Five links from left field: communism, radicalism, war and peace, utopia, Tiananmen Square

Sometimes we like to post miscellanies of links – small collections that range reasonably widely but still have a theme. These five are from left field, if not entirely from the left-hand end of that rather glib and facile left-right spectrum. Three of them cost (small amounts of money), two are free, gratis and for nothing.

  • The journal Twentieth Century Communism has an article by Australians Anthony Ashbolt and Rowan Cahill ‘”And the lives are many”: the print culture of Australian Communism’. This culture ‘has a vibrant heritage and is populated by significant figures from the field of literature, history, politics, art, theatre and journalism’ and its  ‘influence and power in Australian life is too easily underestimated’. The article can be downloaded for five English pounds.
  • Reason in Revolt is a website ‘which brings together primary source documents of Australian radicalism as a readily accessible digitised resource. By ‘radical’ we refer to those who aimed to make society more equal and to emancipate the exploited or oppressed. Reason in Revolt is an expanding record of the movements, institutions, venues and publications through which radicals sought to influence Australian society.’ The website has 2061 documents under the headings Activists, Cultural Forms, Political Groups, Political Movements, Political Parties, Political Philosophies, Writers, and Utopianism. We have been watching the site for a while and cannot determine how rapidly it is ‘expanding’ but there seems to be a lot there already.
  • Then for $A15 you can download Southerly 75.3 from 2015, under the title ‘War and Peace’, which is out of the University of Sydney and ‘marks the centenary of World War I with a striking and thought-provoking collection of essays, memoir, short fiction and poetry on subjects ranging from individual experience of the Spanish Civil War, the war in Afghanistan, Vietnam, and the Iraq-Iran conflict of 1980-88 to imagined impacts of nuclear attack on Australian cities and reconsiderations of some of the key Australian literary responses to Gallipoli and the Western Front’. The authors include poets Susan Adams, Chris Parsons and Kate Fagan, essayists Robin Gerster, Philip Butterss and Sylvia Martin, plus Michael Hamel-Green, Rowena Lennox, and reviews.
  • For another $A15 you can pick up Southerly 74.1 ‘Forward Thinking: Utopia and Apocalypse’, which ‘considers how to think about the future in a time that doubts it will occur. It addresses the question of how culture retains its capacity to imagine possible futures in the face of multiple forces that threaten its existence: climate change, global war, the extinction of species. In local terms, Forward Thinking looks at how Australian literature imagines the world beyond present constraints and crises or as its impending corollary.’ Authors include Bill Ashcroft, Robin Gerster again, William M. Taylor, Jessica White, Zoe Dzunko, and many others.
  • Cheaper (for nix) and more concise, but marking an important anniversary, is a note on the World Socialist Web Site by James Cogan to mark the 28th anniversary this week of the Tiananmen Square massacre in Beijing. ‘The bloody suppression of the Tiananmen Square movement and associated protests, in fact’, says Cogan, ‘became a clear signal from Beijing to international finance capital that the police-military apparatus would guarantee investments against any challenge by the working class’. It’s a point of view worth considering. There’s also a reprint of an article done to mark the 10th anniversary of the massacre.

5 June 2017


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