Christopher Hitchens grew up in a household that held primarily conservative beliefs, his father labeling himself as a Tory. When talking about this dichotomy between the beliefs of his family and his own, he said
"I understood, because I knew it so well, I knew why people were Tory and I knew why I wasn't one."It was the understanding of what the Tory mentality was that led him to become a socialist and someone of the liberal left. Born in 1949, he formally joined the liberal left in the 1960's, due to such issues as racism, nuclear weapons and, above all, the Vietnam War. By 1965, Hitchens had joined the Labour Party, a political party that was born from Socialism.
It can be said that this is the time that his ideological tendencies were beginning to have a permanent formation, with him soon thereafter becoming an anti-Stalinist socialist; a type of socialist movement that is critical of the philosophies and system of governance that was implemented by Stalin.
His views as a socialist began to flourish in the '70's, as Hitchens joined the International Socialism magazine as a correspondent at the turn of the decade. In 1973, he moved on to the New Statesman, another socialist magazine that allowed Hitchens to have discussions and meetings with fellow colleagues and friends from Oxford about Socialist and political ideologies and beliefs. These colleagues and friends included such esteemed writers as Russell Davies, Al Alvarez, Kingsley Amis, Ian McEwan and Julian Barnes. His socialist and liberal left ideologies were primarily centered on criticisms aimed at the Vietnam War, the Roman Catholic Church and Henry Kissinger at that point in time.
While Hitchens was a socialist for the majority of his lifetime, his beliefs on socialism changed somewhat in his later years. It's important to note that Hitchens also somewhat aligned himself as a Marxist at times, particularly during his youth. Just after the turn of the 21st century, Hitchens proclaimed that he could no longer call himself a socialist, as he believed that socialists could no longer offer a viable alternative to capitalism. It is around this time that he had a bolstered interest in the freedoms of an individual from the state. In 2006, when debating Martin Amis, Hichens stated:
"I am no longer a socialist, but I still am a Marxist."In the last portion of his life, he considered himself to be a conservative Marxist.