The Left

Is Hitchens still on the left?

On his weblog Gauche Tribune columnist Paul Anderson is debating Stephen Marks about the anti-war movement.

I have exchanged views with Stephen in the past on the Red Pepper mailing list and he is likable and intelligent socialist whose views are always well worth listening to. We fell out over Iraq of course and it is that issue that has brought him into the discussion with Anderson.

Basically he questions whether Christopher Hitchens can in any way be considered to be part of the left. and contrasts him with the Observer’s ‘pro-war left’ columnist Nick Cohen.

Marks writes: I have a lot of respect for Nick Cohen. His sincerity and good faith are obvious as is his passionate identification with those at the bottom of the heap. But why should Anderson should refer to Christopher Hitchens as someone who is in any sense at all still on the left, however ecumenically defined? I have no wish to initiate a definitional witchunt or start expelling people from some mythical left fraternity. But to extend the term ‘left’ to someone who on his own admission admires George Bush and intends to vote for him at the next election really is to empty the term of all meaning.

However many happy hazy memories Anderson and I may both have of boozy evenings with the Hitch [not to mention mornings and afternoons] the time has really come to apply to him the classic words of John Bunyan: “the trumpets sounded and he passed over to the other side”.

I must admit I began to wonder whether Hitchens could really be considered a leftist when he said he intended to vote Bush. I mean if he had said he was going to vote Tory in the UK, I think the discussion over his place on the political spectrum would be closed pretty quickly.

I wonder what Americans, more familar with Hitchens and the context in which he writes, have to say about this issue?