“A nation of nose jobs, not nuclear war,”? is how Peter Hitchens describes the Iranians. Hitchens offers a much-needed corrective to the neoconnery’s perspective: they’ve been itching for a fight. Iranians are a modernizing people, with Western sensibilities to match their demographic youth. But, contra the “cake-walk,” they’ll-greet-us-with-bonbons-and bouquets-crowd, “that will not stop [the Iranians] fighting like hell if we are foolish enough to attack them.”
Peter’s lesser brother, the Trotskyite-turned-neocon Christopher Hitchens, is more at home shedding darkness. He has a new book out: Thomas Paine’s “Right of Man.” Christopher has dedicated it, “by permission,” to Jalal Talabani, the President of Iraq. Trotskyites share with neocons an ahistoric approach —to say nothing of philosophical Alzheimer’s —that has made it quite acceptable to compare the neocon-initiated carnage in Iraq to the constitutional cramps of early America. But, as I have pointed out over and over again, there is absolutely no philosophical link between the feuding Mohammedans and the American founders, followers of John Locke and Baron de Montesquieu.
Although he wrote some great libertarian tracts, Paine was too much of an acolyte of the French Revolution for my tastes, at one stage nuzzling up to the Jacobins (until they turned on him), and writing in opposition to Edmund Burke’s condemnation of that blood-drenched revolution.
Paine’s emphasis on the universality of political rights is also so French Revolution. I believe that all men are imbued with natural —but not political —rights. I believe taxpayers alone ought to have the vote. Not tax consumers. And that goes for politicians, who pay taxes out of what they loot from the taxpayer. As the very American John C. Calhoun explained in “A Disquisition on Government,” a sizeable majority of the people “receives in disbursements more than it pays in taxes.” The minority funding the orgy “pays in taxes more than it receives back in disbursements.” The latter, not the former, should have the vote.
But even Paine should probably not be paired with Talabani and his paired-down, uninspired mission: staying alive politically and literally. But then what would Hitchens know.