Alexander Cockburn, BIH

Steve Sailer has reminded me to memorialize Alexander Cockburn. He hasn’t been heard from much in the US for a long time, but years ago he used to be popular in magazines like Rolling Stone and the New Republic that I read in the library.

He came from an upper-class English background- he had an ancestor who was a high-ranking Royal Navy officer who led the attack on Washington, and the burning of the White House, of whom he was quite proud. And yet he was an orthodox communist and vocal defender of all evil leftist or Islamic.

To call the man a tool would be an insult to tools everywhere. Yes, he was a “good writer”. I used to get a libertarian book catalog, the publisher of which liked to comment that he didn’t agree with Michael Kinsley but that he was a great writer. The problem with that is that Michael Kinsley was and is a lying sack of crap- he is obviously smart enough to know that what he is saying is wrong, and yet he uses his facility with words to fool or bully people into disagreeing with it.

Kinsley’s system totters on its last legs. Cockburn’s system has long been swept away in ignominy, still with his defense though. How do people answer for evil? Maybe to a just God, maybe only to historical memory, maybe only to objective truth. Whatever it may be, Cockburn is dead and his judgement is ultimate and final. He supported and advocated for great evil, without repentance and to the end, and can never undo this.


About thrasymachus33308

I like fast cars, fast women and southern-fried rock. I have an ongoing beef with George Orwell. I take my name from a character in Plato's "Republic" who was exasperated with the kind of turgid BS that passed for deep thought and political discourse in that time and place, just as I am today. The character, whose name means "fierce fighter" was based on a real person but nobody knows for sure what his actual political beliefs were. I take my pseudonym from a character in an Adam Sandler song who was a obnoxious jerk who pissed off everybody.
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6 Responses to Alexander Cockburn, BIH

  1. Ryu says:

    Huh. Never heard of him. He had great ability but was against us. I suppose he belongs in the category with Tim Wise.

    • 737 says:

      Not really. He did some good work, especially on Israel and the Iraq War. At the end of the day though…..

  2. joetexx says:

    Though he was vastly more talented than the usual run of the breed, 
    Cockburn under it all was still a sectarian ‘progressive’, with all the venom 
    one could expect when he was after one of his favorite targets. 

    He did have signs of waking up in his later years, to some degree. As early and the Clinton years he noted how many of his fellow pwoggies suddenly got cool on civil liberties or feminist issues when somebody they liked was at 1600 Pennsylvania.  He wrote something like ‘we may come to see the time when only the radical right remains as a consistent defender of the liberties of the people.’

    It bothered me to see him in venues like Chronicles, but as the paleo right got more desperate and isolated they opened up to lefties who shared their views on foreign policy.  It was jarring. 

    Most of AC’ s stuff is ephemeral journalism. Some of the cultural pieces in his ‘Corruptions of Empire’ were good. He did an extremely funny piece in 1982,  ‘The Andy Warhol Interview with Adolph Hitler’, which will probably end up in humor anthologies.  Some of it is in the googlebooks online ‘ Corruptions of Empire’  but the last part is missing.   The Führer and Warhol share a portion of chocolate mousse and strawberries. 

    Other than that; he ended up a has-been, like his hero Gorbachev. 

  3. ntk says:

    Cockburn was the sort of fake anti-establishment figure the establishment likes and supports. Chomsky is another good example. By pretending to attack the “establishment” (where “establishment” is redefined as the actual establishment’s enemies), they provide a means by which hipsters can gain social status and an outlet for various societal frustrations, while conveniently doubling as agents for yet another assault by the establishment on the right.

    Cockburn walked off the reservation in one important way, though: he didn’t buy into the global warming scam.

  4. Frank Green says:

    Cockburn, a superb stylist, never wrote for The New Republic.
    Also, he did not come from a privileged background.
    His father, the great radical journalist Claud Cockburn, famously would decide what family bills to pay by tossing the stack into the air. The bill landing closest to him would be the one receiving his attention that day.
    Hardly the routine of an upper-class patriarch.
    And if you consider the Democratic-Republican political monolith to be the “establishment,” then Cockburn certainly resided in its enemy socialist, even communist, camp.
    Just read his voluminous recent ouput in The Nation, CounterPunch, New Left Review …

    • joetexx says:

      Mr. Green, the Cockburns most certainly were privileged. They just weren’t rich. They had to earn their own money, but the family had been influential and prominent since the 18th century, and had advantages of learning, manners, and entree into social and commercial circles most people can only dream of. 

      Another example of the type might be Gore Vidal, who never inherited a penny,
      and earned his living from the age of 17.  However, as the son and grandson of major political figures, he was completely at ease with the powerful and well
       -connected.  Attitude will get you a long way in those circles. 

      The version of the Claud story I heard was his purported reply to a demand for payment: ‘Monthly, I dump all bills into my hat, grab a fistful, and pay the first three. Dun me again and you’re out of the running.’

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