Cultural Dissent

Radical Wollongong
Written by John Rainford
Directed by John Reynolds and Paul Benedek
Produced by Green Left TV
www.radicalwollongong.com

Radical Wollongong, the first documentary produced by Green left TV, met with significant enthusiasm at its premier screening at the Gala Cinema in the Illawarra on May 18.

With standing room only, in one of the region's few remaining theatres, we were shown a treat of a film on the history of Wollongong ― in particular, its most radical and interesting manifestations of class, politics and working life.

3CR released this statement on May 2.

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As many thousands of people across the country mobilise against the Tony Abbott government, 3CR community radio is asking its listeners and supporters of independent media to join the resistance by donating money to the station during our annual Radiothon.

College football star Michael Sam has made history as the United States' National Football League’s first openly gay player, Democracy Now! said on May 12. The St Louis Rams picked Sam in the final round of the NFL draft, months after he publicly came out.

Sam was a first-team, All-American and the Southeastern Conference’s defensive player for the year as a lineman for the University of Missouri. Sam broke into tears as he took the call informing him of his draft selection. The sports network ESPN showed footage of him kissing his boyfriend in celebration.

For people just tuning in, the idea that people in Brazil would be protesting the 2014 World Cup makes about as much sense as New Yorkers' rebelling against pizza.

And yet here we are, less than one month before the start of the Cup, and demonstrations bear the slogan #NãoVaiTerCopa, or "There will be no Cup".

One
L-FRESH The LION
Vienna People Recordings
Released May 9, 2014
www.l-fresh.com

Rapper L-FRESH The LION is as well known for his activism as he is for his music. Green Left Weekly's Mat Ward spoke to the Sydney-raised Sikh about his newly released debut album, One.

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Forgotten Voices of Mao's Great Famine, 1958-1962, An Oral History
By Zhou Xun
Yale University Press, 2013
336 pp, $35.00

In his excellent history book Timelines, John Rees has a graph, which in one image sums up the people’s history contained in Zhou Xun’s Forgotten Voices. The line showing improvements in life expectancy in China suddenly shows a total reversal, a deep plunge into an abyss and then a quick return to the original curve.

This abyss was Mao Zedong’s Great Leap Forward.

A Spy in the Archives
By Sheila Fitzpatrick
Melbourne University Press, 2013
346 pages, $32.99 (pb)

When Sydney University Professor Sheila Fitzpatrick was doing some crafty archival sleuthing as a British PhD student in the late 1960s in Moscow, it was not unexpected that any state guardians might suspect a female spy at work.

Fitzpatrick could see some justification. “Any suspicious archives director who thought I was trying to find out the secrets of Narkompros was dead right”, she notes in Spy in the Archives.

For years now, off and on ― as huge the financial crisis and spiking unemployment have given way to healthy corporate profits and a "recovery" characterised by a surge in low-wage job creation ― the word has gone around that people are rediscovering Karl Marx's Capital.

Whether many have the stamina to finish its opening chapter, on the commodity form, may be doubted. (Over the years, I have been in at least three informal study groups that broke up before getting through the analysis of money in chapter three.)

Boots Riley is lead singer of US-based hip-hop group The Coup and a radical activist, heavily involved in Occupy Oakland and other struggles.

He was a featured speaker at the Marxism 2014 conference in Melbourne over April 17-20. Green Left Weekly's Gemma Weedall spoke to him.

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Why do you think we need revolutionary change today?

Oil & Honey: The Education Of An Unlikely Activist
Bill McKibben
Black Inc., 2013
255 pages, $29.95(pb)

When the United States environmental writer Bill McKibben became a climate change activist, he discovered the delights of internet abuse and public meeting crazies, as he entertainingly describes in Oil and Honey.

Land & Labour: Marxism, Ecology & Human History
Martin Empson
Bookmarks Publications
London, 2014

With several serious global environmental crises bearing down on us, the question of our age must be “what can we do?”

British socialist Martin Empson urges us to look into the past and into the future for answers in his new book Land and Labour. His message is that human destruction of its environment is not inevitable, although it is very likely if we don’t draw upon the best and worst examples from humanity’s diverse experience.

One of the greatest novelists and writers of the 20th century has died. Colombian author Gabriel Garcia Marquez passed away on April 17 in Mexico at the age of 87.

Commemorating the author, US-based progressive TV and radio show Democracy Now! said on April 18: “It has been reported that only the Bible has sold more copies in the Spanish language than the works of Garcia Marquez, who was affectionately known at 'Gabo' throughout Latin America.”

The Snowden Files
Luke Harding
Random House
February 2014
352 pages, $30

Luke Harding's The Snowden Files is a well-constructed overview of the biggest intelligence leak in history - but it is not without its flaws.

The Guardian journalist tells a detailed story of Edward Snowden - from his childhood in a military, Republican family, his short education and brief, failed army career, to his meteoric rise through the intelligence services that eventually enabled him to turn whistleblower.

