The Nation of Islam, anti-vaccine falsehoods and Covid-19 denialism

The Nation of Islam (NOI), one of the most famous and wealthy black nationalist organisations in the US, has been cooperating with anti-vaccine fanatics, and recycling antivaccinationist falsehoods in their social media content. While the NOI has an extensive and bizarre theology setting it apart from other right wing organisations, it has found common cause with other antivaccinationist and Covid-19 denier spokespeople on the political spectrum.

The NOI, founded in 1930, advocates a bizarre invented cosmology, purportedly demonstrating the inherent superiority of the black race. A UFO religion, NOI adherents are taught that the original, divinely imbued human is the black man. Consisting of the Arabic-speaking Tribe of Shabazz, the black man himself is the original Allah.

Already, we can see a major divergence from the beliefs of mainstream Islam; the NOI is a polytheistic religion, advocating multiple gods. In fact, Islamic scholars have denounced the NOI as a completely different theological sect, believing in concepts alien to mainstream Islam.

While Wallace Fard Muhammad was the founder of the NOI, it was Elijah Muhammad who made the organisation into a strict, hierarchical setup we see today. Proclaiming himself the messenger of Allah, Elijah Muhammad advocated black separatism, a theologically-nationalist outlook, and black empowerment through wealth creation. Finding recruits among the black prison population, as well as among the poor and dispossessed African Americans in Detroit, the NOI appealed to many because of its message of black nationalism in confronting white supremacy.

Elijah Muhammad taught – and longtime NOI leader Minister Louis Farrakhan reiterated – that a mad black scientist, Yakub (identified with the biblical Jacob) created a new race through selective breeding and combining recessive genes. Weeding out the darker-coloured babies, Yakub created what became the white race – an inherently sinful, depraved people who would rule the Earth for 6000 years. This experimentation apparently took place on the Mediterranean island of Patmos.

This white race is currently approaching the end of its time, according to the NOI. At this point, the man-made Mothership, an alien intervention, would intercede in human affairs and bring to an end the domination of the white race, restoring the black man to his rightful place as custodian of the Earth. Once again, these beliefs are completely foreign to mainstream Islamic thought.

The NOI’s most famous recruits – Malcolm X and the boxer Muhammad Ali – helped the NOI gain a national following. It is important to stress here that black nationalism is not racism; after centuries of racial oppression, it is no surprise that ethnic minorities react by proposing a complete separation from their abusers. Malcolm X, while famously breaking with the NOI and denouncing its theology as fraudulent, never broke away from black nationalism.

The NOI has performed remarkably successful outreach among marginalised African American communities; its influence extends far beyond its core membership. The NOI membership is estimated at 50000, the African American population in the US is at 46 million. It has successfully built its organisation, requiring members to lead an abstemious lifestyle – no alcohol, tobacco, gambling or premarital sexual relations.

The NOI, under Farrakhan’s leadership, emphasised the importance of racial justice and economic empowerment for African Americans. In 1995, the NOI organised the Million Man March on Washington. In contrast to the white supremacist gathering in Washington on January 6 2021, not a single NOI member attempted to storm the US Congress or subvert the democratic process.

Since the beginning of the current pandemic, NOI leaders have advocated a Covid-19 denialist position, and preached an anti-vaccine message. This vaccine denial stems at least in part from a very real mistrust of government institutions and directives. The US has a long and sordid history of unethical medical experimentation on marginalised communities.

However, the NOI, alongside other antivaccinationist voices, have exploited such skepticism to promote harmful misinformation and deter African Americans from receiving the required vaccinations. Uniting with anti-vaccine proponents such Robert F Kennedy Jnr, and ultranationalist conspiracy theorist and politician Marjorie Taylor Greene, the NOI has amplified antisemitic and tawdry conspiracy theories about the Covid-19 virus and the vaccinations for it.

Conspiratorial viewpoints, reproduced in NOI materials, usually blames the Jews for either instigating the virus, or in another iteration, producing vaccines to depopulate the planet – by reducing the numbers of African Americans. Apportioning the culpability for the plight of the black community to the Jewish people has long been a staple tactic of the NOI. Everything from the transatlantic slave trade, to the civil rights movement – the latter advocating racial integration, the opposite of racial separatism – have been blamed on conspiracies by rich and powerful Jews.

While the NOI has given voice to marginalised African American communities, we should be honest in also repudiating the misinformation they spread, and the ludicrous fictional cosmology they advocate. The NOI’s antivaccinationist platform is a huge disservice to the communities they purport to represent.

Antarctica – the object of geopolitical competition and scientific endeavour

The Australian government has announced a funding package of 804 million dollars, over the next decade, to increase Australia’s presence and activities in Antarctica. While there are definite scientific goals and benefits to increasing Australia’s existing commitments to Antarctica, it cannot be denied that geopolitical considerations were foremost in motivating the Morrison government’s Antarctic policies.

Cleaning up historical waste

We normally think of Antarctica as a pristine, if icy, wilderness – and that is fine. However, we cannot ignore the accumulation of historical pollutants and wastage on that continent as a result of military and scientific activities. The historic Australian Wilkes research station, abandoned in 1969 due to its burial under snow and ice, is estimated to have 20,000 cubic metres of waste still in its tip – including old batteries, dead dogs, leaking oil drums and abandoned food.

If we create all this waste, we have an ethical and legal responsibility to clean it up. In fact, Australia signed up to the Madrid Protocol, an environmental annex to the Antarctic treaty system. This protocol, which came into effect in 1998, establishes ecological considerations when planning and implementing Antarctic activities. Mining in Antarctica is expressly prohibited.

