I am impelled to write a few words about Peter Hitchens after having just seen an interview with Owen Jones [see below], which interview dates from 2017.
I have already written a blog post about Owen Jones:
To examine the views and influence of Hitchens in detail would necessitate a blog article of inordinate length, but Wikipedia has a considerable amount of information about him:
I should like to focus mainly on a few matters raised in that interview.
As to Hitchens himself, he is an odd fellow, apparently fairly well-educated. His family background had elements of tragedy (his mother bolted with an unfrocked priest, and the couple later died via a suicide pact in an Athens hotel). Not mentioned in the interview is that Hitchens (like Owen Jones) has part-Jewish roots, his maternal grandmother having been half-Jewish, in that her mother was Jewish. It was on that basis that Hitchens’ even more eccentric brother, Christopher, declared himself in latter years to be “Jewish” (taking the traditional Jewish course of deciding via the matrilineal side alone).
The interview mentions his having attended a naval school, but that must have been in early years, he then having attended The Leys School, Cambridge, an institution which has schooled a number of well-known people: at least one Rothschild, a few kings (albeit from Bahrain and Tonga), a number of MPs and journalists (in some cases both, as with Martin Bell).
Hitchens then went on to the City of Oxford College (a college of further education) and finally to Alcuin College, part of the University of York.
It may be that the university education and milieu that Hitchens found in Alcuin College permanently influenced his attitude. Wikipedia says of Alcuin College that,
“From early days of the college an uproar for secession of the college from the remainder of the university has been present. It is a self-styled Separatist Movement and at times presented as a running gag at the University of York about Alcuinites….For many years Alcuin College was very much the outcast on the university campus, the only college physically separate from the others except for a bridge from the library…“
The photograph of Alcuin College in winter shows an almost Soviet bleakness and isolation.
Hitchens, though characterizing himself in the Owen Jones interview as having been a “joiner” in his youth, has also been an outsider, defector and maverick. I wonder whether he applied to the University of York because Oxford and/or Cambridge (in both of which cities he had attended school) refused his application, or perhaps he made no application to Oxbridge because (I speculate) his developing extreme socialist views made him reject such “bourgeois” places of learning. A better interviewer than Owen Jones, such as the late and great Brian Walden, might have explored all that.
Hitchens was from 1968 (aged 17) to 1975, a member of the Trotskyist “tendency” called the International Socialists [IS], the forerunner of the Socialist Workers’ Party [SWP]. He joined two years before he went to York. Later, in his forties, he became a card-carrying member of the Conservative Party, but only for the six years 1997-2003, and —typically— at the very nadir of Conservative fortunes, which is interesting, psychologically. Does he court unpopularity? Does he deliberately express unpopular or contrary views?
Hitchens is known as what might fairly be called a “reactionary”, someone who thinks that Britain was a better place in the 1950s, no ifs no buts. In fact, I believe that I watched him say that or something like that on TV once. My own view is different, that some aspects of life in the UK are better now, though many are certainly worse. This blog post is about Peter Hitchens, not Ian Millard, but in my view, things that are better now than in the 1950s (which I scarcely remember, having been born in 1956) or the early 1960s (which I certainly do remember) would include
- central heating as the norm;
- wider selection of fruits and vegetables (and in general a healthier or at least more varied diet);
- less antiquated snobbism;
- more understanding of animal welfare;
- far easier access to information (via Internet);
Whereas, on the other side, the aspects of British life now that mean that UK life is worse (than in the early 1960s, anyway) are (and Hitchens has a point, because it is a longer list by far)
- the general pressure of life now (of course, I was a child in, say, 1963, so my perception is affected to that extent but I think the judgment is still valid);
- pervasive lack of freedom of expression;
- pervasive “political correctness” etc;
- the cost of living, though that is a complex question; it includes
- the cost of real property both for sale and rent, and the impossibility for most people to buy a property without family money;
- British people swamped by mass immigration;
- real pay and social benefits etc generally reducing;
- hugely less choice of employment for most people;
- many people in full-time work unable to live on the poor pay offered;
- unwanted millions of immigrants and their offspring;
- congested roads and railways (and refer to the above line);
- a huge new mixed-race population;
- a huge amount of crime;
- public and private housing shortages (refer to immigration, above);
- huge numbers of drug-contaminated persons;
- workers exploited in terms of having ever-shorter lunch breaks etc, “on call” after hours etc;
- public services near to collapse in some respects;
- intensive farming, with consequent harm to wildlife;
- standards in all areas (NHS, schools, social security, Westminster MPs, police etc) falling like a stone
We often hear (eg from very young Remain whiners) that, eg, “foreign travel is easier now”, whereas that is mostly illusion. True, there were some silly aspects “back then”, such as being restricted as to foreign currency taken on holiday (you even had to have the amount, bought from somewhere like Thomas Cook, written in your passport!), and that silliness (a kind of postwar sacred cow) lasted until Mrs Thatcher stopped it in 1979 or 1980! Yes, true, but that was about it.
