Watching the Shadows
MLK

Podcast: against tankie MLK-exploitation

In Episode 158 of the CounterVortex podcast, Bill Weinberg notes that the Russian Socialist Movement has issued a call for solidarity actions with anti‑war activists in Russia on Jan. 19. This is the date when left activists Stanislav Markelov and Anastasia Baburova were gunned down by far-right militants in Moscow in 2009. Today, the Vladimir Putin regime is persecuting activists such as Alexandra Skochilenko—who faces a long prison term for producing public art on an anti-war theme. Instead of responding to this call for solidarity, the ANSWER Coalition and other exponents of the “tankie” pseudo-left have called a rally against aid to Ukraine, and implicitly in support of Putin and his war aims, for Jan. 14 in locations such as New York’s Times Square—perversely, in the name of Martin Luther King. The Ukraine Socialist Solidarity Campaign repudiates this pseudo-anti-war rally, urging: “No exploitation of Dr. MLK Jr. to support war criminal Putin!” Debunking the Russian propaganda that portrays Putin’s aggression as a defensive move against NATO encroachment, Weinberg demonstrates that the principles propounded by Dr. King in his courageous dissent from LBJ’s criminal war in Vietnam now mandate that we direct our protests at Vladimir Putin. Listen on SoundCloudor via Patreon. (Photo: MLK at anti-war march in Chicago, March 25, 1967, under banner with quote from Vietnamese pacifist Thich Nhat Hanh. Via Portland Observer)

Europe
Ukraine

Podcast: against pseudo-left disinformation on Ukraine III

In Episode 153 of the CounterVortex podcast, Bill Weinberg calls out Putin-apologist Medea Benjamin, whose current book tour has happily met with protest from the Ukraine Socialist Solidarity Campaign. While Benjamin favorably re-tweets the crude spewings of Marjorie Taylor Greene, her Orwellianly-entitled book, War in Ukraine: Making Sense of A Senseless Conflict, is far slicker propaganda, affecting a progressive tone—possibly due to the influence of her co-author Nicolas J.S. Davies. However, the litany of inaccuracy and distortion on nearly every page reveals it as more pseudo-pacifist war propaganda aimed at justifying Putin’s aggression and putting pressure on Ukraine to capitulate in the paradoxical name of “peace.” Listen on SoundCloud or via Patreon. (Map: PCL)

Europe
kherson

Podcast: against pseudo-left disinformation on Ukraine II

In Episode 150 of the CounterVortex podcast, Bill Weinberg calls out the panelists at The People’s Forum event on “The Real Path to Peace in Ukraine“—including the inevitable Noam Chomsky and Medea Benjamin—for actually spreading Russian war propaganda, in Orwellian manner. As Ukraine advances on the ground, liberating the city of Kherson (which Moscow had declared “annexed”), Russia retaliates with massive missile strikes targeting civilian infrastructure such as heating plants as the bitter Ukrainian winter approaches—clearly war crimes, aimed at breaking the will of the populace. But rather than protesting the Russian bombardment, these pseudo-anti-war voices join with the Trumpian right in calling for an end to military aid to Ukraine. And rather than Russian mass atrocities and illegal annexation of Ukrainian territory, they point to imaginary pressure on Kyiv from the US not to negotiate as the obstacle to peace. This war propaganda is all the more sickening for being disguised as peace propaganda. Listen on SoundCloud or via Patreon. (Photo via Razom for Ukraine)

Europe
Jill Stein

Podcast: against pseudo-pacifist war propaganda II

In Episode 148 of the CounterVortex podcast, Bill Weinberg notes that the ANSWER Coalition—a formation so “tankie” that it actually displays portraits of the genocidal Syrian dictator Bashar Assad at its Orwellian “anti-war” rallies—is holding a panel at The People’s Forum in New York on “The Real Path to Peace in Ukraine.” The headlining speaker is to be Jeremy Corbyn, who was bashed by Ukraine’s government as a “useful idiot” of Vladimir Putin for joining a panel demanding a cut-off of military to aid to the besieged nation. Other panelists are even more subservient to Moscow’s military aims, including Vijay Prashad, Medea Benjamin, Jill Stein and Brian Becker. Notably absent from the panel (of course) are any progressive Ukrainian voices—such as Yuliya Yurchenko or Vladislav Starodubtsev of the Ukrainian left-opposition group Sotsialniy Rukh (Social Movement), Taras Bilous, editor of the Ukrainian socialist journal Commons, or Artem Chapeye, Noam Chomsky’s Ukrainian translator who called Chomsky out in an open letter for abetting Russian propaganda after the war began. All these Ukrainian voices, whatever strong criticism they may have of the neoliberal government of Volodymyr Zelensky, are unequivocal on the need to defend Ukraine against Russian imperialist assault. Whereas this hypocritical “anti-war” panel is an exercise in pseudo-pacifist war propaganda. Listen on SoundCloud or via Patreon. (Photo of Jill Stein dining with Putin via social media)

