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Thursday, October 06, 2005 

The middle ground

Lots of good stuff on Arts & Letters Daily recently, but two articles today are extremely interesting when viewed in the context of the other. On the one hand, Christopher Hitchens, neo con (and whatever you think of the term, the article is a pretty accurate description of the man's failings, despite the fairly obvious bias of the author, which I don't agree with), and on the other you have Sasha Abramsky wondering why leftists can't seem to see the problems of Iraq without pulling a Hitchens. I'm with Abramsky:

I still hope that my rethinking of some foreign policy questions can be incorporated into a vibrant progressive movement. Indeed, I’d argue that a strong defence of pluralistic, democratic societies needs to be an essential, perhaps a defining, component of any genuinely progressive politics in today’s world.

Although much of the stuff in the first article goes beyond pointing out Hitchens' revisionism and inflexibility (and parts of it are total crap), it's instructive to go from that to an article by someone who inhabits the middle ground Hitchens pretends doesn't exist.

I read The American Conservative article last week. While Hitchens has never repudiated his Trotsykism, he never supported Soviet Russia and was at pains to dissociate himself from those leftists for whom the memory of Lenin was synonymous with learning "The Internationale" in college, as well as the right-wingers who, as Orwell pointed out years ago, cannot hide their admiration for the authoritarianism of a Tito, Castro, Stalin, or Mao.

But yeah: it's Hitchens' unrepentant acknowledgement of the incredible degree to which Trotskyism has shaped his thinking that REALLY bothers the modern, no doubt younger neocon who wrote this article.

And also, to be clear, the writer comes across as a massive asshole (at least if like me you have a knee jerk reaction against knee jerk Reagan lovers) in that article.

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Ian Mathers is a freelance writer whose work has appeared in Stylus, the Village Voice, Resident Advisor, PopMatters, and elsewhere. He does stuff and it magically appears here.

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