Thursday, November 28, 2002
Christopher Hitchens, a writer whom I normally like despite disagreeing with him 90% of the time, has had a falling-out with his friends on the Left over the War against Terrorism. Hitch is for it and almost all his other pals are against it. The situation has become so tragic that Hitch has had to leave the American left-wing rag The Nation; this means there is now no longer any possible reason I might have to read The Nation. He's got two posts up in Slate, one on anti-Americanism and another that I don't agree with but will link to out of fairness on Henry Kissinger; it wouldn't be fair to claim Hitch as a complete convert to the Right. Not yet. I bet he's well on the way, though, just as I figure that Orwell, his hero, if he'd lived, would have come over to the Right on economic and international issues. Orwell was too anti-totalitarian to have sided with the Russians in the Cold War, as we know from his list for the British government and Nineteen Eighty-Four. As for economics, a lot of intelligent Brits of Orwell's age were some kind of radical Socialist. They'd grown up and lived their young adulthood in Britain between 1914 and 1945, an especially rough span of years to be British. No wonder they were pissed off at the system in general. Everyone was poor, nothing worked, and it always seemed like another war was right around the corner. The most intelligent of that lot figured out by about 1956 that capitalism could be combined with a lot of social-democratic rhetoric and some social-democratic action (though most didn't come all the way over to capitalism), and that Soviet Russia was definitely an evil to be resisted. If they didn't figure that out after Hungary in 1956, they weren't smart enough to ever figure it out. Orwell would have been one of those who was smart enough to figure it out. By '56 he'd have become a hawkish supporter of Labour.