Wednesday, 24 June 2015

Judge: Hitchens , how do you plead, are you a socialist ? (or a man of the Left?)

Hitchens: yes, your Honor, with an explanation...

This 'explanation' is more than adequately done in 'Hitch 22, A memoir' which I happened to have been reading during last summer, just at the time when I was about half-way through my chemotherapy and Christopher Hitchens was diagnosed with cancer.
Some authors, whom we have been lucky to experience in various media in addition to writing only, leave us with a more palpable personal touch.
Hitchens was not happy with many of the descriptions that were "inflicted" on him, as he said, in the chapter Something of Myself. He would have preferred the simple term
"oppositionist", as someone who tries to do his own thinking. And thinking for himself he did all through his life. His memoir, so sadly but accurately timed for publication just on the eve of his, as proved to be, fatal diagnosis.
Reading through it last summer I have found myself, as countless others no doubt, feisty and ready to argue and fight with him on various issues and opinions.
Fortunately, for most of us, a one on one confrontation with him could never materialize because given Hitchens' formidable knowledge and debating skills, we would have been laughed off any venue.
We did what was available to us, writing hasty, sometimes angry, sometimes acquiescing penciled notes on the margins of his book. At times, such as his enthusiastic support of the Polish and Czech anti-Moscow resistance, his almost total lack of evaluation and appreciation of the Hungarian Freedom Fight of 1956 left
many of us dumbfounded. No bigger event had taken place in Eastern Europe since the end of WW II.than the 1956 Hungarian Freedom Fight, yet Hitchens totally ignored it in his book. Although he refers to it once, the Index makes no mention of Hungary at all. How can this be explained? But short of an explanation, there is a revealing passage in Hitch 22, towards the end. Hitchens explains that he always felt the lack of courage of being a soldier or a "real dissident". He had preferred to be an intellectual partner to causes and ideals. The Hungarian Revolution was for him, most probably, too bloody, too real. (Or vehemently against all left-wing causes).