Death of a Contrarian

This little book has no ‘hidden agenda’. it is offered in the most cheerful and open polemical spirit, as an attack on a crooked president and a corrupt and reactionary administration”

With that as the opening line in the Preface of his 1999 book “No One Left To Lie To (The Triangulations of William Jefferson Clinton)“, I quickly became a fan of this author…Christopher Hitchens.

I was very sad to see the news of his death pop up on my computer screen this morning.

To be honest, I only read three of his books.  The other two – “Why Orwell Matters” and “Letters to a Young Contrarian” – made it to my bookshelf just last year.  And, even more honesty, I’m not real sure how often I really agreed with him.  There are certainly a few very Big Concepts that he and I would have never come to any kind of agreement on but that really wasn’t the point.  He was a true thinker and, whether in print or in person (on my TV), Mr. Hitchens always made me think.  His points…his arguments…were blunt and always delivered with more than sufficient force.  On many levels…around work, among friends, or even on your favorite insufficiently conservative blog site…we all need fewer talkers and more thinkers in our lives.  His contributions to serious discussions around the world will be missed.

Just because I can, here are a few random bits of wisdom…just a taste… from the underlined passages in my copy:

“I cringe every time I hear denunciations of ‘the politics of division’—as if politics was not division by definition.  Semi-educated people join cults whose whole purpose is to dull the pain of thought, or take medications that claim to abolish anxiety.  Oriental religions, with their emphasis on Nirvana and fatalism, are repackaged for Westerners as therapy, and platitudes or tautologies masquerade as wisdom. ”

“Bear in mind, however, that Utopia itself was a tyranny and that much of the talk about the analgesic and conflict-free ideal is likewise more menacing than it may appear.”

“It is only those who hope to transform humans who end up by burning them, like the waste product of a failed experiment.” (Letters to a Young Contrarian, pages 31-32)


“I suggest you learn to recognize and avoid the symptoms of the zealot and the person who knows that he is right.  For the dissenter, the skeptical mentality is at least as important as any armor of principle” (Letters to a Young Contrarian, page 33)

There is much more where that came from.  I recommend you take some time away from here over the Holidays and read something…maybe even some Hitchens.

Proud Redstate Member since April 2006…?