The American operated McMurdo research station (you may find a map here) used a nuclear reactor for its power requirements from 1961 until 1972. It took seven years to remove the 12,000 tonnes of contaminated rock to clean up the place. The waste was relocated to the United States. This kind of substantial environmental remediation will be ever more necessary if economic footprints are allowed to increase in Antarctica.

Geopolitical competition

Australia has had a presence in Antarctica for decades, and is no noice to geopolitical competition. Since the International Geophysical Year 1957-58, which brought together the best scientific minds working in the earth sciences, Australia has established research stations in Antarctica – and claimed approximately 42 percent of the continent’s landmass as its own.

In the late 1950s, numerous nations began a flurry of scientific activity in Antarctica – one of them being the Soviet Union. The Australian government at the time responded with commentary casting suspicion on the motives of our Cold War opponent – what are the Russians up to? Media commentators and politicians asked if military motivations underlie Soviet actions in the Antarctic.

Security concerns was the rationale deployed by successive Australian governments to increase Antarctic activity. Richard Casey, the external affairs minister in the 1950s, wondered aloud whether the Soviets would be able to rain missiles on Sydney or Melbourne. These concerns circulated in the media without a shred of evidence – in 1955, the Australian Defence Committee concluded that even if the Soviets had aggressive designs on Australia, it was hardly likely the Russians would attack from Antarctica.

In its most recent announcement regarding Antarctica, the Morrison government made references to the possible incursions of rival powers into Antarctica. While the government did not mention Russia or China by name, media outlets, such as the Australian Financial Review, loudly cheered the financial commitment by Canberra as a step in fighting the Cold War against China.

Kieren Pender, writing in The Guardian, notes that Cold War politics and science have coexisted in an uneasy relationship. He writes that:

Australian efforts in Antarctica therefore always serve a dual purpose: promoting science and conservation while maintaining some degree of involvement across the Australian Antarctic Territory, lest the treaty system ever dissolve.

That is interesting, because the Morrison government made clear that this funding commitment was aimed at strengthening our ‘leadership’ in Antarctica – mostly by way of building drones and inland traversing technologies, which have clear military capabilities.

Warming oceans

We have all seen the documentaries regarding the melting of Antarctica’s ice sheets and glaciers, accelerated by human-induced global warming. This will result in a cascading series of adverse impacts on the ecology of the Southern Ocean. The latter, also known as the Antarctic Ocean, surrounds the Antarctic continent, and contains a diverse marine ecosystem.

As the oceans warm, the ability of the marine life to survive in those ecosystems will erode. The Antarctic krill, a tiny crustacean that lives in the Southern ocean, is physically small – about six centimetres in length. However, their importance in the marine ecosystem is huge. Numbering in the millions, they constitute the food basis for whales and other species. The krill depends on a delicate balance of food and temperature.

As the phytoplankton, the microscopic plant organisms on which the krill depends, decrease in the warming oceans, the krill migrate further southwards. The growth habitat of the krill gradually contracts, and the adverse repercussions will cascade throughout the marine ecosystem.

The urgency of action on reducing the impact of anthropogenic climate change should take priority over short term military and geopolitical interests.

Anti-Asian racism, defector stories and foot soldiers of imperialist gangsterism

Eileen Gu, the American-born Chinese freestyle skier and athlete, defected to the People’s Republic of China. Competing for the Chinese team in the Winter Olympics, she has been subjected to a vitriolic barrage of denunciation in the US corporate media for her decision to defect.

Her story, and the reaction of the American media, is instructive in revealing how defector stories are politicised, both during the Cold War, and in the current neo-McCarthyite offensive against China. The boycott of 2022 Winter Olympics by the US and its allies – largely symbolic – was motivated not by concerns about human rights, but by geopolitical designs of imperialist gangsterism.

Anti-Asian racism

Gu has quite correctly spoken out against the epidemic of anti-Asian racism in the US that has accompanied the current pandemic. She has advocated for gender equality in sport, and her sporting talents were encouraging by her parents. Speaking fluent Mandarin, Gu made annual trips to China prior to her defection. The way the US corporate media reacted to Gu’s defection is akin to that of a serial abuser whose victim leaves.

Instead of examining their own history of abusive behaviour – in this case, a longstanding practice of anti-Asian hate crimes and racism – the serial abuser launches a vitriolic attack against the abused. Eileen Gu is condemned as a traitor, ‘dual loyalty’, an ingrate and spoilt brat. That hysterical denunciation is a disgusting spectacle, but it is also interesting. It contrasts with the strongly supportive expressions towards those defectors emerging from the (former) Eastern bloc.

Dissidents welcomed – and those turned away

Being old enough to remember the 1980s has its advantages. Defectors from the former USSR (and politically associated Eastern bloc nations) were hailed as courageous heroes, lionised in the US corporate media, and rewarded handsomely for their defection. Repurposed into heroic dissidents, refugees from the Eastern bloc were weaponised into serving as propaganda tools for the US oligarchic empire.

Alexander Solzhenitsyn wrote about the gulag archipelago, for which he was awarded the Nobel prize for literature. Lauded as an ethical force in Russian literature, his ultranationalist and racist views were largely excused, even ignored. Channeling Nazi sympathies, he expressed the view that Russia should once again become a Greater Russian Pan-Slavic empire, swallowing up all the non-Russian ethnic minorities – a position similar to that of Alexei Navalny today. Solzhenitsyn was an unswerving advocate of all the unethical foreign interventions of the US state.

