Andrew Sullivan has been posting a lot of good stuff from Hitchens. One particularly interesting post is this exchange between Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens, in what was apparently his last interview:
"RD I've always been very suspicious of the left-right dimension in politics.
CH Yes; it's broken down with me.
RD It's astonishing how much traction the left-right continuum [has] . . . If you know what someone thinks about the death penalty or abortion, then you generally know what they think about everything else. But you clearly break that rule.
CH I have one consistency, which is [being] against the totalitarian - on the left and on the right. The totalitarian, to me, is the enemy - the one that's absolute, the one that wants control over the inside of your head, not just your actions and your taxes. And the origins of that are theocratic, obviously. The beginning of that is the idea that there is a supreme leader, or infallible pope, or a chief rabbi, or whatever, who can ventriloquise the divine and tell us what to do."
I am, predictably, 100% with Hitchens on that one.
Another good quote is provided by Mario Rizzo. This is from a talk he gave at Cato, which is interesting (I'll have to read the whole thing at some point) because I've never heard of it and you don't usually hear it mentioned as being among Hitchens's engagements, but every libertarian in the blogosphere seems to be aware of it:
"The old slogan of the anarchist left used to be that the problem is not those who have the will to command. They will always be there, and we feel we understand where the authoritarians come from. The problem is the will to obey. The problem is the people who want to be pushed around, the people who want to be taken care of, the people who want to be a part of it all, the people who want to be working for a big protective brother."
I think one of the biggest blindspots of modern libertarians is that they hear something like this and they think that what Hitchens refers to as "the will to obey" is the same thing as "the will to self-govern". It's not at all, in fact it's exactly the opposite. This servility that Hitchens criticizes (this was in reference to some nanny state elements of Bloomberg's New York) is inimical to self-governance. But you have to remember that Hitchens was a democrat. He was in Orwell's tradition. He was a humanist. That - I think - is the real heart of the classical liberal tradition, so of course there's going to be some affinity with libertarianism which is one branch that grew out of the classical liberal tree. But it's important to remember what Hitchens stood for - for humanity, against authority. The first clause is as important as the second.
Caste in America
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