Tag Archives: resistance

FIFA World Cup 2014 Protests: Money for housing, schools and health; not for stadiums, state repression and corruption


The FIFA World Cup starts on Friday in Brazil.  In the lead up to the competition, hundreds of thousands of Brazilians have taken to the street to protest the government’s spending of billions of dollars on stadiums and venues to host the event,  while failing to spend money on health care, schooling and housing for the poor.  Protesters have also been demonstrating against the forced removal of more than 250,00 people from their homes, as well as the “hygienisation” (or forced expulsion) of the homeless and the millions spent on arming the police in order for them to attack ordinary Brazilians who protest the FIFA world cup and government.

The Brazilian government has sought to introduce new “terrorism” laws which criminalise the right to protest. Amnesty International has warned that this is little more than a crack down on free speech and freedom of expression.

Despite severe police and state repression against protests in May, protesters have vowed to continue their protests.  Worker are also planning to launch a series of strikes during the World Cup.

For more information on the protests against the World Cup, you can check out the website of the Popular Committee Against the Cup, which includes a protest manifesto and other information on why the people of Brazil are protesting.  To access the website,  please click here.


15 mayInternational Day Against the World Cup, May 15 (text of flyer)

Which is and will be the legacy of the 2014 soccer world cup?

  • 9 deaths during the renovation of / in the soccer arenas of the world cup and 3 deaths in arenas which follow the same standards;
  • 250.000 people forcefully removed from their homes;
  • Street vendors and independent artists who are forbidden to work;
  • Women, children and adolescents who suffer from sexual exploitation;
  • Homeless people who suffer violence and ”hygienisation” (are expelled from the downtown area);
  • Private corporations taking care of public space and streets;
  • Elitisation of the soccer stadiums;
  • Billions invested in armament of the police to use against the people;
  • Laws declaring state of emergency and criminalising demonstrations;
  • And an immense and questionable public debt the people will have to pay.

For this legacy, we hold responsible the corporations sponsoring the FIFA world cup, the construction companies, the mafias FIFA and CBF (Brazilian soccer federation), the municipal, state and federal governments, as well as the legislative and judicial branches!

What do we demand?

  • A decent home for all persons removed from their homes! Key for key!
  • End of the violence of the state and of the “hygienisation” in the downtown area!
  • Immediate revocation of FIFA’s “exclusive areas”, laid down in the “general law for the world cup” and permission for street workers to sell in these areas!
  • Creation of campaigns to fight sexual exploitation and human trafficking!
  • Non – installment of the special courts of FIFA!
  • Revocation of the law that grants general tax exemption to FIFA and its business partners!
  • Immediate stop to all bills and norms that define the crime of terrorism, that serve to criminalise social movements and increase violence against the young and black population!
  • Demilitarisation of the police and end of the repression of social movements!

We demand our “right to the city” and our right to protest!


#15M – #DayAgainstWorldCup


May 15 international day of resistance against the World Cup in Brazil. Report by Euronews.

Teachers, civil servants, bus drivers and the homeless demands housing and medical care not stadiums. Report by Euronews.

Indigenous Brazilian protest World Cup.  Report by Euronews.


Protest graffiti highlighting money spent on the World Cup at the expense of the poor, homeless and indigenous population of Brazil


kq10KtY Ma7HodH


XXn1oN8 YDvILko

Boots Riley and the Music of Dissent and Rebellion


Over Easter weekend, more than 1100 people attended the Marxism2014 in Melbourne.  One of the highlights of the conference was the Saturday evening performance by activist and radical musician, Boots Riley, who also spoke on race and racism in the USA earlier in the day.  Riley hopes to be touring Australia later in the year with his band, The Coup and you can check out some of their tracks below, as well as an interview with Boots on building the radical movements for change in the USA.

As the Marxism 2014 website notes, Boots Riley is one of the most influential radical American musicians of the past two decades. The critical acclaim that has greeted his musical endeavours, in particular his role as front-man of legendary US hip-hop outfit The Coup, has only been matched by the vitriol with which his work has been greeted by conservatives.

Since forming in 1990, The Coup have released a total of 6 albums, with their unique combination of funky rhythms and lyrics that move from cheeky wit to the hardest of hard-hitting political critique providing inspiration (and enjoyment) for a generation of radicals around the world. Their music has been widely acclaimed, with their 1998 release ‘Steal this Album’ labeled a masterpiece by Rolling Stone magazine, and other albums regularly appearing in ‘top 10 albums of the year’ lists in Rolling Stone and other major music publications.

Boots Riley has rapped with Tupac, produced a score for an episode of The Simpsons, had a novel written based on the lyrics of one of his songs, and, perhaps most impressively of all, had his work dismissed by Fox News as “a stomach-turning example of anti-Americanism disguised as highbrow intellectual expression.”

