Very good read. I wonder why a man of Hitchens' intellect was such an ideologue. Ideology always fails, given enough time, because we can't plan for every contingency. I think that was his failure, and the failure of so many otherwise good thinkers. We assign ourselves to a certain belief, and then tell everyone who dares to disagree that they're the world's leading asshole, only to find out we we're wrong; then we move on to meditate on why we weren't actually
wrong, just seemingly
Really, I think a much better position is almost always something like, "I believe X, because that is the position that can best account for the information of which I am currently aware." That way, one is free to amend one's beliefs and opinions and not have to worry about saving face. Unfortunately, we live in an atmosphere where everyone is expected to have "principles" and be "right" all the time. Changing one's opinions and/or beliefs in light of new experience or knowledge is considered weak. Sad, really.