Christopher Hitchens was a great man, partly because he forged his own intellectual path, and did so with conviction and gusto. I’ve watched many, many of his videos on Youtube, and after a while I came to the conclusion that Hitchens may have had a rightward shift–despite his outward objections–later in his life.
I remember watching a Youtube clip of Hitchens on C-SPAN, perhaps circa 2004-6 or so, where a caller asked if he still called himself a socialist, and, if not, what term would he use. In perfect Hitchian fashion, he deflected the question without giving a response. I personally think this was one of the few moments that Hitchens’s own pride made him save face without having to lie about his own political views, which had drifted away from socialism.
His political views were certainly unique. However, I don’t think he would be a textbook neolibertarian, despite his Orwell-inspired concerns about free speech and anti-totalitarianism, and his hawkish foreign policy views. I feel like Hitchens remained one of the few honest Old Left liberals who respected the power of culture and the military to bring about change towards his definition of freedom at home and abroad. He is one of the minority of liberals who takes an honest look at Islam to assess its relative danger to a free, secular society. He would stand up against the totalitarians that threatened his worldview of left-wing freedom, rather than capitulate to them–as the New Left would do. Perhaps he does so from his respect of Orwell, who was a hawkish, anti-totalitarian liberal as well.
One reason I admire Christopher Hitchens was the thoroughgoing, deadpan delivery of his reasons for his hawkish foreign policy. He did so unapologetically to liberals who would be agast–agast!–that he could support such a thing, even when he lays out the bare logic that they have no rebutal for. A great Hitchens moment:
Alpha as fuck. Pour out a little scotch for this man in memoriam.