Although it’s been subsumed in the news by the more explosive revolts in the region, Iran’s Green movement provided its own blueprint for how to take it to the man—or imam—a couple of years ago. Its currently nebulous and undulant nature may provide the model for how to make a movement last until victory.
In their anthology The People Reloaded: The Green Movement and the Struggle for Iran’s Future (Melville House), author and interfaith activist Danny Postel and Mideast politics professor Nader Hashemi have bundled up a significant mix of ideology, wonkery and pragmatism to address the fascinating and unique nature of that country’s opposition culture.
One distinct way that the Green movement distinguishes itself from the Arab revolts is by its solidly admired–and oft harassed–leadership. In recognizing this, Postel and Hashemi weave in political documents like Mir Hossein Mousavi’s Green Movement Charter and an oppositional manifesto by five religious scholars, along with a written Q&A with the dissident Grand Ayatollah Hossein Ali Montazeri, who died shortly before the critical 2009 electoral uprising.
But instead of getting too far in the proverbial weeds, the editors bring in a barrage of influences. Halfway through the collection, Boston-based Iranian organizer Sohrab Ahmari forges an analogy between Green and the Civil Rights struggle of the ‘60s—positing, for example, baton-wielding Basijis as the equivalent of “Southern deputies”—that Hamid Dabashi picks up in his interview with Cornel West. Mideast analyst Juan Cole’s Tom Dispatch post on how both the Gaza blockade and sanctions strengthen the regime give some regional context. And Slavoj Zizek delivers in his inimitable style with his self-evident ode to the odious Mahmoud Ahmedinijad, Berlusconi in Tehran.
With The People Reloaded, Postel and Hashemi deliver for both the Iranian and the global oppositional milieu with a book that would indeed also serve instructionally for those in struggle against draconian right-wing budget butchery in the American Midwest.
Similarly instructional, but in a sonically outernational way, has been Bomb Squad Mix 005 by Public Enemy producer Hank Shocklee. Along with his fellow Bomb Squadders—brother Keith Shocklee and Eric “Vietnam” Sadler—Shocklee created the dense, sample-heavy, agit-prop style that defined Public Enemy’s sound through their crucial early period in the ‘80s.
Unsurprisingly, most of Shocklee’s two-year-old Bomb Squad DJ mix series has focused on the similarly dense and apocalyptic dynamics of UK dubstep. But on this fifth one, the studio meister spotlights the recent phenomenon of hyper-uptempo “Shangaan electro” music from South Africa’s northeastern Limpopo province. The UK’s Honest Jon’s label brought the genre to Western attention last year with its compilation Shangaan Electro: New Wave Dance Music From South Africa.
Shocklee has managed to collect and mix more recent tunes that take that compilation’s pop bent a bit deeper, blending it with some Detroit-style techno offering up a mostly instrumental, minimalist-noir vibe while retaining the music’s original African flavor. This mix – Shocklee’s first posting on his Soundcloud page—represents true Afrofuturism, which is likely why it met its 100-download limit within a couple of days.
Also on the African Diasporic tip…although Storm Saulter’s ‘70s-era Jamaican political drama Better Mus’ Come seems to have never played in the USA outside of New York City, hey, we’re able to at least see the trailer. We’re also able to see the music videos he shot, like his latest, the riveting Shaka Zulu Pickney by Tarrus Riley. So far, only Storm has been able to snapshot the humanity, depth and ironies of African-Diasporic history within the framework of a pop song.