia Minor. It is now the country of Turkey. His name was Nicholas...Nicholas continued helping people. He always tried to help secretly....Everyone loved Nicholas. After he died, they told stories of the good and kind things Nicholas had done.

    THE REAL SANTA
    http://www.stnicholascenter.org/pages/real-santa/

  • Audrey the Liberal||

    At the end of the day, after all is said and done, John will remain a KULTURE WARRIOR. What ever good or bad qualities Mr. Hitchens had as a person or writer are irrelevant, and to be discarded in favor of simplistic "godless commie bastard" sloganeering.

  • ||

    You are projecting Audrey. You have nothing in common with Hitchens views on foreign policy. And you would no doubt find them unforgivable in anyone else. Yet, you defend him because culturally you identify with him.

    Hell, I do to. I am sure he was a great drinking buddy. But that doesn't change the fact that he was a communist and still really was until his death. He never repudiated being a Trotskyite. that is no better than being a Nazi. No way would he get such a pass if he had been a Nazi in his youth. And no way should he get one for being a communist.

    Stop projecting Audrey. And start thinking. You might like it.

  • Audrey the Liberal||

    Hitchens was wrong, wrong, wrong on Iraq (as are you). Yet you hate him because *drumroll* TEAM RED!

  • ||

    Team Red loved him Audrey. He was their favorite communist. If anyone hated him it was team blue. Shit, go to the right blogsphere this morning. They are all in mourning.

    I am hardly playing team ball here. Try again. And also try answering my points.

  • Audrey the Liberal||

    TEAM RED or TEAM BLUE, at the end of the day, it's still the same stupid game.

  • ||

    Try again, answer my question. How is saying "Alfred Rosenberg and Adolf Hitler were great men" any better than saying "Lenin was a great man"? And if you wouldn't forgive the former in someone, why are forgiving Hitchens for the latter?

  • Watoosh||

    Three possible reasons:

    1. Maybe it's because Lenin only* killed about 30,000 people, compared to Hitler's and Stalin's millions. Mind you, Nixon and Johnson murdered more in Vietnam, and the latter is still widely respected among establishment Democrats.

    2. Most people have a rather cartoonish view of evil, rather than one that measures actual suffering and deaths. The Nazis are therefore seen as more evil than radical leftists: their racial ideology is both stupid and ruthless enough to signal "These guys are EEEVEEL". Marxists (which does not equal "communists") are smart enough to craft a plausible narrative with bad guys (capitalists and fascist reactionaries) and good guys (workers, the poor, the oppressed). Therefore if you root for the little guy and have a little contrarian in you, you might still find Marxism charming, but only a complete dumbass would find Nazism charming.

    3. Even if Lenin was the murderer you seem to think he was, in the 60's many people could be excused for cheering for him, because not a lot of official numbers were coming from the East. For many years after Stalin's death, few people knew just how much of a bloodbath the Bolshevik rule had been.

    *By libertarian standards, that's still utterly terrible - but the scale of human wretchedness is so vast that Lenin and Hitler simply aren't in the same ballpark.

  • ||

    Watoosh: That's an interesting take on the issue. Hitchens refers to himself as a Trotskyist, not a Communist, in later life. Given his usual care with language, I can only figure there is a difference there that he valued

  • Watoosh||

    Three possible reasons:

    1. Maybe it's because Lenin only* killed about 30,000 people, compared to Hitler's and Stalin's millions. Mind you, Nixon and Johnson murdered more in Vietnam, and the latter is still widely respected among establishment Democrats.

    2. Most people have a rather cartoonish view of evil, rather than one that measures actual suffering and deaths. The Nazis are therefore seen as more evil than radical leftists: their racial ideology is both stupid and ruthless enough to signal "These guys are EEEVEEL". Marxists (which does not equal "communists") are smart enough to craft a plausible narrative with bad guys (capitalists and fascist reactionaries) and good guys (workers, the poor, the oppressed). Therefore if you root for the little guy and have a little contrarian in you, you might still find Marxism charming, but only a complete dumbass would find Nazism charming.

    3. Even if Lenin was the murderer you seem to think he was, in the 60's many people could be excused for cheering for him, because not a lot of official numbers were coming from the East. For many years after Stalin's death, few people knew just how much of a bloodbath the Bolshevik rule had been.

