Cultural Dissent

Activist filmmaker Zebedee Parkes, a member of Socialist Alliance who produces content for Green Left TV, won “best short documentary” at the 2016 Sydney Indie Film Festival for his refugee documentary For My Friend In Detention.

Who Rules The World?
By Noam Chomsky
Hamish Hamilton, 2016

Noam Chomsky, who turns 88 this month, revolutionised the study of linguistics in the second half of the 20th century, starting with books like Syntactic Structures (1957) and Aspects of the Theory of Syntax (1965). He remains professor emeritus at the Massachussetts Institute of Technology.

The Business Affairs of Mr Julius Caesar
By Bertolt Brecht
Bloomsbury, 2016
216 pages, $31.99

Like Karl Marx before him, the great German writer Bertolt Brecht had a passion for Roman history — and it shines through in the sadly incomplete text of The Business Affairs of Mr Julius Caesar. He researched it for years before first attempting to write it as a play and then turning to the novel form.

Nazis In Our Midst: German-Australians, Internment and the Second World War
David Henderson
Australian Scholarly Publishing, 2016
197 pages

When World Word II began, Australia’s then Prime Minister Robert Menzies said that it would be “absurd to intern refugees and anti-fascists when they were on the Allies’ side”.

Yet, writes La Trobe University historian, David Henderson, in his case-study history, Nazis in our Midst, this is exactly what happened in Australia during the war.

This year has seen a remarkable renaissance of star athletes in the United States for the first time since the 1960s and ’70s using their hyper-exalted platform to speak about politics.

One person who can speak about these eras like no one else is legendary sports sociologist Dr Harry Edwards, who played a role in advising activist athletes from Muhammad Ali to Colin Kaepernick.

Imperialism in the Twenty-First Century: Globalization, Super-Exploitation, and Capitalism’s Final Crisis
By John Smith
Monthly Review Press, 2016

On April 24, 2013 a clothing factory in Rana Plaza, Dhaka, Bangladesh collapsed, killing 1133 workers and injuring 2500 others.

This image of super-exploited, fatally-trapped workers, hemmed in by national borders and racist migration policies preventing them from moving to safer, better-paid work opens John Smith’s book — and illustrates his outrage.

As an openly racist president was elected in the US, artist-activists reacted to Donald Trump across Latin America and the Caribbean. Below is a selection, abridged from TeleSUR English.

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1. Mexico's old-school rock-rap band Molotov did not miss the opportunity to take a jab at both US president-elect Donald Trump and current Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto.

The 71-year-old Canadian rock legend Neil Young’s latest song, “Indian Givers”, seeks to raise awareness about the Native American water protectors in North Dakota protesting the destructive four-state Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL).

Adding to ongoing protests against Donald Trump’s election victory, basketball teams appear to have also come out to play against the US president-elect. At least three NBA teams have said they will not be staying at Trump brand hotels, with other teams expected to follow their lead.

The Milwaukee Bucks, Memphis Grizzlies and Dallas Mavericks have already stopped, or will no longer stay, in Trump branded accommodation while they are on the road to play against the New York Knicks, Brooklyn Nets and Chicago Bulls.

The Mexican and US national teams defied protocol on November 11 in their World Cup qualifier as they posed together for a team photograph. The move was a display of unity as US president-elect Donald Trump threatens to tear the two nations apart.

Mexico won the game, hosted in Ohio, with a 2-1 final score.

Normally, football teams pose separately before the game, but this time the players decided to pose together to strike back at Trump’s proposal to make Mexico pay for a wall between the two countries to keep immigrants out.

Ideas for the Struggle
By Marta Harnecker
Can be read at Links International Journal of Socialist renewal

Ideas for the Struggle, a pamphlet filled with lessons for those seeking social change by the Chilean-born revolutionary socialist writer Marta Harnecker, should be required reading for all organisers, political activists and would-be revolutionaries in these troubling and challenging times.

In unity with all at Standing Rock today we do stand
To the many First Nations elders, brothers and sisters protecting their water and lands
Protectors not protestors defending Mother Earth
For they know life with no water has no worth.
It's common sense you know, there is no tricks
Basic science teaches us that oil and water don't mix.
Since this pipeline began nothing has gone right
Explosions, spillages and loss of life
The worst spillage 840,000 gallons North Dakota 2013
Over 18 million people living downstream.

