A Book Trashing Christopher Hitchens Has Been Published… a Year After His Death

You know, at least when Christopher Hitchens wrote his diatribe against Mother Teresa, she was still alive.

Richard Seymour, on the other hand, has written his polemic against Hitchens a year after his death.

Classy.

Seymour’s book is called Unhitched: The Trial of Christopher Hitchens and focuses on how Hitchens’ “intellectual trajectory [was] determined by expediency and a fetish for power.”

Right…

I’ll admit, I’ve always been more interested about Hitchens’ views on religion than his politics, but this just sounds like an over-the-top attempt to capitalize on his popularity before it’s too late:

“One chapter deals with the trajectory of his political shift, from the time he was a young socialist who joined Labour,” said Seymour. “I’ve interviewed a lot of his former comrades. If you read [Hitchens' memoir] Hitch 22, it’s not an entirely reliable account — what he remembers and what others remember are different. He’s subtly, and sometimes not so subtly, revised things.”

Seymour will also examine Hitchens’ views on “war and empire, and his surprising shifts on that front — he’s not as consistent in that shift as he liked to make out in retrospect”, said the author. “And there’s a chapter on his approach to religion, and his approach to the ‘English question’ — Thatcher, and Orwell.”

Hitchens had seen a version of Seymour’s criticism of him before he died but (obviously) wasn’t happy with it:

“We stopped exchanging emails shortly afterwards,” [Seymour] said. “He thought of it as an insult, and threw a few back.”

I haven’t read the book. This is obviously not a review of it. But the fact that this is even being published just goes to show you how Hitchens can still get under the skin of his critics. It only makes sense that they’re fighting back now, knowing he won’t get a chance to respond. It’s the only way they could ever top him in a debate.

***Update***: This post has been edited since its initial posting.

(Thanks to Allein for the link)

About Hemant Mehta

Hemant Mehta is the editor of Friendly Atheist, appears on the Atheist Voice channel on YouTube, and co-hosts the uniquely-named Friendly Atheist Podcast. You can read much more about him here.

  • Jonny Scaramanga

    What he remembers and what others remember are *always* going to be different. That’s the nature of memory. Any account of history is going to be that person’s account. This guy seems to have a naive idea that history is just an objective telling of The Truth, when actually it’s how we get to that truth – and if that’s even possible – that’s interesting.

    • JD929

      I wonder how many of Hitchens’ detractors even know that little bit of psychology. Those that do will probably forget it.

    • Sindigo

      And that’s why I’m not a Christian.

    • Marco Conti

      Thank you. You saved my some typing. I found it very disingenuous to take that as an argument against the man “His recollection of the facts was different from anyone else”. No shit Sherlock!
      I lived all my life with some memories I had from my relatively old childhood, until my parents told me that pretty much what I remembered was bunk. On the other hand, I have a vivid recollection of an episode between my father and I that he totally expunged from his memories while to me was an important formative moment.

      On another topic, Hitchens politics for a time were terrible. No doubt about that. But let’s not forget that post 9/11 a lot of people went bonkers. From the NYT to a majority of our politicians. I was against the was from the start, but I have to confess that from time to time I enjoyed the idea of us unleashing a can of whoop-ass to the people that plotted it or facilitated it. My disappointment was that I didn’t think that was Saddam but seeing the taliban on the run made me quite happy.

      I think Hitchens really despised fundamentalist Islam. It’s very easy to betray one’s ideals when your foe has such a vile worldview.

  • http://www.sunstonescafe.com/ Paul Sunstone

    I wonder if the attack on Hitchens has anything to do with payback for his religious views?

    • baal

      ?!

      He pissed off a bunch of folks and one of them decided to do a posthumous broadside attack. Of course it’s ‘payback.’ I don’t doubt it’s for his religious views but you don’t need to even get to that detail to

      As much as he’s been used as a reference, Hitchens is still overall a smallish fish with a limited impact. A scholarly book or bibliographer would contextualize him and use his life as a mirror of the atheist movement or something like that.

  • JD929

    Whose mug is that on the book cover? Is it supposed to be a caricature of Hitchens? I didn’t see a photo of a Seymour that looked like that.

    • http://www.facebook.com/mgafm Ashley F. Miller

      It’s a famous photograph of hitch

      • jdm8

        I see. thanks. It didn’t pop up on my first image search, I don’t know what I did wrong.

  • jeffj900

    Few if any humans that ever lived are beyond reproach. We all have weaknesses, inconsistencies, and make errors or engage in folly. There is no surprise that people can find things to criticism in Hitchens as well.

    So what? Hitchens writing speaks for itself.

