January 6: A Mass Base for Fascism?

As a consequence of Donald Trump’s supporters occupying the Capitol building in Washington, DC after a rally promoting his baseless claims of election fraud, the Republican Party is fracturing, setting the stage for the consolidation of a new bipartisan political center—albeit much further to the right than before. Yet this also paves the way for massive sections of Trump’s base to break away from representative democracy altogether, embracing an explicitly fascist alternative. The events of January 6 offer them martyrs and a revanchist narrative that will serve them for years to come, providing an internal mythos for recruitment and a justification whenever they need to use force.

The events of January 6 will discredit Trump supporters in the eyes of centrists and force some Republicans to shift their allegiances to the center, but they will also push the envelope regarding what is acceptable. This may help the far right recruit locally countrywide and could normalize similar actions in the future.


This is actually a very old problem that never went away.

But this is not the only danger ahead. In the name of a war against extremism, centrists are going to demand to expand the same machinery of state repression that the next Trump will inevitably use against us. This is essentially what happened in Weimar Germany, setting the stage for the rise of the Third Reich. Likewise, Trump’s chief weapon throughout 2020 has been the Department of Homeland Security, created under Bush in response to the September 11 attacks, and he has also benefitted from further centralization under Obama. Centrist appeals to fight “chaos” will serve to draw many of our former allies out of the streets, while justifying new crackdowns that will target us as well as the far right.

The state clampdown after this will suppress freedoms across the board, targeting all forms of dissent. In Turkey, when Erdoğan put down a right-wing military coup, that paved the way for him to repress every form of protest. State repression of the right will follow the playbook they use against our movements—incorporating reformist elements while isolating and destroying “extreme” elements. If the only pressure on the government is from the far right, the state will make concessions to them.

We are already seeing our former allies withdrawal from the streets in the events of January 6. Liberals urged people not to go to DC, counting on the authorities to deal with Trump supporters. This was a miscalculation. Security forces are not particularly inclined to stand up to the part of the population they sympathize with most—and even when they choose to do so, their hands are effectively tied by the deeply engrained institutional habits of treating conservative white people much more respectfully than they treat people of color, poor people, and anti-capitalists.

In short, no one is coming to save us. We have to prepare for the possibility that an emboldened fascist movement will continue to carry out attacks around the United States while a new centrist consensus in government enacts measures that target us as well as them. If our movements are to survive, this will necessitate community organizing and solidarity on a scale we have not seen yet.

We have already seen signs of a bipartisan shift towards repressing anarchists and anti-fascists. For example, after winning reelection, Portland mayor Ted Wheeler—a Democrat—announced new efforts to target, discredit, and repress anti-fascists and anarchists, using the same language that Trump uses. The New York Times did the same thing to us three months ago, parroting Trump’s talking points almost verbatim.

Trump himself threatened anti-fascists ahead of January 6, urging them to stay out of Washington, DC lest they interfere with the show he was preparing to stage-manage. The far right has made opposing “antifa” into almost the entirety of their platform—not just because negative points of unity are most expedient in a time of political polarization, but also because anti-fascists have won so many victories up until this point, slowing their growth. On January 5, a White House memo copied straight out of the fascist playbook announced that they were trying to bring back the Anarchist Exclusion Act of 1903/1918, seeking to exclude people from the US for opposing fascism. Such policies, begun under Trump, could continue under Biden—for example, if his former Republican supporters join the political center on the condition that it adopts planks from their preexisting agenda.

“The tradition of the oppressed teaches us that the ‘state of emergency’ in which we live is the rule. We must arrive at a concept of history which corresponds to this. Then it will become clear that the task before us is the introduction of a real state of emergency; and our position in the struggle against Fascism will thereby improve.”

-Walter Benjamin, On the Concept of History

The Events of January 6: A Rough Timeline

For the sake of posterity, we have compiled documentation of some of the important scenes that played out yesterday. Later, when this narrative is contested, it may be helpful to have these all in one place.

This footage depicts the beginning of the incursion. Reportedly, many of the those at the front of the charge were longtime fascists.

Some have exaggerated how willingly the police opened the gates for Trump supporters. Here’s another view of the initial clashes.

Confused scenes unfolded as some Trump supporters attempted to protect officers from other Trump supporters, while continuing to push back the police.

This aerial view shows a line of police struggling and failing to hold back much larger numbers of Trump supporters.

Trump supporters storming the north side of the Capitol building.

They got into the building from the first floor and pushed as far as the outside of the Senate chamber.

Here we see them arriving in the Rotunda. As many people remarked, these velvet ropes held them back more effectively than the police had.

Trump supporters discharged a fire extinguisher inside the Capitol building and proceeded to clash further with police.

Officers drew their guns to defend the floor of the House of Representatives.

The Trump supporters who entered the empty Senate found a vacuum at the epicenter of power—they had seized the temple, only to find God absent. Power does not rest in fetishized physical locations; rather, it is comprised of all the different ways that we are accustomed to obey, the countless thoughtless gestures with which we cede agency to the authorities every hour, every day.

Meanwhile, the New York Times was reporting that explosive devices had been found at the Republican and Democratic headquarters.

