RIP David Cornwell, who wrote under the name “John Le Carré”

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    David Cornwell, best known under his penname “John Le Carré”, died yesterday in Cornwall.

    Up until the end of the USSR nearly 30 years ago his work tended mostly to be praised in the lickspittle British press, largely because he had written until that time in a way that to a certain extent was sympathetic towards MI6. (Book reviews are mostly written by creeps who are angling for their own book deals, and stuff doesn’t get in print – at least not outside the samizdat world – without an OK from the top.) After that time he tended more to be referred to as some kind of leftwing “fool”, or headbanger, or as a guy who had some kind of a bee in his bonnet to do with the USA, big business, western imperialism, western governance, and political corruption. Before 1991 no reviewer would negatively criticise his oeuvre; after that year, mainstream reviewers increasingly queued up to give him a good kicking. (Orders of the Brown Tongue all round!) (But astute observers among his readers will know that even before 1990 he was none too keen on the USA.)

    The following pieces are recommended:

    * “In Place of Nations” (in which he lays into Big Pharma)

    * “‘I do give a damn’


    “(DC) Mussolini’s definition of fascism was that when you can’t distinguish corporate power from governmental power, you are on the way to a fascist state. If you throw in God power and media power, that’s where we are now.;
    (Interviewer) Is he saying Britain is a fascist state?;
    (DC) Does it strike you as democratic?

    Cornwell describes Absolute Friends as ‘a piece of political science fiction’ aimed at showing ‘what could happen if we allow present trends to continue to the point of absurdity where corporate media are absolutely at the beck and call in the United States of a neo-conservative group which is commanding the political high ground, calling the shots and appointing the state of Israel as the purpose of all Middle Eastern and practically all global policy’.

    Ha! That was Cornwell’s way of sugar-coating the fact that that novel was not at all intended as “science fiction” or as hypothetical extrapolation but rather about how things are NOW, barring perhaps a few quibbles over who literally pulls the trigger. (US forces come in at the end, together with a woman who if you read between the lines you will realise is Israeli, and shoot the sh*t out of everyone.) Halliburton’s role in the US war against Iraq wasn’t fiction.

    * “From cold war spy to angry old man: the politics of John le Carré


    In September 2002 the Cornwells joined an anti-war rally in central London. Days earlier Blair had released a document presenting the case for going to war with Iraq. The marchers, whose numbers were estimated to be between 150,000 and 400,000, were “kettled” by the police. It seemed to Cornwell that the police were much more hostile to the peace demonstrators than they had been to the marchers from the Countryside Alliance, who had held their own march the week before. He marched again the following February, as part of a worldwide protest against plans to invade Iraq, in the demonstration described as the largest protest march in British history.

    For those who may wonder as to what his “politics” were in a “party” sense, he always voted Labour except when he voted Liberal Democrat because they, unlike the Blairite Labour Party, opposed the 2003 war against Iraq. He despised the Tory party. He called the public schools “the Tory party in the nursery”. There’s quite a lot against those institutions in his novels. Unfortunately he sent his own sons to one, but at least let’s give him credit for saying without any equivocation that he was a hypocrite for doing so.

    * “The United States has gone mad

    * “Conversations with John le Carré

    Cornwell was a friend of Murat Kurnaz, the young Turkish man who was captured by US forces in Pakistan and tortured by them both in Afghanistan and during his five-year illegal incarceration in Guantanamo. Kurnaz was accused of belonging to Al Qaeda when he did not. When I say “accused”, I mean that is what his captors wrongly stated. I don’t mean he was charged or indicted or tried. He was never charged with anything. In Britain Cornwell supported his friend’s efforts to publicise his experiences at the hands of Al Qaeda’s fellow barbarians, the ones who run the USA.

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    #63226 Reply

    PS It’s worth remembering that with his novel “The Little Drummer Girl”, Cornwell probably quadrupled the number of people in western countries who were aware of the 1948 Nakba (“Catastrophe”) that Zionist Jews inflicted on Palestinian Arabs.

    #63247 Reply

    What was Cornwell’s view of coronafascism?
    It can’t have escaped his notice that we are being subjected to the largest PR campaign in the history of Big Pharma.
    Nor can he have failed to observe that you can’t get a “cigarette paper” between the interests of pharmaceutical companies Pfizer and AstaZeneca (and Big Satan-based Google and Apple) and the interests of the state.
    Was he anti-lockdown?

    He was 89 but they say he was sprightly until shortly before the brief illness that led to his death by pneumonia. He probably caught pneumonia in hospital. That’s one of the main ways the authorities in Britain have murdered thousands of people since the beginning of the fascist stage this March, as well as leaving them unattended to drop dead in “care” homes.

    I wonder whether he went on anti-lockdown protests or was preparing to say something?
    Then again, he was 89.
    We may never find out.

    #63248 Reply

    Well, well…Piers Corbyn spoke at a protest meeting in Truro, Cornwall, in September. Who is the guy in the sunglasses, turquoise shirt, and brown jacket, on the left of the photo?

    #63611 Reply
    #63731 Reply
    Iain Stewart

    Thanks for those articles, N_.
    Another instructive aspect of The Little Drummer Girl was the bombing of Palestinian refugee camps by Syria.

    #63750 Reply

    Seconded; some excellent links. I’m currently reading Stan Goff on

    #63868 Reply

    Thanks for the post, N,
    Thanks for your dedication, Mr Murray in reporting on the Assange trial. (I have just ordered “Sykunder Burnes”).

    It seems to all come together in these troubled times…

    We seem to be in the middle of “The Shock Doctrine” as laid out by Naomi Klein (2007). I pulled it out of my bookshelf again some weeks ago. One comment on the cover of the book: “Impassioned, hugely informative, wonderfully controversial, and scary as hell”. Yes, it was by John Le Carré…


    #64477 Reply

    Thanks for putting this thread up and for the comments. He was a great writer and his story telling as well as his politics became clearer as he grew older. He had quite a life. Long may he be read and re-read.

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