Peter Hitchens

author, columnist

Peter Jonathan Hitchens (born 28 October 1951) is an English conservative author, broadcaster, journalist, and commentator. He writes for The Mail on Sunday and was a foreign correspondent reporting from both Moscow and Washington, D.C.

Peter Hitchens in 2015

Quotes edit

1990s edit

The Abolition of Britain (1999) edit

  • In 1965, the people of Britain may have been poorer, smaller, shabbier, dirtier, colder, narrower, more set in their ways, ignorant of olive oil, polenta and - even - lager. But they knew what united them, they shared a complicated web of beliefs, attitudes, prejudices, loyalties and dislikes. (p. 23)
  • A nation is the sum of its memories, and when those memories are allowed to die, it is less of a nation. (p. 35)
  • In an incredibly short time, we have been turned into a nation without heroes, without pride in our past or knowledge of either our past triumphs or our past follies and disasters. We are like an amnesia patient, waking up in the hospital ward, with both past and future great blank spaces stretching behind and before us, doomed to repeat mistakes we do not even know we have already made. (p. 62-63)
  • Smoking and buggery can both kill you, by exposing you to diseases you would not otherwise get. If homosexual acts were as common as smoking we would have to bury the victims in mass graves because AIDS slays so much faster than cancer, heart disease or emphysema. (p. 129, 2016 edition)
  • To anyone brought up when English literature, scripture, liturgy, poetry and hymns were still taught and learned, it is astonishing to find out how little they have in common with those who were raised and educated in the post-revolutionary culture. The pre-revolutionary survivor can finish other people's sentences, detect the rhythm in other people's speeches, recognise a score of allusions in a page of print. There is hardly a word or phrase which does not awake a richer thought, or an echo of something hauntingly similar. (p. 196)

2000s edit

  • There is a strong moral case for strict border controls and severe limits on immigration. A country is the only unit in which it is possible for people to be effectively unselfish to their neighbours. Without its shared culture and loyalty, there can be no shared law, no shared willingness to pay taxes or accept authority, no free nation capable of protecting its own people from danger within and without, and of sheltering those fleeing from oppression elsewhere. This argument often goes unsaid because of the semi-official ideological censorship now operating in most Western countries, which is called political correctness and which smears all dissenting views, usually as 'racist'. It is important that those genuinely concerned with freedom and with the defence of civilisation armour themselves against this foolish attempt to suppress free debate, and perhaps reconsider positions taken more because they are modish than because they are defensible with truth and reason.
  • It cannot be long before Britain has its first 24-year-old granny. When you abolish husbands and fathers, that is what you get. As the rules of civilised life are swept away and the only people interested in getting married are lesbian clergywomen, there will soon be thousands of them. And for every youthful grandmother, there will be at least one feral, abandoned male, stalking the streets. Britain's neglected poor, who once brought up their children in family homes with rules, are becoming a primitive tribe, stripped of the laws of civilisation and sinking into barbarism. The same barbarism, by the way, is mirrored among the loud and loutish rich.
  • Frankly, I could carve a better opposition party out of a banana than the Tories.
  • We're not close. We're different people, we have different lives, we have entirely different pleasures, we live in different continents. If we weren't brothers we wouldn't know each other.

