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The world will miss him.
I am sad.
Great man and great mind. RIP.
Didn't always agree with him but always had huge respect for the courage of his convictions which didn't sway right up till his death. He will be sorely missed as there are very few like him left. R.I.P!
But the courage of his convictions alone aren't worth celebrating. What is worth celebrating is that Hitchens always PRESENTED his convictions with a thorough argument, deep intellectual fervour, considered research and robust thought. And whether or not he was to be agreed with, his end desire was always the same - to support positions he thought would make the world a better place.
Whether you're on the right, left, or whatever - Hitchens' writing should be acknowledged by all as political journalism of the very, very highest order. The fact he had a command of the English language shared by few others was the icing on the cake.
62 is no age. But, to reference the man himself, he couldn't have lead the life that he did and have expected to get away with it...
If i was more articulate i would have posted something like that :)
He eventually transcends left/right distinctions, that would be the real tribute to him.
Future generations of readers would be doing the man a hideous disservice if they read him through that kind of filter...
a fitting eulogy
And not 'always'...I don't recall any of that thorough argument being present when he called the Dixie Chicks a bunch of "fucking fat slags" for challenging George Bush. I suppose its a "robust thought". What I do recall was a once great writer who became increasingly viciously and mawkishly reductive as his career progressed.
as good as sebastian jungers tribute to tim hetherington this year, which I also thought was great.
...you've got a brain and an internet - why not look for yourself?
Essentially he was the closest modern-day equivalent there is to Orwell in terms of his outspoken views, use of reason to defend his position and willingness to go against his natural political allies in the defence of his beliefs.
A great man.
Can't say I've ever heard of Mr Hitchens. Might go check him out. What should I start with?
A collection of them came out recently in a book called "Arguably". I can't vouch for it yet as it's on my Christmas list and I'm not actually sure which essays are in there but I'd imagine it'd be a good place to start.
If you're more interested in his journalism, you should dip in and out of his collection of Essays called "Blood, Class and Empire". His *hit* was God is Not Great, which is bascially a philippic on religion, I enjoyed it even as a believer, and though arrogant he manages to avoid the Dawkins style smugness.
and have selection of his best articles.
Often, you can be a real bellend.
Short answer to your question: a fuckload.
But there's a grain of reality in there somewhere.
The only real knowledge I have of Christopher is the debate on religion that he did with Blair a few months back.
I've never knowingly read any articles he's done (and certainly haven't remembered, if I have), or heard or see him speak on anything. I've only ever heard others big him up. So the positioning of him as some sort of Orwell is quite a claim.
Peter, on the other hand, has pervaded my consciousness on many occasions. :-/
and some pivotal contributions to debates surrounding injustice, including in courts etc, well worth further investigation... also, a wonderful writer.
as a result, this thread has turned into more than just elegaic praise of the man. I personally haven't read any of his works, I know nothing of the man beyond his name. it's important to explore why he was great. same goes for any great person in the event of their passing.
I'm definitely going to be checking out some of the suggested books.
and so far, I've only read the article in the OP.
to have avoided reading anything that he wrote.
I can’t be bothered to list through everything worth reading, as there’s so much of it, but his books on Jefferson and Kissinger are particularly excellent, his writings on his atheism are pretty essential, and his criticisms of US torture methods were notably brave.
or be frightened to self-test your beliefs to the point of not engaging in a vast bulk of political and philosophical thought, to have avoided reading anything of his.
CG is interested in politics more than the vast majority of the population, and I just find it odd that he could have got this far and not knowingly read anything by him.
I might think that Roger Scruton is an overly simplistic conservative regressive, but that doesn’t mean I haven’t read a lot of his pieces.
How many journalists would go so far in their research as to agree to be waterboarded?
not the most heated or partularly challenging (by hitchen's standards) but a good start if you've not heard him speak. It was my first introduction to him.
but did believe in a load of other totally irrational, imaginary and harmful things.
and its wonderful to read such tributes. A brilliant man, a brilliant mind - ironically his work and writing gives me more faith and hope for humanity than any organised religion ever could. His spirit will live on forever through his peerless prose. Going to start Hitch-22 all over again tonight in tribute to him!
HITCHENS IS GOD
I don't think placing him on that sort of pedestal is the most appropriate tribute.
i remember him making some misogynist comments and that time he said "the black dyke got it wrong" but i don't know enough about him really
hurrah for white middle class heroes i guess
Proof there is no god.
Good writer though, his articles were always good if just for the use of language. Guess on strength I will miss him.
Also had some great views on Islam. Decided Christianity was ok as long as it kept the former at bay wherever it could at one point I believe
felt pretty oppressed by the patriarchy when i found out
im cold as ice
It's what Neil Strauss would call 'negging'
^ quite bizarre.
If the latter, then Yes:
It read to me like she was just acknowledging that he was a contrarian who tended to get into a lot of arguments and it's nice to think his critics actually respected him. Is that an overly-generous reading? I'm quite tired so may not be thinking properly...
what a horrible horrible thing to say about someone.
