MORC

Podcast: whither Khazaria?

In Episode 123 of the CounterVortex podcast, Bill Weinberg discusses the history of Khazaria, the medieval Turko-Jewish empire in what is now southern Russia and eastern Ukraine. While the fate of the mysterious Khazars has won much attention from scholars—and controversy—because of what it may reveal about the origin of the Jews of Eastern Europe, this question also touches on the origins of the Ukrainian people and state. Whatever the validity of the "Khazar Thesis" about the ethnogenesis of the Ashkenazim, it is the Ukrainian Jews—such as President Volodymyr Zelensky—who are the most likely to trace a lineage of the Khazars. In 2021, Zelenksy and the Ukrainian parliament passed a law recognizing the cultural and autonomous rights of three indigenous peoples of the Russian-annexed Crimean Peninsula: the Muslim Tatars and the Jewish Krymchaks and Karaites. Of any Jews on Earth, it is these last two groups that have the best claim to the Khazar inheritance—and are now a part of the struggle for a free and multicultural Ukraine, in repudiation of the Russian neo-imperialist project. Listen on SoundCloud or via Patreon.

Podcast: Somalia in the Great Game

In Episode 122 of the CounterVortex podcast, Bill Weinberg examines the ongoing conflict in Somalia in light of both climate change and Great Power politics. Despite a pseudo-withdrawal of US forces, the Pentagon continues drone strikes against the Shaabab insurgents—as the Horn of Africa faces it worst drought in a generation, with millions on the brink of extreme hunger and possible starvation. A paradox of the situation is that "government-controlled" Somalia (the southern third of the country) is not controlled by any government, but wracked by insurgency. In contrast, the unrecognized de facto independent state of Somaliland in the north is a bastion of comparative stability and even social progress. Reports of Russian designs on Somaliland as a potential site for a naval base threaten to draw it into the imperial contest for control of the strategic Horn. Progressives in the West can demand international recognition for an independent and non-aligned Somaliland. We can also loan solidarity to the Sufi resistance now fighting both the Shaabab and the "recognized" Mogadishu quasi-government. Most importantly, we can support the secular and pro-democratic voices of civil society that are standing up for human rights and basic freedoms at great risk to themselves, and in spite of everything. Listen on SoundCloud or via Patreon.

Podcast: Chernobyl and nuclear fear in Ukraine

In Episode 121 of the CounterVortex podcast, Bill Weinberg notes the grim irony that on the week of International Chernobyl Disaster Remembrance Day, Russian regime and state media figures issued blatant threats to use nuclear weapons in the Ukraine war. This follows criminal recklessness by Russian forces at the Chernobyl and Zaporizhzhya nuclear plants, which itself constituted an escalation on the ladder of nuclear terror. These events clearly illustrate how nuclear power and weapons constitute a single unified threat. Weinberg continues his deconstruction of the industry propaganda about how the "no safe dose" dictum is now obsolete (no, it isn't, actually), and sophistries such as the "Banana Equivalent Dose."  Amid the relentless efforts to revive the nuclear industry in the US, China is undertaking a major thrust of nuclear development, with similar plans afoot in France. And this as economies are increasingly based on energy-intensive and socially oppressive activities like "crypto-mining." Nonetheless, respected environmentalists such as acclaimed climate scientist James Hansen and Charles Komanoff of the Carbon Tax Center now advocate a continuance of reliance on nuclear power as an alternative to fossil fuels. This false choice is predicated on the continuance of dystopian "normality"—exactly what needs to be challenged. Listen on SoundCloud or via Patreon.

Podcast: against Chomsky's genocide complicity

In Episode 120 of the CounterVortex podcast, Bill Weinberg invites the enmity of his comrades on the left with a long-overdue deconstruction of the increasingly sinister, genocide-abetting politics of Noam Chomsky. In relentless sycophantic interviews, Chomsky inevitably opposes a no-fly zone for Ukraine, war crimes charges against Putin, or even sanctions against Russia, on the grounds that such moves would lead to nuclear war. He offers no acknowledgment of how capitulating to Putin's nuclear threats incentivizes such threats, and the stockpiling of the missiles and warheads to back them up. This is part of a long pattern with Chomsky. He has repeatedly engaged in ugly and baseless "false flag" theorizing about the Syria chemical attacks, leading activists in the Arab world to accuse him of "regime whitewashing." He similarly abetted Bosnia genocide revisionism and (especially through his collaborations with the late Edward Herman) denial of the genocides in Rwanda and Cambodia. All this can be traced to the analytical and ultimately moral and intellectual distortions of the so-called "Chomsky rule"—the notion that we are only allowed to criticize crimes committed by "our" side. An illustrative irony is that Chomsky will cynically exploit the suffering of the Palestinians to distract from and relativize the oppression of Uyghurs in China, yet his stance on Palestine is actually timid and cowardly—clinging to a "two-state solution," and opposing BDS as a form of pressure on Israel. Listen on SoundCloud or via Patreon.

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" stupidly rallying around Putin and repeating his line that the Ukrainians are neo-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.

Podcast: the looming breakup of Russia

In Episode 118 of the CounterVortex podcast, Bill Weinberg explores the possibility that Putin's criminal adventure in Ukraine could backfire horribly, actually portending the implosion of the Russian Federation into its constituent entities, the "autonomous" republics, oblasts and krais. Troops from Russia's Far East were apparently involved in the horrific massacre at the Kyiv suburb of Bucha. But indigenous leaders from Siberia and the Russian Arctic are breaking with Moscow over the Ukraine war. Rumblings of separatist sentiment are now heard from Yakutia (Sakha), Khabarovsk, Kalmykia, Kamchatka, Tatarstan, Tuva, the Altai Republic, and the entirety of Siberia. China, which controlled much of what is now the Russian Far East until the 1850s, has its own expansionist designs on the region. Frederick Engels called for the "destruction forever" of Russia during the Crimean War, but it may collapse due to its own internal contradictions rather than Western aggression.

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.

Podcast: Ukraine & 'the Russian menace to Europe'

In Episode 116 of the CounterVortex podcast, Bill Weinberg provides an overview of geostrategic and political thinking on the criticality of Eastern Europe and especially Ukraine, from the Crimean War to the contemporary catastrophe. Despite contemporary misconceptions, Karl Marx and Frederick Engels shared the perception of a "Russian menace to Europe" with theorists of Western imperialism such as Halford John Mackinder, Lord Curzon, Alfred Thayer Mahan, Nicholas J. Spykman, and Zbigniew Brzezinski. Arch-reactionary or openly fascist conceptions of "Eurasianism" were taken up by the German Karl Haushofer and the Russians Mikhail Katkov and Ivan Ilyin—the latter a formative influence on Alexander Dugin, the intellectual mastermind of Vladimir Putin's revanchist imperial project.

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