The death of Alex is a terrible loss to his family, friends, colleagues and readers…He was an uncompromising journalist, with style and wit, information and insight, so prolific that there was a rumor he had a manual typewriter grafted to his chest.
I’m no writer, but love writers who tell it like it is. Early on, when Montana seemed hopelessly stupid and dark, this Cockburn guy would with a flick of his pen lift spirits and slay the dragons. When trying to make a bit of sense of it all, his writing was as true as the North Star. Alexander’s “Beat the Devil” column never disappointed. Never got to thank him for the many times he graciously gave voice to the plight of grizzlies, wilderness, and public forests. Baucus, Redford, Clinton and the rest have suffered enough I suppose.
So I’m in bed recovering from hip surgery and waking up in the middle of the night to listen to the three hour AC interview you posted, which I began at 4am as the oxycontin was wearing off. I suddenly remembered when I first became aware of Alex. Strangely enough it was in the Wall Street Journal during the 1980s. I was in “middle school” at this fancy prep school and felt compelled the WSJ before school every morning. It was Alex’s columns that were the first and only journalism that ever truly resonated for me and also almost certainly the first and only serious criticism of Israel, capitalism, or US foreign policy to which I’d been exposed. It was some time before I really registered his name. It then hit me how he had started me on a life long journey seeking alternative ideas to the rah rah capitaliissimo of the 1980s. I remembered then that my now dead friend Stapp Beaton (heroin overdose) also liked Cockburn and it was conversation with Stapp that actually got the Cockburn name firmly lodged in my mind. Stapp was way to the left of me already but it was this mutual admiration for Cockburn that opened me to the idea of actually reading Vol 1 of Das Capital which Stapp had handed me and which had sat on my shelf until I trusted Stapp more fully to read it, and trusting him had a lot to do with our mutual interest in Cockburn’s columns. So I read Vol 1 in high school in Houston, TX, after which of course I was never the same. Without that intersection and confluence I would have certainly turned out to be a financier, stock broker, or worse. Anyway, it’s pretty amusing to me now to realize this only today after reading Cockburn for so many years, as if he were simply always there. Everyone I know who admired him was older and usually discovered him in the Village Voice, not the WSJ and most were already lefties. I can’t imagine that many other kids were subverted in quite this way, you know, by the Wall Street Fucking Journal. It’s a great interview and a joy to see all that energy and verve. I wish I had a tenth of his optimism but somehow connecting this all today seems to have picked me up quite a bit.
The world is a less intelligent and passionate and interesting without Alexander on it. The winds blow hard at helping a great soul pass.
Alex Cockburn was another man of honor, love of humanity and a protector of justice and integrity of people with not much power. Such persons never die. They will live in the hearts of peace loving and honorable individuals. Look how many condolences have appeared in your publication so far. Did you see any condolences when Ronald Reagan died?
I just wanted to express my sincere condolences regarding Alex Cockburn’s passing. He was a giant, and I’m sure that somewhere up above–he’s still ‘rabble rousing’ the collective heavenly conscience. Again, my most sincere condolences.
David James Skidmore
As a regular reader I am sorry to hear of Alexander Cockburn’s death. It was unexpected and a huge loss to those of us who fight for social justice.
Johanna Grace Harman
Knew nothing about the guy, but have always loved the site. I can depend on it for real news/opinions. I look forward to articles from counterpunch. They’re substantive. Real. I judge “lefty” or “progressive” sites by their haiti reporting because it’s a topic I know and it really separates the phonies from the real deal. Counterpunch posts the right Haiti people. Sorry Mr. Cockburn is no longer around. I’m just getting to know him! Love the tribute photos and interviews. Wish he had been more public with his interviews and opinion (video). He’s entertaining. How did I miss him all these years? RIP Alexander!
Please accept my condolences on the loss of your friend and colleague, Alex. I did not know Alex personally, but I’ve been thinking a lot about Alexander Cockburn the writer and journalist since hearing the news of his death last Saturday. It is a sad realization to think that this voice, so vital and honest, educated and defiant, is now silent.
I did not always agree with him (who did?), but when I did agree I often found myself thinking now that was the best thing anybody had to say on that! How many times over the years did I forward a Cockburn column to friends with an enthusiastic recommendation.
There’s nothing like Counterpunch in the world of journalism and there was certainly no one quite like Alexander Cockburn.
Alex’s persistent voice of non-compromise in the face of capital’s ever growing outrages will be missed by us all. Even his contrarianism kept us thinking.
Rodolfo (Roy) P. Jimenez
I am sorry for the passing of Alexander Cockburn. Counter Punch is one of my favorite sources of information. What a loss.
M. Shahid Alam
There are so few like him in this country – in this world – I wept at his loss. First, a few years back it was Edward Said: and now it is Alexander Cockburn. Gone too soon. All small people with big hearts, all oppressed peoples have lost a great friend. The Darth Vaders at the neocon think tanks must be toasting.
I heard about the death of Alexander Cockburn two day’s ago while I was in Oslo, Norway. A thought occasionally crossed my mind that if something happens to Alex what would become of CounterPunch. Then again I assured myself that as both of his parents, Father and Mother, lived very long Alex would live another 20 years or so into his 90’s. The world is now much less interesting without his opinions and journalism. I have trusted his judgement about everything except about global warming.
This is a terrible loss. I feel very sad. My Fridays will be very empty. Reading him was always such a bracing experience. Whatever the issue, Alex always took the side of the weak and vulnerable and against the powerful. Above all, he couldn’t stand the sanctimonious hypocrisy by which the powerful justify their their egregious acts.