    What some who take only a cursory glance may see as boorish drunken angry rudeness others will see as uncompromising and courageous speaking of truth to power. Hitchens deliberately made himself unpopular with those invested in maintaining the hushed and overawed reverence for certain personages whose reputations had been overinflated by sycophants and other opportunistic hangers-on. And he never worried about ruffling the feathers of those who thought maintaining partisan loyalty was more important than exposing abuses of power or attacking totalitarian brutality wherever it was found. So yes he was a combative intellectual pugilist with a wicked sense of humor and a taste for delicious irony who was unafraid to hurt feelings in the passionate pursuit of truth and justice. There is something poetic in the fact that exactly those traits that alienated some critics are the ones that led others of us to love him.

    • ctcss

      “So yes he was a combative intellectual pugilist with a wicked sense of humor and a taste for delicious irony who was unafraid to hurt feelings in the passionate pursuit of truth and justice.”

      The question is, did his pursuit of truth and justice only extend to taking down those on the other side, or did he take to task those on his own side who also overstepped the bounds of fairness? And did he only go after the high and mighty who hypocritically and self-righteously abused power, or did he also unthinkingly and uncaringly zap people lower down who were simply trying to quietly practice their faith?

      I don’t know the answers to these questions, not having followed Hitchens, but I tend to lose respect for those who attack others indiscriminately just because of the labels they have chosen to wear. Justice demands fairness and balance, otherwise it just becomes an excuse to indulge in thoughts that are simply about retribution rather than correction.

      • Michael Corry

        Admitting up front that I have only read a portion of Hitchens’ work it does seem to me that his pursuit of justice and truth consisted mainly of knocking down those people and views with whom he disagreed. There is little from him to replace those views. This is, I think, what made him so popular. As long as he rubbishes the thoughts I don’t hold I can convince myself that he supports my position – whether he knows it or not.
        I haven’t read Seymour and probably won’t. I was never interested enough in Hitchens.

      • jeffj900

        During his life he drew criticism from both the left and the right. The common thread I’ve noticed running through his political work and his critique of religion is the consistent and steadfast opposition to abuse of power, totalitarianism, authoritarianism, and an insightful dismantling of the facades of respectability such wielders of power construct to deflect attention from their avarice, vanity, cruelty, indifference, and violence.

        I don’t always agree with his political commentary, but it is always thought provoking and lucidly argued, and at the very least entertaining. He possessed a very sharp sense of irony and a keen appreciation of the inherent contradictions in human culture. Mostly I feel that his criticism of religion has been brilliant. His ability to debate forcefully and inventively, his command of rhetoric, and his astounding erudition are beyond any other contemporary public figure that I’m aware of.

        He was an enthusiastic consumer of whisky and cigarettes, and he seemed often to not care very much about his appearance or observing the niceties of polite conversation with adversaries. He didn’t suffer fools gladly, and he never allowed sloppy thinking or unsupportable claims to go unchallenged. I attribute this to authenticity and honesty, but it’s no surprise that he would offend the prudish sensibilities of many people.

        To me the value of his contribution to the growing atheist movement is great enough that I can easily overlook any quirks that others may have found annoying and off-putting.

        • http://www.flickr.com/photos/chidy/ chicago dyke

          he supported the war in iraq. that’s part of his legacy too.

          • Atheism Sucks

            Yeah, between him and Sam Harris you couldn’t kill enought Muslims through military action to keep the GNU atheists happy.

  • cipher

    what he remembers and what others remember are different

    Right – as is the case with every other human being under the sun. The study of history is really the study of gossip. This is the reason we can never really know what happens in any given incident – except, of course, for the incidents described in the Bible. Those accounts are 100% accurate. [/sarcasm]

    Meanwhile, I’m curious as to whether or not his brother Peter was interviewed for the book. Did he cooperate, or was he able to resist getting in one last dig, now that his brother is no longer alive to kick his sorry Christian Conservative apologist ass?

    • Blacksheep

      Christians only believe that accounts in the Bible are accurate because of the belief that they are divinly inspired and guided. Were it not for that idea, I would agree with you 100%, we can never count on humanity to remember / report / describe accuratel.

  • Atheist Diva

    I always hated Hitchens. I found him boring, pedantic, and believe what Lesley Hazelton & others say about his misogyny. So what?

  • christoph

    I must say though, the book’s cover photo is excellent.

  • http://v1car.wordpress.com/ The Vicar

    It will be interesting to find out whether the book is a hatchet job or not. There is certainly a vast, vast amount of room for criticism of Hitchens. (And, let me point out, it is good for atheism as a movement, if you want to think of it as such, to avoid the temptation to put our more prominent spokesmen on pedestals. Only the religious have leaders who can do no wrong.)

    Remember, Hitchens was a proponent of the aggressive, totally unnecessary war that the Bush administration waged on Iraq — you know, the one which ended, utterly predictably, in vast numbers of innocent dead, even greater numbers of displaced, and a level of utter chaos which is unquestionably worse for those remaining than anything Saddam Hussein was doing to them. (And looking through history, it’s hard to find ANY example of a situation in which an invasion DIDN’T have that sort of result. Hitchens, like all the other pro-war pundits, was a fool.) He thought torture was justified, too. As I recall, he didn’t really walk either of those positions back.

