Louis Proyect: The Unrepentant Marxist

May 24, 2009

Ratner, Botstein and Gehry: birds of a feather

Filed under: bard college,capitalist pig — louisproyect @ 6:19 pm

Bruce Ratner: latest scumbag capitalist named to Bard College board of trustees

I read the Bardian, my Bard College alumni magazine, in the same spirit that I check in on the Militant newspaper online, to see the latest affront to decency that Leon Botstein and Jack Barnes, the cult leaders of these two institutions from my youth, have cooked up. Based on the evidence of the spring 2009 Bardian, they are running neck-and-neck.

In a tiny announcement, the magazine informed its readers that “Bruce C. Ratner, director of Forest City Enterprises, was appointed to the Board of Trustees.” Right off the bat, I had to assume that Ratner was cut from the same cloth as Asher Edelman, Susan Weber (George Soros’s ex-wife), and Charles P. Stevenson Jr. He was likely to have made his money through some ill-gotten gains or to have come by it through marriage as Susan Weber and fellow board member and ultra-Zionist Martin Peretz did. Edelman, a Bard graduate who the Gordon Gekko character in Oliver Stone’s “Wall Street” was based on, used to be a business partner of corporate raider Stevenson before the threat of arrest for insider trading forced him to relocate to Europe and out of the securities business.

George Soros, who is a major donor to Bard College particularly when it comes to spawning colonial outposts of the college in South Africa and Eastern Europe where the benefits of free markets can be sold to budding scholars especially those who are hard-up economically, has been found guilty of insider trading in France and his firm is now being sued in Hungary for $2.2 million for manipulating the share price of the country’s largest bank.

Bruce C. Ratner breaks with tradition to some extent by his connections to the real estate industry instead of the hedge fund business, the preferred base of operation for the other crooks on the board of trustees. As N.Y.’s most active real estate developer in the 1990s, he is best known for being the owner of the New Jersey Nets basketball team that he had intended to bring to Brooklyn as part of an ambitious real estate project based in the Atlantic Yards development targeted for the Prospect Heights and Park Slope neighborhoods. The granola-eating and Obama-voting residents there had about as much use for Ratner’s white elephant as they would for a nuclear power plant so it switched locations eventually to downtown Brooklyn. Although the financial crisis seems to have put the kibosh temporarily on Ratner’s plans, there is also the possibility that neighborhood resistance also had an effect. The website http://www.nolandgrab.org/ lists links to over 30 other websites hostile to Ratner’s aims. It also links to “The Simpsons” episode that was to Bruce Ratner what “Wall Street” was to Asher Edelman:

When Mr. Burns wins the Boston Celtics in a poker game, he decides to build a new sports arena in Springfield for them, but Lisa is against it as it would destroy the last bee colony in Springfield; Homer tries to solve the problem by mating the bees – with “killer” Africanized bees.

It was Ratner’s intention to use a $1.1 billion dollar taxpayer subsidy to build a sports arena with seats that would be unaffordable to the very people who were funding it. Clearly he had been studying the business model of the N.Y. Yankees who were past masters at this kind of flim-flam.

As is so often the case nowadays, the real estate baron seeking to impose his will on a community will bring in an architect who would not seem at first blush to incorporate predatory values, namely somebody like Frank Gehry who was hired to design Ratner’s sports complex. This architect was also hired by Botstein to design the very expensive Bard College arts center, a symbol of the school’s having arrived in the prestigious world of upscale academia.

Slate Magazine, not known for challenging corporate values, allowed novelist Jonathan Lethem to unload on Gehry in an open letter:

Most people, if they’ve heard of this proposal at all, believe you’ve been hired to design a sports arena, to house the New Jersey Nets, a team owned by Mr. Ratner. Anyone who’s glimpsed the drawings and models, however, knows that other, larger plans have overtaken the notion of a mere arena. The proposal currently on the table is a gang of 16 towers that would be the biggest project ever built by a single developer in the history of New York City. In fact, the proposed arena, like the surrounding neighborhoods, stands to be utterly dwarfed by these ponderous skyscrapers and superblocks. It’s a nightmare for Brooklyn, one that, if built, would cause irreparable damage to the quality of our lives and, I’d think, to your legacy. Your reputation, in this case, is the Trojan horse in a war to bring a commercially ambitious, but aesthetically—and socially—disastrous new development to Brooklyn. Your presence is intended to appease cultural tastemakers who might otherwise, correctly, recognize this atrocious plan for what it is, just as the notion of a basketball arena itself is a Trojan horse for the real plan: building a skyline suitable to some Sunbelt boomtown. I’ve been struggling to understand how someone of your sensibilities can have drifted into such an unfortunate alliance, with such potentially disastrous results. And so, I’d like to address you as one artist to another. Really, as one citizen to another. Here are some things I’d hope you’ll consider before this project advances any further.

While I am sympathetic to Lethem’s pleas, I am far more dubious about the “sensibilities” of Frank Gehry that he is appealing to. In January of 2003, before I began blogging, I posted this piece to the Marxism mailing list on the topic of “Bard College, Frank Gehry, money and power” that will explain how natural it was for Bruce C. Ratner and Leon Botstein to hook up. They both have empire-building and the natural architect for that purpose in common.


After a long absence following a devastating fire, The Baffler is publishing once again. [It is now defunct.] This magazine can be described among other things as analyst/critic of a growing tendency in corporate America to co-opt the avant-garde and the counter-culture. While there are abundant images that come to mind to illustrate this tendency, the Gap Ads of the 1980s featuring the homosexual, drug addict and beat novelist William S. Burroughs should suffice.

The first post-fire issue of The Baffler has an article on Frank Gehry that prompts me to say a few words about Bard College, where the architect’s latest project is under construction.  I would not dream of making aesthetic judgments, other than to say that it looks like a gingerbread house designed by somebody on an acid trip. I am far more interested in expanding on some of the concerns raised in the Baffler article that have as much to do with power and money as they do with art.

Before getting into these questions, it would be useful to say a word or two about Bard College’s president Leon Botstein, who has run the place for 27 years now. In many ways, it really has become Botstein College while retaining the old name. It is difficult to think of any other educational institution that has been so radically recast in the image of its CEO. For that matter, it is hard to name more than a couple of college presidents who have staked out such a high profile image as Botstein. Except for the braying reactionary John Silber at Boston University and the more circumspect but equally reactionary ex-World Bank boss Larry Summers at Harvard, one would be hard pressed to name any other college president so much in the public eye.

At first blush, Botstein’s style and politics differs from theirs. He is the slick, postmodernist liberal who would never be found guilty of bullying an underling in the manner of Larry Summers calling rap singing professor Cornel West on the carpet. Then again, perhaps not everything is so placid on the Botstein estate. As reported in the October 10, 1997 Chronicle of Higher Education, “his actions have earned him a reputation here as authoritarian.” Professor of Physics Peter D. Skiff is quoted as saying, “He does not fathom alternatives to his way of thinking.”

