Cultural Dissent

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.

Unspeakable Things: Sex, Lies & Revolution
Laurie Penny
Bloomsbury, 2014

English author Laurie Penny describes herself as a “journalist, activist, feminist, troublemaker, nerd and net denizen”. Her book, Unspeakable Things, is a collection of polemical essays in which Penny takes aim at mainstream (liberal) feminism, which she says “remains tepid and cowardly”.

Christianity, Islam and Atheism: reflections on Religion, Society and Politics
By Micheal Cooke
Resistance Books 2014
124 pages, paperback, $15

For a time I stopped referring to myself as an atheist in public. I was intensely embarrassed by seeing ads on buses promoting atheism around the time of the World Atheist Conference in Melbourne.

For a while I simply became “not religious” for public purposes. I found it embarrassing because public evangelism is the one thing that particularly galls me about religion.

From indie rappers to stadium rockers, here are 10 politically-potent new releases worth a listen. What album, or albums, would you suggest? Comment below, on Twitter or Facebook.

Confronting Injustice: Social Activism in the Age of Individualism
Umair Muhammad
www.confrontinginjustice.com

Too many supposedly radical books are written by academics for academics, apparently competing to see who can produce the most incomprehensible prose.

My list of “books to be reviewed” contains literally dozens of overstuffed and overpriced volumes that only a handful of specialists will ever read, and with little relevance to the non-university world.

“Tom Morello, as his alter ego the Nightwatchman, performed a new cut called ‘Marching on Ferguson’ at the Jail Guitar Doors' Rock Out! benefit concert September 5th at Los Angeles' Ford Theatre,” Rolling Stone said on September 7.

When Google Met WikiLeaks
By Julian Assange
Published August 22, 2014
200 pages, paperback, $16
OR Books
www.orbooks.com

When Google CEO Eric Schmidt turned up to meet WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, he brought several people with him who were connected to the US government.

"The delegation was one part Google, three parts US foreign-policy establishment," Assange writes in his latest book, When Google Met WikiLeaks. "But I was still none the wiser."

The Art of Silent Protest
September 17-30
11am-4pm (opening night 6pm)
The Snug
447 High St, Northcote.
Free entry

The Art of Silent Protest is a new exhibition as part of the Melbourne Fringe Festival.

In view of new laws, a collective of Australian creative people have responded to this question. They use the form of the placard to “explore notions of change and the visual impact of the art of activism”.

A diverse range of musical acts from Brisbane and the Gold Coast are uniting in support of asylum seekers at the “Freedom Seeker: Roots, rock, reggae for refugees” concert at the New Globe on September 14 starting at 3pm.

Lending their songs and voices to the call for the Australian government to abide by it obligations to refugees, the concert is raising money for refugee advocacy and assistance through the Refugee Action Collective (RAC) and the Refugee and Immigration Legal Service (RAILS).

The lineup includes Big Iron, Rivermouth, The Phil Monsour Band, The Molotov and Andy Dub.

I am the founder of “Reality Records” and a 24-year-old indigenous Australian with a strong cultural background. I am asking your assistance in helping indigenous artists ― not only from Australia but around the world ― have their music recorded and produced.

I see a shortage of indigenous music around the world, particularly in Australia, and I believe this provides a unique opportunity. My record label aims to help address this shortage by:

• Bringing people together in a positive and creative environment;
• Teaching people new skills and self confidence;

Global Imperialism & the Great Crisis: the Uncertain Future of Capitalism
Ernesto Screpanti
Monthly Review Press, 2014
New York, 256 pages

The goal of Ernesto Screpanti’s new book is to theoretically elaborate a model of a new phase of imperialism.

Screpanti’s argument is that the kind of imperialism written about by the likes of Russian revolutionary V.I. Lenin belongs more and more to the past. Although the work of people like Lenin retain relevance, Screpanti argues a new kind of imperialism has been taking shape over the past two decades.

