Saturday, November 26, 2005

How to dissect Christopher Hitchens

Richard Seymour of Lenin's Tomb has an excellent, detailed article The Genocidal Imagination of Christopher Hitchens in the most recent Monthly Review, which goes far beyond earlier analysis to show just how far round the bend this former leftist has gone.

The critique is well worth reading despite its overly florid prose, a defect apparently endemic to much of the writing of the British left. If Seymour could just tone it down a bit, following more the example of Chomsky than Hitchens, he could become a far more widely read and potentially even great political analyst.

The real virtue of political writing, like philosophical thinking, is clarity. And this is all the more true for those on the left where, one would presume, the goal of reaching the largest possible audience is paramount. The overuse of arcane vocabulary and poetic metaphor flatters the writer but limits the audience, setting up a hierarchy that contradicts the goal of active and critical mass participation in politics.

That said, it is the best analysis yet of what's the matter with Christopher Hitchens.

Also worth mentioning are this earlier piece by Norman Finkelstein and Christopher Hitchens Watch, a website devoted to cataloging the decomposition of Hitchens' mind.

Their latest post is on Hitchens' Thanksgiving Address in the Wall Street Journal, I kid you not. It is of course an ode to the unqualified greatness of America, utterly oblivious of that earlier genocide for which the holiday really stands. Here is a short taste of what a complete twit Hitchens has become:
You can have a decent quarrel about the poor return [genocide] that Native Americans received for their kindness in leading Puritans to find corn and turkeys in the course of a harsh winter. You may find yourself embroiled, as on Columbus Day, with those who detest the conquistadores [apparently Hitchens doesn't] or who did not get here by way of Plymouth Rock or Ellis Island [i.e. in slave ships]. ("Not for us it isn't," as the receptionist at Louis Farrakhan's Final Call once glacially told me, after I had pointed out that her boss had desired me to telephone that very day.) Even Hallowe'en is fraught, with undertones of human sacrifice and Protestant ascendancy. But Thanksgiving really comes from the time when the USA had replaced the squabbling confessional colonists, and is fine, and all-American, too.
A more flippant dismissal of our history of genocide and slavery is hard to imagine. How can anyone take this guy seriously any more?


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