Mr. Hitchens is like a defense lawyer who is charged with defending the indefensible, and who is therefore reduced to throwing dust in the eyes of the jury.
I made four fundamental points about Orwell as revealed in Homage to Catalonia, for which I believe I provided abundant textual evidence. First: he approved of a society that to all appearances was totalitarian. Second: his anticlericalism was vicious and intolerant. Third: he approved, or at least did not disapprove, except on narrowly practical grounds, of the employment of child soldiers. Fourth: his objection to Stalin’s policy in Spain was that it was not revolutionary and would not lead to the establishment of the totalitarian society to which he had previously raised such hosannahs.
Mr. Hitchens does not refute any of these points. It does not yet seem to have occurred to him that extreme egalitarianism is inherently totalitarian. Give him another twenty or thirty years of hard thought, and he might, I suppose. I never suggested anywhere in my article that the Spanish Church was wholly, or even minimally, admirable, and therefore what he says is wholly beside the point. I agree with him that Orwell was probably joking about Sagrada Familia, but to have made such a joke in the circumstances in which he was writing was about as tasteful as telling a Jewish joke at a Nazi diplomatic reception.
Mr. Hitchens does even attempt to refute my third point. Nor can he refute the fourth because I was correctly representing Orwell’s views, as I am sure he knows.
Finally, I am morally certain that when Orwell published The Lion and the Unicorn he did not have it in mind that it would be less well-known half a century later than many of his other writings, especially his subsequent ones. The economic views he expressed in it were uncannily similar to those that Ezra Pound expressed. There was a good reason for this: socialists and fascists differ on some things, but not on everything.
I am afraid it is Mr. Hitchens’s reply that is sloppy.