The Ukrainian parliament, the Verkhovna Rada, announced Oct. 19 adoption of Decision Number 8371, which bans religious organizations found to have "colluded with armed aggressors" from operating within the country. The measure is clearly aimed at the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, which has been accused of collaborating with Russia. More than 250 Rada members approved the measure, which required only 226 votes.
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.
In Episode 185 of the CounterVortex podcast, Bill Weinberg reviews the Oppenheimer movie, and discusses the legacy of J. Robert Oppenheimer 78 years after Hiroshima. Manhattan Project dissidents like Leo Szilard petitioned to stop the dropping of the atomic bomb on Japan. But such sentiment was overruled by Harry Truman's geopolitical imperatives—and what Freeman Dyson called the "technical arrogance" of Oppenheimer and his circle. Now, as open Russian nuclear threats continue to mount in Europe, we are poised at the brink of unparalleled catastrophe. Listen on SoundCloud or via Patreon.
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.
In Episode 182 of the CounterVortex podcast, Bill Weinberg takes heart in SAG-AFTRA joining 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 by AI. The post-truth zeitgeist and online cognitive environment of total propaganda is set to become exponentially worse, both quantitatively and qualitatively, through the advent of "deep-fakes," indistinguishable from actual reality. Objective truth, even as a very concept, is about to be abolished—unless the human race stands up and says no to AI, before it is too late. Contrary to the dogma that the "advance" (sic) and ubiquity of this technology is inevitable, resistance is possible. Italy this year banned use of ChatGPT within the country. Listen on SoundCloud or via Patreon.
In Episode 181 of the CounterVortex podcast, Bill Weinberg discusses the strange reality that the Barbie move has been banned in Vietnam over a brief image of a world map appearing to show the "nine-dash line" demarcating China's unilaterally claimed territory in the South China Sea. While US-China brinkmanship over Taiwan has won headlines recently, Beijing's maritime dispute with Hanoi holds unsettling potential for escalation. In a nearly surreal paradox (for those who remember their history) Vietnam has actually been tilting to the US in the new cold war with China. It has also been increasingly resorting to internal police-state measures to protect the interests of foreign capital in the country. All of this constitutes a rebuke both to the neoliberals, who cling to the discredited dogma that "free markets" inevitably lead to peace and democracy, and to the tankies, who rally around both the regimes in Beijing and Hanoi, in defiance of political reality.
Hong Kong newspaper Ming Pao has ended the decades-long run of popular satirical cartoonist Wong Kei-kwan, known by his pseudonym "Zunzi," after his work drew fire from government authorities. Since 1983, Zunzi's work had lampooned city officials over corruption, authoritarianism, rights abuses, and subservience to Beijing. "Ming Pao thanks Zunzi for the 40 years he has been with us to witness the changes of the times," the editorial department wrote in a note accompanying the artist's last cartoon May 11. The move came after his drawings were publicly criticized by both Hong Kong Chief Executive John Lee and Security Bureau chief Chris Tang. (Nikkei Asia)
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.