Alex never wasted his readers’ time or insulted their intelligence with empty gestures to prove that he was on the side of the angels. His prose was free of those tedious caveats that litter the works of less talented though perhaps more ambitious journalists. He never muffled his voice out of fear of losing the support of people whose approval might be useful to him.
He helped me out greatly when I got into trouble some years ago. There was no reason for him to stick his neck out for me. It’s something I will never forget.
Kimberly Willson-St. Clair
This house is too quiet! I miss the “Hello Kimberly!” “Hello Alexander…” “How is the weather? Is Jeffrey awake?” I miss the boisterous laughter in the mornings that interspersed the daily vigil between them. Alexander’s presence in our house in Oregon City always meant that I would spend a lot of time looking for scuff marks from his hard-heeled cowboy boots, wine bottles to recycle, and bizarre gifts left around like an Easter hunt. I would find teacups, pens, glasses, scrap paper with important notes, and of course, his laundry, for days even weeks after his wonderful always momentous sometimes aggravating visits. We talked about fashion, kept up with Olivia’s movies, tv shows and hunted down her photo shoots and magazine appearances. We went to galleries and debated art. We walked down halls designed by Frank Lloyd Wright. All in all, I am glad that I had an orchestra seat to journalism history every day.
Very sorry for your (and our) loss with Alex. Had the good fortune to spend 2 days with Alex in 2009 when I was teaching at Raritan College. He was a delight. I came of age and was formed by reading Alex’s work. His legacy will continue insofar as many heard his clarion call to truth and doggedly decided to pursue it wherever it demanded. Alex’s sense of tactile joy came through his prose and even more in our encounter. Intellectuals too often become alienated and thus suffer a slow burn that presents a poor example to follow. Not Alex.
“Ni bheidh a letheidi aris ann” Beannact De le a hanam
I too am saddened by the passing of Alexander Cockburn. My wife and I are currently vacationing in Ireland, and after reading the comments about his passing in CounterPunch, the N.Y. Times, and Vanity Fair, I went downstairs to have breakfast here in Dungavan where I picked up the local Dungavin Observer and I was pleasantly surprised to find an article on him here as well. It was a good, extensive article that indicated he visited the area often and ended with this:
“Local man Tony Gallagher of Blackwater Cruises met the late writer many times. He remembers him as ‘a man with a great regard for ordinary people and an interest in many aspects of life. Certainly he was a welcome, convivial and informed guest and I alwasy thoroughly enjoyed his company. May he rest in peace.’ he says fondly.”
I just thought you should know that his influences were far and wide.
We in my household adore Counterpunch and Alexander Cockburn, and no one more than me. I am 48 years old, and have read Alexander’s work since high school in NYC more than 30 years ago. “Annals In The Age of Reagan,” and also “Press Clips,” which as I recall already had another writer by then. Alexander was amazingly courageous to call out the excesses and war crimes of the Israeli government (and to do this in NYC) at a time when almost no one else would.
What may be especially noteworthy is that I looked forward to Alexander’s writing more than ever in recent years. I had no idea of his illness, and on Friday I looked for and did not find his usual Friday afternoon column. One could always count on Alexander to make sense of the recent week’s events
Maybe on a personal note, one thing I especially appreciate is the example that Alexander set as someone born into privilege (but with parents who were committed to and sacrificed for social justice), who did not compromise or make the easy peace with injustice and with a political/economic/cultural system that we all know to be a dead end. I’ll continue to draw on that example in my own life and work.
I share your grief. I was reading the Nation back in the 80’s when I was living in the States, mostly to read his column. It was for me a ray of light in a ocean of darkness.
There was something special about Alex Cockburn. And I knew that when I was first introduced to him and his writings in the early 1980’s, my first year of college.
In the early 80’s, Central America was in upheaval; the right wing paramilitary death squads had the Reagan Administration’s green light and logistical support to assassinate labor union leaders, journalists, priests and student leaders, and occasionally massacre peasants in the uphill villages by the thousands. While the liberal press was indifferent to all this, Alex Cockburn’s column was informative, engaged and reliable– remember the NYTimes’ Abe Rosenthal’s trying to cover for the Reagan policies in the region?
At that time, in the early 80’s, the progressives, the anti-war/ peace movement and Amnesty International had an unspoken agreement not to speak about Israel, Lebanon and the Palestinians. As an iconoclast, Alex was one the first to confront this taboo. I remember during the 1982 Israeli invasion of Lebanon and the Sabra & Shatila massacres, Tom Haydon (former member of S.D.S. Students for Democratic Society) and Jane Fonda left for a fact-finding mission to Lebanon. It was Alex who exposed that this so called fact finding mission was really sponsored by the Israeli military.
When he left the Village Voice, hundreds of letters were sent to the Voice in his support by his readers—not many journalists had a loyal following like Alex Cockburn did. Of all the letters published, I remember one that said, “no Bishop, no Rev; no Cockburn, no Voice” referring to Maurice Bishop, of the New Jewel Movement and the progressive prime minister of Granada at the time.
Alex was so effective, that the right and right-wingers would notice him more than any writer; one of the neocon journals described Cockburn’s work as “blood-sport, gutter journalism”. While in New York, he would accept invitations to speak at the Brecht Forum. It would be full-house when he was lecturing. That’s where I would meet and briefly speak to him.
His utterances were unique, funny and would sting. Once he called the Western intelligence agencies that had produced bogus reports on Iraqi WMD, as “piss pots”; another time he wrote in his column that the offices of the weekly magazine New Republic were attached to the back of the Israeli embassy. Some of Gore Vidal’s polemical essays would remind me of Alex’s acerbic prose.
He had a special place for his father Claude Cockburn; and would occasionally mention him proudly in his writings.
