Cultural Dissent

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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Actress Ellen Page, best known for her work in the 2007 film Juno came out as gay in her speech at a Human Rights Campaign conference on February 14.

The conference itself was aimed at LGBTIQ youth where, during an emotional speech, Page said she was “tired of hiding” and “lying by omission”.

“I'm here today because I am gay,” Page said. “And because maybe I can make a difference.”

In what the Sydney Morning Herald described as the "darkest night" in Sydney Football Club's history, active supporters of the A-League football (soccer) club ― known as "the Cove" ― staged a walkout during the February 8 match against Adelaide United in protest against heavy-handed security tactics.

Radical Dilemma
Rebel Diaz
Released December 4, 2013
www.rebeldiaz.bandcamp.com

Rebel Diaz's much-anticipated debut album tackles a quandary faced by many activists - the "radical dilemma" of trying to change the system while being trapped in it. Green Left Weekly's Mat Ward spoke to the Bronx-based activist rap duo, made up of brothers RodStarz and G1.

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Condemned To The System
Nausea
Willowtip Records
Released January 7, 2014
www.facebook.com/nauseala

Toxin Toxout: Getting Harmful Chemicals Out of Our Bodies
Bruce Lourie & Rick Smith
University of Queensland Press, 2013
289 pages

The intrepid, and possibly just a little mad, environmental advocates Bruce Lourie and Rick Smith, are up to their old chemical tricks again in Toxin Toxout.

The Wolf of Wall Street
Directed by Martin Scorsese
Starring Leonardo DiCaprio, Jonah Hill, Margot Robbie, Matthew McConaughey, Kyle Chandler
Showing at selected cinemas

“There is no nobility in poverty. I’ve been rich, and I’ve been poor and I chose rich every time. At least as a rich man, when I have to face my problems, I show up in the back of a limo wearing a $2000 suit and a $40,000 gold plated watch! ... I want you to deal with your problems by becoming rich! Be aggressive, be ferocious, be telephone fucking terrorists!”

Kill the Power
Skindred
Released January 24, 2013
Touring Australia from Feb 22 to March 3
www.skindred.net

Welsh ragga-punk-electronica festival favourites Skindred have hit back at all oppressors on their latest album, Kill The Power - and they're bringing their hard-hitting message to Australia with the touring Soundwave festival from February 22. Big-bearded guitarist Mikey Demus spoke to Green Left Weekly's Mat Ward.

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Since their founding in 1896, every Olympics has arrived with the promise to unite the world.

One can still hear the lyrical words of the man who presided over the 1936 Berlin games, Chancellor Adolf Hitler, who said that he hoped his Nazi Olympics could help “knit the bonds of peace between nations”.

Hitler’s dreams of using the vessel of what is known as “the Olympic Movement” to create a harmonious world has tragically never come to pass, despite the best efforts of the aristocrats in the International Olympic Committee.

Corrupt Fucking System
Doom
Black Cloud Records
Released December 23, 2013
www.doomcrustpunk.com

Outspoken British crust-punk pioneers Doom have a stonking new album out and are heading to Australia. Guitarist and founding member Brian Talbot, aka Bri Doom, spoke to Green Left Weekly's Mat Ward.

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Beloved Land: Stories, Struggles & Secrets From Timor-Leste
Gordon Peake
Scribe, 2013
250 pages, $29.95 (pb)

East Timor is a tale of two statistics, says Gordon Peake in Beloved Land, his engaging blend of history, memoir and travelogue about the former Portuguese and Indonesian colony.

One of the world's poorest nations, East Timor ranks a lowly 120th of 169 countries on the United Nations Human Development Index, but scores high on corruption at 15th on the World Bank’s business transparency report.

Talking about music might sound strange for people who live in refugee camps and are deeply burdened with many other problems needing to be voiced.

But the huge role music played in the Saharawi people's struggle for independence leaves me with no choice e but to try to talk a little about the magical role revolutionary songs are playing in my people’s daily fight for self-determination.

It's celebrity time again. The Golden Globes have been, and the Oscars are coming. This is a “vintage year” say Hollywood's hagiographers on cue. It isn't.

Most movies are made to a formula for the highest return, money-fuelled by marketing and something called celebrity. This is different from fame, which can come with talent. True celebrities are spared that burden.

