Christopher Hitchens Quote

Very often the test of one's allegiance to a cause or to a people is precisely the willingness to stay the course when things are boring, to run the risk of repeating an old argument just one more time, or of going one more round with a hostile or (much worse) indifferent audience. I first became involved with the Czech opposition in 1968 when it was an intoxicating and celebrated cause. Then, during the depressing 1970s and 1980s I was a member of a routine committee that tried with limited success to help the reduced forces of Czech dissent to stay nourished (and published). The most pregnant moment of that commitment was one that I managed to miss at the time: I passed an afternoon with Zdenek Mlynar, exiled former secretary of the Czech Communist Party, who in the bleak early 1950s in Moscow had formed a friendship with a young Russian militant with an evident sense of irony named Mikhail Sergeyevitch Gorbachev. In 1988 I was arrested in Prague for attending a meeting of one of Vaclav Havel's 'Charter 77' committees. That outwardly exciting experience was interesting precisely because of its almost Zen-like tedium. I had gone to Prague determined to be the first visiting writer not to make use of the name Franz Kafka, but the numbing bureaucracy got the better of me. When I asked why I was being detained, I was told that I had no need to know the reason! Totalitarianism is itself a cliché (as well as a of pulverizing boredom) and it forced the cliché upon me in turn. I did have to mention Kafka in my eventual story. The regime fell not very much later, as I had slightly foreseen in that same piece that it would. (I had happened to notice that the young Czechs arrested with us were not at all frightened by the police, as their older mentors had been and still were, and also that the police themselves were almost fatigued by their job. This was totalitarianism practically yawning itself to death.) A couple of years after that I was overcome to be invited to an official reception in Prague, to thank those who had been consistent friends through the stultifying years of what 'The Party' had so perfectly termed 'normalization.' As with my tiny moment with Nelson Mandela, a whole historic stretch of nothingness and depression, combined with the long and deep insult of having to be pushed around by boring and mediocre people, could be at least partially canceled and annealed by one flash of humor and charm and generosity.

Christopher Hitchens

Very often the test of one's allegiance to a cause or to a people is precisely the willingness to stay the course when things are boring, to run the risk of repeating an old argument just one more time, or of going one more round with a hostile or (much worse) indifferent audience. I first became involved with the Czech opposition in 1968 when it was an intoxicating and celebrated cause. Then, during the depressing 1970s and 1980s I was a member of a routine committee that tried with limited success to help the reduced forces of Czech dissent to stay nourished (and published). The most pregnant moment of that commitment was one that I managed to miss at the time: I passed an afternoon with Zdenek Mlynar, exiled former secretary of the Czech Communist Party, who in the bleak early 1950s in Moscow had formed a friendship with a young Russian militant with an evident sense of irony named Mikhail Sergeyevitch Gorbachev. In 1988 I was arrested in Prague for attending a meeting of one of Vaclav Havel's 'Charter 77' committees. That outwardly exciting experience was interesting precisely because of its almost Zen-like tedium. I had gone to Prague determined to be the first visiting writer not to make use of the name Franz Kafka, but the numbing bureaucracy got the better of me. When I asked why I was being detained, I was told that I had no need to know the reason! Totalitarianism is itself a cliché (as well as a of pulverizing boredom) and it forced the cliché upon me in turn. I did have to mention Kafka in my eventual story. The regime fell not very much later, as I had slightly foreseen in that same piece that it would. (I had happened to notice that the young Czechs arrested with us were not at all frightened by the police, as their older mentors had been and still were, and also that the police themselves were almost fatigued by their job. This was totalitarianism practically yawning itself to death.) A couple of years after that I was overcome to be invited to an official reception in Prague, to thank those who had been consistent friends through the stultifying years of what 'The Party' had so perfectly termed 'normalization.' As with my tiny moment with Nelson Mandela, a whole historic stretch of nothingness and depression, combined with the long and deep insult of having to be pushed around by boring and mediocre people, could be at least partially canceled and annealed by one flash of humor and charm and generosity.

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About Christopher Hitchens

Christopher Eric Hitchens (13 April 1949 – 15 December 2011) was an American-British author and journalist who wrote or edited over 30 books (including five essay collections) on culture, politics, and literature. Born and educated in England, Hitchens worked as a journalist with the New Statesman magazine in London in the 1970s after leaving Oxford. In the early 1980s he emigrated to the United States and wrote for The Nation and Vanity Fair.
Hitchens political views evolved greatly throughout his life. Originally describing himself as a democratic socialist, he was a member of various socialist organisations in his early life, including the International Socialists. Hitchens eventually no longer regarded himself as socialist, but continued to admire aspects of Marxism, particularly its materialist view of history. He was critical of aspects of American foreign policy, including its involvement in Vietnam, Chile, and East Timor. However, he also supported the United States in the Kosovo War. After Hitchens disenchantment with Marxism, he emphasized the centrality of the American Revolution and Constitution to his political philosophy. Hitchens had complex views on abortion; being ethically opposed to it in most instances, and believing that a fetus was entitled to personhood, while holding ambigious, changing views on its legality. He supported LGBT rights, contraception access, gun rights, and opposed the War on Drugs. Beginning in the 1990s, and particularly after 9/11, his politics shifted to the right, advocating for the invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan, and endorsing the re-election campaign of George W. Bush in 2004, viewing Islamism as the principal threat to the Western World.Hitchens described himself as an anti-theist and saw all religions as false, harmful and authoritarian. He argued for free expression, scientific discovery, and the separation of church and state, arguing that they were superior to religion as an ethical code of conduct for human civilisation. The dictum "What can be asserted without evidence can also be dismissed without evidence" has become known as Hitchens's razor. Hitchens wrote critical biographies of Catholic nun Mother Teresa in The Missionary Position, President Bill Clinton in No One Left To Lie To, and American diplomat Henry Kissinger in The Trial of Henry Kissinger.
Hitchens died from complications related to esophageal cancer in December 2011.