An apocryphal moment has Sid Vicious walking by Freddie Mercury in a recording studio, circa 1978. The Sex Pistols were likely recording their vastly overrated Nevermind the Bollocks LP while Queen were likely recording their pop-metal classic Jazz. Ever the charmer, Vicious is said to have approached Mercury and baited that he was the person bringing ballet to the masses. Mercury, dynamite with a laser beam, riposted to Vicious, who he saw as a poseur, “We’re doing our best, Simon Ferocious!” Malcolm McLaren’s boy band may well have been the talk of the town but for the proletariat, it was with Queen. Declasse youth could be punks, but as Neil Davidson pointed out at one of Red Wedge’s panels at Historical Materialism London, to a large extent, it was a trend…Read more
Red Wedge is proud to be contributing to the organizing of the very first Montreal Historical Materialism Conference. Held from May 17-20, it is a bilingual conference, and an excellent chance to break down barriers between English and French speaking activists and scholars. The them of the conference is ambitious: “The Great Transition,” reflecting a sorely needed optimism but also rooted in practical and sober theory.Read more
In 1970, the famed “New Journalist” Tom Wolfe wrote an article, and later a book, lampooning a dinner party held by the progressive composer Leonard Bernstein for the Black Panther Party. Fresh off of decontextualizing the Merry Pranksters and Bay Area counterculture in Electric Kool Aid Acid Test, Wolfe, a cheeky, fresh-faced conservative, now was on a mission to show the silliness of what was not yet called “identity politics.” Poking fun at the very idea that a member of the BPP would enjoy hors-d’oeuvres; painting one dimensional figures of the Panthers and liberal intelligentsia in one swoop...Read more
The painting is of Jesus Christ on the cross. It’s very apparent, but also quite jarring in its differences from the iconography of European Christianity in the 20th century. Marc Chagall, the Jewish painter, deliberately estranged and defamiliarized the painting’s subject. The cross on which he is crucified does not have a top and is shaped more like a “T” (as some scholars say many crucifixes were). Christ himself is wrapped in a Jewish prayer shawl. This is not Jesus as Christian messiah we are seeing suffer, but Jesus as Jew.
White Crucifixion was painted by Chagall in 1938. Kristallnacht, the anti-Jewish pogrom that was officially sanctioned by Nazi minister Joseph Goebbels, had taken place just prior to his starting the painting. It was a plea for the world to acknowledge and pay attention to what was being done to Europe’s Jews at the time.Read more
The Chicago Women's Graphics Collective, much like the Chicago Women's Liberation Union and its Rock Band, is one of those neglected facets of the feminist movement in the 1970's. That is beginning to change with the release of films like She's Beautiful When She's Angry, as well as a broader interest being shown by a younger generation of feminists in their roots and history. The Graphics Collective created stunning work, some of which has found itself into the most well known iconographic annals of "the Long Sixties," even if its creators are far too infrequently acknowledged.
The text below is from Estelle Carol, a founding member of the CWGC. Still a feminist and socialist, she is now one half of the political cartoon duo Carol-Simpson, as well as a web designer in suburban Chicago. She also helps maintain the CWLU Herstory Project.Read more
Red Wedge was founded in the wake of Occupy Wall Street and the Arab Spring. Despite any number of heroic struggles, most notably (in the U.S.) Black Lives Matter (BLM), things are far grimmer today. The weakness of the workers’ movement the radical left is mirrored in the weakness of the artistic and cultural avant-garde. This two-sided problem, of course, has a major impact on Red Wedge, rooted in our belief both in the independence of art and the possibility of a revolutionary socialist project.
A defeated and marginalized left bears little fruit. A false dichotomy between theory and activism pervades the left. There are the academics who look down on concrete activism. Then there are the oddly anti-intellectual activists who have internalized diminished horizons. The latter are those who might say the “workers don’t want to read/think/look” at that...
♫ when i break up with my boyfriend
what i need is my best friends
when i break up with my boyfriend
what i need is my best friends
girls and guys / exes and fly / babes of the future / celebrated witches / queer/androgynous no /
frontiers / love is / in / between
when i break up with my bf
and i’m driving thru the desert alone