Cultural Dissent

RAD Exhibition
Until August 27
Newcastle Museum
Radical Newcastle
Edited by James Bennett, Nancy Cushing & Erik Eklund
New South Publishers, 2015
$39.99

Exhibitions like RAD, now showing at the Newcastle Museum, and Radical Newcastle, the book that inspired it, help each generation of activists remember and learn the lessons of previous struggles.

The Cuban Revolution has created international ripples ever since its military victory on January 1, 1959. The United States was quick to recognise the threats to its dominance in Latin America and set out to crush the rebel regime.

In response, the revolution’s leaders took the process rapidly leftwards, socialising property and seeking to help revolutionaries in other countries. The moral and political weight of Cuba’s revolutionaries remains far out of proportion to their economic and military strength.

Cuban moral authority within the Third World of super-exploited countries is absolute. However, the Cuban Revolution has proven a litmus test for the intellectual and moral fibre of socialist currents in the advanced capitalist countries — a test that some have failed.

Artists and activists have pushed back against English rock band Radiohead, as the band goes ahead with its gig in Tel Aviv.

Two days before the July 19 show, Oscar-nominated filmmaker Mike Leigh condemned Radiohead’s intransigence towards Palestinians.

My bias is real. When it comes to tennis legends Venus and Serena Williams, they have never been just athletes to me, but people. I have felt an imperative to defend them against detractors, know-nothings and dime-store bigots.

The reasons are obvious: they were once two Black teenagers from the public courts of Compton, treated with contempt — of both a race and class variety — by their sport. They not only survived but thrived.

In no breast did the prodigious financial corruption of world football’s administrative elite beat more vigorously than that of Chuck Blazer, the head of football in the North and Central American and Caribbean regional body.

Chuck was not called American soccer’s “Mr Big” for nothing. His bottomless appetite for high-calorie nosh gave him a gargantuan girth, which was matched financially in size by his tax-sheltered bank accounts. These bulged with millions of dollars received through fraud, embezzlement, bribes, perks, gifts and inducements.

Not only could he afford to rent an entire floor of luxury apartments in the prestigious Trump Tower in Manhattan, but he preserved one of them solely for the use of his cats.

Martin Pieter Zandvliet’s multiple award-winning 2016 film Land of Mine is harrowing viewing. But it is not to be missed by anyone interested in issues of war and peace — or in fine films.

Activist singer-songwriter from Brisbane, Phil Monsour, has released a new song and video, “Voices Rising” which celebrates the work of teachers and the struggles of the Queensland Teachers’ Union.

A the same time, Monsour has released One Song One Union, an album of contemporary trade union and solidarity songs, which is available online.

The Vatican Treasurer, George Pell, could turn out to be the Lance Armstrong of the Australian Catholic Church.

Like Armstrong, the world’s former top cyclist who furiously denied being a drug cheat until he was eventually rumbled by dogged investigative journalists. Pell, Australia’s top Catholic, has maintained his innocence in the face of mounting allegations that he covered up an epidemic of sexual abuse of children by Australian Catholic priests.

He has now been charged with such crimes himself.

Last year, a group of studying music at the LGBTI Centre in Bogota decided to organize a rock band unlike any other in Colombia. Members say the band, 250 Milligrams, is the first transgender male rock group in South America. 

“Supporters of around 70 English football clubs have vowed to boycott The Sun over its coverage of the Hillsborough disaster,” The Independent said on July 3.

The decision by the fan groups comes after six people — including the senior police officer in charge on the day — were arrested over the infamous disaster in which 96 Liverpool fans were killed. Coverage by The Sun infamously blamed Liverpool fans and included insulting lies about their alleged behaviour since proven to be entirely false.

The 2017 Sydney Film Festival, which ran from June 7-18, featured a range of progressive-themed films. Below is a look at five by Green Left Weekly’s Zebedee Parkes.

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Those Who Make Revolution Halfway Only Dig Their Own Graves
By Mathieu Denis & Simon Lavoie

This is a genuinely interesting dramatic film, with an epic narrative and visual style.

Song of Gulzarina
By Tariq Mehmood
Daraja Press
November 2016

Sing to the Western wind the song it understands.

