Cultural Dissent

The election showed
Most people in our country
Still unwilling to take the plunge
Towards system overhaul

Chosing instead to remain
Blind in the face of climate change
Deaf to the groans of the earth and its poor
Dumb to the call for justice and peace
Heads spinning with doublespeak
And massive media manipulation

Wondering how to cope with this
Collective conservatism and the
Pettiness of political leaders
I wander around the flat
A little bewildered and sad
To find myself in front of
My bedside bookshelves

Metamorphosis
Why Marx was right
Unfinished Animal

Digital Disconnect:
How Capitalism Is Turning the Internet Against Democracy

Robert W McChesney
Spring 2013
www.thenewpress.com

When award-winning author Robert McChesney wrote a much-needed political and economic analysis of the internet, the reaction from his peers was not quite what he expected.

Verbal Reality Volume 2
Provocalz
Coming October 2013
www.provocalz.bigcartel.com

Rapper Provocalz has dedicated a song to Australia's Liberal and Labor parties on his new album - but it won't be music to their ears.

On his track "Liberals or Labor", the Indigenous emcee suggests the two big parties are so contemptuous of voters that some, like him, might consider swapping their ballots for bullets:

Liberals or Labor, they both leave us to rot
So it's criminal behaviour, politicians get shot
Pop pop pop pop!
It's that real hip-hop, hip-hop

From Mexican revolutionaries to Argentine street kids, Pinochet’s Chile to Mayan eco-warriors, the Eighth Sydney Latin American Film Festival shines the light on Latin America’s dark past as well as its ongoing struggle against corporate imperialism and environmental destruction.

From September 4 to 15, the festival screens 22 new-release feature films and documentaries from Argentina, Brazil, Cuba, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Guatemala, Mexico, Panama, Peru, Uruguay, Venezuela, the US and Australia.

They say a picture is worth a thousand words. They don’t say what a gif is worth, but as if for good measure, we’ve gotten both out of the performance by Miley Cyrus and Robin Thicke at MTV’s Video Music Awards on August 25.

The Signal And The Noise
Asian Dub Foundation
Out now in Japan, rest of the world soon
www.asiandubfoundation.com

Legendary punk-dub-electronica group Asian Dub Foundation are celebrating their 20th year with the release of a typically topical new album, The Signal And The Noise. Green Left's Mat Ward spoke to founding member, guitarist and band leader Steve Chandra Savale, a one-man riff factory who always has his finger on the political pulse.

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Elysium
Written and directed by Neill Blomkamp
Starring Matt Damon, Jodie Foster, Sharlto Copley, Alice Braga
In cinemas now

In the mid-22nd century, Earth has become a crowded, polluted, poverty-stricken slum. While the poor, mostly black and brown residents of Earth, struggle with dangerous working conditions, substandard public services and brutal robot police, the 1% have escaped to Elysium, a pristine floating space station orbiting Earth.

The Passion Of Bradley Manning: The Story Behind the WikiLeaks Whistleblower
Chase Madar
Verso, 2013
181 pages, $19.95 (pb)

The issue in the trial of Bradley Manning, the source of tens of thousands of US military and state secrets leaked to WikiLeaks, is, in some eyes, simple.

“He broke the law,” lectured United States President Barack Obama, conveniently overlooking, as Chase Madar comments in his book on Manning, the routine violation by the ruling elite of the principle that “rules are rules”.

The Bracegirdle Incident: How an Australian Communist Ignited Ceylon’s Independence Struggle
Alan Fewster
Arcadia/Australian Scholarly Publishing, 2013
173 pages, $39.95 (pb)

In 1937, Ceylon’s British Chief of Police reported that “it is clearly dangerous” to allow the Australian communist Mark Bracegirdle, to remain in the country “stirring up feelings against employers of labour and against the British Government”.

While waiting at Tokyo's Narita International Airport to board his flight to New Zealand on August 13, US progressive singer-songwriter David Rovics was informed that he was banned from entering New Zealand.