I'd assume that's how most Christians feel about death.
Seemingly offering compassion while hoping that everything he believed in, everything that made him such a figure, everything she professes to admire, is proved wrong.
he wasn't loved purely because he was an atheist.
the callous bitch.
'No evidence or argument has yet been presented which would change my mind. But I like surprises.”
Wow, what a bitch(ens)....?
^noticeable among a lot of left-ish publications since the news broke is a reluctance to discuss any of the arguments he made while alive and the work he has left behind. rather, a sort of blanket dismissal of him as a sellout seems to be the consensus, especially at the guardian.
doesn't seem to matter that iraq was the only real issue he was in conflict with the left over (i mean, we're all in agreement that there should always be a separation of church/mosque and state, right?). nor that he was still describing himself as a leftist up until his death.
few commentators seem willing to engage with any of his arguments. strange how conservative so many liberals are being.
If you took that conclusion from the coverage the Guardian has given his death, then I do kinda wonder about your ability to read.
"noticeable among a lot of left-ish publications since the news broke..."
and you're worrying about my ability to read?
hmm, interesting, etc.
He also helped the Republican effort to paint the Clinton Administration as a breeding ground for mendacity and immorality.
He secretly realigned himself to Conservative standards during the 1979 election (despite abstaining from actually voting).
He LAMBASTED Mother Theresa, was critical of Chomsky and fell out of favour with Gore Vidal.
There's plenty more disinclination for Leftist rhetoric and ideology. I actually think that the hyper-rationality of Hitchens voice meant that he could transcend regimented politics. He was that and this and that.
at the time hitchens was actually in agreement with noam chomsky and quite a few others, as well as the republicans, about the clinton administration and the culture of sleaze it cultivated. in particular, he and chomsky both agreed with each other on clinton's bombing of sudan. also, both picked up on the fact that, in later interviews, clinton paraphrased quotes from hollywood movies to justify his actions and win sympathy (this would be an example of the mendacity and immorality you refer to).
agree with the 79 election point.
not sure how his critique of mother theresa put him at odds with those on the left, but never mind.
plenty more, sure. he was an interesting guy. and he was all over the place politically. but my point is that /in his own words/ he described himself as a leftist up until the end. that was all :)
And, despite her non-political allegiances, she always waded in on ''hot potato'' issues like abortion rights.
re: Clinton and his many faults, Hitchens clearly had some valid points to make, but that didn't make him a closet republican by default. Same with Mother Teresa, whose position on the black-and-white left-right scale I cannot even figure out. In my books, arguing with Chomsky and falling out with 9/11 conspiracy nut Vidal (although I don't know which specific issue they fell out over for) is a good thing.
I've been youtube bingeing on Hitchens's Iraq debates and I have to admit, with footnotes about the failures of strategy and planning and vision, on the main he was pretty much right, in that he was not morally able to support any policy that protects people like Saddam and Uday Hussein, which any anti-war policy I've heard of would've done. that doesn't make him a sudden right-winger, but a fairly consistent lefty in my books, even if you find yourself in the company of George Bush, while the anti-war movements wound up in the company of various Muslim fundamentalist groups.
And, as George Eaton said, his support of the Iraq invasions wasn't 'an attempt to ingratiate himself with the neoconservatives...it was spurred by his belief that even war was preferable to the survival of Saddam's totalitarian regime''
It also had a touch of the Marxist belief in the necessity of violence for historical progress.
Slightly, slightly, slightly.
But you nearly let yourself down with:
"the tolerance that Christianity demands of our society provides greater space for other religious faiths too"
and someone is like 'are you serious' and everyone else is thinking 'yeah alright grandad, go to bed'. biting stuff.
there was no argument there. He asserted something, she asked him if it was a genuine assertion, he said yes, repeat. The issue was not discussed, his assertion was.
Despite being sympathetic to a lot of hitchens' conclusions, its unsurprising that he's so liked by internet warriors and 4chan intellectuals (people like you): insofar as discussion is about trying to humiliate the person you're arguing with, Hitchens was great at it, most frequently by using 'smackdown' rhetoric and more rarely by having a sound argument. Unfortunately, arguments aren't about humiliating you're opponent. Nevertheless, caustic one-liners and sarcasm are about as close as most of these internet jerk-offs ever get to physical confrontation, so they take christopher hitchens as their pack leader whilst he spars with their 'enemies' on their behalf; enemies who are always in contrast to 'reason' and 'enlightenment values'. Whilst real thinkers are conscious of everything that's happened intellectually in the 20th century (for better or worse), the Dawkins and Hitchens brigade choose to ignore it and instead take childish pot shots at the 'bigotry' they see around them. Sometimes, by hazard, they hit the target, but most of the time they act as if everybody else is missing a trick, the trick being apparently distanced, impartial, 'objective' argument.
