Christopher Hitchens (1949-2011)

by Alex Callinicos, Socialist Worker, Dec 17, 2011

The news of the writer Christopher Hitchens’s death fills my mind with contradictory images and feelings.

I remember the young Christopher. He was a couple of years ahead of me at the same Oxford college in the late 1960s. He was then the best known activist of the International Socialists (IS, now the Socialist Workers Party) at Oxford.

Chain-smoking, elegant even in the donkey jacket that was standard issue on the revolutionary left, he was a brilliant orator. It was from him that I first learned, often with the force of revelation, many of the main ideas of the Marxist tradition.

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One Response to “Christopher Hitchens (1949-2011)”

  1. sudhan Says:

    Alex Callinicos in the obituary has nicely summarised the contradictory traits in the life of Hitchens. First a ‘socialist’ in his early life, he became an American patriot, a super patriot in fact, when he settled in the United States. But what became of his socialist convictions and socialist ideas? I will not go deeper in that matter. However, it demonstrates Hitchens’ narrow mental horizon in dealing with important political issues and ideological struggles. But this by no means is to underestimate his engaging style as a writer and his speaking skills.

    We know that he was not a political novice either. He had strongly opposed American foreign policies. But then he had a change of heart. He gave his approval to the criminal war of aggression unleashed by Bush and Blair in which hundreds of thousands of Iraqis were cold-bloodedly massacred. This leaves no doubt in my mind who really Hicthens was. Perhaps he viewed himself as a spiritual Knights Templar who was doing his chivalrous duty to help those who kill Iraqi Muslims and destroy Iraq, all under the false pretexts that Bush and Blair had used to trick their people and the world at large. In this, he showed that he was happy what the imperialists did in Iraq. He was not a friend of the oppressed and the victims of American imperialism.


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