Cultural Dissent

GLW Issue 1042

Here's this month's radical record round-up, from songs for warriors to chants for socialists. What album, or albums, would you suggest? Comment below, on Twitter or Facebook.

1. WAR ON WOMEN
- WAR ON WOMEN

Selma
Directed by Ava DuVernay
Starring David Oyelowo, Carmen Ejogo & Common
In cinemas now

The release of Selma could not be better suited to the current US political climate. Following the events in Ferguson last year, and many other tragic instances of police murdering and brutalising African American youth, a large anti-police brutality and anti-racism movement has arisen that is shaking the US.

50 Shades of Grey
Directed by Sam Taylor-Johnson
Starring Dakota Johnson & Jamie Dornan
Based on the novel by EL James
In cinemas now

Perhaps the most concerning thing about 50 Shades of Grey is not that it is a film adaptation of a novel that was written in an online forum — and a Twilight fan forum at that.

GLW Issue 1041

Stolen
Provocalz & Lady Lash
Released Invasion Day, January 26, 2015
$5 all funds go to the Smith Street Working Party
www.provocalz.bandcamp.com

Lady Lash says it was her own family's trauma that inspired her to record "Stolen", a song about Indigenous children being taken from their parents.

"My grandmother, she went through a lot of the stuff where she was hidden," says the mother-of-three, who recorded the song in collaboration with a fellow Aboriginal rapper and parent, Provocalz.

Sport is a huge feature of Australian society, and the way it is promoted helps shape our view of men and women.

So it was refreshing to see a female sports commentator, Stephanie Brantz, leading the discussion on the ABC during the men’s football (soccer) Asian Cup held last month in Australia. The resources and media dedicated to this event, however, is something that women athletes and sports teams can only dream about.

Many women athletes and teams have achieved great success, but only a few achieve the esteem and popularity of Dawn Fraser or Kathy Freeman.

Rosewater
Written & directed by Jon Stewart
Starring Gael Garcia Bernal, Kim Bodnia
In cinemas now

Written and directed by Jon Stewart of The Daily Show fame, Rosewater is a film set in Iran about the ever-present danger of an unaccountable government.

This film is based on Iranian-Canadian journalist Maziar Bahari’s memoir And Then They Came For Me, detailing his jailing by the Iranian regime. While it focuses on the Iranian government, the film should also provoke reflection on the actions of Western governments, including Australia’s.

GLW Issue 1040

Disunited Kingdom: How Westminster Won a Referendum But Lost Scotland
By Iain MacWhirter
Cargo Publishing, 2014,
174 pages

The independence referendum on September 18 last year has been hailed by many as the most important event in the recent Scottish history.

The result was far closer than any supporter of independence would have dared predict even a few months before the vote. About 1.6 million voters (45%) refused to be swayed by a sustained fear campaign by the British state and its allies ― voting “Yes” to Scottish independence.

Songs of Alex Glasgow 1 & 2
Now & Then: Songs of Alex Glasgow 3
Northern Drift & Joe Lives
Alex Glasgow
www.mawson-wareham.com

During the British miners’ strike in 1984, when Margaret Thatcher set out to break the National Union of Miners and push for her neoliberal counter-revolution, I somehow received word that Alex Glasgow was flying to Britain to perform solidarity concerts.

Useful Enemies: When Waging Wars Is More Important Than Winning Them
By David Keen
Yale University Press, 2012.

Governments in the US, Britain and Australia seem intent on waging war in faraway lands, supposedly to bring freedom and democracy to foreign peoples and to deliver us from the chaos of terrorism.

David Keen's useful Enemies, however, shows the folly of the policies being pursued. Far from bringing peace, it turns out throwing arms, bombs and money against opponents who refuse to neatly line up as targets is more likely to fuel the conflict.

Clivosaurus: The Politics Of Clive Palmer
Guy Rundle
Quarterly Essay
November 2014
Black Inc., $19.99

Elected in 2013 by the curious, the disaffected and the dark arts of preference deals, billionaire Queensland coal baron Clive Palmer and his Senate threesome, were, at first, writes Guy Rundle in Clivosaurus, ignored or played for laughs by the establishment media.

GLW Issue 1039

The Barking Dog
Edited by Caroline Lund
Order via lundshep@att.net
US$20 in US or $25 elsewhere

I asked Barry Sheppard, the longtime partner, friend and comrade of late US socialist, auto-worker and union activist Caroline Lund (pictured) to collect and publish The Barking Dog, because I thought it was one of the best shop floor newsletters from an auto worker I had ever read.

I believed this collection would be an inspiration and a guide for the next generation of rank-and-file auto workers. But I was wrong: The Barking Dog is much more than that.

A recent decision by the organisers of one of Australia's largest pop culture conventions has sparked controversy in the fan community.

A petition has been created to have the organisers of Supanova pop-culture expo revoke their invitation to Firefly actor Adam Baldwin. The US actor is due to appear at their Sydney and Perth conventions later this year.

Noam Chomsky had some choice words about the popularity of the Clint Eastwood Movie American Sniper, its glowing New York Times review, and what the worship of a movie about a cold-blooded killer says about the American people.

It's not good.

American Sniper
Directed by Clint Eastwood
Starring Bradley Cooper & Sienna Millar
In cinemas now

Clint Eastwood’s American Sniper has two clashing narratives. The first is about a soldier in the US army (i.e. the content of the film). The second is much bigger, about war and terrorism (i.e. the content of the discussion the film has generated).

The movie fails not in explaining these two topics properly and, as a result, leaving it up to the viewer to make up their own mind whether the action of the soldier should be applauded.

