Opinion from a Libertarian ViewPoint

What Would Christopher Hitchens Say? | The American Conservative

Posted by M. C. on March 26, 2019

A lefty atheist that always presented a compelling argument that would make you think.

By David Masciotra

Forecasts of societal demise, if for no reason other than their consistency throughout history, always run the risk of making critics appear hysterical and melodramatic. Even so, one can’t help but wonder whether America has lost the infrastructure necessary to support intellectual greatness.

Christopher Hitchens was born, raised, and educated in England, but as an author and polemicist he acquired his most persuasive power and propulsion in the United States. He wrote his most controversial and skillful essays for American publications, authored biographies of Thomas Jefferson and Thomas Paine, and became an American citizen at the Jefferson Memorial just a few years before he died of esophageal cancer.

In the introduction to his fifth essay collection, Arguably, he wrote that “the people who must never have power are the humorless. To impossible certainties of rectitude they ally tedium and uniformity.” Under the banner of intellectual exploration, he presented essays on topics as seemingly disparate as the United States Constitution, the literature of Saul Bellow, and oral sex. “An essential element of the American idea,” he noted, “is variety.”

His humbly stated but deeply held conviction on the necessity of argument broadens into a mission statement for aspiring writers: “Still, I like to believe that these small-scale ventures make some contribution to a conversation without limits of proscriptions: the sin qua non of the sort of society that knows to keep the solemn and the pious at bay.”…

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