A “source close to the White House” who was in contact with the Trump supporters who had penetrated the building spread the word that the participants intended to remain inside the Capitol through the night. However, clashes with police inside the building made this impossible. It appears that the participants had gotten further than they had expected to, and—surprised by their initial success—were not able to consolidate their advantage to hold territory.

Secret service agents had barricaded a door; when Trump supporters attempted to break through it, one of them fired a single shot at the one in front—Ashli Babbitt, a former police officer—killing her. Police were on the other side of the door, immediately behind Babbitt. This disturbing video captures the moment when police shot her.

Here is another angle on the shooting. Again, the content is extremely disturbing.

Here is an interview with the Trump supporter who was standing beside Babbitt when she was shot.

Watching this interview, it’s hard to tell how much of it is artlessness and how much is artifice. It at once comes across as a work of self-conscious propaganda, and yet at the same time, strangely naive.

“Elizabeth was not ready for the revolution.”

Reportedly, by this time, the police were deploying tear gas.

Clashes continued as police attempted to recapture the rotunda.

Here, a large number of Trump supporters leave the Capitol with their faces exposed.

Meanwhile, similar scenes were playing out at other state capitals around the country.

Vice President Mike Pence approved the order to deploy the National Guard, not Trump. This seems to bolster speculation that Trump or his supporters may have arranged for security to be underprepared or otherwise delayed the response. In parts of Mexico, it is said that if the police or military are conspicuously absent, it is because paramilitaries are coming to do the dirty work for them. That remains speculation, but it is certain that Trump arranged to remove longtime officials from the Department of Defense and other agencies last November, replacing them with loyalists as soon as his loss to Biden was confirmed and restructuring the chain of command to concentrate power directly in his hands. At the risk of spreading conspiracy theories of our own, we recall how, at Fort Bragg on November 18, when Acting Defense Secretary Christopher C. Miller announced that from then on, Special Operations would report to him directly, he interrupted himself to say “This is an omen”:

As we implement the president’s orders, we also recognize that transitions and campaigns are fraught with risk and unexpected challenges and opportunities. That is why I am here today to announce this—this is an omen… I’m here today to announce that I directed the Special Operations civilian leadership to report directly to me instead of through the current bureaucratic channels.”

In any case, on January 6, after nightfall, a large number of officers were finally deployed.

In the darkness, Police pursued some Trump supporters with something more comparable to the sort of violence they habitually employ against Black Lives Matter demonstrations.

One eyewitness report claims that 15 vehicles with Trump bumper stickers that had been parked in a lot in the Fort Totten neighborhood in DC had their tires slashed—two per vehicle, so that spare tires wouldn’t solve the problem.

Afterwards, inside the Capitol building:

(Actually, all the statues in the Capitol building are soaked in blood—but the cameras only show the blood shed by white people.)

The Social Media Battlefield

For his part, Trump congratulated the participants, stopping just short of explicitly endorsing the incursion in order to retain plausible deniability: “These are the things and events that happen when a sacred [sic] landslide election victory is so unceremoniously & viciously stripped away from great patriots who have been badly & unfairly treated for so long.” He added a message identifying the event as a foundational step confirming the emergence of a new political current: “Remember this day forever!”

In response, Twitter and Facebook finally imposed embargoes on Trump’s accounts. The moderators for one of the online organizing spaces for the rally also faced pressure.

Facebook already banned many anarchists months ago—but all the same, while any misfortune that befalls Trump is a welcome obstacle to his totalitarian efforts, it is inevitable that this will ultimately lead to more corporate censorship of anarchists and other participants in social movements, as well. This makes it all the more pressing that we establish and promote alternatives now.

Will the Republicans Split?

As a result of this stunt, the Republicans have already effectively split into two camps, the pro-Trump far right and the “centrists” who have finally been forced to break with Trump, despite riding his coattails for the past four years.

One of Trump’s most ominous achievements in advancing the reactionary cause is that today, Republicans who have moved far to the right as a result of his influence can be hailed as heroes of democracy by a bipartisan base—simply for choosing not to support him in an explicitly anti-democratic coup attempt. While Democrats and Republicans who are withdrawing their support from Trump are consolidating a new bipartisan political centrism, the midpoint of that centrism would have been considered extreme right just a few years ago. Obama’s Republican adversary in the 2008 election, John McCain, is now hated by Trump’s base, but a hero to many Democrats.

In this regard, Trump’s exodus from the center of the Republican Party only consolidates far-right gains across the board, cleansing them of any association with his polarizing character. If the far right is now represented by rabid neo-Nazis in “Camp Auschwitz” paraphernalia engaging in outright armed insurgency, it will be easier for capitalists who want to deport millions of people and evict tens of millions to present themselves as eminently reasonable proponents of mainstream viewpoints. Yesterday’s chaos in Washington has already enabled far-right parties in Europe to position themselves as dismayed defenders of democracy.