    *By libertarian standards, that's still utterly terrible - but the scale of human wretchedness is so vast that Lenin and Hitler simply aren't in the same ballpark.

  • GILMORE||

    John|12.16.11 @ 1:15PM|#

    Team Red loved him Audrey. He was their favorite communist. If anyone hated him it was team blue

    I think its probably more fair to say that TEAM RED appreciated him from a distance, particularly for his ceaseless assaults on the Clinton Legacy, as well as for Iraq.... but a fancy talking marxist chainsmoker does not go over well at the Focus on the Family convention. I dont recall anyone in the Bush admin ever inviting him to dinner.

    But you are right that TEAM BLUE loathed him. Apostates are always hated more than heratics.

  • ||

    The Right blogsphere loved him. My dislike of Hitchens is hardly in line with most team Red thinking. If you don't agree with me fine. But don't say I am just mindlessly following the team here.

  • ryan||

    Several people have misattributed beliefs and assertions in the above dialogue.

    John, no commentator has claimed to respect him for the entirety of his work or beliefs. The nature of respect does not require that the recipient, if human, be respected in every detail which he/she possesses. Most comments expressing respect are directed at a particular quality, act, or group of acts of the individual concerned.

    There is an alternative and equally correct usage of respect, regarding both the word and the concept. However one should be careful to not confuse the two usages.

    Respect can also be reserved for, or potentially directed at, an individual with consideration of the accumulation of their work, ideas, and indeed the entirety of their endeavors. This seems to be the concept to which you have referred throughout the dialogue, John. I will not elaborate further but it's sufficient to say that, for whatever reason, some commentators have chosen to focus upon a confined range of his activities. You may disagree with the appropriateness of their doing so, but you should not deny their morality, validity, or consistency within the context of their choice.

    Similarly, they should not confuse the quality of the respect which you have chosen to deny the concerned deceased. In fact, you have expressed both forms of respect, but your detractors failed to distinguish the difference of the meanings you invoked. This has resulted in some confusion, yet no one has explicitly denied the validity of any particular reference to any subject and manner of respect referred to. Each dissension regarding attributions of respect were caused by a misunderstanding, which I have previously elucidated.

  • ryan||

    John has also considered, in addition to the accumulation of Hitchens' endeavors, the potential consequences thereof, and thus formed his beliefs. The temporal range of one's considerations is a human's prerogative as much as the act of thinking itself. One may debate the expedience of the particular range of one's choosing, but it is ultimately an individual's freedom to decide the means to their chosen ends.

  • GILMORE||

    ugh.... christ, with fans like these...

  • GILMORE||

    seriously, please die faster. you insult good writing by poisoning the mans memory with your pedantic bullshit

  • ||

    Current headline over at The Onion: "Fumbling, Inarticulate Obituary Writer Somehow Losing Debate To Christopher Hitchens."

    R.I.P. I'm Catholic and I'm lighting a candle for him whether he likes it or not.

  • ||

    He neither likes it or dislikes it; he's dead.

  • Yup||

    "Of all the tyrannies that afflict mankind, tyranny in religion is the worst. Every other species of tyranny is limited to the world we live in, but this attempts a stride beyond the grave and seeks to pursue us into eternity."
    --Thomas Paine

  • ||

    I really think you might want to reconsider using a quote tyranny from someone who was later involved in the French Revolution.

    Just because you are an atheist doesn't mean you have to be stupid.

  • ||

    I guess you could him involved in the Revolution, but I think the facts that he was against any killing and that Robespierre threw him in prison absolve him a bit. Plenty of brilliant people were fooled by the Bolsheviks, too.

  • ||

    Fair enough. But the Revolution got pretty bad even before Rosespierre.

  • Tonio||

    That's lame John, even for you. Next up: John disowns all of Jefferson's works because he owned slaves.

  • Eduard van Haalen||

    Jefferson didn't write a book in defense of slavery the way Paine did in defense of the French Revolution. Of course, Jefferson *did* support the French Revolution, but at least he got over it.

  • Yup||

    Heh. I wonder which stage of the French Revolution John has painted with his typically wide brush? And if he has ever bothered to read Paine's biography? You know, to maybe get his facts straight?

    Naaaaa!

