Typically, the worst thing Alexander Cockburn can find to say about the failed Moscow putsch is that its leaders lacked Lenin’s sense of history and an efficient plan (Column Left, Aug. 22).
Giving Cockburn your Column Left spot is offensive and, to my mind, an attempt to caricature the ideas of the legitimate left. As a lifelong liberal, it is clear to me that Cockburn’s brand of leftism has been out of fashion since the death of Stalin. In essence, he criticizes the Soviet plotters for failing to murder their own people, while praising the Chinese for their willingness to do just that.
A true liberal embraces democratic government and individual rights for everyone in every circumstance. Perhaps it is Cockburn’s aristocratic Anglo-Irish background that makes him so congenial to authoritarianism. Perhaps for Cockburn Russian democracy carries with it too strong a whiff of the peasant cottage, the boycott and other forms of dangerous “popular disorder.” Such things, which is to say the courage of real people, usually confound men with a “sense of history” and a “plan.”
My suspicion about Cockburn is that what he misses in the world is not Lenin, but hereditary privilege.