East Asia
Hong Kong

Hong Kong executive pushes new security law

Hong Kong Chief Executive John Lee announced the commencement of a four-week consultation period for a new local security law under Article 23 of the Basic Law, the city’s mini-constitution. Article 23 mandates that the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) pass its own laws to prohibit crimes such as treason, secession, sedition and subversion against China’s Central People’s Government. Massive protests involving an estimated 500,000 participants halted the previous attempt to legislate Article 23 in 2003. The current push highlights the Hong Kong government’s efforts to address “soft resistance,” such as online activity that may jeopardize national security. (Photo: HKFP)

Southeast Asia
Burmese Days

Podcast: Orwell and the crisis in Burma

In Episode 191 of the CounterVortex podcast, Bill Weinberg revisits George Orwell’s first novel, Burmese Days (1935), to see if it offers any insight into the current crisis in Burma. The novel is actually problematic in its portrayal of the Burmese, but Orwell’s anti-colonialist views are better articulated in his little-known 1929 essay “How a Nation is Exploited: The British Empire in Burma.” Ironically, the factors he identified as necessitating “despotic” rule by the British in Burma still mandate dictatorial methods by the regime today—such as the imperative to pacify “frontier areas” where indigenous peoples wage pro-autonomy insurgencies. Listen on SoundCloud or via Patreon. (Image via eBay)

Watching the Shadows
computer smash

Podcast: artificial intelligence and the abolition of humanity

In Episode 183 of the CounterVortex podcast, Bill Weinberg continues his rant on the dangers of artificial intelligence, this time focusing on the threat it poses to human evolution. The advent of Elon Musk’s Neuralink brain implant technology, now approved for human testing by the FDA, actually portends the ultimate abolition of humanity, and its replacement by a conditioned post-humanity stripped of all dignity and reason. But there are signs of human resistance to robot rule that we must fan the flames of before it is too late—such as the current strike by Vancouver dockworkers against their replacement by automation. Listen on SoundCloud or via Patreon. (Image: Earth First! Newswire)

Watching the Shadows
computer smash

Podcast: artificial intelligence and the abolition of truth

In Episode 182 of the CounterVortex podcast, Bill Weinberg takes heart in SAG-AFTRAjoining the Hollywood writers’ strike, demanding limits on the use of artificial intelligence by the industry. This is a sign of human resistance to robot rule and the growing hegemony of silicon-based “intelligence” over carbon-based intelligent life-forms. Although journalists are not yet at risk of being rendered redundant as script and copy writers are, Weinberg’s own trade of journalism is already being impacted. The post-truth zeitgeist and online cognitive environment of total propaganda is set to become exponentially worse, quantitatively and qualitatively, with the advent of “deep-fakes,” indistinguishable from actual reality. Objective truth, even as a concept, is about to be abolished—unless the human race stands up and says no to AI, before it’s too late. Contrary to the dogma that the “advance” (sic) and ubiquity of this technology is inevitable, resistance is possible. Italy has banned use of ChatGPT within the country. Listen on SoundCloud or Patreon. (Image: Earth First! Newswire)

Europe
Kremlin

Putin design to rebuild Russian Empire: blatanter and blatanter

Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia reacted with outrage after China’s ambassador in Paris appeared to question the sovereignty not only of Ukraine, but all the former Soviet republics, saying they “do not have an effective status in international law.” Fearing diplomatic censure, Beijing’s Foreign Ministry backpedalled, releasing a statement saying: “China respects the sovereign status of former Soviet republics ” But such sentiments are fast gaining an alarming currency in Russian political circles. A commentator for pro-Kremlin newspaper Komsomolskaya Pravda opined that “according to the Ukrainian scenario, we have an historical right” to Russian-inhabited lands of Kazakhstan. Former president Dmitry Medvedev, now deputy chairman of Russia’s Security Council, tweeted a call for Ukraine to “DISAPPEAR” (in caps), and referred to the country as “Malorossiya” (Little Russia)—a term from the empire of the czars for territories outside Great Russia (Russia proper). (Photo: Wikipedia)

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.)