Book Review: White Noise

30 October 2007

Zine cover - White Noise

White Noise is a collection of pamphlet-length essays on the international white supremacist music industry. There are chapters on Britain, Germany, Sweden, Poland, and the US. The book highlights the use of racist music in all of these countries to recruit young people to their violent campaigns.

Glyn Ford MEP‘s introduction explains that globalisation is making it harder to police racist extremists:

CDs, videos, computer games, etc. are manufactured in one country and then sold in another, frequently via the Internet. For example, the latest album of one of the best known bands, No Remorse, titled Barbecue in Rostock, was actually produced in the UK, pressed in Denmark, and sold in another European Union country.

White Noise focusses on the international links between fascist organisations and their use of racist music to recruit young people to their violent campaigns. It is slightly UK-centric, with three chapters devoted to Britain, but that is to be expected given that its publisher, Searchlight, is a UK-based organisation. It still manages to demonstrate the tight connections between modern fascist movements, and how the exchange of information and expertise emboldens their more violent elements.

Indeed, the book shows convincingly that white power groups and their supporters are behind a large number of vicious assaults and brutal murders, of non-white people and antiracist activists. Their terrorist campaign of bashings, stabbings and firebombings is played out with the encouragement of bands who celebrate the Holocaust and call for a Fourth Reich — in exchange for sex with racist groupies and the occasional trip abroad.

As a primer on the recent history and organisational methods of neofascist movements, White Noise is definitely worth reading, but it really needs to be updated. For example, Cliff Southwell’s chapter on the internet now seems incredibly dated — not surprising, really, given it’s coming up ten years since it was written, but even in 1998 it ought to have mentioned Don Black’s Stormfront. And any new edition simply must include something about Russia, given the openness of bonehead racist violence there.

Unfortunately, Lowles’ and Silver’s conclusion remains just as urgent today as it was when they wrote White Noise:

Anti-fascists have to continue to take action at whatever level they can to prevent the growth of the White Power music scene. … Turning down the sound of hate is one of the most crucual tasks for anti-racists and anti-fascists today.

Here in Australia, the heart of that campaign is @ndy’s Slackbastard blog. Get involved.

Nick Lowles and Steve Silver (eds), White Noise: Inside the International Nazi Skinhead Scene, 1/2 size, approx 90 pages.
Available from Searchlight.


Bookmark holders

26 October 2007

To break the silence, how about I tell you what books I’m reading at the moment? Not books I’ve just finished, or books on my “to read” pile. These are the books that are currently sitting by my bed, with bookmarks in them to mark my progress:

  • Malcolm Knox, Secrets of the Jury Room
  • Otto Penzler (ed), Pulp Fiction: The Crimefighters
  • Joseph Heller, Catch 22
  • Gwen Harwood, Selected Poems

Just missing out on the list is Philip K Dick’s Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, which I have just finished reading but am about to start again.

Zine cover - Mend My Dress #5

Subtitled “Girl love, girl revolution, stories of friendship”, Mend My Dress #5 is a joyous memoir of childhood friends and crushes:

monkey bars. she smelled like watermelon shampoo and dirt. she had soft brown eyes and she could run way faster than me. she never showed off. i fell in love with her as hard as a second grade girl can.

There are stories about wanting to be sisters, fits of schoolyard jealousy, playing in the garden and just “loving our days together”. There are stories about man pants and short hair, and thrift store adventures, and first kisses. It is impossible not to be swept up by the excitement in Neely’s voice as she describes her friends and the good times they shared.

Occasional references to dark events (the subject of earlier issues) make Mend My Dress #5 all the more interesting: these are the girls that helped Neely get through an incredibly difficult period of her life.

I’m reluctant to use the phrase “coming of age”, but it’s hard to avoid, since the zine covers friends from pre-school through to high school. Each represents a new level of maturity, but without preachy introspection. It doesn’t matter whether Neely’s writing about holding hands in pre-school or going to punk shows in high school, you can remember those feelings.

It is a rollicking read that will make you think about your own childhood friends — you’ll remember the stupid things you did together, and wonder what they’re up to now.

Neely Bat Chestnut, Mend My Dress #5, 1/2 size, 20 pages.
Available from Eye Candy.

I’m still here

9 October 2007

These last couple of weeks have been hectic, for a few different reasons.

I’ve been flat out at work, partly because I’ve been working between two different offices, but mostly because I’ve been ploughing through a backlog of work. But the silver lining is that I’ve finished with a couple of dozen files, so I have clear space on my shelves, my back desk and my floor.

I asked my partner to marry me, and she said yes.

And we’ve been pushing ahead with planning the interstate move, especially trying to work out where we’ll live next year. A brief flirtation with buying our own home was abandoned because of our student debts, which still have a few years left until they’re paid off. We’re going to try to pay them off faster, and save a deposit at the same time, but in the meantime we’re going to be renting.

Word is that the rental market in our new city is easing off a bit, which is great news, but it’s still too early to really start looking for a place. But that won’t stop me scouring the internet vacancy ads, letting my imagination run wild.