Cultural Dissent

1. Public Enemy frontman Chuck D is back with another hard-hitting solo album. The Black In Man blends his baritone tones with heavy metal riffage and super-heavy funk. There's no let-up in his cutting wordplay and pointed barbs at the state of modern rap, such as the line: "I'm no fan of how urban radio has made rap fit for animals, best exhibited in some of today's mixtape culture, which invites black men into USA jails.

We Are Many
Directed by Amir Amirani
June 2014
http://www.wearemany.tv

February 15, 2003. We know it was the biggest protest in world history. We know that millions of people who'd never before felt like they could make their voices heard by taking action, marched in the streets of 800 cities to say “Not In Our Name”; that they dared hope for peace, but were committed by their governments to a bloody and illegal war.

A dove
that flew off
just after the fall of Afghan Buddha
Didn’t have enough
Unoccupied airspace
Unoccupied skies
To flap its wings to restart the heart beats gone numb
Of zillions resting in
Graves
Segregated apart as
For the occupant and by the ccupied.
The names on the tombstones
of the graves of the occupied
Could later become undecipherable,
Though they
Far outnumber that of the occupants.

Hope the dead never wake up,
to scrutinize their underrepresented statistics,
to check the word limit of reports from Gaza,

Revolutionary Minded 4
Marcel Cartier
Released July 26, 2014
http://bit.ly/1qYcIQ7

US rapper Marcel Cartier's lines usually ring out with the clarity of a clarion call - and the messages on his latest album are as loud and clear as ever. As he tells Green Left Weekly's Mat Ward, much of the material comes from first-hand experience with struggles around the world.

The Ghetto Fights, Warsaw 1943-45
Marek Edelman
Bookmarks, 2013
98 pp., $14.00

“Through the din of German cannons, destroying the homes of our mothers, wives and children; through the noise of their machine guns, seized by us in the fight against the cowardly German police and SS men; through the smoke of the Ghetto, that was set on fire, and the blood of its mercilessly killed defenders, we, the slaves of the Ghetto, convey heartfelt greetings to you.”

Jan Woolf is the cultural coordinator of the No Glory in War campaign, a group that seeks to counter the celebratory narrative of the British government’s commemorations of World War I. She spoke to online radical cultural Red Wedge Magaize about the campaign’s use of art and media — both past and present — to communicate its message. It is abridged from Red Wedge Magazine.

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Why was No Glory started?

Irish singer Sinead O’Connor has joined the growing list of artists who respect the global boycott, divestment and sanctions campaign to isolate Israel, cancelling a show in Israel scheduled for September 11.

’Boycott Israel'
By Immortal Technique, Don Martin, Tumi, Eltipo Este & Tonto Noiza
Free download
www.donmartin.no/boycott-israel

The ongoing slaughter in Gaza has brought a great many artists, musicians and celebrities out in support of Palestine.

This is nothing new. In fact, every major Israeli offensive seems to grow the number of artists willing to speak up and stand against the crimes of the apartheid state.

Despite Israel’s relentless aerial bombardments, shelling and ground attacks since July 7, Palestinian writers in Gaza have responded to the latest onslaught by doing what they know — writing.
Ra Page, director of Manchester-based Comma Press, which recently published a collection of short stories from writers in Gaza, says “all of the Book of Gaza contributors are writing away like crazy, whilst they have power”.

Was I a Stranger in My Homeland?
By Malavi Sivakanesan
Xlibris, 2013

Malavi Sivakanesan was eight years old in 2003 when her father, a Tamil dentist living in exile in Norway, went back to his homeland in Sri Lanka to set up a mobile dental clinic.

He not only carried out dental work himself, but also trained local people to continue after he left.

At the time, there was a ceasefire between the Sri Lankan government and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam.

