[Marxism] Fwd: The Assassin’s Fate: Paul Berman Shoots and Misses (Again) | The Baffler

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Fri Aug 8 09:35:57 MDT 2014

The Assassin’s Fate: Paul Berman Shoots and Misses (Again)
GEORGE SCIALABBA   August 08, 2014

We Sicilians are connoisseurs of malevolence. So I approached Paul 
Berman’s hatchet job on Alexander Cockburn (The New Republic, August 1) 
with an alacrity tempered only by my apprehension that Berman wasn’t 
quite up to the job. His previous attempts at character assassination 
(Noam Chomsky, Ian Buruma) had been disappointing: shrill, inaccurate, 
marred by too-obvious rancor and wounded vanity. Cockburn, in the shape 
of his final collection, A Colossal Wreck, seemed a perfect target: 
lethally sharp-tongued and infuriatingly charming while alive but now 
conveniently dead. I feared, though, that Berman would muff it.

 From the technical point of view, he turned in a creditable performance 
this time. Berman (or his editor) managed to leaven his usual portentous 
and overwrought style—as though the intellectual honor of the age had 
been entrusted to his keeping—with a few dashes of wit and sly malice. 
Cockburn was an “eccentric British journalist,” a “famously insolent … 
old rogue,” who could nevertheless be “wonderfully charming,” with his 
“odd and clever combination of English literary self-satisfaction and 
outrageous raillery.” With an “air of bookish sophistication,” he was 
always dropping authors’ names (“Browning and Conrad and Trollope”) and 
quotations into his columns, though of course it was just a veneer, as 
was his insular New Left Review Marxism, at least when compared with the 
grittier, more rooted democratic socialism of Michael Harrington and 
Irving Howe. A glib and supercilious Euroscoundrel, in other words, 
unlike the high-minded, erudite Berman, the plodding but 
salt-of-the-earth working-class types over at Dissent, and the cold-eyed 
tragic realists of The New Republic.

full: http://www.thebaffler.com/blog/the-assassins-fate/

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