Louis Proyect: The Unrepentant Marxist

February 19, 2016

Love Me

Filed under: Film — louisproyect @ 11:36 pm

Maybe my affection for the film “Love Me” flows from of my marriage to a Turk and the sympathy I feel for the Ukrainian people maligned by the conspiracy-minded Putinite left but this remarkable one-night stand love story between a Turkish man and a Ukrainian woman is by far the best narrative film I have seen in 2016. If  my film reviews have resonated with you over the years, this should be recommendation enough but let me now proceed to fill in the details. Unfortunately there is no trailer with English subtitles but this should give you a feel for it.

Made in 2013 by a husband and wife directing team that happens to be a Turkish man and a Ukrainian woman named Mehmet Bahadir Er and Maryna Gorbach, it is both a love story and a penetrating social analysis of today’s Ukraine and Turkey with all their foibles. As is often the case, such a film can tell you more than a thousand pages of social science hot off the Verso or Historical Materialism press. If you want your sociology presented as if a Louis CK routine, this is just the film for you.

I say Louis CK deliberately since two years ago his FX show featured a romance between him and a female neighbor visiting from Hungary who did not speak a word of English. Love conquered all? Well, not really. This is the dark world of Louis CK and for that matter the Gorbatch/Bahadir film.

In the opening scene, we meet Cemal (Ushan Çakir) who is the guest of honor in an engagement party on a boat in the waters near Istanbul to celebrate an arranged marriage with a woman his mother has found for him. With a forlorn look on his face indicating that his heart is not in an arranged marriage, a friend tells him that he looks more like he is at his circumcision than an engagement party.

Wearing a lascivious grin, Cemal’s uncle tells him that he has a big surprise for him. Sounding as if he has seen one two many Jude Apatow films, the uncle has organized a bachelor party in Ukraine. He, his cronies, and Cemal will spend a weekend there in what amounts to a sex tour. As he sits on the bus headed north looking even more glum than at the engagement party, Cemal is obviously accompanying his uncle out of respect—but not for Ukrainian women.

The tour guide on the bus preps them for the weekend by amusing them with a story about how Ukraine ended up with all the beautiful women. Once upon a time there was a psychopathic Viking king who hated ugly woman. On his way south, he stormed into Ukraine. Fearing him, all the ugly women jumped into the Black Sea and swam to Turkey. The beautiful ones remained in Ukraine.

Hearing this story made all the men on the bus crack up except for Cemal who looked more dejected than ever. We don’t know much about him at this point but we might assume that he is not comfortable with the rampant sexism that pervades Turkish society.

The film now cuts to Sasha (Viktoria Spesivtseva), a beautiful woman who is about to have her pubic hair removed at a salon. Although she tells the woman about to apply the treatment that it is to please her husband, we eventually learn that she is merely a woman kept by a Russian oligarch married to another woman. Later that night when she calls him on her IPhone, he tells her to call back because he is with his wife.

One slap in the face from the oligarch too many persuades Sasha to go out and get laid. She puts on her sexiest dress and goes to the disco cum brothel where Cemal’s entourage has begun partying. It is understood that the women hanging out there are like those in the classic Cole Porter song:

Love for sale
Appetizing young love for sale
Love that`s fresh and still unspoiled
Love that`s only slightly soiled

Love for sale
Who will buy?
Who would like to sample my supply?
Who`s prepared to pay the price
For a trip to paradise?

After Sasha tells the bartender that she is looking for a foreigner, he nods at Cemal whose sense of propriety and respect for women might have made him wary of a one-night stand but as the crude joke told by the tour guide might indicate, the beautiful women are in Ukraine and Sasha most of all.

Once back in Sasha’s luxurious apartment, obviously paid for by the oligarch, she directs him to take a shower sounding more like a physician about to give someone an examination rather than a partner in a shared intimacy. It is clear that at this point, Cemal means nothing to her except a cheap fuck. Like many newer films, this one has the audacity to demonstrate that women can be dominant if not predatory.