Imagine hearing that your favourite athlete had drowned after being stuffed in the hull of a ship in order to avoid authorities and cross a treacherous body of water. Their goal in this alternative universe was to flee violence as well as earn enough to support their families.

That is exactly what happened to the goalkeeper for the Gambian national women’s football team, Fatim Jawara.

Australian soldiers during the Boer war.

Unnecessary Wars
Henry Reynolds
Newsouth, 2016
266 pages

Australia’s first war — the Boer War in South Africa, 1899-1902 — notes historian Henry Reynolds in Unnecessary Wars, was closely bound up with the uniting of the six Australian colonies into a single nation within the British empire.

This conjunction of militarism, nationalism and imperialism was ominous. Australia has never broken the habit of being at the military beck and call of its imperial managers.

Veteran socialist filmmaker Ken Loach’s new film I, Daniel Blake, tells the story of two people trying to survive under Britain’s increasingly cruel welfare system.

Many conservatives have claimed the film presents a “romanticised” view of the poor and that the harsh realities it depict are exaggerated — despite a large number of real-life examples similar to those features in Loach’s film. Below, comedian Mark Steel responds to Daily Mail columnist Toby Young, who said the film “didn’t ring true”. It first appeared at The Independent.

I, Daniel Blake
Written by Paul Laverty & directed by Ken Loach
Starring Dave Johns & Hayley Squires
In cinemas

To be in need of government welfare in this neoliberal world is to enter one of the circles of hell. Government services have been constructed so that people receive as much hassle as they get help – to preserve them from becoming “welfare dependent”.

Ink In Her Veins: The Troubled Life of Aileen Palmer
Sylvia Martin
University of Western Australia Publishing, 2016
328 pages

In 1939, a young Australian woman grabbed the international headlines when she threw red paint onto the doorsteps of 10 Downing Street, whilst distributing leaflets hidden in copies of the Ladies Home Journal.

The action by Aileen Palmer was to protest the blood that then-British prime minister Neville Chamberlain had on his hands for selling out Spain and Czechoslovakia to European fascism.

Denasia Lawrence kneels while singing the anthem.

Singer Denasia Lawrence knelt while performing the national anthem at a Miami Heat basketball game on October 21 and opened her jacket to reveal a “Black Lives Matter” T-shirt.

It was a variation on a protest that has punctuated many US sporting events in recent times against racist police violence. Like other anthem protests, the gesture by the Black singer Denasia was intended to highlight the unfair police treatment of people of colour in the United States amid ongoing killings of unarmed Black people.

Building the Commune
By George Ciccariello-Maher
Verso Books, 2016

Every commune is different, George Ciccariello-Maher says in Building the Commune, but “the coffee is always too sweet, and the process is always difficult, endlessly messy and unpredictable in its inescapable creativity”.

Prophets of Rage at their first live show in Los Angeles in May.

Tom Morello, renowned guitarist from Rage Against the Machine and social activist, has just finished a “Make America Rage Again” tour with new supergroup Proohets of Rage. The group features RATM members Brad Wilk and Tim Cummerford, as well as Public Enemy vocalist Chuck D and Cypress Hill frontman B Real.

From continued ire toward NFL star Colin Kaepernick over his protests against police killings to outrage over a racist mascot and a Los Angeles slugger’s rejection of Trump, sport in the US is fast becoming politicised.

Reflecting a racially-polarised society, tensions have recently broken past the typical barriers and spilled — like a rowdy, drunken fan — onto the playing field of the usually-insulated field of sports.

Dirty Secrets: Our ASIO Files
Edited by Meredith Burgmann
Newsouth, 2014
464 pages, $32.99 (pb)

The only thing worse, notes Meredith Burgmann in Dirty Secrets, than discovering that your personal file held by Australia’s domestic political police, ASIO, is disappointingly thin is to find out that your official subversion rating hasn’t warranted a file at all.

Play On! The Hidden History of Women’s Australian Rules Football
Brunette Lenkić and Rob Hess
Echo Publishing 2016,
324 pages

In a landmark development, the first national women’s Australian Football competition — AFL Women’s — will be launched next February. But a century ago, attitudes to women playing the game were very different.

The star of the new Netflix hit Luke Cage, Mike Colter, said the new show — featuring a bulletproof African-American man sporting a hoodie — highlighted the plight of many young Black people in the United States who have been shot dead by police and the decades-long struggle against such brutality.

