Cultural Dissent

It has been a year since the death of Black teenager Michael Brown, a year since the rebellion in Ferguson, a year since the Black Lives Matter movement began to shift the conversation in just about every avenue of US life.

That shift can be seen in culture — music, in particular.

Not surprisingly, hip hop has led the way — not just through a predictable barrage of tweets by musicians and artists, but a sustained, meaningful wave of creativity engaging with a bold, sometimes chaotic movement.

Undercover West Papua documentary Forgotten Bird of Paradise has been awarded Best Short Documentary at the 2015 Davis International Film Festival in the US. More than 1100 films were submitted to the festival from 80 countries.

Since its release in 2009, Forgotten Bird of Paradise has been shown at dozens of film festivals around the world, providing a rare and moving insight into the ongoing struggle for freedom being waged by the West Papuan people living under Indonesian colonial rule.

The Intervention:‭ ‬An Anthology‭
Edited By Rosie Scott‭ & ‬Anita Heiss
Concerned Australians,‭ ‬2015
$25

‭“‬The Intervention to us was like Australia declaring war on us and in the process they demonised and dehumanised Aboriginal men,‭ ‬women and children,‭”‬ says Rosalie Kunoth-Monks,‭ ‬Aboriginal elder and‭ ‬2015‭ ‬Northern Territory Australian of the Year.

Vanished: The Mysterious Disappearance Of Mustafa Ouda
By Ahmed Masoud
Rimal Press, 2015
US$20, 205 pages, pb

There is an act of violence in Ahmed Masoud’s Vanished: The Mysterious Disappearance Of Mustafa Ouda that reverberates throughout the novel. An act done in a perfunctory way, described in a short sentence that compels the reader to sit up, if not choke.


Artist Doreen Chapman at the opening night of ‘We Call It Home’.

We Call It Home
Spinifex Hill Artists exhibition, FORM gallery, Perth
September 3 to November 30

Many of the Martu people of Western Australia’s Pilbara region, extending out into the Great Sandy, Little Sandy and Gibson Deserts, only ceased living a pujiman (entirely traditional) life as late as the 1960s. Many also took part in the huge Aboriginal stock workers strike of the late ’40s.


Fans of Glasgow's Celtic FC.

All 80 clubs competing in Europe's two most prestigious football competitions — the UEFA Champions League and Europa League — will donate €1 from tickets sold for their opening game towards refugees.

A World to Build: New Paths Toward Twenty-First Century Socialism
Marta Harnecker
Monthly Review Press, 2015
US$19, paperback

The emergence of diverse, complex and popular social projects in Latin America — several of which have involved winning governmental power —- is arguably the most important phenomenon shaping radical politics in the 21st century.

The political practices of popular movements and political parties engaged in these revolutionary projects can inspire and educate radicals and activists all over the world.

The focus of discussion about women in sport — specifically the discrimination they face, the lack of support and promotion, the disinterest from the media and the huge pay differences between female and male athletes — has overwhelmingly been on the elite or national level.


Matildas players earn only $21,000 a year — below the minimum wage.

The simmering industrial dispute between the nation's football (soccer) players and the Football Federation Australia (FFA) over pay and the right to collectively bargain has now boiled over with the national women's team, the Matildas, pulling out of a planned tour of the US.


LeBron James.

If there was ever a moment that signalled how little Black lives mattered to people in power in the US, it was in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, which hit the Gulf of Mexico — especially devastating the city of New Orleans — 10 years ago.

This fact was called out in real time by New Orleans residents, racial-justice activists around the country, and Kanye West's off-script and utterly true comments that “George Bush doesn't care about Black people”.

Mrs Engels
By Gavin McCrea
Scribe, 2015
352 pp, $29.99

For those hankering to know what Communist Manifesto co-author Frederick Engels’ erect penis looked like, page 37 of this novel is for you.

“In its vigours, it points up and a bit to the side,” says Lizzie Burns, the first-person narrator of the entire story.

Gavin McCrea’s Burns is a brilliant narrative voice, and his writing sparkles. Burns’s rich brogue and incisive humour are wonderful.

Tony Abbott received a much-deserved roasting on the opening night of the Sydney Fringe Comedy festival on September 1.

Unfortunately no actual fire was involved, but the prime minister — played disturbingly well by Jonas Holt (whose Abbott impersonation has featured on Weekend Sunrise and the At Home With Tones webseries) — was subjected to an amusing grilling.

On the weekend that marked the one year anniversary of the police killing of Michael Brown, another disturbingly similar case made the social media rounds: another unarmed young Black man was shot dead, on August 7, another police officer on administrative leave holding the smoking gun, another rush to convict the dead.