With ambivalence about the tryst being trumped by desire, Cemal prepares himself for sex. But just before the couple gets it on, Sasha’s mother rings the buzzer. Once inside, she tells her mother that granny has wandered off from the hospital where she is an Alzheimer’s patient. Since this has happened before, they know where to look—inside Kiev’s subway stations. As Cemal and Sasha go off in search of the grandmother, they begin to see each other as more than a quick fuck. With his willingness to become a helpmate rather than a sex object, she sees him in a different light than other Turkish men who are well-known in the city as predatory creeps.

Considering that there is almost no dialog to speak of between the lead actors, it is amazing how much emotion can be conveyed through their facial expressions and their body language. In a way, it is another Ukrainian film breakthrough like “The Tribe” that was cast entirely by deaf mutes in Kiev. Films like this prove that silent films are still worth watching, just as long as they aren’t empty genre imitations like “The Artist”.

If the Turks come to Kiev one rung up on the economic ladder, Sasha’s mother still considers them beneath her. She refers to Cemal as a “wog” and questions her daughter’s judgment. She also is worried about Sasha’s future since she is reaching the point when marriage is out of the question.

The relations between Turks and people from the former Soviet Union is charged with national and class contradictions. For many Ukrainians, there is nostalgia for the way things were including the disco where Sasha and Cemal meet. It was once a theater and like many places in the post-Soviet era, it has become degraded by the cash nexus with everything having a price including a woman’s body.

Given the tensions between Turkey and the former USSR today, the sex tourism business might be a thing of the past except for Ukraine of course. It is as bitter a rival of the Kremlin as Turkey. Given the complex social and economic connections between the two countries, the sex tours will likely remain as a source of foreign currency at the same time it drains the sense of national pride.

Suffice it to say that Sasha and Cemal’s affection and respect for each other develops as the story unfolds. With little interest in making a typical Hollywood date movie confection, the directors stick to the realities that such people would face in real life. This is to their credit.

Not very long ago, Ukrainians formed vigilante bands to deal with sex tourists:

Hurriyet reported:

An anti-prostitution group in Ukraine has attacked a Turkish citizen who had called for a prostitute by phone.

 The group, known as Defacto, went and attacked the man at his address after he called a fake phone number for prostitutes that had been left by the group in a public place.

 Defacto, which fights against sex tourism in Ukraine, forced the unidentified Turkish man to wander around streets in Kyiv in a bathrobe with a placard saying “Stop Sex Tourism” on it.

Given the miserable economic conditions that continue under Poreshenko, it is likely that such vigilantes will have their work cut out for them as desperate women do anything to survive. The “world’s oldest profession” was always something sustained by hunger and desperation. Until Ukraine has a genuine revolution that rids the country of oligarchs wrapped in either the Ukrainian or Russian flag, that is likely to continue.

When I was doing some research on the film, I discovered that there was another one with the same name that also dealt with sexual commodification in Ukraine, this time a documentary made a year later about “mail order bride” tours organized by an outfit called “A Foreign Affair”, whose website name reverberated in the film’s title: http://www.loveme.com/.

For many men, computer dating or the traditional dating done at singles bars does not seem to work (as well it wouldn’t). So the founder of this business, a guy named John Adams who married a Russian woman named Tanya under similar auspices, had the brainstorm to create a service that does not differ qualitatively from Turkish sex tourism. It connects men in places like the USA and Australia (the homeland of some of the characters featured in the documentary) to Ukrainian women. The men are desperate for love and the woman are desperate for economic security. Marriage to a man they often cannot possibly love (the film will demonstrate the hard choices imposed on the women) is the only escape route from a country sinking into the abyss all about them.

The Communist Manifesto was abundantly clear about the “sacred” bonds:

On what foundation is the present family, the bourgeois family, based? On capital, on private gain. In its completely developed form, this family exists only among the bourgeoisie. But this state of things finds its complement in the practical absence of the family among the proletarians, and in public prostitution.

As I watched the documentary cringing about 75 percent of the time, I was reminded of how capitalism fails so many people who through no fault of their own cannot even find a way to put together even a “bourgeois marriage”. The men on the tour are either born “losers”, too busy to make the dating scene or simply lack the social networks to meet the opposite sex. Capitalism has little interest in whether you can find love. It is only interested in how your labor power can be used to produce commodities. The proliferation of computer dating sites geared to Christians or even Bernie Sanders supporters for that matter is a sign that the social system is dysfunctional.

