And Yet … we need Christopher Hitchens now more than ever

December 30, 2015 at 11:31 am (anti-fascism, Anti-Racism, atheism, Champagne Charlie, hitchens, humanism, intellectuals, internationalism)

“Patriotic and Tribal feelings belong to the squalling childhood of the human race, and become no more charming in their senescence. They are particularly unattractive when evinced by a superpower. But ironies of history may yet save us. English language and literature, oft-celebrated as one of the glories of “Western” civilisation, turn out to have even higher faculties than used to be claimed for them. In my country of birth the great new fictional practitioners have in their front rank names like Rushdie, Kureishi, Mo. This attainment on their part makes me oddly proud to be whatever I am, and convinces me that internationalism is the highest form of patriotism” – C Hitchens, ‘What Is Patriotism?’, The Nation, July 15/22, 1991.

Someone who for reasons best known to themselves, appears to love me very much, brought me ‘And Yet …’ for Christmas. This was, undoubtedly, the most welcome present I could have hoped for, containing as it does, the full panoply of Christopher Hitchens’ wit and wisdom on subjects as varied as Hillary Clinton, Hezbollah, Orwell’s “list” and … male body-waxing (hilarious, of course).

The publishers’ blurb is slightly misleading in describing this collection as being made up of “previously unpublished” material: in fact all these essays were first published the various publications (Slate, The Nation, The New York Review of Books, Vanity Fair, etc) to which Hitchens was a regular and prolific contributor. But it’s excellent to have them brought together and readily available in book form.

Inevitably, we start speculating on what the man would have to say about contemporary political developments, like the West’s betrayal of Afghanistan, the resurgence of neo-Stalinism and Putin-worship on sections of the “left”, or the rise of that piece of sub-human excrement calling itself Donald Trump; Hitch’s 2007 thoughts on the subject of Jerry Falwell give us a pretty good clue as to the latter:

8 Comments

  1. Steven Johnston said,

    Great man, sadly missed, he was taken from us too early. The only book of his I had was Hitch-22 A memoir. Read from cover to cover, in a non-stop reading frenzy. Sure I didn’t agree with him on a lot of things but it was hard not to love his writings and him. No matter which medium he choose to communicate his intelligence, wit and charisma shone through.

  2. Steven Johnston said,

    He even achieved the impossible and made an episode of Penn & Tellers bullsh!t watchable. The episode was on Mother Teresea (natch).

    • Glasgow Working Class said,

      And the Vatican making the woman a saint. Saving souls depriving them of edjikashun, condoms and women’s rights. Aye the planet Earth has moved on. And the new Argie pope pretending tae be liberal. I can understand Mr Hitchens. He must have thought he was dreaming but had to wake up. Now he is gone. Sad indeed.

  3. Squad Goals said,

    Hitchens supported capitalism and imperialism: the vary systems that puked up religionists he railed against. Marx would have dismissed him just as he dismissed the idealists of his day.

    • Steven Johnston said,

      Short of getting the Ouija board out and asking him who knows what Marx would have said about Hitchens?

  4. kb72 said,

    Much missed. He would have given all those craven fools who shuffled their feet over Charlie Hebdo a hefty & sharp-toed kicking.

  5. jschulman said,

    A review of Hitchens’ memoir from a third camp Marxist perspective:

    http://newpol.org/content/remembrance-politics-past

    • Jim Denham said,

      A pretty shrewd and (I think) fair review by Hirsch: thanks for the link, comrade!

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