Welcome to Flood Media’s link roundup! Each week, we bring you fresh Flood-approved content from around the web, covering current events, debates, and hot takes.
In the Guardian, Jeff Sparrow’s article about the rise of ‘smug politics’ is highly recommended reading. It’s especially good (and cathartic) if you, like me, are irritated with the elitism that passes for progressive politics these days. “The consolatory power of the “idiot nation” trope was obvious,” Sparrow writes. “If voters were slack-jawed rubes, well, it couldn’t be the fault of progressives that protests were small or that leftwing ideas lacked purchase. Activists committed to smug politics could take comfort knowing that the masses were too dumb to grasp the cogent arguments being presented to them.” (As Bhaskar Sunkara pointed out in the interview I linked to last week, the collapse of the left’s traditional social base has seen left-wing politics become little more than a collection of discourses, floating in various directions.) For more Jeff Sparrow, here’s an interview with him on the ABC program Late Night Live.
Time to plug another Flood Media contributor (there’s a pun in there somewhere) whose writing has recently appeared in Overland! This time it’s Max Chandler-Mather (who you might remember from this piece about Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez) on the future of the left in Australia, and the need to break with the neoliberal consensus sustained by both major parties for the past 30 years. “The first thing to recognise is that politics is not about equally competing interest groups that need to be balanced by a ‘neutral’ political body implementing neutral, ‘evidence-based’ policy,” he writes. “It’s about power, pure and simple. And right now the power of a small wealthy few in Australia is enormous, and it is being used to make all of our lives worse.”
We all know by now that Sorry to Bother You will likely not be getting an Australian release. (My rage and disappointment is boundless but I prefer not to talk about it, thank you for your consideration at this time.) One film that did get released here was Spike Lee’s BlacKkKlansman, which STBY director Boots Riley tore apart on Twitter recently, citing its inaccurate portrayal of police as allies (rather than perpetrators) in the fight against racism. The full essay is here and is well worth reading. “To the extent that people of color deal with actual physical attacks and terrorizing due to racism and racist doctrines — we deal with it mostly from the police on a day to day basis … So for Spike to come out with a movie where a story points are fabricated in order make Black cop and his counterparts look like allies in the fight against racism is really disappointing, to put it very mildly.” (As an addendum, here is the article that Riley wrote for the Guardian in 2016, addressing the myth of ‘black on black violence’.)
For more on race in America as portrayed in film, the always engaging Adolph Reed writes on ‘The Trouble with Uplift’. Reed unpacks how, in film-making, the modern disdain for ‘white saviour narratives’ is put before historical accuracy, obscuring the complexities and politics of historical events in favour of a neat narrative of (individual) black heroism. The hype around these narratives, he claims, “alchemizes the collective struggle for racial justice into still one more praise song hymning a hyperindividualist hero Challenging Stultifyingly Generic White Oppression and Overcoming It Against All Odds.”
There’s a new(ish) Living the Dream, wherein Friend of Flood Media Dave Eden chats with Michael Thorn about the possibility of a Universal Basic Income in Australia, struggles against racism, and public housing. If that’s not bang for your podcasting buck I don’t know what is! Listen to it here.
The latest awesome move by the #provenprogressive #feminist Palaszczuk Labor Government has been to open a new privatised women’s prison, run by none other than paragons of corporate social responsibility Serco. This is really concerning for a number of reasons! Prisons don’t work to rehabilitate people; they separate and traumatise families; they perpetuate a cycle of disadvantage; and they are generally just fucking barbaric institutions that lock people IN CAGES, often for crimes that have an awful lot to do with being poor. The new Gatton Women’s Prison, in particular, will disproportionately punish indigenous women. Thankfully, there’s a great local campaign against the prison, which you can donate to here. T-shirts, totes, and earrings are also on offer.
Finally, we received word this week that the Union of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Students has just launched their own publication called Songlines. Songlines publishes essays, poetry, art, opinion pieces, and more from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students. Check out their first edition here.
Until next week!