Botstein comes across as a Renaissance Man. When he is not dictating to underlings like Skiff, he is out conducting symphony orchestras (albeit mediocrely) or writing think pieces on a variety of topics in the mass media. Lexis-Nexis revealed 24 articles, including one promoting the values of self-reliance and risk-taking in the July 5, 1982 US News and World Report.

With such a premium placed on risk-taking, it should not come as a big surprise that Botstein was able to line up financiers George Soros and Leon Levy as major donors. In a January 27, 1996 NY Times article, Botstein fawned over the deep-pocketed nabobs: “These are people who made their money by doing something new, not something old. They haven’t clipped coupons.”

I imagine that everybody is familiar with the kind of new things that George Soros did in the 1990s, especially in Southeast Asia. It was widely reported that currency speculation carried out under the auspices of his Hedge Fund caused the Thai economy to crash. This led subsequently to financial failure throughout the region. A column in Bangkok’s “Thai Ray” commented at the time: “In this new era, there is no need to use troops, warships, bombs, or weapons to occupy any country. Just send out one broker and the target will be totally destroyed. In a war of the present era, people are killed by poverty.”

Botstein would seem to share Soros’s missionary complex vis-à-vis the former Soviet Union and Eastern Europe. With money siphoned from developing economies like Thailand’s, Soros has been able to foot the bill for Bard College’s colonizing effort in St. Petersburg, namely Smolny College, which sits next door to the organizing center of the October 1917 revolution–thus bringing the counter-revolution full cycle. Claude Allegre, the former French education minister, expressed misgivings about efforts such as Smolny College: ”That our students go and study in the United States and Britain is entirely desirable, but that the Americans install their universities throughout the world, all on the same model and with the same courses, is a catastrophe.” Well, what can one say–that’s just the voice of Old Europe once again. For the New Europe of Donald Rumsfeld, handouts from people like George Soros are eagerly accepted, especially since college professors in the liberated Russia republic average about $65 per month.

Until today, I had little idea of how Leon Levy put together his fortune. A few hours on the Internet revealed that he is what is known as a leveraged buyout artist. His Odyssey Partners put together deal after deal in the 1980s that left a string of bankrupt companies in its trail–with all the human suffering that entails. When the Levy family launched the Levy Institute at an old mansion called Blithewood, a trade union official representing workers who had been in a running battle with the management of a restaurant owned by the family, wrote the executive director raising some concerns, among which is the following:

As you may be aware, Odyssey Partners is also a named defendant in shareholder litigation that arose in the aftermath of the infamous accounting scandal at apparel-maker Leslie Fay. In the early 1980s, Leslie Fay underwent two management-led leveraged buyouts. The second LBO, in 1984, involved Odyssey Partners, Merrill Lynch, and Goldome Savings Bank. In June of 1991, the company underwent its third initial public offering, raising $40.6 million after expenses, all of which went to Odyssey Partners and/or to Steven M. Friedman, a former Odyssey general partner. In 1993, Leslie Fay’s accountants discovered accounting ‘discrepancies’ and contended in a subsequent lawsuit that Leslie Fay’s senior management conspired to conceal the true financial health of the company prior to and during the three public offerings. Odyssey Partners is a defendant in this lawsuit. Last year, Leslie Fay endured a 40 day strike over its proposal to close most of its domestic manufacturing operations (and to eliminate 1200 jobs), despite wage and benefit concessions workers had made to help return the company to profitability. Leslie Fay is now a sad shadow of its former self. Sales and profits are down sharply, and, according to Women’s Wear Daily, the company ‘now sits on the edge of oblivion.’

Despite their rather aggressive moneymaking appetites, both Soros and Levy now position themselves as friends of the left. Given the state of the world, one suspects that they are simply using a hedging strategy to protect their long-term interests. If at some point down the road the long-suffering masses decide to rid themselves of their oppressors, Soros and Levy might plead that they were with the revolution all along.

Soros writes books and articles lamenting globalization, while his Open Society foundation lavishes money on various grass-roots organizations fighting for social change, especially on the Internet. For example, alternet.org got a $78,660 grant–and so on.

Meanwhile, the Levy Institute at Bard constantly issues press releases and other material calling attention to irrational capitalist behavior. Old Leon Levy himself occasionally writes something for the New York Review of Books with Jeff Madrick, an Institute fellow with impeccable liberal credentials–including the October 8, 1998 “Wall Street Blues”. But to really show their “street cred”, the Levy boys went out and hired themselves a bona fide Marxist, namely Anwar Shaikh of the New School. As a research fellow at the Levy Institute, Shaikh wrote hard-hitting indictments of the capitalist system while the Levy brothers were out stripping assets in the same manner as Gordon Gecko in Oliver Stone’s “Wall Street” in order to pay for his stipend. We need a latter-day Bertolt Brecht to do justice to this sort of thing.

Turning now to the Baffler article (“Build It and They Will Pay” by Andrew Friedman), one understands completely why somebody like Leon Levy would write a blank check for something like the Gehry performing arts center. In 2001, when the Board of Trustees lavished $120 million on Leon Botstein, $50 million came from Leon Levy. From that gift, $100 million was put into the general endowment, while the remaining $20 million was set aside to endow capital projects like the college’s new performing arts center. For Botstein’s purposes, this would be money well spent since Gehry’s name has instant cachet, like a Rolex watch or a Prada handbag.

Although Friedman’s article focuses on the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, Spain, the observations seem relevant to any Gehry project. He writes:

No sooner was the thing built, however, than the Basques started to learn what Gehry’s vision was costing them. In his book Chronicle of a Seduction: The Guggenheim Bilbao, Joseba Zulaika dissects the deal under which the museum was built. It’s a story of uneven power relations, mortgaged urban futures, and fiscal chicanery, most of which cannot be told by official sources because their agreement contains a clause forbidding public disclosure. But it seems that after a year of secret negotiations, the Guggenheim stuck the city–which lost 40,000 jobs with the demise of its largest steel plant, and which still struggles with 25 percent unemployment–with a stiff bill. By 2000, Zulaika writes, the Basques were in for $250 million–that’s $700 for each Bilbao resident. On top of that, the local government is committed to a perpetual public subsidy of $7 to $14 million a year.

My own prediction is that the Gehry building at Bard will involve the same kind of waste, but as long as Leon Levy is sitting on such a huge fortune then the sky is the limit. This kind of overweening ambition seems oddly out of place both for the Guggenheim and for Bard. It is rather 1990s, so to speak. In fact, this kind of excess has begun to backfire on Thomas Krens, who is to the Guggenheim as Botstein is to Bard. Deep in debt, Krens resolved to solve things in the manner that anybody from the high-flying 90s would–he fired 80 employees, a fifth of his staff.