One hundred years ago, you lived in a small town and knew everybody. Or, if you moved to the city you would likely belong to a church or a social club where introductions would be made. In our brave new world of high rises and 50-hour work weeks, it is a miracle that anybody can find love. When I see people in my own building never in the company of another human being and cuddling or cooing to their dog in the elevator, I feel for them. I only hoped for socialism. They hoped for a happy marriage. Who feels the keener disappointment? A good question.

Nearly 20 years ago I posted my tenth film review (I am up to 931 at this point—I drink champagne when I hit 1000) for a documentary called “Unmade Beds”. Unlike the two above that can been on Amazon streaming, this one is likely unavailable except maybe as a DVD from a research library. If you can get your hands on it, it will be a powerful experience.

I am posting my review since it is so close in spirit to the films considered above. I should add that although the Turkish-Ukrainian film is available on Amazon, I strongly urge you to take a look at the Film Movement website that sent it to me as a screener. Film Movement is one of those alternatives to Netflix I wrote about on CounterPunch and well worth your time: http://www.filmmovement.com/

Unmade Beds

“Unmade Beds” is a riveting portrait of two men and two women living in the greater New York area who rely on personal ads in order to meet the opposite sex. Their tales of woe are delivered with a self-deprecating and mordant wit that make for an grimly entertaining documentary.

The first person we meet is a Jersey City Italian-American woman in her forties who is up-front about her purposes. She makes $2000 a month, but her expenses come to $3000. So she is not interested in romance, but in balancing her checkbook. She tells one man that he will have to pay her $100 for their date, even if there is no sex involved. The money is supposed to pay just for her time and trouble. She is totally without illusions. She says that she can get “dick” whenever she wants. Men find her sexy, even though she is starting to worry about some bulges appearing around her midsection. “Where did that come from,” she tells the camera as she eyes herself in the mirror in a skimpy bra and panties, while grabbing a fold of her flesh in her fingers. “I woke up one morning and it was just there.” She is proud of her ability to attract men, but has no use for men who can’t deliver some cash. Younger men have been following her around lately because they want to learn about sex and love from an older and wiser woman. She blows them off because there is nothing in it for her. If they want an education, let them pay her tuition.

We then meet another Italian-American, a 40 year old man who lives in a very traditional ethnic neighborhood in one of the outer boroughs where it is considered abnormal to be a “bachelor.” He spits the word out and tells us how much he hates it. He is cursed to be a mere 5’4″ tall and rails against all the baby-boomer women who demand that their men be taller than them. He describes the agony he has to go through when he has to confess his height to a woman while setting up their first date. He is an only child and visits to his parents in Florida have become hellish as they broach the subject of his bachelorhood and their need for grandchildren one more time. He resolves to visit them only at Christmas time in the future. While in a neighborhood deli, he overhears an old woman referring to him in Italian as a “fag” because he is unmarried. Knowing Italian, he is offended and considers defending himself. He changes his mind at the last minute because it is not socially acceptable to yell profanities at an 80 year old woman. As a last resort, he goes to a dating counselor. He looks into the camera and wonders why he is spending his hard-earned money on learning about life. You shouldn’t have to pay for that, he complains.

The next character we meet is a 28 year old woman who has moved to NYC from the Midwest. She is 220 pounds and states that fact openly in her ads. She is a professional woman with conventional attitudes who seems fairly oblivious about her appearance. If anything, she is overly critical about the appearance of her dates. One man was balding and at least 225 pounds, she huffs. Like most Manhattanites, she considers a mate to be part of making it. It is a sign of success. Her big fear is that she only has two years to go until she is thirty, when her chances will be over. Notwithstanding her weight, she has a rather active social life constructed through the personal ads. Her last affair was with a cab-driver who was into S&M. She laughs about their first sexual experience. She brought him back to her apartment, where he opened an overnight case filled with whips, handcuffs, leather masks and a French maid’s uniform. After agreeing to be the dominant one, she discovers that she sort of enjoyed the sex although it wasn’t exactly her cup of tea. She is crushed after he leaves her. “Can you imagine being dumped by a submissive,” she tells the camera.