2010s edit

  • Every Prime Minister since Edward Heath has come back from negotiations with Brussels without his trousers, and without his wallet, and said, "I've just won an fantastic victory". They keep on doing it. They've always lost, the European Union will always take us for a ride - that is what it's for, and until we leave it, it will continue to do so.
  • My gorge rises at the use of the word 'white.' The issue should never be the colour of somebody's skin. I thought we all very, very long ago accepted that what mattered about somebody was not the colour of his skin but the content of his character. And I'm not interested in what colour they are. The real question is, does a country which has a very large amount of immigration adapt to the immigrants, or do the immigrants who arrived in that country adapt to that country. And it's my very strong view that the only hope of a tranquil and peaceful and productive and successful society is that the migrants adapt to the place to which they come. And for very many years we have not been encouraging or indeed helping them to do that. We've been encouraging, through a policy of official state multiculturalism, that people should stay separate ,and should remain within their migrant communities and we have not created a single British nationality. There are various feeble efforts to make them take exams in how to claim social security benefits, or who was Winston Churchill. That is not the same. We have ceased to be proud of our own country, culture, history, religion, language, and we haven't asked our new citizens to be proud of them either. And we now see the result of that. It's not a question whether they're white. It's a question whether they're British. And my fear is they're not becoming British and the Britain is ceasing to be Britain, and that is a very great shame both for us who were already here, and for those who have come."
    • Question Time, Monday, 21 February 2013
  • When I was a Revolutionary Marxist, we were all in favour of as much immigration as possible. It wasn't because we liked immigrants, but because we didn't like Britain. We saw immigrants - from anywhere - as allies against the staid, settled, conservative society that our country still was at the end of the Sixties. Also, we liked to feel oh, so superior to the bewildered people - usually in the poorest parts of Britain - who found their neighbourhoods suddenly transformed into supposedly 'vibrant communities'. If they dared to express the mildest objections, we called them bigots.
  • The struggle for [gender] equality in education and professions was won decades ago. What is really fascinating is this extraordinary alliance between radical leftist feminism and corporate multinational business which is probably the most sinister and cynical alliance since the Nazi-Soviet pact.
  • Let me repeat that the absurd thing about the anti-Islam neo-conservatives is that they are invariably supporters of unrestricted migration, the means by which Islam has quite peacefully established itself as a permanent, growing major social, religious and political force in our country. If Sharia law comes to Britain, as Mr Jacubs fears, it will not be because of violent actions such as the Woolwich outrage, which I think we can safely assume were condemned and disowned by most British Muslims. It will be as the result of the entirely peaceful establishment of a sizeable Muslim population in this country.
  • Because it calls itself the Conservative party; if it called itself the Socialist Workers' Party, I wouldn't have anything against it. It's egalitarian, it's opposed to the maintenance to the married family, which is the absolute pillar of morale and social conservatism. It's opposed to national independence, completely wedded to our membership of the supranational European Union which robs us of sovereignty. It's got much more in common with the SWP than it has with Conservatism.
  • Donald Trump is a symptom, not a disease. The disease is the death of real political conservatism: a cool, intelligent reluctance to believe that all change is good, a love for the established, the particular and the well-worn. During the 1980s, many people mistook Thatcherism and Reaganism, actually a wild form of liberalism, for conservatism. They lapped up the temporary riches it provided and now find themselves yearning for leaders to take them back to a world of secure jobs and secure borders.
  • Don't you dare call me optimistic. (It's a) grave insult.
  • People are terrified of changing their minds. Changing your mind is a door you don’t want to open because you don’t know what’s behind it. Changing your mind means losing all your friends. Changing your mind means a complete revolution in your life. Changing your mind means publicly admitting you’ve been wrong. […] People don’t want to change their minds.
  • Since the French Revolutionaries set up the guillotine, the same thing has been true. Revolutions are all based on the false idea that humans and their nature can be changed. And once changed, they will fit neatly into the Utopia that is planned for them. Utopia, as we find every so often in Russia, China and Cambodia, can only be approached across a sea of blood, and you never actually arrive.
  • I am ceaselessly amazed, as I look at our media, political parties, schools and universities, how formerly conservative people and institutions have adapted themselves to ideas, expressions and formulations which they once rejected and confidently mocked. Almost everything that was once derided as the work of the ‘loony left’ or ‘political correctness gone mad’ is observed daily in grand, expensive private schools and is the official policy of the Conservative and Unionist party, or soon will be.

The Cameron Delusion (2010) edit

  • A liberal will defend to the death your right to agree with her. Disagree with her, and she will call the police.
  • The main enemy of conservatism in Britain is the Conservative Party.
  • If the Conservative Party were your refrigerator, all your food would go bad. If it were your car or bicycle, you would be stranded by the side of the road. If it were your accountant, you would be bankrupt. If it were your lawyer, you would be in prison. If any consumer good, service or profession so consistently and predictably disappointed or failed in its ostensible main purpose, people would turn their backs on it. It would be overtaken, replaced and driven out of business by a better competitor.

