Orwell, Hitchens, And The Hollow Self-Righteousness Of Anti-Communism
[dropcap]I[/dropcap]n addition to all of the propaganda pieces that anti-communists use to legitimize their position, they often utilize a more general rhetorical tool, which is the denunciations of communism that have come from two of the last century’s most prominent intellectuals: George Orwell and Christopher Hitchens. These figures maintain large cult followings and are widely seen as moral authorities for their crusades against civilization’s evil and hypocritical aspects, which for Orwell was a crusade against totalitarianism and for Hitchens was a crusade against organized religion. Yet the cultural and ideological makeup of both of these men caused them to infuse their works with the anti-communist agenda, and to give this agenda’s followers the sense that they’re righteous upholders of honesty and virtue.
A prototypic Red-basher who pretended to be on the Left was George Orwell. In the middle of World War II, as the Soviet Union was fighting for its life against the Nazi invaders at Stalingrad, Orwell announced that a “willingness to criticize Russia and Stalin is the test of intellectual honesty. It is the only thing that from a literary intellectual’s point of view is really dangerous” (Monthly Review, 5/83). Safely ensconced within a virulently anticommunist society, Orwell (with Orwellian doublethink) characterized the condemnation of communism as a lonely courageous act of defiance. Today, his ideological progeny are still at it, offering themselves as intrepid left critics of the Left, waging a valiant struggle against imaginary Marxist-Leninist-Stalinist hordes.
Since Hitchens started his journalism career as a correspondent for the fervently anti-Soviet Trotskyite magazine International Socialism, he always sided with the capitalist line on the USSR, having stated at one point that Reagan was right to call it the “evil empire” and vaguely declared about the country: “it is evil. Wouldn't you think so if you lived there?” He also of course vilified Mao and Castro, and he put some of his best creative energy into demonizing the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. In one statement from 2008, he said about north Korea:
Religion is a totalitarian belief. It is the wish to be a slave. It is the desire that there be an unalterable, unchallengeable, tyrannical authority who can convict you of thought crime while you are asleep, who can subject you to total surveillance around the clock every waking and sleeping minute of your life, before you're born and, even worse and where the real fun begins, after you're dead. A celestial north Korea. Who wants this to be true? Who but a slave desires such a ghastly fate? I've been to north Korea. It has a dead man as its president, Kim Jong-Il is only head of the party and head of the army. He's not head of the state. That office belongs to his deceased father, Kim Il-Sung. It's a necrocracy, a thanatocracy. It's one short of a trinity I might add. The son is the reincarnation of the father. It is the most revolting and utter and absolute and heartless tyranny the human species has ever evolved. But at least you can fucking die and leave north Korea!
Most neoconservative defense intellectuals have their roots on the left, not the right. They are products of the influential Jewish-American sector of the Trotskyist movement of the 1930S and 1940S, which morphed into anti-communism liberalism between the 1950s and 1970s and finally into a kind of militaristic and imperialist right with no precedents in American culture or political history.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License