A Deadly Serious Attack on HOW People Think…
with Lasting Harm
November 23, 2020 | revcom.us
Over the past week, there has been a huge debate around truth going on, focused up around the U.S. election results. Well, perhaps the word “debate” dignifies this too much; to put it more accurately, there has been a screaming insistence on an open and easily disprovable LIE by a much-too-large section of the American people, whipped up and led by the fascist Trump.
Overwhelming Evidence vs. the Pronouncements of the Fascist Leader
On one side are those who go by the actual objective count of the real ballots cast in the real world—overseen by both Republicans and Democrats—in which Joe Biden won the election by a decisive margin—at least six million votes in the popular vote count, and with 306 electoral votes to Trump’s 232.
On the other side are those who follow the lead of Donald Trump, who insists that HE actually won the election and that a massive fraud has been perpetrated on the world. What’s worse, by all accounts this is agreed to by a very large proportion of Republican voters. Not only is Trump insisting on this, he refuses to allow the new Biden administration to begin the transition to governing. This means, to take just one outrageous example, that the Biden administration will not be able to quickly move on the coronavirus crisis, currently taking nearly 2,000 lives a day in the U.S. alone—a fact that surely will cost many more lives than are necessary, as the new people take time to learn the ropes of “how to make things happen.”
Moreover, Trump has rallied the vast majority of Republican elected officials to at least give strong backing to the notion that the vote is somehow “still in doubt” and that there are “serious issues involved that have to be resolved.” This is dangerous bullshit and they know it, but truth is hardly a concern when you have a fascist agenda to carry out.
This claim of Trump’s is at one and the same time ridiculous… and deadly serious. It is ridiculous because the standard of judging any claim about the truth is what the evidence shows and there is absolutely no evidence that even remotely suggests that Trump was defrauded,1 and there is a great deal of evidence that Biden legally and decisively won—including evidence from Republican officeholders in the South who oversaw the balloting and high-level Trump appointees who were fired for actually adhering to and making known this evidence.
Trump and his lawyers have gone to court more than 30 times and had their cases thrown out all but twice; of the other two, both were insignificant and one was reversed by a higher court. While these weasels rant about “fraud” in front of the TV cameras, they carefully avoid using the word in court—where false charges of fraud could bring penalties. One of his lawyers claimed that the election was stolen by an algorithm supposedly originally commissioned by the Venezuelan leader Hugo Chavez, who has been dead for seven years… but claimed she does not want to reveal her evidence now.
Yet again, at least according to newspaper reports, polls and fervent demonstrations of Trump supporters, at least a sizeable proportion and most likely at least a majority of Republican voters are choosing to deny all the evidence and believe Trump.
A Further Descent into Fascist Degradation
The implications of this are bad. Quite bad. It is not just that these people will be a reliable social base for continued fascist assaults on the rule of law, on nonwhite people, on those who organize and rise up against different forms of oppression—which they will, and very likely with the even deeper fanaticism of those who imagine themselves to be “the injured party.” That would be bad enough.
But it is worse. The fact is that they have gone further in adopting an epistemology—a way of determining what is true—that has nothing to do with evidence and instead believes that whatever the fascist “strongman” says is true, because it corresponds to and “validates” what they would rather believe.
Trump has succeeded in welding these people to the notion that he alone knows the truth; and even any other fascist previously believed to be a “reliable source” who does not for whatever reason go along with this latest leap of faith—for instance, Fox News, which parted ways with Trump on this and has called the election for Biden—is seen as a betrayer and cast from the circle.
This has developed over a period of decades, including through the emergence of Christian fascism. Bob Avakian has called attention and given emphasis to this anti-scientific epistemological dimension as part of a whole analysis of this phenomenon over decades, and in particular called attention to the anti-scientific character of it. This spring, in regard to the COVID-19 pandemic, BA talked about how “fascist forces, marked by a truly dark ages mentality, and firmly convinced of the ‘truth’ of all manner of lunatic conspiracy theories promoting fascist ‘values’ and objectives, are eagerly embracing callous philistinism, willfully rejecting critical thinking, smugly ignoring, defying and denigrating science and the scientific method.”
It’s important to remember that, after a brief period of attempting to “lead” the response to COVID-19, Trump went all-in on the stance described by BA, and mixed in his own trademark racist, “we (white people) have the best-genes” to make rejection of all preventive measures a hallmark of his campaign—again going against the scientific consensus, and very possibly costing tens of thousands of lives in the process.
What makes this even more toxic is the mixing together of the Christian fascist rejection of evidence-based science with the belief in the supposed all-knowing wisdom of the fascist strongman, all facts be damned. Katherine Stewart, a scholar of this phenomenon, in the important article published in the New York Times last week, “Christian Nationalism Is Here to Stay,” writes that “Christian nationalism [creates] a uniquely isolated messaging sphere. Many members of the rank and file get their main political information not just from messaging platforms that keep their audiences in a world that is divorced from reality, but also from dedicated religious networks and reactionary faith leaders.” And Stewart earlier in this piece gives several examples of these “faith leaders” insisting on lunacy along the lines that “God appointed Donald J. Trump to run this country” and that “Right now we are at war,” to quote particularly fanatical ones.
On top of that, there’s been a melding of these strains of absolutist anti-scientific thought with all manner of lunatic conspiracy theories—the notion that Democratic politicians drink the blood or adrenaline of small children. These kinds of theories dehumanize the opposition and set them up for slaughter; similar, almost word-for-word, theories were used to this end in Nazi Germany and elsewhere against the Jews during centuries of murderous persecution in Europe.
Again, this was there before—and this epistemological dimension has been given repeated emphasis by BA, as well as a number of other scholars, writers, and others. But this has to a degree metastasized in this past period, including now with the stubborn insistence on something so obviously false—that Trump won the vote.
There is a further negative dimension to this controversy over the vote. Trump actually suffered his worst drop-off in vote totals relative to 2016 in the suburbs surrounding cities like Atlanta, Detroit, and Philadelphia; within the city of Philadelphia, he actually improved his performance, including according to some surveys with Black people. Yet all accusations of fraud have focused on the cities, which are disproportionately made up of Black and Latino people, rather than the suburbs, which are principally white.
Why? Because a core part of Trump’s particular twist on Christian fascism is what BA called a “genocidal racism” against all nonwhite people. Trump is further fortifying the racist orientation of the whole Republican Party and laying the basis for further attacks on the voting rights of nonwhite people, and in particular Black people.
In sum: This campaign by Trump is not just a way to mess with Biden, or a way to “get used to the idea that he lost” (as some have claimed), or even something which will do terrible damage to people here, and around the world, through dereliction and destruction around COVID and the environment, etc.—which it will. It is a further advance in hardening, expanding, and welding together the fascist movement—and that will have consequences for the years before us.
So, celebrate—and defend—the victory in the election. And think real hard about the consequences to come, and how to confront them and move forward through them to the world we need.
Your thoughts on this are welcome.
1. The only real instance of fraud that may have been uncovered is the accusation by the Republican secretary of state of Georgia, Brad Raffensperger, that Lindsay Graham, a Republican senator from South Carolina, suggested to him that he throw out all the mail-in ballots of Floyd County—a majority-Biden county, with a high percentage of Black voters—on the basis that some of them had defects in their ballot markings. Graham denies this, while two others who were on the call back Raffensperger. Note that Graham is not even a resident of Georgia, but of South Carolina. [back]