It is entirely possible that some Trump supporters will experience the events of January 6 as a wake-up call. But it is unlikely that this change will be an improvement. Some of them may decide that they really believe in state democracy and the rule of law after all; in this case, they will shift their allegiances to the likes of Lindsay Graham and, at best, call for crackdowns on outright fascists as well as anti-fascists. Others—having finally learned what it’s like to be on the receiving end of police repression—will conclude that they hate democracy and cops, too, but for exactly the opposite reasons that anarchists do, and join explicitly fascist groups.

This rupture with other Republicans will inconvenience Trump supporters, as it separates them from much of their power and perceived legitimacy; but it is a necessary step for those who have been seeking to establish a mass base for outright fascism. They have established a fascist pole in US politics—complete with martyrs and a revanchist narrative—that will serve them for years to come, providing an internal mythos to recruit and a justification whenever they need to use force. As we argued when Trump came to power, if the state is not able to solve the problems ordinary people face today, then it could be strategic for them to position themselves as enemies of existing government, in order to recruit from desperate and disenfranchised white people whose racial privilege led them to believe that they should not be the ones abandoned by the state and exploited by the economy.

As we’ve argued elsewhere, in response to the George Floyd uprising, Trump and his supporters withdrew from the social contract, effectively declaring, “If we don’t retain our privileges, it’s civil war.”

A Foothold in Power

At the same time, as we argued last month, though the far-right militias describe themselves as rebels against the status quo, it is a mistake to understand them as opposing the state itself. On the contrary—paradoxically, participants in the movement around Trump have sought to brand themselves both enemies of the “deep state” and proponents of state power. Consequently, they have support from within the state even as they pretend to contest it.

Seven senators and fully 121 House Republicans—more than half the Republicans in the House, and well over a quarter of the House of Representatives altogether—supported the challenge to certifying the election, after yesterday’s incursion—when it had become clear that, in doing so, they were intentionally providing narrative cover for what was either an extremely clumsy coup attempt or the founding of a new fascist party. At least one elected officeholder, a member of West Virginia’s House of Delegates, participated in storming the Capitol. All this is evidence enough that the movement around Trump is not going away any time soon, and it will be very difficult for the authorities to bring the sort of force to bear against it that it would take to halt its momentum.

Taking a page from Trump’s playbook, Representative Matt Gaetz and other Republicans have spread the absurd fabrication that the unruly activity at the Capitol was somehow the work of false-flag “antifa” actors. Of course, there is plenty of evidence that confirms that the incursion was comprised of avowed Trump supporters. In boldly spreading barefaced lies, Gaetz and his ilk are building a base that willfully believes and spreads falsehoods as a way to demonstrate their loyalty and spit in the eyes of old-fashioned politicians and journalists who still take credibility seriously. They aim to hasten the arrival of a day when what people consider to be the truth will only be a factor of their political affiliations, and not the other way around.

Unfortunately, Gaetz is just one of a large number of people from a variety of positions across the political spectrum who are attempting to muddy the waters regarding the political identity of the Trump supporters who invaded the Capitol. Pundits Erin Burnett and Dana Bash joined Fox News and Vanity Fair and politicians Marco Rubio and Elaine Luria in describing Trump supporters as “anarchists”—jumping the gun on the inevitable forthcoming effort to implicate “both sides,” fascist and anti-fascist, as equally to blame for the problems plaguing the United States.




And Anarchists?

Having learned from the last two gatherings of Trump supporters in DC, anarchists and anti-fascists circulating downtown DC in affinity groups were able to prevent brutal attacks on activists of color and others at risk of being randomly targeted by fascists and other Trump supporters. But there was very little good news on this bleak day.

Anarchists face a double bind in responding to the events of January 6. It doesn’t make sense to risk our lives to defend the institutions that preside over state oppression, nor to provide fascists with easy opportunities to kill or harm us. At the same time, if we cede the entire terrain of conflict to an insurgent far right and a repressive police state, however much harm they do each other, the political horizon will shrink to be small indeed. As a minimum program, we should stake out an anti-authoritarian alternative to both of these forces, establishing new models for action and finding points of intervention that minimize vulnerability.

It will probably not be possible for Trump’s supporters to do the same thing twice. On January 20, when Joe Biden is inaugurated president, we anticipate that there will be a tremendous police and military presence in Washington, DC. On the other other hand, Trump supporters may attempt to duplicate what they did in DC at state capital buildings around the country. Those who oppose both fascism and state repression may have to go back to the drawing board to identify the most strategic goals in this new scenario.

One mistake we must not make is to assume that all the pieces are already on the playing board. This is not true—there are still massive sectors of society that have not yet cast their lot with one side or the order. The rush to escalate towards civil war increases the likelihood that we arrive at that point before we are ready. Civil war may be inevitable, but if it is, that is all the more reason to focus on building networks and appealing to those who have not yet taken a side while there is still time.

Posted By

R Totale
Jan 7 2021 22:25

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Hieronymous
Jan 9 2021 19:18

Having obsessively watched live streams of events all day last Wednesday, and subsequently read all the radical accounts I could find, I think this one by Crimethinc is the most comprehensive. Well worth a read — and view of the video clips. And the analysis seems spot-on.

