Letters to a Young Contrarian

By Christopher Hitchens | Go to book overview

VI

A postscript to the above: be prepared in advance for the arguments you will hear (even in your own head) against such a mode of conduct. Some of these are very seductive. What difference does it make, you may be asked (or ask yourself). There's no good answer to this question, as it happens. The universe may well be Absurd, and one's life is in any case certain to be a short one. However, this need not mean that we do not reserve the term "absurd" for the self-evidently irrational or unjustifiable. You can't hope to change human nature or Human Nature; true enough again if slightly tautologous, because Nature is a given. But nobody accepts all human behavior or human conduct as unalterable on that basis.

Other invitations to passivity or acquiescence are more sly, some of them making an appeal to modesty. Who are you to be the judge? Who asked you? Anyway, is this the propitious time to be making a stand? Perhaps one should await a more favorable moment? And— aha!—is there some danger of giving ammunition to the enemy?

I have two favorite texts that I keep by me to exorcise these sorts of temptation. One is an essay written

-41-

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Letters to a Young Contrarian
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page *
  • Preface vii
  • Introduction xi
  • I 1
  • II 13
  • III 19
  • IV 27
  • V 35
  • VI 41
  • VII 47
  • VIII 53
  • IX 55
  • X 61
  • IX 69
  • XII 79
  • XIII 85
  • XIV 95
  • XV 105
  • XVI 115
  • XVII 123
  • XVIII 127
  • Envoi 139
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