Histomat: Adventures in Historical Materialism

'Historical materialism is the theory of the proletarian revolution.' Georg Lukács

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Christopher Hitchens on 'imperial beastliness'

In a refreshing review of a book on the history of Algeria, Christopher Hitchens makes a stand against what he calls 'imperial beastliness'.

'Quite properly, the book opens with a chapter on the "colonial prehistory" of the country where he describes very simply how the French empire deliberately scoured and devastated the entire region in order to ensure that the social bases of resistance would be eliminated. In itself, this description of imperial beastliness makes the book worth studying; the French occupation reduced the population by over one half between 1830 and 1852.'

A pity that the review in question was written in 1972, and Hitchens has since lined himself alongside the beasts who run empires. How could Hitchens make such a mistake? The answer seems to be prefigured in this early review of 'Workers’ Self Management in Algeria' by Ian Clegg. As Hitchens puts it, 'Generally speaking, Clegg ignores the conception of a mass workers party informed by Marxist theory. Naturally enough, this leads him into confusion.' I guess once Hitchens abandoned Marxist theory, it was only natural he was going to get himself confused about the nature of imperialism...

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At 3:52 am, Blogger maps said...

Hey! I just posted on the same thing!
Great minds think alike eh...


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