Alexander Cockburn

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Alexander Claud Cockburn [pronounced koh-burn] (June 6, 1941July 21, 2012) was a Scottish-born political journalist who was raised in Ireland and has lived and worked in the United States since 1972. Together with Jeffrey St. Clair he edited the political newsletter CounterPunch. Cockburn also wrote for The Nation, The Los Angeles Times and The First Post.


  • The First Law of Journalism: to confirm existing prejudice, rather than contradict it.
    • More magazine (1974)

We all have to go one day, but pray God let it not be over Afghanistan. An unspeakable country filled with unspeakable people, sheepshaggers and smugglers, who have furnished in their leisure hours some of the worst arts and crafts ever to penetrate the occidental world. I yield to none in my sympathy to those prostrate beneath the Russian jackboot, but if ever a country deserved rape it’s Afghanistan. Nothing but mountains filled with barbarous ethnics with views as medieval as their muskets, and unspeakably cruel too.

  • The travel writer seeks the world we have lost — the lost valleys of the imagination.
    • "Bwana Vistas," Harper’s (August 1985), reprinted in Corruptions of Empire (1988)
  • A "just war" is hospitable to every self-deception on the part of those waging it, none more than the certainty of virtue, under whose shelter every abomination can be committed with a clear conscience.
    • New Statesman and Society (1991-02-08)
  • There is still zero empirical evidence that anthropogenic production of CO2 is making any measurable contribution to the world’s present warming trend.
    • "Is Global Warming a Sin?" Counterpunch, April 28-30, 2007.
  • No chord in populism reverberates more strongly than the notion that the robust common sense of an unstained outsider is the best medicine for an ailing polity. Caligula doubtless got big cheers from the plebs when he installed his horse as proconsul.

Quotes about Cockburn[edit]

  • Cockburn’s personal history links him to the politics of the Communist Party, and there are still moments in his writing – debating the number of people estimated to have perished in Stalin’s gulags, claiming that ‘the Brezhnev years were a Golden Age for the Soviet working class’, when aspects of his father’s convictions can be glimpsed.
    • William Keach, "IN PERSPECTIVE: Alexander Cockburn and Christopher Hitchens, International Socialism, March 1998.
  • Alex kept the radical faith, steadily, constantly, going to the ends of the earth to cover the next story of revolt and revolution, going to the far corners of the United States to uncover the news that Americans were not taking it anymore. If a crowd had gathered, and if they were raising the red flag, or any flag of protest, that was enough for Alex. He would report their struggle, usually in The Nation, but also in the pages of The New York Review of Books, Harper’s, Esquire, the Village Voice and (for a brief period as remarkable as it was ironic) the Wall Street Journal.
    • John Nicols, "Alexander Cockburn and the Radical Power of the Word", The Nation, July 21, 2012.

External links[edit]

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