The Andes
toma de lima

Podcast: Peru at the precipice

In Episode 159 of the CounterVortex podcast, Bill Weinberg takes stock of the inspiring and terrifying situation in Peru—which is only escalating, with no resolution in sight. Since left-populist president Pedro Castillo was ousted in a “soft coup” last month, a mass movement has rapidly mobilized to demand that new president Dina Boluarte step down, that Congress be dissolved, and a “constituent assembly” be called to draft a new constitution with the participation of popular organizations. Despite repression approaching genocidal levels, thousands of protesters from across Peru converged on the capital for a “Taking of Lima”—which only brought street-fighting to the center of national power, when the gathering was charged by the riot police. It is a case of “bad facts” for the popular movement that the crisis was sparked by Castillo’s attempt to seize autocratic power in an auto-golpe in response to relentless efforts to remove him by the reactionary fujimorista bloc in Congress. But this does not alter the basic right and wrong of the struggle in Peru, which is fundamentally that of campesinos, indigenous peoples and common folk fighting for their elementary rights and very survival, against the corrupt political class fighting to preserve its privileged position and ill-gotten gains. Listen on SoundCloud or via Patreon. (Photo: IndymediaArgentina)

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)

North America
MSTA

Podcast: paradoxes of Moorish American identity

In Episode 157 of the CounterVortex podcast, Bill Weinberg discusses the seemingly obscure subculture of Moorish Science, which has had a greater influence than is generally recognized, as an important precursor to the Black Muslim movement. The doctrine, first propagated over a century ago by the Prophet Noble Drew Ali, holds that there was in ancient times a great Moorish civilization that prospered on both sides of the Atlantic, in North Africa but also in North America, and that Black Americans are in fact Moors and the inheritors of this legacy. Contrary to official histories, Moorish Science holds that not all Black folk in the Americas are descendants of those brought over in the Middle Passage, but also of Moors who were already in America in pre-Columbian times. The book The Aliites: Race & Law in the Religions of Noble Drew Ali by Spencer Dew sheds new light on surviving exponents of this movement, including the Moorish Science Temple of America, the Washitaw Empire, and the Murakush Caliphate of Amexem. Listen on SoundCloud or via Patreon. Photo of Noble Drew and his followers via Wikipedia)

Iraq
Sinjar

The Yezidis, ‘esotericism’ and the global struggle

In Episode 156 of the CounterVortex podcast, Bill Weinberg discusses Peter Lamborn Wilson‘s last book, Peacock Angel: The Esoteric Tradition of the Yezidis. One of the persecuted minorities of Iraq, the Yezidis are related to the indigenous Gnostics of the Middle East such as the Mandeans. But Wilson interprets the “esoteric” tradition of the Yezidis as an antinomian form of Adawiyya sufism with roots in pre-Islamic “paganism.” Melek Taus, the Peacock Angel, the divine being revered by the Yezidis as Lord of This World, is foremost among a pantheon that ultimately traces back to the Indo-European gods. Wilson conceives this as a conscious resistance to authoritarianism, orthodoxy and monotheism—which has won the Yezidis harsh persecution over the centuries. They were targeted for genocide along with the Armenians by Ottoman authorities in World War I—and more recently at the hands of ISIS. They are still fighting for cultural survival and facing the threat of extinction today. Weinberg elaborates on the paradox of militant mysticism and what it means for the contemporary world, with examples of “heretical” Gnostic sects from the Balkan labyrinth. Listen on SoundCloud or via Patreon. (Photo via Kurdistan Source)

Europe
ReichsbĂĽrger

Podcast: Russia, Ukraine & the ReichsbĂĽrger cult

In Episode 155 of the CounterVortex podcast, Bill Weinberg takes stock of the accusations that the coup conspiracy by the ultra-right ReichsbĂĽrger cult in Germany was Russian “hybrid warfare.” The plausibility of this claim reveals the degree to which far-right forces around the world today look to Moscow for tutelage and sponsorship. Volodymyr Zelensky’s historic Congressional speech was dissed in the most vulgar terms by Tucker Carlson—whose comments were avidly promoted by RT, the official Russian state propaganda outlet, as per explicit instructions from the Kremlin. This same RT similarly promotes Putin-shilling voices of the “tankie” pseudo-left. Our rightist enemies are enthused by the genocidal regimes of both Syria’s Bashar Assad (backed by Russia) and the Argentine generals of the 1970s (backed by the US). They’ve rallied around Serbia’s Slobodan Milosevic, as well as the neo-Ustashe in Croatia. It is only confused “leftists,” indoctrinated by campism and accustomed to seeing everything in terms of geopolitics, who fail to recognize the fascism on both sides—and get taken in by fascist pseudo-anti-fascism. Despite the left’s obsessive fixation on the Azov Battalion, reactionary forces around the world are looking to Putin as their great leader—not Zelensky. Listen on SoundCloud or via Patreon. (Photo via EU Political Report)