  • ||

    There wasn't a single stage of it that was ever enlightened. The entire revolution was covered in blood and mob violence and it ended in military dictatorship. Pretty much every horrible idea and ideology of the 20th Century can be traced back to the French Revolution.

    Go back and read something besides your high school text book. You will find it was a fascist blood and soil revolution from the very start.

  • Anyway||

    Does anyone here take John seriously?
    Or is he merely tolerated?

  • affenkopf||

    This is a great opportunity to urge all of you to read Hitchen's great book on Paine.

  • Raven Nation||

    While Reason readers may not disagree with Hitchens here, there was his demolition of Ron Reagan, Jr.:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6d7fHvHXeiQ

    Ending with the line "how can someone who knows so little be allowed so much time on the air."

  • GILMORE||

    RIP - I hope there's plenty of scotch in hell

    My personal favorite Hitchens essay, "The Perils of Partition" = http://www.theatlantic.com/pas.....tchens.htm

  • TONIGHT WE DINE IN HELL||

    THIS IS SPARTA!

  • Trespassers W||

    I hope there's plenty of scotch in hell

    Nope. I expect hell has rivers of Stella, though.

    Purgatory has $4 well drinks.

  • BigT||

    , we ended up bonding over a softness for the early Oliver Cromwell

    Really? Why not a young Pol Pot, Mao, or Stalin? Cromwell is perhaps the least appreciated mass murderer in history.

  • ||

    And if they had killed kings, there would have been something to admire in their early careers, too.

  • ||

    Pot did. Cambodia was a monarchy before year zero.

  • ||

    I had to look it up. It looks like you're not technically correct. But who cares, Cambodian post-colonial history was a complete fucking mess even before Pol Pot came around. I didn't know any of this shit.

  • ||

    It wasn't? I stand corrected. I thought the Khmer Rouge took some prince and paraded his head around the capital when they took over.

  • ||

    Norodom Sihanouk regular script (born October 31, 1922) was the King of Cambodia from 1941 to 1955 and again from 1993 until his semi-retirement and voluntary abdication on 7 October 2004 in favor of his son, the current King Norodom Sihamoni. Since his abdication, he has been known as The King-Father of Cambodia (Khmer: Preahmâhaviraksat), a position in which he retains many of his former responsibilities as constitutional monarch.

    I'm sure they paraded somebody's head around the capital, though. Probably the head of their Mensheviks, or something like that.

  • BigT||

    Killing a king to merely be the same is in no way admirable.

  • ||

    I'm not in favor of anybody being murdered. But kings tend to deserve it.

  • T||

    I think of it as divine retribution to go along with that divine right.

  • l0b0t||

    "You are part of the Anti-Christ, whose kingdom that scripture so expressly speaks should be laid in blood; yay, in the blood of saints. You have shed great store of it already and ere it be long you must, all of you, will have blood to drink, even the dregs of the cup of fury and the wrath of God which will be poured out unto you. "
    - Cromwell to the Irish prior to the siege of Drogheda (1649)

  • affenkopf||

    Papists had it coming.

  • affenkopf||

    I can understand Hitchens liking Cromwell. After all he also liked Lenin and Trotsky. But Nick? Why?

  • BigT||

    Hitchens is about the closest we have ever had to a modern H L Mencken. Genius curmudgeon.

  • Koan||

    Mr. Hitchens, you get the "pour one out for my homey" treatment tonight - Johnny Walker on the ground, and in my gullet. Though I suspect he would have been mystified and strenuously disapprove of what he would call a waste of the fine amber restorative, it's getting poured. WBM

  • ||

    Which color do you pick?

    You could do red for his marxist leanings, but that's the cheap stuff. Or you could do blue, to symbolize his good taste and obscenity laced language.

    Do blue, you'll thank yourself in the morning.

    Maybe pour the red on the ground, ala Snoop Dogg, and drink the blue.

  • T||

    I'll stick with bourbon, thanks. Garrison Brothers, to be specific.

  • ||

    This whole thread is proof that people, libertarians included make their judgments based on culture more than anything else.

    Hitchens was a communist in his early life and a unrepentant socialist in his later life. He never embraced the free market or freedom in any libertarian sense. He was also the greatest apologist for the Iraq war and the war on radical Islam. He spent the last ten years of his life stepping on you people's faces. No one on this board other than me and Tony have anything in common with Hitchens views on the economy or foreign policy. Yet Hitchens is beloved. Why?

