Sunday, July 26, 2020

Some Things Never Change

"In London, ideology has never mattered that much. It could be said that this is only because ideas have never mattered much at all, but it would not be quite true. The truth, and the saving grace, is that nobody thinks them glamorous. You can't be a star for what you say, only for the way you say it. Far from being driven apart by differing opinions, Hitchens and Conquest were drawn together by their common love of language. The long consequence of their encounters in those years can be enjoyed in the opening pages of Hitchens's little book Orwell's Victory (2002) where its author is to be found conceding that Conquest might have had a point about the Bolsheviks all along. But those who never doubted that he did can't expect credit for having been right. What we can expect is to be dismissed for having been on the Right. To be a liberal democrat was considered reactionary then, and to have been so then is to be considered a reactionary now. People who have abandoned erroneous opinions would be giving up too much if they ceased to regard people who never held them as naive. As Revel pointed out, the Left demands a monopoly of rectification."

- Clive James in "Bitter Seeds: Solzhenitsyn" in Cultural Cohesion: The Essential Essays

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