    Every time you see any news item about how the U.S. is cutting spending on something you think they should leave in place, but is continuing to spend vast sums on its military, remember: Hitchens may not explicitly have been in favor of this, but he was entirely on board with everything which is used to justify it, and essentially refused to question his own assumptions.

    • Nox

      He sort of walked back the torture thing. As late as 2007 he was calling the invasion of Iraq a good idea.

      • http://v1car.wordpress.com/ The Vicar

        As I recall — and I admit it’s been a while — his walking back involved a lot of self-serving rhetoric along the lines of “well, okay, maybe torture has been a really bad thing in every single instance in history, and evidence produced by torture is not permitted in court because it is known to be invalid a huge proportion of the time, and maybe it’s cruel and inhumane in a direct way and to a degree far worse than things I spend thousands of words complaining about on a regular basis, but the Bush administration and the military promised they were going to do it right, and how was I to know they were lying?”

        In some ways, I find Hitchens on Iraq more repellant than Bush et al., because lies and stupidity from the religious right isn’t lies and stupidity, it’s just the religious right, if you understand what I’m saying.

      • allein

        Did he change his mind on torture after he had himself waterboarded? Like Hemant, I’ve always been more interested in his writing/videos on religion so I don’t know a whole lot of his stuff on politics or the war(s), but I did see the waterboarding video at some point. I don’t recall what his reaction afterward was, other than admitting that it is, indeed, torture.

      • Cylux

        He walked back the torture thing after having subjected himself to waterboarding. Course quite how a man many declare an intellectual giant had to actually experience “simulated drowning” before he could figure out that it was torture is beyond me.

      • http://twitter.com/matttbastard Matthew Elliot
      • http://twitter.com/matttbastard Matthew Elliot

        Michael Calderone: Christopher Hitchens, Despite Criticism And Casualties, Defended Iraq War To The End http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/12/16/christopher-hitchens-dead-iraq-war_n_1154152.html

    • Octoberfurst

      While I thought that Hitchens attacks on religion were brilliant I was less impressed with his politics. The fact that he supported George W. Bush’s war on Iraq made me lose some respect for him. Granted he hated tyranny and no doubt wanted the people of Iraq to be free. But to be so credulous as to believe the claim that Iraq posed a military threat to us and was working on weapons of mass destruction just makes me shake my head in amazement. And is Iraq better off after all the destruction, killings, ethnic cleansing,, etc? Hell no! But I do recall seeing a clip of Hitchens being interviewed saying that he was upset that Bush lied to the public about the reasons we needed to go to war.
      Like us all, Hitchens was a flawed human being. He drank way too much, was often arrogant and was wrong about a number of things. But we atheists don’t need to put our hero’s on a pedestal like the Religious Right does..I accept the fact that he was not perfect.but I admire him for his outstanding arguments against theism. For that we owe him a debt of gratitude.

      • http://v1car.wordpress.com/ The Vicar

        See, now, that’s why I can’t forgive him. It didn’t take a lot of brainpower to see that invading Iraq was a bad idea, even if you didn’t like Saddam Hussein. It wasn’t hard to see that the Bush administration was lying about just about everything. (EVERYONE I talked to in person at the time, even the ones who thought maybe invading might turn out okay in the end, knew Bush was lying. Hitchens didn’t. Either I live in a rarified circle of geniuses, or Hitchens was just an idiot on this entire subject.) And Hitchens’ reasoning was particularly revolting — we should invade and destroy Iraq because it would send a message to Muslim countries. That was basically his idea.

        I can understand wanting to “send a message to Muslim countries”. I can even, although I don’t think I would ever approve it myself, understand the impulse to invade to do it. But even if you ignore the many, many ways in which this was obviously a stupid idea, Iraq was absolutely the wrong target. Want to stop terrorism? Want to get a bunch of oil at the same time? Want cathartic mindless violence against a bunch of hostile “others”? Fine; invade Saudi Arabia. They’re the ones propping up Wahhabi Islam, funding terrorism, and turning all the rest of the Muslim world into backwards horror shows. It’s where Osama bin Laden came from, along with most of the 9/11 hijackers. Iraq? Well, it had a dictator we didn’t like very much, but it was less oppressively religious than almost any other Muslim state in the region and was practically the only one to actively resist the Saudi pro-terror Wahhabist program. And this was all obvious long before Hitchens climbed on board, but he was too damn lazy to do anything so boring as fact-checking.

        And what’s worse is that this throws his other writings into doubt. Every time you want to quote Hitchens, you now have to add a disclaimer: “sure, Hitchens was a sociopathic pro-torture ignorant jackass in a very public way, but trust me, he was right when he was talking about this instead”. I know that, ultimately, the quality of the argument is what matters, but we only have so much time and energy. There’s a reason why you don’t go to Fox News for facts any more, even though they undoubtedly let a few through on occasion. It’s just a waste of time to have to vet each and every thing they say. Much better just to strike them out and go to a source without a history of bias and stupidity. Well, by taking his pro-war stance, Hitchens was giving himself a bad history, which means that sooner or later it will be easier to ignore him than to vet his arguments. A terrible thing to do, and a betrayal of his principles.