East Asia
Sinitic language map

Podcast: the linguistic struggle in China

In Episode 154 of the CounterVortex podcast, Bill Weinberg conducts an in-depth interview with Gina Anne Tam, author of Dialect and Nationalism in China, 1860–1960 (Cambridge University Press) on how Mandarin (Putonghua) became the official language of China, and what has been the role in China’s national identity of the regional “dialects,” or fangyan. In a dilemma that has vexed China’s bureaucracy for 2,000 years, the persistence of fangyan raises questions about conventional notions of nationalism and state formation. What can the tenacious survival of Shanghaihua (Wu), Fujianese (Min), Cantonese (Yue), Toisan and Hakka tell us about the emergence of an “alternative Chinese-ness” in the 21st century? Listen on SoundCloud or via Patreon. (Map via Wikimedia Commons)

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
Pushilin

Podcast: Ukraine: against the ‘Nazi’ calumny

In Episode 152 of the CounterVortex podcast, Bill Weinberg calls out the relentless propaganda exploitation of the Azov Battalion to tar Ukraine as “Nazi” by the same pseudo-left hucksters (e.g. the inevitable Grayzone) who engage in shameless shilling for the fascist regime of Bashar Assad in Syria—which is beloved of the radical right and which employed fugitive Nazis to train its security forces. These hucksters also (of course) join with far-right figures such as Marjorie Taylor Greene and NickFuentes in openly rooting for Putin and opposing aid to Ukraine. And while hyperventilating about the Azov Battalion (which years ago purged its far-right leadership), they make no note of the Nazis fighting on the Russian side in Ukraine. This is both pseudo-pacifist war propaganda and fascist pseudo-anti-fascism. Listen on SoundCloud or via Patreon. (Image: Denis Pushilin, head of the Russian-backed Donetsk “People’s Republic,” giving an award to one of his thugs who is wearing two Nazi insignia on his sleeve. Credit: The Sun. Fair use rights asserted)

Planet Watch
Chiquitania

Podcast: climate change and the global struggle III

In Episode 151 of the CounterVortex podcast, Bill Weinberg notes a tellingly ironic juxtaposition of simultaneous news stories: the COP27 global climate summit in Egypt and the World Cup games in Qatar—where mega-scale stadium air-conditioning betrays the fundamental unseriousness of our civilization in addressing the impending climate apocalypse. The COP27 agreement for a “loss and damage” fund stopped short of demands for climate reparations—a critical question for island nations that stand to disappear beneath the waves, flood-devastated Pakistan, and indigenous peoples of the fire-ravaged Bolivian Amazon. Petro powers like Russia and Saudi Arabia formed a bloc to bar any progress on limiting further expansion of oil and gas exploitation, while the Ukrainian delegation called for a boycott of Moscow’s hydrocarbons, and pointed to the massive ecological toll of Russia’s war of aggression. Meanwhile, the world population reached 8 billion, providing an excuse for groups like PopulationMatters to proffer the Malthusian fallacy even as the rate of population growth is actually slowing. Worldwide indigenous and peasant resistance to hydrocarbon exploitation points to a revolutionary answer to the crisis. Listen on SoundCloud or via Patreon. (Image: Bolivian campesino volunteer fire-fighter. Credit: Claudia Belaunde via Mongabay)

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)

Central Asia
Xinjiang

Podcast: state capitalism and the Uyghur genocide

In Episode 149 of the CounterVortex podcast, Bill Weinberg notes that the UN Human Rights Office determination that China may be guilty of “crimes against humanity” in its mass detention of Uyghurs in Xinjiang province is dismissed by the tankie-left ANSWER Coalition as “propagandistic.” Meanwhile, it falls to Radio Free Asia, media arm of the US State Department, to aggressively cover the very real conditions of forced labor faced by the Uyghurs and other Turkic peoples of Xinjiang—and how Western corporations benefit from it. While the Western pseudo-left betrays the Uyghurs, US imperialism exploits their suffering for propaganda against a rising China in the Great Game for the Asia-Pacific region. Figures such as Australia’s Kevin Rudd incorrectly portray a “Return of Red China,” blaming the PRC’s increasingly totalitarian direction on a supposed neo-Marxism. Fortunately, the new anthology Xinjiang Year Zero offers a corrective perspective, placing the industrial-detention complex and techno-security state in the context of global capitalism and settler colonialism. Listen on SoundCloud or via Patreon. (Photo: Xinjiang Judicial Administration via The Diplomat)

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)