There is another similarity between Krens and Botstein: both are empire-builders. While Krens had ambitious plans to create many Guggenheims around the world, Botstein spawns seedling institutions like Smolny College and the Bard Decorative Arts Museum run by Mrs. Soros. What better architectural design to express this overarching ambition than Gehry’s plastic, computer-generated postmodernist works, whose innovations, according to Friedman, “are better thought of as extensions of the logic of capitalism into the deregulated plastic economy of the Nineties.”

Hence it was no surprise that Enron, that symbol of the roaring 1990s, would tout Gehry’s work highly. As ex-CEO Jeffrey Skilling wrote for the catalog that accompanied an Enron-funded Gehry retrospective:

Enron shares Mr. Gehry’s ongoing search for the moment of truth, the moment when the functional approach to a problem becomes infused with the artistry that produces a truly innovative solution. This is the search Enron embarks on every day by questioning the conventional to change business paradigms and create new markets that will shape the New Economy. It is the shared sense of challenge that we admire most in Frank Gehry.


  1. For all it has and will cost them, the Bilboans did not acquire a great public space. From the “Hall of Shame” at the Project for Public Spaces web site:

    A spectacularly beautiful and sculptural building, the Guggenheim Bilbao succeeds monumentally in its efforts as an iconic building, and has drawn much attention to the city of Bilbao. However, the project fails miserably as a public space, missing a significant opportunity to celebrate and support the cultural and community life that is pulsating throughout the city.

    Situated prominently on the waterfront near the center of Bilbao, the building interrupts the life of the city, and is an insult to pedestrians who would like to use the space for anything other than gawking at the building. Frank Gehry, the architect who designed the museum, appears afraid to support, or even acknowledge, human activity in and around his buildings. The museum may bring people to Bilbao, but it only degrades the civic and cultural life that makes people proud to live in the city. Moreover, as a symbol of successful investment in architecture, it is limiting the role of architecture to mere icon.

    It gets attention, but as is the case with most attention seekers, when asked for attention in return, it gives little back. The building ignores the riverfront that gives it prominence, it ignores the comfort of the people that come to its vast public spaces, and worst of all, it ignores the very city to which it is meant to draw attention.

    Walking through Bilbao, the building acts as a distraction from some of the most vibrant public spaces and sophisticated community life in Europe. While the power of the iconic building has been broadcast around the world, it can be easily interpreted as an attack on human activity and civic life.

    While Bilbao as a city may be near the height of civilization and Frank Gehry’s building is an icon serving as a beacon of the city’s status, it also is a public space that shunts the very civilization it is supposed to celebrate. Architecture emerged as a revered profession because of the way successful buildings can reflect and support a civilization, a culture and a functional purpose. Gehry’s building seems to fail in all these regards and is therefore doing a great disservice to Bilbao, and also to the profession of architecture.

    Great architecture and great public spaces should go hand and hand, but unfortunately, they seldom do. The arrogance of the Guggenheim Bilbao and the approach to design and development it portends is an affront to public spaces everywhere. The public spaces around this building are a void in the civic life of a great city.

    One might argue that this building has brought attention to Bilbao, but in many ways that attention has been a distraction, or at best an ephemeral sugar high, for a city that has some of the best public spaces in Europe. Because the museum not only ignores context, but also pushes away and hides Bilbao’s rich culture and social life, it is a net loss for the city.


    full: http://www.pps.org/great_public_spaces/one?public_place_id=827

    Comment by Colin Brace — May 25, 2009 @ 3:45 pm

  2. Brecht on Bilbao:

    Now they’ve cleaned it up and made it middle class
    With potted palms and aspree
    Very bourgeois, very bourgeois
    Just another place to put your ass,
    But if you could come around to see the fun
    Well, I don’t know, you might not find it such a strain,
    They’ve cleaned up all the pools of broken glass,
    On parquet floors you can’t grow grass,
    They’ve shut the green moon out because of rain
    And the music makes you cringe now when you think of what you paid
    Hey Joe, play that ol’ song they always played;
    That ol’ Bilbao
    Down where we used to go
    That ol’ Bilbao
    Casting it’s golden glow
    That ol’ Bilbao moon
    Love never laid me low
    That ol’ Bilbao
    Why does it hurt me so ?
    I don’t know if it would have brought you joy or grief but
    It was fantastic
    It was fantastic
    It was fantastic
    Beyond belief.

    It’s interesting how a certain kind of new-rich financier likes to revel in the avant-garde. I always thought of Bard as hopelessly “progressive” and artsy. The nouveau-riches love that stuff. Charles Saatchi, for example. The new-rich can épater les (anciens) bourgeois. The old money with their still lifes with dead rabbits and their shabby gentility get shown up by the Jewish and other ethnic parvenus. Bard must be a perfect place for such peacockery.

    This sort of dreck is to culture as styrofoam is to marble. You probably don’t like Tom Wolfe’s politics, but what other writer could do these people justice?

    Comment by Grumpy Old Man — May 27, 2009 @ 12:06 am

  3. “Botstein would seem to share Soros’s missionary complex vis-à-vis the former Soviet Union and Eastern Europe. With money siphoned from developing economies like Thailand’s, Soros has been able to foot the bill for Bard College’s colonizing effort in St. Petersburg, namely Smolny College, which sits next door to the organizing center of the October 1917 revolution–thus bringing the counter-revolution full cycle. Claude Allegre, the former French education minister, expressed misgivings about efforts such as Smolny College: ”That our students go and study in the United States and Britain is entirely desirable, but that the Americans install their universities throughout the world, all on the same model and with the same courses, is a catastrophe.” Well, what can one say–that’s just the voice of Old Europe once again. For the New Europe of Donald Rumsfeld, handouts from people like George Soros are eagerly accepted, especially since college professors in the liberated Russia republic average about $65 per month.”

    This is possibly the silliest thing I have read on a blog since I stopped reading Lenin’s Tomb. Do you know anything about education in Russia? I’m an American student who is studying there this academic year, and can assure you that most Russians are very unhappy with the quality of their higher education, and the very wealthy attempt to send their children abroad to get education in the west. Labeling a liberal arts education the acme of counterrevolution is not only ridiculous but also completely hypocritical for you as a Bard graduate. Calling the creation of a liberal arts college in a country with a notoriously corrupt and inaccessible education system “colonial” is extraordinarily ignorant. I assume you read Russian, since you appear to be able to recognize colonialism in the education system, and would tell me why other Russian professors became so interested in the college’s model?

    “Осенью 1997 года Смольный центр объявил программу открытых курсов, которые посещали студенты СПбГУ и других петербургских вузов. Значительное количество слушателей и преподавателей продемонстрировало большой интерес к либеральному образованию в Санкт-Петербурге. В 1999 году центр был преобразован в Смольный институт свободных искусств и наук. В 1999/2000 учебном году Смольный институт принял своих первых постоянных студентов дневного отделения. В настоящее время в Смольном институте обучается около 450 студентов.”