Riley has never been shy of controversy. Following the 9-11 attacks in New York, The Coup famously put out a press release stating that “last week’s events were symptomatic of a larger backlash against U.S. corporate imperialism.” Statements such as this, as well as the lyrics of songs such as ‘5 Million Ways to Kill a CEO’, have made him a favourite target of the conservatives. His influence on radical culture and politics in the US cannot be denied. In 2003 he was even named, by Vibe Magazine, as one of the 10 most influential people of the year. Nevertheless, the fame he has achieved through his music hasn’t led him away from direct involvement with political struggles and movements on the ground.

Riley was born into a family of radicals and has never wavered from his commitment to revolutionary politics and practice. He has been involved in many campaigns for social justice in his local community in Oakland, California, recently playing a leading role in the Occupy movement in the city.

Abby Martin interviews ‘Boots’ Riley, about his musical roots, the state of dissent in the US and the corporatisation of America.


Boots Riley and The Coup:

The Guillotine

My Favourite Mutiny

The Magic Clap



Join the Rebellion this Easter: Marxism 2014 – Ideas to Challenge the System! 17-20 April 2014


If you are in Melbourne over Easter, don’t miss out on this fabulous conference!  4 Days of political debate, discussion and activism! Marxism 2014 is Australia’s biggest left wing conference. This year’s conference features speakers from the USA, Lebanon, Greece, Mauritius, West Papua, the Philippines and Australia.  I will be speaking at the conference as part of the “Against Empire” stream – my presentation is on the 1936 Palestinian General Strike and Revolt.  There will also be sessions on Aboriginal and Indigenous struggle in Australia; Gender and Sexuality; Labour History and Worker’s Rights; Philosophy; Forgotten Revolutionaries and the Environment.

The Marxism conference is Socialist Alternative’s annual conference dedicated to left wing debate and discussion. Marxism 2014 will take place over the Easter Weekend of 2014, from Thursday 17th April to Sunday 20th April at Melbourne University. The 2013 conference gathered over a thousand activists, writers, unionists, artists and socialists from across Australia and the world to discuss and debate ideas to change the world. With over 70 sessions on topics as diverse as the theory of imperialism to Australian labour history the 2014 conference is bound to be an unmissable event.

Check out the Marxism 2014 website here, along with the full program and list of speakers.

This year’s conferences features:

US hip-hop artist and activist Boots Riley, one of the most influential radical American musicians of the past two decades. He has been involved in many campaigns for social justice in his local community in Oakland, California, recently playing a leading role in the Occupy movement in the city.

Gary Foley, a legendary Aboriginal activist, writer, actor, teacher, story teller and historian. He is a prominent figure in the history of Aboriginal resistance in Australia.

Gilbert Achcar, Professor of Development Studies and International Relations at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) of the University of London. A committed socialist, antiwar activist and author, He authored many books among which The Clash of Barbarisms: The Making of the New World Disorder (2002, 2nd ed. 2006), translated into thirteen languages; Perilous Power: The Middle East and US Foreign Policy, coauthored with Noam Chomsky (2007, 2nd ed. 2008); the critically acclaimed The Arabs and the Holocaust:The Arab-Israeli War of Narratives (2010); and most recently The People Want: A Radical Exploration of the Arab Uprisingand Marxism, Orientalism, Cosmopolitanism, both published in 2013.


Also happening at the conference is Radical Reels and the School of Rebellion:

Radical Reels: a film festival taking place during the conference, featuring inspiring documentaries of struggle and resistance around the world. All screenings will include a Q&A session with people involved in the film.  Check out the full film program here

School of Rebellion: The second School of Rebellion will take place over the weekend of Marxism 2014. School of Rebellion ’13 saw over 30 children and young people participate in a variety of classes designed to challenge the dominant mode of education. The School of Rebellion isn’t framed by competition but by solidarity – its aim is to encourage constructive, collective and organised rebellion. The School of Rebellion isn’t about testing and ‘achievement’ but about learning and agency. It’s not a school, like every other, where education is bound to commerce and productivity but rather one where knowledge and learning are connected to justice and authentic democracy.

marxism conf

The Art of Resistance in Palestine


Art is not a mirror to hold up to society, but a hammer with which to shape it, so the quote often attribute to Bertold Brecht goes.   The place in which this often can be seen most clearly is in relation to resistance art.  In Palestine, cultural resistance to settler-colonialism, imperialism, ethnic cleansing, occupation and apartheid has always been part of the Palestinian struggle for self-determination and justice.   In the 1920s and 1930s, Palestinian poets and musicians wrote poetry and songs depicting the struggle in opposition to British imperialism and Zionist settler colonialism revealing that writers, musicians, poets and song writers and other cultural artists have always played a role in the national liberation struggle.

In the last 6 decades since the Palestinian Nakba, some of the best known resistance artists have include Ghassan Kanafani (writer and political activist) , Mahmoud Darwish (poet and political activist) and Naji – al- Ali (political cartoonist and writer).  However, Palestinian cultural and art resistance is everywhere in Palestine – it can be found not only in the form of traditional plays and dance (dabke) performances, but also at Israel’s checkpoints, on the apartheid wall, on the music of Palestinian youth and in the villages and towns of Palestine.  It can be found in murals, paintings, poetry, creative art displays, songs, visual art and much more.  Here is just a small sample of some of the art of resistance today by Palestinian artists and activists.

