July 21, 2012

Good-bye, Alexander Cockburn

The left-liberal long-time editor of Counterpunch magazine died earlier this week. In today's world of opinion magazines, where The Nation refuses to look outside the two-party fold for endorsing candidates, and even Truthout and Alternet don't do a lot of that explicitly, Counterpunch was and is a refreshingly different voice.

Not that Cockburn bought every modern alleged progressive idea. Just 10 days or so ago, I read a great column of his where he expressed a fair amount of the same skepticism about Occupy Wall Street, including the disorganization of its alleged leaderlessness and more, than I first did several months ago.

(And, he had this delicious skewering of Christopher Hitchens as an "obituary" for Hitchens last year,  which I somehow missed at the time. Coming from the left, it's even better than Glenn Greenwald's more famous takedown.)

That said, he wasn't always perfect. Sometimes, his anti-Zionism at least flirted with the edges of anti-Semitism, or so it seemed here.

And, per his Wikipedia bio, he was arguably an elitist himself, having gone to Oxford and having noble roots. And, being a global warming "skeptic"/denialist-lite (at best) is a definite black eye.
In April 2007 Cockburn wrote that "there is still zero empirical evidence that anthropogenic production of CO2 is making any measurable contribution to the world's present warming trend. The greenhouse fearmongers rely entirely on unverified, crudely oversimplified computer models to finger mankind's sinful contribution."
Quote is at Sourcewatch's Cockburn page.

WHY Cockburn had that stance, especially when his longtime Counterpunch co-editor, Jeffrey St. Clair, is a HUGE environmentalist, I don't know.

But, that said, he didn't pull punches. And he didn't suck up to the Democratic party line.

As the Democratic hierarchy drifts further and further down the road of neoliberalism, those two things are important indeed.

I hope St. Clair, his Counterpunch co-editor for several years, finds a new voice to help him carry on the editorial oversight of the magazine with that same drive.

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