Cultural Dissent

Margaret Atwood is blessed and/or cursed with the credit for this year’s go-to feminist analogy. Any time an old white man makes it clear that women are best kept silent and pregnant, someone says that it’s “just like The Handmaid’s Tale”.

Nick Cave and his band the Bad Seeds ignored pleas by Palestinians and international artists for a cultural boycott of Israel in protest at its polices of apartheid and occupation, playing two shows in Tel Aviv on November 19 and 20.

Cave also took the opportunity to belittle and denigrate the Palestinian-led boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement. He repeated false claims used and marketed by anti-Palestinian lobby groups to discredit the campaign.

In 1960, trainee priest Thomas Keneally abandoned the seminary at Manly on Sydney’s North Shore without any qualifications other than a Bachelor of Theology and with no skills other than medieval Latin.

His escape from his crisis of confidence in the Catholic Church, says Stephany Steggall in her biography of the Australian novelist, was through writing. This was both Keneally’s attempt to understand, and keep at bay, the “madness and melancholia” of the human lot, and his own course of personal therapy for exorcising the mental demons that haunted him for six years in an uncaring, dogmatic institution with its “anti-human moral code”.

Ignoring a call from more than 170 Palestinian civil society organisations for a boycott of Israel over its policies of apartheid and occupation, Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds played two sold-out gigs in Tel Aviv on November 19 and 20. 

Nick Cave and his band also ignored the example and calls by many other musicians organised in Artists for Palestine, such as Roger Walters and Brian Eno among the most prominent voices.

Eleven women from Britain and Germany travelled to the occupied Palestinian territory of the West Bank in October on a tour of friendship, solidarity and football.

The promise of participants in the “Freedom Through Football” tour was to share with the wider world the truth of life in Palestine. In particular, it was to highlight the story of women who play football in a country where football for women is far from a cultural norm.

Dozens of high-profile musicians, scholars and activists are calling on Australian band Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds to cancel its performances this month in Tel Aviv.

Of Mice & Men
By John Steinbeck
First published 1937

This year marks the 80th anniversary of John Steinbeck’s great mythic novel of alienation under US capitalism, Of Mice and Men.

On Google Earth, you can see where the Salinas River “drops in close to the hillside bank and runs deep and green”, a few miles “south of Soledad”, the novella’s opening lines.  Clearly, John Steinbeck knew this area intimately to be able to describe it so strikingly.

Malign Velocities: Accelerationism & Capitalism
Benjamin Noys
Zero Books, 117 pages

Benjamin Noys’ Malign Velocities is an attempt to catalogue and describe an intellectual movement within capitalism that’s gaining a new and disturbing influence lately.

You’ve heard of those recessive genes,
And the masterful dominant types?
We could hope Malcolm’s progressive genes
Throve alongside his conservative stripes,
Even if mostly the latter prevailed.
Whereas Abbott’s mix of political genes
Seemed extreme, then more extreme when unveiled.
But Malcolm’s drum-banging terrorism scenes,
“Keeping us safe” (and Muslims uneasy)
By locking up ten-year-olds, now indicate
His progressive genes are feeling queasy.
He’s Abbott without the flags, so to state.

The Billonaires’ Club: The Unstoppable Rise of Football’s Super-Rich Owners
James Montague
Bloomsbury, 2017
330 pages

At this stage of the 2017 English Premier League (EPL) season, it looks like one of the two Manchester teams will win the championship — and with barely a Mancunian between them. Both Manchester United and Manchester City have overseas owners, overseas managers and overseas-dominated player lists.

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