Invasion Day 2014 Mixtape
Brisbane Blacks
Released January 26, 2014
www.1stnationsmobb.bandcamp.com

As countless Australians donned their Cronulla capes and sank slabs of piss this Australia Day, non-profit publication Brisbane Blacks marked the occasion by releasing a free album full of protest songs.

Banjo-picking American troubadour Pete Seeger died on January 27 at the age of 94. In a career that spanned eight decades, he sang for migrant workers, peace activists and anti-capitalists.

Seeger died peacefully in his sleep around 9.30pm in New York Presbyterian Hospital, where he had been for six days. Family members were with him.

Seeger was an iconic figure in protest music. In his younger days he performed with Woody Guthrie and in his nineties, leaning on two canes, he marched with Occupy Wall Street protesters.

Spartacus (Revealing Antiquity)
By Aldo Schiavone (translation by Jeremy Carden)
Harvard University Press, 2013
208 pp., $29.95

Karl Marx was a great admirer of ancient Roman and Greek philosophers and leaders. However, there was one he singled out as the “finest fellow antiquity had to offer”: Spartacus, the Thracian who led the most significant slave revolt against the Roman empire.

Marx was not the only member of the Spartacus fan club. German Communists led by Rosa Luxemburg named their party after him.

For a second, just imagine that one of the highest ranked male tennis players in the world is taking part in the obligatory post-game interview having just won a marathon five setter.

Now imagine the interviewer is themselves a veteran of the sport for decades, one who undoubtedly knows the game inside and out. Now imagine the first question they ask the winner is: “So who would you most like to date?”

When Nadine Angerer, German goalkeeper for the Brisbane Roar W-League football (soccer) team, won the 2013 FIFA Women's World Player of the Year, it highlighted the quality of women's football in Australia.

However, as Aron Micallef highlights in the article below, it remains severely underdeveloped in contrast to its male equivalent. The article first appeared on Micallef's Attacking From the Left sports blog.

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High Hopes
Bruce Springsteen
Columbia
Released January 17, 2014
www.brucespringsteen.net

A recent documentary on veteran US rocker Bruce Springsteen asked fans to describe their hero in three words.

The responses, compiled in the film Springsteen & I, were fairly predictable: "Badass, sensitive, perfect"; "Hope, energy, power”; “Earnest, inspiring, intense” and so on.

The non-Springsteen fans reading this could probably think of a few far less kind words. But if I were to choose three, they would be: "Open to interpretation."

Alienation: An Introduction to Marx’s Theory
By Dan Swain
Bookmarks, 2012

The human race lives in a terrible contradiction. Quite obviously, there is enough wealth to create a decent life for every person on the planet. Yet, billions suffer deprivation and are denied basic human rights so that the capitalist profit-making system can maintain itself.

If I Had a Hammer
David Rovics
Liberation Records, 2013

Fans of radical US singer-songwriter David Rovics will welcome his latest CD, If I had a Hammer, a compilation of three albums recorded last year and released in December. And those not familiar with his mix of angry, satirical, pensive and informative folk punk songs of struggle should check out this 23-track marathon introduction to some of the recent offerings of this prolific artist.

Utopia
Directed by John Pilger
http://utopiajohnpilger.co.uk

The latest documentary by Emmy and BAFTA award winning film maker and journalist, John Pilger, contrasts two very different worlds: one of white aspiration on Sydney’s northern beaches, and the other the Aboriginal community in the ironically named town of Utopia, located in central Australia.

The town has been assessed as the most disadvantaged and poorest community in Australia. The distinction could not be more stark.

Well, January isn't even over and the race for Biggest Hypocrite of 2014 is well under way. And the ever-reliable contenders from Parliament House in Canberra already have some serious competition in the media.

Over 200 people laughed until it hurt at the 'Welcome to the Abbottoir' comedy night held in Sydney on November 9. Featuring Michael Hing (as seen on SBS TV), Twiggy Palmcock (famous for crashing Tony Abbott's election night party), Hannah G (Newcastle-based comedian) and Carlo Sands (Green Left Weekly), the evening was organised by Green Left Weekly and filmed by Green Left TV. Watch all four performances below.

Phoenix
Jimblah
Elefant Traks
2013
www.elefanttraks.com

Most people fear fire, but Jimblah embraces it. The element flares up again and again in the rapper's searingly original work - from his first album, Face The Fire, to the one that just rose from its ashes, Phoenix.

