Cultural Dissent

Diet of Austerity: Class, Food & Climate Change
By Elaine Graham-Leigh
Zero Books, 2015

Like the author of this interesting book on food and climate change, I have been struck by the way that the question of diet, and in particular meat eating, has become central to debates on tackling climate change.

The Art of Charlie Chan Hock Chye
Presented by Sonny Liew.
Pantheon Books, New York.
322 pages, 2015.

The Art of Charlie Chan Hock Chye is the account of the life of a Singaporean comic book artist who started drawing at the age of 16.

From that point, his work depicts his life story in parallel to that of the history of Singapore. In reality, Chan Hock Chye is a fictional creation of Malaysian born comic artist Sonny Liew who has worked on comics such as the New York Times bestseller The Shadow Hero.

In this never-ending election campaign, with uninspiring candidates bashing refugees and the most exciting point of note is an ad that indicates the Liberals think tradies where gold watches, there seems little to smile about. So the satirical show Australia Votes 2016, which premiered at the Harold Park Hotel in Glebe, Sydney on June 24, provides some badly needed relief.

Past sick sadistic tyrants made each victim dig their grave,
Mowed them down without mercy, in wave after wave.
But now heat is the trigger set for the many by the few
Will you be ready when the climate comes for you?

In Karachi they'll be ready when the tide of death rolls in
When the poor and frail fall prey to the oil barons' sin.

The Most Good You Can Do: How Effective Altruism Is Changing Ideas about Living Ethically
By Peter Singer
Yale University Press, 2015
272 pages

Living up to his moral philosophical tradition of utilitarianism, with its “greatest good” principle, Australian philosopher Peter Singer's latest instalment is The Most Good You Can Do.

The book — endorsed by software monopolists and corporate philanthropists Bill and Melinda Gates — is based on Singer's “Castle Lecture” at Yale University in 2013.

Zero K
By Don DeLillo
Simon & Schuster, 2016

Don DeLillo is known as one of America’s great authors, standing out for his effortless wisdom. So, now at 81, it is of no surprise that DeLillo tackles death and immortality in his recent novel Zero K.

Having foreshadowed the horror of 9/11 (Underworld), the Great Financial Crisis and Occupy Movement (Cosmopolis) and the anthrax scare (White Noise), Zero K is his literary prophecy of the commodification of the last dignity: death.

Everyone has a story about Muhammad Ali. For me it was as a young Black high school student in Detroit. I had already seen the wrongs of imperialism and its wars — and of course the racism Blacks faced in Detroit.

Ali as a Black man and Muslim was a powerful symbol of courage. His willingness to give up his boxing career in the 1960s to stand with the Vietnamese against the US government waging war on them reflected the stirrings of militant Black pride growing in Detroit.


US Women's soccer team after winning last year's World Cup.

The United States women's soccer team does not have the right to strike for better conditions and wages this year, a US district court judge ruled on June 3, Reuters reported that day.

The reverberations. Not the rumbles, the reverberations. The death of Muhammad Ali will undoubtedly move people's minds to his epic boxing matches against Joe Frazier, George Foreman, or there will be retrospectives about his epic “rumbles” against racism and war.

But it's the reverberations that we have to understand in order to see Muhammad Ali as what he remains: the most important athlete to ever live. It's the reverberations that are our best defense against real-time efforts to pull out his political teeth and turn him into a harmless icon suitable for mass consumption.

It was with great sadness I heard of the death of David Page, one of the greatest entertainers Australia has produced in recent times. He was a famous child singer at the age of 14, an actor, musician, composer, dancer, playwright and story teller.

He was also a proud Nunukul and Munaldjali man from south-east Queensland. He was not afraid to admit his homosexuality. He was also the brother of Stephen and Russell Page of the Bangarra Dance Theatre, where he had enjoyed a long and rich artistic career.

I just returned to the United States from Rio de Janeiro, where I was researching a story on the Olympics in August for The Nation.

People spoke to me about the displacement and police violence that are accompanying the games. Yet one of the hottest points of discussion emerged from outside the country: a call to move, or at least postpone, the Olympics to prevent the global expansion of the Zika virus, currently exploding in Rio.

Rafael “Rafucko” Puetter is a Rio-based artist and activist who put together an “Olympic anti-souvenir shop” to highlight the injustices that arrive with the summer games.