Native Eyez
Intikana
Released August 2014
Stampede Fireflies
www.intikana.net

Bronx-based rapper, producer, film-maker and youth worker Intikana hits out at indigenous injustice, cultural colonisation and international imperialism, among many other topics. Green Left Weekly's Mat Ward put 18 questions to him. His absorbing answers are below.

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1. You rap that "When people ask me where I'm from, I say my mama." Want to tell us more about your roots?

Power Failure: The Inside Story of Climate Politics Under Rudd a& Gillard
Philip Chubb
Black Inc., 2014
302 pages, $29.99 (pb)

In 2007 in Australia, “climate policy was a reform full of promise and excitement,” writes Monash University journalism academic Philip Chubb in Power Failure.

In Place of Fear II: A Socialist Programme for an Independent Scotland
By Jim Sillars
Vagabond Voices Publishing, 2014
www.inplaceoffear.com

Jim Sillars is a well-known and well-respected figure on the Scottish political scene.

Elected a Labour Party MP for South Ayrshire in 1970, he shifted away from mainstream Labour Party politics due to his commitment to setting up a Scottish Parliament in Edinburgh.

The summer sun beat down on August 21 as thousands of Palestinians set out on a silent march in al-Rama, a Palestinian town in the northern Galilee region of present-day Israel, honouring the recently deceased poet and activist Samih al-Qasim.

The 76-year-old al-Qasim, who battled cancer for three years, died late on August 19.

Placards bearing verses of al-Qasim’s poetry and Palestinian flags bobbed above the marching crowd, which eventually arrived at the town’s main amphitheater. Al-Qasim’s relatives, prominent religious figures and politicians all spoke.

The Dealer Is The Devil
Adrian Newstead
Brandl & Schlesinger
Published February 2014
480 pages, $49.95
www.book.cooeeart.com.au

Adrian Newstead was one of the first people to study climate change in Australia.

"I went to a place called the Barren Grounds, which were down the New South Wales south coast down near Kangaroo Valley," the 66-year-old tells Green Left Weekly.

China’s Second Continent: How a million migrants are building a new Empire in Africa
Howard W French
Knopf
Published May 20, 2014
304 pages
www.howardwfrench.com

In his 2009 film Rethink Afghanistan, director Robert Greenwald suggested that the US should not try to control the world through military means, but by building schools and hospitals in the countries it wishes to invade.

Journalist Howard French's book China's Second Continent shows how such a model can work in practice.

Flashboys
By Michael Lewis
W. W. Norton, 2014
288 pp, $39.99

Michael Lewis's Flashboys has had a dramatic welcome in the United States. It swept to the top of the best seller list and was only knocked from its perch by Thomas Piketty’s Capital in the 21st Century.

It is revealing of the contemporary US mindset that Flashboys, which turns the machinations of Wall Street into a classic US-style morality play, should alternate with Piketty’s history of capitalist inequality.

In reality, Lewis has not produced new information.

Dozens of artists, musicians and writers from around the world have signed the open letter below, such as hip-hop artist Boots Riley and music journalist and Red Wedge Magazine editor Alexander Billet. It is reprinted from Red Wedge Magazine, where the full list of names can be found.

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The Coral Battleground
Judith Wright
Spinifex, 2014
203 pages, $29.95 (pb)

From the days when Captain Cook’s Endeavour tangled with the Great Barrier Reef off the coast of Queensland, humans had learned to fear the Reef with its “treacherous waters and weather”.

But now the reef “should fear us more”, writes Judith Wright in The Coral Battleground. It is a reprint of her 1977 account of the campaign to save the largest and most spectacular marine coral ecosystem in the world from oil drilling.

All it took was a recording of Donald Sterling insulting Magic Johnson in a derogatory manner for the 24-hour news world to stop on its axis.

Now imagine if Donald Sterling ― in all of his paranoid, racist fervour ― had an army at his disposal and bombed Magic Johnson in his home, killing him in his sleep.

If such a scenario sounds like hacky Phillip K Dick fan fiction as written by Mike Lupica, then you have not been paying attention to the dystopian, genocidal panorama in Gaza, where no one is safe. You are unfamiliar with the name Ahed Zaqout.

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