If you listen to Remain whiners (esp. the under-30s), you read or hear that Brexit will mean either no visa-free travel to the EU states, or no travel allowed at all! They really believe that, pre-1972, British people were almost imprisoned, as if Cuban, Chinese or Soviet citizens!
Until blacks and browns abused it in the 1980s to import relatives illegally, you used to be able to get a “British Visitor’s Passport” from post offices for a small amount; the passport was valid for short visits to almost all Western European states (not many people went to Eastern Europe as tourists until the 1990s). I had one in 1978 or 1979, in between possession of two ordinary passports, when I wanted to travel to France at short notice. I think that it cost about £5 and took about 5 minutes to be issued at Lanark Road Post Office, Little Venice.
Transport to the European mainland: true, there were no budget airlines as such in the 1950s, 1960s, but there were routes and ways not now in existence: in the 1950s and 1960s, people could take their cars by air to France! The main route was Lydd (Kent) to Amiens. This was not only for the rich: 5,000 cars (20,000 passengers) as early as 1950, and over 50,000 cars (250,000 passengers) by 1955 (incredible when you recall that rationing lasted until 1955!):
Yes, you might have to show your passport or wave it (you still do…)
There were excellent hovercraft services (though only from 1970-2000) across the Channel.
The idea that some Remain whiners have that young people will be unable to travel if the UK leaves “Europe” (meaning the EU) is laughable to those who know. As a child I travelled with parents; and then (from 1970) as a teenager, I travelled alone to Paris, Amsterdam etc. No visa required, UK not in EEC (the then EU).
I might add that it actually takes longer to fly to Paris in 2019 than it did in 1970 or even 1960!
Anyway, back to Hitchens and his views.
True, the early 1950s did still have rationing (until 1954), the result of the stupid and terrible war against the German Reich: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rationing_in_the_United_Kingdom#Timeline
One cannot say that Hitchens approves of that aspect of 1950s lifestyle, though, and (if I understand him aright), he thinks that the British war against Germany could have been avoided, but I may be mistaken here. He certainly thinks that of the First World War, which he says, surely rightly, destroyed British naval supremacy and economy.
Where Hitchens is certainly mistaken is in saying (in the interview) that Churchill’s refusal to countenance the German peace proposals of 1940 was “unquestionably the right and moral thing to do”. Oh really? Right and moral, to continue a war only started because triggered by a treaty obligation that could never have been fulfilled (the Anglo-French worthless “guarantee” to Poland) and when an honourable peace via armistice was on the table?
Such a peace might have been bought at the price of German victory in the East, but would that have been so bad? The destruction of the Stalin/Bolshevik regime? The saving of most of Eastern Europe from both wartime destruction and post-1945 Stalinism? The prevention of the enormous damage, loss of life and hurt across Western and Southern Europe and North Africa? Hitchens says, however, that he is “sceptical” about Churchill overall.
Hitchens is on surer ground when he says that British history has gone, in that no-one knows British history. He cites David Cameron-Levita being unable to translate the two words “Magna Carta” from Latin! After 6 years at Eton! That was when “Scameron” was a guest on the Letterman Show. Shaming for the whole country. Not just the Magna Carta bit. Cameron came over more like a part-Jew public entertainer (and not a good one) than a British statesman. Oh…wait…
[the bit about Magna Carta starts around 8 minutes in]
Scameron was also proven, though I think on another occasion, not to have heard of the Bill of Rights! Hitchens cites an apparently intelligent 6th-former whom he met, and who had passed exams in English History, and yet who did not know which side Oliver Cromwell was on during the English Civil War!
I have had similar encounters. Few people under 40 now know even the most basic facts about British history, and less about European history generally. An indictment of the British educational system. One should, though, be wary of thinking that this kind of ignorance developed overnight. I recall having a brief conversation with a South London couple I met by a swimming pool in Sousse, Tunisia, in 1986, and who, it transpired, had no idea at all that what is now Tunisia had been (part of) a Roman imperial province. Not knowing who was Nelson or Drake, though, is arguably of a different order.