World View
AWKWORD
February 2, 2014
www.awkwordrap.com

Fuck Tony Fuckin’ Abbott
After the revolution
The solution
Abbott made to stand down
Send him to Hanover down town
Spend a term there
Maybe then he’ll care

Fuck Tony Fuckin’ Abbott
Let the boats in, I say
Don’t turn em’ away
The politician’s oversight
Illegals – no
Declaration of Human Rights
That’s the UN
Say it once again

Fuck Tony Fuckin’ Abbott
People waiting in dole queues
He’s giving me the blues
Mental illness is rife
Due partly to his strife

Fuck Tony Fuckin’ Abbott
When it comes to the end

The world of mother nature has been overthrown
From her, her garments torn
Ripped away her ozone
The rapist that threatens has sworn
Take away her rain forests
the dreaded terror ravaged her breast
kissed upon the pure air smog and stench
a passion of pollution has been blessed
what was once an innocent pure birth
now a harsh scorched earth
and in the ravage and the power
the scourge was once a loving flower
like any mother she does what she can
but she will not be defeated by her son man

China’s Rise: Strength & Fragility
By Au Loong Yu
Resistance Books, IIRE
Merlin Press, 2012
316 pages

The transformation of the Chinese economy a 20-fold rise in the size of the economy between 1979 and 2010 and huge development of private enterprise has been one of the most significant and remarkable phenomena in recent history.

However, neither the Western media and academia, nor the Chinese regime itself, provide much credible analysis on what is involved in this transformation.

Veteran Canadian punk band DOA have set sail for Australia for one final tour this month. Formed in 1978, Henry Rollins described the band as “live they were monumental, change your life, blow away time … They came to town and we were like WOW!”

DOA’s slogan has been “Talk minus Action equals Zero” and the band has been active on many issues, including anti-racism, anti-globalisation, freedom of speech, and the environment.

In 2003, founding member Joe “Shithead” Keithley released his autobiography, I, Shithead: A Life in Punk.

Eco-Business: A Big-Brand Takeover of Sustainability
Peter Dauvergne & Jane Lister
MIT Press, 2013, 194 pages

Every big retail brand name you can think of — McDonalds and Starbucks, Coca-Cola and Nestle, Nike and Adidas, Disney and Google — are leading an apparent corporate charge towards ecological sustainability. Or so they would have us believe, say Peter Dauvergne and Jane Lister in Eco-Business.

The experts said that the efforts of the Northwestern University football (gridiron) team to form a union would crash and burn.

The experts scoffed that these naive jocks would lose their case before the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB). The experts all believed that this is what they call “settled law”.

Spoiled Indentity EP
Iron Reagan
Relapse Records
April 1, 2014
Free download

Radical punk-metal supergroup Iron Reagan have just released a free 13-track EP and are now playing it live across the US. Vocalist Tony Foresta and drummer Ryan Parrish answered some questions for Green Left Weekly's Mat Ward while they were driving to Dallas.

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Recent developments in the A-League football (soccer) competition in Australia help to show how the realm of sport entertainment is increasingly colonised by capitalist markets and how popular participation is undermined.

Green Left Weekly has reported on attacks on the rights of fans. They show how the owners of elite football clubs, the media and the state (particularly in terms of policing) undermine fans' rights, especially those engaged in “active support” in the stadium (singing, chanting, dancing, and banner waving).

Noah
Directed by Darren Aronofsky
Starring Russell Crowe & Jennifer Connolly
In cinemas now

The self-avowed atheist Darren Aronofsky, who directed the recently released Hollywood epic Noah, called it the “least biblical biblical film ever”.

Christian critics, such as National Religious Broadcaster president Jerry Johnson, were quick to agree. Johnson accused the film of having an “extreme environmentalist agenda” and supporting the theory of evolution.

RAPtivism
Aisha Fukushima
March 2012
www.raptivism.bandcamp.com

Travelling the world is a big enough challenge for most people, but Aisha Fukushima also managed to make a politically-charged hip-hop album while she did it. Green Left Weekly's Mat Ward spoke to the California-based "rap activist".

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You collaborated with rappers in the various countries you visited on your travels and emerged with a powerful album. Has your wanderlust been satisfied or do you have another similar album in the works?

Brothers Part One: Gallipoli 1915
By John Tognolini
163pp $20 paperback, $5 ebook
www.writersandebooks.com

Cuba & Its Neighbours: Democracy in Motion
By Arnold August
Fernwood Publishing
January 2013
288pp, C$29.95

Surrounded by emerging participatory democracies unshackling themselves from US hegemony, Arnold August writes that Cuba is a laboratory for people-powered politics.

The Show Will Go On
Mau Power
Coming soon
www.maupower.com

Mau Power's new album takes listeners through the big changes in his life - and the first of those came when he was jailed. "In 2001, I got incarcerated," the Torres Strait Islands rapper tells Green Left Weekly. "And that time I was in lock-up for nine months."

Mau Power, also known as Patrick Mau, was put away for grievous bodily harm after a street fight in the southern Queensland country town of Toowoomba.

