By: Ashley Smith, socialist activist and writer, member of the DSA and the Tempest Collective.
1. What happened. Trump incited a mob of far right and fascist goons to sack the capitol building in DC. This was planned for several weeks. The protest drew several thousand if not over ten thousand and was coordinated with actions in several state capitals throughout the country numbering from a few dozen to hundreds. This marks the emergence of a new fascist right in the country.
2. This is not a coup, but a pathetic, failed putsch organized by the far right that was put down relatively quickly. It was greenlit by Trump and his inner circle. But it was uniformly condemned by capitalist class (NAM, Chamber of Commerce, CEOs of every major corporation, as well as Twitter and Facebook, which shut down Trump’s accounts), both political parties, the leadership of the military and police, and by the bourgeois media. The capitalist class, its various representatives, and repressive apparatuses united against it, and shut it down. Soon thereafter Congress reconvened to confirm Biden. Unsurprisingly, the stock markets throughout the world rallied with relief that a new administration will restore business as usual (at least they hope).
3. The sacking of the capitol could only happen with the collusion of the administration and police. Compare the police response to the far right’s open threat of violence to their response to BLM protests across the country. When confronted by the right, the cops took selfies and shook hands with the fascists. When BLM marched in DC and elsewhere it was met with police state repression. Imagine if BLM had marched on the capitol building. People would have been gunned down in mass numbers. The extent of the collusion remains unclear. Clearly the administration leadership did not lift a hand to mobilize security for the capitol building and Trump encouraged the assault. Regardless of whether there was coordination it should come as no surprise that the police used kid gloves with the fascists. The highest concentration of pro-Trump sentiment is among the police and ICE and they are therefore predisposed to glad hand the Nazis.
4. The state mobilized its forces to quell the protests once it became clear that it was a threat to the political establishment. Both political parties, the DC Mayor, and the business establishment made sure of that. The National Guard was mobilized from Maryland and Virginia and the police from DC. They carried out arrests of dozens and the dispersal of the protests. Order was restored and Biden’s election was confirmed with even arch Trumpite Lindsay Graham rallying to support the validation of the results.
5. These events will have the following political results. It will backfire for Trump in the immediate aftermath. The capitalist class, political establishment, and security/military/police apparatus will back the confirmation of Biden to restore business as usual at home and
imperial credibility abroad (this was an enormous blow to US soft power). They will consider invocation of the 25th amendment, impeachment, and legal prosecution before he leaves office and further action after he leaves office. They must underscore that the state remains invincible.
6. The bourgeoisie and its political representatives will call for increased powers for its military and police to surveil, arrest and detain “extremists.” They will do so nominally to arrest and prosecute the fascists. But the main target of the repression will be Black people, immigrants, Muslims, the left, and unions.
7. None of these actions will stop Trumpism and its fascist current from growing. They emerged from yesterday’s actions, despite the fact that some will be arrested, prosecuted and jailed, emboldened and confident. They believe that they are protecting their rights against a government under Biden that is illegitimate. They have the foundations for even greater growth. The right has a media infrastructure (QAnon etc), organizations like the Proud Boys, and networks throughout the country capable of calling coordinated actions. That said, they are still small and vastly outnumbered by our side if it was mobilized. Remember, 26 million people marched this summer in BLM protests. Only some 15,000 marched across the country yesterday. But, if unopposed, their ranks will swell. The conditions that generated their rise—a crisis in the lives of the petty bourgeoisie caused by the failures of neoliberalism, pandemic shutdowns of their small businesses, and those businesses’ failure amidst the recession—will only grow more acute in the coming months and years. The right will therefore become a clear, present, and dangerous threat to workers and the oppressed.
8. Trump along with his inner circle and GOP minions cast their lot with the far right and fascists yesterday. Trump had had a choice to opt for capitalizing on his presidency to make money or become the Fuhrer of a new fascist movement. Now, utterly isolated in the ruling class and political establishment, he has no choice but to choose the latter. Some in the GOP will follow him, most will not. But Trump remains popular with about 40 percent of the population—regardless of what happened yesterday–and has the basis to build an alternative to the GOP, which is disowning him now. Will the GOP split? Will a new far right party around Trump form? Both of these are now possibilities, despite being unthinkable before. Trump ironically could be the unintentional vehicle for a very dirty break from the Republican Party.
9. Biden will move to the right to embrace the GOP that rallied to his confirmation and carry out bipartisan rule to “unite the country and restore order.” That was always his plan and he will do so even more now. He will try to overcome the pandemic, try and restore capitalist functioning, and rehabilitate US imperialism to compete with China. He will be hard pressed to succeed on that front and will be militantly opposed by Trump and the far right, which will regard his government as illegitimate.
10. Liberals will rally behind bipartisan capitalist unity and state repression to deal with the
fascist threat. Yesterday there was an utter law and order consensus articulated by both parties, police authorities (especially DC’s former Black Chief of Police Ramsey), and the media especially CNN which was rooting for police deployment to suppress the right. The liberal forces will not resist this turn to law and order because they see the state, not mass anti-fascist action, as the key to dealing with the right. They will therefore be even less critical of Biden than before.
11. Socialists must chart a different course. We must not support the bourgeois establishment, the new Biden administration, and their state repression at home and imperial reassertion abroad. Instead, we must rally our forces to build anti-fascist united fronts everywhere to confront the right in large numbers and drive them off the streets. And, just as importantly, we must redouble our efforts to build an activist socialist alternative that fights independently of the Democrats for demands that will address the multiple crises of the capitalist system: a Green New Deal; Medicare for All; $15 and Union; Defund the Police; Abolish ICE; and Massive Cuts to the War Budget.
12. We must aggressively argue for the reorientation of the socialist left especially DSA from its overwhelmingly electoral focus toward organizing struggle from below, especially BLM and workplace struggles. We are in the midst of the deepest crises (yes plural) of the capitalist system since the 1930s. These will continue to stoke profound polarization within countries, waves of class and social struggles, and greater conflict between capitalist states in the hierarchy of global imperialism. Out of this a new socialist left will be born and take organizational form. We must do everything in our power to arm it with revolutionary socialist ideas, strategies and tactics.