Cultural Dissent

GLW Issue 1072

The WikiLeaks Files: The World According to the US Empire
Verso, 2015
624 pages, hardback

George Orwell said: “In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act.”

These are dark times, in which the propaganda of deceit touches all our lives. It is as if political reality has been privatised and illusion legitimised.

The information age is a media age. We have politics by media; censorship by media; war by media; retribution by media; diversion by media — a surreal assembly line of clichés and false assumptions.

Amir Amirani's documentary film We Are Many — on the huge outpouring of public opposition to the Iraq War in February 2003 — has its Australian premiere at the Adelaide Film Festival on Oct 22 and 24.

On Feb 15, 2003, 30 million people marched against the impending US-led war in Iraq. The protesters warned the Iraq invasion would be a disaster and humanitarian catastrophe — and were tragically proven right.

Books are lives compressed, humanity summarised into screaming or striking stories.

One would think the book world would be a safe haven from inequality. But instead the traditional publishing industry — the big corporate publishers — is perpetuating prejudice and limiting ideas by elevating certain authors, characters, and thoughts above all others, with significant social consequences.

GLW Issue 1071

Here's this month's radical record round-up, which actually features more than 20 albums (count them). What album, or albums, would you suggest? Comment below, on Twitter or Facebook.


The arts sector is celebrating the removal of the arts portfolio from Attorney-General George Brandis in the aftermath of sustained protests over the Brandis-led cuts to the Australia Council for the Arts.

An open letter, signed by a collective of dozens of writers including renowned musician and author Nick Cave, had demanded new Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull sack Brandis as arts minister and reverse arts funding cuts.

In Turnbull's cabinet shake-up following his replacement of Tony Abbott as prime minister, Senator Fifield was appointed arts and communications minister.

The recent election of socialist MP Jeremy Corbyn as leader of Britain’s Labour Party has spurred a flurry of debate on the left, particularly after the failure of anti-austerity SYRIZA to live up to its promise of standing up to Europe’s imposed memoranda.

Regardless of where we stand on the Labour Party generally, there is no denying that Corbyn’s victory has generated huge excitement and mobilised thousands of young people new to politics and seasoned Labour members alike.

Four big Australian musical acts have united to release two tracks in support of SOS Blak Australia's campaign to oppose the closure of dozens of remote Aboriginal communities.

It has been a year since the death of Black teenager Michael Brown, a year since the rebellion in Ferguson, a year since the Black Lives Matter movement began to shift the conversation in just about every avenue of US life.

That shift can be seen in culture — music, in particular.

Not surprisingly, hip hop has led the way — not just through a predictable barrage of tweets by musicians and artists, but a sustained, meaningful wave of creativity engaging with a bold, sometimes chaotic movement.

Undercover West Papua documentary Forgotten Bird of Paradise has been awarded Best Short Documentary at the 2015 Davis International Film Festival in the US. More than 1100 films were submitted to the festival from 80 countries.

Since its release in 2009, Forgotten Bird of Paradise has been shown at dozens of film festivals around the world, providing a rare and moving insight into the ongoing struggle for freedom being waged by the West Papuan people living under Indonesian colonial rule.

GLW Issue 1070

The Intervention:‭ ‬An Anthology
Edited By Rosie Scott‭ & ‬Anita Heiss
Concerned Australians,‭ ‬2015

‭“‬The Intervention to us was like Australia declaring war on us and in the process they demonised and dehumanised Aboriginal men,‭ ‬women and children,‭”‬ says Rosalie Kunoth-Monks,‭ ‬Aboriginal elder and‭ ‬2015‭ ‬Northern Territory Australian of the Year.

Vanished: The Mysterious Disappearance Of Mustafa Ouda
By Ahmed Masoud
Rimal Press, 2015
US$20, 205 pages, pb

There is an act of violence in Ahmed Masoud’s Vanished: The Mysterious Disappearance Of Mustafa Ouda that reverberates throughout the novel. An act done in a perfunctory way, described in a short sentence that compels the reader to sit up, if not choke.

Artist Doreen Chapman at the opening night of ‘We Call It Home’.

We Call It Home
Spinifex Hill Artists exhibition, FORM gallery, Perth
September 3 to November 30

Many of the Martu people of Western Australia’s Pilbara region, extending out into the Great Sandy, Little Sandy and Gibson Deserts, only ceased living a pujiman (entirely traditional) life as late as the 1960s. Many also took part in the huge Aboriginal stock workers strike of the late ’40s.

GLW Issue 1069

Fans of Glasgow's Celtic FC.

All 80 clubs competing in Europe's two most prestigious football competitions — the UEFA Champions League and Europa League — will donate €1 from tickets sold for their opening game towards refugees.

A World to Build: New Paths Toward Twenty-First Century Socialism
Marta Harnecker
Monthly Review Press, 2015
US$19, paperback

The emergence of diverse, complex and popular social projects in Latin America — several of which have involved winning governmental power —- is arguably the most important phenomenon shaping radical politics in the 21st century.

The political practices of popular movements and political parties engaged in these revolutionary projects can inspire and educate radicals and activists all over the world.

The focus of discussion about women in sport — specifically the discrimination they face, the lack of support and promotion, the disinterest from the media and the huge pay differences between female and male athletes — has overwhelmingly been on the elite or national level.