Europe
RKAS

Ukraine: anarchists reject Moscow propaganda

The British anarchist journal Freedom features an interview with Ukraine’s Revolutionary Confederation of Anarcho-Syndicalists (RKAS), challenging the hegemony of Russian propaganda on the supposed anti-war left in the West, entitled “‘Leftists’ outside Ukraine are used to listening only to people from Moscow.” The two longtime RKAS militants interviewed are Anatoliy Dubovik, born in Russia but now living in Dnipro, and Sergiy Shevchenko, from Donetsk but forced to relocate to Kyiv after the Russian-backed separatists seized power in Donbas. Both have been involved in protests against the Ukrainian government’s gutting of labor protections and other “neoliberal” reforms. But they strenuously reject the flirtation between elements of the international left and the authoritarian Donbas separatists and their Russian sponsors. They especially protest Western lecturing to Ukrainians that they must “negotiate”—which inevitably means ceding territory to Russia in exchange for “peace.”

Watching the Shadows
Chomsky Kissinger

Chomsky and Kissinger: paradoxical unity

In Episode 125 of the CounterVortex podcast, Bill Weinberg continues his deconstruction of the increasingly sinister, aggression-abetting politics of Noam Chomsky. In his recent interview with Current Affairs, Chomsky echoes Henry Kissinger‘s lecturing to the Ukrainians that they must capitulate to Russian aggression in the interests of global stability—a directive promptly repudiated by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. Chomsky has long been peddling historical revisionism on Ukraine, but his current convergence with Kissinger is a case study in imperial narcissism—an internalization of the imperialist perspective he has ostensibly dedicated his life to opposing. Fortunately, there is growing dissent on the left to Chomsky’s paradoxical Kissingerian line, including from Ukrainian-American scholars—and from Chomsky’s own Ukrainian translator, Artem Chapeye. Listen on SoundCloud or Patreon. (Altered photo from Kissinger’s 1973 meeting with Mao Zedong. Fair use rights asserted.)

Watching the Shadows
anti-chomsky

Chomsky & the Orwellian manipulation of Orwell

In Episode 124 of the CounterVortex podcast, Bill Weinberg continues his deconstruction of the increasingly sinister, fascist-abetting politics of Noam Chomsky. In the latest in the endless litany of sycophantic interviews with Chomsky, this supposed icon of the left actually praises Donald Trump for advocating appeasement of Putin in Ukraine—for which he was favorably tweeted by the inevitable Glenn Greenwald. Most perversely, the interview is entitled “Noam Chomsky on the Russia-Ukraine war, The Media, Propaganda, Orwell, Newspeak and Language.” Yet Chomsky is advocating positions that are utterly inimical to everything Orwell ever stood for. This constitutes an Orwellian exploitation of Orwell, mirroring Putin’s fascist pseudo-anti-fascism, and the pseudo-pacifist war propaganda of his Western enablers. Listen on SoundCloud or via Patreon. (Photo collage with image from the 1984 movie 1984. Big Brother’s face is replaced by Chomsky’s, mimicking his sycophantic treatment in the 1992 move Manufacturing Consent. Fair use rights asserted.)

Europe
russonazis

Russian ‘denazification’ goes full Nazi

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, just days after issuing blatant nuclear threats, now engages in the classic anti-Semitic trope of blaming Nazism on the Jews. Speaking to Italian TV, Lavrov responded to a reminder that Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky is Jewish thusly: “When they say ‘What sort of nazification is this if we are Jews,’ well I think that Hitler also had Jewish origins, so it means nothing. For a long time now we’ve been hearing the wise Jewish people say that the biggest anti-Semites are the Jews themselves.” This as Russian state media voices are openly calling for the “total annihilation” of Ukraine, and more mass graves are being discovered daily. Russia will be glorifying this campaign of extermination in massive military parades next week, commemorating the Soviet Union’s 1945 victory over Nazi Germany. (Photo via Twitter)