This Business Insider article, “Some among America's military allies believe Trump deliberately attempted a coup and may have had help from federal law-enforcement officials,” breaks down the failure of the pigs to stop the pro-Trumpers from seizing the Capitol. Trump refused to call in the National Guard, leaving it to Vice President Pence to do it at least 2 house after the insurgents had occupied the building. Here are the conflicting layers of the pigs:

    —US Capitol Police (USCP), a federal agency providing security to Congress and answering to Congress
    —United States Secret Service (USSS) or Secret Service, federal law enforcement agency under the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) charged with conducting criminal investigations and protecting the nation's leaders, their families, and visiting heads of state or government
    —Federal Protective Service (FPS), police division of DHS charged with protecting and delivering integrated law enforcement and security services to government-owned facilities
    —Immigration & Citizenship Enforcement (ICE) & Customs & Border Protection (CBP), federal agencies under the DHS
    —US Park Police, a unit of the National Park Service, a federal agency under the Department of the Interior
    —Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), a federal agency under the Department of Justice (DOJ)
    — United States Marshals Service (USMS), a federal bureau within the DOJ, operating under the direction of the Attorney General
    —Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), a federal agency under the DOJ
    —Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, also known as Alcohol, Tobacco & Firearms (ATF), a federal agency under DOJ
    —Metropolitan Police Department of the District of Columbia (MPDC), more commonly known as the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) and the DC Police, who are the pigs under the control of the city government

The national security French pig, consulted for the article, said:

Quote:
"I cannot believe the failure to establish a proper cordon was a mistake. These are very skilled police officials, but they are federal, and that means they ultimately report to the president. This needs to be investigated."

So Trump obviously enabled the successful breaching of the building. It took National Guard units from Virginia and Maryland, sent by their respective Democratic and Republican governors, to retake the Capitol Building being dispatched three hours later.

Other interesting articles:

    —“Broken Windows fascism” by Three Way Fight, with these significant quotes:

    Quote:
    In broader terms, Trump’s insistent denial of the November election results has spurred a massive political shift within the U.S. right, as millions of people have moved—at least temporarily—from system-loyalty into system-opposition, as symbolized by Proud Boys stomping on a Thin Blue Line flag. We should expect this oppositional right to remain active and violent long after the current fight over the presidency has died down . . . the oppositional right is a meeting place where different rightist currents and ideologies—such as neonazism and QAnon—converge and interact. It remains to be seen how unified or well organized the oppositional right will be, what kind of strategies and tactics they will use, and whether or not Trump himself will continue to play an active role.

    And this:

    Quote:
    The attack on the U.S. Capitol is, as many have described it, an attempted coup. It dramatizes Donald Trump’s authoritarianism, demagoguery, and repudiation of the electoral system that put him in the White House, but it also highlights one of the key limitations that separated the Trump administration from fascism. Fascism requires an independent mass organization in order to carry out its attack on the established political order. Trump has never tried to build such an organization. He has skillfully used social media and rallies to mobilize supporters, but organizationally he has relied on existing institutions, above all the Republican Party, which is part of why his administration was a coalition between America Firsters and conventional conservatives of various kinds. Now that coalition is falling apart. And Trump’s control over the federal security apparatus also proved to be quite limited. He could mobilize Homeland Security agents and U.S. Marshals to crack down on Black Lives Matter protesters last summer, but he failed to deploy any federal agents to help him overturn the results of the 2020 election. Today's mob of Trump supporters never had a chance of seizing power, but they did bring Congress to a complete standstill for hours. With better organization and leadership, the movement they represent could quickly turn into something far more dangerous.

Red Marriott
Jan 9 2021 15:54

So were U&S right in their 'coup' assessment? http://libcom.org/blog/necessity-revolutionary-working-class-program-times-coup-civil-war-scenarios-10102020
Or did the Trumpers just get lucky on the day?

Hieronymous
Jan 9 2021 16:38

Yes, of course. The Reichstag is in ashes and Brownshirts are marauding through the streets of every city as we speak. The formerly so-called United States now operates under the rules of the Confederate States of America. The Civil War — to liquidate antifa and consolidate this victory nationwide — starts on Monday, at 9:00 a.m. sharp. They were prophetic!

Anticap
Jan 9 2021 16:20

Less coup than as an attempt at autogolpe, where the executive pre-empts and dissolves the other branches of government. Trump, fundamentally incompetent as befits this combination apotheosis and nadir of bourgeois class rule, played it as if it were a reality TV show, a spectacle for entertainment with a cash reward awaiting the winner. The problem with Trump's version is that the autogolpe depends a previous accumulation of power that can mobilize enough military and civil force to actually dissolve the government, suppress the media, and expand the golpe.

Trump certainly had not accumulated that much power, and his "army" was indeed created in his image-- without program, or ability.

As a point of historical accuracy, this:

Quote:
But this is not the only danger ahead. In the name of a war against extremism, centrists are going to demand to expand the same machinery of state repression that the next Trump will inevitably use against us. This is essentially what happened in Weimar Germany, setting the stage for the rise of the Third Reich.

is not accurate. The "machinery of state repression" was not expanded by the Weimar. Article 48 of the Weimar Constitution provided all that was need for the president to rule by decree and determine what leader of what party would become the leader and government.

