...given in an interview to a Maltese newspaper, which can be found here. (He was born in Malta.)
My conservatism is not political, but social, moral and cultural. I think many old things are old because they are good – cathedrals, the music of J.S. Bach, the Old Masters, Shakespeare, all these are incomparably better than the trash, or second-rate stuff which now infests music, architecture, literature and painting.
I hate to see trees cut down, and find it hard to imagine what sort of person could imagine he has the right to destroy such a wonderful thing, which has taken so long to grow and can never be replaced. The same is often true of customs and virtues.
I am against anybody who would want to turn the world into a bare, treeless, concrete wasteland in which we all slaved in call-centres and sweatshops, travelling at the end of a weary day to cramped homes in which we gazed blankly at screens and consumed denatured foodstuffs, while our children were brought up (and indoctrinated in ideas that we do not share) by paid strangers. A ‘liberalism’ which destroys private life and cares nothing for beauty or tradition is just barbaric.
But I am for and alongside anyone who defends the freedoms of speech, thought and assembly, and the idea that, be ye never so high, the law is above you. These are the gifts that England gave to the whole world, and which it is now busy throwing away. I’m liberal as anything about them.
He pretty much speaks for me in this, though I don't have much of a taste for cathedrals or Bach. (I enjoy rock and pop music but I try not to listen to it because I know it is barbaric and my taste is a degenerate and corrupted one.)
What I like especially is the concreteness of Hitchens's mini-manifesto. He can point to specific things that he likes and that he loathes, and tell us he wants to preserve the one and avoid the other. I can never warm to ideologues who stand by some crude principle like the greatest happiness of the greatest number, or the removal of all compulsion, or the elimination of prejudice and discrimination.
Hitchens gets it horribly wrong sometimes (in one of his American Conservative articles, he claims that dogma inevitably creates "doublethink", when dogma is the only thing that really prevents doublethink). But he is a national treasure.
(By the way, some people might see a contradiction between my penultimate paragraph and my final one. But there is no such contradiction. A dogma is not the same thing as an all-embracing principle which is ruthlessly applied to human life in all its richness and complexity. The Catholic dogma that you may never do evil to bring about good is an example of the former. The libertarian principle that all compulsion is evil is an example of the latter. The dogmas of the Church preserve freedom, while the ideologies of the world do the opposite, even when they are in fact aimed at maximizing freedom.)