With industrial disputes breaking out on wharves and warehouses around the country, conflict is also brewing between those who kick the roundball on the nation's football (soccer) pitches and those who administer the game.

Football Federation Australia (FFA) is locked in a long-running dispute with players — represented by their union, the Professional Footballers Australia (PFA) — over a new collective bargaining agreement.

The PFA is seeking a better pay deal for the national men's team (Socceroos) and national women's team (Matildas), as well as an A-League salary cap and wage rise.


Wallis Simpson, Edward of Windsor, Adolf Hitler (fourth, fifth and sixth from left).

17 Carnations: The Windsors, The Nazis & The Cover-Up
By Andrew Morton
Michael O’Mara Books, 2015,
327 pages

R&R: A Novel
By Mark Dapin
Viking, 2015, 287 pp, $32.99

Mark Dapin is a rising star of Australian writing, having first made his mark as a journalist with a string of newspapers. He is a knock-about sort of working-class bloke, who brushed up against the British socialist movement before migrating, a bit of a boxer as well as a writer.

Interviewing the light welterweight world champion Kostya Tszyu for the Sydney Morning Herald, Dapin famously persuaded Tszyu to let him spar with him in the ring. Tszyu didn’t muck about, breaking three of Dapin’s ribs.

Here's this month's radical record round-up, with an emphasis on Indigenous resistance. What album, or albums, would you suggest? Comment below, on Twitter or Facebook.

1. THE BASICS - THE AGE OF ENTITLEMENT

Son of Nun
Son of Nun
Firebrand Records
www.firebrandrecords.com

For Baltimore-based rapper Son of Nun, the forming of Ryan Harvey and Tom Morello's new rebel music record label Firebrand Records offered an opportunity to redeem his rhymes.

Born Kevin James, the 37-year-old emcee took a lengthy hiatus from hip hop until Harvey, who he met through activist circles years back, approached him to become part of his experiment.

African American singer-songwriter Janelle Monae, who is seeking to use her popularity to speak out against police brutality and racism, had her comments in support of the #BlackLivesMatter movement cut from a performance on the NBC's Today show on August 14.


Marines join protesting German workers in Berlin during the November 1918 revolution.

The German Left & the Weimar Republic
By Ben Fowkes
Haymarket Books, 2015
399 pages, US$28.

Socialist historian Ben Fowkes has given us a unique and vivid text documentary of the German workers’ movement during the tumultuous years of its greatest influence — from November 1918 to its defeat by Nazism 15 years later.

Coranderrk: We Will Show The Country
By Giordano Nanni & Andrea James
Starring Uncle Jack Charles, Jim Daly & Syd Brisbane
La mama Courthouse, Melbourne
Until August 23
Tour around Victoria, Sept 8-19
Tickets www.lamama.com.au

A new theatre show will tell the story of a lesser known struggle of the First Nations.

The year-long vilification of Aboriginal AFL star Adam Goodes should not be trivialised and dismissed as simply ignorance or mob mentality. This is a valuable opportunity to reflect on race relations in Australia and the ways racism is perpetuated.

After taking a brief break in the face of sustained booing that dogged him whenever he took to the field, the Sydney Swans star returned to the game for the Swans August 8 win over Geelong. The Geelong crowd warmly welcomed Goodes in a public demonstration of all that is humane and open-hearted in the Australian public.


The St Louis Rams players braved even greater hostility by entering with their hands raised in support of the Ferguson protesters and their “hands up, don't shoot” slogan.

The police killing last August of unarmed 18-year-old Black man Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, and the subsequent protests have sparked a new Black freedom struggle and forever changed this country.

#SayYesToLove Volume 1
Featuring Jimmy Barnes, John Butler Trio, Josh Pyke & many more
$16.99 via iTunes
All proceeds to Australian Marriage Equality
www.sayyestolove.org.au

A group of prominent Australian musicians have joined forces to support the campaign for marriage equality, MusicFeeds.com.au said.

Twenty-one acts have combined to launch the compilation album #SayYesToLove Volume 1 on July 17, with all proceeds going to Australian Marriage Equality's campaign.

Mexican-Lebanese actor and film producer Salma Hayek has said she never felt accepted by Hollywood.

Talking with the Huffington Post, Hayek spoke out on racism in the United States and what it means to be an Arab Latina in the Hollywood industry.

Promoting her new animated feature movie Kahlil Gibran's The Prophet, based on Gibran's poetry book of the same name, Hayek said the US has a “very severe problem with discrimination that we try to overlook. It's there.”

“What we do matters.” “We are many, they are few.” “The squeaky wheel gets the grease.”