The Portland, Oregon-based Rovics is known for his extensive touring, doing concerts in support of progressive causes and workers' struggles in the US, Europe, and Australia.

There are few people in the sports world I respect more than Cyd Zeigler, the founder of the website Outsports, which deals with the sporting lives of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender athletes.

I tweeted Zeigler's excellent article titled “Don’t Boycott Olympics Ban Russia From Competing Instead” precisely because it was incisive and made me think. I do, however, feel that on principle I need to state that I strongly disagree with his central premise.

Birdz Eye View
Birdz
Impossible Odds Records
July 11, 2013
www.birdz.bandcamp.com

Most rappers use their publicity photos to show off their bling, but Nathan Bird uses his to show off something a little more challenging - his books.

Love & Struggle, My Life in SDS, the Weather Underground & Beyond
By David Gilbert, PM Press, 2012
336 pp, $22.00

From the earliest anti-capitalist revolutions, starting almost as soon as capitalism cemented its political mastery of Europe in the late 1700s, there has been dispute between those whose moral outrage at oppression led them to conspiratorial methods and those saying that open political struggle is superior.

Originally this debate was between the Blanquists and Marxists and later between Bakuninite anarchists and (again) Marxists.

Born Free
Ben Iota
Butterthief Records
June 20, 2013
www.beniota.com

Radical rapper Ben Iota stands out in Australian Hip-Hop like a refugee boat in an empty ocean. Green Left's Mat Ward spoke to him about his new EP "Born Free".

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In The Shadow of Gallipoli: The Hidden History of Australia in World War 1
By Robert Bollard
New South Publishing, 2013
223 pages (PB), $32.99

Every year, around ANZAC day on April 25, hordes of Australian tourists and backpackers descend on the shore of Gallipoli in Turkey to commemorate the first battle in which Australians took part in World War I in 1915.

ANZAC day has experienced a resurgence in popularity over recent years. Governments have helped by promoting nationalistic myths about how the unsuccessful campaign was “where Australia was born”.

Lyrikal Kombat
Red Eye Balaz
www.facebook.com/RedEyeBalaz

Kerser is one of the best-known acts in Australian Hip-Hop. The south-west Sydney emcee has built a huge following by pitching his hardened battle-rap skills against some of the biggest names in the game.

On July 26, radical hip-hop producer Agent of Change released a "beat tape" to mark the 60th anniversary of the start of the Cuban Revolution.

Agent of Change, also known as London-based activist and writer Carlos Martinez, said: "The 18 hip-hop instrumentals - with a couple of feature verses from Fidel Castro and Nelson Mandela - celebrate Cuban culture, drawing influence and samples from Cuba’s diverse musical heritage."

Toussaint Louverture: The Story of the Only Successful Slave Revolt in History; A Play in Three Acts
CLR James, edited by Christian Hogsbjerg
Duke University Press 2013
222 pp., $47.99

Hegel, Haiti & Universal History
Susan Buck-Moss
University of Pittsburgh Press 2009
176 pp., $89.99

“I was born a slave, but nature gave me the soul of a free man,” said Toussaint Louverture, the leader of the successful Haitian slave revolt of 1791 to 1804.

Where on my body
are your eyes zigzagging?
I die for you!!
The hungry bludger gambling
With the lice in my empty pocket
and still hung over in the Zipper’s ducts
Where have muted body parts been penetrated by the drill
With shafts as thick as Imperialism
Whose begging is never ending, as the “Taleban” that you are?
Laughter is wounded,
And Samarkand, with a skirt full of pebbles
And a hole,
the forbidden commodity
of the black market.
Hole, hole!
Oh, so ruthless
Fascism has had no mercy
To the body, to the rectum, to the shoulder blade,
Even to the damp pants

Bring The Sun Out EP
Impossible Odds
Classik Nawu
Coldwater Band
July 2013
www.impossibleoddsrecords.com

"Land rights is a load of crap," says Kaylah Truth. They are not the kind of words you'd expect to hear from a radical, politically-savvy Indigenous rapper. But Truth, of militant Murri hip-hop group Impossible Odds, says she has learnt from bitter experience to pursue sovereignty instead.