The final character is a man in his fifties. He is a classic case of arrested development. His attitudes toward women haven’t changed since the 1960s and 70s when he only went out with beautiful women, like belly dancers and Playboy waitresses. He shows photos of himself and some of these women. He is dressed in clothing straight out of “Saturday Night Fever.” He doesn’t seem to realize that life has moved on and that he has gotten older. He escorts the camera crew through his apartment which is furnished in a garishly “erotic” manner with dim lighting and nude sculptures. “My apartment spells sex. If a woman doesn’t like the looks of it, she can take off.” The only problem is that he doesn’t seem to realize that he, like the furnishings, has a dated and seedy quality. Sometimes the brute realities sink in on him, such as the time he is charged for a senior citizen’s admission at a movie theater. “Can you imagine that? She thought I was 65?” Anybody looking at his weathered appearance will of course understand the ticket seller’s mistake. The only thing that makes this character at all sympathetic is that he describes his personal ads hell with a masochistic relish. He describes taking a woman out to a fancy restaurant on their initial date where the bill came to $190. She was a judge and spent the entire dinner telling him why she wouldn’t see him again. She moved in elite social circles and he wouldn’t be appropriate for her. What would you expect from a judge, he comments bitterly.

I answered a personal ad myself once. The woman who had placed it was Kerri Jacobs, a high-profile journalist who wrote for Metropolitan magazine on architecture. She has moved on to New York Magazine, where she is a regular columnist on the same topic. New York Magazine is one of the prime locations for personal ads, especially for conventional New Yorkers. She had placed her ad in the New York Review of Books, a locale for the more intellectually pretentious. Since she was an extremely good-looking young woman, I couldn’t exactly figure out why she had placed an ad. After a few moments, I figured it out completely. Nobody was good enough for her. The ads were supposed to help weed out “losers,” as she put it. I didn’t even want to find out if I was a winner and never called her back.

What dates like these remind me of is job interviews. Everything is riding on your initial appearance. Not only do you have to look right, you also have to find the words that the interviewer wants to hear. I had to put up with this nonsense when I worked on Wall Street. Why would I or any sensitive person have to put up with it in affairs of the heart? One of the reasons that Columbia University was such a deliverance for me was that I would no longer have to put up with the stupid questions of people in the Personnel Office. “Why do you think Paine-Webber and you are suitable for each other?” “I don’t know. The thought of working at another one of these Wall Street dumps makes me sick to my stomach. I just need the money to pay for my rent, scholarly Marxist books and African music CD’s.”

The unstated, and therefore more powerful, message of this movie is that the cash nexus distorts everything. Everything in capitalist society, including people and nature, are seen from the point of view of their exchange value. This colors everything. The way we speak reflects this alienated existence. We speak of the “investment” we have in an intimate relationship. We are worried whether our “assets” are to be found in our appearance, like Richard Gere’s, or in our intelligence or wit, like Woody Allen’s (well, from 25 years ago anyhow).

Director Nicholas Barker, who hails from England, allows the stories of the four subjects to speak for themselves, but the points they all make cry out for a different way of human beings relating to each other. There are some very effective cinematic means he uses to enhance this theme. In an early scene in the film, we see an Edward Hopper poster on somebody’s living-room wall. Hopper is the poet laureate of urban loneliness. His figures are always depicted in isolation from one another. Barker cuts between this Hopper poster and shots of real New Yorkers sitting at luncheon counters or staring out their windows. New York never looked more Hopper-esque than it does in this film.

The film score is also very effective. He alternates between Charlie Mingus big band sounds, which usually accompany one of his characters on their way in a taxi cab to a date, and minimalist electronic music when they sit home alone after the disappointing evening.

There is an epidemic of loneliness in America. The Communist Manifesto hails the process of urbanization that destroys traditional societies. We are accustomed to grieving the loss of peasant villages as this takes place. Another loss that people have not been able to connect to the ravages of capitalism is the breakdown of our social lives. The vast impersonal cities where corporations are located serve the interests of the employer, but make no provision for the social life of the working people. They drift from bar to health clubs in search of the significant other. They blame themselves when they can’t make the right connection. Some day all these poor souls will wake up to the reality that capitalism is the cause of their loneliness and not their height, weight or income.