These phrases are what people trying to effect change often say quietly to avoid slouching into despair. Today, they are what crews of Bostonians are singing to one another over rowdy, joyous toasts, confident that their actions just beat back the most powerful plutocrats in town.

Labor and the Locavore: The Making of a Comprehensive Food Ethic
By Margaret Gray
University of California Press, 2014

Over the past few decades there has been a rapid growth of interest in buying food that does not come from large-scale industrial farms. Concerns exist over their use of large amounts of commercial fertilisers, pesticides and genetically modified organisms, and inhumane treatment of farm animals.


Anti-government protests in Bahrain, 2011.

Sectarian Gulf: Bahrain, Saudi Arabia & the Arab Spring That Wasn’t
Toby Matthiesen
Stanford University Press, 2013

In 2011, when a wave of protest and rebellion swept the Arab world, the monarchical states making up the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) were not exempt from the unrest.

Australia, the “sporting nation”, has a problem. The idea of Australia as the “fair-go” country must be laid to rest as a myth.

Australia is a racist nation that has shown that it will never tolerate an Aboriginal person “getting above themselves”. The Adam Goodes saga — in which the Sydney Swans superstar has faced repeated booing from AFL crowds ever since he performed a traditional Indigenous war dance to celebrate a goal during the AFL's Indigenous round in May — has laid bare the racism for all to see.

Here's this month's radical record round-up, with an emphasis on Guantanamo Bay. What album, or albums, would you suggest? Comment below, on Twitter or Facebook.

1. VARIOUS ARTISTS - NINA REVISITED

Battlers & Billionaires: The Story of Inequality in Australia
Andrew Leigh
Black Inc. Books, 2013
210 pages, $19.99 (pb)

In Australia, notes economist and Labor MP Andrew Leigh, the poorest 20% of the population own just 1% of total household wealth. The top 20%, however, hog a fat 62%.

What Happened, Miss Simone?
Directed by Liz Garbus
Distributed by Netflix

Liz Garbus' beautifully composed and riveting documentary What Happened, Miss Simone? honours the African American musician and civil rights activist who came to be known as “The High Priestess of Soul”.

In the aftermath of Cold Chisel frontman Jimmy Barnes' Facebook statement asking the far-right Reclaim Australia movement to stop playing his songs at their rallies, other musicians whose songs have featured have issued similar calls.

Singer Jimmy Barnes, best known as frontman for iconic Australian pub rock band Cold Chisel, released a statement slamming the far-right Reclaim Australia movement for using his songs at their rallies.

In a statement on his official Facebook page, Barnes said: “It has come to my attention that certain groups of people have been using my voice, my songs as their anthems at rallies.


Serena Williams has won 21 Grand Slam titles — the same number every other active women’s player has collected combined.

There are many articles — terrific articles — defending Serena Williams against the racism and sexism that have long stalked her career. But we should be similarly aggressive in stating factually just who Serena is becoming before our very eyes.


Gaelle Enganamouit (right) led her team to a dominating 6-0 victory over Ecuador on June 8.

With the football world still exhaling after a thrilling Women's World Cup, won 5-2 by the USA on July 5, it is worth taking a moment to look back at the tournament.


Newsome arrested after removing Confederate flag from South Carolina courthouse, June 27.

Raw Intelligence
Graphic
Released May 26, 2015
$27.99
Buy it on iTunes

Perth rapper Graphic has rewritten the rule books with his new album, Raw Intelligence. The emcee, who reads Green Left Weekly, took the unusual approach of releasing the strong, high-quality album as an interactive ebook containing its mp3s, lyrics and links to further reading. GLW's Mat Ward spoke to him.

***

Float, Float,
Dirty old boat
Dirty old trade
People afloat,
crying,
dying, fish holds of shame.
Wave after wave,
desperate, wretched, people
abandoned,
stranded
by men who profit hope.

Men who politic no hope,
praying to Jesus,
Who spoke,
"Knock and the door shall be opened for you"
Prime Minister, who prays spoke,
Nope nope nope.

Vote, Vote,
Dirty old vote
Dirty old politics
People remote,
receive,
believe, lies full of shame.
Wave after wave,
affluent, feckless people
democracy,
hypocrisy.
Deny the dirty old boat.

Decry the people who float

Command & Control
Eric Schlosser
Allen Lane, 2013
632 pages
A Short History Of Nuclear Folly
Rudolph Herzog
Melville House, 2014
252 pages
Atomic Comics: Cartoonists Confront The Nuclear Age
Ferenc Szasz
University of Nevada Press, 2013
179 pages

Atomic bombs have only been used in warfare twice, but they have nearly been detonated, through accident or mistake, many more times, writes Eric Schlosser in his book on nuclear weapons mishaps, Command and Control.

Pages