If Hitchens is to be celebrated it is not as a social campaigner.
but this is absolutely spot on and why I have an intense second hand dislike of the man.
to accuse the author of a dozen books, a prolific essayist, and a guy who regularly did talks/debates lasting over an hour, of relying on one-liners, sasrcasm and character attacks for a career (though admittedly they often played a part in his broad reportoire).
Also, it's ironic that over half of your post is dedicated to 'smackdown' rhetoric and humiliating your opponent (internet jerk-offs, etc.), the exact thing you claim to be rallying against. Lets be honest, you're very much an 'internet warrior' on this thread, which negates your argument considerably. Would be nice to hear your point with less 'internet jerk-off' in there!
the poster doing the very thing he lambasts Hitchens for. Duh.
I was having a joke initially, but my word ...
i'm not 'rallying' against spicy vocabulary, its more the spirit of humiliation and sneering which hitchens and his fans seem to argue in that I don't like. I never said hitchens was 'style over substance', I said that he bullied 'reason' down people's throats until they were humiliated.
Besides, internet jerk-offs are internet jerk-offs.
with Hitchens as Bammers, and the host as everyone else. Leeway given, on account of previously being contrarian and making a good point with a reasoning of sorts. But, on this occasion, no rationale offered, other than 'cos that's what i believe'. Cringey.
What seems to have happened, as far as I can see it, is Hitchens has made an incredibly innocuous claim that, whilst new mothers can go back to work if they want to, they shouldn't be forced to do so. Admittedly he's done it with the odd bit of sentimentalist old man sexism chucked in but, nonetheless, not putting a gun to people's head and forcing them to work but giving them the option is a claim it's very, very, very hard to find much fault with.
The woman involved has managed to treat it as though he's said some massively controversial statement that women shouldn't be allowed to go to work. Which clearly isn't what happened. So she then starts accusing him of something he hasn't said and he starts digressing vaguely but they all seem to like each other in the end.
It's an innocuous nothing of a conversation. it didn't really seem to be a clip that proved anything at all and I neither understand the point Mehodor was originally making or how it's provoked some sort of controversial debate.
but yeah the whole thing is worthy of a lolmole
and she's what passes for a public intellectual in Australia
i like it.
a public intellectual, or a righteous feminist hack. I would simply have called her a journalist, or perhaps a radio/television presenter. I guess she strays into the realms of social commentary, but I think to even call her a social commentator is a bit of a stretch.
I haven't seen the video above, so maybe she does come across as a righteous feminist hack there.
of his beef with mother teresa? is it cos she was religious?
."[Mother Teresa] was not a friend of the poor. She was a friend of poverty. She said that suffering was a gift from God. She spent her life opposing the only known cure for poverty, which is the empowerment of women and the emancipation of them from a livestock version of compulsory reproduction."
...of Mother Teresa are remarkable. If you have any interest in critical thinking, I would recommend them highly. Hell's Angel, the documentary he made, is on YouTube and is well worth a watch.
If someone had started a thread on him last week, I'd have posted in it to say that he was a ballbag.
makes for a nice change of pace having something he wrote which we can all agree on, i feel.
it veers off a bit towards the end :/
that many people have with him (and others like dawkins etc). starts off making very good points about polanski and celebrity privilege, but simply can't resist derailing himself to basically say 'but it's much worse in muslim countries, innit'. that's really not the same as putting something in 'a global context': both points are important and could have made great articles in themselves, but they don't make for any kind of productive or relevant comparison. and making the comparison only serves to undermine the initial point, because it essentially says 'look, we should think ourselves lucky that at least we're not as barbaric as that', instead of endorsing a closer examination of the injustice and inequality that still exists in the western world (of which polanski is an interesting but not isolated example)
cos i haven't read enough of him to know. but there's definitely a tendency within that whole 'new atheist' crowd, whenever some kind of social justice issue comes up (especially, of course, if it happens to be gender issue), to go 'stop complaining, just look at the muslims!'
Those arguments originate from a wider (and important) point about the left failing to embrace internationalism and defend people in other country's rights to enjoy the same freedoms as we do and stem from people like Michael Focault's indefensible defence of Iran or the antipathy of a certain feminist commentators to Ayaan Hirsi Ali.
I agree that argument's started being used out of context and when its not relevant but I think the wider point that feminism, racism, socialism etc. should be applied equally to all people from all cultures or they otherwise become tarnished is an important one. That's not to say that issues around social justice in the West should be ignored, just that there is a fundamental flaw in any case where commentators are prepared to condemn one culture whilst condoning far worse things in another.
cos while i agree with most of that, you've completely ignored the whole complex problem of colonialism that comes with being a western commentator on non-western politics. of course i don't think cultural relativism is the answer to that, and of course we should support feminist and anti-racist (etc) critiques of non-western cultures (most especially when they're coming from people who are actually from those cultures), but that's quite a bit more complicated than just saying that 'feminism, racism, socialism etc. should be applied equally to all people from all cultures' since none of those things are monolithic concepts. and any critique has to come from a position of recognising that the west most certainly hasn't got it all figured out
anyway, the point i was making is precisely about the argument being used out of context - i'm sure hitchens could have written a very good article about horrific institutional misogyny in yemen, but the point is absolutely irrelevant to an article about roman polanski. similarly, if a point about sexism/racism/homophobia *specifically* in our own culture is being discussed, it's absolutely irrelevant to bring up the fact that more brutal things happen in other countries - it's just pure derailing
There's an excellent book by Kenan Malik called "strange fruit" that argues that the focus on the separateness and distinctions created by different cultures is itself a post-colonial concept and I think all too often we fall down into thinking that everyone from a particular country is part of that dominant culture and both wants to (and should want to) conform to their expected cultural norms and standards, even though we know from simply looking at the UK that isn't really true.
