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September 2004   
F E A T U R E S

Interview: True Matilda
Former senior bureaucrat John Menadue coordinated the group of 43 calling for truth in government; and now he has bigger fish to fry.

Politics: State of Play
Are all political parties the same? Workers Online tries to cut through the jargon to compare the major parties' approaches to key policy areas.

Industrial: Capital Dilemmas
Public Private Partnerships amount to privatisation by stealth. Or do they? Jim Marr investigates.

Unions: Rhodes Scholars
Tim Brunero discovers how the Electrical Trades Union is doing its best to ease the national apprentice crisis.

National Focus: Rennovating the Lodge
Noel Hester previews how unions will be fighting the federal election - on the ground and online.

International: People Power
Over the next four years there is a real potential a major struggle will take place for workers´┐Ż rights and the creation of truly democratic unions in China., writes Andrew Casey

Economics: A Bit Rich
Who Gets What? Why? And So What?, Frank Stilwell reviews the BRW's Rich List

History: Mine Shafts
It's 25 years since Nymboida passed the baton to United, writes Peter Murray

Safety: Sick Of Fighting
Former RAAF engineers could be sitting on a health time bomb, Tim Brunero reports.

Organising: Building a Wave
Community groups, unions and social movements all practice organising, wrties Tony Brown and Amanda Tattersall.

Poetry: Anger In The Bush(es)
How dare any Liberal suggest that the Prime Minister is a lying rodent! Resident bard David Peetz reports on the outrage that this slur has justifiably caused.

Review: The Battle Of Algiers
Tim Brunero writes The Battle of Algiers is a coldly objective, almost scientific anatomy of revolution.

Culture: The Word On The Street
Phil Doyle reports on how the Australian working class experience lives on through the words of the remarkable Geoff Goodfellow.

C O L U M N S

The Soapbox
Hail to the Metro-Sexual!
If the cultural shift required in the workplace to give greater security to working families was broadly accepted the ACTU would not be locked in an adversarial Work and Family test case argues Sharan Burrow.

Politics
The Westie Wing
In his latest missive from Macquarie Street our resident Parliamentary commentator, Ian West, walks us through issues around the PBS.

Postcard
How Bush Lost His Wings
Tracking the National Guard Career of the Fatuous Flyboy from New Haven, Jeffrey St Clair.

The Locker Room
The Name of the Game
Phil Doyle wonders whether we are barracking for the sponsor or the team.

Postcard
Women to Women
APHEDA-Union Aid Abroad is working to create opportunities for Palestinian women living in Lebanese refugee camps.

E D I T O R I A L

Interest Overboard
A tired, ageing government tries to scare the electorate into re-electing it on the basis of a lie. Sound familiar? Yep, John Howard is going to the polls again.

N E W S

 Sprung: Howard Liberal with Truth

 Yanks Demand Racism

 The Greening of Labour

 Mums Move to Ease Squeeze

 Flying Kangaroo Goes to Water

 Health Warning for Bank Robbers

 Heritage Goes to Waste

 Freespirit in Hiding

 Offensive Toilets Threaten Pupils

 Telstra Dials Workplace Acquiescence

 P-Plate Nightmare for Young

 Free Loaders on Notice

 Funny Money Raises Interest

 Privatisation Debate Energised

 Activists What's On!

L E T T E R S
 Gold Gold Gold for Neolibs
 Co-operating At All Costs
 Fan Mail
 All Good Except You
WHAT YOU CAN DO
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Review

The Battle Of Algiers


Tim Brunero writes The Battle of Algiers is a coldly objective, almost scientific anatomy of revolution.
 

Its comment goes far beyond the struggle of its Algerian protagonists for self-determination - it becomes an intensely powerful political "documentary" on the use of coercive power.

It's disciplined even handedness to the occupying French paratroopers and Algerian freedom fighters is flawless.

And this third person like refusal to romantisise either side can not be flippantly tossed aside either.

Not when you learn the producer is a former Freedom fighter boss who wrote the film clandestinely while imprisoned (he also plays himself).

And of course for the current palate there are parallels a plenty with the Iraq quagmire, and the mess which is Israel.

In fact the Pentagon screened the film last August to wise up future occupation forces in Baghdad.

It begins when we are dropped into the Algerian National Liberation Front's (FLN) mid 50's campaign of police assassinations and terrorist bombings.

The rebels have become more than just an irritant and the colonial French regime sends in the paratroopers.

Immediately the contradictions begin. At the head of the intimidating military force is a Colonel who cut his teeth as a partisan in World War II.

His pragmatic self justification is chillingly illustrated at a press conference to publicise the chance capture of a key FLN leader when he tells the carping journos that to combat terrorism "you must accept all the consequences".

His aside "even the communist press in France supports our actions" is just one of the barbs the movie delivers into its cheek.

He stops the reptiles' questions at the conference after just a handful, "before this exercise begins to have the opposite effect."

Juxtaposed with the Colonel's use of extreme torture is a scene of unusual war preparation from his enemy which is just as disturbing.

We see the western ritual of women putting on make up and figure hugging dresses carried out with deadly seriousness by a group of muslin Algerian women - with an eerie almost techno action beat behind it.

Then we see them flirt their way past checkpoints manned by whistling French soldiers to plant bombs in a sidewalk cafe, a teenage hang out and an Air France office in the European quarter of the city.

Both sides commit atrocities to get their own way. And both sides have a healthy respect for each other's position.

One FLM leader remarks, "it's hard to get a revolution started, harder to keep it going, but the really hard work comes after power is won."

We live the FLN's tactical agony of calling a general strike to show the United Nations the depth of community support for self-determination.

This is despite the strike giving an anonymous guerilla force a face in the thousands who participate and so a target for the fury of the French soldiers.

By far the most powerful scences in the film are the shots of massive surging demonstrations towards the end, where furious Algerian women and youths swarm into soldiers and tanks hurling rocks - while hundreds of them are cut down by equally determined gunfire.

They defiantly wave national flags in the face of the soldiers as they are pushed back again and again.

These are the scenes that had such gripping realism they forced the original 1968 U.S. distributor to insert the disclaimer "not one foot of newsreel or documentary film has been used".

The Battle of Algiers is a brilliant film, which does not purport to give us a cogent narrative.

Rather a "fly on the wall" look at the events of a couple of years where characters appear by chance more than once. Not because they are needed as a soap-opera prisom with which to humanise a bigger sociological story - but simply because they had an important part to play and so figure in a true depiction of events numerous times.

Algiers is not "based on a true story", it IS a true story artificially re-created.


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