There were scores of refugees who were turned away by the US authorities. Guatemalans, Salvadorans, Hondurans, Haitians – people whose lives were afflicted by the US-supported dictatorial regimes were denied sanctuary in the US. These nations were turned into uninhabitable cauldrons of violence by US foreign policies. These dissidents never got access to the corporate media, were never welcomed as heroes, never received the lavish attention given to celebrity-dissidents from Eastern European nations.

Uyghurs in the diaspora – foot soldiers for the US empire

The Uyghur issue – and the region of Xinjiang – have received inordinate amounts of media attention. A huge subject, we cannot address all its complexities in one article. However, we can make a number of relevant observations. Accusations of genocide, regularly hurled at Beijing in relation to the Uyghur people, are unsound and reckless. Genocide is a historically specific crime, and the charge should be used with caution.

Using the term ‘genocide’ as a politically motivated propaganda tactic should be avoided, but that is precisely what Washington is doing. The mass, industrialised extermination of defenceless ethnic groups has been the usual practice of European colonial powers, motivated by intense racism. To place China in the same category as European colonial nations is not only historically inaccurate, but morally perverse.

Uyghur separatism, as a political ideology, has its origins in ultrarightist Pan-Turkism. The Uyghurs are a Turkic Muslim minority in China. Extremist groups, such as those cultivated by Washington and the CIA, encourage religious separatism as a direct challenger to the authority of Beijing. The Chinese authorities certainly respond with harsh repression – but please do not throw around the word ‘genocide.’

Making a false accusation of genocide is itself a crime under international law. Using such a charge as part of a propaganda campaign against China is not only reckless, but obnoxious and disrespectful to those nations that have survived actual cases of genocide. The World Uyghur Congress, a collection of exiles and Pan-Turkish activists, wish to derive political capital from the powers-that-be in Washington.

Becoming Sinophobic mercenaries for the US empire, the push by Uyghur exiles for a confrontation with China – and their financial support from the CIA – is highly reminiscent of earlier campaigns by US intelligence agencies to cultivate secret armies to wage warfare against official ‘enemy’ states. Currently, the Uyghur diaspora is being converted into US empire loyalists, linking up with Pan-Turkic far right groups in Central Asia.

Refugees and asylum seekers should be welcomed, whether in the US or other nations. The Anglosphere, united in its goal of confronting purportedly ‘enemy’ nations, weaponises refugee stories for the purpose of encouraging imperial wars.

Being passionate about work sounds great, but it is delusional as a philosophy of work

We have all heard the following advice; follow your passion, and you will never have to work another day in your life – at least, some version of this aphorism. It is a mantra that exhorts all of us to improve ourselves, leave that boring job, and fulfil our dreams – and by doing that, work will stop being an exercise in monotonous drudgery. Sounds good, right?

Do what you love (DWYL) sounds great in principle, but it actually encourages employee atomisation of the vast majority of work under capitalism. Turning our focus exclusively inwards, this mantra, by focusing on our individual happiness, encourages us to ignore the welfare, safety and happiness of our collective working conditions. Self-betterment is a fantastic goal – more power to you – but not when it is an excuse for narcissistic satisfaction at the expense of other workers.

Monetising our passions sounds sensible, but it is the philosophy of the hustler, the grifter, the duplicitous real estate agent (No offence). There are professions which require passionate commitment – nursing, paramedics, health care – and that’s great. We are all familiar with the stories of a person, working in a dead-end job, finally getting up the courage to leave, change careers, become a pastry chef and win cooking competitions. If that is you, then more power to you. Making the world a better place is a goal to which we can all aspire.

Work is just work, and not necessarily the place to find your passion. Being a responsible, reliable and diligent worker is good enough – no need to follow the mantra of ‘follow your bliss.’ It is dismissively easy to tell a person ‘go and get a better job’, as if it is just a matter of changing shoes or clothes. The nature of work under capitalism has changed, and with more privatisation, there is increasing casualisation, job insecurity and precarity.

Time magazine – you know, that bastion of loonie-leftie Commie propaganda – ran an article stating that loving your work is a carefully cultivated myth under capitalism. As the traditional blue-collar manufacturing – and heavily unionised – workforce declined since the 1970s and 80s, the sense of collective bargaining has been replaced by a highly individualistic DWYL ethic, all the while ignoring the fact that work – the employing entity – will not reciprocate worker loyalty.

The late Steve Jobs epitomised this trend of ‘following your bliss’. Wearing a black turtleneck jumper and blue jeans, he constructed an image of himself as the ordinary worker doing what he/she loves; the smart talking, casual approachable person who successfully followed his passion. That’s all well and good, except that this image disguises the dispiriting reality of soul-destroying monotonous factory work which makes the wealth of corporate tech giants possible.

Amazon, a prime example of a tech giant, has a long history of mistreating its warehouse workforce, setting a gruelling schedule of speed ups, and handing out punishments to those deemed to be underperforming. Amazon workers have complained of being treated like robots, with work consuming their entire lives.

While we associate horrendous overwork with 19th century manufacturing, online distribution warehouses, such as those operated by Amazon, exhibit all the qualities of a dehumanising panopticon. The warehouses are not called by that name anymore – they are ‘fulfilment centres’, in line with the DWYL mantra.

There is no sense in advising Amazon workers to simply ‘follow their dreams.’ There is no alternative but collective organising of the workers, to ensure safe and humane working conditions. Sarah Jaffe, labour reporter and journalist, writes that while we remain wedded to the idea of ‘loving our work’, we will ignore the erosion of health, safety and welfare measures which have prevented work from becoming an unsafe place for our physical and mental health.

