Link Roundup: 1 July

Welcome to July, Flood readers! I spent the weekend at the beach (climate change = winter beach socialism for all?) but am now back and ready to supply you with the links you crave.

First up, a trip down memory lane, if memory lane were the history of a radical leftist group in Wollongong in the 1990s and 2000s. Friend of Flood Dave Eden requested that we include this history of Revolutionary Action because (OK, not only because) it includes photos of him being young and cool. It also provides a fascinating peek into how grassroots organising from scratch can occur, and particularly how it did occur pre-social media. (My favourite part was the establishment of the Yahoo Groups discussion list.) AND it features some excellent dank zine art and great slogans "(“Fuck Work, Let’s Party, It’s May Day … Who goes to work on May Day?”). Recommend.

In case you missed it, our little podcast reached its twelfth episode last week with a very special rural and regional episode. We interviewed Mick, a leftist and Greens organiser in Rockhampton, about what it’s like to be a lefty in Central Queensland, the election result in his neck of the woods, and the Stop Adani convoy. We also, in some very exciting personal news, reached $69/month on our Patreon. Naturally we wished to preserve this glory, so begged publicly for no more donations, but unfortunately our call was not heeded and we got another $5 patron, pushing us up to the inglorious figure of $74/month. We now have no choice but to keep going until we reach the next milestone, $420/month, so please give generously.

I’m broadly interested in the psychology and politics of pain and illness (I will diagnose almost any pain as psychosomatic, ask my partner) and particularly in what appears to be a current epidemic of chronic illness and pain amongst the populace. Thus, I was pleased to receive from my father-out-of-law this piece from the London Review of Books, about the intersections between capitalism, democracy, illness, rationality, and the concept of ‘interests’. Chock full of relevant content, including this great quote from the manifesto of the Heidelberg Socialist Patients’ Collective, Turn Illness into a Weapon:

The individual in his rationality is determined by the rationality of capital which he encounters as a force of nature, which he experiences daily and which therefore must appear to him as rational through and through. His protest against this life-destroying force can therefore only be a protest of feeling or emotion. But since ‘reason’ rules, these emotional outbursts of the individual are rationalised and ‘disappear’ into stomach pains, gall stones, circulatory problems, kidney stones, cramps of all kinds, into impotence, head colds, toothaches, skin diseases, back aches, migraines, asthma, car and workplace accidents, depression, and so forth – or feelings mushroom in interpersonal relationships (emotional plague), in flat affects (‘serious’ people), in psychosis etc.

Just in case we were tempted to think of medivac as a good thing, here is a horrifying piece from the Guardian about what it’s actually like to be detained onshore. The senseless violence and cruelty that runs through every single part of Australia’s insane detention regime is actually staggering, and yet it continues. I think this is a solid reminder to leftists, as well, that just getting people out of offshore detention isn’t enough - conditions onshore can be just as soul-destroying.

I’ll admit here to not really following the recent Democratic primary debates in the US, I just find that type of thing much too shouty and my brain switches off almost immediately. If you’re in a similar boat, you might enjoy the medium of debate comics! The ones drawn by Jason Adam Katzenstein for Current Affairs (debate one and debate two) are worthwhile. Also, this piece is kind of peak Jacobin (“Bernie won the debate without even being onstage!”) but it does make the very solid point that Bernie’s policy positions have successfully shifted the Overton Window within the Democratic Party, and that’s a major achievement. (Of course, the next step is to actually enforce these positions, rather than just making them popular.)

Until next week!