Today's Orwells?
January 11, 2002 6:54 AM   Subscribe

Today's Orwells? Ron Rosenbaum writes interestingly in the NY Observer about how Christopher Hitchens and Andrew Sullivan, expatriate Brits both, have become the "most forceful, eloquent and influential voices in the American debate over the Sept. 11 attacks and their meaning."
posted by bmckenzie (11 comments total)
Ron Rosenbaum rules. Check out his collected works, The Secret Parts of Fortune, now available in paperback.
posted by whuppy at 7:33 AM on January 11, 2002

Orwell wrote novels, and was an artist as well as man who commented on political matters. He mostly waited until he had something to say before writing an essay. Sullivan is into speed and being impossibly prolific. (He's talking out of his *@# more than half the time, I think. This is is OK in discussion groups, but bad for essays.) Orwell was also a Democratic Socialist, which Sullivan most certainly is not. Hitchens comes closer, but he's still primarily a journalist and pundit and not a writer of serious literature.
posted by raysmj at 8:07 AM on January 11, 2002

There's gotta be some mistake. If these bozos are eloquent then Dubya has an intellect equal to Einstein.
posted by nofundy at 8:28 AM on January 11, 2002

Hitchens is very bright and very well read. He is shifting from Left to Right and going after both sides as he drifts rightward. Sullivan spends too much of his time bad-moutnhing anything that he considers Left of his positions. There is hardly a piece on his website that does not make nasty cracks about Liberals.
As I have always said: the Left is filled with Guilt. The Right is filled with Rage and anger.
posted by Postroad at 8:40 AM on January 11, 2002

The New York Observer exists in a bizzarre world, where journalism is all. In that world, the likes of Hitchens and Sullivan seem like towering intellectuals, and articles like this, blithely asserting that these journos "framed" the debate by "brilliantly" inventing terms, pass for argument. MeFi's own Holgate put it much more succinctly, three months ago.
posted by liam at 8:41 AM on January 11, 2002

In that world, the likes of Hitchens and Sullivan seem like towering intellectuals,
How true, Liam. They're both very intelligent, articulate journalists and sometimes reading them can be interesting. But mr. Blair is one the Twentieth Century's most important intellectuals. It's not really the same.
posted by matteo at 9:21 AM on January 11, 2002

that's plastic's holgate now :)
posted by kliuless at 9:23 AM on January 11, 2002

I don't know much about Sullivan, but I do admit I like Hitchens. Like me, he considers smugness to be the most contemptible trait in a writer or thinker. Many people decry his contrarianism, but in an intellectual climate where most pundits function basically as political cheerleaders, Hitchens' attacks on the complacency of both the left and the right ar admirable.
posted by jonmc at 9:31 AM on January 11, 2002

I like Hitchens because he is fearless, well-read, and writes well. Sullivan to me seems to be too involved with his own ideology that, even if it is self-invented, is ultimately rigid and not-all-that-clever.
posted by cell divide at 12:57 PM on January 11, 2002

Hah! I hate this article... "nothing escapes his eye". That philosophy is taken way too far. Much writing is a waste of space because authors obsess about unimportant opinions. What sort of intellectual kudos do you deserve for tearing into a "lefty in London" who compares the burqa with the "enforced smile" of an American supermarket-checkout girl? Great fucking job, big brains.

And let's not forget: "decadent left enclaves on the coasts [that] may well mount a fifth column." I don't know the best way to express my disgust with the conservatives who are widely flinging the charge of traitor against liberals and leftists (and unfortunately also against places like Berkeley and "the coasts").
posted by Wood at 5:00 PM on January 11, 2002

There's nobody in journalism today who can claim Orwell's crown. No-one has the broad view, the honesty and the clarity. IMO the closest in spirit are the TV screenwriters Dennis Potter, Alan Bleasdale and Jimmy McGovern. They're all Old Labour socialists whose primary concern is social justice. There aren't many of the type around any more.
posted by Summer at 4:34 AM on January 12, 2002

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