The Baulkham Hills African Ladies Troupe
Written and directed by Ros Horin
In cinemas now

About 90% of women refugees have been subjected to sexual violence in the process of becoming a refugee. In this film, four African women who managed to make it to Australia open up about their experiences and, in the process, create a theatrical work that has swept the world.

Pitched Battle: In the Frontline of the 1971 Springbok Tour of Australia By Larry Writer Scribe Melbourne, 2016 336pp, $35.00

“Sport and politics don’t mix” is often heard from politicians and media commentators when people target sporting events in acts of protest or athletes use their chosen sports to make political statement — for example Muhammad Ali and, more recently, US NFL star Colin Kaepernick. However, sport is often politicised in many different ways by the ruling class to reinforce the status quo.

We Shall Fight, We Shall Win
Produced by All India Forum for the Right to Education
2016

The All India Forum for the Right to Education (AIFRTE) has just released a documentary about its struggle against the privatisation of education in India. The film, We Shall Fight, We Shall Win provides a rare glimpse into grassroots voices for public education in India.

In a dramatic depiction of the vast differences in resources and respect between men’s and women’s sport, a report by the Professional Footballers Australia (PFA) has laid bare the woeful pay and conditions for W-League football (soccer) players.

AAP reported on September 23 that he report by the PFA, the union representing Australian footballers, surveyed almost two-thirds of W-League players last season. The report suggests players could walk away from the game because of the financial strain.

Kurdish footballer Deniz Naki has been indicted by a Turkish court on “terrorist propaganda” charges for sharing posts on Facebook and Twitter about Turkey’s destruction of Kurdish cities and killing of civilians and militants.

Naki, who plays as a striker and playmaker for Kurdish team Amedspor, in Turkey’s Second League, will face up to five years in prison if found guilty. Amedspor are based in Diyarbakır, the unofficial capital of Turkish Kurdistan.

 The protests by professional sports players in the United States during “The Star-Spangled Banner” have spread since NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick sparked the controversial movement in support of the Black Lives Matter movement in August by refusing to stand for the anthem before games. The protests have spread, with other NFL players joining in as well as sportspeople from soccer and volleyball.

After Sustainability: Denial, Hope, Retrieval
By John Foster
Routledge, 2015
230pp, $53.95

Just thinking about the global ecological crisis is enough to make you worry. So what is it like when a professional philosopher, theologian and academic starts mulling it over?

Unfortunately, what results is this utterly despondent book by Lancaster University’s John Foster. It is, however, a sophisticated work and activists will no doubt encounter people quoting it in years to come.

Corbyn: The Strange Rebirth of Radical Politics
By Richard Seymour
Verso, 2016
paperback, 256 pages

If ever a book was born under a lucky star, it surely was Richard Seymour’s Corbyn.

No sooner had the English socialist blogger and author’s book about the British Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn been published in May than the anti-Corbyn coup pushed it into the best sellers list.

Snowden
Directed by Oliver Stone
Starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Shailene Woodley, Melissa Leo
In cinemas now

How often in do people stand up to the behemoth that is the mighty US military-industrial-spy complex and get away with it? Not often enough.

But if you count living in limbo in Russia — unable to fly to asylum in a third country once his passport was cancelled, unable to return home to the US without fear of a rigged, secret trial on espionage charges — as getting away with it, Edward Snowden did just that.

Miami Dolphins kneel during national anthem on September 11.

On September 11 in the United States, a small group of National Football League players risked their careers, their endorsements and their livelihoods. They did so through the simple act of refusal.

Simon Hunt is a lecturer at UNSW’s Art and Design school as well as a political satirist. Hunt found success and notoriety in the 1990s as Pauline Pantsdown, releasing song “I’m A Backdoor Man” (1997) and “I Don’t Like It” (1998), which parodied far right politician Pauline Hanson. In 2004, Hunt released “I’m Sorry”, a parody of then-prime minister John Howard that was released as “Little Johnny”.

Humming of the Axis
Jeremiah Johnson
www.jeremiahjohnson.com.au

Singer-songwriter Jeremiah Johnson, who grew up in regional New South Wales, is well known and loved in his adopted hometown of Cairns and will soon be hitting the road for an extended tour around Australia. After a successful crowd funding campaign this year, the independent musician has a fully equipped tour bus and it’s time for his fan base to grow even further.


”Benny G the clown”, painted on the Israel's Apartheid Wall, referencing Ben Gurion, first prime minister of Israel.

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