Cultural Dissent

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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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.

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.

Tom Waits once said that writing songs against war was like throwing peanuts at a gorilla. Which may be true, but no one said gorillas liked peanuts in their face.

After all, the veteran American songwriter made the comment as a self-deprecating reference to the anti-war songs on his 2004 album Real Gone ― inspired by the Bush adminstration's wars on Iraq and Afghanistan.

Waits noted: “But then I think, look how important soul music was during the civil rights movement.

Forgotten War
By Henry Reynolds
New South, 2013

In August, Prime Minister Tony Abbott attended a ceremony in Sydney to mark the 100 years since the Australian Naval and Military Expedition Force sailed out of Sydney Harbour to German New Guinea shortly after Britain declared war on Germany in 1914.

The occasion was the official start of a four-year-long Anzac centenary of jingoism. Abbott was anxious that we “should know all our great war stories better” by the time the centenary commemorations come to an end.

The Political Bubble: Why Australians Don’t Trust Politics
Mark Latham
Macmillan, 2014
291 pages, $32.99 (pb)

The only thing surprising about the 4% of Australians who a poll last year said “almost always” trusted the federal government is that the figure is that high.

Further evidence of the many failures of Australian politics comes in The Political Bubble via an angry Mark Latham, the former leader of the federal Labor Party.

Mira Canning Stock Route Project
http://mira.canningstockrouteproject.com

In the early part of the 20th century, the “Kings in Grass Castle” ― the cattle barons of northern Western Australia ― were profit-gouging the beef trade through controlling transport.

The WA government decided to break their monopoly by mapping a stock route from the Kimberley down through the state’s semi-arid interior to the southern markets.

Cesar Chavez
Directed by Diego Luna
Written by Keir Pearson
Australian release TBA

The 1936 National Labor Relations Act in the United States recognised the rights of US workers to organise and collectively bargain -- but excluded farm workers.

Cesar Chavez tells the story of the heroic struggle of super-expoited farm workers -- frequently immigrants -- and their leader Cesar Chavez for their rights to organise for a dignified living.

Going round in circles
Like the fans overhead
His mind can’t get the words out
And the spirit weighs like lead

Join the team,
Recurring dream,
Kill Team,
Kill Team

The heat it has no ending
And the isolation stings
Is this what they call ‘R&R’,
A bird with shattered wings?

Join the team,
Recurring dream,
Kill Team,
Kill Team

The face of that civilian
Lurks in fragile fits of sleep
They murdered him for sport
And laughed to hear his widow weep

Join the team,
Recurring dream,
Kill Team,
Kill Team

Routine operation,
Chopper dust-off, village street,

The Greatest Traitor: The Secret Lives of Agent George Blake
Roger Hermiston
Aurum, 2013
362 pages, $39.99 (hb)

George Blake was smart, resourceful and committed.

A teenage courier with the Dutch anti-Nazi resistance during the war and a British Secret Intelligence Service (SIS) spy after it, Blake then picked the wrong cause, says Roger Hermiston in The Greatest Traitor, converting to Marxism and becoming a Soviet mole in the SIS.

Stasi Hell or Workers’ Paradise? Socialism in the German Democratic Republic ― What Can We Learn From It?
John Green & Bruni de la Motte
Artery Publications, 2009
50 pp., $7.25
Red Love: The Story of an East German Family
Maxim Leo
Pushkin Press, 2013
272 pp., $31.60

The German Democratic Republic (GDR) disappeared a quarter of a century ago after 41 years’ existence. The East German state is mostly remembered as “Stasiland”, as Anna Funder’s history of its secret police is called.

Pride
Directed by Matthew Warchus
Written by Stephen Beresford
Starring Bill Nighy, Imelda Staunton, Dominic West & Ben Schnetzer
In Australian cinemas now

If you haven't seen the recently released Pride yet, you need to get to a cinema. It'll moisten your eyes, swell your heart, make you tap your feet and inspire you to join the next pride parade.

Here's this month's roundup of left-leaning music, with a strong contingent from Melbourne. What album, or albums, would you suggest? Comment below, on Twitter or Facebook.

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100 Days
Phil Monsour
September, 2104
$19.99
www.philmonsour.com

Referring to the war in Vietnam, Joan Baez once said that if you don't fight against a rotten thing you become a part of it. It’s an attitude Brisbane-based singer-songwriter Phil Monsour lives by.

For more than a decade, he has made it his mission to fight the rotten thing at the heart of the Middle East: Israel’s genocidal dispossession of the Palestinians.

Activist Arts Festival
The Bella Union, Carlton South
November 15, 12.30pm

Sea Shepherd, Amnesty and Refugee Action Collective are among a range of activist groups involved in the Activist Arts Festival, an initiative set to connect local communities with activist groups across Melbourne in a non-protest environment.

Australian urban roots and reggae band Blue King Brown have joined musicians, artists and writers using their artistic talents to expose the political fraud and brutal genocide that the Indonesian government has committed against the West Papuan people.

