Bill, at issue here is the ambiguous politics of the European Enlightenment. As I argued in my post on Hitchens’ Worldview
, Hitchens is a true child of Hume and Mill. They of course were radical liberals, but, through their close alignment with Adam Smith, author of The Wealth of Nations
, they also supported laissez faire economics, setting the scene for a big part of the anti-state, pro-freedom politics of modern conservatism. Hitchens reminds me of the politics of the UK magazine The Economist
, which combines strongly liberal views on social issues with strongly conservative views on economics and security.
Noting also my previous reference to Hitchens’ adulation for Thomas Hobbes, we find a segue here into our next discussion on de Waal’s Primates and Philosophers
. De Waal castigates Hobbes’ individualist theory “man is wolf to man” as empirically false, opening the question of how the assumptions of individualist morality are in serious error in their understanding of the evolutionary roots of morality. My impression is that Hitchens is sympathetic to the individualist assumptions characteristic of the European Enlightenment which underpinned an imperial narrative by denying the inherent sociality of human existence. This individualism is today expressed as neoconservatism, hence is seen in Hitchens’ support for the Gulf War.