Louis Proyect: The Unrepentant Marxist

July 4, 2021

The Unrepentant Marxist comic book, chapter five

Filed under: The Unrepentant Marxist comic book — louisproyect @ 9:38 pm

Down in Houston confronting a political slowdown and the KKK

 Additionally, you can download the entire memoir
 from http://www.panix.com/~lnp3//UnrepMarx.pdf

(Chapter guide: chap. 1chap 2chap 3chap 4chap 5chap 6chap 7)

To be continued tomorrow

July 3, 2021

The Unrepentant Marxist comic book, chapter four

Filed under: The Unrepentant Marxist comic book — louisproyect @ 7:26 pm

Up in Boston with Peter Camejo

 Additionally, you can download the entire memoir from http://www.panix.com/~lnp3//UnrepMarx.pdf

(Chapter guide: chap. 1, chap 2, chap 3, chap 4, chap 5, chap 6, chap 7)

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To be continued tomorrow

July 2, 2021

The Unrepentant Marxist comic book, chapter three

Filed under: The Unrepentant Marxist comic book — louisproyect @ 5:07 pm

The Unrepentant Marxist chapter three: Paul Boutelle, Arnie Swabeck and me

 Additionally, you can download the entire memoir from http://www.panix.com/~lnp3//UnrepMarx.pdf.

(Chapter guide: chap. 1, chap 2, chap 3, chap 4, chap 5, chap 6, chap 7)

To be continued tomorrow

July 1, 2021

The Unrepentant Marxist comic book, chapter two

Filed under: The Unrepentant Marxist comic book — louisproyect @ 6:09 pm

The Unrepentant Marxist chapter two: how I became a socialist

 Additionally, you can download the entire memoir from http://www.panix.com/~lnp3//UnrepMarx.pdf.

(Chapter guide: chap. 1, chap 2, chap 3, chap 4, chap 5, chap 6, chap 7)

To be continued tomorrow

June 30, 2021

The Unrepentant Marxist comic book, chapter one

Filed under: The Unrepentant Marxist comic book — louisproyect @ 4:40 pm

(Chapter guide: chap. 1, chap 2, chap 3, chap 4, chap 5, chap 6, chap 7)

In 2009, I worked with Harvey Pekar to write a comic book memoir titled “The Unrepentant Marxist”. I wrote the dialog based on his guidelines (keep ‘em laughing) and Summer McClinton (one of his best artist collaborators) did the drawings. He had a deal with Random House to have it published but it got dropped after his death from lymphoma in 2010.

I’ve decided to begin serializing it in seven installments this week on my blog. Additionally, you can download it yourself from http://www.panix.com/~lnp3//UnrepMarx.pdf. This was a draft copy that Harvey’s editor never got a chance to work on, so you will notice typos here and there.

My old friend Paul Buhle hooked us up in 2009. Paul had worked with Harvey on some great comic books based on the left, including one about SDS, but maybe did not consider the possibility that Harvey would propose working on my memoir. It just turned out that we had a natural affinity based on being the sons of Jewish shopkeepers, jazz fans, leftist politics and an identification with the beat generation.

Paul volunteered to write a preface to the memoir that captures the two of us quite well. Posted below, it will put the project into context. Following it will be the chapter that covers my birth and growing up in the Borscht Belt. Although I was no radical by any stretch of the imagination, my village was filled with 1930s radicals that gave Woodridge the nickname “Utopia in the Catskills” in a 1947 PM newspaper article. PM was a daily that reflected the POV of Communists but was broad enough not to be mistaken for The Daily Worker.