  1. Sorry to say but your sexual conservativism and emphasis on “national pride” makes you sound like a Maoist or Tea Party member.

    Comment by Forty five pound — February 20, 2016 @ 1:16 am

  2. What kind of sectarian troll idiot are you? Are you trying to say that it is a good thing that Ukrainian women are forced to sell themselves sexually. Who the fuck are you. Why is it every troll uses a tag like ‘forty five pound”? Afraid to use your own name so that everybody will know that you are a big dummy?

    Comment by louisproyect — February 20, 2016 @ 1:26 am

  3. Sex work is work. As Marx said the difference between the real precise prostitution of a sex worker and the general prostitution of the worker is a matter of perception.

    Like Marx I’m out to abolish work as a commodity and like I’m out to abolish countries.

    How about you?

    Comment by Forty five pound — February 20, 2016 @ 3:21 am

  4. So what in fuck’s name made you think that I didn’t consider prostitution work? Or do you just like to run off your mouth?

    Comment by louisproyect — February 20, 2016 @ 12:44 pm

  5. I’m not sure why you’re cursing me but it seemed obvious from your review the you’re specifically singling out sex work as something that needs to be eliminated.

    Under capitalism (including the Stalinist and Maoist regimes) any attempts to eliminate prostitution particularly have come down on the backs of sex workers – – driving them underground, arresting them, and in places like Cuba and Vietnam “reeducating” them.

    Forgive me if I jumped to any unfounded conclusions, but the history of the left conlmbined with your obvious revulsion over man purchasing sex in Ukraine (calling it a “national insult” and uncritically referring to conservative, xenophobic, nationalist anti-sex vigilantes) lead me to believe you oppose sex work in particular and support nationalism.

    Comment by Forty five pound — February 20, 2016 @ 6:28 pm

  6. I said nothing about sex work except that it is degrading. Isn’t that obvious?

    Comment by louisproyect — February 20, 2016 @ 7:04 pm

  7. No it isn’t. At least not to me and for the reasons mentioned.

    Marx went out of his way to point out that all work is prostitution under capitalism

    All work is degrading. Why single out sex work?

    Comment by Forty five pound — February 20, 2016 @ 9:34 pm

  8. I am suspicious of some Marxist critiques of sex work, in particular I don’t see a lot of criticism of the customer side- that part seems under-theorized,- yes, sex work is work, but are the customers bosses in the sense capitalists are? I understand the rush to solidarity with the workers but don’t see how it all fits in a Marxian framework; the customer seems more like a dupe or buffoon than a capital accumulating entity.

    Comment by kimchinam58 — February 20, 2016 @ 9:38 pm

  9. “Marx went out of his way to point out that all work is prostitution under capitalism.”

    Yeah, two sentences in the Economic and Philosophic Manuscripts of 1844, long before he developed his full analysis of capitalist society. And that’s it. If that means “he went out of his way”, be my guest. I hear bullshit every day of the week from trolls so I am used to it.

    Whatever Marx wrote, the general condition of women working as prostitutes is not like Julia Roberts in “Pretty Woman”. They face beatings from pimps and by the nature of the job a failure to live a life of dignity. If a woman was given a choice between “bourgeois marriage” and walking the streets having sex with 25 different men a day, they’d choose bourgeois marriage. I am for the decriminalization of prostitution but I am also for socialism which will allow the full development of every human being. I made a perfectly reasonable comment in my review that the collapse of the USSR has been a disaster for women. The number one source of women in the European sex trade is the shattered societies of Russia and Eastern Europe.

    In terms of what a revolutionary woman said about prostitution, I’ll go with Alexandra Kollontai.

    Our workers’ republic has so far passed no laws directed at the elimination of prostitution, and has not even issued a clear and scientific formulation of the view that prostitution is something that injures the collective. We know that prostitution is an evil, we even acknowledge that at the moment, in this transitional period with its many problems, prostitution has become extremely widespread. But we have brushed the issue aside, we have been silent about it. Partly this is because of the hypocritical attitudes we have inherited from the bourgeoisie, and partly it is because of our reluctance to consider and come to terms with the harm which the widespread mass scale of prostitution does to the work collective. And our lack of enthusiasm in the struggle against prostitution has been reflected in our legislation.