The Rage Against God (2010) edit

  • The accelerating decline of civility in Britain, which struck me very hard when I returned there in 1995 after nearly five years in Russia and the USA, has several causes. The rapid vanishing of Christianity from public consciousness and life, as the last fully Christian generation ages and disappears, seems to me to be a major part of it. I do not think I would have been half so shocked by the squalor and rudeness of 1990 Moscow, if I had not come from a country where Christian forbearance was still well-established. If I had then been able to see the London of 2010, I would have been equally shocked.
  • Let us examine the strange problem of the Atheist states, which a ruthlessly honest Godless person must surely admit as a difficulty. After all, intelligent Christians must – if they are candid – accept that faith has often led to cruel violence and intolerant persecution. They may say, as I would, that this was because humans often misunderstand or misuse the teachings of the religions they follow. This is not because they are religious, but because Man is not great. Atheists, in return, ought equally to concede that Godless regimes and movements have given birth to terrible persecutions and massacres. They do not do so, in my view, because in these cases the slaughter is not the result of a misunderstanding, or of excessive zeal.
  • Atheists cannot bear to look their faith’s faults full in the face. They cannot even admit that their dogmatic insistence that there is no God is in fact a faith, though they cannot possibly know if they are right. Their belief, apparently, is not even a belief. And so the escape clauses come thick and fast. If atheism in practice appears at any point to have bad consequences, that is because it took on the character of religion. So this murder, that massacre, that purge just do not count. If religious people do good things with good consequences, that is because they are really atheists without knowing it.
  • The current intellectual assault on God in Europe and North America is in fact a specific attack on Christianity – the faith that stubbornly persists in the morality, laws, and government of the major Western countries. Despite the self-conscious militancy of some of the anti-theists against Islam, they rarely encounter organized Islam in their own countries, and are sensibly wary of challenging Islam on its own ground, and seldom debate with Muslim spokesmen (who are not interested in discussing an issue they believe to be closed). Their hostility to Islam as a ‘threat to our way of life’ is a result of their late realization that it might, if it became powerful, menace the license in sexual and other matters that their cause has won, thanks to the weakness of Christianity in its former domains.
  • A new and intolerant utopianism seeks to drive the remaining traces of Christianity from Europe and North America. This time, it does so mainly in the cause of personal liberation, born in the 1960s cultural revolution, and now inflamed into special rage by any suggestion that the sexual urge should be restrained by moral limits or that it should have any necessary connection with procreation. This utopianism relies for human goodness on doctrines of human rights derived from human desires and – like all such codes – full of conflicts between the differing rights of different groups.

2020s edit

  • So sorry, Your Majesty, but I have had my first Covid vaccination for wholly selfish reasons. I did not do it for the good of others but for my own convenience. And I will have my second for the same purpose.
  • It was in the communist world that today’s socioeconomic hell — the hideous love-child of Deng Xiaoping and Margaret Thatcher — was pioneered. The Soviets had the compulsory two-earner household, with its children condemned to government nurture and raised to love the Party above their parents. They had its weak parents and state-dependent adults, and its incessant divorce, all leading to an eviscerated and futile caricature of marriage, to the point where marriage was drained of all meaning and power. They just did not have the post-1990 combination that almost nobody saw coming: the endless electronic consumerism, through which we may try to buy back our lost happiness and freedom in the form of pleasure and drugged stupor. If they had managed that, the U.S.S.R. would still be there, as Mao’s China is. Marxism really is not the enemy of consumerism. When it realized it needed to care more about the mind and morality than about money, it rejuvenated itself and made the future its own again. That was what the 1960s were really about. Capitalism, understanding this, has made its peace with the revolution. Having grasped that it can flourish in the absence of freedom and Christianity, it also now understands that it has no need or wish to keep its proletarians poor. On the contrary, they need to be affluent or indebted enough to purchase its products.
  • I have pursued a lone heresy of wondering why NATO even survived the end of its enemies, the USSR and the Warsaw Pact. Do we still maintain alliances against Austria-Hungary or the Ottomans? I can find no trace of them. Perhaps, overlooked in some elegant Paris street and living off ancient funds, elderly, learned men still occupy these joyous sinecures, hoping that they will not be found out.
  • It is a fantasy to believe that you punish politicians by throwing them out of office. It is when they leave office that they start making the real money.
    • GB News Dewbs & Co, 1 June 2022 
  • The funeral of Winston Churchill in 1965 turned out to be the burial of the British Empire. The funeral of Queen Elizabeth next week will probably be the obsequies of the United Kingdom.