Black Badger
Jan 9 2021 18:03

slight nitpick: DEA is the Drug Enforcement Administration

Red Marriott
Jan 9 2021 19:19
H wrote:
Yes, of course. The Reichstag is in ashes and Brownshirts are marauding through the streets of every city as we speak.

Obviously there wasn't a coup. But the linked AWW article posited a likely scenario of coup attempts and civil war. While from far away I'm not convinced that this was a coup attempt rather than a lucky break quite possibly aided by some pro-Trump security agents (though the article is posted here by RT with an intro describing a "coup attempt" and it's a common description) - still, even you are praising this article which concludes that there is a "rush to escalate towards civil war", a war that "may be inevitable". Do you agree with that?

Black Badger
Jan 9 2021 20:43

civil war is possible, but only, it seems to me, if Boss (no longer) Tweet and his handlers/enablers are somehow able to ramp up the right-wing populist suspicions and skepticism about the electoral process and thereby peel away a sizeable base to abandon it as a means of "petition and redress" in favor of something like a regular strategy of plebiscite by invasion -- a strategy that has now been adopted into their playbook. Despite being an obvious political failure, the spectacle of J6 was a tactical victory for the far-right because it shows what's possible with minimal planning beyond gathering in one place at one time and knowing that law enforcement wouldn't be on anything approaching high alert (not to mention a certain amount of active collusion).

bastarx
Jan 10 2021 00:17
Black Badger wrote:
Despite being an obvious political failure, the spectacle of J6 was a tactical victory for the far-right because it shows what's possible with minimal planning beyond gathering in one place at one time and knowing that law enforcement wouldn't be on anything approaching high alert (not to mention a certain amount of active collusion).

Despite the well known sympathies of many rank and file cops for the fash and interference from political leaders I'd imagine it will get harder and harder for them to pull similar stunts.

Those of us old enough to remember the anti-summit movement will recall that it basically became impossible to have any impact on the running of the summits.

Hieronymous
Jan 12 2021 13:57

I remember commentators who'd been in Seattle for the anti-WTO protest in 1999 saying something to the effect that you can only catch the system by surprise once in a generation. I agree with what bastarx is saying above. I also largely agree with Black Badger's post.

To me, the events at the Capitol on Wednesday were a riot. If you watch the videos and interviews with the participants, so many of them were fucking idiots. But they were lucky, in one of those right-place-at-right-time kind of historical moments. Another attack at Wednesday's level of intensity clearly can't be summoned so easily again, nor can it be sustained. I attended every one of the Battles of Berkeley in 2017 and agree with Crimethinc's critique in "How Anti-Fascists Won the Battles of Berkeley." Once anti-fascists began to truly organize our forces, rather than put out feeble calls for mobilizations, we won.

On October 17, 2020 Proud Boy wannabe Philip Anderson organized a "free speech rally" in San Francisco's Civic Center. Anderson, who's a young Black guy from Texas, played up his right to promote Trump in the U.S. city where he's the least popular (Biden pulled 85% in November's election). I got there a half hour before the scheduled event and saw Anderson wandering through the heavily anti-authoritarian counter protest crowd of around 400. He was trying to debate free speech, but thankfully someone expeditiously smacked him in the mouth and knocked out his front two incisors. Only a moron would fail to gauge the enemy and do something so stupid. The Trumpite-fascists only numbered around a dozen, whose rally lasted only about 10 minutes before the cops had to escort all of them away under a fusillade of rocks and bottles, and even drive them to safety in a police van. Admittedly, this was a provocation in anti-Trump territory, so it's not applicable to other parts of the U.S. But my point is that when anti-fascists show up in significant numbers, prepared to fight, the fascist wither and quickly look for an escape route.

Yesterday morning I was listening to NPR and heard this amazing rebroadcast of a 2006 radio interview with labor historian Eric Foner called "On The 'Unresolved Legacy Of Reconstruction.'" I only heard the last bit, which was profound, so I went back and listened to the whole podcast. I wholeheartedly agree that the Civil War was never finished because Reconstruction failed. The Confederate flag waving marauders in Washington DC last Wednesday were a continuation of the battle for that Lost Cause, essentially Klan terrorists without hoods.

These long quotes are my takeaways:

Eric Foner wrote:
Well, the Klan begins in early Reconstruction - 1866-67. It spreads throughout the South pretty quickly. This is another reason why Reconstruction is important for us to think about because, you know, to use a modern term which didn't really exist at that time, the Klan is the most striking example of home-grown American terrorism. This is our terrorist history - not from abroad, not Islamic fundamentalist. These were good Christian people, at least in their own self-image. But they murdered, they rode at night, they beat people, they whipped them, they destroyed property, they attacked innocent civilians. And their purpose was to deprive African Americans of their rights, both the right to vote, the right to access to land, the right to education. And they were very effective, unfortunately. These local governments were not able to put down this kind of violence.

