Louis Proyect: The Unrepentant Marxist

August 28, 2021

Louis N. Proyect 1/26/45 – 8/25/21

Filed under: Uncategorized — louisproyect @ 3:29 pm

It’s with much sadness that, at Lou’s request, I let readers of Lou’s blog know that Lou died two days ago after a courageous struggle with cancer. And, he commanded me to be brief.

Lou did not want to share his personal health battle with the public. His passion was Marxism in thought and action, and that was alive and well in him as we talked, right up to a few days before his death.

He asked me to forgo writing anything biographical about his life. He said that if anyone wanted to know who he was, they can read The Unrepentant Marxist comic book, by Harvey Pekar. I’ve included a link, below.

Meanwhile, many people have been writing tributes to him elsewhere. So I can keep my promise to Lou to be brief in word, while disagreeing in spirit, by adding what other people have said about him. I will update what will be the last page of his blog over the next couple days with these tributes.

It is not possible to express my tears in writing here without breaking my promise to Lou.

Les Schaffer

Below are tributes written by two people that Lou deeply respected. I know that Jeffrey’s words in particular would make Lou smile appreciatively.

from Jeffrey St Clair

We lost another good friend today in Louis N. Proyect. Lou was a fighter and we had our fights over the years and I enjoyed most of them, even though he bloodied me up a couple of times. Usually they were fights about important things. Lou didn’t tolerate “beliefs”, he demanded ideas and he wanted proofs. Alex used to tweak Lou mercilessly in his columns, as the last Trotskyist. And Lou took it good-naturedly. In part because he idolized Alex and admired his writing. In part because it meant that his ideas were important enough to be debated, even parodied, at that level. Lou had his passions, Syria, being one, which often put him on the wrong side of many doctrinaire anti-Imperialists. He had his reasons, some very personal ones, but he didn’t flinch. As a writer, I admired how much and how clearly Lou wrote. Many writers, especially on the Left, have adopted an ornate, even opaque, rhetorical style. That wasn’t Lou. He valued clarity. And he worked hard at it. You would never mistake where Lou was coming from. That clarity of prose and ideas often made him an open target, especially by those who were made uncomfortable by his assertions. Lou and I only met once in NYC and that briefly, though we talked often across the years and exchanged emails two or three times a day, until the cancer made him too weak. For years, I’d save a spot for Lou’s Friday film column, trenchant reviews of independent and international films. I’ve watched a lot of films in my life, but Lou devoured them. He’d seen six or seven a week and write compellingly about most of them. Lou went to Bard, a fact he brought up often in our talks, not for academic boasting but for the opportunity it gave him to brought jazz musicians to campus, another mutual passion that deepened our friendship. He hated war and injustice and the perversions of history, the twisting of the record of events to suit political ideology. He wanted to see history straight, whether it was the Soviet Union under Stalinism or the Comanche under the murderous thugs who claimed Texas as their own. Like Cockburn, Lou didn’t want people to know he was sick. He didn’t want that distraction from the work he wanted to do in the last months of his life. He was a revolutionary in spirit, who never surrendered to pessimism, even as his own life started to flicker. The work was to make our lives better, to ease the suffering, to end needless deaths, to value all life and defend it. Well done, pal.

https://www.facebook.com/jeffreytstclair/posts/10159950128651518&show_text=true&width=500

from Michael D Yates:

It is with great sadness that I announce my good friend, Louis Proyect, has died. He had a serious illness for some time. He died peacefully in his sleep on August 25. I will miss him greatly, and I assume you will as well. Louis was a voracious reader, and almost every day, he posted links on Facebook and on his listserv (Marxmail) to articles from a wide variety of sources on multiple subjects, from politics and economics to music and philosophy to physics and ecology. I am sure we have all learned a great deal from his posts. I don’t know anyone who wrote as many film reviews as he, with a regular Friday feature at Counterpunch. He did much in his life, through his efforts in Nicaragua and South Africa, for example, and with his voluminous writing, to push radical transformation forward. He allied himself with leftists around the world. He seemed to know just about everybody. Those who knew him personally know that he was a good human being, always willing to help a friend, no matter where in the world that person happened to be. He and his wife Mine showed me and my partner many kindnesses over the years.Goodbye, Louis. You will live on in our hearts and in our efforts to change the world.

23 Comments »

  1. My sincere condolences to Louis’s family.

    Sent from my iPhone

    Comment by credenzakid49 — August 28, 2021 @ 3:35 pm

  2. Lou was sincere friend, a man of conviction. He has always interested in learning and seeking the truth.
    He was a comrade committed to working in solidarity with the downtrodden and the dispossessed.
    He will be missed. May his spirit live on.

    Comment by Tanweer Akram — August 28, 2021 @ 3:37 pm

  3. I came to Lou late. He became my favorite blogger. I will miss him.

    Comment by Shawn Britton — August 28, 2021 @ 3:40 pm

  4. Hi Les,
    I am so sorry to hear this. Your partnership with Louis will continue to contribute to the process of socialist revolution as will the next project to which you devote your many talents. May your grief be bearable and take good care of yourself because you are needed.

    Cindy Burke

    Comment by Lynn Henderson — August 28, 2021 @ 3:49 pm

  5. Louis N. Proyect (1945-2021), Light Saber of Truth
    27 August 2021

    Louis N. Proyect (1945-2021), Light Saber of Truth

    Comment by manuelgarciajr — August 28, 2021 @ 4:07 pm

  6. What a beautiful difference one life has made. With love and gratitude, g

    Comment by utejack — August 28, 2021 @ 4:15 pm

  7. My condolences to Louis’s friends and family. I looked forward to reading his blog and often breathed a sigh of relief when he articulated in his plain, direct way, a principled socialist position against the supporters of exploitation and tyranny, be they rightists or so-called leftists.

