There is Left; and there is Left. While conservatives may not expect to find too many allies among those who subscribe to the rosy optimism of humanistic individualism (we are all entitled to, and can achieve, everything we want as long as we don’t hurt anybody), they may soon find a surprising ally from the real Left—an articulate atheistic, Marxist materialist.

In an interview published in the January issue of Crisis, a respected neoconservative “journal of lay Catholic opinion,” leftist columnist Christopher Hitchens breaks ranks with received liberal-left ideology, voices his opposition to abortion, and calls for the reversal of Roe v. Wade.

As a supporter of both feminism and humanism, Hitchens warns against letting the axiomatic “women’s right to choose” contradict humanism. He points out that “the so-called ‘pro-life’ forces are overwhelmingly female and from income groups that traditionally voted Democratic,” a group he calls “humble people.” Of course, a true Marxist would want to take the masses seriously. And we are grateful that Hitchens does.

Hitchens also takes philosophical materialism’s view of human life seriously. He does not believe there is a point at which “a soul enters the unborn.” “We don’t have bodies,” he says. “We are bodies.” He goes on to say that the theory of evolution “establishes beyond reasonable doubt that life is a continuum that begins at conception because it can’t begin anywhere else.”

Coupling that view of human life with his Marxist view of society, Hitchens argues, “Once you allow that the occupant of the womb is even potentially a life, it cuts athwart any glib invocation of ‘the woman’s right to choose.’ If the unborn is a candidate member of the next generation, it means that it is society’s responsibility.”

Infanticide And Appendixes

Hitchens has not come as far as some prolife activists might hope. He refuses to call abortion “murder,” reminding us that not all killing is indeed murder. But he does call for a shift of language on both sides of the controversy, hoping prolifers will stop “talking about infanticide” while feminists cease “comparing fetuses with appendixes or tumors.” He hopes for a grand social compromise that would include child care and socialist-run welfare and adoption systems, as well as “free abortion in cases of rape, incest, [and] proven mental or physical incapacity.”

That is not exactly the conservative agenda. But it may be close enough for some purposes. Without naming names, Hitchens claims he is not alone on the Left. If enough others come to voice similar views, we may even see an uneasy political alliance between those on the Left and those on the Right who take their principles seriously enough to combat the easy me-ism of the age.

By David Neff.

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