The death of any left-wing journalist or figure is obviously a tragedy, but one should still analyse their legacy critically. If they are serious about being a progressive then they would expect nothing else, I would hope.
Alexander Cockburn ended up with some fairly dubious ideas, as this post from Tendance Coatesy demonstrates. He was friends with Chris Hitchens, a man whose legacy I have discussed previously, although obviously there was a huge gulf between them politically. They made similar types of errors though; they lost faith in ordinary people taking things into their own hands and instead relied on another agency to achieve the progressive goals they desired. In Hitchens case it became American planes and tanks, as evidenced by his support for the bogus ‘war on terror’. In Cockburn’s case, like many on the left after years of defeat, he became a “my enemy’s enemy is my friend” advocate. Never a good thing.
Cockburn leaves behind a great legacy though, just like Hitchens. It’s just a shame it didn’t finish so well. He isn’t the first person to lose his political bearings as he got older however, and I’m sure he won’t be the last.
More in Counterpunch. Hat-Tip Carlos.
The Wall Street Journal observed that in one of Cockburn’s last articles,
He likened President Barack Obama to North Korean dictator Kim Jong Il for supporting the handling of suspected terrorists in military, rather than civilian courts — a step he called another “mile marker in the steady slide of the U.S. downhill towards the status of a banana republic.”
Cockburn infuriated some liberals by writing skeptically about global warming, and bothered neoconservatives with his ferocious attacks on Israel.
“He was an extraordinarily provocative, polemical, elegant columnist and writer. And he certainly was someone who never wavered in dissenting from what was the conventional line,” said Katrina vanden Heuvel, editor and publisher of The…
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