22 December 2011
RIP Christopher Hitchens
A quick search shows that this blog has made reference to Hitchens' work three times.
The first time was after my Bloomsday trip to Dublin in June 2007, and I reported that I had met him in an elevator in that city:
A year later, I made a rather snide remark about Hitchens and his "village atheist" pose at the end of a post about Scholem:
Again this spring I invoked Hitchens as a token of that type:
Aside from his proselytizing for atheism, though, the other fact about Hitchens worth noting is that his political journeying replicated that of the neoconserativces of an earlier time. I use the word "neocon" in what I take to be the faily narrow and correct sense, not as a loose term of abuse as it is often used these days.
A neocon in the relevant sense is generally a secular intellectual who adopts conservative views on what he takes to be practical grounds, often after a leftwing youth. Historically, many neocons happen to come from a Jewish ethnic background: Norman Podhoretz, Irving Kristol, Bill Kristol, etc.
The original neocons (the first two of those three among them) adopted conservatism after a disillusionment about communism, and they became identified with the view that the stronger the US in the world, the weaker international communism, the better for humanity.
On October 21, 2002, the Washington Post ran an opinion piece by Hitchens entitled "So Long, Fellow Travelers." It was precisely the sort of piece that could have been written by one of the original neocons in the 1970s. But with an update for the era. The new threat to all Hitchens held dear was Islamofascism (his coinage, I believe), and his disagreement with his former colleagues on the left was that they are soft on it, and he would no longer be.
His journeying is now over, his friends will remember him fondly, and the readers he infuriated might benefit as they recollect that passion in tranquility.
Knowledge is warranted belief -- it is the body of belief that we build up because, while living in this world, we've developed good reasons for believing it. What we know, then, is what works -- and it is, necessarily, what has worked for us, each of us individually, as a first approximation. For my other blog, on the struggles for control in the corporate suites, see www.proxypartisans.blogspot.com.