The World of Pekar and Proyect

By Paul Buhle

The passage of time may have taken some of the luster from Harvey Pekar’s reputation in the world of comic art. We could forget that Helen Mirren quipped, at the San Diego Comicon a year following his death, that Harvey had allowed readers all over the world to look at comic art in a new way.  That he scripted a comic art biography of Lou Proyect, drawn by Summer McClinton, might be described, in a number of dimensions, as the perfect project. Some part of Harvey was Studs Terkel, the famously loquacious oral historian. Another part of Harvey was Lou Proyect, hard-bitten master of arguments and avowed revolutionary

A file clerk at a VA hospital and a life-long resident of blue collar Cleveland, Pekar made his own persona the expression of a philosophy, a way of life, of the American Jewish intellectual-radical-critic. He was already known to the followers of jazz reviews in magazines before he launched his own home-made comic series, sold at little comicons and local bookstores, slowing gaining national attention over the course of the 1980s. A young and troubled Robert Crumb, almost literally saved by the friendship of Pekar, devoted some of his most intimate and touching pages to Harvey’s self-described life.

By the later 1990s, Pekar had been on the Letterman Show repeatedly, complaining aloud about the control exerted from the heights of the military-industrial complex aka General Electric, a Letterman sponsor. Harvey was made to seem clownish, in effect the representative of a failed, post-industrial city. He  refused the role, and achieved his vindication in American Splendor (2002), an awarded biopic, the first and perhaps the only film to include the real live protagonist, the actor playing him, and an animated version of the original.

Pekar happened upon Proyect by a curious incident, or perhaps one more story in the quiet comradeship of aging American leftists. As an occasional visitor to New York while giving history talks or attending events for the non-fictional comics that I was bringing out from 2005 onward, I hung out with Lou and spend the nights on a futon in his condo unit. Harvey Pekar came in front out of town for a shared event, an exhibit at CUNY Graduate Center for the release of a comic, and asked Lou if he could put up Harvey instead of me. Done Deal.

A friendship followed and the project that they worked on together. Harvey was a master of biography, and relished writing about a personality so much like his own, avowedly leftwing and irascible, unyielding. In the end, and working with one of the most talented comic artists on hand, a creation emerged. Every reader will have a unique response, based on generation, personal experiences and narrative tastes. There is something here for all. But what I wish to emphasize is the meeting of spirits or souls. The intimacy of the telling holds the charm to this book.

The Unrepentant Marxist chapter one, an escape from the Borscht Belt to Bard College

To be continued tomorrow

June 27, 2021

Deadly Collapse Of Illusions In Miami

Filed under: Uncategorized — louisproyect @ 3:02 pm

By now it is clear that the cause of the collapse was the softening of the ground under the building by the infiltration of seawater over the years since the building’s construction. Because such a large building is very heavy, especially in comparison to a simple beachside bungalow, the weight of the structure put tremendously higher downward pressure on the ground below its foundation, diminishing the integrity of the increasingly soaked soil, and thus speeding its ultimate loss of cohesion.

Continue reading: https://manuelgarciajr.com/2021/06/26/deadly-collapse-of-illusions-in-miami/

June 26, 2021

The Genocidal Canadian residential schools

Filed under: Canada,indigenous — louisproyect @ 4:48 pm

On May 18, 2021, With help from investigators using ground-penetrating radar, the Tk’emlups te Secwépemc First Nation discovered the remains of 215 Indigenous children on the grounds of a former residential school near the town of Kamloops in the interior of southern British Columbia.

As horrifying as this was, it almost dwarfed a new discovery a month later. Investigators working with the Cowessess First Nation using the same kind of radar came across another 751 unmarked graves at the former Marieval Indian Residential School residential school run by the Catholic Church.

Twenty years ago, I was deeply involved with research about these genocidal crimes and working to get the word out about indigenous people’s efforts to achieve justice. About five percent of Canadian citizens are indigenous so they have more social weight to challenge the racist establishment.

Around that time I reviewed Roland Chrisjohn’s “The Circle Game: Shadows and Substance in the Indian Residential School Experience in Canada”, a ground-breaking book written by a Haudenausaunee (Mohawk) Indian. Keep in mind that the Haudenausaunee were driven into Canada by General John Sullivan for siding with the British. That John Sullivan was the same man my Borscht Belt county upstate was named after, an irony considering that the county’s large Jewish population including many Holocaust survivors.