That's not to say the West is 'right' has got it all figured out, 'cos it hasn't, and of course it is far more complex than I'm making things sound in a few short paragraphs and there are a lot of grey areas and complexities but, at the same time, I do think that at heart a human being is a human being and, whilst beliefs may vary wildly from country to country, emotions do not. And that there are fundamental needs that do universally exist across all cultures (such as the desire for safety from physical or mental threat or coercion) and that cultural differences can sometimes be used as an excuse to fail to speak out or condemn things we know are wrong (such as the subjugation of women or persecution of homosexuals). All that said, I appreciate you're not actually disagreeing with any of that. And I do agree that, in this case, it wasn't really relevant for Hitchens to bring it up. Especially as the law being referred to wasn't really applied in the case of Polanski in any case.
but i feel the spectre of colonialism is often used as a derailment tactic whenever a discussion between westerners about a non-western society finally threatens to confront, head on, exactly what that particular non-western society is doing to its minority citizens (be they women, gay, communist or whatever). as if by conjuring the memory of chains and slave auctions held by white men in silly uniforms any arguments which may improve the way a given society behaves towards its most vulnerable members can be rendered invalid.
"but that's quite a bit more complicated than just saying that 'feminism, racism, socialism etc. should be applied equally to all people from all cultures' since none of those things are monolithic concepts."
with respect i disagree. i take your use of the term 'monolithic' to be a synonym for 'universal', and so, given that, i'm hard pressed to think of any concepts more universal than the application of anti-racist, anti-sexist and pro-democratic principles.
of course, a critique of non-western culture "has to come from a position of recognising that the west most certainly hasn't got it all figured out", but i think it'd be foolish not to acknowledge that our house is a great deal more "in order" than any of the countries discussed in the article. i suppose you could argue that what works for "us" may not work for "them" for reasons a, b and c, and i'm sure you could do it without being relativist, but based on the the events of this year alone we can safely say that whatever "it" is, it isn't working for non-western countries and the vast majority of their citizens are yearning for secular/progressive democracy along western lines.
apart from that i agree totally with your last paragraph.
while i wish i could support your implication that the 'spectre of colonialism' is something completely distant, just used for rhetoric, it's maybe worth remembering it wasn't for hitchens, he was raised, the son of a navy-man, in colonial Malta.
and to caricature it as an irrelevant old-fashioned 'memory' is every bit as patronising and damaging as the opposite extreme of relativism
wrt the third paragraph, let's use feminism as the easiest example: within the western world alone, there are a ton of different strands of feminism and they all argue viciously, not only about the best 'application of anti-sexist principles' but about what those principles even are, so with respect i don't think it's a remotely universal concept. it's all very well to say equality is a simple universal principle, but once you get into the complexities of what equality actually *means*, what identity is and how it's produced, what sort of power structures exist in a particular society and how they affect people differently, there's an awful lot of room for debate and dissent. that's what i mean by it not being monolithic, and that's why it's more complicated than just handing out a nice blueprint for equality that can be 'applied equally' wherever you go. this is all a bit obvious - my point is really just that the most meaningful critiques of non-western societies are going to come from oppressed non-western people, not from people like christopher hitchens
I think a lot of theorists over-complicate equality and, whilst the current dominant ideology in the West is that you need to treat people differently in order to treat them the same, I think this tends to be an over-nuanced approach and I think it gives a weight to cultural differences that at times borders on a cultural determinism ("This is your heritage so this is who you are and so this is how we'll treat you") that actually disadvantages individuals, and especially individuals who don't conform to the norms of their culture, and gives those individuals less freedom to manoeuvre than if we simply treated people as people. And, especially when we're talking about democracy then, if effectively applied (and arguably several countries, both Western and non-Western fail to apply it correctly, we're simply talking about the right of people to vote in (and out) their political leaders which, even as a universal concept, allows a lot of scope for variation,
I'd agree there are several definitions of feminism and racial equality lots of grey areas as to what the best way to achieve a gender-equal society is but, at the same time, I think even if we can't identify and agree on the best practice we can - almost instinctively - spot the worst practice . So, whilst how best to close the gender pay gap for example might be an area for debate, I think several areas of equality, such as the persecution of homosexuals or cultures that force women into marriage, are much less so and it's important not to let the fact there are areas of difference in approach to equality blind us into thinking all issues around race and gender are too complex as I'd suggest that, even allowing for different approaches, there is more common ground than difference on, say, what constitutes sexism or racism and the areas for difference shouldn't prevent a united front over the bits most would agree on.
