Watching the Shadows

AI, nuclear power and the end of the Earth

Tech companies now acknowledge that they are failing to meet their carbon emission reduction goals because of the mega-computing necessary for artificial intelligence—as if AI were something good and inevitable rather than ultra-dystopian. Meanwhile, the nuclear industry exploits carbon concerns to lubricate its comeback—with even countries like Kenya now planning reactors, amid oppressive and iniquitous social conditions. Even apart from the risk of devastating accidents, the normal functioning of nuclear power constitutes an ongoing disaster due to the dilemmas of waste disposal and the despoliation of indigenous lands by uranium mining. Climate disaster versus nuclear disaster is a false choice posed by omnicidal techno-capitalism. The only way to salvage a dignified human future lies in the abolition of fossil fuels, nuclear power and artificial intelligence alike. So argues Bill Weinberg in  Episode 234 of the CounterVortex podcast. Listen on SoundCloud or via Patreon.

Podcast: from Baghdad to Bialystok —to Pico-Robertson

In Episode 232 of the CounterVortex podcast, Bill Weinberg examines the politics of the ugly dust-up between pro-Palestinian protesters and local Jewish residents in the Los Angeles neighborhood of Pico-Robertson—and notes the anniversary of June 1941 anti-Jewish pogroms in Bialystok, Poland, and Baghdad, Iraq. Propagandistic and distorted portrayals of the LA protest as mere arbitrary anti-Semitism ignore the fact that the targeted synagogue was hosting a real estate event promoting sale of lands to create "Anglo neighborhoods" in Israel, and probably in the occupied West Bank (which would be a clear violation of international law). On the other hand, insensitivity to (or ignorance of) the historical context (and contemporary context) that makes an angry protest outside a synagogue an inevitably problematic "optic" only abets the propaganda. Listen on SoundCloud or via Patreon.

Anti-Semitism versus anti-Zionism: beyond parsing

The Zionist propaganda machine continues to weaponize the accusation of anti-Semitism to delegitimize any effort to resist Israel's genocidal assault on Gaza. This increases rather than decreases the responsibility of activists to distinguish—and oppose—actual anti-Semitism. Yet in recent weeks, sectors of the activist response to the Gaza genocide in the United States have utterly surrendered to the most abject, undisguised, unambiguous anti-Semitism—playing right into the hands of the Zionist calumnies. Bill Weinberg discusses this difficult reality in Episode 231 of the CounterVortex podcast.

Podcast: conspiracy theory and the Moscow terror

The deadly terror attack in a concert hall outside Moscow was immediately claimed by ISIS-K, the Islamic State network's Afghanistan franchise. But just as quickly, the Russian and Ukrainian intelligence services accused each other of being behind it—the latter saying it was organized as a "provocation" to expand Moscow's war in Ukraine. Putin's rise to power, including his recent rise to outright autocratic power, as well as his various military adventures, have indeed been lubricated every step of the way by terror attacks. But who was actually behind the Crocus City Center attack may not really matter overmuch. If 9-11 was a "Reichstag Fire" for the hyper-interventionist aims of Dubya Bush, that analogy may prove to apply even more closely to the concert hall carnage serving the war aims and totalitarian domestic agenda of Vladimir Putin. Bill Weinberg discusses in Episode 219 of the CounterVortex podcast.

Podcast: Blood Libel in a time of genocide

Calling out the "Blood Libel" rhetoric and imagery in anti-Israel invective would certainly be a lot easier if Israel were not actually killing children, in large numbers, with leading voices openly calling for genocide of the Palestinians. And if pro-Israel (and MAGA) propaganda did not cynically conflate anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism. Yet from Manhattan to Cincinnati to Dallas to Berkeley and Santa Barbara, slogans and graffiti have tarred Jews as Zionists and "baby-killers"—playing into the hands of Israel's propagandists. Bill Weinberg discusses the dilemma in Episode 218 of the CounterVortex podcast.

Podcast: the Facebook dilemma

This week's Meta outage plunged millions around the world into panic. No sooner did Bill Weinberg get back on Facebook than its robots slapped restrictions on his account for supposedly promoting "dangerous organizations"—precisely in response to his protests against online stanning for extremist groups! Apart from subjection to such Orwellian diktats from Meta's robotocracy, Facebook has tweaked its algorithm to sideline links to news articles and instead boost "reels" and "memes," with high entertainment value but little informational content. This has tanked hits for news outlets and resulted in ominous layoffs across the news industry. In Episode 216 of the CounterVortex podcast, Bill reiterates his call for a meme moratorium, as the only means of consumer resistance to Meta's profiteering, anti-social agenda—but also asks what can be done about the more fundamental question of this corporate Borg's assimilation of every sphere of human reality.

Podcast: Reformation, Remonstrance, Reaction

In Episode 210 of the CounterVortex podcast, Bill Weinberg traces the paradoxical trajectory from medieval heresies to the Protestant Reformation, proto-anarchist movements of the English Civil War, fights for religious freedom in colonial America (with an emphasis on the Flushing Remonstrance of 1657), Abolitionism and the Underground Railroad (e.g. at the Quaker homestead of Bowne House in Flushing, NY)—to evangelical Protestantism as a pillar of Christian fascism in the impending MAGA order. How did we get here, and what elements of American political culture can we look to as a source of resistance today?

Podcast: liberatory legacy of heresy

Raoul Vaneigem, famous as a key figure in the Situationist International and author of The Revolution of Everyday Life, a tract associated with the May 1968 uprising in Paris, traces Gnostic and millenarian movements of ancient and medieval times as critical precursors of the revolutions of the modern age. In Episode 208 of the CounterVortex podcast, Bill Weinberg discusses his book Resistance to Christianity: A Chronological Encyclopaedia of Heresy from the Beginning to the Eighteenth Century, newly translated from the French by Bill Brown and released by Eris imprint of Columbia University Press.

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