Cultural Dissent

The Coming War On China
Written & directed by John Pilger
http://thecomingwarmovie.com
Screening now, visit site for details

The Coming War on China is possibly John Pilger’s best film in years.

In classic Pilger style, the Australian-born filmmaker — responsible for dozens of films critical of great power — depicts the threat the US war machine poses in the Asian region in the context of the rise of China.

English singer Lily Allen unveiled a haunting cover of Rufus Wainwright's 2007 song “Going to a Town” along with a stark video of her performance of the track at the Women's March against Donald Trump in London on January 21,

In an article for The Conversation, Daryl Adair, a professor of Sport Management at the University of Technology, Sydney, makes a pertinent observation regarding the interaction between sport and politics: “It is sometimes said that sport ought to be separate from politics, or that politics should be removed from sport. These sentiments are well meaning – if idealistic.”

Time to Draw the Line
Directed by Amanda King & Fabio Cavadini
2016, 58 minutes
Demand.Film

A new documentary examines the largely overlooked story of the dispute between Australia and its near neighbour – the new state of East Timor.

Oro
Written & directed by Alvin Yapan
Feliz Film Productions, 2016

Oro, the Filipino film written and directed by Alvin Yapan released in December, is based on the 2014 murder of four small-scale miners in Sitio, Lahuy.

For 20 years, Elmer (Joem Bascon) and his men have freely mined in the tiny but gold-rich island of Lahuy Island in the town of Caramoan in Bicol.

The New England Patriots won the NFL Super Bowl 34–28, in the most gobsmacking, unfathomable comeback in Super Bowl history. Down 28–3 against the Atlanta Falcons, they came all the back to win in overtime in Houston, Texas on February 5.

That will mean joy in the White House — as Donald Trump’s favourite American Football team is victorious. It is also joy for Patriots player Martellus Bennett, who won’t be joining the team upon their inevitable White House visit, in protest against the man inhabiting that space.

Revolution in Rojava: Democratic Autonomy & Women’s Liberation in Syrian Kurdistan
By Michael Knapp, Anja Flack & Ercan Ayboga (translated by Janet Biehl)
Pluto, 2016
285 pp., $38.95

Rojava, which is Kurdish for the “west”, is to be found in Northern Syria. In the middle of a conflict zone, marked by the war against the Assad regime, a Turkish invasion and ongoing conflict with the brutal jihadists of ISIS and al-Nusra, the Kurds and their allies are creating a new kind of democratic system.

Janis Joplin.

Janis, Little Girl Blue
Directed by Amy J. Berg
https://youtu.be/YodSfezlpeQ

Janis Joplin, the gravel-voiced Queen of the San Francisco psychedelic music scene, may seem a bit dated to today’s listeners. But this documentary shows just how important she is.

Born into a conservative family in a Texas back-water, she discovered early that she was different. Her sexual feelings towards other girls cut her apart from the rest of the KKK-drenched society.

Having come back from a much needed break with much time spent curled up with books, here are some notes on seven of interest to ecosocialists.

I particularly enjoyed two excellent accounts of the role of trees and other plants in Earth System. The Emerald Planet, by David Beerling, (Oxford University Press, 2007) covers the 500 million years since plants migrated from the oceans.

Protesters hold up a placards in support of Leader of the opposition Labour Party Jeremy Corbyn outside parliament during a pro-Corbyn demonstration in London in June last year.

Alex Nunns’ new book, The Candidate, charts the improbable rise of the socialist Jeremy Corbyn from a long-time backbencher to the leader of the Labour Party.

Hendrix, possibly the greatest-ever rock guitarist, arrived in public consciousness at exactly the right moment. His music summarised the desire of millions of youth to break through to a new society.

Serena Williams and Common discuss race, gender and sport in an ESPN interview.

One of the best tennis players and athletes of all time, US star Serena Williams has been scrutinised so much for being a strong, Black woman that she herself began to doubt her own strength and body, the star told her long-time friend and rapper, Common, in a special ESPN interview last month.

“There was a time where I didn’t feel incredibly comfortable about my body because I felt like I was too strong,” Williams said during the one hour-long ESPN special, The Undefeated In-Depth: Serena with Common.

The Conscription Conflict & the Great War
Edited by Robin Archer, Joy Damousi, Murray Goot & Sean Scalmer
Monash University Publishing, 2016
Paperback, $29.95.

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.

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