Song of Gulzarina, by British-Pakistani filmmaker and author Tariq Mehmood, stands out as a unique piece of literature that intertwines personal issues such as migration, identity crisis and romance, with the impact of racism, Islamophobia and Western imperialism in the Middle East.

Below are five new books for the “ecosocialist bookshelf” on climate change and human health, ecology and imperialism, environmental economics, capitalism and universities, and the meaning of hegemony.

They have been compiled by Ian Angus, the editor of Climate and Capitalism, where this first appeared. Angus is the author of A Redder Shade of Green, which has just been published by Monthly Review Press.

“How does it aid the revolution, you trying to be funny?” The left-wing Liverpudlian Alexei Sayle, future star of the BBC’s comically demented The Young Ones, was flummoxed by this question posed to him by an exiled Arab revolutionary in Sayle’s London flat in 1971, in which the General Congress of the deadly serious Popular Front for the Liberation of the Occupied Arab Gulf was being held.

Sayle, the son of working-class communists, was a “practising communist” himself. But he also loved clowning around, he writes in Thatcher Sole My Trousers, his follow-up memoir to his childhood reminiscences in Stalin Ate My Homework.

No is Not Enough: Resisting Trump’s Shock Politics & Winning the World We Need
By Naomi Klein
Haymarket Books, 2017

A new book by Naomi Klein, one of the leading left journalists in North America and author of such important treatises as No LogoThe Shock Doctrine and This Changes Everything, is not something you wants to miss — especially when it is on the 2016 US election and the rise of Donald Trump.

The year 1917 offered an extraordinary course in political literacy for the people of Russia.

In the February anti-Tsarist revolution, which “dispensed breakneck with a half millennium of autocratic rule”, and then in the October socialist revolution, eager workers and peasants stumbled over and then mastered a new way to speak of economic and political democracy, writes China Mieville in October, his narrative of the Russian Revolution.

Chauka, Please Tell Us the Time
Written & directed by Arash Kamali Sarvestani & Behrouz Boochani
 

Chauka, Please Tell Us the Time is a ground-breaking film that gives audiences a new window to look into Manus Island detention centre.

Melbourne is known for good coffee, horrible weather, Australian Rules football and militant unions. Since 1974, community radio station 3CR has been a supporting beam in the city’s radical infrastructure.

Green Left Radio, like all 120 programs on the station’s schedule, are calling on listeners and supporters to donate to the annual 3CR Radiothon and keep the signal strong on their June 16 show.

Google Maps is ahead of the curve. The growing calls for the Margaret Court Arena to be renamed in response to the tennis star’s offensive homophobic comments has resulted in Google Maps renaming the Melbourne arena the Evonne Goolagong Arena.

British rock band Radiohead have come under pressure by Palestine solidarity activists, who are calling for the band to cancel its July 19 Tel Aviv gig as part of the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) campaign.

In its decade-long run, Tel Aviv’s LGBT Film Festival (TLVFest) has never before been hit with such pressure from the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) campaign targetting Israel in support of Palestine. Now, nearly half of its international guests have pulled out from taking part.

Below are five new books for the bookshelves of ecosocialists. They cover climate change, the Anthropocene, water and food — plus an inspiring account of the Russian Revolution by award-winning science fiction writer China Mieville.

David Kilcullen operates in the post-structural, morally grey nether world that neoliberalism has created. Not quite a mercenary — but not much better — he slides between being an Australian soldier, a top-level civilian strategic thinking adviser to the US military, a “security consultant” and an academic.

Larte-se
Directed by Lygia Barbosa & Eliane Brum
Netflix

A documentary that premiered on Netflix on May 19 explores the life of a Brazilian transgender cartoonist who says she wants to break taboos surrounding her gender identity.

The Case Against Fragrance
Kate Grenville
Text Publishing, 2017
198 pages

The fragrance industry really gets up Kate Grenville’s nose. 

The Australian novelist has gradually worked out that artificially-scented consumer products, from high-end perfume to toilet cleaner, were the cause of her debilitating headaches and wooziness.

Refugee Art Project is a not-for-profit community art organisation that holds art workshops for asylum seekers and refugees — both within the Villawood detention centre and in its studio in north Parramatta. Eila Vinwynn spoke to Safdar Ahmed, who founded the group about its work and aims.