    Comment by luke — May 27, 2009 @ 7:03 am

  4. Luke, I don’t regard a liberal arts education as “the acme of counterrevolution” but I certainly regard George Soros’s philanthropic efforts as counterrevolutionary. Eastern Europe and even gas-rich Russia is economically devastated today largely because of the efforts of the CIA, Soros’s millions and the connivance of the intelligentsia and apparatchiks who calculated that they might be better off under capitalism. If that description offends you, then I invite you to stop reading this blog, just as you stopped reading the blog of my comrade Richard Seymour of Lenin’s Tomb.

    Comment by louisproyect — May 27, 2009 @ 2:46 pm

  5. so are you saying now that you don’t regard Smolny as a “colonizing effort”? I’m talking specifically about Smolny, not Soros.

    Comment by luke — May 27, 2009 @ 4:10 pm

  6. Luke, what you should do is look at the political science course directory at Smolny and you will Soros-type preoccupations that would not be found in a normal college such as:

    –Closed Institutions: Questions of Human Rights

    –Human Rights as Political Theory: Its Emergence, Development, and Current State

    –History of Human Rights Activism

    –Human Rights Monitoring

    –Belarus, the Ukraine and Russia: Scenarios of Post-Soviet Development

    Half the courses are taught by Dmitry Dubrovsky, a “Human Rights” activist associated with the “color revolution” type movements that Soros supports. This is a highly politicized department that clearly seeks to influence the intelligentsia in the former Soviet Union along the lines of the Open Society. No other country in the world would have the audacity to open up a college in the US to promote “anti-American” ideology. Could you imagine if the Cuban government funded a new college in the U.S. that had a political science department with courses like “On the need for economic justice in America”. It would be shut down immediately. Of course, Soros got away with this crap (until recently) because the Russian government saw the world the way that he did. Putin obviously is too much of a nationalist to put up with the Soros NGO’s but will likely tolerate the Smolny College for the time being.

    Comment by louisproyect — May 27, 2009 @ 5:47 pm

  7. I think it’s great that the college offers classes on human rights, and I don’t regard that as colonialism, any more than Cuba’s creation of such a college course would be. The full description of the Human Rights Minor is here, along with actual descriptions of all the courses, which do not look that suspicious, and without actually sitting in a class, I withhold judgment. I’ve heard nothing but good things about Smolny and nothing about ideologically driven courses, if any other Russian speaker can show me where anything that indicates it’s all a stooge system for Soros go ahead. If human rights is an “anti-Russian” ideology, I don’t know what to say, and dismissing these classes as “crap” is an insult.

    Дополнительная программа концентрации «Права человека» в Смольном институте является уникальной, поскольку данная область до сих пор не являлась отдельной областью преподавания.

    Для прохождения программы студент должен до модерации прослушать специальные курсы по программе не менее чем на 4 кредита, в том числе курс «Актуальные проблемы защиты прав человека», и после модерации — не менее чем на 8 кредитов. На третьем курсе студенты пишут курсовую работу, на четвертом — защищают дипломную работу на звание бакалавра.

    Выпускники, имеющие дополнительную концентрацию по этой программе, смогут продолжить свое обучение в области прав человека в магистратуре по программе “Новистика. Глобальные проблемы современного мира”.

    Цели программы:

    * дать студентам базовые понятия о поколениях прав человека, об основных правах человека, и современных противоречиях идеологии прав человека;
    * ознакомить с основными документами в области прав человека, в том числе с документами архивов, а также сложением и современным состоянием международной, европейской и национальной систем защиты прав человека;
    * в ходе практических занятий, предусмотренных Учебным планом, студенты должны познакомиться с реальной работой в области защиты прав человека, овладеть умением самостоятельно работать в области мониторинга информации относительно нарушения прав человека в определенных областях.

    Поскольку программа носит заведомо междисциплинарный характер, следует отметить, что формируемые в рамках курсов программы компетенции в целом соответствуют тем, которые формируются в смежных областях. Отметим только, что важнейшей из них является способность студента к морально-нравственной оценке и формированию ответственной гражданской позиции.
    руководитель программы

    Кандидат исторических наук Дубровский Дмитрий Викторович
    список курсов
    Гражданские права, гражданские свободы и права человека (4 кредита)

    Д. В. Дубровский

    Права и свободы человека гражданина существуют как процесс сложного и противоречивого взаимодействия индивида с государственной политикой, экономикой и обществом в целом. Политика в совокупности этих отношений выступает, с одной стороны, основным институтом идеологического, юридического и организационного обеспечения прав человека; с другой – она гарантирует их социальную защиту и реальное осуществление во всех сферах общественной жизни – экономической, социальной и духовной.
    Главная цель курса состоит в том, чтобы показать эволюцию представлений о правах человека и гражданина как одного из результатов развития европейского общества и современную ситуацию с политическими и гражданскими правами.
    Как и другие общие курсы, данный курс будет основан на чтении и обсуждении наиболее значимых трудов из области политической философии, а также важнейших международно-правовых документов в области прав человека, гражданских прав и свобод. В заключительной части курса учащимся будет предоставлена возможность непосредственного ознакомления с практикой работы правозащитной организации.

    [ Программа курса ]
    Производственная практика по правам человека (2 кредита)

    Д. В. Дубровский

    Развитие правозащитных некоммерческих организаций является важным условием демократизации общества. В современной России существует определенный опыт работы правозащитных НПО, работающих как в сфере защиты основных прав человека, так и в социальной сфере. Наиболее сфера НПО развита в Москве, в меньшей мере в Санкт-Петербурге. В связи с этим представляется важным ознакомить студентов с различными формами существующих НПО и направлениями их работы, а также дать опыт работы в третьем секторе. В рамках практики студенты получат возможность поучаствовать в одном из проектов нескольких организаций, выбранных по принципу их способности и готовности принять волонтеров.

    [ Программа курса ]
    права человека: медико-социальный аспкт (2 кредита)

    Е. В. Клочкова

    В современной России вследствие политических изменений произошли кардинальные изменения нормативных актов, определяющих взаимоотношения индивида и государства в области охраны здоровья, образования и социальной защиты. Во многом сложность современной ситуации объясняется не только произошедшими изменениями правового статуса целых социальных групп, но и огромным разрывом между прогрессивными законодательными актами и реальной правоприменительной практикой, что создает условия для нарушения прав граждан в области защиты их здоровья, образования и социальной защиты. Кроме этого, существенной проблемой является также неготовность социально незащищенных групп населения к борьбе за соблюдение своих прав в данных областях.
    Данный курс основан на биопсихосоциальной модели человека (ВОЗ, 2001 г.) и понимании эволюции представлений о правах человека в области защиты здоровья граждан, образования и социальной защиты, как одного из результатов развития современного общества.
    Основными целями данного курса являются концентрация внимания студентов на понимании современной российской модели оказания медицинской и социальной помощи населению, а также обеспечения доступности образования; проблем основных групп потребителей медицинских, образовательных и социальных услуг; и возможных путях правозащитной деятельности, направленной на реализацию естественных прав социально исключенных групп населения в области доступности и безопасности медицинской помощи и доступности адресных социальных и образовательных услуг. Кроме этого, в ходе изучения курса слушатели познакомятся с основными международными документами, законодательными актами Российской Федерации, определяющими правовой статус потребителя медицинских, образовательных и социальных услуг. В ходе изучения курса основное внимание будет уделено соблюдению в современной России прав пожилых граждан, инвалидов и детей-инвалидов.
    Данный курс будет основан на изучении международных правовых документов, касающихся прав человека в области охраны здоровья, социальной защиты и образования; на чтении и обсуждении материалов анализа российского законодательства и правоприменительной практики; на знакомстве с опытом судебной защиты прав социально уязвимых групп населения в области охраны здоровья, образования и социальной защиты.

