Alexander Cockburn edits the newsletter CounterPunch and writes columns for the Los Angeles Times and The Nation.

The Natural Artificer

Somewhat as if Robinson Crusoe tried to tell Man Friday about Yorkshire pudding, it’s hard to explain Wodehouse to the uninitiated. He evolved a comedy of manners and a mannered style that came into perfect fluency and equilibrium by the early Thirties. In the early Fifties that tautness of control …

The Myth of Missile Accuracy

At the heart of modern theories of nuclear strategy lies the premise of accuracy. The great debates of recent years—over the SALT II treaty, deployment of the MX missile, and the limited nuclear war scenarios most recently considered in Presidential Directive 59—all take for granted the assumption that a missile …

Apocalypse for Everyone

The White House is going to be a crowded place for the next couple of years, if these three novels—laboriously positioned on the borders between fiction and “real life”—are any guide to what lies ahead. At one end of the Oval Office, in Frederick Forsyth’s vision of 1982, we have …

Mr. P, Mrs. V, and Mr. T

Poor Reich and the other crazies used to think that sex, proper orgasms, and so forth constituted a challenge to power, to the bourgeois order: a freer fuck means a freer world. Plodding along the trail marked out by the high priest of the orgone box comes Gay Talese with …

Gastro-Porn

They came and told one of the more recent dukes of Devonshire that in the interests of economy and general modern-mindedness Chatsworth really ought to dispense with the pastry chef. “What,” cried the duke, aghast. “Is a man no longer to be allowed his biscuit?” Somehow things never seem to …

Carter’s Powerless Energy Policy

The national energy program produced by President Carter and now dispatched to Congress for legislative action has been moderately well received. It is likely to go through many changes in the battles in Congress that lie ahead, but nearly everyone agrees that some form of over-all national strategy was needed, …

Selling the Sun

In its most pessimistic rendering and to its most apocalyptic observers the energy crisis—omnipresent, irreversible—foretells the end of civilization. Slowly, but inevitably, the world will run out of natural gas, oil, uranium, coal. It is understood by all that modern man must move away from reliance on fossil fuel and …

The Sunny Side of the Street

Over the last years we have seen the growth of two important, middle-class political movements in the United States: one is centered on feminism, the other on the environment. The environmental movement springs from a long history. Its modern form has its origins in the industrial revolution, with the ideas …

Energy and the Politicians

Are the nation’s energy policies a potent “issue” in this year’s presidential campaign and in other electoral struggles? More specifically, are the calls for some form of reorganization of the oil industry—voiced by no fewer than eight presidential candidates, including George Wallace—going to form an important or a merely ornamental …

The Psychopathology of Journalism

Early in his memoirs the great Victorian journalist Henri de Blowitz refers to his “uncontrollable desire to get at the bottom of sensational reports.” He was trying to explain why he became a journalist, instead of remaining a sober businessman in Marseilles. This was the best he could do. In …

Million Dollar Yeggs

In 1939 a British businessman of my acquaintance was sent by the Department of Economic Warfare to Ankara. His mission was to buy up certain Turkish commodities of strategic value and thus deny them to the Germans. Generously supplied with cash, he went to work with a will. But he …

Propaganda of the Victors

Even at the present modest distance from Watergate one is left with the somewhat depressing conclusion that the lifeblood of scandals, political as much as sexual, is detail. Depressing, because detail after all is what people forget first. Too soon we are left with “general lessons” and the trite impedimenta …

The Defense Confidence Game

Although it would be frivolous to devote extensive space to the purely stylistic aspects of James Schlesinger’s 1975 defense budget we should note at the outset that his prose is that of a man visibly animated by strong and eccentric emotions. One would not expect someone who spends his hours …