Funny thing, many years ago, Alex would write a column twice a month for the Wall Street Journal oped page; his loyal readers could not easily locate the dates of his column in the newspaper. He did not stay long with the Mother Jones monthly magazine. When first started at the Nation, his critics would send letters to the editor, but Alex would be given a chance for response and a comeback; his responses came with such devastating punches, that people stopped sending letters critical of Alex’s writings, as to be saved from further embarrassment.
Alex Cockburn did not like to be called an English man; in his column he would correct his retractors that he is Irish—English, but raised in Ireland.
The latter part of my life I developed an interest in the dominant media discourse; the distortions of the corporate media; the culturally embedded journalist that knowingly and unknowingly perpetuate misconceptions about the world and the Middle East in particular; and the 5 thousand business reporters who thought they were benefiting from the pre-recession financial arrangements. Years later, now that I look back, I see it was Alex’s writings and columns like “Press Clips” in the Village Voice that kindled this awareness and interest in me.
To friends I would sometimes playfully refer to him by the Persian pronunciation of his name, “Eskandar Cockburn.” English journalism, critical social justice discourse and dissent discourse is just not the same without Eskandar.
I’ve been away and just read the news about Alex. I’m very sad at the loss. I remember his writing from years ago at the Village Voice and while I didn’t remember until I read it, his stint at the Wall Street Journal. He had a unique voice– unapologetically critical and pretty much always right. I will miss him and I’m sorry for you as his friend.
Whatever you decide about what you want to spend your time doing, I hope that Counterpunch will be kept alive. I know that a lot of people consider it one of the few resources of value in the electronic press.
He lived a life worth living.
I confess, I always read Alex’s articles first on the CounterPunch website.
His unapologetic, acerbic, original and often hilarious take-downs and send-ups of world political leaders would make my day.
He inspired me to be a better writer.
The news of Alex Cockburn’s untimely and unexpected passing stunned me more than any other departure in recent memory. Let others better suited reminisce about his mordant wit and the spectrum of his opinions.
I write to praise an exceptional wordsmith and stylist. Rarely did I read his columns without a dictionary at hand. Often would I reread a certain sentence, metaphor, or turn of phrase, savoring it like a sip of century old single-malt Scotch. No one who likes to call himself a writer should disregard the example of Alex’s prose. A toast: To Alex – the Radical Knight of the Plume! Raise your glass for the Celtic slayer of servility and cant! “…and down a many few, my lads, and down a many few…”
I learnt with great sadness the news that Alex Cockburn has passed away. May he rest in peace in his eternal sleep.
It is a big loss to high quality journalism. He was a great journalist and polemicist in the tradition of I.F. Stone.
Cockburn wrote what believed and as far as I know believed in what he wrote. That’s not the case with many columnists, particularly those who become successful in the mainstream media.
Thanks to Cockburn and the editors of the newsletter, Counterpunch is an important institution of progressive America and indeed progressive minded people the world over.
The best tribute to Cockburn would be to ensure the continued success of Counterpunch.
Damn, I always meant to get shit faced drunk with Alex. Here’s mud in your eye, AC!
I read the news with disbelief and then with grief. ‘Menos um’ – less one, a hole in the world, someone missing at the table. Awesome word smith, fearless freethinker, coyote-trickster. Well, the old coyote of Humboldt County pulled a big one on us, his last e-mails full of life, animaçao and acerbic wit. One can imagine the last words scribbled in a journal on his nightstand: “Determined: Alexander Cockburn dies today. No apologies, no regrets”. Tao Ruspoli’s portrait of “Alex writing” is comfort to those left behind, his family, friends, and his companheiros.
I met Alexander in winter of 1981-1982 in NYC where as a Soviet academic I was working on a thesis on US media. Also briefly in Moscow around 1985 where he introduced me to Patrick. We weren’t in touch with Alexander since then, but he was one of the strongest professional and personal influences in my life. A role model. With Patrick we became friends because he was much nearer. I know that Alexander had a special feeling for the Soviet Union and Russia.
Brought up the Counterpunch website this past Saturday morning to see if AC had posted his weekly piece yet, and got the shocking news that Alex has passed away, a victim of cancer. I first started reading him in the Village Voice 36 years ago. I frequently disagreed with his views, rather violently at times, but always made a point of reading his take on things. So often he’d mention something that I hadn’t considered, and that no one else in the media seemed aware of. Even if it didn’t change my mind, it made me think more clearly. There are so few writers of whom that can be said. My condolences to his family, friends, and colleagues.
My condolences about Alex’s death, which hit me like Edward Said’s death over ten years ago, as it leaves another giant hole in our world that will not likely be filled anytime soon. Trying to find the right words, I guess I would say that Alex was the rarest of things: a real radical, a real writer, and a real human being, all in one. I, for one, was not prepared to lose him so soon.
It was a dark day..shocking… Alexander Cockburn , one of the best journalists of all times sadly left us…A man of people, a man of truth and intelligence.. I am sure his comrades will pick up his shining light. Viva Alexander Cockburn!
Just wanted to pass on my condolences to all of you at CP at Alex’s passing. I never met him, yet feel like I’ve lost a friend. He had such a clear moral vision and wrote with such remarkable insight, courage, humor, and humanity. What a terrible loss, shocking and saddening.
All the best to each of you as you navigate the uncertain waters ahead.
read the news in “Counter Punch” and in the “NY Times”. Loved Alex. I almost wrote to him about his “Nazi parallel” column publish recently in CP “What the hell is this, Alexander” and your are leaving the stage! Come back. He won’t.
Very much enjoyed his writing in the “Village Voice”. Loved him in “The Nation”, after I left Ripon College.
