Day By Day

Saturday, February 06, 2010

Hitchens Nods

Hitch thinks North Korea's communist state is really right wing. He writes:
The whole idea of communism is dead in North Korea, and its most recent "Constitution," "ratified" last April, has dropped all mention of the word. The analogies to Confucianism are glib, and such parallels with it as can be drawn are intended by the regime only for the consumption of outsiders.... [W]e should instead regard the Kim Jong-il system as a phenomenon of the very extreme and pathological right. It is based on totalitarian "military first" mobilization, is maintained by slave labor, and instills an ideology of the most unapologetic racism and xenophobia.
Read it here.

The problem with this formulation is the identification of racism and militarism exclusively with right wing regimes. Hitchens used to be, and in some significant ways is still, a Marxist of the Trotskyite variety and he is well aware of the fiercely nationalistic and militaristic nature of the Stalin regime and he cannot be ignorant regarding the racist aspects of "great Russian chauvinism". The fact is that in practice both racism and militarism are quite compatible with communism. As intellectuals are wont to do Hitchens is here substituting theory and political rhetoric for an appreciation of the ways in which the world works.