A Masterpiece of Resistance — The Artists of Palestine  by LAYLA QURAN

Art of resistance: Palestinians plant flowers in Israeli tear gas canisters by RT News

Global Street Art  – Palestine: Art in the Streets

Wall art video by PalestineIsraelLove

Palestinian art uses humour to resist – SBS News report

Palestinian hip hop group Dam with their song, Born Here – a protest song about the treatment of Palestinian citizens of Israel.

Our cultural heritage is not your natural resource


One of the great things about “multiculturalism” and globalism is that for the first time, many of us have had the opportunity to experience cultures which are different to the one we were born into. We get to enjoy a variety of cuisine – Italian, Indian, Korean, Thai, Chilean, Ethiopian etc etc, as well as to experience different music, art and traditional folklore amongst other things. There is, however, a difference between sharing and experiencing each others cultural heritages and what is known as “cultural appropriation”.

Cultural appropriation is basically the adoption of some specific forms of a culture – music, dress, dance, language, art, foods, folklore, social behaviour, religious iconography -by a different cultural group with the cultural form assimilated by the later group. This adoption and assimilation is usually done without permission and sees the cultural artefact removed from their original indigenous cultural context, stripped of its history and cultural meaning and often take on a meaning devoid of the original cultural expression.  In many cases, the artefact is misrepresented, commodified and even sexualised. As such it becomes an expression of colonialism, Orientalism, racism and “othering”.

Cultural appropriation reflects, in most instances an imbalance of power – often between a colonising and imperialist force and those being colonised and oppressed or exploited. This imbalance of power relations and structures under capitalism is why cultural appropriation matters.

Recently, an Israeli dance company engaged in just such cultural appropriation with their production of “Israeli dabke”. Dabke is a traditional Arab folk dance, which is common in Palestine, Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Syria, Iraq and other Middle Eastern countries. The world “dabke” means “stomping the ground” and is said to originate from the communal compacting of dirt floors in traditional Arabic houses.

In the promotional material around his production of “Israeli dabke”, Zvi Gotheiner of ZviDance states:

“As a child and teenager growing up in a Kibbutz in northern Israel, Friday nights were folk dance nights, This tradition continues today. One of the most beloved of these dances is a Debka, albeit an Israeli rendition of the Arab Dabke. The Israeli Debka and the Arab Dabke are linked historically. During the first decades of the 20th Century, Jews migrated from Europe to Palestine in large waves. The leaders and intellectuals of this movement made a deliberate effort to create an authentic Israeli culture that differed from the old world image of European Judaism. No longer the meek, the victim, the wanderer, these Jews were viral, masculine, and rooted to the land. Although forever in territorial conflict with their neighbors, the Israelis borrowed elements from Arabic culture that captured the sound, color, taste and rhythm of the Levant. Dabke is a case in point”.

While Gotheiner’s promotional material accurately reflect the appropriation of Palestinian culture by early Zionists, it also whitewashes the settler-colonial nature of Zionist immigration to Palestine. During the British mandate period, while many Zionist settler-colonialists adopted Palestinian dress, food and dance, they also were active in displacing Palestinians and ethnically cleansing them from their homeland. During the Nakba in 1948, when more than 750,000 Palestinians were ethnically cleansed and more than 500 Palestinian villages destroyed by Zionist forces, this cultural appropriation and erasing of Palestinian culture took on new dimensions.  As hundreds of thousands of Palestinians were being ethnically cleansed from their land, Zionist militias such as the Haganah and later the newly formed Israeli military, either systematically “collected” and/or destroyed tens of thousands of volumes of priceless works of Palestinian literature, including poetry, fiction and works of history. Today, these volumes are designated “absentee property” and held within Israeli libraries and universities.

In the decades since the creation of the Israeli state, Palestinians have witnessed the Zionist cultural appropriation of both their dress, cuisine and folklore. Traditional Palestinian and Arabic food, such as olive oil, falafel and maftoul, have become “Israeli”, with such items being promoted and sold internationally as such. In all such cases Israeli cultural appropriation of Palestinian cultural artefacts has involved the whitewashing of Zionist settler-colonialism, occupation, war crimes and oppression of the Palestinian people.

In response to ZviDances latest cultural appropriation of Dabke, Palestinian dancers in New York  have made a video explaining how Gotheiner’s production whitewashes Israeli apartheid and occupation. While recognising that “culture is fluid”, the Palestinian dancers point out that “so long as there is inequality, there can be no cultural exchange” stating:

“While you [ZviDance], and other Israelis have appropriated Dabke for your own purposes, and no one restricts your free cultural expression, Palestinians have been arrested for dancing Dabke by the Israeli military. Their right to free expression is limited by the Israeli military occupation that governs their lives”.

They go onto note: “We all know that under Israeli law, Israelis and Palestinians do not have equal rights. Like it or not, by appropriating dabke, and labeling it Israeli, you further the power imbalance”.