Citizen Strangers: Palestinians & the Birth of Israel's Liberal Settler State
Shira Robinson
Standford University Press, 2013
352pp, US$24.95

If anyone still believes that the apartheid label applies only to Israel’s occupation of Gaza and the West Bank, and not to present-day Israel itself, they need only read Shira Robinson’s Citizen Strangers: Palestinians and the Birth of Israel’s Liberal Settler State to be disabused of the notion.

Charlie's Country
Directed by Rolf de Heer
Starring David Gulpilil
In cinemas now

From the opening moments of Charlie’s Country you know that you are witnessing a different kind of cinematic experience.

Co-written by its star David Gulpilil and its director Rolf de Heer, and produced by Aboriginal actor Peter Djigirr, Charlie’s Country presents an Aboriginal cinematic vernacular.

The old rocker who owns the local music store has a t-shirt on display that reads: “When words fail ... music speaks.” One could also say that when speech fails, David Rovics sings.

As Wally Brooker recently noted about the US folk singer: “What's striking about Rovics is his ability to bring first-hand reports of local struggles from around the world to each community that he visits.”

All The News That’s Fit to Sing
David Rovics
Released July 4
www.davidrovics.bandcamp.com

So here it is, the latest album from prolific radical songwriter David Rovics All The News That's Fit to Sing.

It contains some completely new songs and some previously released some already available on Youtube, some that die-hard fans might have heard on the sneak preview Rovics gave on his Spreaker online radio show, “June in History and Song”.

Capital in the 21st Century
Thomas Piketty
Havard University Press, 2014
US$39.95, 696 pages

By now, perhaps, you’ve heard the fuss about French economist Thomas Piketty’s new book Capital in the 21st Century, but haven’t been able to carve out time to read it.

Waiting for a movie version? It could be a long time coming (more on that below). In the meantime, here are some critical takeaways, and omissions, for labour activists.

Les Miserables
Now playing in Melbourne
www.lesmis.com.au

Les Miserables tells two stories: one of personal love, the other of revolutionary passion. It is no surprise that most Western adaptations of Victor Hugo's novel have, when deciding what to cut and what to leave in, favoured the clasped hands of romance over the clenched fist of insurrection.

The story we all know -- the one that is left after adaptation pares away everything else -- is that of Jean Valjean, the ex-convict who redeems himself through acts of charity.

Brazil's Dance With the Devil
Dave Zirin
Haymarket Books, 2014
200 pages, US$16

With World Cup fever sweeping the world, mainstream media outlets faced a problem: how to relate to the fierce political battle taking place on the streets of Brazil over the future of their society.

The media has been flooded with idealised caricatures of Brazilian society, complete with pristine white-sand beaches, a hypersexual citizenry and a rich, happy tapestry of cultural diversity.

“Budget Reply (Hey Joe)” is Australia’s first musical response to Joe Hockey’s deeply unpopular 2014 budget. Written by Les Thomas, the song is a protest against cuts targeting the young, unemployed, elderly, Indigenous programs, Medicare, education, science and the environment.

Thomas has already performed the song at a number of rallies and events in Melbourne.

Diary of a Foreign Minister
Bob Carr
Newsouth, 2014
502 pages

Too often, Bob Carr’s diary sounds like an episode of Grumpy Old Ministers.

An 18-month stint as foreign minister in the doomed Rudd-Gillard-Rudd federal Labor government, the globe-trotting Carr gripes about the dead prose of his departmental talking points, the lifeless food and draining jetlag of plane travel, the awfulness of hotels, Canberra (“the City of the Dead”) and contracting viruses from shaking hands all day on the campaign trail “without a hand sanitiser in the car ― damn!”

Perth's May 18 March in May demonstration was led by a very interesting character. Baloney Abbott is quite a sex symbol in his bright red “budget smugglers”, fake rubber chest and oversised “Proudly Australian” badge.

Waving a bloodied meat cleaver, he really brought the point home that the cuts are for the good of the nation. Only Baloney Abbott could lead a 2000-strong crowd of peasants with the chant “Budget cuts, all the way! Make the sick and the poor pay!”