        • Thin-ice

          You would do well to read some of Hitchins own thinking behind his support of invading Iraq. His book “Arguably” contains several essays regarding this, and also his “Hitch-22″. Have you read them?

          I think two important points:
          1) He couldn’t stand Bush, and was for the invasion of Iraq for entirely different reasons than the ones proposed by Bush.
          2) He did a 180 degree turnaround on the use of torture after he let himself be waterboarded.

          I didn’t agree with all of his positions on issues. But you could be absolutely sure that he had applied his razor intellect to the subject at hand, and after examining his reasoning, it became less difficult to ignore the nuance and complexities that he brought to bear on issues that you formerly regarded as black and white. He was an unpredictable member of progressive left, and I think that’s why people like you can’t forgive him: He didn’t always conform to the accepted dogma, and he wouldn’t be tamed.

      • http://www.facebook.com/people/John-Drinkwater/100003217083406 John Drinkwater

        “Granted he hated tyranny ”

        I stopped there. Just because he said he hated tyranny doesn’t mean that he actually did. I mean, he was a big backer of the US government. Aside from that, he thought Trotsky would’ve been a good replacement for Lenin, even thought both men were obvious tyrants.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Ayame-Sohma/100002225988462 Ayame Sohma

    Thanks for the heads-up, Hemant. :)

    I just sent in my review to Amazon.

    http://www.amazon.com/review/R38AMFQZVRZITX/ref=cm_aya_cmt?ie=UTF8&ASIN=184467990X#wasThisHelpful

    “Too Scared to Face the Man Himself.

    As others have said, at least “Mother” Teresa was still in this world when Hitchens published his (yet to be refuted) thoroughly critical and enlightening look at a woman who received millions from countries around the globe (including convicted fraudster Charles Keating), yet refused to spend a dime on morphine or medical care.

    The immortal words of one of her victims will forever remain – “Tell your Jesus to stop hugging me.” The person in question was told by the Queen Sadist herself that their pain was akin to the embraces of Christ. With a god like that, is it any wonder that they hold up suffering as an ideal to be emulated (but only for others – Teresa herself received first-class care when illness befell her)?

    Before attempting to knock down the centuries-old, sturdy and ironclad foundation of liberalism (which brought us the realisation of concepts such as universal suffrage, health care for all, a fair wage for a fair day’s work, and many others), Seymour would do well to compare murder rates between left-wing socialist domains in Europe (The Netherlands, Belgium and France to name but a few) with the stratospheric murder and abortion rates in right-wing America. Until he can do that, the best he can expect to do is grind his teeth and watch the world drift towards the Left, social justice and economic and environmental responsibility.

    If Hitchens was still with us, he would likely snort and laugh at this piece of drivel. You cannot destroy an argument by attacking those who made it.”

    • Cylux

      You read the book before posting that review I hope.

    • cipher

      You acknowledge in your “review” that you haven’t read the book, then claim you don’t need to. I’m sorry, but you certainly do need to read a book before posting a review on Amazon. That’s why it’s called a review, not a soapbox.

  • http://empiricalmystic.blogspot.kr/ Vijen

    His contribution to anti-theism, is of course invaluable, and yet Hitchens was, ironically, the “mother” Teresa of the movement: so that all and any criticism will be perceived as mean-spirited. In truth he was a drunken despotic dogmatist who used his remarkable eloquence to disguise his inveterate intellectual laziness.

    • A Reader

      Hitchens may have been many things, but a lazy inveterate intellectual (to paraphrase you) he was not….that was the last thing he was.

  • Reginald Selkirk

    “I’ve interviewed a lot of his former comrades. If you read [Hitchens'
    memoir] Hitch 22, it’s not an entirely reliable account — what he
    remembers and what others remember are different. He’s subtly, and
    sometimes not so subtly, revised things.”

    Who doesn’t? It’s normal human behaviour. I’ll bet even those ‘former comrades’ revised things. A good journalist would know this, and not presume it is out of the ordinary or evil.

    • Houndentenor

      LOL. Autobiographies are often interesting but almost never reliable. Sometimes the omissions and rewrites of history are unintentional, but I think more often than not the authors are intentionally rewriting their own story to make themselves look better. That’s perfectly understandable, but it means that such source material should never be taken as the absolute truth.

  • Reginald Selkirk

    Who the fuck is Richard Seymour?

    • baal

      I mis-read this comment as,
      “Who the fuck is Reginald Selkrik?”

      Both names have about the same shape, same initials, and same length.

      But since that’s your nym, it’d be quite the possibly ironic statement of self doubt.

    • Pseudonym

      He wrote The Liberal Defence of Murder, which you clearly haven’t read. You should.