Just 20 years ago, I attended a tribunal on residential schools at the Blackfoot reservation in Calgary. Beneath you can read the report I wrote for my Columbia University website at the time. This was long before blogs had been developed. It will give you an idea of the fighting spirit other First Nations will deploy when they go up against the Canadian ruling class.

Blackfoot Tribunal

The Blackfoot tribunal on genocide–focusing on residential school abuses in Canada–was held at the home of Sikapii (White Horse) and his wife, Yellow Dust Woman, over July 2-4, 2001. They live a few miles from Brocket, Alberta, which is on a native reserve encompassing some of the most beautiful and resource-rich land in Canada, just as is the case for their US based brothers and sisters in Browning, Montana just across the border. Before the white capitalist conquest of the Blackfoot people, their territory included much of Alberta and Montana. As a fierce and proud bison-hunting people, they viewed their territory as sacrosanct. When Lewis and Clark tried to exchange trinkets with them, the two explorers were sent unceremoniously packing.

While the United States and Canada have no qualms about deploying their full military prowess on behalf of “nation-building” in Korea in the 50s, the thought of Blackfoot people trying to re-create their historic homeland across the Canadian and US border sends the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) and the FBI into a panic.

Sikapii, born George Yellow Horn, is the grandson of Red Crow who was forced to sign Treaty Seven in Canada in 1877 in much the same way that all such treaties were signed–at the point of a gun. When I spoke to the Blackfoot people assembled at Sikapii’s home, you felt as if this treaty was signed last week since the pain was so palpable. They spoke uniformly about the cannons lined up near the fort where the treaty was signed, which fired off volleys each morning to remind them of who was boss.

In 1990, Alberta Indian “leaders” presented Queen Elizabeth with a petition complaining that the federal government was not living up to the intent of Treaty 7, signed in 1877 in the name of Queen Victoria. Meanwhile, only the Blackfoot refused to participate in the meeting because they said doing so would make them look like “Hollywood Indians or tokens,” according to the June 30, 1990 Toronto Star.

Sikapii’s life story encapsulates many of the themes common to the members of this First Nation. Born in 1938, he was sent to a residential school with the understanding that refusal would lead to the arrest of his father. In testimony to the tribunal, he described how native children were lined up day after day in military fashion by the priests. Individual children were then ordered to step forward to be beaten with a cane. He tried to escape from the school on five different occasions.

After leaving school, Sikapii took one back-breaking job after another, both on and off the reserve. In the 1950s he worked as a lumberjack for a white-owned company that was–like many others–systematically denuding the reserve of valuable timber, thus combining ecological with economic super-exploitation. Sikapii showed us cancelled checks from the period in which native wages ranged from $5 to $8 per week, while a typical white worker’s wage was $45. He also had receipts from the local company store whose weekly totals equaled or surpassed Indian wages. This pattern of combined class and national oppression was virtually identical to that suffered by Chiapas lumberjacks before 1910 as dramatized in B. Traven’s “Jungle” novels.

It was during this time that Sikapii spent six months in jail for drunkenness and disorderly conduct. He and a fellow Indian had stopped at a bar in nearby Fort McCloud to slake their thirst after a day cutting logs. After the hulking bartender treated them with disrespect, words were exchanged. Sikapii, who had been an amateur boxer, decked the bartender with one punch, breaking his nose.

This incident was fairly typical of the kind of hardscrabble existence he led for the next twenty five years or so. He picked fruit in California. He rode the rails looking for one job after another until coming back to the reserve. He was stabbed in the gut after another fight. He had also become an alcoholic.

Things began to change in the 1980s, when the patterns of economic and racial discrimination reached such a level of intensity that he was forced to come to grips with them. Like Malcolm X, he put his rowdy past behind him. An important factor in his development was the Wounded Knee occupation of the 1970s that he joined in an act of solidarity. As soon as he discovered that it was taking place, he and a group of other Blackfoot men jumped in their car and took off to Pine Ridge.