I was sitting in the waiting room when you flashed across the screen
A heatwave smothered India and you were on the scene.
As you tried to cross the street, your shoe stuck to the road
So you ran on scorched bare feet, as the black tar slowly flowed.
Where there once were straight white lines, a crazy pattern morphed and swirled,
As if a giant with a paintbrush splashed out and dwarfed the world.
You long for cooling rain, but the monsoon will be late.
And this is how some people face their climate fate.

You’re a woman of Maharashtra; farm life is what you know.

“When one farmer kills themselves you can call it suicide. But when a quarter of a million farmers kill themselves, how can the government call it suicide? It is genocide. These farmers are being killed by design.”

So opens Cotton For My Shroud, a documentary about embattled Indian farmers and the assault on traditional rural agricultural life waged by Monsanto and the political class in its pockets.

The overthrow of Brazil’s President Dilma Rousseff in an institutional coup by right-wing forces has been justified by allegations of corruption — even though issue Dilma is being impeached on is use of a relatively normal government spending mechanism.

Chasing Asylum
Directed by Eva Orner
Selected cinemas

Chasing Asylum is a new documentary that shows the Nauru and Manus Island detention centres for the “Hell on Earth” and “human dumping grounds” they are.

The Hidden Wealth Of Nations: The Scourge Of Tax Havens
Gabriel Zucman
University of Chicago Press
2015, 129 pages

Criminal heists do not come any bigger than the global theft every year by the ultra-rich of about US$200 billion courtesy of the off-shore tax haven banking industry.

The Panama Papers has grabbed headlines, but in The Hidden Wealth of Nations, Gabriel Zucman, economics professor at the London School of Economics and Political Science, also takes a close look at the famous tax-evading practices in Switzerland.

The Meddler
Written and directed by Lorene Scafaria
Starring Susan Sarandon, Rose Byrne, JK Simmons

One place where the personal is very political is the sometimes fraught relationships between mothers and daughters.

Some time ago Hollywood screenwriter Lorene Scafaria, while dealing with a major project, also had to grapple with difficulties with her mother. That became the raw material for her new film, The Meddler.

The Coalition government’s arts funding cuts have deepened in a confused, inconsistent fashion that has only added to the sector’s turmoil.

The Australia Council for the Arts has told 62 small-to-medium-sized arts companies and organisations that their applications for grants for the next four years have been rejected. Yet more than 40 new organisations have been given grants.

Leon Trotsky
By Paul Le Blanc
Reaktion Books, 2015
224 pp, $39.99
Trotsky & the Problem of Soviet Bureaucracy
By Thomas M. Twiss
Brill, 2014
502 pp., $205.00

Leon Trotsky was one of the central leaders of the Russian Revolution. As the organiser and Commissar of the Red Army that saved the Soviet power and as the leading light of the struggle against Stalinism, he is surely one of the great heroic — and tragic — figures of the 20th century.

A guitarist manipulates tension. She picks up six strings stretched to almost their breaking points and proceeds to squeeze them, snap them and caress them to produce as many sounds and emotions as her skill and soul can conjure.

Fighters in the Shadow: A New History of the French Resistance
By Robert Gildea
Faber & Faber Press, London
593 pages, 2015

Upon his inauguration on May 16, 2007, former French President Nicolas Sarkozy visited the Bois de Boulogne in Paris and paid homage to 35 anti-fascist resistance fighters shot by the occupying Nazis in August 1944, just before Paris was liberated.

He also read the last letter of Guy Moquet, a 17-year-old Communist, to his parents on the eve of his execution by the occupiers in 1941 along with 26 other Communist resisters.


Elizabeth Jarrett.

Well here it is 2016
Yet we are still ruled under an illegal regime
It's time for a change in
Histories what's, when's and how's

What they say was once discovered is invaded now
We don't want recognition in the constitution
For being recognised is not the solution

What we need is this current government’s dissolution


Nafez Abed at his Gaza rooftop workspace. Photo: Momen Faiz/Electronic Intifada.

A small room on a rooftop in the occupied Gaza Strip’s crowded Beach refugee camp resembles a miniature archaeological museum.

It is the workshop of Nafez Abed, 55, who studies archaeological artefacts in order to replicate them in exquisite detail.