The Making of English Social Democracy
By Peter Cockcroft.
Australian Ebook Publisher
Kindle edition
236 pages, $1.05

It may seem a strange ask to encourage socialists to examine the politics of late Victorian Britain when there is so much else to be done. But Peter Cockcroft makes a significant case that understanding this aspect of the past can help us to make some sense of where we are now.

Pirates, Punks & Politics, FC St. Pauli: Falling in Love With a Radical Football Club
By Nick Davidson
Sports Books, 2014
251 pp., $16.50

I must admit that I don’t know one end of a soccer ball from another, but having read this book I don’t care. I’m now passionately interested in this extraordinary German football club, FC St Pauli, with its skull-and-cross-bones emblem.

Ezekiel Ox is a long-term singer-songwriter and activist for social justice. He has a reputation for energetic live performances across Australia, the United States and Britain with bands such as Full Scale, Mammal and Over Reactor.

Ox is an artist who puts ideas into practice, founding Musicians Against Police Violence, organising actions and fundraisers to fight racism and regularly MCing and leading chants at demonstrations.

As with all advertisements, there are a few deceptions at the heart of Apple's commercial for U2's newly released Songs of Innocence. The most immediate is that it ends with the tagline “free on iTunes now”.

Given that the album was delivered ― without permission ― into the digital libraries of over 500 million iTunes users, implying any kind of choice in the matter seems at the very least misleading. A better version of the ad might read “yours whether you like it or not”.

Marx on Gender & the Family: A Critical Study
By Heather A. Brown
Haymarket, 2013

US socialist Heather Brown has performed a great service in this short, yet detailed survey of all of Karl Marx’s writings on women and gender ― including some that have never been published in any language.

Brown shows how Marx did not just analyse economics and history, he interrogated all forms of literature (even police files) to tease out the threads of social oppression.

Gough Whitlam has passed away aged 98. Green Left will run more detailed analysis of his significance and legacy, but for now here is Sydney-based Celtic punk band Roaring Jack, fronted by Scottish socialist Alistair Hulett, with "The Ballad of '75" about the coup that removed the Whitlam government from power.

See also:
Uncovering the real Gough Whitlam

No Place To Hide: Edward Snowden, The NSA & The Surveillance State
Glenn Greenwald
Hamish Hamilton, 2014
259 pages, $29.99 (pb)

Glenn Greenwald’s No Place To Hide is not just a thrilling account of the award-winning journalist’s “cloak-and-dagger” encounter with National Security Agency (NSA) whistleblower Edward Snowden, but a clinical and impassioned analysis of the danger posed by the US’s vast surveillance state.

Richard Avedon People
Exhibition, Art Gallery of Western Australia
Until November 17.

More than ever, we live in the “society of the spectacle” that Guy Debord theorised in 1967.

Bourgeois commodification is augmented by reducing reality to a shallow image of itself. However, the spectacle itself “is the historical movement in which we are caught”.

What's The Catch is a new three-part documentary series that will premiere on SBS on October 30. The series follows Gourmet Farmer star Matthew Evans as he uncovers the state of Australia's seafood industry and begins a campaign for labelling laws.

Renegades Of Munk
Renegades Of Munk
Released September 2014
Impossible Odds Records
www.renegadesofmunk.com

Mark Munk Ross says he has learnt to make his music more appealing by injecting a big dose of humour into his hard-hitting songs.

"I try to make them humorous, which then makes it accessible to fans that might not be that political," says the man better known as Munkimuk, the "Grandfather of Indigenous hip-hop".

"But they are still digesting it, whether they know it or not," he says. "Smart game plan I think."

Here's this month's radical record roundup, from Irish rock to Australian pop. What album, or albums, would you suggest? Comment below, on Twitter or Facebook.

We Move Tonight: The Making of the Grenada Revolution
By Joseph Ewart Layne
St. George’s, Grenada: Grenada Revolution Memorial Foundation, 2014
Paperback 203 pp.

“A big revolution in a small country” is allegedly how Fidel Castro described the overthrow of Grenada’s authoritarian government when being questioned on the matter back in 1979.

This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs The Climate
By Naomi Klein
Simon & Shulster, 2014

Award-winning author and activist Naomi Klein, who wrote The Shock Doctrine and No Logo, is back with her long-awaited new release: This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs the Climate.

Now, she is taking on the biggest issue of our time ― climate change, and exploring the implications of the climate crisis for social change today and into the future.

Toms River: A Story of Science & Salvation
Dan Fagin
Bantam Books, 2013
538 pages, $43.95 (hb)

In yet another chapter of the well-thumbed book of “corporate avarice and government neglect”, writes Dan Fagin, the town of Toms River in New Jersey, two hours south of New York, paid a high price in cancer for the pollution of the chemical giant, Ciba-Geigy.

The Burglary: The Discovery of J. Edgar Hoover’s Secret FBI
Betty Medsger
Knopf, 2014
596 pages, $46.95 (hb)

As far as burglaries go, this one was pretty audacious. On March 8, 1971, nine anti-Vietnam-war activists in Pennsylvania burgled the FBI. They stole secret files in the regional FBI office in the small town of Media.

With careful planning, a little luck and plenty of pluck, the amateur burglars exposed, for the first time, the FBI’s political spying and suppression of democratic dissent.

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