Scandal! A Radical Burlesque
Performed by Lush Cabaret
Produced by Zelda Da

Political cabaret is alive and well in regional Queensland as audiences flocked to the latest production by Lush Cabaret ― Scandal! A Radical Burlesque ― which was performed in Cairns from November 27 to 30.

The talented cast and crew presented a fantastical romp through Australia's political landscape with the thrills and spills of burlesque, along with the bite of incisive political satire.

The Hunger Games: Catching Fire
Starring Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Liam Hemsworth & Donald Sutherland
Directed by Francis Lawrence
In cinemas now

The Hunger Games brings revolution to the big screen in an action-packed film adaption of author Suzanne Collins’ trilogy.

The second film, Catching Fire, takes off nicely where the first left off. It lifts the bar in every aspect, from the intensity of the storyline, to the performances and production quality.

Conflict In The Unions: The Communist Party of Australia, Politics & the Trade Union Movement, 1945-60
By Douglas Jordan
Resistance books, 2013
312 page, $30

Conflict In The Unions is an important new book examining the union activity of the Communist Party of Australia during a very turbulent time in Australian and world politics. The book looks at the period of 1945-'60, when the Cold War reached its height.

Green Left Weekly is taking a break for the summer from December 11 to January 22. To fill the void, it asked staff, contributors and others to recommend their favourite books of the year.

Rachel Evans
Green Left Weekly writer, activist, organiser
How to Make Trouble and Influence People
By Iain McIntyre
http://goo.gl/l7GOfx

There are times when the line between shock, rage and sadness become so blurred it is impossible to know when the flow of emotion ends or begins.

The shock and rage come from hearing about an African-American student violently tormented by his three white housemates at San Jose State University in California. Thrown together randomly as first-year students tend to be, Logan Beaschler, 18, Joseph Bomgardner, 19, and Colin Warren, 18 found common cause in acts of racist sadism against their fourth housemate.

Tap Tap
New Dub City
Raspect Records
November 18, 2013
www.newdubcity.com

Melbourne dub-rap-reggae collective New Dub City have just released their politically punchy and sonically spotless second album, Tap Tap. Frontman, producer and author Ali MC spoke to Green Left Weekly's Mat Ward.

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12 Years a Slave
Starring Chiwetel Ejiofor, Michael Fassbender, Benedict Cumberbatch
Directed by Steve McQueen

12 Years a Slave has received countless accolades from critics. The New Yorker has called it “easily the greatest feature film ever made about American slavery”.

High praise, and the end result lives up to it. The film is a moving portrait of Solomon Northup's struggle to survive as a man while he is made to be a beast to enrich a Southern ruling class.

The New York Yankees of Egyptian football, Al Ahly, have officially expelled one of its top players, striker Ahmed Abdel Zaher.

Did this extraordinary act take place in the aftermath of a heartbreaking loss? No, the team had actually just triumphed 2-0 and Zaher had even scored a goal.

Was there an off-field scandal? Did Zaher find himself caught with steroids, or bullying teammates or running a dog-fighting ring? None of that. He was, by all accounts, a model citizen.

In the same boat
Channa Wickremesekera
Bay Owl Press, 2010

It almost seems superfluous to review this book. At a mere 62 pages, it is barely a novella — a short story, perhaps. Why not just read the book, and skip the review?

Once you start, if it's going to appeal to you at all, the first few pages will draw you in and you will finish it in the same sitting.

Haiti’s New Dictatorship: The Coup, the Earthquake & the UN Occupation
Justin Podur
Pluto Press, 2012
280 pp, $44.00

There seems to be no lie too base, no crime too awful that the “international community” has not committed against the tiny nation of Haiti ― the poorest country in the western hemisphere.

Canadian solidarity activist Justin Podur explains in exacting detail every slander and misrepresentation peddled by imperialist governments and retailed by the Western media to justify the continuing denial of Haitian sovereignty that began in 2004.

The Circle
By Dave Eggers
Hamish Hamilton, 2013
491 pages

The Circle is a novel for our times. It is an indictment of Big Data and surveillance society, and also speaks to the difficulty many white-collar workers face in the digital age, in maintaining a separation between their working and private lives.

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