Silicon Valley, the hub of the tech companies which implemented the personal computer revolution, is plagued by homelessness and inequalities. Ninety percent of the Silicon Valley workforce are actually economically worse off now than they were twenty years ago. However, the top ten percent – the wealthy – have increased in wealth. Jobs have steadily moved away from higher and middle salaried positions to lower-paid, less secure jobs.

The IT place where ‘follow your dreams’ should display its empowering possibilities actually has all the trademarks of an unequal capitalist system. The DWYL philosophy cannot disguise the economic realities of the exploitive corporate structure. We all have to work to deadline pressures, overtime hours and weekends; there is no excuse for tardiness. However, being good enough at work is perfectly okay; save being passionate for your hobbies, sports and non-work interests.

Being a diligent worker is one thing; depriving yourself of sleep, neglecting family and non-work life to become an automaton is quite another.

The Great Barrington Declaration, anti-vaccine fanatics and mutating conspiracy theories

The Great Barrington Declaration, a manifesto purportedly based on scientific advice, sets out alternative methods for dealing with the pandemic excluding lockdowns and public health measures. While seemingly concerned with community freedom, it is actually filled with dangerous delusions harmful to public health, and masks an ultra libertarian and eugenicist agenda.

The Great Barrington Declaration, signed in October 2020 and named after the town in which it was formed, was sponsored by the free-market libertarian American Institute for Economic Research (AIER). Based in Barrington, Massachusetts, the document calls for ‘focused protection’ – though what that involves is never fully explained.

Calling for the removal of lockdowns and public health measures, the signatories advocate ‘herd immunity’, letting the Covid-19 virus run through the community. In a nod to a eugenical perspective, the elderly and sick are to be quarantined – though they will be left to their own devices. Public health measures such as lockdowns are intrusive; make no mistake. However, to portray health measures and vaccinations as ‘tyranny’ is giving oxygen to fringe groups and anti-science business advocates, intent on prioritising corporate profits over community health.

Lockdowns have adverse impacts on mental health, and this is a consideration for public health officials. However, the solution proposed by big business – encapsulated in the Great Barrington Declaration – produces mental health impacts as a result of ‘letting the virus rip’. Sweden, one nation which avoided lockdown in the name of economic well-being, experienced high rates of mental health illnesses and adversities as a result of a fictional ‘herd immunity.’ The Swedish economy performed no better or worse than that of its lockdown-neighbours.

Dangerous fallacies and pseudoscience are the ideological pathogens currently spreading throughout the world. Herd immunity as proposed by ultra rightist groups, is an ideologically driven fiction, promoted by far right libertarians usually in the pay of billionaires. Letting an infectious disease or virus spread unopposed through the community is not going to achieve herd immunity. That will only result in overwhelming numbers of infections, overflowing and overworked hospitals, and undue pressure on health care provision.

Community (or herd) immunity is not achieved by letting a virus run riot and infect people in the community. It is achieved by implementing an immunisation strategy, vaccinating the population so that only a tiny minority is at risk of infection. No infection has ever been controlled by the simplistic measure of just ‘letting it rip.’

Anti-vaccine zealots and libertarians find common cause

Anti-vaxxers are the foot soldiers of the ultraright, providing a lightning rod for coalescing conspiracist movement. A veritable death cult of Covid-19 denialism is produced by a confluence of factors. The capitalist system has increased its assault on the ecological world, wreaking destruction – and the far right exploits this situation to recycle mutating conspiracy theories.

Robert Kennedy Junior (RFK), environmental lawyer and activist, compared the public health restrictions in the current pandemic to the Nazi-era laws persecuting Jews and ethnic minorities. He deliberately invoked a comparison to Anne Frank, a Jewish girl and diarist who defied Nazi authorities in the Netherlands. Though he apologised for those remarks, anti-vaccine zealots have frequently misused the Nazi analogy, condemning public health measures as tyrannical, and thus positioning themselves as ‘freedom fighters.’

RFK Jnr made his remarks while addressing an anti-vaccine rally, which brought together fascistic militia groups and ultrarightist forces in Washington in late January. His anti-vaccination attitudes have led him to align with far right groups – under a banner of ‘defeat the mandate.’ Thousands of such Trumpist zealots gathered, carrying placards which read, among other things, that vaccines are bio-weapons, and that Jesus was the only vaccine needed.

Big pharmaceutical corporations, through their profiteering activities, have generated resentment and discontent in the community. Hoarding vaccines in the predominantly wealthy nations, while millions in poorer countries remained unvaccinated, corporate pharmaceuticals stand exposed as profit-hungry entities. This discontent is being exploited by anti-vaxxer groups, misdirecting hostility towards public health systems and measures.

Over the decades, neoliberal austerity programmes have gradually reduced government health care systems, handing over medicine and health care to the large pharmaceutical corporations. In fact, it is no secret that the Moderna vaccine was initially developed by the tax-payer funded National Institute of Health. Government bodies do have the funding and scientific capacity to develop and distribute vaccines to the population. That would involve denying profits to the pharmaceutical multinationals.

Anti-vaccine misinformation and anti-science conspiracy theories are a dangerous detour; what is needed is a rethinking of the health care system as a public institution, not for private profits.

Removing the stranglehold that profiteering pharmaceutical corporations have on our health care – and its advocates in the political system – is a necessary first step towards restoring public confidence in a publicly-run health care system. The cranky libertarianism of the Great Barrington Declaration, and its supporters in the anti-vaccine movement, will only lead us into a lethal cul-de-sac.

Ukrainian neo-Nazis, Islamist militants and CIA-supported insurgencies

Staff writer at Jacobin magazine, Branko Marcetic, makes an important point in a recent article– the United States military-industrial complex has a long history of supporting right wing insurgencies around the world, and this background has contemporary relevance.