And this:

Eric Foner wrote:
Well, I think we need to - you know, we still have a fairly serious racial divide in this country. Obviously, we're not living in the 19th century. First of all, the racial configuration is entirely different today. Hispanics outnumber blacks now for the first time. We can't any longer think of, you know, American society as just black or white; there are many other groups as well. But nonetheless, if you take the black population in any index that you want - whether it's life expectancy, health, housing, wealth, income, education - there is still a significant gap between blacks and whites.

But part of the "white grievance" is that that gap is closing as working class whites face declining life expectancy bringing them closer to the conditions of Blacks (including the aforementioned health, housing, wealth, income, and education too), most prominently among men, due to drug overdoses, alcoholism, liver disease, suicides, lack of access to health care, mental health breakdown, etc., etc. The U.S. is perhaps the only advanced industrial country experiencing this phenomenon. Hence unless whites unite and engage in class struggle against capital with their Black and people of color working class brethren, this racial rift will fester and lead to future civil war-like explosions. Sorry if that's not coherent, but that's what I'm thinking. I look forward to hearing what others think.

Further thoughts: in February of 2020 a dozen of my comrades and I launched a study group to read W.E.B. Du Bois' Black Reconstruction in America: 1860-1880. We'd barely started when the COVID-19 restrictions forced us to continue meeting by Zoom. And then George Floyd was murdered and what we were reading about in the period after the Civil War, like voter suppression and homicidal campaigns -- led in the 19th century by hooded Klansmen riding horses and today blue uniformed cops cruising around in squadcars, was almost exactly the same as what's happening today. We've done a slow, methodical reading and aren't finished yet. But the book is one of the most important U.S. history books I've ever read.

Here's an example:

Du Bois wrote:
In Philadelphia, he [President Andrew Johnson] declared that God was a tailor, like himself. At Cleveland his audience became a mob while the President himself increased the hubbub. The city authorities had made preparations for a polite reception, but as he proceeded with his harangue, the mob took complete possession of the crowd. Someone cried, “Why not hang Thad Stevens and Wendell Phillips?” “Yes,” yelled Johnson, “why not hang them?(p. 427)

Johnson was on a campaign tour through the country as far west at St. Louis in the election of 1866, not as a candidate himself (which was a presidential first), but stumping for his anti-Reconstruction allies running for congress and state legislatures. Sounds exactly like Trump in Georgia campaigning for Purdue and Loeffler for last Tuesday's election!

There's an excellent Huffington Post article making a comparison of Johnson and Trump, called "Donald Trump’s Racist Midterm Pitch Is His ‘Swing Around The Circle’", with the subtitle "The president is closing the 2018 midterm with a campaign of paranoid racist incitement echoing President Andrew Johnson’s 1866 message."

Lastly, yesterday I drove my partner to a medical appointment two counties away. As I passed under a freeway overpass (in Lafayette, in a wealthy white and suburban part of Contra Costa County), I saw some giant Trump and American flags attached to the fencing, along with "Stop the Steal" signs, all visible from the highway on both sides. Then I noticed 4 people on the brige with small, illegible handheld signs. I realized that despite the dangers of Proud Boys, Three Percenters, and various neo-Nazis and Klan groups, these suburban buffoons are promoting a massive, unsupportable lie. They're meek and clueless, and a thought hit me: "their bark is louder than their bite." An apt metaphor for most of these suburban QAnon zealots.

Red Marriott
Jan 10 2021 15:44

Thanks for replies. Though the US situation is in some ways unique due to its gun culture and armed populace I assume increasing armed clashes wouldn’t become actual civil war without a substantial defection from the police and army - otherwise no one can outgun the state in a war.

If such a defection occurred the mind boggles at the possibilities. A mainland insurrection bursting out of, eg, California or Texan army bases, could carve the country up. The Spanish civil war was launched from military bases in Spanish Morocco; though the idea that there could be a far right military faction launch a coup from, eg, a US airbase in Hawaii seems incredibly remote at present.

Hieronymous
Jan 10 2021 16:09

The U.S. has an all-volunteer military, essentially a "poverty draft," drawing almost exclusively on the working class and heavily on non-whites. So there's no loyalty there for Trump's white nationalism. The cops are different, since their unions are the only faction of workers that unanimously supported Trump.

But you're right about gun culture and the willingness to use guns.

R Totale
Jan 10 2021 21:14

Fwiw, on the civil war question, Crimethinc have two other pieces from recent months critiquing the idea of civil war, which people might find useful:
Between Electoral Politics and Civil War
Uprising, Counterinsurgency, and Civil War

It's not a comparison I've seen many other people make, at least not recently, but when trying to think about what forms conflict could take in the US in the near future, I find myself thinking of either the Troubles in Northern Ireland or the years of lead in Italy. I suppose there must be examples from Latin America as well - Columbia, maybe? Anyway, I think the term "civil war" is misleading if it makes people think of a re-run of 1861 or whatever, but I think there's a wide variety of other situations where you can potentially have some pretty serious levels of ongoing conflict.

bastarx
Jan 11 2021 01:17
Hieronymous wrote:
The U.S. has an all-volunteer military, essentially a "poverty draft," drawing almost exclusively on the working class and heavily on non-whites. So there's no loyalty there for Trump's white nationalism. The cops are different, since their unions are the only faction of workers that unanimously supported Trump.