    [ Программа курса ]
    История прав человека (генеалогия, документы, институции) (2 кредита)

    Д. В. Дубровский

    Курс призван ознакомить студентов с историей становления универсальной системы защиты прав человека в современном мире. Будут обсуждаться вопросы генезиса понятия прав человека, его последовательного развития и создания современных представлений о правах человека. Будут рассмотрены причины появления трех поколений прав человека (негативные, позитивные и коллективные) и особенности их реализации в национальном, региональном и международном законодательствах. В результате исторического развития идея защиты прав человека трансформировалась в международную систему защиты прав человека, структура и практика которой также будет предметом рассмотрения. В курсе также будет обращено внимание на содержание основных документов по правам человека. В заключительной части курса учащимся будет предоставлена возможность непосредственного ознакомления с практикой работы правозащитной организации.

    [ Программа курса ]
    современная система защиты прав человека (4 кредита)

    Р. Налбандов

    Аннотацию см. в программе “Международные отношения, политические науки и права человека”

    [ Программа курса ]
    История правозащитного движения в СССР (1950-80-е годы) (2 кредита)

    В. Э. Долинин, Д. В. Дубровский

    Курс посвящен изучению истории зарождения и развития правозащитного движения в СССР, а также его вклада в развитие демократии в современной России. Политическая история СССР в XX веке была бы неполной без истории противостояния тоталитарной власти и людей, названных инакомыслящими, диссидентами, пытавшихся реализовать права человека, защитить свою честь и достоинство. Способы защиты и пропаганды этих прав, равно как и эволюция взглядов на самое содержание понятия прав человека и способов их реализации, являются важным аспектом истории правозащитного движения. Одновременно в курсе будут приведены свидетельства репрессий, которым подвергались участники правозащитного движения, которые также изменялись в зависимости от исторического периода. Особое внимание уделяется специфике защиты прав человека в СССР, противоречиям между борьбой за коллективные права (национальные движения, религиозные группы) и индивидуальные, связанные с категорией гражданства (движение за гражданские права). Особо в курсе освещается вопрос о феномене т. н. «самиздата» как реализации права на свободу слова.

    [ Программа курса ]
    гендерные аспекты прав человека (4 кредита)

    М. П. Белоусова

    См. описание курса в программе “Социология и антропология”

    [ Программа курса ]

    Индивидуальные и коллективные права (4 кредита)

    Д. В. Дубровский

    Одним из важных вопросов современной дискуссии по правам человека является вопрос о субъекте основных прав человека. Представление об основных правах человека формировались в рамках антропологических теорий, то есть прежде всего касались индивидуальных прав, а идея «коллективного права» формировалась, в основном, в рамках политических теорий, в результате чего проблема коллективных прав часто формулировалась как проблема реализации, прежде всего, политических прав определенной группой. С другой стороны, на концепцию коллективного права, очевидно, воздействовала и система обычного права, традиционного регулирования социального организма посредством совокупность коллективных норм и правил. В ходе курса предполагается уделить особое внимание содержанию основных прав человека и противоречиями, возникающими при реализации этих прав определенным коллективом, часто определяемым как меньшинство. В ходе курса будут рассмотрены основные документы, касающиеся закрепления и правоприменительной практики по отношению к различным этническим, расовым, религиозным, языковым и иным группам.

    [ Программа курса ]
    Расизмы и дискриминации (2 кредита)

    Д. В. Дубровский

    Созданная в XIX веке расовая теория и связанные с ней идеи расового неравенства привели к появлению человеконенавистнических идеологий. Их реализация на государственном уровне привела и приводит к систематической дискриминации по признаку пола, расы, возраста, этнического или расового происхождения, сексуальной ориентации. В XX веке развитие идей классического расизма породило его «наукообразные» изводы, – например, культурный расизм. Распространенность подобных идей и убеждений повлияла на широкое распространение дискриминационных практик. Традиционно только прямые, основанные на различных предубеждениях практики считались дискриминационными. Между тем в наши дни все большее внимание привлекает проблема системной дискриминации, которая отличается от прямых, эксплицитно выраженных дискриминационных практик. В рамках курса предполагается рассмотреть виды дискриминации и возможное их предотвращение.

    [ Программа курса ]
    Глобализация, мультикультурализм и права человека (4 кредита)

    Д. В. Дубровский

    Этот курс посвящен обсуждению проблем, с которыми столкнулось мировое сообщество в процессе защиты прав человека, понимаемого с позиций универсализма как единого для всех набора норм и правил. События последнего времени обострили ряд серьезных противоречий, с которыми приходится сталкиваться в процессе применения этого механизма. Основными среди них являются противоречие между принципами индивидуальных прав, прав человека и гражданина, и коллективных прав, понимаемых как права группы. Наиболее активно обсуждаемой проблемой в этой связи становится проблема соотношения культурного релятивизма и декларируемой универсальностью концепции прав человека. Вместе с тем, существует тенденция к расширению самого понятия прав человека.
    Таким образом, программа курса предполагает рассмотрение на конкретных примерах проблемы прав человека в современном обществе.

    [ Программа курса ]
    Права человека и революция (2 кредита)

    Д. В. Дубровский

    Основным парадоксом в развитии концепции основных прав и свобод человека является тот факт, что права человека неразрывно связаны с идеологией и практикой революций. Насильственное изменение существовавшего государства всегда сопровождалось обвинениями в насилии и нарушениях прав человека, по-разному понимавшихся в различные эпохи. Тем не менее, одним из наиболее важных составляющих революционной практики как раз и являлось нарушение прав и свобод человека, прежде всего, права на жизнь. В рамках настоящего курса будут анализироваться, прежде всего, тексты, связанные с ходом европейских революций, полемика, затрагивающая права человека в том или ином аспекте, а также сопоставляться на конкретных примерах дискурсы и практики рассматриваемых революций.