So sorry to hear about Alex’s passing. What a great loss– to you, of a deep comradeship and vital partnership, and to the rest of us of an irreverent, strong and very clear voice. He enriched your life with his friendship, and as the years pass your memories of him will continue to enrich you. Such friendships are rare and precious and you were lucky to have had it. You were both were.
Sunil K. Sharma
The news of Alex’s passing is like a punch to the gut. He was one of the biggest influences on my political thinking.
He will be missed and was a credit to journalism, a profession on the rocks.
What a complete heartbreak — Alex was one of the most fearless progressive journalists and activists I have ever had the privilege of meeting … or hearing or reading. We must carry on for him. We will carry on for him.
It has been many, many years since I saw Alex, but remember him vividly from the Redwood Summer days. His passion and dedication, even in the midst of passionate and dedicated people, stood out. Carry on the flame!
Even when I disagreed with him, I admired him. Why not a whole bunch of people he attacked, who still so richly need attacking? Cruel fate.
Alex Cockburn was a brilliant and courageous man who inspired and prodded us all towards our greater humanity.
I met Alexander at Socialism 2004 in Chicago, and remain inspired, and motivated, by this unforgettable experience. I’m so very sorry, for all who considered Alexander a friend, brother, teacher and comrade. He will live forever, through his work!
Alex leaves a large void in the craft of left-wing journalism, but he also, thankfully, leaves us a body of work that I’m sure we’ll return to time and again. Invaluable though it might be, I’m sure it’s little comfort right now.
He lived a life much more inspired than most.
He has been such an inspiration to us all: his courage, his insights, his wit, his eloquence, his political integrity. . .
It was a privilege to argue with him.
Alas. The world lost one of the good ones.
a powerful, no hold barred writer who spoke truth to power! rave on Alex, rave on!
I am so sad to hear this. I’ve been reading him since I was first introduced to his writing in 1980. In a sense, I’ve lived my adult life reading his views. I will miss him.
I have read and admired Alex’s work back to his days at the Village Voice, and it will be sad not to have his bite, intellect and wit to accompany us.
Carl G. Estabrook
What terrible news, for all of us. It was just over two years ago that he was here, to give a talk for an Illinois peace group. We interviewed him on my cable show and ate at various odd places around town (Leigh was away).
As it happens, I was thinking and writing about my introduction to him this week. I was answering a half-mad attack on his recent Occupy piece by a local, and I was recalling first reading him in the Village Voice 40 years ago; his name caught my eye because I’d been introduced to his father’s biography by friends in England. Alex wrote about my firing from Notre Dame, long ago, and punctured appropriately some liberal windbags then much praised. He instructed two generations, and wrote like an angel.
Our sympathy to his family and you, who I know performed a lot of family-like functions for him, including this last one. Given my predilections, I’ll add one that would have brought a smile and a jibe from him: as Thomas More wrote to his daughter the night before he was executed by the forces of order, “Farewell … and pray for me, and I shall for you and all your friends, that we may merrily meet in heaven.”
Shocking and terrible news. What an awful loss.
His life was like a great book — controversial, informative, well researched, well written, and now ended. Please convey our condolences to everybody. I’m glad he wasn’t alone.
Oh Lord! What a blow! Why do I keep on thinking that the great ones, the awesome ones, the ones I feel I’ve admired my whole life, why do I think that they will live forever?
My brother, I stand with you.
Mr. Cockburn was a must read in my life for thirty years. This spring he published my “To the Tumbrils” suggestion, emailing me a reply which, to my horror, I accidentally deleted before reading. I asked if he could resend it and he was kind enough to do so, even apologizing for its brevity.
I am so very very sad to hear this. I loved Alex. He was the major influence on my life, and I say that without reservation.
We construct the world around us, out of real people. With our loss of him, our world is a different place.
Very sorry to hear the news. I check every saturday morning here in India to read Alex’s column on counterpunch. But didn’t see it today. Just like some two saturdays ago. Suspected something wrong. But didn’t think about it.
This is a great loss. He will be missed.
71 is not an age to die nowadays. Chomsky is still going strong at 84.
I will be eagerly waiting for the books you promise to publish and also the tributes to Alex by his many distinguished leftist friends.
Cancer is taking down so many people nowadays. Even in my family.
Counterpunch is one community with which I identify. It is almost 13 years ago I discovered Alex’s writings and enjoyed it every moment.
He was a priceless man.
Thanks for the word about your dear friend and one of my heroes. I am moved by the quiet stoicism. Just marvelous that he kept on pushing ahead. What a force!
I wrote this a couple weeks ago as part of the introduction to a new book: “Finally, in introducing this volume, I want to extend warm thanks to many colleagues in and around criminology with whom I collaborated or argued or just shared fine wine (as well as some bad stuff) over the years, particularly Peter Andreas, Margaret Beare, Alan Block, Jack Blum, the late Jean-Paul Brodeur, Bill Chambliss, Mike Levi, Nikos Passas, Peter Reuter and Francisco Thoumi. These are individuals I learned to respect, and to try to emulate, in terms of their commitment to intellectual integrity rather than career advancement. Not only is that choice in the modern world, at least in its academic, political and business circles, increasingly difficult to make, but it has become ever rarer to find those willing to try. That deficit is even starker outside the academy, the reason why someone like Counterpunch’s Alex Cockburn is so rare. When today’s pandering politicians call for more support for family values, I am fairly sure they don’t have the Cockburns in mind. And thanks again to Phil Cercone along with his staff at McGill-Queens University Press for facing down the financial and political constraints normal in today’s academic publishing to take on this book as well as seven of its predecessors.”
