Christopher Hitchens will long be remembered by the current generation’s experience of him, and thanks to his books and especially his numerous videos, I hope, by many generations to come.
Some have esteemed him – I do not – for his ability to down two double scotches and a bottle of wine before composing a scathing, brilliant article demolishing theocratic fascism, his chief bugaboo. He was not content to align rational arguments against theism, or to heap scorn on absurd beliefs or even dare to be the iconoclast of contemporary religious icons like Mother Teresa. He raged against regimes that use religion to con and dominate the masses. He was a permanently Angry Atheist.
Others achieve the same ends more subtly. (I do not claim to be one of them. I have never been accused of sublety in my life.) Vladimir Bartol’s 1938 novel, Alumut, set in eleventh century Iran, is a masterpiece of satire that will remain one of the most effective denunciations of fanaticism ever written. I never heard Hitch mention it, but I would be surprised if he were not inspired by it. Mind you, after Stalin and Hitler, we have had more than enough examples of fascism of the very worst kind, where tyrants claim not only to have God on their side, but to enslave and kill in His name. We will miss Hitchens.