    Comment by louisproyect — February 20, 2016 @ 11:10 pm

  10. Weeks into her ordeal, Marinela relented. Nejloveanu presented her with a lurid set of garish underwear and she was taken to a nearby brothel masquerading as a sauna. She could not speak a word of English. When the first “client” booked her she wanted to say “no” but could not. She wanted to explain her predicament, tell the man that she was trafficked. Instead she cried, hoping that the man would take pity on her. He did not. None of them did.

    On her first day she made £300, enough to support her family in Romania for six weeks, but was forced to surrender every penny. “After that I was making £400, £500. After a month I was making £500 a day, but if I wanted a cigarette or bar of chocolate I had to ask.”

    Daily shifts lasted 12 hours, 10pm to 10am, seven days a week. Sometimes she would be obliged to have sex 12 times with different men. She says it was normal for her trafficked peers to have sex with 10 men a day.

    Punters paid £40 a session, of which half went to Nejloveanu and half to the sauna or massage parlour where she was imprisoned. Most of the men were white or Asian, a number were repeat clients, but most were strangers. Some were drunk, a few violent.

    “There was one guy and I didn’t want to do what he asked me. So he beat me up because he was drunk, pulled my hair and slapped me like this.” She pretends to wallop the side of her face so hard her head jerks back and her tongue lolls out. “But they just take the violent men outside. Nothing ever happens to them even if I am really hurt.”

    She said the trauma of having to undress for often stinking men she detested never went away. “Even if they stink, and have come straight from work, you have to sleep with them – it was so horrible. Can you imagine how I was feeling taking my clothes off, exposing the horrible underwear that Marius had bought? I was supposed to be in high school, not in England sleeping with men and making money for criminals.”

    Those who ran the saunas were instructed not to let Marinela go outside, often for days at a time. She made one escape bid. That precipitated one of her most brutal beatings by Nejloveanu: “I got punched, a knife in my head, my hair was pulled until it came out.”

    Marinela soon picked up enough English to decipher the ease with which Britain’s covert sex industry operates. Nejloveanu’s girlfriend would simply plough through the local papers’ classified section and ring up massage parlours and saunas asking if they required girls. “She was ringing to see if they had any ‘jobs’ there. Are there any jobs available? Jobs meant brothels.” Marinela, along with the two other Romanian girls, was transferred around the West Midlands, to places such as Lisa’s Sauna in east Birmingham, where “a lot of girls worked,” according to Marinela, and which remains open.

    As the months passed, two more trafficked Romanian girls arrived in Edgbaston. Both had severe mental problems and one, aged 23, was later found to have a mental age of 10. The pair made little money for their pimps and one was quickly sold off.

    full: http://www.theguardian.com/uk/2011/feb/06/sex-traffick-romania-britain

    Comment by louisproyect — February 21, 2016 @ 12:30 am

  11. “yes, sex work is work, but are the customers bosses in the sense capitalists are?

    Again most “marxists” would be better served by reading Marx than asking others to interpret. This sort of question was answered 100+ years ago.

    Customers of sex workers are not bosses, they’re customers– in the same way that people who pay a mechanic to fix their car aren’t bosses but customers. Same if you pay a barber to cut your hair.

    Sex work is work. There’s nothing to differentiate it from other work once you dispose of Victorian era concepts of sex and women as victims and property.

    Comment by Forty five pound — February 21, 2016 @ 1:59 pm

  12. There’s nothing to differentiate it from other work once you dispose of Victorian era concepts of sex and women as victims and property.

    Yeah, well, that’s not what Alexandra Kollontai wrote. Who knows, maybe a “communist” like you thinks that she was a Victorian. On the Internet, of course, everybody can elevate themselves into the avatar of Karl Marx.

    Comment by louisproyect — February 21, 2016 @ 2:03 pm

  13. Are you sure you read Alexandra Kollontai? And was it before Stalin broke her and sent her into de facto exile ?

    I’m the early days of the revolution Kollontai argued against the Victorian morals of Lenin saying that sex should be as freely available as water is to thirsty people. She also argued to abolish the nation state and the family and said that prostitution could only be abolished by eliminating the root cause of it which is commodity production.

