Some immediate thoughts on the scenes of armed Trump supporters taking over the Capitol building on Wednesday
Scenes from Washington are horrible and dangerous. But it’s worth remembering firstly that the police did nothing to remove those protestors for hours - contrast this to most left-wing demos in the US and elsewhere. Also that the US incubates many of these right-wing ideas. The Klan has been allowed to flourish in many states for generations now.
When I visited Virginia a couple of decades ago I saw the Jefferson Davis Highway - a short drive from DC - and Confederate flags widespread. Institutional racism in the police and elsewhere is endemic. The legacy of slavery looms large. This needs a huge movement to fight against it.
Trump will go in 2 weeks but he has given confidence to these people. This is not a coup, but the left needs to root out the right - and it won’t be done by the Democrats.
What is happening in Washington is a morbid symptom. It is not a coup.
Two things: it is, of course, true that had this been left or black rights or progressive insurgent demonstration in Washington DC we know how it would have been policed. Ferociously. And we should make that point. The police permitted a Trumpist offensive even if they were not part of it or supporting its aims.
But second, a woman has been shot dead. Various idiotic liberals - on social media and largely not in the US - urging more armed force and the National Guard (mythologised - remember not just Kent State but recent years?) are in no position to speak to those the far right will seek to radicalise out of this.
The socialist left is in a position to do that. On a class basis. I am truly sorry that that woman is dead. Whatever was in her mind, she was used by Donald Trump for no high ideal, even a mistaken right-wing one.
She died for his personal gain - financial and political. That is it.
And that is also an argument to make.
That is if you want to drain the swamp the far-right swims in, as opposed to basking in a Democrat government that will feed that swamp.
We need socialist arguments and organisation. Not pink outriders of liberal capitalism.
Trump, after firing up his base with an hour rant telling them not accept the election results and telling them to march to the Capitol, is NOW telling these folks, in a tweet, to be peaceful???
We, anti-war activists, have been protesting at the US Capitol for decades, getting arrested over and over again for peaceful speech against violent war. If we had done ANYTHING like this, we’d be dead right now.
This is obviously serious, but we need to be clear in what way it’s serious. Firstly the Trump supporters have only got this far because the state forces are sympathetic. One only has to imagine what would have happened if these had been Black Lives Matter protestors.
But the Trump supporters are neither numerous enough or organised enough to mount a coup. Nor are any significant section of the police or armed forces going to join them.
So this is an extreme form of protest, and Trump is already issuing statements backing the police, having stirred up the protest in the first place.
The real danger is that years of disappointment from a Biden administration will turn this from the Munich beer hall putsch into the real thing.
For now, the left needs to get on the street and turn this around with a Venezuelan level of mobilisation that sweeps these scum into the gutter.
Trump promoted the rally, spoke at it, and called on his supporters to march on Capitol Hill. Very serious situation for the American state. And no clear route to developing unity behind it. Rather, all of the contradictions of that society widening - while Covid out of control.
Rather than a show of strength - or a coup - think events in Washington will precipitate a fracturing of the radical right in the US. Divisions over tactics will bed in - these already visible in the reaction to Capitol Hill scenes. Big and difficult questions for the Republican Party.
The political representatives of the most powerful economic and military power on earth bicker in the halls of power over how to apply the rules of an 18th Century constitution adopted by slave owners, with a section of them repeating the allegations of deranged conspiracy theorists.
Outside, the defeated president repeats these outlandish assertions to a crowd drawn from the most reactionary sections of society, including a core of open racists and swaggering fascists. As this unfolds, a deadly pandemic brings the country’s healthcare system to the brink of collapse and the economic impact of this creates an explosion of poverty and hunger, with tens of millions at risk of losing their housing.
This wild scene expresses the deepest and bitterest political divisions that are playing out throughout the country. One of the two political parties represented is divided between those who try to adhere to the kind of mainstream conservatism they have known and those on a rightward trajectory that will leave behind any pretence at democracy. The other party, as it prepares to resume control of the affairs of state, represents a discredited politics of the centre and it prepares to try and solve the social and economic crises it will face by imposing the burden on working-class people from behind of disguise of dubious liberalism.
The political crisis unfolding among the political leadership of the United States is a reflection of interwoven biomedical, economic and ecological crises that can only deepen internationally. The dysfunctional antics playing out in Washington are the expression on the surface of what is raging below. The crisis conditions are going to intensify and they will not be settled in-house. Only an upsurge of working-class struggle and a challenge to the capitalist system that is the source of all these crises can offer a solution.
Far-right demonstrators storming the Congress after a pep talk from Trump at the White House is an astonishing sight. Just imagine if this had been a Left demo with a multi-racial turnout trying to do the same during Trump's hey-day. There would have been serious attempts to stop them, the cops would have opened fire and some people would have been killed.
This demo was not very large (hence ineffective) and could have been easily stopped. But support for this political current runs deep in the Police Departments and, no doubt, the National Guard.
There would have been divisions within their ranks had they been ordered to strike.
Instead of running scared and being taken out by the cops, Pence and Pelosi should have waltzed out together, down the street till they reached the White House...and then? Fill in the blanks as the mood takes you.
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