As Marcetic notes, the CIA has a long history of funding and supporting ultranationalist rebel forces. The latest example is the CIA’s training of Ukrainian paramilitary forces, the latter being infested with neo-Nazis and white supremacists.

This programme of arming and financing right wing foot soldiers in the Ukraine follows a longstanding pattern of behaviour by the CIA. In the 1980s, the United States, through various conduits in the Middle East, supported and trained ultrarightist fanatical Afghan mujahideen units in an anticommunist insurgency in Afghanistan. The ideology of these foot soldiers for US imperialism formed the reservoir out of which grew Al Qaeda and ISIS. Ideologically similar bedfellows were deployed by the US in the recent civil war in Syria.

It is no secret that Miami was transformed into a home base for the anticommunist Cuban terrorist gangs, receiving training and support for their activities from the CIA. According to former intelligence and national security officials, the CIA has been secretly training Ukrainian forces at least since 2015, in preparation for war with Russian-backed separatists in the Donbas region. The latter, largely Russian-speaking region, politically separated from the Ukraine after the rise of the far rightist regime in Kiev in 2014.

The active presence of ultranationalist and white supremacist groups in the government and military forces of the Kiev regime since 2014 is well known. Stepan Bandera, the wartime Ukrainian Nazi collaborator and political leader of Ukrainian ultranationalism, is lionised as a hero in Ukraine today. The horrific legacy of his organisation’s ethnic cleansing and racism is being sanitised by the followers of Maidan Ukrainian nationalism today.

This is not the first time that the US has utilised neo-Nazis as foot soldiers in the service of its imperialist goals. Thousands of ex-Nazis, among them Baltic, Ukrainian and Eastern European collaborators, were recruited by the United States in the immediate aftermath of World War 2. Deployed as saboteurs, agents and infiltrators of the Eastern bloc, they were rewarded with a peaceful life in the West – never having to face accountability for their crimes.

The Azov Battalion, a Ukrainian ultranationalist group doing much of the frontline fighting against the Donbas – and against the Ukrainian regime’s domestic opponents – is thoroughly saturated in neo-Nazi ideology. One soldier from the battalion helpfully clarified his way of thinking; they had nothing against Russia per se, but were opposed to President Putin. Why? Because Putin is a Jew in the estimation of the Azov soldier. The homicidal kernel of Ukrainian nationalism – antisemitism – raises its ugly head.

It is not surprising that a number of Islamist militant groups – soldiers from Chechnya in particular – have lined up alongside Ukrainian ultrarightist forces. Regarding Moscow as a common enemy, Islamic State-type units have fought for the ultranationalist government in Kiev. CIA patronage of Islamist fundamentalist groups is not new, but drawing attention to the ideological correspondence between far right white supremacists and fanatical Islamist groups is something the corporate media would have us ignore.

In a way, we are witnessing a repetition of history. The 1980s Afghan CIA-insurgency template is being applied again – only this time involving the Uyghurs in the Xinjiang region of China. The US authorities have constructed a World Uyghur Congress, a collection of regime-change loyalists advocating the establishment of an East Turkestan state in Xinjiang, politically detached from China. Viewing Uyghurs as a prong of an enlarged pan-Turkic empire stretching across Central Asia has been an important element of ultranationalist Turkic ideology.

Willing foot soldiers of the US empire, the Uyghurs of the Americanised variety are following in the footsteps of a similar Islamist rebellion against Beijing – the 1950s Kuomintang uprising, supported by American intelligence agencies. The Uyghur leader of this rebellion, Isa Alptekin, worked to prevent intermarriage between Uyghurs and ethnic Chinese, and declared his enthusiastic support for the US war on Vietnam. Since this rebellion was suppressed, Beijing has been closely watching for any pan-Turkic and extremist ideology flaring up in the northwest of the country.

The job of a good investigative writer is to shine a spotlight on the darkened corners of US foreign and domestic policies. CIA insurgencies involving the cultivation of extremist groups are done in the dark, away from public scrutiny; but they have glaring and widespread public consequences.

Imperial propaganda is an inevitable accompaniment to such secretive activities; after all, it is necessary to disguise the goals of imperialist planners with high-sounding rhetoric. It is high time that such criminal foreign policies are cancelled, because it is the public that pays a high price for manufactured insurgencies.

The US Secretary of State, Kazakhstan and anti-Russia hysteria

US Secretary of State, Anthony Blinken, launched an unhinged tirade at Moscow, denouncing the decision by the Collective Security Treaty Organisation (CSTO) to deploy troops to Kazakhstan at the invitation of that nation’s president. The CSTO is a post-Soviet military-political alliance involving six former Soviet republics, committed to military cooperation. The political situation in Kazakhstan has stabilised after a tumultuous few days.

Others have deeply analysed the turmoil in Kazakhstan, a former Soviet republic which has a large continuous land border with Russia. It is worthwhile for our purposes to examine the reasons behind the loud denunciations by the US administration of Russian intervention, because it throws light on imperialist hypocrisies. Blinken, while on the subject of the CSTO’s intervention, commented that once Russian troops are stationed in your nation’s territory, it is very difficult to get them out.

The boorish hypocrisy of his statement is staggering, considering the numerous countries which have been the target of US interventions, and the spreading of American military bases around the world. However, a few days after the CSTO deployment to Kazakhstan – from which nation CSTO troops have already begun to withdraw – news reports from the US made clear that the CIA was quite prepared to assist an insurgency inside the Ukraine. The latter is embroiled in a dispute with Moscow, and has become a base for European white supremacist groups.