  • Houndentenor

    I was a Hitchens fan. In saying that I do not mean that I agree with everything he said or wrote. It’s just that I always found whatever he said to be worth my time to read or hear. I’m an adult and I can listen to someone, think about what they have said and then draw my own conclusions. We live in an increasingly simplistic world in which everyone must either be a saint or the devil. In reality people are all flawed. No one’s every pronouncement is the absolute unquestionable truth. Hitchens was a drunkard and a loudmouth. He was often wrong. So what? I can agree with him sometimes and disagree the rest of the time. The same goes for anyone else.

  • CultOfReason

    It only makes sense that they’re fighting back now, knowing he won’t get a chance to respond. It’s the only way they could ever top him in a debate.

    I still put my money on Hitchens. His critics don’t stand a fighting chance, even against a dead Hitchens.

    • Pseudonym

      I’m sure Hitchens will return to lead his people in their greatest hour of need.

  • Keith

    I don’t see this as really very notable. Lots of biographies are published posthumously, and lots of biographies are critical of their subjects.

    Writing about this as if it were a book that should not have been written seems to me a bit like Christians crying persecution because we would like them to stay within constitutional limits.

    It is whining, and not really dignified whining at that.

  • Supermoves3000

    Let us remember that Hitchens himself famously trashed Jerry Falwell right after Falwell’s death. We should not be concerned with whether it is “nice” or “classy” to criticize Hitchens after his death, but whether the criticism is valid. If this book contains errors or misrepresentations, those should be confronted. But Hitchens himself would scoff at the idea that this book is wrong because it’s not “nice” to speak ill of the dead.

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Adam-Patrick/100000027906887 Adam Patrick

      This was the first thing I thought.

      • Anti Hitch

        Hitchens was a drunker apologist for the Bush Wars, and encouraged other to go.
        When a young man from Britain did just that and was killed in action Hitch acted all shocked.
        Good riddance to Hitch.

        • Protean

          Afraid of the truth? You’ll always be sour and petty. I agree with Supermoves3000 however, Hitch would have taken this book full on and supported its publishing if it was truthful.

    • js

      Yeah but Hitchens wouldn’t be afraid of a Falwell comeback, Seymour would have been if he was still alive. hahahahahahaha

  • Antinomian

    If you can’t beat ‘em, wait until they’re dead….

  • http://friendlyatheist.com Richard Wade

    Richard Seymour, on the other hand, has written his polemic against Hitchens a year after his death.

    I challenge Jerry Falwell to a debate on religion!
    I challenge William F. Buckley to a debate on politics!
    I challenge Hector “Macho” Camacho to fight me any time, any place!

  • http://abb3w.livejournal.com/ abb3w

    The “fetish for power” might not be an insane stretch.

    Altemeyer discusses the research on SDO and RWA; I’ll leave the general background to him and Google. Religiosity tends correlated to RWA; the devout tend high-RWA, while atheists tend low-RWA. However, SDO is uncorrelated; so, there appear likely just as high a high-SDO fraction in atheists as in the religious or the overall population.

    Subjectively and from my limited familiarity with him, Hitchens seems the “New Atheist” figure who fits the high-SDO profile best. A high-SDO, low-RWA personality particularly seems to explains his cheerful willingness to rhetorically demolish those who challenged him, and perhaps would shed light on why he might have supported near-torture. Claiming a “fetish for power” may be based on solid evidence; but more likely, though, the high-SDO lean may be spun to attribute one of the other traits common among the high-SDO.

    YMMV.

    • Thin-ice

      WRV, ELC & TBI could eventually SPM to DHR LWB.
      IDNC.

      • http://abb3w.livejournal.com/ abb3w

        If you’re having trouble with the acronyms, Google with “Altemeyer” helps; and Wikipedia’s list of options is also small enough for a context-sensitive recognition.

  • kaydenpat

    Criticizing people after their death seems to be par for the course. Hitchens’ legacy will be fine. Since his days at The Nation, I’ve always loved his writings. I can’t imagine that anything Mr. Seymour publishes will damage Hitchens even one bit.

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/John-Drinkwater/100003217083406 John Drinkwater

      The irony here is too rich. Hitchens was the guy who made criticizing people after their death cool.

  • blah

    Didn’t Hitchen’s brother just come out with a book as well?

  • Pseudonym

    This has nothing to do with anything, but I want Roger Allam to play him in the movie of his life. Just sayin’.

    • jeffj900

      I think Russel Crowe might do a pretty good Hitchens.

  • Tobias27

    Not only could this guy never top him in a debate, he most certainly will never top his writing. If you gave me some Hitchens and said, he is diametrically opposed to your strongest position, i would still read it. The man’s gift with the written word exceedly his prodigious gift with the spoken.
    Hitch can defend himself from the grave.

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/John-Drinkwater/100003217083406 John Drinkwater

      Then why do you bother?

