What Happened, Why…and What Must Be Done

Permalink: https://revcom.us/a/681/on-the-unprecedented-events-in-washington-dc-january-6-en.html

January 7, 2021 | revcom.us

Two huge things happened yesterday.

First, Donald Trump fomented a coup attempt. He summoned a mob to come to DC to protest on the day that Biden was officially to be certified by Congress as the next president. He stirred up that mob for over an hour, telling them to march to the Capitol to “show strength.” Then he sent the mob to Congress, and refused to even make a show of calling them off for hours. Waving their Confederate, American and Trump flags like battle-axes, some of them armed, they scaled the walls and broke the windows and rampaged almost untouched through the halls, terrorizing legislators and vandalizing offices. Their sole demand: that Donald Trump, who lost the election by a decisive margin, must nevertheless be illegally put into power for four more years.

Second, this coup attempt was beaten back. Senators and Congresspeople from both parties managed to come together to do what they were legally required to do—which was to approve the returns reported by all the states—returns which had already been certified and verified, recounted and litigated—and to take the second-to-the-last step in making Biden officially the president, with the inauguration on January 20 completing the process of the peaceful transfer of power.1

We should pause and ask ourselves what the scenes of broken windows and overturned furniture, howling mobs and cowering legislators and laissez-faire police, tell us about the extremity of the situation. Mainstream commentators are absolutely correct to say that this is unprecedented in modern times, and to reach back to the U.S. Civil War for anything to compare it to. But they do not in any way sufficiently talk about the depth of the conflicts that have given rise to such extreme expressions.

The Threat Is Not Over: Part I

Despite the defeat on Wednesday, this threat has not passed. First, Donald Trump is still in office. According to press reports, his own people in the White House say they are “fearful that Trump could take actions resulting in further violence and death if he remains in office even for a few days”; they talk of a “bunker mentality” and say that he continues to justify the actions of his followers on Wednesday. His mobs are still in the streets of DC—relatively few were arrested by the Capitol police.2 Other Trumpian mobs took to the streets in other cities.

But it’s much more than the mob. Nearly 150 Republican congresspeople, including the two leaders of the Republican delegation, along with seven Republican senators, STILL voted to illegally deprive Biden of office even after the mob had dispersed. An overnight poll cited in the Washington Post claimed that Republican voters surveyed favored the reactionary rampage by a 45% to 43% margin.

Both for these reasons—and for the more fundamental reason that to allow such a brazen attempt at a fascist coup must not go unpunished lest it set a precedent—Trump must be removed from office as soon as possible.

The Threat Is Not Over: Part 2

What happened on January 6 did not begin when Trump called for people to come to DC. It did not begin when Trump became president. It is bigger than Trump. It is deeper than Trump. It is more dangerous than Trump per se—even while Trump has played a critical role in exploiting these divides, and cohering and marshaling somewhat diverse fascist forces.

Why this happened and how this happened are gone into deeply in the work of Bob Avakian (BA), going as far back to the mid-1990s right down to today, analyzing the dynamics of the Trump regime and giving critical direction on how to fight it. If you want to seriously understand what we face—and what went down on Wednesday makes clear the life-and-death nature of such an understanding—you must engage this work.

In short, however, a fascist movement has been built up for over 40 years—one in which a whole section of the population almost literally lives in a different world where their understanding of reality is determined by the reactionary fantasies of Christian schools and fanatical churches, Fox News/talk-radio lunacy and conspiracy websites, etc. These people have been reinforced in their beliefs that the rights fought for and won by Black people and other oppressed nationalities pose a threat to them, or diminishes their standing. They are conditioned to perceive the challenges of women to the ways in which they are subordinated, or the recognition of the humanity of LGBTQ people, as something to be squashed. They have been taught to be xenophobic—to hate, or at least look with contempt on, people from other countries. They have been taught to worship the repressive arms of the state—the police and the army—and indeed many of these people are studded throughout those institutions. BA has pointed to the insight of Ron Reagan (the progressive son of the former [fascist] president Ronald Reagan), who remarked that why these people so closely identify with Trump is that he hates the same people they do.

What are some of the key underlying drivers of this overall, decades-long move toward fascism? The U.S. confronts unprecedented challenges around the world—the rise of China as an imperialist rival, the economic and social dislocations of the frenzied globalization of capitalist production, the growth of a vicious Islamic fundamentalism cohering opposition to imperialist domination but on a reactionary basis. In the face of that, driven by a different worldview and changes in U.S. society(including the changing ethnic composition), sections of the U.S. ruling class are—and have been—fighting for a more openly white supremacist and Christian-fascist reordering of U.S. society, as a cohering norm and to contend in a changing world situation.

In short, and as part of this, these fascists are fighting for a different form of rule, an openly dictatorial form in which those who have won some semblance of rights and dignity through bitter struggle under this form of capitalist rule are cast back into even more suffocating subordination, and those who resist, or who want to fight for a better, more just world, receive no rights but the prison cell, or worse.

Many commentators point to many elements on Wednesday—the racism, Trump’s megalomania (lunatic desire for power), the corruption and self-dealing, the terrorizing of opponents—and all these were clearly in play and on display. But at the heart of it—and what has yet to be fully confronted—is the fascism.

What Must Be Done

There is a real need to closely follow and answer the calls of Refuse Fascism in this period as they continue to lead struggle in different forms. This is critical and will be critical, not only until this immediate battle is fully resolved but to continue the struggle against fascism through the Biden administration. In the Name of Humanity, We Refuse to Accept a Fascist America.

At the same time, to reiterate what is said above—getting into BA—really digging into a scientific analysis of where this fascism came from, the threat it poses, and most of all, the way to get beyond a cycle of bouncing between one or another form of an imperialist rule that crushes, suffocates and murders people all over the world (even while fascism is more monstrous and grotesque, posing existential threats to humanity). This right now is decisive to not just defeating fascism, but the urgently necessary work of actually emancipating humanity and averting ecological catastrophe—now, and in the days and years to come.

1. Through key points, a grouping of those who have previously cooperated, even slavishly cooperated, with Trump (people like VicePresident Mike Pence and Republican Senate leader Mitch McConnell) came down decisively against this move. To these forces, what Trump had been demanding—the overturning of the election results—would create and heighten conflicts within the U.S. and would overall “present a picture” that would be way too damaging to U.S. “standing” around the world in their deadly economic, political and military competition with other imperialist powers. These people are fascists—but they were not ready to stake the whole future of their project on the immediate fate of Donald Trump.  [back]

2. Adding to the outrage, some of those pigs took selfies with members of the mob, along with other forms of approval and even cooperation—a stark comparison to the brutality visited upon demonstrators against racism and police brutality just a few months ago.  [back]


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