Amis-Hitchens Smackdown – God of the Machine
Aug 142002

Christopher Hitchens has replied to the notorious “Comrade Hitchens!” letter with which Martin Amis ends Koba the Dread. I was no fan of Koba, but Hitchens is awfully slippery, essentially accusing Amis of lacking irony and humor and taking it too easy on the numerous enemies of human freedom that preceded Stalin, while failing to acknowledge that none of them murdered remotely on his scale. He also adduces a few leftists who objected to Stalinism early on as if that sufficiently justified the many who ignored and excused it. And the song and dance about how things would have turned out fine for Russia if only Lenin and Trotsky had succeeded in 1905, as if Stalinism were a product of the First World War: please. Hitchens nonetheless is always a pleasure to read, and he does score a few direct hits, as Anne Applebaum points out.

  One Response to “Amis-Hitchens Smackdown”

  1. Nice job, Aaron. A succinct summary of Hitch’s dodgy response to friend Amis’s pointed finger. What Hitchens glosses over — the laughter Amis witnessed when Christopher referred to the hey-day of comradeship in a lecture hall and elicited a round of appreciative laughter — is the bull’s eye of Amis’s critique. Hitchens would have us believe that everyone who laughed in that audience was erudite in the scholarly unmasking of Soviet horror — au contraire. Much of leftist laughter at the notion of an "evil empire" is based on ignorance — ignorance fostered by those who should have known better, or did — and failed to pass on that information to those who snicker in allegiance to perceived fellow travellers like Hitchens in audiences today. That is the very failure Amis has pointed out. A failure Hitchens, sadly, could not fess up to.

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