  • http://leninology.blogspot.com/ Richard Seymour

    I am the author of the book referred to here. I don’t expect Hitchens’s fan club to appreciate the book (though they might try reading it before comming). But a little bit of accuracy would not go amiss. As the article cited by Hemant Mehta makes clear, the book was commissioned and the writing began some six months *before* Hitchens died, not after. Please make the appropriate correction.

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/friendlyatheist/ Hemant Mehta

      The Christian Science Monitor linked to in the article says the book was commissioned *after* his death, though essays criticizing Hitchens were written before his death.

      • Cylux

        The Guardian article, which you’ve also linked to, however does say that it was commissioned six months prior to Hitchen’s death. Course it’s up to you if you trust the Christian Science Monitor as a reliable source above the Guardian Newspaper.

        • Pseudonym

          They’re both pretty damn good newspapers. (If you don’t know about the CSM, don’t let the title fool you.)

      • Ed

        Why don’t you just leave this aspect out of the article until you can verify it for yourself? Oh yeah, because then you wouldn’t have any article left.

    • http://www.facebook.com/mgafm Ashley F. Miller

      I have the deepest love for Chrisopher Hitchens, but it is worth noting his many unsavory positions politically, including his support for the Iraq war, torture (which he admirably changed regarding waterboarding), his staunch sexism, particularly towards women comics, and his typical resort to personal attacks as well as intellectual ones. I am eager to read Unhitched and I think, while he’d undoubtedly have some wicked barbs aimed at Richard Seymour, he’d also love the attention. I will wait to read it to judge, but I think it’s a perfect honor and tribute.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/John-Drinkwater/100003217083406 John Drinkwater

    Verso commissioned the book 6 months before he died.

  • http://hauntedtimber.wordpress.com/ timberwraith

    This is not the first time Richard Seymour has criticized Hitchens. The Genocidal Imagination of Christopher Hitchens was penned by Seymour in 2005.

    For those of you who think there’s a lack of fertile ground in criticizing Hitchens, consider PZ Myer’s recounting of Christopher Hitchens’ speech at the Freedom From Religion Convention in 2007.

  • http://leninology.blogspot.com/ Richard Seymour

    I left a message here previously, indicating that the author of this piece had made a serious error in stating that the book was commissioned six months after Hitchens’s death. I pointed out that it was commissioned roughly six months before his death. This, Hemant Mehta can discover simply by looking at the original Guardian piece upon which the Christian Science Monitor bases its report. The CSM report made the initial error about the date of commissioning, which is repeated here. But the difference is, Mehta has had the opportunity to correct the error. So far, he has declined to do so. I think this says a lot about his good faith in this matter.

    • Sarah

      This site used to be a lot more reliable. Now it doesn’t seem like you can trust it make a good hand of objectivity or accuracy.
      How it used to be (unless my memory is mistaken) Hemant would probably have waited to read the book, or find out something about it before he slammed it *accurately*.

      Now he just seems to slap together criticism like “I’ll admit, I’ve always been more interested about Hitchens’ views on religion than his politics, but this just sounds like an over-the-top attempt to capitalize on his popularity before it’s too late:”

      Which is pretty much:

      “I’ll admit, [I am completely uninformed about people's very real criticisms of Hitchen's] politics, but [even though I am acknowledging that fact I shall take no notice of it and just assume that this is] an over-the-top attempt to capitalize on his popularity before it’s too late[because all criticism of Hitchens is presumed to be in bad faith even though I am uninformed about the issues]: :(

      Once upon a time I think he would have corrected the article by now. But I don’t think he’ll leave the error if he sees your comment. He’s sloppy and partisan now, not dishonest.

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/friendlyatheist/ Hemant Mehta

      I’ve added an edit.

      • Sarah

        Hemant Mehta: “(Edit: Seymour says it was written six months before Hitchens’ death).”

        “Seymour says…” – you make this sound like mere hearsay – you could do
        the most basic of research to find out if you copied an incorrect
        source – or you could just half-ass a reply making no apology for the
        mistake and not even correcting it *accurately*

        Seriously! Sloppy. He said “It was commissioned roughly six months before” – not “It was written six months before”

        With your mistaken change it makes it sound like he wrote it before Hitchens died and deliberately waited to publish it when Hitchens wasn’t around – which isn’t the case.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/friendlyatheist/ Hemant Mehta

          Edit fixed. The CSM Monitor article information is what I’m working off of, not an angry commenter whose identity I can’t confirm.

