Recent Posts

Russian Socialists in the Struggle for Democracy

For the past few weeks, protests for fair elections in upcoming municipal polls have become weekly in Moscow and St. Petersburg as thousands have defied authorities to attend unsanctioned rallies. The police crackdown has been particularly harsh in Moscow. Protests on July 27 and August 3 resulted in over 2000 detentions. Images of police in riot gear wrestling citizens to the ground and beating peaceful protesters were reminiscent of the mass protests against election fraud in 2011-2012.

Members of the Russian Socialist Movement, a small Marxist, anti-Stalinist organization active in the Russian left, have been participants in local electoral campaigns and in the protests. Two RSM activists, Valeria Kovelishina and Ilya Budraitskis talk about the Russian Socialist Movement, their electoral work, the protests for democracy in Russia and what they might mean for the future.

Witnessing the Collapse of Communism

Roundtable discussion marking the 30th anniversary of the collapse of communism in Eastern Europe. Participants include Timothy Garton Ash, Bridget Kendall, and Jens Reich.

The Evictors

Around Moscow, there’s a whole industry of so-called “black creditors” — microfinance institutions (or MFOs) that swindle and seize debtors’ homes. Ivan Golunov’s investigation for Meduza has discovered that almost 500 apartments have been seized from their owners over the past five years without so much as a court order. In fact, this scheme involves more than simply “squeezing” people from their homes. It is possibly part of a wider, international money-laundering system. Here’s Meduza special correspondent Ivan Golunov on the ins and outs of this industry.

100th Anniversary of Jean-Paul Sartre’s Birth

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A pause from Russia to note that thanks to the wonderful journalist and francophile Doug Ireland, I found out that this past week marked the 100th anniversary of Jean-Paul Sartre’s birth. Ireland is right to draw attention to one of the most famous intellectuals of the 20th Century. Apparently, many people don’t read Sartre any more, seeing his Existentialism as outdated and naive. I only started reading him recently, when I used a section of his Critique of Dialectical Reason in a paper on reification in Frantz Fanon and Georg Lukacs. I remember a professor happened to see the text on my desk and commented, “People still read him?” I haven’t read much of him, though at the time I planned to. His preface to Fanon’s book is a classic essay which I think every educated person should have read, as for his Being and Nothingness (which I haven’t read). Ireland mentions this in his blog, and I also recommend Edward Said’s interesting first encounter with Sartre in 1979.