It was also in this period that Sikapii became a rancher, which is generally the occupation Blackfoot men gravitate to. He had a herd of 55 steers that had grown rapidly on account of loans that a local bank had pressured him to take out when cattle prices were rising. In 1996, when prices took a sharp nosedive, the bank demanded immediate payment of his debt. When he pleaded for an extension of the deadline, in hope that prices would rise, they sent out a convoy of cattle trucks guarded by the RCMP and seized his herd. Now he subsists on welfare.

Blackfoot men all have bitter tales to tell about how they are cheated by white businesses in league with the sell-out tribal council. Wallace Yellow Face told the tribunal about cattle being rustled by tribal council henchmen, and not being paid for logs he had chopped. The excuse was that he lacked the proper “permit” which is awarded arbitrarily by the tribal council to their lackeys. John Chief Moon, one of the most respected elders, had all his horses impounded because he supposedly was guilty of abusing them. If you spend one minute with this dignified and spiritually-endowed man, you could not take the accusation seriously. Horses were key to Blackfoot culture and economic survival. The notion that a Blackfoot traditionalist would neglect them defies logic.

One of the high points of my visit was listening to John Chief Moon and Yellow Dust Woman conversing in the Blackfoot language. This beautiful language, like all other native languages, is endangered. Despite all attempts by the residential schools to obliterate the language, many younger Blackfoot–including economics professor and activist James Michael Craven–are studying it now. A 3 part series on “endangered tongues” in the Los Angeles Times in January, 2000 described the challenge:

California once had the densest concentration of indigenous languages in North America. Today, almost every one of its 50 or so surviving native languages is on its deathbed. Indeed, the last fluent speaker of Chumash, a family of six languages once heard throughout Southern California and the West, is a professional linguist at UC Santa Barbara.

More people in California speak Mongolian at home than speak any of the state’s most endangered indigenous languages.

“Not one of them is spoken by children at home,” said UC Berkeley linguist Leanne Hinton.

None of this happened by accident.

All Native American languages, as well as Hawaiian, were for a century the target of government policies designed to eradicate them in public and in private, to ensure that they were not passed from parent to child.

Until 1987, it was illegal to teach Hawaiian in the islands’ public schools except as a foreign language. The language that once claimed the highest literacy rate in the world was banned even from the islands’ private schools.

Indeed, there may be no more powerful testimony to the visceral importance of language than the government’s systematic efforts to destroy all the indigenous languages in the United States and replace them with English.

No language in memory, except Spanish, has sought so forcefully to colonize the mind. Of an estimated 300 languages spoken in the territorial United States when Columbus made landfall in 1492, only 175 are still spoken. Of those, only 20 are being passed on to children.

In 1868, a federal commission on Indian affairs concluded: “In the difference of language today lies two-thirds of our trouble. . . . Their barbarous dialect should be blotted out and the English language substituted.” The commission reasoned that “through sameness of language is produced sameness of sentiment, and thought. . . . In process of time the differences producing trouble would have been gradually obliterated.”

The drive to wipe out a language goes hand in hand with the drive to wipe out a people, something that activists like John Chief Moon, Sikapii and Yellow Dust Woman are determined to resist.

These questions are not abstract to Sikapii. Seven close relations have committed suicide, including his son who hung himself in prison, as well as Andrew Small Legs, whose grave I happened across at the top of a hill across the road from Sikapii’s home. In 1970 Andrew shot himself to death after reaching the same state of economic destitution suffered by many Blackfoot people. He left behind a suicide note calling attention to his own plight and that of his kinsmen. When I reached the top of the hill, I saw the grave which was only distinguished by a small metal marker.

A short walk beyond the grave I came across a dream-like scene. About 20 horses and their colts were grazing peacefully in a pasture. For that moment, all sounds seemed to stop including the chattering of the birds and the rustling of the leaves. The horses, a symbol of traditional Blackfoot culture and self-reliance, seemed completely at peace in their beautiful surroundings. I then walked downhill filled with the hope that the traditional ways of the Blackfoot people can be restored. If it takes destruction of the system that is destroying them, so be it.