And, whilst, to an extent, I agree with your last sentence , I think the assumptions and weight we give to the significance of the fact that non-Western cultures are 'non-Western cultures' is much of the reason why the West tends to be so poor at critiquing them. I think if we started from our knowledge of people, emotions and human interaction and how we know people like to be treated, rather than assuming we need to start from scratch because we're talking about people from a different country, it'd be much easier to be meaningful on the subject. And, ultimately, many people in oppressed societies will only have experience of being in an oppressed society and will never have experienced freedom, just as many Western commentators will never have experienced oppression so actually I think collaborative working and sharing ideas (which, if spoken communication is impossible, can perhaps only come through reading each other's writing, will be more effective than focussing on either one or the other.
tiramisu is half-right here: "my point is really just that the most meaningful critiques of non-western societies are going to come from oppressed non-western people, not from people like christopher hitchens".
but a free an open exchange of ideas has to be prioritised over listening to only one side.
here are a couple of points theguywithnousername made which i feel are particularly on-the-money:
"I think a lot of theorists over-complicate equality...I think it gives a weight to cultural differences that at times borders on a cultural determinism ("This is your heritage so this is who you are and so this is how we'll treat you") that actually disadvantages individuals, /and especially individuals who don't conform to the norms of their culture/"
"So, whilst how best to close the gender pay gap for example might be an area for debate, I think several areas of equality, such as the persecution of homosexuals or cultures that force women into marriage, /are much less so/"
have to say, i'm pleased with how this thread is turning out. plenty of meaty discussion and respectful disagreement, very few incidents of out-and-out nastiness. cheers guys.
mehodor must be well disappointed
i think we're coming from different assumptions about human nature - obviously no 'culture' is homogeneous and that's a whole other issue, but i really can't bring myself to regard 'our knowledge of people, emotions and human interaction' as a universal given rather than something culturally and historically produced... but yeah that's probably a debate best saved for another time, and i obviously don't think it precludes condemnation of brutal abuse and inequality. but if 'the west' (we've been using that concept just as uncritically as 'non-western', btw) is going to make those critiques, i do think it has to be framed in terms of economic, sociohistorical, geopolitical (blah blah) structures, rather than pinned onto a crude demonisation of islam which is too often what happens, especially in the context of 'new atheism'
I think new atheism demonising all religions. Some points I agree with but some of it's simplistic, inaccurate and is based on the somewhat patronising and untrue assumption that all religious people literally believe all religious texts and interpret them in the strictest possible terms, which obviously is a caricature of any religion.
The debate over the extent to which culture changes human nature is obviously a very complex one and I suspect it's a line in the sand where we've both got opinions that aren't going to be changed so I'm happy to draw a line under this one for now. It's been an interesting discussion I think.
^richard seymour is good on the subject
of whether Hitchens actually lived up to the values of universalism, objectivity and reason that he argued for. Certainly Seymour makes a very good argument that in some cases he didn't.
That doesn't actually in itself invalidate those values as concepts to strive for though...
^terry eagleton is good on the subject
(but i'm not entirely sure why it's relevant since we're surely about specifically hitchens' use & misuse of the concepts, not them as abstract ideals in themselves)
... i realise i'm not really engaging here & i would explain what eagleton actually says on the subject, in-between weird jokes about kate winslet - (it's fairly standard stuff about 'clash of civilisation' mentalities, 'enlightment values' etc tbf)...but i'm meant to be writing an essay and am just popping into DiS out of bad faith.
ah well fair enough.
i did look for a text version but couldn't find one.
i think this makes a similar point but i've not read it http://www.amazon.co.uk/Reason-Faith-Revolution-Reflections-Lectures/dp/0300151799
Possibly going off topic entirely, even though I am pretty fiercely pro-'enlightenment values', I don't have too much time for the 'new atheism' movement in general and see it as a different thing (even though a lot of its proponents do have roots in pro-enlightenment arguments).
The problem to me with Dawkins, and indeed Hitchens for that matter, is if you are going to try to address religion from a point of reason and objectivity I think the conclusion you have to come to is that, whilst there is no substantial evidence for the existence of religion and while it is is harder to disprove religion than prove it, the only thing anyone can say is that we can't possibly know for certain whether some sort of higher being exists or what happens when we die and I do think Dawkins in particular has lapsed into dogma to a point far beyond the objective skeptic position he espouses.
None of this is relevant obviously.
Dawkins of course makes his case from a scientist's point of view, ie the existence or not of a god is not 50/50, but based on evidence and data gathered so far, maybe 80/20, or 95/5 in favour of non-existence and therefore it would be irrational to believe in a god. Of course humans are not rational animals, and the data is subject to change. and when it comes down to it, we can never prove the afterlife question either way, but we can make a scientific assumption based on what we know. You can think that is scientific hubris getting a bit carried away if you want.