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With less than two weeks until the June 8 general elections, a song about Tory leader Theresa May reached the Top 10 in the download chart. Yet the official chart shows on radio stations Capital FM and Heart have refused to play it. 

Performed by Captain Ska, “Liar, Liar GE2017 can be downloaded for £1 or less, with proceeds split between food banks and campaign group the People’s Assembly Against Austerity.

Ms Saffaa is a Saudi artist currently studying in Australia. As part of her practice, she creates murals championing the freedom of women in Saudi Arabia — in particular drawing attention to the prohibitive “guardian­ship” laws.

Under these laws, women must be accompanied by a male “guardian” to do many every day activities — laws the Saudi regime slightly relaxed last month in a sign of pressure from campaigners.

Via Twitter, Saffaa’s work was taken up by a grassroots movement in Saudi Arabia and is now synonymous with the struggle to end these laws.

It is rare to see such a powerful film as Brendan Shoebridge’s The Bentley Effect, which focuses on the successful struggle by Northern Rivers communities to save their land and water from the coal seam gas juggernaut at Bentley, near Lismore, in New South Wales.

The power of community is often talked about, but this film shows how it actually happened, in a powerful tale of political awakening among several generations.

Carol Lloyd, a gay icon and trailblazer for female rockers, died on February 13 after a lengthy battle with pulmonary fibrosis. Lloyd is best remembered for her lead vocals with the funk band Railroad Gin, whose hits include the seminal 1974 classic “A Matter of Time”, which hit number 1 on the charts.

It is rare to see such a powerful film as Brendan Shoebridge’s The Bentley Effect, which focuses on the successful struggle by Northern Rivers communities to save their land and water from the coal seam gas juggernaut at Bentley, near Lismore, NSW.

The power of community is often talked about, but this film shows how it actually happened, in a powerful tale of political awakening among several generations.

Argentine hockey player Jessica Millaman, who had been prevented from playing field hockey by her provincial federation governing the sport, told EFE in an interview that she was happy about the recent decision by the Argentine Field Hockey Confederation (CAH) to allow transgender women to participate in women’s tourneys.

Hit and Run: The New Zealand SAS in Afghanistan & the Meaning of Honour
By Nicky Hager & Jon Stephenson
Potton & Burton, 2017 
159 pages

In this well-written and powerful book, Nicky Hager and Jon Stephenson present a barrage of evidence that “New Zealanders and their United States allies were involved in war crimes” in Afghanistan in 2010.

Denial
Directed by Mick Jackson
Starring Rachel Weisz, Tom Wilkinson & Timothy Spall
In Cinemas now

In 1996 the vile “historian” David Irving sued US historian Deborah Lipstadt for libel. She had labelled Irving anti-Semitic because of his persistent claims that the Nazi Holocaust had not occurred.

Irving sued Lipstadt in London because under Britain’s libel laws, the burden of proof would be on her. In other words, Lipstadt would have to prove the Holocaust actually did occur.

Any book on the modern urban heritage movement would at least make mention of Jack Mundey and the 1960s Green Bans, but for Sydney-based architect James Colman, Mundey’s figure continues to loom large over his city.

Fans of Glasgow’s Celtic football club showed their support for more than 1500 Palestinian prisoners on hunger strike in Israeli jails, with large banners and Palestinian flags at Celtic’s May 6 football (soccer) match against fellow Scottish side St Johnstone FC.

Members of Celtic’s “ultras” fan group, the Green Brigade, along with Celtic Fans for Palestine, lifted a huge Palestinian flag, as well as large banners with the slogans “Freedom and Dignity” and “Hungering for Justice”.

FIFA, the governing body of world football (soccer), has capitulated once more to intense pressure from the Israeli government. It has removed from the agenda of its upcoming congress the issue of teams from Israel’s illegal settlements on occupied Palestinian land playing in Israel’s national league.

Italian soccer authorities were branded as “gutless” amid calls for strikes from the league’s Black players after a Ghanaian player was banned for protesting racist crowd abuse.

During a May 1 match between Cagliari and Pescara in Italy’s top league, the Serie A, Pescara’s Ghanaian midfielder Sulley Muntari was given a yellow card for dissent after he protested opposition fans’ racist taunting.

Muntari was seen complaining to the referee to stop the game after coping with abuse throughout the game. He shouted at the fans that “this is my colour”.

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