What a loss to all of us in the CounterPunch community. But CounterPunch must live on, not only in his honor but also because this nation needs CounterPunch to help it get in touch with reality.
One of the reasons I think I survived the 1980s was Alex’s columns. We are all culturally and politically poorer today.
I’m sorry, so very sorry to learn that Alex has died. Such an extraordinary man.
I am fortunate to have been on the planet at the same time as Alex.
Over the past 35 years knowing Alex and his work, I would say that he’s one of the greatest inspirations in my life, his absolutely unwavering commitment to revolution kept infusing me with energy and made me feel ridiculous and wimpy when I would begin to feel hopeless. I believe I have read every word he has ever written and I will so miss his weekly wisdom in CP. I always await anxiously for his column to pop up, and when it did not yesterday, I felt something was wrong, although I did not have any idea he was gravely ill. Now, he has taught me something about dying.
We have all lost a mentor.
He was a relentless and absolutely singular scrapper and scribe for justice.
I am truly saddened to know of AC’s death…The world is fast running out of people like AC’s and that is quite scary as the newer people of letters just do not seem up to the task of “calling it like it is” or “calling people/issues out” when necessary…I always enjoy reading AC’s writings..He was so far beyond Hitchen’s tortured writing…Well, anyway, the news sucks….
He’s unforgettable. I always admired how much high-quality stuff he could produce pretty much day after day – and now, to think the circumstances in which he kept at it… I’ll remember all of us at Jazzfest and that little grill thing he had when he came up to Oregon. I’m looking for something like that to use inside my cinder block enclosure and I’ll be thinking of him each time I use it. He had enough personality for two or three people and that – apart from everything else – was inspiring.
Peter Stone Brown
I first read him in Rolling Stone and when Dave Vest suggested to me to write for CounterPunch, I was thrilled because he was there. He sent me a nice email a few years ago after my James Brown piece, which I kept of course. Just stunned right now.
My profoundest sympathies, Jeffrey. Like you said – he really does leave a void in all of us who have met and been inspired by him.
The news came like a shock to those of us who had no idea Alex was even ill. I always imagined that he took long horse-rides in the Californian countryside each morning before he set down to write!
What a sad loss for us all — I’m sure even more for you and those close to him. I relied on him for clear thinking and uncompromising writing. What a powerhouse of clarity. I’ll definitely miss his perspective in the coming years which promise to be challenging ones.
I’ve been thinking of Alex Cockburn all day after learning of his death this morning. I remember hearing him pecking on his typewriter when we first talked on the phone in the mid-1990s. I remember him laughing when I told him I was sending only half my subscription rate to The Nation to protest their decision to cut his column space in half. I remember him inviting me out to hear jazz when we met in Oakland. I remember when he successfully convinced one of his interns to move from California to Vermont to work with me at Food & Water because, as he told her, “they know how to raise hell effectively.” I remember his response when I once told him I was considering writing a book about modern American liberalism. “Oh, you’re a comedy writer now,” he said. And I remember his absolute lust for life and complete intolerance for bullshit. It’s a good thing he left his beloved CounterPunch (official) in the hands of the equally brave and talented Jeffrey St Clair. Onward, my friends.
<grief> My dear friend and editor, Alex Cockburn, has departed from this world. He was a remarkable man, brilliantly prickly, lovingly precise. I shall miss him and his sharp criticisms.
Out, brief candle.
I felt considerable surprise and sorrow in learning of the death of Alexander Cockburn.
He was instrumental in getting me started as a writer. I owe him a great debt of gratitude for his interest and encouragement, and the platform that he and Jeffrey St. Clair have given me at the Counterpunch website and newsletter.
When I wrote, I sometimes imagined Alexander Cockburn as the reader at my shoulder. I think it made me a better, bolder, and more honest writer.
However, the biting sense of loss has more to it than the disappearance of a sympathetic interlocutor, or the knowledge that, despite having reached his “allotted threescore and ten” and burdened by the physical and emotional miseries of a two-year battle with cancer, Alexander Cockburn had plenty left in the tank when he passed on.
Of course, he had more polemics left to write, articles to edit, contributors to nurture.
But I was also brought up short by the thought, if Alexander Cockburn isn’t around to do these things, who will? Who, in these difficult times, has the talent, the knowledge, the experience, and his miraculous combination of engagement, detachment, humor, invective, and generosity to fill the void?
Guess we’re on our own now.
This is a painful loss, of a cogent, funny, brave voice…of a talented writer and editor who kept us writers honest…Apropos: Did I disgrace myself in my last piece by appropriating a word worthy of a doomed ride in the shopworn phrase tumbril? Every weekend, for a long time to come, I will grief the absence of Alexander Cockburn’s column at the indispensable CounterPunch. Condolences to his daughter, Daisy Cockburn and to his co-editor and close friend, Jeffrey St Clair who scribed the following about his departed friend and colleague: “Alex lived a huge life and he lived it his way. He hated compromise in politics and he didn’t tolerate it in his own life. Alex was my pal, my mentor, my comrade. We joked, gossiped, argued and worked together nearly every day for the last twenty years. He leaves a huge void in our lives. But he taught at least two generations how to think, how to look at the world, how to live a life of resistance. So, the struggle continues and we’re going to remain engaged. He wouldn’t have it any other way.”
RIP Alexander Cockburn, a brilliant truth teller, and a real journalist in a world of corporate hacks and phonies. His sage insights will be greatly missed.
I know the twenty years you spent at Alex’s side produced an enormous treasure chest of memories that will console and even invigorate you in the days ahead.
I have been reading everything about Alex I can get my hands on in the last few days after the shocking news of his passing reached us all. He deserves well the fine recognition of his life’s work. He earned it, the hard way, by remaining true to himself.