When Gerry Conlon died on June 21, it reminded the world once more of the cases of the Guilford Four and the Birmingham Six, Irish people framed for bombings in England they had noting to do with.

Conlon, of the Guilford Four, jailed in 1974, endured more than 14 years in prison, including solitary confinement, before finally clearing his name.

Reclaim Your Voice
Various artists
Released June 2014
Blue Mountain Sound
www.bluemountainsound.com.au

Andy Busuttil of Blue Mountain Sound released the following statement on June 28.

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We would like to think of our Australia as a nation with a big heart. A nation that stands for the dispossessed and does its damndest to help those in need, especially those attempting to flee tyranny.

In the Shadow of Gallipoli
By Robert Bollard
NewSouth, Sydney 2013

On April 25, 1915, Australian troops landed at Gallipoli on Turkey’s coast. They were part of a British imperial force aiming to capture Constantinople (now called Istanbul) and the land alongside the narrow waterway linking the Mediterranean to the Black Sea.

It was hoped this would enable British ships to enter the Black Sea and bring supplies to allied Russia.

A 13-year-old boy from Brazil’s Guarani tribe makes a political stand in front of 70,000 football fans and what he thinks is an international audience. A movement led by indigenous women in the United States beats a billion-dollar brand of the big, bad NFL.

These two stories share more than the fact that they took place during the same week. They share the ways that people in power have sought to combat their courage by trying to render them invisible.

The Invisible Hand of Market
Cyclotimia
Released April 2014
www.cyclotimia.com

Russian electronic duo Cycloctimia's fascination for technology and sharemarkets has paid dividends – more than 10 satirical albums so far. Green Left Weekly's Mat Ward spoke to Max K, who describes his role as “keyboards, music, sampling and market rituals”.

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Tell us a bit about your childhood in Russia.

Big Kitty Life
MC Dukebox
Released December 2013
Impossible Odds Records
www.dukebox.net.au

MC Dukebox says he named his debut album "Big Kitty Life" because he was sick of seeing government funds misspent.

"It's referring to a big kitty of funding that everyone's lining up for with a different excuse for why they deserve the money and how they're going to benefit their surrounding communities," says the Indigenous rapper, who hails from Inverell in north-west NSW.

Where No Doctor Has Gone Before: Cuba’s Place in the Global Health Landscape
By Robert Huish
Wilfred Laurier University Press, 2013
Out of the Mountains: The Coming Age of the Urban Guerrilla
By David Kilcullen
Scribe, 2013
342 pp, $32.95

It is interesting that Robert Huish and David Kilcullen inhabit the same world, because their books indicate that they view the planet differently, like black and white or perhaps like life and death.

Blue Volume
Joelistics
Released June 20, 2014
Elefant Traks
www.joelistics.com

The flawless music on Joelistics' second solo album is more than matched by the depth of his lyrics - an unflinching look at Australian reality. Green Left Weekly's Mat Ward went through the words with the rapper, who brings some much-needed grit to Australian hip-hop.

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On "Say I'm Good" you rap:

I'm an oddball, on the wrong team
All my friends are out of step with the mainstream
And the nightmare is in full swing

Even if you have no interest in football and have never watched a single game before now, this is the time to accept that all of us, including you, should hate Sepp Blatter.

Partly this is because recent investigations, which have taken years to complete, show that he's repulsive. He may have responded with a statement that “I completely deny I am in any way repulsive”, but the evidence is overwhelming, with further reports set to disclose staggering global levels of repulsion he can't ignore.

The Collaboration: Hollywood’s Pact with Hitler
Ben Urwand
Belknap, 2013
327 pages, $39.95 (hb)

Throughout the 1930s, movie-goers all over the world got to see the German Nazi’s cut of every Hollywood film. Any movie touching on Germany contained no mention of Nazism or Jews.

