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Peter Hitchens’ reactionary conservatism is, at times, hilarious – his fear that we have traded freedom for safety is anything but

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02.06.2021

Peter Hitchens is a dyed-in-the-wool conservative. In an interview for Unlocked, Hitchens even describes himself as a ‘reactionary’. His theme is the loss of freedom in the UK and while his uber-conservative views mean he has a very different take on freedom from me, he’s quite right to be concerned about our society’s general loss of concern with the issue of liberty.

In the late Sixties and early Seventies, Hitchens was a member of the International Socialists, forerunner of the Socialist Workers' Party. But his views have changed radically since then, one reason why he fell out with his equally famous journalist brother, Christopher. These days, Peter is a Christian, pro-family, anti-drugs, right-wing newspaper columnist.

In his new interview, titled ‘The Slow Death of Freedom 1914–2020’, he points to four key dates in the undermining of British liberty – something he has thought for a long time was doomed, but its demise has been accelerated by the government response to the Covid pandemic.

Early on in the interview, Hitchens makes his position abundantly clear: “We are throwing away our liberty. We are willingly and, in some cases, cheerfully throwing it away because we have ceased to value it. In fact, we are increasingly comfortable with being told what to do rather than deciding what to do for ourselves.” This is anathema to him. Liberty is “the most precious jewel we have in this country”, it is not just “an abstract concept because it decides how you live”.

But this is a process that has been going on for over a century. His first key date is 1914 and the start of the First World War. One consequence was conscription, which began in 1916. It seems slightly extraordinary now that most men aged 18 to 40 (and eventually 51) could be forced by the state, under threat of imprisonment, to take up arms and fight in the trenches. The legislation lapsed in 1920, but conscription began again in 1939 and was continued, as ‘National Service’, until 1960.

But Hitchens also blames the First World War for beginning the process of Britain’s decline. The war was a mistake and,........

© RT.com


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