Talented enough to appear on the pages of mass media outlets, Alex was never seduced by the bright lights of the main stage and never, ever cashed in on his notoriety as so many media stars of our day did and do.
Alex did not write for them, he wrote for himself, for his truth, and this, of course, meant that he sometimes even tangled with what was considered his natural audience, rebels and malcontents of all shapes, shades and sizes. I count myself among them.
In the last two years, Alex wrote me several times with brief words of encouragement, even thanking me for a CounterPunch submission here and there. I knew how busy he was but knew nothing of his illness.
Now, in retrospect, it makes me even more happy that I wrote back to him appreciately each time.
I greatly admired this about him, someone who was not soley consumed with his own projects and reputation but about the purpose of it all.
A purpose that required more than Alex, a purpose that requires a collective effort of writers, thinkers and activists all coming together. I think Alex understood this and is perhaps why you both created CounterPunch.
I think I too understand the real purpose of a writer and I place Alex among the best of his generation – he made us think.
I was so sorry to hear of Alex’s demise – and very moved by your tribute to him. Alex and I never met, but I have admired his work – the verve and passion of his writing – for many years. Keeping up with CP is probably the best thing we can do to keep his memory alive. We “amateur” writers are so grateful to you and him for giving us a chance to share our modest contributions.
Like everyone else, I can’t fully express how stunned and saddened I was by the news. To be honest, I still haven’t completely absorbed it. The man just seemed too vital, too incendiary, to have died like that. It’s a bizarre thing.
My friend Alexander Cockburn has died of cancer. He was a radical influence for me through his column in The Village Voice long before our acquaintance and occasional exchanges, when he was very kind to me. One memorable weekend, on a jaunt with special friends through the splendid trails and beaches of Humboldt County, I slept under the stars at Alex’s place. I still have the map he drew to show me how to find my way from his house, perched perilously on a mountain over the Pacific, to the road down below that went through a ribbon of redwoods. His intellect, humanity, love of great music, and many kindnesses during that special trip will not be forgotten.
“Alexander Cockburn was one of greatest most fearless thinkers this century RIP”
Alexander Cockburn, Presente! I had the good fortune to meet Alex on several occasions, and got to spend a little time with him, maybe the last time he was here in Madison, WI. (I took him to visit the memorial for the Abraham Lincoln Brigade Veterans that Clarence Kailin, a VALB himself, succeeded in having erected at the city’s James Madison Park. We hung out a bit and he spoke of his father Claude, the great Brit journalist, a good red of an earlier generation. And while I didn’t necessarily agree with everything the man wrote, I found his irrepressible style and temper quite to my liking. He was a good comrade and will be missed!
Considering Mr Cockburn’s scathing (and often hilarious) assessments of the so-called American “left”, not to mention his rightful contempt for timid liberals, he should be remembered as a principled thinker who was unafraid to expose hypocrisy, even when it adversely affected his own ‘bottom line’. While a lot of writers enjoy nothing more than reciting talking points with an eye on “pleasing” their readership, Mr Cockburn upheld his to a higher intellectual and ethical standard. His often quotable barbs and “contrarian” stances on conventional wisdom make it only too easy to overlook the highly principled and morally consistent mind at work. Too often we associate strong ethical stances with timid, hand wringing rhetoric. Mr Cockburn should be remembered above else, as someone who never lost a sense of outrage over the injustices committed by the powerful and those who enabled them through self-serving moral timidity.
Such a loss. ……I thank you and Alex for Counterpunch, where the selection of wonderful insightful articles will carry on his memory….Truthful political journalism will not be the same without him….
I just read about it, Jeffrey. One of my fondest memories of Alex was when you and he appeared in Richmond together. You were speaking and Alex was seated behind you with his glasses perched on his forehead .. sound asleep. It was terribly funny and comic relief to the serious issues being discussed.
Marshall Patrick Garvey
RIP Alex. Your wit, brevity, insight, tenacity, intellect, and passion helped shape my love of politics and finding the truth. You will be missed VERY much. Condolences to the Cockburns and to you, Jeffrey.
My goodness, had no idea he was battling cancer. I am so very sorry. I remember the wonderful and quirky exchange we had over my Slumdog piece almost three years ago. He told me off, and I’ve been better for it. I’ll preserve those emails always. He’ll be hugely, hugely missed. What a huge loss! My condolences, most sincerely.
One of the toughest minds I have ever known – something that is so rare in journalism today. Alexander will certainly be missed.
Deeply sorry for your loss. Alex Cockburn wrote his name in the stars.
Boy, what a loss. I remember several things about him: One, his voice was unique and original. His take on almost any topic was thoughtful and often much different from the “conventional wisdom,” and thank god for that. Second, he kindly gave my brother quite a bit of his time after a talk at Elliot Bay Books in Seattle and he was obviously a really good guy. So long Alex.
Although I was great admirer of his writing, I only met Alex once, at that Libertarian anti-war conference in Virginia a few years ago. It was a real pleasure to do so, and I have regretted I haven’t had more opportunities to talk with him. I am genuinely saddened by his passing.
Much as Counterpunchers may be loath to admit it – given the issues we engage, Alexander Claud Cockburn’s 71 years with us left the world an infinitely better place by his having graced it with his presence. He made a difference.
I will miss his work. He was so brilliant.
Jeffrey, I saw two shooting stars in the desert Friday night, one for Alex and one for you.
When I think of the great inspirations, the great minds of the real left, he was in the very top tier for me…When I used to still look at The Nation, it was almost always only to read Alexander Cockburn.
Alex was a lion for justice.