Kazakhstan, like all the ex-Soviet republics, has structural economic inequalities. Its socialist assets, in similar fashion to other former Soviet states, were privatised back in the early 1990s with the restoration of capitalism and market mechanisms. Under the leadership of long term former President Nursultan Nazarbayev, Kazakhstan opened up to transnational corporations, including American energy companies.

Nazarbayev also cultivated friendly and cooperative relations with both Moscow and Beijing. Kazakhstan eagerly participated in the Chinese government’s Belt and Road Initiative, an inter-state economic project to expand Chinese investment and infrastructure projects around the world. Kazakhstan has extensive natural and mineral resources, and is the host of the Baikanour cosmodrome, the space and astronomy port built by the Soviets in the 1950s. It still plays a crucial role in the Russian space programme.

It is relevant to highlight the extensive experiences Russia has in participating in peacekeeping efforts, both in former Soviet republics and overseas under the auspices of the United Nations. In 2020, Russian peacekeepers were deployed to the disputed enclave of Nagorno-Karabakh, as part of a Moscow-brokered ceasefire between Armenia and Azerbaijan.

Since 1992, Russian troops have maintained a peacekeeping role in the self-declared republic of Transnistria. The latter, a Russian-speaking region of Moldova, did not want to secede from the USSR in 1991. Moldova, an ex-Soviet republic, gravitated to its larger neighbour, Romania, with whom Moldovans share linguistic and cultural ties. With armed clashes breaking out, Moscow arranged a ceasefire and deployed peacekeeping soldiers.

In numerous African nations – the Sudan, Chad, Sierra Leone – Russian troops have participated in peacekeeping missions, and maintaining order between armed groups. Moscow is not a novice when it comes to following international law. Russian intervention in Syria, while militarily significant, was largely defensive in origin and sought to preserve Russian interests only in that nation. That is only a brief evaluation, and can be debated, but this article is not the forum for an extensive discussion on Syria.

There is no doubt that pervasive inequalities prompt large-scale protests and uprisings by the disadvantaged. It is also true that Kazakhstan – a country closely watched by Moscow – borders the Chinese region of Xinjiang, which has become the target of Islamist rebels and Uyghur militants. Kazakhstan is not immune to these developments.

Blinken is upset, not because the Kazakh people are struggling in difficult conditions, but because the CSTO intervention in Kazakhstan put an end to the prospect of a colour revolution. The latter is a tactic of the US to effect a ‘soft power’ change in a particular country, and install a pro-Western amenable regime – such as the 2014 Maidan ‘revolution’ in the Ukraine.

The structural inequalities in Kazakhstan are the result not of any ethnic or racial failings of the Kazakh people, but the deliberate consequence of years of implementing capitalist economic programmes, supervised by the IMF and the World Bank. The experiences of all the other ex-Soviet republics bears out this view. In Russia itself, in the wake of capitalist restoration in the early 1990s, there followed mass pauperisation, criminality, rampant ethnic conflict and humanitarian dislocation.

Instead of wasting our time and energy on faux outrage about Russian troops in Kazakhstan, let’s focus on the original crime – the economic policies promoted by the West which resulted in a humanitarian and social collapse. Blinken should turn his attention to the internal rot of the capitalist system in the United States before shouting condemnations of other nations.

Antifa and the false equivalence with the Alt-Right

When Antifa – an abbreviation of anti-fascist – gets lumped into the same category as white supremacists and neo-Nazis, it is time to demolish this malign and false equivalence. No, Antifa is not one single organisation; no, it is not the ethical equivalent of the far right.

Slanderously cynical and egregious falsehoods – equating those who advocate genocidal racist violence and those who promote ethnic equality – cannot remain unanswered. The ultranationalist Right, an agglomeration of white supremacist and ultrarightist groups, incites violence against the majority of humanity, and dehumanises nonwhite peoples. Opposing such an outlook, and the economic system that perpetuates racial divisions, is the diametric opposite of the pinstripe-suited Alt-Right.

Antifa is not a single group, but a description of loosely-organised, community based autonomous groups united by a common platform of opposition to racism and ultrarightist groups. The latter make no secret of their desire to attack migrant communities and minority religious groups. Ultranationalist terrorism has been, and still is, a fact of life in Britain and the United States.

Accusations of external fundinga tired old cliche

Ultranationalist groups, when confronted by movements for racial and economic equality, resort to an old, worn tactic – accusations of funding by controlling self-interested and malevolent forces. In the heyday of the US civil rights movement, the usual scapegoat trotted out as a ‘secret financier’ was the Jewish people. Portraying egalitarian movements as the dupes of malign external forces serves to delegitimise the goals and motivations of the accused groups.

In this era of updated antisemitic vitriol, liberal billionaire George Soros is targeted, accused of bankrolling Antifa, Black Lives Matter, and similar antiracist groups. There is zero evidence that Soros is contributing to any Antifa group, but that has not stopped the ultrarightist camp from using Soros as a convenient bogeyman, replacing the role of Rothschild in the right wing imagination.

Accusing Antifa of being the brainchild of a ruthless, conspiratorial billionaire derails the serious conversations we need to have about racism and economic inequalities in settler colonial societies. In fact, in a kind of mirror image way, ultranationalist groups are projecting their own trajectory and origins onto their opponents; ruthless billionaires have financed ultrarightist and white supremacist organisations as a counterweight to the organised labour movement.

When Antifa groups, drawn from their local communities, march in the street, they do so to promote an inclusive society – one that welcomes ethnic and religious minorities as equals. When the far right marches in the street, they do so to promote a racially exclusive society, intending on starting a race war to drive out nonwhite communities.

