Cultural Dissent

While Adriana’s Pact director Lissette Orozco reflects on the role her aunt, Adriana Rivas, played during the Augusto Pinochet dictatorship, Roberto Calzadilla's El Amparo focuses on one of a number of state-sponsored massacres of civilians that occurred during the 1980s in Venezuela as a prelude to the bloodbath that would occur in the February 1989 Caracazo uprising.

The Sydney Latin American Film Festival (SLAFF) is on again for the 12th year running. Featuring a specially curated program of captivating contemporary Latin American cinema, the festival has several films that progressive filmgoers won’t want to miss.

An important feature of this year’s program is that 50% of the films feature female directors, festival programmer Lidia Luna said.

Walking into any souvenir shop in Australia, tourists see the walls lined with Aboriginal designs and artwork. What is less obvious is the fact that most of these items are mass produced in parts of Asia.

Banduk Marika, a Youngu artist, said: “We’re not making those. Indigenous people, even Australians, we’re not making those. Who is making this?”

Aboriginal communities say the answer is corporations.

Two very different exhibitions communicate critical evidence about the Aboriginal experience of the 1967 referendum, through which the Australian constitution was amended to remove the racist provisions of sections 51 and 127.

That victory certainly did not end racism in Australia, but opened up the possibility of a broader, unfinished struggle.

In June 1940, Winston Churchill described the German rout of the French, Belgian and British armies and the seaborne evacuation of 338,000 troops from Dunkirk in northern France as a “colossal military disaster”.

For a nation whose national identity is intimately bound up with victory and conquest, it is paradoxical that the retreat from Dunkirk has become such an important part of British mythology.

Shashi Tharoor’s brilliant speech in 2015 to the Oxford Union on the motion “This house believes Britain owes reparations to her former colonies” went viral, receiving coverage across the world.

Tharoor, an MP for the Indian National Congress, former senior United Nations official, novelist and scholar, has now expanded the argument he made at Oxford into Inglorious Empire.

There are few subjects more reliably depressing than the problem of impending climate chaos.

In some ways, the daily dumpster fire that is the Donald Trump administration is a welcome distraction from the increasingly dire predictions of the Hell on Earth awaiting us if we do not drastically and immediately alter our trajectory.

It is worth going to see An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power, however, for the same reason that it was valuable to see it’s prequel, An Inconvenient Truth, over a decade ago: Through these films we can come to understand how the liberal establishment proposes to tackle this, the mother of all capitalism’s crises.

“The general idea of this little book is to understand and explain why Marx will still be read in the twenty-first century, not only as a monument of the past, but as a contemporary author — contemporary both because of the questions he poses for philosophy and because of the concepts he offers it,” French philosopher Etienne Balibar writes in The Philosophy of Marx.

With some reservations, I feel he achieves this goal. It is a thought-provoking book, but it may disappoint readers who seek either an introduction to Marx’s philosophy or a straightforward account of how Marx’s ideas can inspire focused political action in the 21st century.

In Joshua: Teenager vs. Superpower, which premiered at the 2017 Sundance Film Festival, director Joe Piscatella depicts Hong Kong pro-democracy activist Joshua Wong and his comrades struggles from 2011-16 against Chinese government attempts to impose control on the former British Colony.

“Today we mourn the loss of a great Australian, Dr G. Yunupingu who sadly passed away yesterday in Royal Darwin Hospital at age 46 after a long battle with illness,” the singer’s record label Skinnyfish Music said.

“Dr G. Yunpingu is remembered today as one of the most important figures in Australian music history, blind from birth and emerging from the remote Galiwin’ku community on Elcho Island off the coast of Arnhem Land to sell over half a million copies of his albums across the world, singing in his native Yolngu language ...

Plebeian Power: Collective Action & Indigenous, Working-Class & Popular Identities in Bolivia
By Alvaro Garcia Linera
Haymarket Books, 2014
345 pp, US$28.00

 

Alvaro Garcia Linera, twice-elected vice-president of Bolivia, is the continent’s most prominent theoretician-politician to place 21st century Latin American left thought in a Marxist framework.

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.

***

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.

***

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.

Pages