    [ Программа курса ]
    Технологии и формы защиты прав человека(2 кредита)

    М. П. Белоусова

    Курс посвящен знакомству с существующими в современном мире механизмами защиты прав человека. Особое внимание уделяется анализу опыта практической реализации идеи прав человека через создание правозащитных систем на международном, региональном и национальных уровнях. В рамках курса рассматривается устройство и реальная деятельность правозащитных органов и механизмов ООН, Совета Европы; особое внимание уделяется практической деятельности государственных и негосударственных правозащитных систем в России. В ходе занятий анализируются возможности и ограничения созданных систем, эффективность их деятельности для общества, групп и конкретного человека. Происходит ознакомление с частными примерами правозащитных историй, осваиваются навыки самостоятельных действий по защите прав человека.
    Особенность курса – широкое привлечение дискуссионных материалов содержащих оценки, мнения и суждения непосредственных участников правозащитной деятельности – чиновников международных организаций, судей Конституционного суда РФ, сотрудников МИД РФ, участников зарубежного и отечественного правозащитного движения и др. Для углубления знакомства с практикой правозащиты, привлекаются результаты политологических и социологических исследований, в том числе проведенных с участием автора курса.
    Методы обучения представляют собой сочетание лекционных форм (объяснения, комментарии возникших вопросов) и семинарских форм, в том числе ролевые игры, дискуссии, аналитические упражнения и др. На занятиях проходит просмотр и обсуждение видеофильмов.

    [ Программа курса ]
    Актуальные проблемы прав человека и правозащитного движения в России (4 кредита)

    Д. В. Дубровский

    Права человека в ХХ столетии стали общепризнанной нормой человеческой жизни для всего цивилизованного мира. Подписав основные международные документы по правам человека, Россия тем самым провозгласила курс строительства правового государства, в котором соблюдаются права человека. Однако ситуация с их соблюдением в нашей стране далека от желаемой. В данном курсе предполагается рассмотреть ряд вопросов, касающихся истории и современного состояния с соблюдением основных прав человека в России и возможных путей изменения ситуации.
    Основным источником будут доклады российских и международных организаций по соблюдению прав человека, сравнение и анализ изменений, уже произошедших и происходящих на наших глазах.

    [ Программа курса ]
    Этничность, этническая идентичность, национализм (4 кредита)

    Н. Г. Скворцов

    Курс посвящен анализу проблем этничности и этнической идентичности в контексте современной социологии и социальной антропологии. Основная цель – выяснить роль этнического фактора в жизни общества и индивида, определить значение этнической идентичности как элемента социальной идентификации. Курс состоит из трех основных частей. В первой рассматриваются различные теоретические подходы к анализу этничности и этнической идентичности: «манчестерская школа», «норвежская школа» и отечественная «теория этноса». Во второй части анализируются сущность, формы проявления и функции этничности в социальной жизни: этничность в системе межгрупповых отношений, социальная организация культурных различий, этническая идентичность как субъективно-символический аспект феномена этничности. Подробно обсуждаются «примордиалистский» и «инструменталистский» подходы к анализу этнической идентичности. Третья, последняя, часть курса посвящена этническим аспектам современного национализма, связи этничности и национализма.

    [ Программа курса ]
    с/к.320 религиозная толерантность и интолерантность в истории европейской культуры (2 кредита)

    М. С. Стецкевич

    Цель курса: проанализировать процесс исторического развития религиозной толерантности и нетерпимости в рамках европейской культурной традиции, с одной стороны, и нетерпимости- с другой; рассмотреть отражение данных тенденций в философской мысли и важнейших законодательных актах крупнейших европейских государств.
    Задача курса: дать студентам важнейшие знания о процессе взаимодействия толерантности и интолерантности в европейской культуре, проанализировать процесс становления, философского обоснования и утверждения идеи свободы совести в европейской культурной и правовой традиции.


    Comment by luke — May 27, 2009 @ 11:30 pm

  8. Luke, apparently you haven’t studied George Soros’s role in Eastern Europe very carefully with respect to “human rights” but I would invite you to read what I wrote here:


    Comment by Louis Proyect — May 28, 2009 @ 12:26 am

  9. As I said before, there is nothing in the course descriptions or offerings in the human rights minor that indicate that there is a bias in these specific courses or meddling by Soros. Until you have sat in on one of the classes that is being taught, neither you nor I can pass judgment on what is being taught in the classes.

    “Of course, Soros got away with this crap (until recently) because the Russian government saw the world the way that he did. Putin obviously is too much of a nationalist to put up with the Soros NGO’s but will likely tolerate the Smolny College for the time being.”

    That’s funny, because according to here there are discussion going on between the program and the Russian ministry of education about the human rights program, and the Ministry is interested in expanding it to be included at other schools. Could you explain why the Russian government would want to have this spread if it is all just a Soros plot?

    «Уже достаточно длительное время на разных уровнях, начиная с Министерства образования РФ, идет разговор о необходимости включения курса «Права человека» в той или иной форме в образовательный процесс как в высших, так и в общеобразовательных школах. При этом очевидным является тот факт, что правозащитное образование – это не только и не столько багаж теоретических знаний, сколько формирование системы гуманистических ценностей и убеждений. Именно таким образованием и просвещением многие годы занимаются различные некоммерческие организации (НКО), совмещающие теоретические основы с повседневной практической деятельностью», – комментирует необходимость такой работы Мария Гордеева, координатор образовательных программ международного Молодежного Правозащитного Движения.


    Comment by luke — May 28, 2009 @ 1:08 am

  10. You could always just admit that you made a mistake by writing about an educational system and course offerings that you misjudged.

    Comment by luke — May 28, 2009 @ 7:17 pm

  11. I am sorry, Luke. I really can’t take you seriously. You don’t show the slightest familiarity with George Soros’s NGO’s, especially their role in Georgia, Yugoslavia, Ukraine and other countries where they push for free market “solutions” that have left people in dire poverty. I asked you to read what I wrote about Soros’s role in Hungary and you evaded me completely, only to pollute this blog with thousands of Russian words that nobody but a Russian or somebody who reads the language can understand. I have no idea whether you are some fan of the capitalist system irked by my taking exception to that system, or a confused left-liberal who really doesn’t understand what Soros means by “human rights”, a term that you have an uncritical understanding of. The one thing I got out of Bard College in the early 60s was an ability to think critically. Too bad that young Bardians today, and yourself apparently, have not been trained in that fashion.

    Comment by louisproyect — May 28, 2009 @ 7:27 pm

  12. OK, I must say that this is pretty wacky stuff. Leon Botstein may be a dictator and associate with shady financiers (part of every college presidents resume) , but Bard is a unique and admirable institution, largely due to his efforts. Having heard him conduct his American Symphony Orchestra on many occasions, I vociferously denounce your characterization of his conducting as “mediocre”.

    Comment by mike ferrell — May 29, 2009 @ 5:02 pm

  13. Chicago Sun-Times, November 13, 2008
    Conductor Botstein proves he knows the score, but little more

    Whatever else one thinks of the educator, writer, and orchestra conductor Leon Botstein, there can be no disagreement that he is tireless.

    A University of Chicago alum, he became president of a small college in 1970 at age 23 and had taken the same job with Bard College up the Hudson River from New York City in 1975 at 29. Building that school up since then, complete with celebrity faculty members and starchitect-designed buildings, meant the polymath Botstein didn’t have a chance to pull all the pieces together for his Ph.D. thesis in history (from Harvard) until 1985.