Rebranding political extremists is a practice of the corporate media

Since the early 1990s, the ultranationalist Right in the US has received international support – from their co-thinkers in Eastern Europe. Nazi collaborators from the World War 2 period have been systematically rehabilitated, along with their doctrines. American rightist groups have become emboldened by the success of their fellow white supremacists overseas.

We should also be mindful of the role of the corporate media in helping to rebrand Nazi collaborators as freedom fighters. American and British ultranationalist groups have marched alongside their neo-Nazi political brethren in Poland, the Baltic republics and Eastern European nations. While xenophobic groups despise those they view as foreigners, they actively support foreign-born racists.

This makes the necessity of Antifa more urgent; when the far right demonise migrants, and call for racist violence, it is ineffective to simply respond with centrism or blaming ‘both sides.’ Antifa draws from a longstanding and much ignored history of antiracist organising, confronting fascist groups wherever they arise.

The doctrines of the far right are deployed today

The far right has tried to revamp its image from that of bullyboy skinheads to that of pinstripe-suited intellectuals. However, scratch beneath the surface, and we can find the same inhumane ideas that motivated the fascist parties of old. When the director of the Centre for Disease Control (CDC), Rochelle Walensky, suggests that the current Covid morbidities are largely acceptable because they occur among the already elderly and differently-abled, she is drawing from the long history of eugenics in the United States.

Resurrecting the spectre of eugenics in the US, rationalising the fatalities caused by Covid in the elderly and differently-abled as the inevitable deaths of a burdensome segment of the population, directly descends from Nazi-era eugenical,thinking. In fact, prior to World War 2, the United States was a world leader not only in legalised racial stratification, but also in legislating eugenics measures to control people deemed to be the ‘surplus’ population.

No, Walensky is not a fascist – but being of the sensible centre, she should know what kind of ideas she is circulating. In fact, all of us require a political education to understand the kinds of ideologies advocated by Antifa and its ultranationalist opponents. Drawing a false equivalence between the activists of Antifa and neo-Nazi groups only serves to obfuscate the rising problem of racism today.

Hindutva diplomacy, anti-Black racism and colonial patriotism among immigrants

Growing up among the Egyptian-Armenians – Armenians who come from Egypt – one encounters the prejudices and outlook expressed by that particular community. Having absorbed the perspective of the overarching British colonial power – the latter having control of Egypt prior to the 1952 revolution – Egyptian Armenians for the most part see themselves as colonial patriots, reflecting the attitudes of the English empire loyalists.

The late Archbishop Desmond Tutu, for instance, was a frequent target of mockery and racial ridicule by Egyptian-Armenians – the veteran anti-apartheid campaigner and South Africa’s ethical conscience was greeted with ridicule by the corporate media when visiting Australia in the late 1980s and early 90s. A man who fought for the equality of races was considered an object of mockery by the colonial-minded Egyptian Armenians.

The Islamophobic and anti Black prejudices of the Egyptian Armenians – not quite white, but not coloured either – finds similarities in the South Asian communities in Britain and the United States. Dinesh D’Souza, conservative pundit in the US, is a prime example, expressing anti black racism in his commentary, particularly during the presidency of Barack Obama.

More important than just confrontational conversations with people who express anti-black racism, is the question why minority groups – such as South Asians – express overt racism? Climbing the right wing racial pyramid requires that we integrate into the notion of whiteness – and one way to do that is advocate hostility against those who are nonwhite. It is a peculiar kind of racism, directed against those similar but still different to us.

South Asian communities in Britain and the US have a stubborn history of reckoning with anti-black racism. Political figures such as D’Souza, Bobby Jindal and Nikki Haley uphold their examples of immigrant success stories – by distancing themselves from their ethnic background and attacking other minorities. When D’Souza expresses his opposition to former US President Obama, he attacks not the Democratic Party policies, but Obama’s African American background.

Hindutva diplomacy

There are both historical and contemporary reasons for the persistence of Afriphobia in the South Asian community. Britain, the former colonial power in numerous African nations, deployed non-African ethnic minorities as settler communities, providing them with privileges over and above the indigenous African population. South Asians were settled in Uganda and Kenya, and were maintained as economic props buttressing the colonial system.

After independence, the commercial and economic networks of the South Asians became targets of the newly assertive African governments. A policy of Africanisation ensued – with the Kenyan government demanding that South Asians acquire Kenyan citizenship. Uganda, ruled at the time by Idi Amin, summarily expelled the South Asian community.

They arrived in England, Canada, the United States and other nations with ready-made stories of ‘African persecution’, lapped by a corporate media eager to find fault with the administrations of newly independent African nations. Anti-black racism found a fresh start in the white majoritarian settler-colonial societies.

In Egypt, the policy of nationalisation lead many non-Arab minorities, including the business-oriented Armenians, to flee the country. My late father, in contrast, was politically awakened by, and remained part of, the Nasserist generation.

Turning to contemporary times, the colonial separatism of the South Asian communities received a boost – from Narendra Modi’s India. His government, which has elevated the Hindu supremacist ideology of Hindutva to national policy, has deliberately cultivated supporters among India’s diasporic communities.

Hindutva, an ideology of Hindu supremacism, shares many features with rabid white nationalism. Portraying the Islamic community as ‘foreign invaders’ who don’t belong in India, they have found common cause with the Islamophobic wings of conservative parties in Britain and the US. Turning the South Asian communities into stable hotbeds of bigotry is the goal of Hindutva diplomacy. Anti-black racism finds the prejudices of Hindutva separatism to be fertile ground.

