Alex Cockburn is dead of cancer at the age of 71. Alex was an influential voice in a generation of leftists who did an enormous disservice to this country and the world at large by carrying on a political tradition and promoting a political cause that killed 100 million people in the 20th Century – in peacetime – and consigned more than a billion others to immeasurable and unnecessary poverty, even starvation, by imposing on them the crackpot socialist schemes of Karl Marx and his misguided disciples. Alex’s father Claud was also a noted writer and both an agent of and propagandist for Stalin’s bloody regime. Alex exhibited in his own person many of the worst Stalinist traits. He was personally vicious in attacking political opponents and even friends, such as Christopher Hitchens, about whom he wrote one of the most disgusting columns I have ever read – although in fairness it must be said that Christopher himself was a master of this particular form of literary abuse.The Times' obituary is here: "Leftist journalist Alexander Cockburn dies at 71."
On the other hand, Alex had worthy sense of humor, which even a target like myself could appreciate, and was a clever writer though inferior as a stylist to Christopher whom he obviously envied and paid back with insults. It could be said of Alex that he was also a gutsy individual who, like Christopher, on occasion displayed independence of mind – a rarity among leftists who are normally incapable of challenging the progressive herd. Alex’s most notorious deviation from orthodoxy was his refusal to support the idea that human beings are responsible for climate change, a cardinal tenet of the progressive faith. This caused the obituary writer for the Los Angeles Times, which like most of our metropolitan papers has become a left-wing tabloid, to say of him “his thoughts on global warming aligned him with the far right” – as though matters of science should be subject to a political party line.
Needless to say, the Times obit failed to mention the fact that Alex and his father were shills for Communists, or that Alex was anti-American and an anti-Semite and a cheerleader for the Islamo-fascists of Hizbollah, Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood who are bent on destroying us. Despite the unfortunate resurgence in our time of the vile ideologies of the 1930s and 1960s to which he devoted his life, Alex was at the end a bitter and spiteful man. This was the predictable fruit of a life spent badly in recrimination and anger.
The New York Times also has this, "Alexander Cockburn, Left-Wing Writer, Is Dead at 71." And note an interesting bit, in light of David's remembrance:
After Martin Peretz, the publisher of the The New Republic, had a fainting spell in Paris in the late 1980s, Mr. Cockburn gleefully noted that it occurred at an expensive restaurant where patrons were “so bloated that they have to be rubbed down with Vaseline to squeeze through the door.”No one drastically revises downward "the number of deaths attributable to Stalin," unless they want to whitewash the crimes of 20th-century leftism, which is exactly what David points out.
Yet when Mr. Cockburn wrote a column drastically revising downward the number of deaths attributable to Stalin, Mr. Peretz suggested that Mr. Cockburn “has a sentimental interest in this controversy but not the credentials to evaluate it.”
And about Cockburn's dissent from the leftist global warming orthodoxy, the communist Down With Tyranny! wasn't down with that:
I can't overstate how important Alex's weekly fuck-the-bullshit journalism was for me in, roughly, his first two decades in the U.S. (beginning in 1973), first at the Village Voice, then at The Nation. In the pre-Internet age, I don't know that anyone reached me as regularly and forcefully with the message that the media are feeding us sanitized (or worse) BS, and that self-proclaimed left-leaners aren't necessarily more trustworthy than the roster of unapologetic establishment whores, and arguably less so in that they pretend to be other-than-whores....Which is another way of saying I'm not going to read the f-ker if he's not trumpeting the communist party line.
The memorialists are writing in terms like this, from the deck on the L.A. Times obit: "His views didn't always jibe with those of his allies."
Which is a polite way of saying that a lot of people who found in him a champion on a whole range of issues were anywhere from mystified to horrified by what he had to say on other issues. The most conspicuous example, as Carolyn Kellogg puts it in the L.A. Times obit, "was his denial of global warming, which brought him a measure of public attention in 2007." But I often found, on occasions when I read something he wrote from the '90s on (usually by referral from a friend or colleague), that I didn't know quite what to make of it. Was it the fire-breathing truth-teller who had once inspired me so, or was it a hobby-horse-riding crank who had perhaps been living too long inside his own head?
So there was really no point in my seeking out his writing, and I'm sure in those later couple of decades I missed a fair amount of it which would have gotten my juices going and pointed me in directions I needed to explore.
Jeez, these are some sick freak leftists.