Hitchens came to it more from the social and political angle, like Voltaire, about how religions poisons everything in society, as he said in the title of his book. regardless of whether or not any religions are true or not, they should be kept out of politics. He used the toy metaphor. you can play with your toys, your religion, in the privacy of your own home, but don't start forcing your toys on me.
gonna read this later when i have more time
are you familiar w/ his positions on abortion?
they're not great, are they
not great & also the opposite of the 'fiercely intellectual' tag people claim for him, given as far as i can tell they are based on completely irrational emotion.
As far as I recall he basically it came down to that he supported women's right to choose but he thought better access to contraception would be a better option.
Am I misrepresenting him? I know he saw the foetus as an unborn child rather than a foetus but my impression was he nonetheless supported the right to abort.
but katha pollitt's piece seems to suggest he wasn't at all a fan of legal abortion or the women who campaigned for it: http://www.thenation.com/blog/165222/regarding-christopher (third and fourth paragraphs)
I get the impression that his main issue was the way that pro-choice campaigners focussed on the distinction of a "foetus" as though it was something that wouldn't ultimately become a human (without medical or human intervention).
I think he still stated he wanted Roe vs Wade to stand and that women should be able to make the choice though.
she does say 'he attacked legal abortion' though. and if nothing else it sounds like he was pretty patronising towards the women who have spent an awful lot more time thinking about and campaigning on the issue
I don't know but suspect the "attacked legal abortion" bit was the fact he emphasised that distinction. It does seem sadly that abortion is such a divisive issue in the US that anyone who says anything remotely critical of any aspect of one side of the debate or the other is immediately demonised as holding the opposite position.
As I say, I could be wrong and there might be things I haven't read but certainly I'm aware when pressed on it he did state his support for the right to choose.
'i didn't always agree w/ what he said but i respect that he said it.'
^ people who say things like that are first against the wall when the revolution comes.
Seriously grow up you absolute embarassment
also it's snowing now, it wasn't last night - so the revolution is called off. as you were mate.
Here are the headlines: in the last 24 hours, around 25,000 people around the world have died of malnutrition. The death toll from flooding in the Philippines has risen to 1000. Sixty people are missing after a ferry accident in Indonesia. News in brief: some Czech guy you might have heard of passed away. Now over to Rob Bonnet with the sport – no wait, nobody died doing sport today, so we won't be hearing from Rob. This has been the 10 o'clocl news. Don't have nightmares.
How much stuff of Hitchens' have you read? I can't believe that anyone who read the chapter on Iraq in his memoirs would hate him for taking the position that he did.
have seemingly been airbrushed out of the portrait of him as a valiant champion of liberal, enlightenment values. I genuinely would be interested to know how he arrived at his position on Iraq /modern US foreign policy in general, since a lot of what I've seen or read from him on the subject (which, admittedly probably just scrapes the surface of his body of work) just comes across as moralising, pompous hot air.
Explains nicely how his work as a journalist during the first Gulf War and the experiences he had with Iraqi people, along with his opposition to other totalitarian regimes (eg Milosevic's) combined to make his pro-interventionist stance regarding Iraq the least hypocritical one in his eyes.
I don't agree with him, but when I was reading that was probably the closest I've been to being pro-war.
I quite like that it's being satirised...I think it could have been done better.
"Me and richard dawkins debated some free religious types... we massacred them by the way, we left them for dead"
Reminds me of when one of my philosophy tutors said that the philosophy department of another university she visited had a "Home wins/away wins" blackboard up.
It's all macho bullshit.
Running around, getting in the same usual scrapes, on his own little vendettas
But, yes, he moved in a very masculine world.
And I reckon, as others have speculated, this stems from a psychological need to prove his masculinity (being the 'first male Hitchens never to wear uniform'')
1. Men are born and remain free and equal in rights. Social distinctions may be founded only upon the general good.
2. The aim of all political association is the preservation of the natural and imprescriptible rights of man. These rights are liberty, property, security, and resistance to oppression.
3. The principle of all sovereignty resides essentially in the nation. No body nor individual may exercise any authority which does not proceed directly from the nation.
4. Liberty consists in the freedom to do everything which injures no one else; hence the exercise of the natural rights of each man has no limits except those which assure to the other members of the society the enjoyment of the same rights. These limits can only be determined by law.
5. Law can only prohibit such actions as are hurtful to society. Nothing may be prevented which is not forbidden by law, and no one may be forced to do anything not provided for by law.
6. Law is the expression of the general will. Every citizen has a right to participate personally, or through his representative, in its foundation. It must be the same for all, whether it protects or punishes. All citizens, being equal in the eyes of the law, are equally eligible to all dignities and to all public positions and occupations, according to their abilities, and without distinction except that of their virtues and talents.