    Since then, Botstein has launched the well-respected and interdisciplinary Bard Music Festival — Sergei Prokofiev was the subject this year; its 20th edition next summer will focus on Richard Wagner — and taken the helm of not one but two financially struggling orchestras: the American Symphony in Manhattan in 1992 and the Jerusalem Symphony in 2003. He pulled off these feats with a combination of fund-raising savvy and an educator’s sense of building thematic programs that, on paper at least, are unusual and often enlightening.

    There’s only one problem here. Botstein is not a conductor.

    Yes, he stands in front of his orchestras and leads them through rehearsals. Yes, he was an amateur violinist. Yes, as a college president he hired teachers to drill him on baton technique.

    But the results one has heard over the years. and in the Jerusalem Symphony Orchestra’s Chicago debut at the Harris Theater in Millennium Park on Tuesday night, are no different from what one would hear from any other tireless person from any other field who had the financial backers to keep him on a podium for years going through the moves of being an artist.

    All three composers on Tuesday’s program, one of two the Jerusalem Symphony is playing on a 16-city U.S. tour, were Jews who at one point or another wrote for Hollywood. Refugees Ernst Toch and Miklós Rózsa (above) had successful careers scoring films that left them with little time for their concert compositions. The output of Aaron Copland, a son of European immigrants, was in reverse proportions.

    Toch and Schoenberg Although the Vienna-born Toch (left, at far right, in a remarkable 1937 photo in Santa Monica with Otto Klemperer, Prinz Hubertus zu Loewenstein, and Arnold Schoenberg) won a 1956 Pulitzer Prize for his Third Symphony, he remains best known for his 1930/1950 spoken-word-game Geographical Fugue. The program-opening Big Ben Variation Fantasy of 1934 is a work of purely biographical interest, if that, and was played listlessly.

    The evening’s hero was the remarkable American fiddler Robert McDuffie in Rózsa’s Violin Concerto, written for Heifetz in 1953-54. A specialist in obscure works himself, McDuffie plays with magnetic energy and seeming effortlessness, making a strong case for this Romantic-tinged, perpetual-motion work. Unusually for him, McDuffie lost his way at two different points and, as he was carrying the performance, this caused some uncomfortable musical moments.

    One day, Chicago will hear a top-flight performance of Copland’s famed 1944-46 Third Symphony complete with its extensive development of the composer’s Fanfare for the Common Man. I have heard more poor performances of this piece than I’d care to remember, but never one so leaden and deadly as Tuesday’s. With the conductor’s head buried in the score, his arms offering wayward cues and workmanlike tempos, one wondered if it was worth giving these musicians employment for such indifferent musicmaking.

    Comment by louisproyect — May 29, 2009 @ 7:03 pm

  14. […] in an exchange between himself and the Unrepentant Marxist Louis Proyect. It was triggered by this long, meandering post about Proyect’s old college. The passage Luke took exception to was this: [Bard College […]

    Pingback by Russian universities: hotbeds of neo-imperialism « Max Dunbar — May 30, 2009 @ 12:17 pm

  15. […] in an exchange between himself and the Unrepentant Marxist Louis Proyect. It was triggered by this long, meandering post about Proyect’s old college. The passage Luke took exception to was this: [Bard College […]

    Pingback by Russian universities: hotbeds of neo-imperialism « Shiraz Socialist — May 30, 2009 @ 12:22 pm

  16. Louis,

    I don’t want to get involved in your odd dialogue with Luke. I should point out two things, however:

    1) Smolny College is not located “next door” to the Smolny Institute, the headquarters of the Bolsheviks during the October Revolution. In fact, it’s several kilometers away. So much for the “counter-revolutionary” symbolism.

    2) Dmitry Dubrovsky, a nodding acquaintance of mine for several years, has not to my knowledge been “associated” with any so-called color revolutions. Instead, he studies skinhead and other far-right groups in Russia. If I’m not mistaken, he has also been involved with human rights training programs for law enforcement officers.

    Dmitry is a student of the ethnologist Nikolai Girenko, who was assassinated in 2004. Since Girenko had testified as an expert witness for the prosecution in several hate crime trials, and a “death sentence” had been pronounced on him a week before his murder by a group calling itself “Russian Republic,” it is assumed that the person or persons who shot him with a rifle through the closed door of his flat were “associated” with neo-Nazi groups.

    The text of the Russian Republic’s “Sentence No. 1” is, mysteriously, still viewable on the Web:


    Dubrovsky himself was attacked by assailants unknown in November 2006. Happily, he was able to wrest himself free and avoid serious injury, although his attackers got in a few blows to his head and managed to inform him of their motives. One of them whispered into his ear, “Dubrovsky, you want to sell Russia to the Jews.”

    Here is a report (in Russian) about the assault on the website of the Sova Center, another nest of suspicious “human rights activists”:


    Given the more or less all-out war under way here in Russia against “human rights activists,” union activists, leftists, migrant workers, emo fans, and anyone who just looks or talks funny, I would suggest you get your facts straight before coming down, rhetorically at least, on the side of their enemies. This “Soros (read: the Jews) destroyed Russia” business is straight from their script. The anti-Semitic/anti-“Western” brush is used to tar just about anyone who protests anything here nowadays, from LGBT activists in Petersburg (whose film festival was shut down by the police this past winter) to the folks in Vladivostok protesting the proposed introduction of high tariffs on imported (Japanese) cars.

    Comment by Thomas Campbell — May 31, 2009 @ 5:12 pm

  17. Thomas Campbell: This “Soros (read: the Jews) destroyed Russia” business is straight from their script.

    I guess I have been reading too much anti-Semitic and fascist literature on my way to work in the morning. Just yesterday I had to restrain myself from pounding a Hasidic Jew on the subway over the head with my copy of Ezra Pound’s book on money. I must try to put more time into less malevolent pursuits. Oh, and thanks for the links to the Russian language websites. After I take a few Russian language courses at Columbia, I might get back to what Luke posted and what you recommended. Unless of course the material was not really meant for me to read.

    Comment by louisproyect — May 31, 2009 @ 6:17 pm

  18. I apologize for the links to the Russian-language sources. I should have taken the time to find some English-language texts, which I’ve done now. You’ll find them below.

    My point, however, was that you mischaracterized Dmitry Dubrovsky as being associated with “color” revolutions, which is simply NOT the case. By doing so you unwittingly reproduced the rhetoric both of the Putin regime and the extreme right here. For them, anyone who talks about “human rights” is an “oranzhist” (advocate of an “orange” revolution in Russia) and thus deserving of, at the mildest, extreme scrutiny on the part of the police; at the worst, physical elimination. In the Putinist version of this spiel, all “oranzhisty” are funded by “the west”; in the neo-Nazi version, it’s the Jews (and “the west”), of course, who are behind “the genocide of the Russian people.”