June 25, 2021

Defy the Stranglehold of Social Media, Join the New Progressive Economists Mailing List!

Filed under: economics — louisproyect @ 10:35 pm
Michael Perelman, creator of the original PEN-L


Recently I created a mailing list called the Progressive Economist Network (PEN-L) in order to bring together academics and non-academics to exchange ideas from a left perspective. It honors the memory of Michael Perelman who created the original PEN-L in the early days of the Internet. Dying unexpectedly at the age of 81 in September 2020 before turning over moderation duties, his absence as moderator made it impossible to subscribe to the old PEN-L. It also left the list in limbo since Michael was no longer the helmsman.

When a former PEN-L subscriber asked for my help in getting resubbed, something beyond anybody’s capability, I decided to create a new list that can function as a forum for exchanges on the pressing issues of the day, such as the economic impact of the pandemic, the growing tensions between the USA and China, and prospects for Biden’s ambitious economic program. If the only result of this initiative is to make possible the kind of vigorous and productive discussions that distinguished the original PEN-L, it will have been more than worth it.

Not long after going to work at Columbia University in 1990, I noticed a daily email coming from the library (I believe) that listed dozens of mailing lists. At the time, I had no idea what a mailing list was. I strolled into the next cubicle and asked someone working in Academic Information Services what they were. He smiled at me and said, “Welcome to the Internet”. This was not only long before Facebook but long before AOL. At the time, you generally could not get on the Net unless you had a government or academic job.

As for the mailing lists, most of them were of little interest to me. Typically, they would be within the narrow confines of some academic discipline, such as clinical psychology or Jane Austen studies. Each day I scoured the lists to see if there might be something relevant to my own interests and was happy to spot PEN-L one morning. That was my introduction to the Internet and to Michael Perelman, who I considered a great friend even when I was wreaking havoc on PEN-L’s neo-Keynesians.

Michael was among the academics who helped create a culture of critical Marxist studies in the sixties. He understood that PEN-L could be part of the radical challenge to economics departments in the USA that were peddling liberal nostrums at odds with the reality of racism and imperialism. PEN-L stood arm and arm with the Union for Radical Political Economics, a group that continues to this day and that was an initial sponsor of the magazine Dollars and Sense. Other academics also helped to challenge orthodoxy, most notably those who created Science for the People. Sensing the need for a revival in a time of growing anti-science humbuggery generated by Trump and other Republicans, it began escalating its presence in 2014.

To round out this bird’s eye view of radical academics from the 1960s and their institutions, Monthly Review should be part of the mix. While Marxism and radical economics in general became more and more ingrown as the 80s and 90s wore on, MR always had its eyes on the prize. The magazine and the publishing wing always had an orientation to the working class and the Third World and will remain so as long as people like John Bellamy Foster and Michael Yates are on the editorial board. In addition to writing 19 books, Michael had a prolific presence online both through his blog and articles for various left publications. Six of them are on the Monthly Review website and well worth reading. Although Michael did not have any kind of special ties to MR, I always saw him in the same way I saw Harry Magdoff, Paul Sweezy and Leo Huberman. All such intellectuals understood exactly what Marx meant when he said, “The philosophers have only interpreted the world, in various ways. The point, however, is to change it.”

As someone who created the Marxism mailing list (aka Marxmail) in 1998, I have given a lot of thought to the value of what some might consider antediluvian when compared to social media. While I am on Facebook and Twitter (barely so), I am still committed to the value of a mailing list. Let me explain why.

