What's right about the Hitchens view
Yeah, he's right. There are too many on the left who are tempted to side with and sympathise with Arabic Nationalism and radical Islamic groups in the BazaarOfViolence. This is both a moral and a strategic mistake. These guys are not allies of the left.
But also note :
What's wrong with Hitchens view
it's hysterical (or "Gonzo" to put a more positive spin on it) He can't talk about the issue without getting emotionally engaged, and that's clouding his judgement.
The word "IslamoFascism". The mindset of the AlQuaeda network is reactionary, misogynist, homophobic, anti-democratic, conservative and a lot of other bad things. But it is not "fascist". Fascism is a product of modernity. It's what happens when hierarchical control leaks out of a modernist army and modernist corporations and tries to impose itself on the rest of civil society. AlQueda are not modernist. They are pre-modern and post-modern. They may be both feudal and NetworkSociety. But they have nothing in common with NationState nationalism which underpins fascism. SaddamHussein may have been fascist. PanArabNationalism may have elements with the inclination. But not the islamic groups who are attacking the US.
: There are two dangers of the word "IslamoFascism". The practical danger is it makes you think that you are fighting something like Nazi Germany, and that "war", understood as conflict between NationStates, is the answer. The intellectual danger is that it helps you see everything in terms of a simplistic dichotomy between all repressive hierarchies, and all liberating networks / markets. The situation is so much more complex. AlQuaeda is a malign network rather than a malign hierarchy. Some networks create spontaneous imbalances of power and become oppressive (PowerLaws), some hierarchies are liberating. Good and bad are in the details, not the simplistic architectural classification.
- Another way of interpretting Hitchins here is that he is an intellectual who has lost faith in the word. The left are undoubtedly in conflict with the injustices and wrongs of sexism and oppressive hierarchy that he identifies with "Islamofascism". And what do they do? They write about it, talk about it, try to analyse it, try to analyse the chains of causality that feed it. The argument between Hitchins and his ex-colleagues on the left isn't about whether to oppose these things. It's about how to oppose them. He no longer believes in the method. He doesn't believe in their analysis or the chains. He doesn't believe words will help. Or that the West can lead by example.
: That's the pivot of contention : But can he see a time when this kind of jihadist fever will be as marginalised as, say, Nazism is now, confined to a few reactionary eccentrics? "Not without what that took - which is an absolutely convincing defeat and discrediting. Something unarguable. I wouldn't exclude any measure either. There's nothing I wouldn't do to stop this form of fascism."
: Having lost faith in words, all Hitchens can fall back on is brute force. There is nothing left in Hitchens' armory except Bush's bombs.
See also :