    I will tell you why because he was an atheist and seemed cool. That is it. That is all he had in common with you people. How does that make up for being a socialist? And, from the almost universal anti-war perspective of this board, make up for his eloquent and highly effective defenses of the Iraq war?

    If anyone on this board should be crying over Hitchens' death it is me. God knows the rest of the Right is. But I refuse to do it. I am sorry, I can't forgive someone who was a socialist and a communist. I don't care how funny I found his take downs of the anti-war left. I don't care how much agreed with him about the war against radical Islam. He still at the end of the day was some form of socialist and communist. How that qualifies him to be praised on a free market libertarian board is beyond me.

  • Beloved Rev. Blue Moon||

    One may admire his intellect and integrity and wit, if not his politics.

    We are not all culture warriors, John.

  • ||

    You would never admire those things if you didn't culturally identify with him. You are the culture warrior not me. If I cared about culture, I would be talking about what a great guy Hitchens was. Shit, culturally I love the guy. But unlike you I can see beyond that.

  • Beloved Rev. Blue Moon||

    You see so far past it that you pigeonhole the guy into one category and dismiss him out of hand? Whereas I recognize that his politics sucked but I liked him anyways?

    And I'm the culture warrior? We are in the looking glass here.

    John, after you have spent years rehabilitating the neoconservative (read: communists who love war) viewpoint, it is pretty rich for you to step in to talk about this mote in our eyes while you stare down the beam in thine own.

  • ||

    The Neocons repudiated communism. And what if Hitchens had been a Nazi in his youth? I can't imagine anyone defending him like this. To me this is just another example of this weird idea that communism is somehow forgivable.

  • ||

    "No one on this board other than me and Tony have anything in common with Hitchens views on the economy or foreign policy. Yet Hitchens is beloved. Why?"

    Perhaps because he generally used applicable, coherent, and internally-consistent arguments. One can build up a lot of respect for someone like that, even if one disagrees with that person's conclusions.

  • ||

    I can name a hundred really smart, errudite people on the old left. Hell Deutscher was a super genius. I don't see any of those guys getting any love on here. But none of them seemed cool.

    It is about culture.

  • Beloved Rev. Blue Moon||

    You know what? You're right John. There, you win. Now you can shut up about it. You're not cool and you're not coming to any of our cocktail parties, so there. nyah nyah nyah john won the argument.

  • ||

    LOL. No one ever invites me anyway. ;-)

  • T||

    And after this thread, we all know why.

  • ||

    John, you are hereby invited to my coctail party. The Rev. is also invited.

    We'll have fun.

  • GILMORE||

    John|12.16.11 @ 12:55PM|#

    This whole thread is proof that people, libertarians included make their judgments based on culture more than anything else.

    Har! Thats so obviously wrong its hilarious.

    John, the reason people liked him (aside from either his opinions or his politics, which many rightfully had issues with) was because he was a GREAT writer.

    Meaning, people respect talent.

    You on the other hand simply refuse to recognize it, or are incapable.

    its actually *you* thats insisting that people should only judge others based on their politics.

  • ||

    Where have I refused to recognize his talent? But I fail to see why being a clever writer and a great polemicist excuses thinking the Russian Revolution was a great idea.

    And you wouldn't either if you didn't think he was such a cool guy.

  • l0b0t||

    I don't understand how any lover of freedom and liberty could NOT think the Russian Revolution was a great idea. You can, quite rightly IMO, revile the faction of revolutionaries who eventually ended up in charge but if ever there was a nation-state in need of violent repudiation of its government, it was Tsarist Russia,

  • GILMORE||

    I fail to see why being a clever writer and a great polemicist excuses thinking the Russian Revolution was a great idea.

    yes, but his school friend Martin Amis wrote a whole book shaming him over this very point. its not like he spent any significant part of his career post-Nation extolling the virtues of stalinism; you seem to think it was a defining element of the man, when in fact, and well demonstrated, was that he was principally a writer and a man of ideas... exclusive of marxist interest. did his book on jefferson lean on marxist ideology? Kissinger? God? The problem with your problem is that its completely personal, and totally unrelated to his actual output. OK - he never repudiated his former endorsement of the soviet union. WTF does that have to do with the magical quality of his book reviews?? Nothing. I know youve said you are distinguishing the man from the work... but still... i suspect you have no experience with the work. He's too goddamn compelling to be easily dismissed. And its a shame he's not here to defend himself, which he was good at.

