- The Washington Times - Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Intellect revolution

“[Christopher Hitchens’] own loss of faith came in slow degrees. ‘If someone had asked me my political alignment, well into the 1990s, I would have said that I was a socialist and a Marxist.’ Then he found himself writing to students of his and this process developed into the 2001 book ‘Letters to a Young Contrarian.’ As he surveyed the 30 years since the catalyzing effect of 1968, he says he was forced to admit there was no longer a socialist international movement, nor even a socialist critique that might help to revive one.

“ ’So what are you doing calling yourself a socialist?’ he asks. ‘All you’re doing is making sure people don’t confuse you with a liberal — which I’d always considered a position of lily-livered weakness. But that makes it an affectation. So I felt it fall away. I didn’t repudiate it, I didn’t get poisoned by it, I didn’t hate it and I didn’t have a Damascene moment about it. But I did notice that those who do think they’ve got a critique of capitalism turn out to be reactionaries.

“They prefer feudalism or agrarianism; they’re pre-capitalists. Marxism at least has a theory of development and innovation. And global capitalism now seems to be the only thing that is revolutionary. That’s my Marxist way of looking at it.’ ”

Alexander Linklarter, writing on “Christopher Hitchens,” in the May issue of Prospect magazine

Sexual revolution

“One creative approach adopted by an Oakland, Calif.-based nonprofit called Internet Sexual Information Services takes its cue from the greeting-card industry. ISIS instructs people diagnosed with STDs to ‘notify everyone you’ve had sex with in the past six months’ (‘Oral sex counts, too’) and suggests that, in doing so, you make use of a personal computer or Mac (‘Try looking through your old e-mails and your online address book’).

“Once you’ve located the necessary e-mail addresses, ISIS invites you to choose one of six specially designed e-cards. Each one can be forwarded to up to six lovers, friends with benefits, or ‘tricks’ to break the bad news as gently as possible.

“If you wish, you can make your greeting more medically specific by choosing your particular disease … from a pull-down menu. Sample e-cards in English and Spanish appear below and on the following five pages.

“Hallmark, eat your heart out.”

Bonnie Goldstein, writing on “VD Valentines,” on April 23 at Slate.com

Student revolution

“Musing on [author Gerard] DeGroot’s description of the practical effects of student protests against the war, I had not quite realized how much the escalation of protests in the late ‘60s had turned the older generation harshly to the right.

“ ’Support for the right of students to protest (even peacefully) steadily declined, to less than 40 percent in 1969,’ DeGroot writes. ‘A Gallup poll in March 1969 found 82 percent in favor of withdrawing their federal student loans.’ Such facts certainly call into question any blithe assumptions about the political achievements of the protest movement.

“It is, perhaps, possible that the nature of those protests actually lengthened the war, as DeGroot suggests: ‘In fact, with a bit less egotism on the part of some protesters, and a bit more political finesse, success might have come sooner.’ ”

Jay Parini, writing on “Sizing Up the ‘60s,” on April 25 in the Chronicle of Higher Education Review

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