Matildas players earn only $21,000 a year — below the minimum wage.

The simmering industrial dispute between the nation's football (soccer) players and the Football Federation Australia (FFA) over pay and the right to collectively bargain has now boiled over with the national women's team, the Matildas, pulling out of a planned tour of the US.

GLW Issue 1068

LeBron James.

If there was ever a moment that signalled how little Black lives mattered to people in power in the US, it was in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, which hit the Gulf of Mexico — especially devastating the city of New Orleans — 10 years ago.

This fact was called out in real time by New Orleans residents, racial-justice activists around the country, and Kanye West's off-script and utterly true comments that “George Bush doesn't care about Black people”.

Mrs Engels
By Gavin McCrea
Scribe, 2015
352 pp, $29.99

For those hankering to know what Communist Manifesto co-author Frederick Engels’ erect penis looked like, page 37 of this novel is for you.

“In its vigours, it points up and a bit to the side,” says Lizzie Burns, the first-person narrator of the entire story.

Gavin McCrea’s Burns is a brilliant narrative voice, and his writing sparkles. Burns’s rich brogue and incisive humour are wonderful.

Tony Abbott received a much-deserved roasting on the opening night of the Sydney Fringe Comedy festival on September 1.

Unfortunately no actual fire was involved, but the prime minister — played disturbingly well by Jonas Holt (whose Abbott impersonation has featured on Weekend Sunrise and the At Home With Tones webseries) — was subjected to an amusing grilling.

GLW Issue 1067

On the weekend that marked the one year anniversary of the police killing of Michael Brown, another disturbingly similar case made the social media rounds: another unarmed young Black man was shot dead, on August 7, another police officer on administrative leave holding the smoking gun, another rush to convict the dead.

With industrial disputes breaking out on wharves and warehouses around the country, conflict is also brewing between those who kick the roundball on the nation's football (soccer) pitches and those who administer the game.

Football Federation Australia (FFA) is locked in a long-running dispute with players — represented by their union, the Professional Footballers Australia (PFA) — over a new collective bargaining agreement.

The PFA is seeking a better pay deal for the national men's team (Socceroos) and national women's team (Matildas), as well as an A-League salary cap and wage rise.

Wallis Simpson, Edward of Windsor, Adolf Hitler (fourth, fifth and sixth from left).

17 Carnations: The Windsors, The Nazis & The Cover-Up
By Andrew Morton
Michael O’Mara Books, 2015,
327 pages

R&R: A Novel
By Mark Dapin
Viking, 2015, 287 pp, $32.99

Mark Dapin is a rising star of Australian writing, having first made his mark as a journalist with a string of newspapers. He is a knock-about sort of working-class bloke, who brushed up against the British socialist movement before migrating, a bit of a boxer as well as a writer.

Interviewing the light welterweight world champion Kostya Tszyu for the Sydney Morning Herald, Dapin famously persuaded Tszyu to let him spar with him in the ring. Tszyu didn’t muck about, breaking three of Dapin’s ribs.

Here's this month's radical record round-up, with an emphasis on Indigenous resistance. What album, or albums, would you suggest? Comment below, on Twitter or Facebook.


GLW Issue 1066

Son of Nun
Son of Nun
Firebrand Records

For Baltimore-based rapper Son of Nun, the forming of Ryan Harvey and Tom Morello's new rebel music record label Firebrand Records offered an opportunity to redeem his rhymes.

Born Kevin James, the 37-year-old emcee took a lengthy hiatus from hip hop until Harvey, who he met through activist circles years back, approached him to become part of his experiment.

African American singer-songwriter Janelle Monae, who is seeking to use her popularity to speak out against police brutality and racism, had her comments in support of the #BlackLivesMatter movement cut from a performance on the NBC's Today show on August 14.

Marines join protesting German workers in Berlin during the November 1918 revolution.

The German Left & the Weimar Republic
By Ben Fowkes
Haymarket Books, 2015
399 pages, US$28.

Socialist historian Ben Fowkes has given us a unique and vivid text documentary of the German workers’ movement during the tumultuous years of its greatest influence — from November 1918 to its defeat by Nazism 15 years later.

GLW Issue 1065

Coranderrk: We Will Show The Country
By Giordano Nanni & Andrea James
Starring Uncle Jack Charles, Jim Daly & Syd Brisbane
La mama Courthouse, Melbourne
Until August 23
Tour around Victoria, Sept 8-19

A new theatre show will tell the story of a lesser known struggle of the First Nations.

The year-long vilification of Aboriginal AFL star Adam Goodes should not be trivialised and dismissed as simply ignorance or mob mentality. This is a valuable opportunity to reflect on race relations in Australia and the ways racism is perpetuated.

After taking a brief break in the face of sustained booing that dogged him whenever he took to the field, the Sydney Swans star returned to the game for the Swans August 8 win over Geelong. The Geelong crowd warmly welcomed Goodes in a public demonstration of all that is humane and open-hearted in the Australian public.

The St Louis Rams players braved even greater hostility by entering with their hands raised in support of the Ferguson protesters and their “hands up, don't shoot” slogan.

The police killing last August of unarmed 18-year-old Black man Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, and the subsequent protests have sparked a new Black freedom struggle and forever changed this country.