About Peter Hitchens edit

  • Life is just a slow process of coming to terms with Peter Hitchens being right about everything.

Reviews of The Abolition of Britain edit

In alphabetical order.

  • To him [Hitchens] "over-use of private cars" is "crazed", rehousing of slum dwellers "deportation", defence spending cuts "pitiless" employment of women "conscription", anti-gun laws "demented", the Plowden report on education simultaneously "tragic", "nauseating" and "drivel". This is Paul Johnson without the sense of humour. ...
    Again, I am ready to offer a small prize (say, a copy — indeed my copy — of this book) to anyone who can explain what Hitchens means in asserting that "Abolishing the Greater London Council created the precedent for abolishing the House of Lords"; or how "our monarchy" was "robbed of much of its role by the Tory decision to elect party leaders". ...
    When I finished reading this book, I thought I had better have a bracing cold shower. However, it then occurred to me that the whole thing might be a sustained spoof. If so, I have to admit that, although it goes on a bit, it is very effective.
  • My Friend and colleague, Peter Hitchens, is incandescent with vexation. He has received a very disparaging (and to my mind wholly unfair) review of his new book The Abolition of Britain — From Lady Chatterley to Tony Blair from Gerald Kaufman MP, writing in The Daily Telegraph. Mr Kaufman's sneering view is not a surprise, given the man's liberal-left-secularist attitudes. But The Daily Telegraph is. Peter imagined that the one newspaper which would understand his evocation of the conservative and Christian values that England once espoused should be The Daily Telegraph. He knows he will get a hostile review from The Guardian and The Independent. The liberal-left establishment always give him a hard time, though they always look after their own.
    His book, published this week by Quartet, is a series of knowledgeable and perceptive linked essays in the tradition of George Orwell, analysing the way that this country has changed since the death of Sir Winston Churchill in 1965.
  • When the political history of the Blair era is written, it may well be concluded that the most effective conservative opposition came not from politicians, but journalists. It often seems that the charge against New Labour is led by the Telegraph and Spectator, by Charles Moore and Boris Johnson, or from some Murdoch journalists, rather than by William Hague. So perhaps it should not comes [sic] as a complete surprise that the most sustained, internally logical and powerful attack on Tony Blair and all his works should be a polemic by a right-wing journalist, Peter Hitchens, rather than a Tory pamhlet or an MP's speech. ...
    On much of this agenda, Hitchens is simply out of time. ... [T]he idea of a widespread return to a belief in literal damnation, to public hostility towards homosexuals and the shaming of single mothers, seems utterly implausible.
  • A very useful book is published today. Mad, obnoxious, elegantly written incoherent nonsense, it draws up the true battle lines of politics now far better than many of the attempts to summarise the slippery Third Way or the heart of Blairism. ... This absurdly over the top book ... is a joyful read for liberals. Most of it is given over to eulogies about the past that have precisely the opposite effect of the one intended. It will make any sane person whoop with glee to be alive now and not then. It will confirm every good liberal's trust in human progress. Things really are getting better and better.
  • It is most peculiar. The very Tories who most dislike what has happened to Britain in the last half-century or so — permissiveness, etc — are the very ones who most want to preserve the independence of the nation state responsible for doing all the damage. At any rate that is the impression one gets from a new book entitled The Abolition of Britain (Quartet Books) by that redoubtable Tory nationalist, Peter Hitchens. For, after eloquently telling the tale of how successive British parliamentary governments, Tory as much as Labour. have 'abolished' old Britain, he reaches the wholly illogical conclusion that that same British democracy alone is quite capable of putting the clock back. If only it were.

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