Both these silences, as Harvard University’s Ben Urwand unearths in The Collaboration, were the result of a remarkable agreement allowing the Nazis to dictate Hollywood movie content in return for Hollywood studios keeping their access to the lucrative German market.

The Merry Grinchmas Mixtape
MC Bunz
Released December 25, 2013
Free download

When Glen Anderson was playing sport with his schoolfriends, he was suddenly surrounded by police who ordered him to lay flat on the ground.

Tender
Written & directed by Lynette Wallwarth

A new documentary film, Tender, screened at the recent Sydney Film Festival, follows residents of the Wollongong suburb of Port Kembla who are working to start a not-for-profit funeral service in their local community.

Recognising the local need for affordable and meaningful funeral services, the Port Kembla Community Centre decided to provide them. The film follows their journey as they gather community support and explore alternatives.

One of the hallmarks of the neoliberal age has been the exponential expansion of commercial spectator sport — in its economic value, political role and cultural presence. All of which is thrown into high relief by the World Cup in Brazil.

In recent years, the sporting industry has grown in all regions above the local GDP rate. It is estimated to have generated US$135 billion in direct revenues last year. These revenues derive from gate receipts, corporate sponsorship, media rights and merchandising.

In the 18th and 19th century, scientists often used themselves as guinea pigs in the course of conducting experiments to determine the causes of disease and test the efficacy of new drugs.

One of the earlier and more heroic examples comes from the Scottish physiologist and surgeon John Hunter (1728-93). Hunter was investigating syphilis, a disease surrounded by secrecy and shame whose origins were unlikely to be acknowledged at any level. The French called it the Italian disease and the Italians called it the French disease.

There are plenty examples of sporting “droughts”, but there has never been a more harrowing athletic drought — rife with pain, pathos and perseverance — quite like that of the Palestinian national football team.

This is a national team without a recognised nation to call home; a national team that has never qualified for a major international tournament; a national team that, like its people, struggles to be seen. That drought, 86 years in the making, is now over.

In 2012, Quebec’s student movement carried out a months-long strike, managing to push back and hold off a neoliberal government’s bid to raise tuition fees.

Repeatedly mobilising upwards of 200,000 people at monthly “mega-manifs”, the “Maple Spring” was an all-too rare win against the forces of austerity, and so it captured imaginations around the world.

The open letter below was submitted to Prime Minister Tony Abbott on May 23 at the Australian book industry awards in Sydney. Released by the editors of literary journals Meanjin and Overland, it has been signed by dozens of writers. You can read the full list here.

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Dear Prime Minister Tony Abbott, Treasurer Joe Hockey and Minister for Arts George Brandis.

“You may write me down in history
With your bitter, twisted lies,
You may tread me in the very dirt
But still, like dust, I’ll rise.”

So wrote Maya Angelou, in her poem “Still I Rise”. She died on May 28 at 86 at her home in North Carolina.

In remembering Maya Angelou, it is important to recall her commitment to the struggle for equality, not just for herself, or for women, or for African-Americans. She was committed to peace and justice for all.

Revolutionary Activism in the 1950s & '60s Volumes I
By Ernest Tate
Resistance Books, 2014
www.resistancebooks.org

“A police cruiser with two uniformed officers pulled up alongside me,” recalls Ernest Tate in his newly published memoir Revolutionary Activism.

“They jumped out and asked me for identification. I gave it to them. ‘What’s in your suitcase?’ Dirty underwear, I said. ‘Open it,” they ordered. I told them it was none of their business. They almost went berserk …”

Taking God To School: The End of Australia’s Egalitarian Education?
Marion Maddox
Allen & Unwin, 2014
248 pages, $29.99 (pb)

To the traditional “three Rs”, Australia has added a fourth ― religion.

Religious private schools, religious instruction in public schools and religious counsellors have found generously-funded favour with successive federal and state governments, writes Macquarie University politics professor Marion Maddox, in Taking God to School.

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