Photo: Arabfilmfestival.org.

Speed Sisters
Directed by Amber Fares
2015
http://speedsisters.tv

Google “sport” and “Palestine” and what does the search engine return? Football, football and more football.

Black Panther #1
By Ta-Nehisi Coates
Marvel comic series

The new Black Panther is “Black as hell” — a phrase Ta-Nehisi Coates used to describe himself on Twitter a week ahead of the release of Black Panther #1, the highly anticipated first issue in a new 12-part Marvel series penned by Coates.

That's no small thing in the comics world. Sure, comic companies have begun to show an understanding that their core audience is diverse, increasingly female and of colour.


Left-wing supporters of Scottish independence in the 2014 referendum campaign.

Is There A Scottish Road to Socialism?
Edited by Gregor Gall
Scottish Left Review Press
Third edition, 2016
£5.99, 164 pages

This is the third edition in a series previously published in 2007 and 2013. A range of left-wing activists and commentators debate the question of whether Scottish independence would help or hinder the prospects for socialism in Scotland.

Veteran rocker Bruce Springsteen made waves when he announced on his website on April 8 that he was cancelling a show in North Carolina in protest at a new bigoted law. Ringo Starr also cancelled a June show in North Carolina over what is often called the “bathroom” law — a new law that restricts which bathrooms trans people can use as well as restricting LGBTI rights to sue over discrimination.

As part of the Sydney Comedy Festival now under way, writers of satirical website The (un)Australian have put together a live show of political satire and sketches for May 3 — which also happens to be Budget night.

Farmageddon
The True Cost of Cheap Meat
by Philip Lymbery with Isabel Oakeshott
Bloomsbury Publishing, 2014

It is impossible to read Farmageddon: The True Cost of Cheap Meat without coming to the conclusion that the world's food and agriculture system is screwed.

Sherpa — Trouble on Everest
Directed by Jennifer Peedom & Renan Ozturk

The Sherpa are a Nepalese ethnic minority who have a reverent regard for the world’s highest mountain, Chomolungma — known in English as Everest.

Trumbo
Starring Bryan Cranston, Diane Lane & Helen Mirren
Directed by Jay Roach
In cinemas now

Communist Parties around the world, despite their Stalinist degenerations, won mass support in the period during and after World War II, even in the homeland of imperialism — the United States. Among the industries in which the Communist Party of USA had influence was Hollywood.

The movie industry was a dream machine, a factory churning out cultural product. Dalton Trumbo, a CPUSA member, achieved stellar status and great wealth in the 1940s writing hits for the studios.

Capitalism in the Web of Life: Ecology & the Accumulation of Capital
By Jason Moore (2015)
Verso Books

Jason Moore’s book is a great new addition to our thinking about capitalist ecology. It is not an easy book — Moore draws on a wide range of ideas, in particular world-systems thinking and Karl Marx’s value theory, but it is well worth the effort of deepening our understanding in this vital area.

Taking a cue from the title — it is capitalism “in” not “and” the web of life — one central theme is that capitalism and nature are co-produced.


US women's soccer team celebrates winning the 1015 Women's World Cup.

“Women who seek to be equal with men lack ambition.” That quote is often attributed to Marilyn Monroe, but was more likely said by psychologist and LSD guru Timothy Leary.

On April 8, US rock star Bruce Springsteen published the statement below on his website.

***

As you, my fans, know I'm scheduled to play in Greensboro, North Carolina this Sunday. As we also know, North Carolina has just passed HB2, which the media are referring to as the “bathroom” law.

PostCapitalism: A Guide To Our Future
By Paul Mason
Allen Lane, 2015, 340 pp., $49.99 (hb)

Paul Mason is a well-known British economics journalist, who made a name for himself with commentary on the BBC and more lately on Channel 4. PostCapitalism has created a big splash in Britain, where it has been widely reviewed and debated.

Where To Invade Next
Written & directed by Michael Moore

Michael Moore has made another poignant, funny and politically sharp movie.

In spite of the title, it has little to do with US foreign policy. In Where to Invade Next, the documentary filmmaker behind Fahrenheit 9/11 and Bowling for Columbine goes after social problems that continue to plague the US, like homelessness and lack of health care — and shows that the US could learn a lot from the rest of the world.

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