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.
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.
In Episode 113 of the CounterVortex podcast, Bill Weinberg continues to dissect the cynical fascist pseudo-anti-fascism of Putin's war propaganda, which portrays any expression of Ukrainian identity or national aspiration as "Nazism." Much of this hinges on the legacy of Stepan Bandera, the Ukrainian nationalist who collaborated with the Nazis in World War II. Bandera is indeed viewed favorably today by some in Ukraine—just as some in India look favorably upon the Axis-collaborationist independence fighter Subhas Chandra Bose, and some Palestinians lionize the wartime Mufti of Jerusalem who similarly looked to the Axis for support against British imperialism—a reality eagerly exploited by Israel's propagandists. But there is another tremendously important figure who fought the Russians and Germans alike a generation before Bandera, and is nearly forgotten by both "sides" in the current propaganda war—Nestor Makhno, the great Ukrainian anarchist leader of the period of the Russian Revolution. And there is now an anarchist armed resistance to the Russian aggression emerging in Ukraine, reviving the Makhnovist tradition.
As Putin finally ordered his forces across the Ukrainian border into the breakaway Donbas region, the Russian anarchist group Autonomous Action issued a statement to the world, entitled "Against annexations and imperial aggression." It reads: "We urge you to counter the Kremlin's aggression by any means you see fit. Against the seizure of territories under any pretext, against sending the Russian army to the Donbas, against militarization. And ultimately against the war. Take to the streets, spread the word... Do not be silent. Take action. Even a small screw can jam the gears of a death machine."
In Episode 101 of the CounterVortex podcast, we present the audio from a panel at the Ninth Biennial International Conference of the Herbert Marcuse Society, held in October at Arizona State University in Tempe. The panel, "The Responsibility to Protect in the Twenty-First Century," features two presentations. Javier Sethness speaks on "Realism, Egalitarianism, and Internationalism," providing a theoretical and historical framework for the question, including a discussion of Herbert Marcuse's work with US intelligence in World War II. Bill Weinberg, speaking via Zoom from New York, follows with "For Solidarity; Against Dictators and Campism," discussing contemporary examples, including Syria, Libya, Burma and Taiwan. A third presentation was to have been offered by Anner G. in Ethiopia, on "The Responsibility to Protect in Tigray," but she was unable to join. The work of her group, Horn Anarchists, is briefly discussed in Weinberg's presentation. Listen on SoundCloud or via Patreon.
A judicial panel of inquiry has found the Nigerian army killed at least 11 people when soldiers opened fire on unarmed protestors at the Lekki toll gate in Lagos just over a year ago—a politically seismic event that still reverberates. The panel's report, submitted Nov. 15 to the Lagos state government, describes the shootings as a "massacre." The findings cast a shadow over repeated denials by the government and the army that any killings occurred—consistently labelling such reports "fake news."
With the inauspicious opening of the Glasgow climate conference, activists around the world are increasingly looking to local action as an alternative to the moribund United Nations process on addressing what has been called a "Code Red for humanity." In Episode 95 of the CounterVortex podcast, Bill Weinberg explores the ideas of Social Ecology and radical municipalism, developed by the late Vermont anarchist thinker Murray Bookchin, and how they provide a theoretical framework for localities struggling to lead from below on the climate question. Examples discussed include the Zapatistas in Chiapas, the Rojava Kurds in Syria, and the community gardens and ongoing struggles for reclaimed urban space on New York’s Lower East Side. Listen on SoundCloud or via Patreon.
Global Revolutionaries and the Assault on Empire
by Tim Harper
Harvard University Press, 2021
This dauntingly detailed book on the roots of Asia's anti-colonial movements documents the early influence of anarchism, and how it was ultimately displaced by nationalisms of different stripes.