History

Considering the terrors that Mikhail Sholokhov lived through and nearly perished from in Stalinist Russia, it is a wonder that the Soviet novelist retained any sense of humour. Yet he did.

Donald Duck helping stop a revolution

How to Read Donald Duck
By Ariel Dorfman & Armand Mattelart, translated by David Kunzle
Pluto Press, 2019 
192 pp, $17.00

Today, as the streets of Chile burn with rebellion, it is timely to look back on this book, which was burned by the military during the 1973 overthrow of the socialist Salvador Allende presidency.

Evald Ilyenkov

Finding Evald Ilyenkov: How a Soviet philosopher who stood up for dialectics continues to inspire
By Corinna Lotz
Lupus Books, 2019 
57 pp., $8
Order online

Gough Whitlam.

Gough Whitlam was a maverick social democrat who believed a foreign power should not be allowed to dictate Australia’s economic and foreign policies. There seems little doubt the US was involved in his sacking.

"Art is a weapon in the People's fight" declared an advert for a 1940 production of the play Women by the left-wing Workers Art Guild (WAG) that was active in Perth from 1935 to 1942.

Blinded by the Light is a coming-of-age film set in 1980s Britain during the era of Margaret Thatcher. It revolves around the trials and tribulations of 16-year-old Pakistani teenager Javed as he struggles to deal with his domineering and traditional Pakistani family, racism and Thatcher's neoliberal assaults.

An edition of Arbeiter und Soldat

Martin Monath is one of the great, though barely known heroes of World War II. A German-Jewish Marxist, he fled the Nazis and operated underground, first in Belgium and then in France.

Filmmakers Amanda King and Fabio Cavadini have collaborated on a number of projects about significant, but lesser known, subjects in Australian history. Together, they have now brought one of the great hidden events of labour history in this country to the big screen.

The Great Strike 1917 retells the largely forgotten story of one of Australia's biggest industrial struggles and its impact on society.

Losing Santhia: Life & Loss in the Struggle for Tamil Eelam
By Ben Hillier
Interventions, 2019
150 pages

In 2009, the Sri Lankan military launched a genocidal offensive against the island's Tamil population on a stretch of sand in Mullivaikal, in the island's north-east.

Claiming its offensive was to rescue civilians, the Sri Lankan military carried out an indiscriminate bombing offensive against Tamil civilians that killed tens of thousands.

After centuries under the yoke of English rule, Irish nationalists staged failed uprisings against British rule in 1798, 1803 and 1848. By 1858, Irish freedom fighters formed the Irish Republican Brotherhood. Known as the Fenians, they recruited among Irish soldiers in the British army to overthrow the British authorities.

However by 1867, the Fenian rising was crushed and dozens of their members sentenced to up 15 years in the British penal colony of Western Australia. Once there, they sent to Fremantle Gaol. Known as the "Convict Establishment" or the "Living Tomb", and built by convict labour in the 1850s, the men were subjected to a brutal regime of forced labour and floggings.

Denis Diderot is now remembered, if at all, only as the name of a Metro railway station in an unfashionable neighbourhood of Paris. 

In his day, however, the 18th century Enlightenment philosopher was quite the subversive intellectual who parted the ideological fog of religious, moral and political backwardness for a view of the sunnier uplands of today’s society, writes Phil Shannon.

While it was Afro-American blues music that grew into rock and roll, soul music sprang from the Black tradition of gospel churches. Aretha Franklin was undoubtedly the greatest soul singer of the 60s and this film shows that she never left the church behind.

An image from a medieval translation of Avicenna's Canon

There would have been no Enlightenment without Avicenna and his successor, Averroes – who Bloch sees as forming an “Aristotelian left” trend, writes Barry Healy.

African-American novelist Toni Morrison — winner of the Pulitzer Prize (1988), the Nobel Prize for Literature (1993), and many other awards — died on August 5 at the age 88. 

Following the announcement, Derrick Johnson, president and CEO of the civil rights organisation NAACP, remarked: "Rest in power to #ToniMorrison, one of the most prolific writers of our time."

August 18 is Vietnam Veterans’ Day in Australia. Every year we can rely on right-wing commentators to trot out the now-familiar stories of Vietnam vets being abused when they returned to Australia.

The role of individuals in history has been a long-standing bone of contention within the Marxist tradition.

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