To start with, to have an intelligent discussion on Twitter is impossible since there is a 280 character limit. Furthermore, the ubiquitous use of fake names cheapens an exchange since you have no idea who you are really speaking to, a contrarian leftist or someone working in a Moscow basement. I generally use Twitter to circulate my blog posts and find few other uses for it. There are some exceptions to the sterility of Twitter that are worth mentioning. Adam Tooze always has something interesting to say and so do The Nation’s Jeet Heer and New Yorker magazine film critic David Brody. But of what possible value can there be the Tweets of someone identified as “DJ Quik is a goat in human’s clothing” (an Aaron Maté follower)?

With all the knocks against Facebook, I almost feel it is overkill to offer my own thoughts on its uselessness for a serious discussion of serious ideas. But let me indulge in a bit of overkill, anyhow. To start off, it is very difficult to track down a thread that occurred even a couple of days earlier. FB does have a search capability but it is so unfocused that you end up wasting your time. Furthermore, since FB is based on the idea that we are all “friends”, you end up with people having little background in, for example, the early history of the USSR, hijacking the discussion with puerile salutes to Stalin or Trotsky. As is the case with Twitter, I use FB to provide links to my blog posts or articles in the left press, as well as to receive valuable posts from serious contributors who are the counterpart of Twitter’s Adam Tooze. For example, Jairus Banaji’s are priceless. My recommendation is to see for yourself. I am not sure if only his friends can read them but I’d give it a try nevertheless at: https://www.facebook.com/jairus.banaji

Finally, on the benefits of the old-fashion mailing list. To start with, it is much easier to deal with trolls since a moderator controls who is a subscriber or not. While undoubtedly the new PEN-L would attract libertarians just as it did in its predecessor, it would be easy to keep them on a short leash. You also get searchable archives that always make it easy to look up a discussion that took place either yesterday or ten years ago. So, if you are interested in how the left regarded the Obama administration during his two terms in order to understand how his history is being repeated today, the archived messages can be highly revealing.

To subscribe to the new PEN-L, go to https://groups.google.com/g/pen-l/.

To subscribe to Marxmail, go to https://groups.io/g/marxmail

June 20, 2021

A Crime on the Bayou

Filed under: Black Lives Matter,Civil Rights movement,Film — louisproyect @ 9:17 pm

I came a bit late to the documentary “A Crime on the Bayou” that opened on Friday at the Quad Cinema in NY and the Laemmle in Los Angeles. Since I am so used to “virtual cinema”, I assumed that this would be available as VOD just like every other film I’ve reviewed during the pandemic. As it happens, this is only being shown in the physical theaters and well worth your time, especially if you’ve been vaccinated (what are you waiting for?) 

Written and directed by Nancy Buirski, it tells  the story of Gary Duncan, a Black teenager from Plaquemines Parish, a sleepy strip of land south of New Orleans. For Blacks, this is about as oppressive an area as any in the Deep South since the long-time political boss was one Leander Perez, a Democrat who made Donald Trump sound like a Critical Race Theory advocate. He once said, “Do you know what the Negro is? Animal right out of the jungle. Passion. Welfare. Easy life. That’s the Negro.”

In 1966, the local high school was forced to integrate. Duncan’s nephew and cousin were harassed from day one once they started school. Nineteen at the time, Duncan noticed some sort of fracas on the sidewalk near the school with white teens lined up against the two boys. He stopped his car and walked over to calm things down. This involved laying his hand on a white boy’s arm.

That night, police came to Duncan’s trailer and arrested him for simple battery on a minor, misdemeanor under Louisiana law that does not require a jury trial. He was convicted and received a 60-day prison sentence and a fine of $150—all for touching a white boy’s arm. By 1966, there was an open battle for overcoming Jim Crow laws throughout the south and Duncan found himself allied with Richard Sobol, a liberal Jewish lawyer from New York like many who threw themselves into the civil rights movement. White southerners tended to see them as they saw the Carpetbaggers during Reconstruction. The term Carpetbaggers was a slander since the overwhelming majority of northerners were idealistic, like sixty men from the North, including educated free blacks and slaves who had escaped to the North and returned South after the war to be elected as Republicans to Congress. Also, the majority of Republican governors in the South during Reconstruction came down from the North.