Please do not use the excuse that ‘everyone is racist’. The claim that ‘everybody does it’ is not a defence for harmful or criminal behaviour. This retort is the nuclear kamikaze option – take everyone in the world down with me. Yes, I can hear the screaming objections – do not generalise; not every South Asian or Egyptian-Armenian is racist. Thanks for these helpful observations, but they are completely irrelevant and derail serious conversations about prejudice. And screaming ‘but I don’t see race!’ is equally ridiculous and beside the point.

One of the officers who watched his colleague, Derek Chauvin, suffocate a black man to death, was an Asian American man, a Hmong officer. The need for re-education about race and racism is greater than ever, but it can be done. While tensions between the African American and South Asian communities exist, there is no reason for those tensions to remain in place.

South Asian and African American communities have a long history of interracial cooperation and support. They have fought together, marched and been arrested together. There is no doubt that South Asian migrants, and their children, are having the difficult conversations about racism in their own communities.

The Rif rebellion in Morocco – an inspiring anticolonial uprising

This year marks the centenary of the Rif rebellion in Morocco, an anticolonial uprising by the Amazigh people – commonly known as the Berbers. Fighting against their Spanish colonial overlords, the leader Muhammad Ibn Abd al Karim al-Khattabi (1882/3 – 1963) was a skilled political and guerrilla commander whose tactics inspired Ho Chi Minh, Mao Zedong and Che Guevara.

In Eastern Europe, the wartime ultranationalist Nazi collaborators and war criminals, heroised as freedom fighters by today far-right and nationalist politicians, should be condemned for what they were – fascist accomplices and racists whose ideology advocated genocidal violence against ethnic minorities. Their statues should be taken down – not for the purpose of ignoring history, but because their criminal ideology of white supremacy is a threat to humanity.

The Spanish enclave in Morocco faced a serious rebellion in 1921 by the people of the Rif mountains – mainly Berbers. Although France occupied Morocco, Spain carved out a portion of Moroccan territory in its bid to be a colonial power. The Riffian peoples, under Abd al-Krim’s leadership (that is the abbreviation of his name) fought Spanish troops to a standstill, and inflicted a humiliating loss on Spain at the Battle of Annual. The numerically superior Spanish army lost thousands of soldiers against the smaller and determined Berber guerrillas.

Abd al-Krim’s forces established the Rif republic – complete with a constitution, ministerial cabinet, courts, flag, telephone system, and plans to issue a currency. Waging a nationalist revolt, he also implicitly declared his opposition to the centuries-old Moroccan dynastic family, the Alawis, from whom the Sultan originated. The sultan had become a compliant figurehead, taking orders from Spain. So the Riffian republic was redefining Moroccan nationalism, and what a Berber state should look like.

The Riffian revolutionaries attempted to gain international recognition for their republic. In America, still in the grip of Wilsonian idealism, it was African American groups, such as the black nationalist Marcus Garvey, who extended solidarity to the Berber guerrillas. France, which had by now joined Spain in a combined military effort to suppress the Rif rebellion, deployed Senegalese troops, from its west African colony, to break down interracial solidarity.

The French authorities, in their campaign to defeat the Rif insurgency, employed white American aviators to carry out aerial bombardments – which resulted in mass civilian casualties – of the Rif strongholds. Spanish forces used chemical weapons to crush the Rif republic.

By 1925, the colonial offensive was overwhelming, and the rebellion was defeated. However, the Rif republic’s example inspired neighbouring Algerians, in the decades that followed, to launch their successful anticolonial revolution against the French.

A young Spanish officer in the Rif war was Francisco Franco, who would go on to lead the 1936 ultrarightist uprising in Spain, plunging the country into civil war. He learned the ruthless tactics of scorched earth – and accompanying atrocities – when fighting in Morocco. In fact, the Spanish officers in the Rif developed an ultranationalist, white supremacist Africanist chauvinism.

It is important to stress that, because the ethnic chauvinist ideology that Spanish fascism advocated was strikingly similar to the Eastern European ultranationalist collaborators who served as auxiliaries to Nazi German imperialism. The Organisation of Ukrainian Nationalists (OUN) claimed to be fighting both the USSR and Nazi Germany to achieve Ukrainian independence, but in reality cooperated with German fascism out of an ideological correspondence with the Nazi party.

The anticommunism of the OUN, similarly to other East European Nazi collaborators, was not borne out of any rational critique of Marxist philosophy, but was an extension of their vicious antisemitism. The Ukrainian, and Baltic, white supremacist insurgents did not make a thorough critique of Marx’s Das Kapital after reading its contents and hold political discussion clubs. Their anticommunism derived from the ultranationalist identification of Communism with Judaism. The latter, the alleged authors of socialist doctrine, were accused of masterminding a Judeo-Bolshevik conspiracy against the Ukrainian nation.

The ultranationalism of Eastern European collaborators was necessarily a racially paranoid, exclusive nationalism. Defining themselves in racially purist terms, the OUN, and similar groups, defined their nations as ethnically purified entities, purged of Jews, Roma, Russians and other undesirable elements. The armed militants of the OUN aided and abetted the genocidal Nazi project out of an ideological similarity with their German protectors.

When the Ukrainian authorities erect statues to Stepan Bandera, they are not merely remembering their history or respecting a ‘freedom fighter.’ They are advocating the cause of a racist killer, and rehabilitating the ideology he espoused. That is why it is important to support the Moscow-proposed UN general assembly resolution to condemn the glorification of Nazi collaborators, because by overlooking their criminal history, they are helping to revive racist doctrines today.

The anticolonial uprisings of the past, such as the Rif rebellion, contain many lessons for our times.