But you're right about gun culture and the willingness to use guns.

AFAIK the officer corps is disproportionately white and evangelical Christian. Also the Special Forces are pretty much exclusively white.

See this for example: https://www.nytimes.com/2020/05/25/us/politics/military-minorities-leadership.html

So would the troops follow their officers in mass violence against the civilian population?

Hieronymous
Jan 12 2021 13:48
bastarx wrote:
So would the troops follow their officers in mass violence against the civilian population?

Good question.

That article says 43% of the U.S. military is non-white; with the class difference between them and the white brass, would the grunts refuse by fragging their officers like in Vietnam?

Black Badger
Jan 11 2021 03:44
Quote:
would the grunts refuse by fragging their officers like in Vietnam?

in a dangerous counter-insurgency where the troops didn't know who or where "the enemy" was, this is a high possibility. if US troops were deployed (illegally, although that wouldn't stop an insurgent military rebellion) domestically to put down some kind of "insurrection," it's hard to know if grunts would obey orders to shoot other Americans. the Bolsheviks had to deploy troops from central Asia and Siberia to put down the Kronstadt Mutiny to minimize appeals in Russian being understood. the CCP deployed PLA troops from outlying provinces to put down the Tienanmen Square occupation to prevent fraternization. but all US troops speak English, just as a vast majority of Americans do. that tactic is therefore off the table.

Robert Vaughn
Jan 12 2021 06:51

Crimethinc.s world-view is an endless series of self-mythologizing responses to events that are always set into play by others.

It's breathtaking to see a tiny gaggle of self-marginalizing, invisible to all the world fringe leftists talking blithely about 'civil war' here.  I see no evidence anywhere that Crimethinc. has ever done anything to assert its/their perspective other than show up wearing black at an infinite number of easily ignored demos and short-lived riots.  CrimethInc. have been very effective at projecting their message inside the US anarchist subculture for about twenty years, but CrimethInc. is virtually invisible to all the world outside of this easily ignored, exclusively self-referential subculture. 

On the other hand, the far right overlaps heavily with the cops/law enforcement, for obvious reasons. And since, unlike Crimethinc, they believe in their garbage enough to put time and effort asserting it outside of their immediate social set or subcultural penumbra they've also made some inroads -- who knows how many or how deep -- among enlisted people in the Armed Forces.  In some form or another various permutations of the far right have been at this since the 1970's.

It's a testament to the total absence of credible opposition to capitalism in an ever-more rapidly speeding towards collapse United States -- and the total lack of real-world credibility of the compulsively juvenile and asinine United States anarchist subculture that CrimethInc. obediently swims in -- that although bare-knuckle resistance to the military itself by enlisted people during the Vietnam War era helped to massively mess up the war-fighting goals of our rulers, may actually have had a negative impact on their larger strategy, and in most cases did this with subjectively left-wing or at least nominal left-wing perspectives there has never been any ongoing credible effort to follow up on this in the half-century since by supposed enemies of capitalism in the United States.  What has Crimethinc. been up to on this front?  Let me guess...

In this piece CrimethInc. operates under an assumption that everyone who is not a foam-spewing armed rightist or a wealthy neo-liberal can somehow rapidly coalesce into some kind of effective nationwide mass resistance movement against a violent mass uprising of the armed right. Can this happen without a long period of mass self-organization emerging out of large scale social struggles? These social struggle are not yet taking place on the unprecedented huge scale they have to be occurring on, and no matter how rowdy, a protest march here or there is not a social movement.

Ranging far afield now: you cannot have a credible chance of prevailing in a civil war without bringing about the collapse and dispersal of the state's armed forces. There is no awareness of the need for this in this CrimethInc. piece, let alone evidence of sustained credible real world action -- action that gets taken seriously by friend and foe -- aiming to bring this about, by CrimethInc. or anybody else. In the event of a civil war between the US National Security State in alliance with loyal law enforcement forces versus the armed right, it becomes a very different matter, one where the vast majority of the populace have no role to play other than to stay down, keep out of sight, and hope for the mutual ruin of the contending forces.

The political instability on display now in the U.S. is what happens when a social order is speeding toward collapse.  Ever-more extreme levels of inequality and mass impoverishment, and the impossibility of profound change within the system, are setting the table for a mass movement against the owners and rulers of this social order, against all factions of their political apparatus, and against capitalist social relations themselves. The circumstances for this have never been more promising.  But there is at present not even the faintest visible public ongoing collective action being taken in the United States on this score.  We need something analogous in 21st century terms to the real IWW of the early 20th century -- an anti-wage labor social movement of the wage-earning class.  Class against class, bare-knuckle collective direct action emerging from the everyday realities we face as working and poor people in commodity society will eclipse and defeat the extreme right more effectively than cluelessly and repetitively meeting these toxic fools on their own terrain.  Along these lines, if -- and this is a very big if -- some kind of mass permanent refusal to pay back rent movement, on transparently clear, high profile, implacable terms, by a majority of everyone who hasn't been paying rent during the current crisis emerges in the very near future, this might make a difference -- an explosive difference, with the potential to spread rapidly to other aspects of what we endure under the dictatorship of the market.  Is Crimethinc. doing anything with this? Among the high ninety percent of several tens of millions of oppressed, repressed, depressed people who aren't paying rent right now, and who have a powerful immediate stake in this -- in remaining housed, for fuck's sake! -- and who quite obviously have no engagement with or interest in leftists or anarchists, and who will never see me posting this thing right here?  Or is CrimethInc. only a tail endlessly wagged by a series of dogs?