When I saw this in the paper, despite the sorrow I couldn’t help feeling a touch of hope that at least his death was considered newsworthy by the MSM.
I have been away from the news for a couple of days and just learned of Alex’s death. I am profoundly sad and apologize for the tears on this email. I can’t begin to imagine how enormous a loss this is for you.
I am still collecting my thoughts, but yours and Alex’s influence on my work goes back to the Kwitny years and beyond. I am one of the lucky ones to have had his critical support and yours. Thank you.
Much love to you and to your family at CounterPunch.
I just wanted to convey my personal condolences, and to say how much I admired your beautiful, loving farewell to Alex.
He will be deeply missed.
When I was fresh out of college and newly employed in my career in Indy as a newspaper reporter, one of the joys was being able to buy and subscribe to whatever magazines I felt like reading. I quickly found myself with subscriptions to The Nation, The Progressive and Mother Jones, among others. I always remember Cockburn’s work in The Nation being packed with original reporting and a unique perspective that indicated higher-order insight and analysis than just about everyone.
Alexander Cockburn, one of the greatest voices of our time, died yesterday of Cancer. May his work continue to inspire the many of us whose lives he so dearly touched.
I was shocked and moved by the loss of such a valuable fighter, your close friend, collaborator and comrade. Please receive my condolences.
It is never a joy to lose a soldier in our ranks, and we can console ourselves only in preserving Alex’s memory in furthering this uphill —but winnable— struggle.
No more words.
Un fuerte abrazo.
Dru Oja Jay
I admired Alex Cockburn at least as much as I disagreed with him, and his death comes as an unwelcome and sad surprise. His uncompromising stances, pinpoint observations and trenchant wit brought a sort of relentless bitter glee to the grim and grinding realm of political affairs and leftist grudge matches. He elevated our aesthetic. Jeffrey St Clair gets in a dig an Hitchens in his brief remembrance on CP today, which is perhaps as it should be, or at least what Alex would have wanted. The world is now a little less fun to read about. Today, I admire Alex at his best, and acknowledge the generations of writers and readers of the anti-imperialist left that he influenced and inspired.
I have only just heard the sad news of the passing of your friend and colleague Alexander Cockburn. I admired his uncompromising writings for decades, and the one thing that could be counted on from him was that he would never sell out, or his readers. He was also always a pleasure to read with his incisiveness and scathing wit, and like you and many others, I too shall miss him.
I am truly saddened by Alex’s death. Alexander Cockburn was more than just a writer or a friend; he was an amazing person. He was always so kind and considerate to people who come from suppressed society that we always welcomed seeing him at every opportunity.
Alex’s passing will not only leave a void in our lives, but in the hearts of everyone who knew him. Personally Alex’s memory will always remain deep within my heart. He was a fearless man.
I can do no better than quote the sage words of Douglas Hyde, “every crag and gnarled tree and lonely valley has its own strange and graceful legend attached to it.”
I was up at the Monkey Lodge w/friends this weekend; working on a trail bridge and hiking and swimming in some of the great mountain lakes. I had a few books arund that I was reading. Rainbow Pie, a memoir/polemic of Joe Bageant’s was on the table and a couple people remarked about it. I noted that Joe had died early last year from cancer and “Nobody could write about class in America like Joe, not even Studs Terkel. Joe was the best. And, he was a great guy. And, boy do I miss him.” I returnd home early this morning to the news that Alexander Cockburn had passed, again from cancer. Nobody could write – period – like Alex. My life has been enriched by Alex’ writing (and friendship) ever since I first started reading his stuff in the 1970s. (and, boy, will I miss him!) I learned so much from him, decades worth. My Dad always said, “The worst part of growing old is your friends dying.” I’m feeling pretty old and sad today.
Mark J. Palmer
I was very sorry to hear today about the death of Alexander Cockburn. I remember when he was one of the few journalists who got the story right about the sell-out around Dolphin Safe tuna by major environmental organizations in the mid-1990’s. He will be missed as will his great reporting.
I am writing to add my condolences to what probably already amounts to a drop in a torrent of grief from the important and noteworthy (in my books anyways).
Alexander Cockburn informed the way I saw the world around me, he shaped my opinions and was my guide to understanding the things around me.
I might doubt and question the intentions of many writers but never Alexander Cockburn; he always cut to the quick of every matter and laid it all bare.
How much longer will I click around the Counterpunch web site hoping to reveal the Friday column has appeared?
Mike Potts –
Just heard about Alexander Cockburn’s death. So sad, especially when we so sorely need honest, unafraid journalists like him.
I am so sorry for your loss. You and Alex have done such important work together. He was a force of nature, and it seems unimaginable he is not with us. I know your work and CounterPunch will keep his legacy very much active, alive, and vital.
…I still remember as a young editor at South End chasing him for months to gave an interview and when I finally got him on the phone, he said “you are a persistent motherfucker” — and I was overjoyed.
wanted to first express my condolences for the loss of alex
next to ralph, alex was my inspiration from the very beginning
Kim Doss-Cortes –
He hated compromise in politics and he didn’t tolerate it in his own life.
Is there any other way to live? I didn’t always agree with him, but goddamn I admired him. It almost feels like I lost someone I knew personally.
Condolences to all who knew him personally. He was a great man. We’re losing too many of them…
When I heard the news about Alex I was shattered. I had no idea he was ill, and was planning to invite him to Wisconsin this coming year. I also owe him a huge debt of gratitude for publishing a number of my essays in the CP newsletter and posting others on the website. He’s one of the main reasons I’m known at all – and I’m getting back to writing again this summer.
