He Knew How To Live



Political writer and provocateur Alexander Cockburn, who lived in Petrolia since 1990, died Friday in Germany where he was undergoing cancer treatment. He was 71. He wrote for the Village Voice, The Nation and numerous other publications -- including this paper, for which he wrote, among other things, a cover story on the Judi Bari bombing and a guest Town Dandy column on gun control and politics. But he's probably best known, these days, for his writing in the political newsletter and website Counterpunch, which he co-edited with Jeffrey St. Clair. St. Clair wrote a farewell to Cockburn on Saturday, and he's been running more reminiscences and photos since.

Cockburn pissed off the Right:

"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."

-- David Horowitz, "Alex Cockburn: A Bitter Life," Front Page Magazine, July 23.

He pissed off (some might say "betrayed") the Left:

"Cockburn has taken the worst of the Exxon-Inhofe pooh-poohing of human-generated atmospheric change and melded it with a "Left" analysis of a vast conspiracy among government environmental agencies and private foundations."

-- Joseph A. Palermo, "Alexander Cockburn: The Left's Global Warming Denier," Huffington Post, May 21, 2007.

That was in response to Cockburn's assertion that "anthropogenic global warming is a farce" (Real Clear Politics, Dec. 24, 2009), to wit:

"The global warming jamboree in Copenhagen was surely the most outlandish foray into intellectual fantasizing since the fourth-century Christian bishops assembled in 325 AD for the Council of Nicaea to debate whether God the Father was supreme or had to share equal status in the pecking order of eternity with his Son and the Holy Ghost."

But those examples are far, far from the sum of him. Newspapers, bloggers, professors, lovers, haters -- everyone's remembering him, the whole world over.

For many years, Cockburn did much of his provoking from his woodsy, cozy, art- and light-filled home -- which always smelled of good cooking, visitors reported -- and gardening haven in Petrolia. His mountain redoubt was long guarded by the one thing (we suppose) that he dared put on a pedestal, a crusty old rusty typewriter:


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