Clearly, men like Leander Perez feared a second coming of Reconstruction and fought tooth and nail to intimidate Blacks in his parish as well as their white allies. He tried to control their activities by prohibiting outsiders from entering Plaquemines Parish via the bayou ferries, which were the chief way to cross rivers and enter the jurisdiction.

Sobol’s goal was to make jury trials mandatory, whatever the offense. When a judge had the power to decide who was guilty or not and then hand down the sentence, it put men and women like Gary Duncan at a disadvantage. Even if there were racists on a jury, the precedent for jury trials had to be established so that in the future a jury of one’s peers would be a safeguard against racist frameups.

Sobol was a dedicated and highly capable lawyer who fought to bring the case for trial by jury to the Supreme Court. In 1968, the Supreme Court ruled 7–2 in favor of Duncan by arguing that the right to a jury trial in criminal cases was fundamental and central to the American conception of justice. Charges were dropped against him and he became a respected civil rights advocate in the parish as well as chairman of the fishing council.

Duncan is still going strong and the documentary benefits from his presence. Although Sobol died last year, there are many excerpts from interviews he gave over the years that help to establish his commitment to Black rights.

While nobody would have ever disqualified him from serving as Duncan’s attorney as if he were a latter-day Carpetbagger, Nancy Buirski cannot help but wondering about the relationship between powerful whites like Richard Sobol and their frequently poor and vulnerable clients. In the press notes, she writes:

As a filmmaker I’ve been engaged in exploring racist assumptions and dismantling them through storytelling. It’s been my privilege to do so; a responsibility I take seriously as a white filmmaker complicit with these acts. It is not just the acceptance of a racist legacy but a recognition of the small and big ways whites reenact aggressions today, unconsciously and otherwise.

There’s an important debate around allyship in the midst of the BLM movement. I’ve looked back over my last three films in this space and hope that they’ve helped culturally. Should they have been made by a white filmmaker – that is an open and lingering question. Do white filmmakers bring worthwhile perspectives in spite of not living the experience of BIPOC or do they simply occupy space and funding that should go to Black filmmakers? Are we allies in a change movement or obstacles?

For me, these questions are secondary when it comes to BLM since the most prominent lawyers involved with prosecuting killer cops happen to be Black. Instead, I see the charges that BLM is a tool of big corporations using their donations to burnish their image as much more important since it allows people like Adolph Reed Jr. to demonize the movement.

I strongly recommend “A Crime on the Bayou” to my readers since the story it tells is about a key moment in the fight against Jim Crow, and it tells it well as the 100 percent Fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes would indicate. Plus, it will be a great opportunity to enjoy your post-vaccination freedom and one far more worthwhile than hanging out in a sports bar.

June 18, 2021


Filed under: Counterpunch,financial crisis,television — louisproyect @ 3:17 pm


Arriving with very little fanfare on Amazon Prime, the Italian TV series “Devils” is easily the most penetrating narrative drama on “banksters” I have ever seen. Set mostly on the trading floor of New York London Investment Bank, an obvious fictional version of Goldman Sachs, it stars Alessandro Borghi as Massimo Ruggero, who manages the hedge fund group and is in line to become the next co-CEO. He is opposed by a rival for the position who views Massimo’s cutthroat tactics as inimical to British banking’s glorious past, when the bank supposedly served the average citizen rather than speculators only interested in making a fast buck. He is not shy about telling Massimo to his face that Italians don’t belong in leading positions in such an august institution like NYLIB.

This 10-part series is based on the novel “Diavoli” that was written by Guido Maria Brera, an Italian who worked for a number of years in the financial industry. His experience help gives the book a palpable reality of the sort that makes ex-attorney John Grisham novels about law firms so compelling. Saying that, it is necessary for those viewing “Devils” to be prepared for financial industry minutiae, especially selling short—Massimo’s specialty. Showing little concern for the consequences of its impact, he left behind ruin everywhere he decided to make profits off ordinary peoples’ losses.

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