On the band's album, Against All Odds, she raps:

I no longer need my fists to fight
I just write whenever those emotions do arise

Left-wing Welsh rockers The Manic Street preachers were the first British rock band to tour Cuba and have dedicated songs to radical miners union leader Arthur Scargill.

Now the Manics have filed a suit against the English Defence League — the well-organised fascist street gang known for organising large anti-Muslim marches — for using their song “If You Tolerate This Your Children Will Be Next” to promote an upcoming demonstration in Birmingham.

Sick Justice: Inside the American Gulag
By Ivan G Goldman
Potomac Books, 2013
256 pages, hardcover

Justice is criminally unjust in the United States. Its predatory bankers and warmongers rarely face charges, but the nation's prisons are packed with impoverished small-time crooks.

If the cells were a city, it would be the largest after New York, Los Angeles and Chicago: 2.3 million Americans live behind bars. One in every 100 adults is a convict, a rate that rivals North Korea.

As if we needed proof that the acquittal of George Zimmerman was -- in the words of Jay Smooth -- going to create more George Zimmermans. A mere hour before that shameful verdict came down, the great Lester Chambers was assaulted, on stage, by a crazed attendee at the Hayward Russell City Blues Festival. What did she assault him for? Dedicating a song to Trayvon Martin.

Musical artist Stevie Wonder vowed to “never perform” in the state of Florida while the National Rifle Association-backed “stand your ground” law is in effect.

The 63-year-old singer said at a concert in Quebec City, Canada, on July 14 that until the law is abolished in Florida, he will “never” perform there again.

“Wherever I find that law exists, I will not perform in that state or in that part of the world,” Wonder said.



Project Republic: Plans & Arguments for a New Australia
Edited by Benjamin T Jones & Mark Mckenna
Black Inc, 2013
251 pages, $29.99 (pb)

If the Australian Republican Movement (ARM) represents those who wish to make Australia a republic, yet the ARM sends congratulations to the Queen last year on her 60th year of rule from London, what hope is there for Australia becoming a royal-free zone?

Not much, must be the conclusion, after reading the ARM’s call-to-republican-arms book, Project Republic.

Every Parent's Nightmare
By Belinda Hawkins
Allen & Unwin, 2013
www.everyparentsnightmare.com

Jock Palfreeman, an Australian man sentenced to 20 years in jail in Bulgaria for murder in a deeply flawed trial, had his request to be transferred to an Australian jail turned down on July 10.

Belinda Hawkins' book, Every Parent's Nightmare, brings to life the tragic story of Palfreeman, whose fearless commitment to human rights led to a 20-year sentence in Bulgaria.

One has to hark back to 1968 in Mexico City, when thousands of students and workers marched against the Olympics, to find a sports-related demonstration that compares to the size and militancy of the mass anti-World Cup/Olympic protests taking place in Brazil.

As in Mexico City, thousands of people in Brazil took to the streets — and outside of stadiums hosting Confederations Cup matches — raising slogans that connect the spending and austerity that surround these mega-events to a much deeper rot in the nation’s democratic institutions.

In February last year, the stalking and murder of Trayvon Martin affected pro athletes — particularly African-American athletes — in a way that perhaps can be best described as intimate.

Players like Carmelo Anthony saw the case far more clearly than George Zimmerman’s prosecutor: it was a racist murder and Trayvon, condemned to death for Living While Black, could have been them or their children.

The Condition of the Working Class, A Documentary Film
By Mike Wayne & Deirdre O’Neill
Inside Film 2012
www.conditionoftheworkingclass.info

In the 1840s, when Frederick Engels went to Manchester to take up his duties of administering his father’s cotton milling enterprise, he discovered the dreadful conditions in which the city’s workers lived.

