Barry Healy

Australians have begun the grim journey through the centenary of World War I. Our newspapers have special articles and multi-page wrap arounds commemorating every significant date.

This is driven by a multi-million dollar government fund designed to whip up militarisation in contemporary Australia by obscuring the truth about WWI.

Part of the truth is that in Christmas 1914, just months after the war began, millions of soldiers ceased fighting and fraternised across the trenches. In some areas, this lasted for a week.

Mira Canning Stock Route Project

In the early part of the 20th century, the “Kings in Grass Castle” ― the cattle barons of northern Western Australia ― were profit-gouging the beef trade through controlling transport.

The WA government decided to break their monopoly by mapping a stock route from the Kimberley down through the state’s semi-arid interior to the southern markets.

Stasi Hell or Workers’ Paradise? Socialism in the German Democratic Republic ― What Can We Learn From It?
John Green & Bruni de la Motte
Artery Publications, 2009
50 pp., $7.25
Red Love: The Story of an East German Family
Maxim Leo
Pushkin Press, 2013
272 pp., $31.60

The German Democratic Republic (GDR) disappeared a quarter of a century ago after 41 years’ existence. The East German state is mostly remembered as “Stasiland”, as Anna Funder’s history of its secret police is called.

Pirates, Punks & Politics, FC St. Pauli: Falling in Love With a Radical Football Club
By Nick Davidson
Sports Books, 2014
251 pp., $16.50

I must admit that I don’t know one end of a soccer ball from another, but having read this book I don’t care. I’m now passionately interested in this extraordinary German football club, FC St Pauli, with its skull-and-cross-bones emblem.

Marx on Gender & the Family: A Critical Study
By Heather A. Brown
Haymarket, 2013

US socialist Heather Brown has performed a great service in this short, yet detailed survey of all of Karl Marx’s writings on women and gender ― including some that have never been published in any language.

Brown shows how Marx did not just analyse economics and history, he interrogated all forms of literature (even police files) to tease out the threads of social oppression.

Richard Avedon People
Exhibition, Art Gallery of Western Australia
Until November 17.

More than ever, we live in the “society of the spectacle” that Guy Debord theorised in 1967.

Bourgeois commodification is augmented by reducing reality to a shallow image of itself. However, the spectacle itself “is the historical movement in which we are caught”.

By Michael Lewis
W. W. Norton, 2014
288 pp, $39.99

Michael Lewis's Flashboys has had a dramatic welcome in the United States. It swept to the top of the best seller list and was only knocked from its perch by Thomas Piketty’s Capital in the 21st Century.

It is revealing of the contemporary US mindset that Flashboys, which turns the machinations of Wall Street into a classic US-style morality play, should alternate with Piketty’s history of capitalist inequality.

In reality, Lewis has not produced new information.

The Ghetto Fights, Warsaw 1943-45
Marek Edelman
Bookmarks, 2013
98 pp., $14.00

“Through the din of German cannons, destroying the homes of our mothers, wives and children; through the noise of their machine guns, seized by us in the fight against the cowardly German police and SS men; through the smoke of the Ghetto, that was set on fire, and the blood of its mercilessly killed defenders, we, the slaves of the Ghetto, convey heartfelt greetings to you.”

Charlie's Country
Directed by Rolf de Heer
Starring David Gulpilil
In cinemas now

From the opening moments of Charlie’s Country you know that you are witnessing a different kind of cinematic experience.

Co-written by its star David Gulpilil and its director Rolf de Heer, and produced by Aboriginal actor Peter Djigirr, Charlie’s Country presents an Aboriginal cinematic vernacular.

Where No Doctor Has Gone Before: Cuba’s Place in the Global Health Landscape
By Robert Huish
Wilfred Laurier University Press, 2013
Out of the Mountains: The Coming Age of the Urban Guerrilla
By David Kilcullen
Scribe, 2013
342 pp, $32.95

It is interesting that Robert Huish and David Kilcullen inhabit the same world, because their books indicate that they view the planet differently, like black and white or perhaps like life and death.


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