“THE VALUE OF HETERODOXY”
‘It matters not what you think,’ Hitchens wrote, ‘but how you think.’ Many assume Hitchens was such a pugnacious debater and polemicist because he was temperamentally inclined toward rhetorical combat. As Amis put it: ‘He likes the battle, the argument, the smell of cordite.’ This is true, but another source of Hitchens’s ferocity in print and on the stage was the fact that his positions were natural extensions of his core principles. It is easier to hold and defend a controversial position when you have internally coherent reasons for doing so.
What you think – or at least what you purport to think – tends to matter more than how you think these days. The best path toward a lucrative career as a political or cultural commentator is the development of a brand that serves a particular set of information consumers. There are plenty of fiery pundits and Twitter warriors out there today, but how many reliably outrage and alienate their own ‘side’? How many are willing to publish an article or a podcast that will result in a loss of followers and prestige within the group?