hitchens the believer


There are some who represent Hitchens as a contrarian or provocateur, without convictions. They are wrong. What sort of provocateur would write that “Bin Ladenism” is more dangerous than German Wilhelmine imperialism, the Nazi-Fascist axis and international communism? Such a patently absurd claim could only be made by one who deeply believes it to be true. Leave aside the grotesque disproportion in lumping the Kaiser’s Germany in with mid-20th-century totalitarianism. What is wholly fantastical is putting Osama Bin Laden’s gang in the same category as Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union – two extremely powerful states with vast industrial and military resources, the first coming close to conquering all of Europe, the second annexing Europe’s eastern half and the Baltic states while imposing itself throughout central Asia. In passing over these undeniable facts, Hitchens is not playing the role of intellectual gadfly. He is showing himself to be a believer who – like Trotsky – blanks out reality when it fails to accord with his faith. That Hitchens has the mind of a believer has not been sufficiently appreciated.

more from John Gray at the New Statesman here.