          • http://leninology.blogspot.com/ Richard Seymour

            I appreciate your willingness to at least make one edit, Mr Mehta, and I don’t want to make this difficult for you. But this reply is just a tiny bit disingenuous. As you would realise from the CSM article, it bases its content on the original Guardian article. The Guardian article is accurate. You don’t have to rely on “an angry commenter” (I assure you I’m more disappointed than angry).
            You say you can’t confirm my identity. First question: if that’s so, why does your edit say “Seymour says”? If you haven’t confirmed my identity, why attribute the claim to “Seymour” rather than the easily checkable Guardian article on which the CSM article is based? Second question: have you tried to verify my identity? You make it sound as if you have? You could contact Verso (ie my publisher). You could contact the proprietor of the blog Lenin’s Tomb, who is also the author of Unhitched (ie me). You could contact the Richard Seymour who is based at the London School of Economics (ie me).
            Simply put, there are relatively simple ways for you to confirm the facts. And once you’ve done so, I’m confident that you’ll see that the whole premise of your article, that I wrote this opportunistically after Hitchens had died, is fundamentally unsound. You might also have a read of the book, which will tell you things about Hitchens that you didn’t know.

            • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/friendlyatheist/ Hemant Mehta

              Look, I don’t know why the misinformation is in the other article, but my posts work off of them. This isn’t an argument. If they made a mistake, let them know. I tried to make things right, but the other person (not you) isn’t helping by making accusations. I correct posts whenever I’m alerted about an error.

  • Tobias27

    I just want to know where i can get a copy of this picture. Excellent

  • Carpinions

    From my perspective, CH seemed pretty consistent throughout his career, especially the more I learn of his positions after his death.

    If the issue is the Iraq War, he was all for toppling Saddam back in the 80s, so his support for the IW and GWB is not surprising with this in mind. And he supported that action while still writing for The Nation *in the 1980s/90s*, which makes his falling out with them in the early 2000s a bit more interesting. CH had also admitted a few times since the IW began that while he supported the Bush administration’s policy around Iraq, years ago calling it one of the noblest undertakings the US has ever engaged in, he later admitted that he did not support the absolute bungling and the entire lack of planning and oversight (to say the least). He had also helped legally oppose Bush on his intrusions into civil liberties at home. But CH’s support for the IW stemmed not just from his absolute hatred of fascism, but that sort of global camaraderie that is common to socialist circles (you can Google an image of him on a mountainside in Iraq holding an AK-47 with Kurdish friends). And he has many times assailed the left for abandoning what he saw as a central tenet of their movement: to actively root out and oppose fascism in all its forms, which partly explains why he might have *seemed* like a neocon, but I can say that he wasn’t, also partly because he is on video vocally opposing imperialism in the form of corporate fascism and cronyism. I will say that I while it may or may not be true that he initially supported torture, that seems to conflict heavily with his death penalty stance, which was against capital punishment as late as the late 90s. If he indeed happened to support torture, at least he came around.

    As for his sexism, that seems to be a tad indeterminant. Regarding the female comics thing, he never said women should be banned from comedy (at least not that I heard him say), just that he doesn’t think they are good at it. If that’s outright sexism, it’s one of the more mild strains. It’s like men who say that the WNBA fails because it’s women and not men playing. The closest he ever got to actual sexism that I’ve seen was when he did an interview for British TV with a woman who claimed he wrote somewhere that women shouldn’t work a day job. He didn’t deny he said it, and she called him sexist to his face, although not in a combative way. He didn’t return fire. But he was an outspoken supporter of womens’ rights around the world, and especially of Ayaan Hirsi Ali in her struggle. So, I don’t know that I could call him summarily sexist.

    Speaking to current events, he was apparently a pretty big supporter of gun rights, writing a few derisive columns against gun control measures. Again I detect a bit of anti-fascism in his stance here. There is a bit of evidence we was a bit right-wing on the question of illegal immigration. And while some have labeled him a rabid anti-choice zealot, and he has given his weight to the concept of the unborn child, he did again argue that women should have control over their genitalia and how they are used, against the Catholic Church’s deadly condom and birth control stance in Africa, and has derided the focus on abortion as a global evil (calling the vaunted Mother Teresa out on her statement to this end).

    I could go into more that I’ve seen of his opinions – his utter hatred for Kissinger and Clinton, his disgust over Falwell, Roberts and Graham, his support for a government-run health system in the US – but everyone coming down on him as a pure sexist, or a pure “neocon”, or a pure anything really needs to watch more YouTube clips of him at the very least. Not trying to lionize the guy or be a slobbering water carrier for him, but the surface-level MSM knows too well how to mischaracterize somebody and create a caricature of who someone is, especially someone as complex and thoughtful and CH.

    • http://leninology.blogspot.com/ Richard Seymour

      I’m afraid that much of this is inaccurate.