Sense & Sensibility, an Annotated Edition
By Jane Austen (edited by Patricia Meyer Spacks)
Harvard University Press 2013
448 pp, $54.95
The Annotated Frankenstein
By Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley (edited by Susan J. Wolfson & Ronald Levao)
Harvard University Press 2012
400pp., $45.00

In January, federal education minister Christopher Pyne announced that he wants the national school history curriculum to recognise “the legacy of Western civilisation”.

Matangi
M.I.A.
N.E.E.T. Recordings
November 2013

The arrival of a new M.I.A. album is always a thing to behold. Music critics are sure to be polarised, as are the usually ham-fisted attempts to better categorise her work to make it less controversial than it is.

Snide remarks about her latest, Matangi, however, have been relatively muted in the months since its release.

The Biggest Estate on Earth: How Aboriginal people made Australia
Bill Gammage
434pps, $40
Allen & Unwin, 2012

This is an extraordinary book that details how Australian Aboriginal people cared for the land, or as Bill Gammage calls it the “Biggest Estate on Earth”.

Gammage describes, with many examples, how Aboriginal people looked after the land. No corner was ignored, from deserts and rainforests to rocky outcrops, across the entire continent for at least 60,000 years until British colonisers began to destroy all this work after their arrival in 1788.

Don't Let it Go (Urthboy Flip)
Sietta x Jaytee
Elefant Traks
Released March 6, 2014
Free download

Hip-hop artist Urthboy has hit back at Australia's asylum seeker policy with a free song released online. The rapper drops some radical rhymes over a beat that originally appeared on the new album by bass-heavy Darwin duo Sietta, which was released on his label Elefant Traks this month.

“It's no secret that many of the actors at the Oscars were wearing borrowed clothes and jewellery after being feted by designers keen for a priceless plug,” the Sydney Morning Herald said on March 5. “But not many would have been lent a suit because they couldn't afford one.”

This article on 10 thought-provoking lyrics from Native rap artists in the US first appeared at Indian Country Today Media Network.

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There’s always a verse, hook, or rhyme that listeners hear and say – whoa, I wasn’t expecting that. But, regardless of its effect, we find ourselves singing along to it.

Necrocracy
Exhumed
Relapse Records
Released August 6, 2013
www.relapse.com/exhumed

Californian death metal band Exhumed couch their cutting politics in horror-themed lyrics. Green Left Weekly's Mat Ward spoke to frontman Matt Harvey.

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Their names are Jawhar Nasser Jawhar, 19, and Adam Abd al-Raouf Halabiya, 17. They were once soccer players in the West Bank. Now they will never play sports again.

Jawhar and Adam were on their way home from training in the Faisal al-Husseini Stadium on January 31 when Israeli forces fired on them as they approached a checkpoint. After being shot repeatedly, they were mauled by checkpoint dogs and then beaten.

Ten bullets were put into Jawhar’s feet. Adam took one bullet in each foot.

A fresh protest by fans in Australia's A-League football (soccer) competition against restrictions on their rights took place at Parramatta Stadium on March 2 in a match between the Western Sydney Wanderers and the Newcastle Jets.

The Red and Black Bloc (RBB), the “active support” group for the Wanderers sat still in their seats for the entire match in a 90-minute long “silent protest”.

For Neville Cunningham

You walk, you walk,
You turn a corner and walk some more

The sun might be there
Some cloud also welcome

But you are always invited
Into the house of the beekeeper.

You will know it when you arrive
Usually an afternoon of daylight

Will warm those neighbourhood bricks
You will feel it on your right cheek!

You’ll know you’ve arrived:
A poster of Ned Kelly hangs in his window

The front door is always open when he’s in
And you can go in once you tap on the screen door.

He’ll be reading a book on his thin mattress

The Prince: Faith, Abuse & George Pell
David Marr
Quarterly Essay, Issue 51
Black Inc., $19.99 (pb)

The police had, writes David Marr in his September 2013 Quarterly Essay on paedophile priests in the Catholic Church in Australia, “vigorously, for a very long time, protected the church”. This, says Marr, left the clergy’s sex crimes to be looked after in-house.

This entirely suited the clerical child abusers, until the global tide of Catholic sexual abuse revelations engulfed Australia and sparked police of conscience into action.

Celebrity deaths from drug overdoses always garner heavy mainstream media coverage.

Last year, it was the death of Cory Monteith, a star of the popular TV show Glee — a lethal combination of heroin and alcohol killed him. This month, it was the gifted actor Philip Seymour Hoffman, who died of an apparent overdose of heroin.

Hip Hop, White Supremacy & Capitalism: Why Corporations Infiltrated RAP Music
Solomon Comissiong
Released November 2013
www.solomoncomissiong.com

The politics in early hip-hop music inspired Solomon Comissiong to become an activist, author, lecturer and film-maker. Green Left Weekly's Mat Ward spoke to him about his work, which uses rap music as a tool to educate and organise.

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