7. No person shall be accused, arrested, or imprisoned except in the cases and according to the forms prescribed by law. Any one soliciting, transmitting, executing, or causing to be executed, any arbitrary order, shall be punished. But any citizen summoned or arrested in virtue of the law shall submit without delay, as resistance constitutes an offense.
8. The law shall provide for such punishments only as are strictly and obviously necessary, and no one shall suffer punishment except it be legally inflicted in virtue of a law passed and promulgated before the commission of the offense.
9. As all persons are held innocent until they shall have been declared guilty, if arrest shall be deemed indispensable, all harshness not essential to the securing of the prisoner's person shall be severely repressed by law.
10. No one shall be disquieted on account of his opinions, including his religious views, provided their manifestation does not disturb the public order established by law.
11. The free communication of ideas and opinions is one of the most precious of the rights of man. Every citizen may, accordingly, speak, write, and print with freedom, but shall be responsible for such abuses of this freedom as shall be defined by law.
12. The security of the rights of man and of the citizen requires public military forces. These forces are, therefore, established for the good of all and not for the personal advantage of those to whom they shall be entrusted.
13.A common contribution is essential for the maintenance of the public forces and for the cost of administration. This should be equitably distributed among all the citizens in proportion to their means.
14. All the citizens have a right to decide, either personally or by their representatives, as to the necessity of the public contribution; to grant this freely; to know to what uses it is put; and to fix the proportion, the mode of assessment and of collection and the duration of the taxes.
15. Society has the right to require of every public agent an account of his administration.
16. A society in which the observance of the law is not assured, nor the separation of powers defined, has no constitution at all.
17. Property being an inviolable and sacred right, no one can be deprived of it, unless demanded by public necessity, legally constituted, explicitly demands it, and under the condition of a just and prior indemnity.
1 For democracy.
We are committed to democratic norms, procedures and structures?—?freedom of opinion and assembly, free elections, the separation of legislative, executive and judicial powers, and the separation of state and religion. We value the traditions and institutions, the legacy of good governance, of those countries in which liberal, pluralist democracies have taken hold.
2 No apology for tyranny.
We decline to make excuses for, to indulgently "understand", reactionary regimes and movements for which democracy is a hated enemy?—?regimes that oppress their own peoples and movements that aspire to do so. We draw a firm line between ourselves and those left-liberal voices today quick to offer an apologetic explanation for such political forces.
3 Human rights for all.
We hold the fundamental human rights codified in the Universal Declaration to be precisely universal, and binding on all states and political movements, indeed on everyone. Violations of these rights are equally to be condemned whoever is responsible for them and regardless of cultural context. We reject the double standards with which much self-proclaimed progressive opinion now operates, finding lesser (though all too real) violations of human rights which are closer to home, or are the responsibility of certain disfavoured governments, more deplorable than other violations that are flagrantly worse. We reject, also, the cultural relativist view according to which these basic human rights are not appropriate for certain nations or peoples.
We espouse a generally egalitarian politics. We look towards progress in relations between the sexes (until full gender equality is achieved), between different ethnic communities, between those of various religious affiliations and those of none, and between people of diverse sexual orientations?—?as well as towards broader social and economic equality all round. We leave open, as something on which there are differences of viewpoint amongst us, the question of the best economic forms of this broader equality, but we support the interests of working people everywhere and their right to organize in defence of those interests. Democratic trade unions are the bedrock organizations for the defence of workers' interests and are one of the most important forces for human rights, democracy-promotion and egalitarian internationalism. Labour rights are human rights. The universal adoption of the International Labour Organization Conventions?—?now routinely ignored by governments across the globe?—?is a priority for us. We are committed to the defence of the rights of children, and to protecting people from sexual slavery and all forms of institutionalized abuse.
5 Development for freedom.
We stand for global economic development-as-freedom and against structural economic oppression and environmental degradation. The current expansion of global markets and free trade must not be allowed to serve the narrow interests of a small corporate elite in the developed world and their associates in developing countries. The benefits of large-scale development through the expansion of global trade ought to be distributed as widely as possible in order to serve the social and economic interests of workers, farmers and consumers in all countries. Globalization must mean global social integration and a commitment to social justice. We support radical reform of the major institutions of global economic governance (World Trade Organization, International Monetary Fund, World Bank) to achieve these goals, and we support fair trade, more aid, debt cancellation and the campaign to Make Poverty History. Development can bring growth in life-expectancy and in the enjoyment of life, easing burdensome labour and shortening the working day. It can bring freedom to youth, possibilities of exploration to those of middle years, and security to old age. It enlarges horizons and the opportunities for travel, and helps make strangers into friends. Global development must be pursued in a manner consistent with environmentally sustainable growth.
6 Opposing anti-Americanism.
We reject without qualification the anti-Americanism now infecting so much left-liberal (and some conservative) thinking. This is not a case of seeing the US as a model society. We are aware of its problems and failings. But these are shared in some degree with all of the developed world. The United States of America is a great country and nation. It is the home of a strong democracy with a noble tradition behind it and lasting constitutional and social achievements to its name. Its peoples have produced a vibrant culture that is the pleasure, the source-book and the envy of millions. That US foreign policy has often opposed progressive movements and governments and supported regressive and authoritarian ones does not justify generalized prejudice against either the country or its people.