GLW Issue 1038

Here's this month's radical record round-up, from Japanese robotics to Italian hardcore. What album, or albums, would you suggest? Comment below, on Twitter or Facebook.

1. DAVID ROVICS
- MEANWHILE IN AFGHANISTAN

Blue King Brown (pictured) have are back on tour in January to promote their new album Born Free and just generally to spread the love with their fans.

The album, which was released in November, is a cutting-edge roots selection of tracks centred around the message of internationalism and the people of the world coming together to support social justice.

Blowing The Roof Off The Twenty-First Century: Media, Politics, and the Struggle for Post-Capitalist Democracy
Robert W McChesney
Monthly Review Press
272 pages
Published November 2014
www.blowingtheroofoff.com

The work of renowned media critic Robert McChesney “has been of extraordinary importance”, says the “world's top public intellectual”, Noam Chomsky. Green Left Weekly's Mat Ward spoke to McChesney about his new book, Blowing The Roof Off The Twenty-First Century.

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GLW Issue 1037

“Australia's probably never had a PM this bad,” Wil Wagner, frontman of Melbourne's Smith Street Band, told Faster Louder on January 13.

Wagner was explaining his band's latest single, succinctly titled “Wipe That Shit-Eating Grin Off Your Punchable Face” and released with artwork featuring the prime minister looking extra punchable with an especially shit-eating grin.

Outrage and disbelief met a report in the December 30 Irish Times that British TV station Channel 4 was commissioning a comedy set to the backdrop of the Irish Famine.

The Famine lasted from 1845 until 1852, with more than one million people dying from starvation and disease.

Many of them were buried without coffins in mass pauper graves. Others were left where they dropped for fear of contagion, their mouths green from the grass they ate in desperation.

Left-wing London-based US journalist and author Mike Marqusee passed away on January 13 from cancer, aged 61. Below, radical sports writer and socialist Dave Zirin pays tribute. It is abridged from The Nation.

***

Radical journalist Mike Marqusee, the greatest professional influence on my life, has died. Losing Mike is like losing several pints of blood. I’m left dizzy by the prospect of his absence.

GLW Issue 1036

This year seemed to have more than the usual quota of politically potent albums. Here, in no particular order, are 52 from 2014 - one for every week of the year. What album, or albums, would you suggest? Comment below, on Twitter or Facebook.

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1. BRISBANE BLACKS - INVASION DAY MIXTAPE

Maralinga: The Chilling Expose of Our Secret Nuclear Shame & Betrayal of Our Troops & Country
By Frank Walker
Hachette, 2014

Frank Walker, who worked as a journalist for Australian and international publications for 38 years, was talking to his daughter's university friends one day and discovered they had no idea atomic bombs had been exploded in Australia.

In fact, 12 had ― excluding the 300-600 minor trials at Maralinga, Emu Field, both in the South Australian desert, and Monte Bello Islands off the Western Australian coast.

Essays From Near & Far
James Dryburgh
Walleah Press, 2014
130 pages, $20
http://walleahpress.com.au

The Tasmanian establishment like to promote the idea that their state is separate to the rest of Australia; that its isolation means things are done differently and that’s just the way it is.

It’s an attitude that keeps newly arrived residents as outsiders and maintains acquiescence to the status quo in politics and business.

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.

Revolution
By Russel Brand
Random House
$26, 340 pages

Russell Brand is on a mission to save the world.

Since his impassioned advocacy for revolution in an interview with journalist Jeremy Paxman in October last year, Brand has waged, in his own inimitable style, a battle against the ruling class in the name of a peaceful, loving and ― above all ― a “fun” revolution.

His YouTube program “The Trews” has excited and engaged people across the globe. His work is as unique as the man himself. He can be sensitive, funny, open, honest, warm and courageous.

GLW Issue 1035

His cattle didn’t get a bid, they were fairly bloody poor,
What was he going to do? He couldn’t feed them anymore,
The dams were all but dry, hay was thirteen bucks a bale,
And last month’s talk of rain was just a fairytale,
His credit had run out, no chance to pay what’s owed,
Bad thoughts ran through his head as he drove down Gully Road.

“Geez, great grandad bought the place back in 1898,
“Now I’m such a useless bastard, I’ll have to shut the gate.
“I can’t feed my wife and kids, not like dad and those before,
“Crikeys, Grandma kept it going while Pop fought in the war.”

In the wake of the Grand Jury decision to not indict police officer Darren Wilson for shooting unarmed Black youth Michael Brown, US punk band Anti-Flag said all proceeds from a compilation of protest songs, This Concerns Everyone released by its record label A-F Records, will go towards funding the Ferguson Legal Defense Fund.

“Amid swinging cuts to the nation’s largest public broadcaster came the news yesterday that coverage of both the W-League and Women’s National Basketball League will conclude in coming months,” The Guardian said on November 25, “ending thirty-five years of commitment to regular women’s sport coverage on the ABC.”

Australia’s peak women’s sporting body said it feared young female athletes will be left without role models due to the cuts.

Australian sport, particularly Australian rules football, has enjoyed a positive place in the public psyche.

It has managed to perpetuate an image of an all-encompassing and all-welcoming environment, a world away from hooliganism and violent crowds often associated in the popular imagination with “soccer”.

The AFL has messages recorded by the captains of each club played before games encouraging their supporters to be passionate, but reminding them that the football arena should be a welcoming one for all supporters and indeed the players.

Sheplife
Briggs
Golden Era Records
Released August 2014
Now touring
www.iambriggs.com

Briggs is 598 kilometres from his hometown of Shepparton - and he's missing his bed.

"When I'm at home I don't have people ringing me up telling me I've got to get out of the house," says the rapper, sitting on his hotel room's balcony in Sydney.