In the comments boxes below, Norman Geras explains why he continues to associate himself with a political left in the face of comments (and catcalls) from some who claim he has crossed over to the right. It is important to Norm that he can demonstrate leftist credentials only to the extent that others seek to deny him these. Obviously, he can and does do this with ease, shaming those who confuse mouthing SWPer and Stopper platitudes with a meaningful contribution to a modern, progressive left.
NG’s stance on this issue highlights the one major disagreement I have with Hitchens: specifically, how Hitch’s position on the significance of his peronal political allegiance has changed post-9/11.
Hitchens is altogether unconcerned with whether and to what degree his views on the war on terror, Iraq, etc. place him to the right of erstwhile comrades; or rather, given his views, he’s indifferent to how others might seat him at the global, political table. If the knee-jerk anti-Americans, anti-imperialists and apologists for pitiless nihilism now represent the true left, he is more than happy to be regarded as anything but left. For Hitchens, what one thinks about the dark forces who threaten the enlightened world and, more importantly, what one is prepared to do about them, is all that counts.
Unlike Hitch, Norm is unwilling to abandon his claim to a leftist heritage. I share Norm’s rejection of pseudo-leftist attempts to define our personal political philosophies in their incoherent terms and will not take lectures from those who have now so utterly lost their way that they would in all likelihood, on the basis of currently available evidence, condemn the International Brigades for compromising Spanish sovereignty.
Those of us on the left who oppose tyrants not just in the abstract, but by proactively supporting measures taken to bring them down, haven’t changed a bit. Others have. They need to go find another legacy to trash.