Hitchens says, again correctly, that “we” “have no idea now what it means to be English or British”, but does not go on to examine the racial implications. Come to think of it, that may be one reason why so many people in the UK want to denounce others to Twitter, Facebook, the police, employers etc for holding the “wrong” views, i.e. because the denouncers have no idea of the English historical struggle for free speech (John Hampden etc…) and no respect for it.
Owen Jones talks about how open-minded (he says…) Corbyn is, and implies that he, Jones, is the same. Oh yes? Take a look at my blog post about him…
Hitchens himself is really little different. He once had a short and at first reasonable discussion with me on Twitter about the early Zionists, in 2017 or 2016, but then a Jew tweeted to him about how I was apparently an evil “neo-Nazi”, after which, just like Owen Jones, inter alia, Hitchens blocked me. I was unaware then that Hitchens is part-Jew, though not to the extent that would have rendered him liable to sanctions under the 1936 Nuremberg law(s), his maternal grandmother having been only part-Jew (Mischling) and his maternal grandfather not a Jew. In fact, under those laws he would even have been able to work as a journalist.
Hitchens says that Enoch Powell’s so-called “Rivers of Blood” speech “was a disgrace”. Why? He dislikes its tone, it seems. What about its truth, though? He also says that “the intermarriage [resulting from immigration] is great”. I begin to wonder what major part of modern British society he does dislike, when push comes to shove! To be fair to Hitchens, he does disapprove of the ghetto communities established by Pakistanis and others in, mainly, the Midlands and North of England. He is certainly not “white nationalist”, let alone social-national. If he were, he would be sacked at once. Long live freedom!…
An area in which I do find myself largely in agreement with Hitchens is in intervention by the “West” (in my terms, “NWO/ZOG”) in the affairs of the Middle East. Iraq, Syria, Libya. He opposes it. That’s something.
As to Russia, Hitchens seems to take an objective view (informed by better historical knowledge than most msm scribblers), eg:
I apprehend that Hitchens likes the social conservatism of most Russians.
So what is my overall view of Peter Hitchens? I should say that he is someone of considerable intellect, though nowhere near as intelligent as he himself imagines. Someone of considerable education, but who imagines that he knows more and better than almost anyone else, and believes that it is his role in life to pronounce on the truth of any given social, political, historical or ethical topic. Someone who harks back to a supposed golden age prior to, perhaps, 1959, or 1989 (at very latest). Someone who sees what is wrong in the present society but appears to have no programme or (Heaven forbid!) ideology to move from here to there (to a better society).
Hitchens takes a reasonable view such as “the family is a good thing” and tests it to destruction. Likewise, in his critique of both socialism and the contemporary Conservative Party, he goes to an extreme, saying that the Conservative Party is “extreme Left-wing”, by which he means “socially liberal”. He defends traditional marriage and his arguments here have force.
Hitchens thinks that the Conservative Party is dying (understandable, looking at its MPs and ministers) but, yet again, goes to an extreme, wishing that it could have lost the 2010 General Election so that it might have died, and so made room for a new and socially-conservative party. I wish that it had lost too, but for other reasons!
Hitchens reminds me of two other scribblers of note, Peter Oborne and (now rather forgotten) Paul Johnson.
All three are often intuitively correct on some issues, risibly mistaken on others. They are alike in other ways, too. As the Russians say, they are all “Maximalisti”.
Hitchens (like Owen Jones) blocked me on Twitter for ideological reasons. Hitchens (like Owen Jones) makes a very comfortable living from the System msm. Hitchens (like Owen Jones) poses no danger to the existing state of affairs, despite making much noise. Hitchens (like Owen Jones) is a mass media pussycat pretending to be a tiger.
I like to read Hitchens’ words occasionally. He is often right, not always. However, his words are commentary, not inspiration. He says in the interview that Britain is finished and that the only serious history of contemporary Britain will one day be written in Chinese! Maybe, but God moves in mysterious though sometimes sanguinary ways. As a Christian and a student of history, Hitchens should know that.
Hitchens’ most recent Mail on Sunday article:
Other recent articles by Hitchens:
Hitchens’ recent book (which I have not yet read, but which promises to be at least as myth-shattering as those of the unjustly neglected historian Correlli Barnett)
Update, 18 September 2020
Since the above was written, Peter Hitchens has been almost a lone voice struggling against the “Coronavirus” panic and the allied government-proclaimed fear propaganda.