2016 Socially Relevant Film Festival previews: part one

Louis Proyect: The Unrepentant Marxist

Screen Shot 2016-02-27 at 5.33.06 PM

This is the first in a series of articles about some of the films scheduled for this year’s Socially Relevant Film Festival that I have been covering since its inception in 2014. This year I am proud to be on its Documentary award jury. I must admit, however, that my tendency would be to give a blue ribbon to everybody whose film is being shown in SR 2016 since making such films as an alternative to much of the junk receiving an Oscar tomorrow night is to be celebrated in and of itself.

As the founder of the SR film festivals, Nora Armani is blessed with an uncommon ability to curate some of the most important films being made today. As I have made clear in my survey of SR 2014 and SR 2015, these are films that are focused on the real problems of ordinary people and a…

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“Rotenberg Is Worse than ISIS!”: Russian Truckers on Strike in Dagestan and Elsewhere

The Russian Reader

“On November 30, we will go to Moscow and shut down the Moscow Ring Road!”: Major protests by truckers in the Caucasus
Irina Gordiyenko | Dagestan
November 22, 2015
Novaya Gazeta

A major protest by truckers is taking place in the Caucasus. Officials are trying to ignore it, and in response truckers are threatening to move on Moscow 

“No to Platon! On November 30 We Block the Moscow Ring Road.” Photo: Irina Gordiyenko/Novaya Gazeta

Strikes by truckers against the introduction of a new road tax have swept across Russia. The biggest of them is still underway in Dagestan. Hundreds of truckers have lined up along dozens of kilometers of highway. Manas, Khasavyurt, Kizlyar, and Kayakent are the spots where people have been striking for a week. The protests have been ignored. Officials have avoided contacting the strikers, while television has refused to cover the strike. Amateur videos posted on the…

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Execution Ground of my Ancestors


1500 Jews of Nyesviz were shot here on October 30, 1941.  First the children were shot dead and half dead, buried, and then their parents were shot.

The fascists who murdered them and their capitalist unindicted co-conspirators quite rightly saw that my ancestors were mortal enemies of their rotten system.  My ancestors, before they were exterminated by these filthy beasts were in the forefront of the Soviet movement to destroy the Polish occupation and to destroy their capitalist system.  They helped to lay the foundation for a post-capitalist system with a qualitatively higher level of social democracy.  My ancestors transcended their time and place, carried out a social revolution and then were murdered by the beasts who tried to maintain the old system through barbarism but who, in the end, failed.

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British Labour, Marxist McDonnell and deficit-denying

Michael Roberts Blog

The election of a new leader of the UK’s opposition Labour party has provoked a flurry of interest in the international media and among economists.  That’s because the new leader, Jeremy Corbyn and his newly appointed finance spokesman, John McDonnell, have been considered as ‘avowed Marxists’.


That is certainly the case for McDonnell.  He is an ‘avowed Marxist’ because he says he is.  On the day of his big keynote economics speech at Labour’s annual conference this week, he said that “If you look at our capitalist system, one of the definitive analysts of how it works – not whether it is condemned, or whether it is right or wrong, just the mechanics of how it works, when it was formed and how it would be developed – actually was Marx.”  He went on “If you look at most of the institutions that are teaching economics today. Marx has come…

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Ilya Matveev: A Word to the Wise (On Putin’s “Leftism” and Solidarity with Russians)

The Russian Reader

I have been banned on Facebook by Mark Sleboda, and for the most innocuous of comments. For those of you who don’t know this guy, he is an American who voluntarily came to Russia to work with Alexander Dugin, the conservative “Eurasianist” imperialist/traditionalist circus clown who went from hanging out, in the nineties, with the likes of politically dicey counter-culturalists like musician Sergei Kuryokhin and writer Eduard Limonov (with whom he co-founded the National Bolshevik party) to being a “respected” media commentator, “academic,” and Putin loyalist, in the noughties.

I’m writing in English in order to warn my Anglophone friends. There is a whole network of expats in Russia working on the “ideological front” defending Putin, frequently portraying him as an anti-Atlanticist battling NATO and EU hegemony. Many of these people pose as “leftists.” Basically, they are bought-and-paid petty ideologists, no better than our own homegrown Russian journalists and Kremlin…

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Slutsk, Mayn Sluts (or Slutsk, My Slutsk, a popular Yiddish song sung before World War II and in 2015 on a Helix bus)

radical jewish traveler

Yesterday, Helix went to Slutsk and Uzda, the former a shtetl known for its weavers, the latter, the hometown of the Hebrew writer, Dvora Baron. It was a powerful day of engaging locals, who helped us animate the ghosts of the past.  I generally try to learn the names of people I encounter on my journeys, but there were many of them, ranging from the women selling us bright orange silk flowers to Uzda’s local town historian, who helped us find the Jewish cemetery where we read Yiddish poetry by writers from the area.

On a lighter note, there is a love bridge in Slutsk with locks on a bridge echoing the one in Paris that the mayor just ordered removed.  I ended up seeing these love bridges in most Belarussian cities. Also in Slutsk, which was the sash capital of eastern Europe in its pre-capitalist heyday, we played a traditional Belarussian game of…

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Lars Lih and Lenin’s April Theses

Louis Proyect: The Unrepentant Marxist

Lars Lih

In a Jacobin article titled “The Lies We Tell About Lenin”, Lars Lih characterizes Trotskyism in a way that I find unsatisfactory:

So far I have looked at errors that purport to explain the failures of the revolution, but latter-day partisans of the October Revolution are also engaged in heresy-hunting. For them, the success of the revolution is explained by the rejection of ideological errors. The mainstream Trotskyist interpretation is built around a story of this type.

Back in the 1905–6 (the story goes), Leon Trotsky came up with his theory of permanent revolution and pronounced socialist revolution to be possible in backward Russia. Since his theory attacked the unimaginative dogmas of “Second International Marxism,” Trotsky was greeted with universal incomprehension.

Fortunately, just in time, Lenin saw the light and caught up with Trotsky in April 1917. Together the two great leaders rearmed the Bolshevik Party…

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