  • Beloved Rev. Blue Moon||

    GILMORE, it's totally cool. John won the argument already.

  • ||

    Its not about winning and losing arguments; its about getting invited to the happenin' cocktail parties.

    Rev, you will always be welcome at my cocktail parties and to my tailgate parties (assuming you like football and tailgate fare and "lighter" conversation as I don't do libertymike unless provoked on such occasions).

  • ||

    John

    a. You can admire a person for some of their attributes (i.e. his wit, sharpness of mind, total disregard of anything resembling political correctness) and still completely disagree with their philosophy. So, yes, as a libertarian, Hitch was one of the few socialists I admire.

    b. I stopped by the FOX comment board before coming here and there was nothing but the spewing of hate, because of his religious beliefs (or lack there of). Your comment that Team Red is in mourning is disingenuous.

  • ||

    Christ, I'd enjoy knocking back a few with Bubba. I don't agree with him, but he's interesting. (And he's a chick magnet.)

  • Mr. Plow||

    Have you checked out HotAir? They're pretty much lockstep in their admiration for the guy, what with his hating of Muslims and all.

  • The Wine Commonsewer||

    "Wine. Is. Red!"--Hitch

  • ||

    I think that Hitchens would appreciate someone like John, pointing his finger and saying, "That man was no saint and your hagiography is misdirected and a contradiction to all that you believe."

    Just a little throwing stones at statues, nothing to get worked up about.

  • Bugs||

    He would, though he wouldn't appreciate the inaccurate unrepentant communist line. So far simplistic and far removed from the way Hitchens evolved to see the world.

  • Audrey the Liberal||

    I think that Hitchens would appreciate someone like John, pointing his finger and saying, "That man was no saint and your hagiography is misdirected and a contradiction to all that you believe."

    You Sir, make a very good point, and should be commended. Sorry John, for pouncing on you like that.

  • ||

    Dude is like totally rocking it man. Wow.

    www.RealPrivacy.tk

  • Max||

    "I didn't always agree with him (his positions on the invasion of Iraq, for instance, and his admiration of the awful I.F. Stone leave me scratching my head)"

    Your right-wing drivel and hypoctritical silence on Ron Paul's racism leave me scratching my balls.

  • Paul||

    There's an ointment for that...

  • poot||

    Careful, you wouldn't want to kill the rest of his brain cells.

  • Paul||

    I already miss Hitchens...

    I haven't been over to The Nation because I'm afraid someone will be singing "Ding dong, the Hitch is dead..." and I just couldn't stomach that.

    God speed to the Hitch. I'm tipping a glass in rememberance tonight.

  • ||

    No, they're sucking up, too:
    http://www.thenation.com/artic.....hristopher

  • ||

    An intellectual giant he was. Yes a great man. Strange how couldn't grasp the concept of God. Sad to think he will spend eternity in a never ending void of emptiness. I will miss his work for sure.

  • Xenocles||

    Hitchens was the reason I started to question the practice of waterboarding. I will always be grateful to him for that.

  • first||

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  • Neu Mejican||

    John|12.16.11 @ 12:55PM|#

    This whole thread is proof that people, libertarians included John make[s] their his judgments based on culture more than anything else.

    FIFY

  • poot||

    That's not it. His judgements are Manicheean. The Left is evil and there are no grays. No wonder he doesn't like Hitch - he was a complicated, interesting thinker.

  • ||

    I'm convoluted. I could sit and listen to the man and always with the same result: wishing someone had come out of the crowed and knocked the shit out of him. And those were the rare times I could agree with his argument.
    My guess is he's up Styx without a paddle, still too smart by half.

  •  ||

    Convoluted or conflicted? Regardless, your violence fantasy is heartwarming. You should visit his tombstone and knock it over. That'll teach the smartypants.

  • first||

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  • first||

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  • Godfrey||

    Just when I thought I couldn't be any sadder, you post this fucking video.

    I love this universe, but I preferred the one with Hitch in it.

    Merry Xmas.

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