7 For a two-state solution.
We recognize the right of both the Israeli and the Palestinian peoples to self-determination within the framework of a two-state solution. There can be no reasonable resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict that subordinates or eliminates the legitimate rights and interests of one of the sides to the dispute.
8 Against racism.
For liberals and the Left, anti-racism is axiomatic. We oppose every form
of racist prejudice and behaviour: the anti-immigrant racism of the far Right; tribal and inter-ethnic racism; racism against people from Muslim countries and those descended from them, particularly under cover of the War on Terror. The recent resurgence of another, very old form of racism, anti-Semitism, is not yet properly acknowledged in left and liberal circles. Some exploit the legitimate grievances of the Palestinian people under occupation by Israel, and conceal prejudice against the Jewish people behind the formula of "nti-Zionism". We oppose this type of racism too, as should go without saying.
9 United against terror.
We are opposed to all forms of terrorism. The deliberate targeting of civilians is a crime under international law and all recognized codes of warfare, and it cannot be justified by the argument that it is done in a cause that is just. Terrorism inspired by Islamist ideology is widespread today. It threatens democratic values and the lives and freedoms of people in many countries. This does not justify prejudice against Muslims, who are its main victims, and amongst whom are to be found some of its most courageous opponents. But, like all terrorism, it is a menace that has to be fought, and not excused.
10 A new internationalism.
We stand for an internationalist politics and the reform of international law?—?in the interests of global democratization and global development. Humanitarian intervention, when necessary, is not a matter of disregarding sovereignty, but of lodging this properly within the "common life"
of all peoples. If in some minimal sense a state protects the common life of its people (if it does not torture, murder and slaughter its own civilians, and meets their most basic needs of life), then its sovereignty is to be respected. But if the state itself violates this common life in appalling ways, its claim to sovereignty is forfeited and there is a duty upon the international community of intervention and rescue. Once a threshold of inhumanity has been crossed, there is a "responsibility to protect".
11 A critical openness.
Drawing the lesson of the disastrous history of left apologetics over the crimes of Stalinism and Maoism, as well as more recent exercises in the same vein (some of the reaction to the crimes of 9/11, the excuse-making for suicide-terrorism, the disgraceful alliances lately set up inside the "anti-war" movement with illiberal theocrats), we reject the notion that there are no opponents on the Left. We reject, similarly, the idea that there can be no opening to ideas and individuals to our right. Leftists who make common cause with, or excuses for, anti-democratic forces should be criticized in clear and forthright terms. Conversely, we pay attention to liberal and conservative voices and ideas if they contribute to strengthening democratic norms and practices and to the battle for human progress.
12 Historical truth.
In connecting to the original humanistic impulses of the movement for human progress, we emphasize the duty which genuine democrats must have to respect for the historical truth. Not only fascists, Holocaust-deniers and the like have tried to obscure the historical record. One of the tragedies of the Left is that its own reputation was massively compromised in this regard by the international Communist movement, and some have still not learned that lesson. Political honesty and straightforwardness are a primary obligation for us.
13 Freedom of ideas.
We uphold the traditional liberal freedom of ideas. It is more than ever necessary today to affirm that, within the usual constraints against defamation, libel and incitement to violence, people must be at liberty to criticize ideas?—?even whole bodies of ideas?—?to which others are committed. This includes the freedom to criticize religion: particular religions and religion in general. Respect for others does not entail remaining silent about their beliefs where these are judged to be wanting.
14 Open source.
As part of the free exchange of ideas and in the interests of encouraging joint intellectual endeavour, we support the open development of software and other creative works and oppose the patenting of genes, algorithms and facts of nature. We oppose the retrospective extension of intellectual property laws in the financial interests of corporate copyright holders.
The open source model is collective and competitive, collaborative and meritocratic. It is not a theoretical ideal, but a tested reality that has created common goods whose power and robustness have been proved over decades. Indeed, the best collegiate ideals of the scientific research community that gave rise to open source collaboration have served human progress for centuries.
15 A precious heritage.
We reject fear of modernity, fear of freedom, irrationalism, the subordination of women; and we reaffirm the ideas that inspired the great rallying calls of the democratic revolutions of the eighteenth century: liberty, equality and solidarity; human rights; the pursuit of happiness. These inspirational ideas were made the inheritance of us all by the social-democratic, egalitarian, feminist and anti-colonial transformations of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries?—?by the pursuit of social justice, the provision of welfare, the brotherhood and sisterhood of all men and women. None should be left out, none left behind. We are partisans of these values. But we are not zealots. For we embrace also the values of free enquiry, open dialogue and creative doubt, of care in judgement and a sense of the intractabilities of the world. We stand against all claims to a total?—?unquestionable or unquestioning?—?truth.