    Though I was broadly in the same camp, as it were, I didn’t always agree with everything he wrote but he was a dedicated socialist who, having seen through the uselessness and absurdities of the sects, remained committed, in thought and action, to the ideals of revolutionary socialism. He kept alive “the little flame that never dies”.

    May his loyalty to the cause of the emancipation of the working class and the oppressed be an inspiration to us all.

    Comment by Colm Breathnach — August 28, 2021 @ 8:02 pm

  8. Dear Les,

    I am so sorry for your loss.

    Sincerely, Michael (Beykirch) Corning, NY

    On Sat, Aug 28, 2021 at 11:29 AM Louis Proyect: The Unrepentant Marxist wrote:

    > louisproyect posted: ” It’s with much sadness that, at Lou’s request, I > let readers of Lou’s blog know that Lou died two days ago after a > courageous struggle with cancer. And, he commanded me to be brief. Lou did > not want to share his personal health battle with the public. Hi” >

    Comment by Michael Beykirch — August 28, 2021 @ 9:17 pm

  9. Who is going to replace him and all the others of us on the left who will all be gone in another decade or two?

    Comment by Paul D — August 28, 2021 @ 9:55 pm

  10. I concur with the sentiment of another commenter who said that he came to Lou too late. Mr. Proyect was influential in my development as a Marxist and student of Trotsky. I am aware that Mr. Proyect had long ago given up organizing but I had felt that he should have continued the active struggle against opportunism and social-chauvinism that hides under the veil of anti-imperialim, e.g., the Syrian civil war and its Russia and Assad apologists, and pass to the younger generation his wealth of experience and knowledge. However, even in the limited role as blogger he maintained a principled Marxist stance against imperialism and its defenders whatever “Marxist” or “anti-imperialist” labels they take. The younger generations of Marxists have lost a great mentor.

    Comment by Erick C. — August 29, 2021 @ 6:49 am

  11. […] Louis Proyect’s death was announced just this week. Having just found out the news, I feel duty-bound to write something in tribute. A well-known and well-respected online Marxist commentator, with a blog that attracted millions of hits over many years, he is one of the people to which I am indebted for rescuing me from Trotskyism. I doubt he would have approved of my political trajectory since then, as he remained a staunch Marxist to the end. But in spite of this, it would be wrong not to say something about this remarkable man, whatever our political differences. […]

    Pingback by A Tribute to Louis Proyect (1945-2021) - A Renegade's Report — August 29, 2021 @ 11:59 am

  12. I came across Louis’ blog in the spring of 2020 and reading his work convinced me that my sect, the International Marxist Tendency, was intellectually and morally bankrupt. I am no longer a Marxist, but if I were, I would be one in the mould of Louis. I am sad to hear of his death. May he rest in peace.

    https://extrotskyistrenegade.com/a-tribute-to-louis-proyect-1945-2021/

    Comment by Aaron Kyereh-Mireku — August 29, 2021 @ 12:02 pm

  13. Rest in Peace

    Comment by jenkuns1 — August 29, 2021 @ 6:30 pm

  14. Always enjoyed Louis’ site even if not always some of the commentators on his site. RIP, Louis

    Comment by Mazdak — August 30, 2021 @ 4:28 pm

  15. I was never a Marxist, but I enjoyed reading his passionate blog about it. Louis wrote so well, with such clarity and verve, that he blew away other Marxists, especially those who wrote in acadamese or dwelled on technicalities. He will be missed. RIP.

    I hope this blog stays online forever. I hope new readers will stumble upon it as I did all those years ago.

    Comment by curryman — September 3, 2021 @ 12:34 am

  16. I have been reading Lou’s blogs for probably 9 years. Didn’t know him personally, but I have always checked in periodically to see his thought on different issues: politics, Syria, SWP, music, cinema, and have greatly valued his writing, knowledge and experience. This is my first comment. I will miss Louis.

    Comment by Alan S — September 7, 2021 @ 1:57 am

  17. Very much hope this blog is left up as resource. Very sad to hear of his passing.

    Comment by John Gamey — September 9, 2021 @ 10:42 am

  18. I stumbled upon this blog years ago looking for movie reviews and stayed for the more important lessons from Louis, I can safely say he had a great impact on me and my thoughts, may the struggle continue, as already said Louis was so good at words and clarity, there will be an eternal void.

    Comment by Ravi — September 9, 2021 @ 8:34 pm

  19. […] 28 August 2021 – Louis Proyect, “an unrepentant Marxist”, died of cancer. […]

    Pingback by Current news – Map of Knowledge — October 11, 2021 @ 6:47 am

  20. FYI, the URL http://www.panix.com/~lnp3//UnrepMarx.pdf is dead – is there any live URL for Lou’s Unrepentant Marxist “comic book”?

    Comment by David Chambers — January 6, 2022 @ 6:12 pm

  21. check out https://louisproyect.org/2021/06/30/the-unrepentant-marxist-comic-book-chapter-one/ and the links on that page.

    Comment by god7i11a — February 23, 2022 @ 7:24 pm

  22. How we could do with Louis’s lucid analytical skills in these depressing days.

    Comment by nollaigoj — February 25, 2022 @ 8:27 pm

  23. Reblogged this on attis and commented:
    https://attis232652635.wordpress.com/2021/11/12/our-unburied-words/

    Comment by attisToCy — April 29, 2022 @ 10:54 am


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