      If by ‘toppling’ of Saddam, you mean a US-led invasion to overthrow him, Hitchens didn’t explicitly support that in an unqualified way until late 2002. He was forcefully opposed to the first Gulf War. I can re-check his back catalogue, but I doubt you’d find a single article by Hitchens in the Nation on Iraq from the 1980s calling explicitly for Saddam to be ‘toppled’. One of the earliest articles he wrote on Iraq was actually a pro-Saddam piece written in a hot flush of enthusiasm for Arab nationalism, and published in the New Statesman, back in 1978.
      The claim that Hitchens’s position in this respect is defined by consistency is simply untenable.
      It is certainly true that Hitchens belaboured the left for its supposed abandonment of its historical principles, but it’s also true that Hitchens was the one most visibly abandoning those principles. He knew well enough back in 1991 that imperialism is not an anti-fascist force. He knew it when the Reagan administration was running death squads and drug-rings in Central America. He even knew it for a time during his Balkan phase, when he urged the Bosnians not to follow the Kurds into becoming US clients, with all the bloodshed that this would entail. So, his decision to re-envision the global order as a sort of remake of the Spanish Civil War, in which he was Orwell, the Bush administration was the POUM and the Left was on the side of the Fascists, can only be seen as a cover for his own remarkable shifts.
      The rest of this stuff, attempting to prove that Hitchens wasn’t such a terrible sexist because he didn’t call for female comedians to be banned (he didn’t call for the Dixie Chicks to be banned either, but he did describe them as ‘fat fucking slags’, and was rather proud of having done so); or because he supported Ayaan Hirsi Ali (someone who first made her reputation not as a feminist but as a racist, attacking immigrants and Muslims, aligning with far right politicians in the Dutch parliament in doing so); or because he supported women’s right to control over their uterus (he in fact explicitly opposed this)… all of this is flimsy post hoc rationalisation, I’m afraid.

  • A Portlander

    I’m late commenting, but: I hope a book slagging off Hitch is published every year on the anniversary of his death, because I’ll hear him laughing whenever I crack one open, and damn, do I miss that laugh.

  • Carmel O’Brien Mulreany

    I loved Hitchens, but only for his debating qualities ,he reduced every one else to putty, as someone who worked in Baghdad during the Iraq/Iran war and nursed the beautiful Iraqi people ,his approval of the eventual Iraq war leaves a bitter taste , but I do think Christopher enjoyed being controversial ,it gave him a platform and I am sure if he lived long enough, he would go to Iraq and hope to make things more equal as he did for the Kurds, We will never see or hear his like again.
    I send my support to the Iraqi people and wish them some beautiful future peace they sincerely deserve it
    As for Christopher his search was for himself in the scheme of things and I still love him, his intellect and his flaws.

  • P. H.

    Interesting how people who refuse to serve G-d would rather worship a self-absorbed know-it-all, misogynistic, angry, bitter, abusive, disrespectful drunkard who would misrepresent truth and twist facts to serve his own agenda. I have yet to find anything worth respecting about Hitchens, not even the intellect he wasted. I have dealt with far too many sociopaths and drunkards just like him in my life to worship his intelligence. All sociopaths are intelligent, and many are drunks and drug addicts.

    However, your article praising him and trying to discredit the author of the book by presenting false “facts” simply proves that you are a true ardent admirer of your god Hitchens. You think and act just like him in order to seek to discredit a man who actually sought truth and published it… and to see that other Hitchens supporters actually published attacks on Amazon against this book when admitting NEVER HAVING READ IT (just as 99% of them have never even bothered to read the Bible they you so ardently seek to dispute) is just another true to form indication of one of his blind and wide-eyed followers. I prefer intelligent people who do not numb themselves and their intellect with rage, lies and deliberate attempts to inflame hostility where there should be healthy discourse.

    Atheism promotes torture and war. More people have been murdered under the doctrines of Nietzsche than all the claims of religion by politicized tyrants using religion to justify their aggression put together. And yes, no value, no rights, no sympathies exist in atheism for a human life, because you have no value as anything more than an expendable animal under any atheistic system.

    Our nations established that you and I have certain inalienable rights UNDER G-D. Under Stalin, Mussolini or Hitler, who all worshiped the work of Nietzsche, you and I could have been killed without conscience. So torture is perfectly acceptable to men like Hitchens, so long as it is done to someone other than themselves. In every case, slavery and Jim Crow laws were stopped by Christians. While men like Hitches felt it was okay to torture other human beings so long as they financially gained from it. So sad that you worship such a man rather than actually seeking to build a relationship with the one true living G-d YHVH.

    I would not want someone like you teaching my children math; because if you do indeed believe the same way that man did, if you endorse his practices and clearly that you seem to attack anyone who presents true information about hsi vile and reprehensible character, you cannot possibly be a decent and respectful person or a good example to anyone;s child. Funny how atheists always want to dismiss justify how perverse a life their “gods” live when in fact those debase lives are a direct reflection of their doctrines, while vilifying anyone who serves G-d as a weak or bad person if they make even a single mistake. But then I don;t think that double standard would be a problem for you or anyone else who writes an article like this.

    • 3lemenope

      Angry. Misinformed. Necrothread.

      It’s a trifecta!

      • Paulette

        Thank you for proving my point!

        • 3lemenope

          You had no point worthy of attention.

  • odin

    So fucking what, hitch was a coward who trashed most people while they were too ill to respond. Lets piss on his grave.


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