World War Z
Directed by Marc Foster
Starring Brad Pitt, Mireille Enos, James Badge Dale & Matthew Fox
In Cinemas now

It’s movie time — winter is upon us, kids are home for two weeks and there’s a glut of new releases at the cinemas.

While providing the necessary action and suspense for my kids’ age group, the US$190 million production World War Z also glorifies US-style international relations in the fight against a futuristic global zombie takeover.

It's been almost ten years since she became a fixture on the indie music scene. Since then she's been nominated for Grammys and sold hundreds of thousands of records. But music journalists still have no idea how to treat M.I.A.

Le Sacre Du Travail
The Tangent
InsideOut Music
June 24, 2013
www.insideoutmusic.com

One Day in December: Celia Sanchez & the Cuban Revolution
By Nancy Stout
Monthly Review Press
457 pages, US$28.95
Read an excerpt

Revolutions are great processes. Thousands and then millions of people, who had previously been excluded from their societies, take centre stage to challenge existing structures.

In doing so, these movements of people can create history. These movements can propel people from relative obscurity to truly amazing heights as they are thrust into leading roles by the forces in motion.

This year marks 100 years since the opening of the Kahlin compound in Darwin, a place where Aboriginal children, stolen from their families, were forced to live and work.

The compound was closed in 1938, but lives on in the memory of many who were held there — many of whom are still in Darwin today, and would like the site to be recognised and protected as part of their heritage.

On June 27, as Nelson Mandela was reported to be lying in hospital on life support, London-based activist and hip-hop producer Carlos Martinez released the track "Madiba’s Message".

A selection of this week's politically-relevant entertainment news...

Rapper LL Cool J explains his song 'Accidental Racist' with country music singer Brad Paisley. http://youtu.be/GG676KRXH9A + Full Song Lyrics http://tinyurl.com/c6hwtnw

2013 Cannes Film Festival Fake Gunman Sentenced to 18 Months in Jail for Firing Blanks http://eonli.ne/10QNl5U

Domestic abuser and singer Chris Brown Accused of Assaulting Woman in Nightclub. http://eonli.ne/1cgkNT9

Sheilas, Wogs & Poofters: An Incomplete Biography of Johnny Warren & Soccer in Australia
Johnny Warren with Andy Harper & Josh Whittington
Random House Australia, 2002

A late header from lanky striker Josh Kennedy ensured Australia beat Iraq 1-0 in their final qualifier match for the 2014 World Cup, guaranteeing the Socceroos a ticket to Brazil.

Some 80,532 supporters filled a sold-out ANZ Stadium, the largest crowd for the national men's team in soccer (football to most of the world) since the 2005 qualifying match against Uruguay in the same venue.

Garrumul: His Life & Music
Robert Hillman
2013, $65

Dr M Yunupingu, former Yothu Yindi frontman and Gumatj clan member, passed away on June 2 at his home community of Yirrkala, in north-east Arnhem Land.

It is often the case that we learn more about somebody’s life after they die. As it happened, the week Yunupingu died, I had bought a copy of a beautiful new biography of his nephew, Geoffrey Gurrumul Yunupingu, known more commonly as Gurrumul.

Earthmasters: Playing God With The Climate
Clive Hamilton
Allen & Unwin, 2013
247 pages, $24.99 (pb)

“Never let a good crisis go to waste,” seems to be the philosophy, says Clive Hamilton in Earthmasters, of the fossil fuel companies, the World Bank and the billionaire “techno-entrepreneurs” like Bill Gates and Richard Branson who are funding research into geo-engineering schemes for “large-scale intervention in the climate system designed to counter global warming”.

Mary Meets Mohammad
Directed by Heather Kirkpatrick
www.marymeetsmohammad.com

If you thought that knitting and controversial current affairs don’t mix, then think again. Mary Meets Mohammad is a fantastic first feature length documentary by Tasmanian film maker Heather Kirkpatrick. It has received rave reviews by cinema-goers in Tasmania and will soon be screened in cinemas across the country.

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