Please accept my condolences on Alex’s passing. I have been a regular reader of his work since I first discovered it in the pages of the Village Voice and soon thereafter in New Left Review. His insight, his passion, his wit, his relentless pursuit of persuasive facts, and his indefatigable defense of radical transformation made an indelible impact on my thinking and my work. I will miss him.
I’m so sorry to hear about the death of your dear friend and co-editor of Counterpunch Mr Cockburn. I am increadibly greatful for the work you have both done over the years. As a subscriber and regular reader of Counterpunch, your work and that of Mr Bill Blum literally re-affirmed my sanity when John Howard hijacked the Australian political agenda. You men and your fellow contributors were and are outstanding.
Once again my condolences from Australia.
Brian LeCloux –
Alexander Cockburn. Met him several times in Madison, WI and got to talk to him as well. For the inscription of one his books (Al Gore: A User’s Manual) I asked him to write something really cool. He wrote, “To Brian. Vote your hopes, not your fears. As Lenin said, be as radical as reality.” Will miss his remarkably perceptive commentary on politics and, well, just about anything else.
As a reader and admirer over many years of Alexander Cockburn, I just want to extend my sympathies. I’m sure, though, he would echo Joe Hill: ‘Don’t waste time mourning, Organise.’
I’m very sorry to hear about Alexander Cockburn. I never met the man but I thought he was a tremendous writer.
I was truly saddened to read of Alex’s passing in the NYT this weekend. It’s a cliche, but he was a great man. And a fine writer. One of my heroes! I’m sorry for your loss.
Sioux Center, Iowa
(I wrote the Wellstone piece for CP/Dime’s Worth and some other things that you & Alex were kind enough to post.)
I’m sure you guys have been preparing for this contingency as well as possible and for as long as possible.
I’ll look backward with you at this time and say what an important contribution I believe all of you working together at CounterPunch have been making.
All the best.
Dara Gallagher –
So desperately sad to hear of the death of Alexander Cockburn.RIP His voice will be missed.Thanks for everything.
in my throat is the feeling of grief in reading what was added by Jeffrey St. Clair in today’s Cpunch.
My condolences to any and all.
Please convey to Jeffrey, to relatives and staff.
Sandy Maliga –
Sad to hear there will be no more columns from Cockburn. I always hoped I’d be able to have lunch with him someday. RIP, you will be missed.
Joanie Fritz Zosike –
Condolences to friends and staff of CounterPunch and all those who loved him. He was a guiding light and will be sorely missed.
Ana Gordana Kostich –
Thank you so very much, AlexanderCockburn for years of shining light where it needed to be. RIP.
Dan Thompson –
I remember reading Whiteout, and how it changed by life. He will definitely be missed.
Ron Davis –
Alexander Cockburn was a great and courageous journalist with few equals in this age of shallow and cowerdly “reporting”. It is people like Alexander who preserve freedom by telling the truth about the oppressors and exploiters of the world. Rest in peace dear friend of justice and truth.
Fiona Bernard –
It’s an enormous loss. He’s made a great contribution for decades. Time for the younger people to step up and get to work. Big shoes to fill.
Ian A. Brand –
I had much respect for him. He was an indispensable voice of dissent, and a unique one. He will be missed.
Zafra Miriam –
I’m crushed. He was absolutely my favorite political writer, of unwavering integrity, unmatched intelligence, and a truly dangerous sense of humor. What will I read on Fridays on Counterpunch now? What a terrible, terrible loss. Rest in peace and power Alexander Cockburn.
Gerard Di Trolio –
I don’t particularly get sentimental when a famous person passes away, especially celebrities. However, Alex’s death really touched me. To someone like me he was a celebrity, an icon and someone who made me think about things from a different perspective than the traditional left wing default position. I should be packing as I’m moving to a new apartment but I spent a lot of the day listening and watching interviews with him on the web. I’ve been reading the Counterpunch website since 1999 at the age of 14. It had a huge impact on my politics and what stories and writers I looked into. It was where I first read Chomsky, Said & Finkelstein. Where I heard writers talk about Immanuel Wallerstein, Slavoj Zizek, Antonio Negri etc. Every Saturday I would check in to read his latest column. Heck when I was at the University of Toronto I even went through their archives of The Nation just so I could read old Beat the Devil columns. His stuff on Reagan even those it was before my time was always some of my favourite stuff from him. You could feel the contempt he had for Reagan in every sentence he wrote. Saturdays will never be the same without him…
Sam Farhat –
He will be missed for sure. Alexander Cockburn to me is the compass through which I directed my stances and built my principles.
Anne Silver –
My daughter and I burst into tears yesterday on hearing this news. I have never felt the loss of a public figure so profoundly. Alex, we miss you so. My deepest condolences to you and all his family and close friends. Devastating.
Shen Brandt –
I am so deeply sad to hear that my dear old friend and comrade of yore, Alex Cockburn has died. Alex featured prominently in our life during the most exciting and interesting time that was the late 60s to the mid 70s. Although we had not seen each other for many years, it was through Counterpunch that we reconnected. In memory of Alex, I would ask you all to check out Counterpunch and subscribe.
David P Saxton –
Mr. Cockburn was a great defender of humanity and we have lost one of our best compasses for understanding the meaning and direction of our time. I will miss his presence greatly.
Eva Jay Fortune –
What will we do now that the fighter’s gone?
Thomas Anomalous –
I send my prayers to you, you cantankerous contrarian. here’s hoping that whatever comes next doesn’t need you to continue fighting. you’ve earned a solid victory.
Jay Cooke –
I too will sorely miss Mr Cockburn’s analyses; I am accustomed to looking forward to his weekly CP article, and now this world will be a bit less illuminated without him. My sincerest sympathies to his personal friends and family.