    I have no beef with your ongoing campaign against Bard, Botstein, and Soros — more power to you! And there might even be something to your argument that institutions like Smolny are efforts at “colonization.” If, however, like me you’re familiar with what actually goes on at Smolny or its “sister” institution, the European University at Saint Petersburg, you’d realize that these places are anything but hotbeds of dissent, insurrection, and subversion. At best, they’re reservations for professors who’ve been educated in European and American grad schools and want to give their Russian students something similar.

    Perhaps this is misguided; perhaps these people should devote themselves to a “march through the (existing, native) institutions” instead. I think they are deterred from doing this because when it comes to, especially, the social sciences, many of these existing institutions are, at best, extraordinarily corrupt diploma mills. In the worst case — for example, the sociology department at Moscow State University — this corruption is combined with a strong right-wing ideological bent. The department’s dean, Vladimir Dobrenkov, has among other “innovations” conferred official academic status on the Russian neo-fascist Alexander Dugin by creating a special “Center for Conservative Studies” for him in the department. Dobrenkov also managed to squash a spirited campaign by a group of students known as the OD Group, who called on the university to reform the department. Among their contentions was that a required sociology textbook, authored by Dobrenkov, was the product of plagiarism. They even got an independent expert commission to verify this charge, but that fact and all their other efforts were to no avail:

    Click to access Alexei_Kouprianov.pdf

    Given that Dobrenkov’s brand of petty tyranny + corruption + (scholarly) incompetence + proto-fascism (the reproduction of Putin’s “power vertical” at a lower level) is fairly widespread in the Russian higher education system, is it any wonder that some scholars end up at places like Smolny? What would you do in their place?


    From Russia With Hate
    By YURI ZARAKHOVICH | ST. PETERSBURG Sunday, Aug. 01, 2004

    “Russkaya Respublika”: We Sentenced Nikolai Girenko To Death

    We can also mention an attack against Valentina Uzunova, staff member of the Kunstkamera (museum of curiosities) in St. Petersburg and a well-known expert in hate propaganda cases. All circumstances of the assault suggest that the perpetrators sought to cause maximum public resonance. They attacked V. Uzunova on 19 June outside the home of her late colleague Nikolay Girenko killed by neo-Nazi in 2004. On the next day, Uzunova was expected to testify in a trial against Vladislav Nikolsky who was charged with anti-Semitic propaganda; her notes and documents she had planned to use in her testimony were in her bag stolen by the attackers. It was not the first attack against Nikolay Girenko’s colleagues – in November 2006, Dmitry Dubrovsky, another well-known expert, was assaulted.

    Comment by Thomas Campbell — June 1, 2009 @ 7:33 am

  19. “…there might even be something to your argument that institutions like Smolny are efforts at “colonization”

    Dear Thomas Campell, what exactly is that “something”?
    All Americans, except a few like Louis, usually miss the large picture.
    The Westerners want to grab Russia’s natural wealth.
    Maybe the Russian character is considered brutal in its reactions by the “sensitive” colonizers but how many else can they endure?

    Five major invasions and catastrophes:
    Crimaean War.
    2 times Germans.
    The 1919 invasion by combined western forces (my grandgrandfather was in the Greek expenditionary force, Odessa)
    A revolution (funded by the German Caiser) and a civil war.

    And a “peaceful” invasion by the jew scamp (hondorkovski, berezovski, abramovitch and co) during the 90ties.
    BTW, tell me how does this always happen?
    Whenever there comes predatoty exploitation how only jews rush and succeed in catching the opportunities for making extreme rich?
    Why there are not Norwegians, Hungarians, Spaniards, Egyptians, Brazilians etc?

    Russia was on the knees several times.
    Would any other country endure these, as Russia?
    Would America ?

    Now, Russia faces a new catastrophe, demographic problem due to violent transition to capitalism, caused by Soros and Harvard boys advice to Boozer Yeltsin, put into practice by abramovitch and co.
    In 1990 USSR pop. was 230 mil. and USA pop. 250 mil.
    Today USA are 305 mil. and Russia are 140 mil. and shrinking. Men are alcoolics, women turn prostitutes abroad.
    Average life expectancy for men is 58 yrs, from 72 in 1990 !
    They are in danger, as nation.
    Putin is not sure that will turn it the other way round. As he said : the dissolution of the USSR was the the 20th Century’s greatest geopolitic crime.

    And, finally, another invasion from the West : orange revolutions.
    Funded by Soros and Co.

    For God’s sake.

    Do you want to turn the other cheek?

    Comment by Elias Gr — June 5, 2009 @ 11:38 pm

  20. Sorry : Do you want them to turn the other cheek?

    Comment by Elias Gr — June 5, 2009 @ 11:57 pm

  21. Whenever there comes predatoty exploitation how only jews rush and succeed in catching the opportunities for making extreme rich?

    Elias, I am a Jew so were many of the leading Bolsheviks. Clean up your act.

    Comment by louisproyect — June 6, 2009 @ 12:58 am

  22. “As N.Y.’s most active real estate developer in the 1990s, he is best known for being the owner of the New Jersey Nets basketball team that he had intended to bring to Brooklyn as part of an ambitious real estate project based in the Atlantic Yards development targeted for the Prospect Heights and Park Slope neighborhoods. The granola-eating and Obama-voting residents there had about as much use for Ratner’s white elephant as they would for a nuclear power plant so it switched locations eventually to downtown Brooklyn.”

    Not going to wade in on any of the rest, but there is a factual error here, Louis.

    There was no location switch, nor has one ever been entertained, or even suggested. Ratner literature certainly started referring to the site as existing in “Downtown Brooklyn”, rather than Prospects Hts. once he became more aware of public reaction.

    In reality, the huge site borders Prospect Hts, Park Slope, Ft. Greene, and Downtown Brooklyn. The “Downtown Brooklyn” nomenclature was chosen because it fits better with the Ratner narrative of redeveloping an “economically blighted neighborhood”. Comparatively speaking (at least in part due to Ratner’s less then stellar-to-failed MetroTech and Atlantic Center developments) Downtown is, compared to the other neighborhoods, less successful.

    The actual site, has not been moved at all. There have been planning changes, I’ll grant, for example the office space promised to provide permanent jobs is gone. The affordable housing component has been shrunk, the public park included has been scrapped, and even the arguable benefit of a Gehry-designed arena has now bee mooted. Frank has been fired, and the new design looks like it was cribbed from a hanger on a Air Force base in Kansas.

    Comment by Paul_Brooklyn — June 8, 2009 @ 11:29 pm

  23. I’m happy to stand corrected.

    Comment by louisproyect — June 8, 2009 @ 11:34 pm

  24. I should also add, the amount of state funding required by Mr. Ratner to redevelop this “blighted” area of Brooklyn has not been reduced in any way corresponding to the reduction in public “benefits” provided.

    Comment by Paul_Brooklyn — June 9, 2009 @ 12:04 am

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