Europe
Azov Battalion

Podcast: Antifa and the Azov Battalion

In Episode 119 of the CounterVortex podcast, Bill Weinberg explores the intellectual challenge posed to Western anti-fascists by Putin’s ultra-cynical fascist pseudo-anti-fascism. Russian state media have issued a “blueprint for genocide” in Ukraine—in the perversely paradoxical name of “de-nazification.” With much of the American “left” rallying around Putinand repeating his line that the Ukrainians are Nazis, some of the once-stalwart antifas (themselves coming under attack from domestic fascism) are in danger of being coopted by fascism. Of course there are actual far-right elements on the Ukrainian side—which Ukrainian anti-fascists have been actively resisting. But in an atmosphere of totalizing propaganda, it is critical that we do not rely exclusively on pro-Putin sources for information on elements such as the notorious Azov Battalion, but get outside the confirmation-bias bubble. It is even more critical that we ruthlessly reject double standards, and acknowledge that the fascist element is far more hegemonic on the Russian side—and that Putin’s new Russo-fascism is aligned with Trumpism. Listen on SoundCloud or via Patreon. (Photo: Azov Battalion website)

Europe
stalin

Podcast: is ‘Neither East Nor West’ still possible?

In Episode 117 of the CounterVortex podcast, Bill Weinberg recalls the history of the Neither East Nor West position taken by anarchists and anti-authoritarians in the Cold War—seeking to build solidarity between anti-war and left-libertarian forces on either side of the East-West divide. With the world now arguably closer to military confrontation between nuclear-armed powers than it ever was in the (first) Cold War, is such a position still possible? The recent controversy surrounding a planned art show in New York City featuring the work of Russian anti-war artists crystalizes the dilemma. Weinberg also explores the paradoxically parallel thoughts of democratic socialist George Orwell and conservative moralist CS Lewis, both writing in the era of fascism, on the dangers of a “pacifist” position that abets aggressive war and totalitarianism. It is critical that progressives in the West avoid this trap by supporting the courageous Russian anti-war protesters—not (as some have) the war criminal Vladimir Putin. Listen on SoundCloud or via Patreon. (Photo: Budapest 1990, Reddit)

Europe
kharkiv

Podcast: against pseudo-pacifist war propaganda

In Episode 114 of the CounterVortex podcast, Bill Weinberg continues to dissect Vladimir Putin’s cynical fascist pseudo-anti-fascism—now abetted by pseudo-pacifist war propaganda. “Anti-war” voices in the West join with Putin in relentlessly portraying Ukraine as a neo-Nazi state on the dubious basis of right-wing paramilitary groups on the Ukrainian side—while turning a blind eye to the totalizing dictatorship now unfolding in Russia, and the plethora of equally ugly right-wing paramilitary groups on the Russian side. The inevitable Noam Chomsky sees fit to protest a hypothetical No-Fly Zone (which has been rejected by NATO) rather than Russia’s very real bombardment and aggressive war against Ukraine. “Anti-war” clicktivists are also avidly sharing a video from the right-wing pundit John Mearsheimer, who essentially blames the Ukrainians for getting invaded. “Leftists” closing ranks with their supposed right-wing enemies behind Putin’s illegal war of aggression recalls George Orwell’s observation that pacifism “is secretly inspired by an admiration for power and successful cruelty.” Listen on SoundCloud or via Patreon. (Photo via Wiadomosci)

Greater Middle East
drone

Turkish drones decisive in regional wars

The Turkish military is unveiling a new upgraded “unmanned combat aerial vehicle,” the Bayraktar Akıncı, developed by private drone manufacturer Baykar Defense, which is owned by President Recep Tayyip ErdoÄźan’s son-in-law Selçuk Bayraktar. The Akıncı is a more advanced version of Turkey’s iconic Bayraktar TB2, able to fly higher and carry more missiles. The TB2 has been used by Ankara against Kurdish guerillas in northern Iraq, and against Syrian regime forces. Turkey has also provided the TB2 to various foreign militaries; it is held to have been decisive in Azerbaijan’s victory over Armenian forces in last year’s Nagorno-Karabakh war, as well as the Libyan government’s victory over the warlord Khalifa Haftar. Ukraine, having already tested an initial dispatchment of the drone, is now ordering 24 more for use in its war against Russian-backed separatists. (Photo: Wikipedia)