Hitch 22 – Not the real threat to the left
May 30, 2010 2 Comments
I’ve read a good deal of reviews on Christopher Hitchens’ memoir Hitch 22, and also a sizeable number of articles and interviews with him, and a large portion, I’d say without a second thought the lions share, of those reviews have referred to Hitchens as having shifted from the left to the right, and what now worries me is this self fulfilling prophecy might have even consumed Hitchens himself (though there’s surely a conflict in the Hitch’s self professed ‘contrarianism’ with being dictated to by others his outlook).
The better, minority of articles suggest Hitchens as either saving the left from an unprogressive cultural relativism, saving the left from itself (not sticking their neck out for Rushdie and countless other episodes where those who call themselves leftists tolerate theocrats), taking back the term leftwinger when it designated people who fought for justice for all, including gays, trade unionists and progressives in countries where blame might easier be sought from neoimperialist countries like the US – if only things could be so black and white.
Toby Young in his observer review of the book names and shames those who sought to excuse or appease theocratic absolutists (so-called progressives as Germaine Greer, John Berger, Arthur Miller and a few more) and also those who bent over backwards to blame 9/11 on America (so-called progressives as Noam Chomsky, John Updike, Michael Moore, Susan Sontag and another few).
It is indicative that hardly anyone questions their political shifts.
Hitchens and others were wrong about the Iraq war, but certain leftists – on the Hitch’s enemy list – though having reached the right conclusion (invasion of Iraq was an error) have got there methods all wrong.
That Hitchens has shifted from left to right is the wrong argument; the real argument is how far thinkers like those named above have shifted from left to obscure – it is they, and by no means Hitchens, who threaten to obfuscate what it is to be on the left today.