PS: Regarding the Jan. 6th Slobber-dämmerung: It is possible that Trump has finally maxed out his card as a post-Presidential far-right leader, less by the ineptitude of the Mook-apalooza at the Capitol than by his surprising ham-fisted denunciation of his loyal followers. Trump has a low reptile cunning but he doesn't have the smarts to play a long game -- even as long as a few days.  Trump's infantile attention span makes him an appropriate Citizen Capet for a fast-declining U.S.  He may also simply be too lazy to play any further role once out of office. A big question now is what the far-right will do on or in relation to January 20th. After that, outside of small scale terrorist acts, without Trump to goose them Trump's loyal followers may be largely directionless as a large scale political force until another more capable charismatic nullity with a strong pimp hand can step up to bib them and burp them. On the other hand, given the magical thinking on crank and political psychosis on display with today's gibbering drooling US far right, Trump's followers also may have short memories that will allow them to forgive and forget; some already claim that his video denunciation of the mook riot, making dire promises of prison time for his mob of slobs was a 'deep fake.'

Black Badger
Jan 12 2021 20:58

This is obviously the long-ago banned Kevin Keating attempting to circumvent his exclusion in a desperate attempt to re-insert himself into something relevant. Because without berating radicals for not being radical enough (according to his peculiar and idiosyncratic so-called logic), his life has no meaning.

Admins: please rid us -- again -- of this delusional creep, thanks.

Hieronymous
Jan 13 2021 04:03
Black Badger wrote:
This is obviously the long-ago banned Kevin Keating . . .

Admins: please rid us -- again -- of this delusional creep, thanks.

Robert Vaughn wrote:
Trump has a low reptile cunning . . .

This is clearly a reference to the lizard people. Are you sure this isn't David Icke?

Black Badger
Jan 13 2021 04:52
Quote:
Are you sure this isn't David Icke?

i almost wish it were, if only so that unsuspecting real radicals wouldn't be hoodwinked by Keating's leftist jargon

Hieronymous
Jan 13 2021 05:30

You’re probably right. But the author either didn’t read the Crimethinc piece or has terrible comprehension skills. Nor do they seem to actually know anything about Crimethinc. It just seems like a one-size-fits-all generic smear.

Their understanding of the Trump phenomenon seems equally flat, one dimensional and unconvincing. I just watched #Unfit: The Psychology of Donald Trump and agree with their diagnosis that he’s a “malignant narcissistic.” The most revealing parts were comparisons to Hitler and Mussolini, which I found compelling. They quote Trump’s first wife Ivana saying that The Donald studied texts of Hitler’s speeches carefully and even adopted der Führer’s practice of repeating key phrases three times. Scaramucci does a pretty good job of explaining how expertly Trump feeds conspiracy theories to “blue collar” whites (relating how he grew up in a similar working class deindustrialized community himself). Well worth a watch.

Black Badger
Jan 13 2021 14:40

has Keating ever carefully read anything that he already knew he'd dismiss? his pathological hatred for any kind of anarchist has been in evidence for the better part of nearly three decades. all of his smears are one-size-fits-all. invoking "the wage earning class" and "enlisted people in the armed forces" as the Revolutionary Subject and complaining about some vague "subculture" and "marginalization" are the usual giveaways about who the author is; they are Keating's rhetorical tics.

Hieronymous
Jan 21 2021 03:29

Against my better judgement, before work this morning I surfed the 'net and caught some of the spectacle in Washington DC for Joe Biden's inauguration. I caught a livestream of Trump getting off a helicopter at an airbase for a flight to Florida. As he finished speaking and walked to the plane, speakers blasted the Village People's "YMCA." I kept thinking about talk of him staging a coup and sparking a second civil war. As I said above, the event at the capitol on January 6 was a riot. The attackers seemed pretty confused and without clear goals. Almost as though they were surprised they got so far into the building. But I also got to wondering that if the attempt to overturn the election and keep Trump in office had succeeded, would "YMCA" have become the soundtrack of the movement? Which would have been pretty bizarre, an anthem to gay sex being used by a bunch of bigots in their attempt to crush everything deviating from white nationalist heteronormativity. It's an absurd image, a MAGA hat wearing homophobe waving a Confederate flag and singing "You can hang out with all the boys./It's fun to stay at the Y.M.C.A.," a disco tune in homage to the queer cruising scene in Greenwich Village in the 1970s. Perhaps the foot soldiers of this neo-fascist movement can be renamed the Proud Village-Idiot Boys, to emphasize their backwards origins.