    Comment by Forty five pound — February 21, 2016 @ 4:15 pm

  14. Yes, it was before Stalin broke her. Our difference is not whether communism will bring prostitution to an end. It is over whether it degrades women. Kollontai refers to it as an “evil”. You of course are entitled to your own addled position.

    Comment by louisproyect — February 21, 2016 @ 4:41 pm

  15. “One hundred years ago, you lived in a small town and knew everybody. Or, if you moved to the city you would likely belong to a church or a social club where introductions would be made. In our brave new world of high rises and 50-hour work weeks, it is a miracle that anybody can find love. When I see people in my own building never in the company of another human being and cuddling or cooing to their dog in the elevator, I feel for them. I only hoped for socialism. They hoped for a happy marriage. Who feels the keener disappointment? A good question.”

    Your ability to personalize the conditions in which we live today is one of your strengths as a writer. Your compassion is noteworthy, because many who write about politics and social conditions, regardless of ideology, are incapable of such an emotional connection.

    Comment by Richard Estes — February 21, 2016 @ 11:56 pm

  16. Kollontai called prostitution “the dark shadow” of marriage and the bourgeois family. She said that bourgeois family and marriage had to be abolished to eliminate prostitution. The romantic view of monogamy and the bourgeois family unit you display in articles like this seems to run counter to her position.

    Comment by Forty five pound — February 22, 2016 @ 6:39 pm

  17. Yeah, well, all the Bolsheviks were married but none of them were running brothels as far as I know.

    Comment by louisproyect — February 22, 2016 @ 6:42 pm

  18. All work under capitalism degrades all people who work. Singling out sex work as especially degrading builds support for the suppression of sex work and sex workers, which leads to pimps, sexual disease and locked up sex workers.

    Comment by Forty five pound — February 22, 2016 @ 6:45 pm

  19. The Bolsheviks failed miserably and were highly influenced by Tsarism, the Russian Church, Great Russian Nationalism and Bismarckian-kautskyian state socialism.

    Holding them up as a model to emulate rather than a failure to learn from would put one in the same scary cargo cult boat as the Sparts.

    Comment by Forty five pound — February 22, 2016 @ 6:48 pm

  20. Don’t you remember that I said I was for decriminalizing prostitution? But in a revolutionary society like Bolshevik Russia or Cuba, the people’s government has a real interest in eliminating prostitution–not by making it illegal but retraining women so that they can do something productive like teaching school or working in a clinic. I am for decriminalizing drugs as well but if I were in Cuba in 1963 or so, I’d have no problems with the government launching an educational campaign against not only heroin but tobacco, which was actually a bigger problem. You don’t seem comfortable with the idea of social engineering. Are you some kind of libertarian communist mixing Bill Maher and Karl Marx? Fascinating.

    Comment by louisproyect — February 22, 2016 @ 6:52 pm

  21. The Bolsheviks failed miserably and were highly influenced by Tsarism, the Russian Church, Great Russian Nationalism and Bismarckian-kautskyian state socialism.

    And what is the alternative? Trolling my blog so that in future revolutions workers will read your comments and build true communism? Btw, thanks for dropping the proxy servers. That wasn’t so hard, was it?

    Comment by louisproyect — February 22, 2016 @ 6:54 pm

  22. I don’t think you know what trolling or proxies are. I’m simply commenting on what you’ve written here in the comment section. Further, I’ve never used a proxy to post here.

    Comment by Forty five pound — February 23, 2016 @ 5:59 pm

  23. Well, all I can tell you is that your politics are identical to someone who has used a proxy. In terms of what trolling is, it means interjecting yourself into a forum that you are hostile to. I don’t troll pro-Putin websites, for example.

    Comment by louisproyect — February 23, 2016 @ 6:02 pm

  24. I think trolling means making up fake posts in order to get a reaction. That’s the definition I have always seen. Sorry if you took my comments that way.

    Comment by Forty five pound — February 23, 2016 @ 11:40 pm

  25. Would trolling a pro Putin website be kind of like interfering in the internal affairs of another country?

    Comment by Curt Kastens — February 24, 2016 @ 11:13 pm

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