Saturday, June 04, 2005

The Brothers Hitchens: Dostoevsky lite

I didn't know that Christopher Hitchens even had a brother--he hardly seems like a person who has relatives at all, but rather to have sprung, full-grown, from the head of some fairly malicious Zeus . But he does have a family, and it turns out that his brother Peter is a journalist of some fame, also. Peter Hitchens writes a column for the British newspaper the Daily Mail.

But the Brothers Hitchens have had some disagreements, to put it mildly. Until recently, they hadn't spoken to each other in four years, supposedly on account of a joke told by Peter about Christopher, to which the latter took offense because he felt it made him sound like a Stalin sympathizer.

Peter Hitchens is a socialist turned Tory, while Christopher, of course, is a socialist turned hawk. Peter seems to have become far more conservative than his brother Christopher, and he "turned" earlier, too. Here is Peter's bio and photo, and there's another bio here, as well.

Since Peter seems to have been prescient enough to disapprove of the Rabin-Arafat handshake back when it happened, my guess is that he would fall into the category of paleo-neocon, whereas Christopher, if he's a neocon at all (and my guess is that he would deny it vociferously) would definitely be a neo-neocon (see this article for a rather lengthy discussion--in David Horowitz's FrontPage, of course!--of whether Hitchens could be considered a neocon).

And, get this--Peter's at work on a semi-autobiographical book called "How to Change Your Mind." Hmmm. I guess it's another one I have to read when it comes out.

Here's my favorite exchange from their interview, the one in which the brothers finally talk to each other after their four-year relationship hiatus. It's not surprising that, when that "dialogue" finally happens, it's not exactly warm and fuzzy, and it occurs in public. Towards the end of this epic get-together, the moderator/interviewer asks them whether they are friends. Both, characteristically, give answers that are witty and acerbic--although, as often may be the case, I suspect--it's Christopher who seems to get the better of his brother:

Moderator (Ian Katz, of The Guardian): Are you two friends?

Peter: No. There was an old joke in East Germany that went, "Are the Russians our friends or our brothers?" And the answer is, "They must be our brothers because you can choose your friends."

Christopher: The great thing about family life is that it introduces you to people you'd otherwise never meet.

Good line for a family therapist, I think.


At 12:47 PM, June 04, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Read Peter Hitchens' " The Abolition of Britain". It details the collapse of Western European culture since 1966. It is one of the best books I ever read on the subject.

At 5:13 PM, June 04, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...

If you liked that discussion then you are bound to like this also. that last line is priceless.

At 10:18 PM, June 04, 2005, Blogger chuck said...

It's the Mitford family all over again. What a strange life those girls must have had growing up.


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