Socialist Core/UIT-CI. 15/1/2021
On January 6, a mob of hundreds of right-wing extremists took over the Capitol, interrupting the formal ratification of the presidential election result by the Senate. Hundreds of armed fanatics occupied the building for several hours and forced the senators to flee. The attack left five dead, including a policeman and an attacker shot by the police.
Trump had been maneuvering since before the election to ignore an adverse result, questioning the validity of the postal votes. Then, when he lost the election, he spent weeks trying to reverse the result in the courts, stirring up allegations of fraud, even pressuring Georgia’s Secretary of State to commit fraud or Vice President Pence not to proclaim Biden the winner. A significant number of Republican congressmen and senators participated in these maneuvers and the questioning the elections. On January 6, Trump addressed the gathering of far-right fanatics from a platform and urged them to go to the Capitol to support Republican Senators and Congressmen who objected to the election result and to pressure those who were undecided or opposed to contesting the election.
The attack on Capitol Hill is a symptom of the depth of the crisis of the U.S. capitalist political regime.
It reflects an increasingly extreme political and social polarization, in the context of the biggest economic and health crisis in over a hundred years. The January 6 attack is very serious because it represents an increase in the ultra-right’s confidence, fed by the impunity that the authorities have long given them in their criminal actions, and directly by Trump’s agitation.
The cries from the establishment politicians about the fundamentally «anti-American» condition of theÂ January 6 attack are displays of hypocrisy. U.S. history is full of precedents, all kinds of «pogroms» in which gangs of racists have attacked local governments, workers’ organizations, and African-American communities. And internationally, countless far-right criminal groups have received funding and political support from U.S. imperialism.
Naturally, the action has been reversed against Trump. Biden and the Democrats, as well as numerous media outlets, have called the attack an insurrection or coup d’état. The action by the extreme right was a desperate move by Trump, defeated electorally and politically, not with the aim of taking state power, but to consolidate his extreme right-wing social base as part of the dispute for the leadership of the Republican party. But the attempt to discipline the party to Trump’s leadership deepened the divisions. Mike Pence and Mitch McConnell did not go along with his adventure, and even some congressmen and senators backed away from disputing the election. Actually, no sector of the armed forces participated in the action, nor was there a call for the armed forces to intervene, there was no attempt to form a de facto government or by the fascists to entrench themselves in the Capitol and call for a widespread insurrection. There are no signs of an insurrectionary or coup strategy. On a more structural level, no major sector of the bourgeoisie is pursuing a strategy of liquidating the existing regime to carry out a counter-revolution and impose a dictatorship.
On January 11, a process of impeachment was begun against Trump for inciting an insurrection, approved two days later by the Congress, which if successful would prevent him from being able to stand as a candidate in the 2024 presidential election. There have also been calls for Vice President Mike Pence to apply the 25th Amendment and remove Trump. However, the impeachment would be almost symbolic in face of the gravity of Trump’s crimes.
The regime’s collusion with the ultra-right
From his relationship with Bannon up to the current ties of his advisor Steve Miller and his son Donald Jr. to fascist groups, Trump has made no secret of his sympathy for fascist-leaning organizations. In the face of the attack by fascists in Charlottesville, Trump greeted them as «good people”. During a presidential debate, he urged the paramilitary Proud Boys to «stand back and stand by”. He criminalized anti-fascism. In the heat of his agitation, extreme right-wing mobilizations were held in November and December in Washington, D.C. On January 6 itself, forced to call on his legionnaires to withdraw, Trump reiterated his «love» for them. But it’s not just about Trump. The entire Republican Party has considered this extreme right-wing constellation, which ranges from fanatical evangelicals to neo-Nazis, including groups of white supremacists, to be important political capital.
Some of them now pretend to be as horrified as Dr. Frankenstein at his creation, but are co-responsible with Trump for feeding the monster. While the Democratic Party has demonstrated its inability to deal with this dangerous phenomenon, its interest has constantly revolved around reaching agreements with the Republicans. Both parties, in spite of their differences, represent the bankers and multinationals. That is why after his election, Biden’s speech has emphasized «reconciliation».
Various press reports show that the FBI had already warned of the threat posed by the reactionary mobilization since at least the end of December, but no operation was organized to prevent the fascists from taking the Capitol. On the day of the attack, very few arrests were made. Members of the Secret Service, Homeland Security, the D.C. government, the Pentagon, the National Guard, the Joint Task Force, had spoken to the press about the threat, but did nothing. In the face of outrageous incompetence, suspected of complicity, the Capitol Police Chief was forced to resign. Obviously the presidency did not coordinate any defensive action, and Homeland Security is also flagged for complicity.
The contrast could not be greater between the authorities’ treatment of the ultra-right-wing groups and the anti-racist protests of the summer of 2020. During those protests, there were about 14,000 people arrested between the murder of George Floyd on May 25 and the first week of June. Hundreds of journalists were attacked by the police, dozens of protesters were killed. To this day, hundreds of political prisoners linked to the protests remain in jail. In total, some 100,000 national guards and military personnel from other components were deployed to attack the protests. The scale of the repression was not greater because Trump’s attempt to militarize the country failed due to lack of support in the armed forces.
Ultra-right groups are already organizing new attacks for January 17 in Minnesota and Michigan. Paramilitaries had already taken over Michigan’s capitol in April with denialist speeches regarding the pandemic, and planned to kidnap Michigan’s governor in October.
Prospects for the Biden Administration
The illusions in «going back to normal» that some of those who voted for Biden harbor, or that there can be positive changes for working people, migrants, or the anti-racist movement, will crash against reality. Biden is a traditional politician who already governed alongside Obama and was co-responsible for the austerity programs implemented during the 2007-2008 crisis. He also promoted repressive legislation and mass imprisonment, as did Kamala Harris. It was in that old «normality» that all the elements of the current crisis were incubated and that facilitated Trump’s rise.
Biden, with control of both houses, will show once again that the Democratic Party governs in favor of the capitalists, the multinationals, the bankers, and that it does not defend the interests of African-Americans, Latinos, women, the working class and other exploited and marginalized sectors. The economic and social crisis is at a peak. More than 385,000 people have died because of Trump’s criminal and denialist policy in the face of the pandemic. Millions have lost their jobs and are threatened by misery. Health care is largely privatized, but Biden has no intention of changing that.
The threat from the far right will continue. The various Democratic and Republican governments and the institutions of the capitalist state have had no interest in destroying that movement, as was demonstrated once again during the attack on the Capitol. Nor do the Biden administration and the Democrats intend to destroy it. They have always let racist repression and the actions of ultra-right-wing groups run rampant. The AFL-CIO union bureaucracy, linked to the Democratic Party, rejected the attack on the Capitol but took no action to prepare the unions to respond. Only mobilization from below can stop the ultra-right.
A proposal for unity
It is up to the anti-racist movement, the popular sectors, the working class rank and file, the women, the youth, to put up a powerful front that will put the fascists in retreat. Experiences like the one in Boston in August 2017, when thousands of protesters pushed back a few hundred fascists, or the powerful Black Lives Matter movement itself have shown that with mass mobilization you can gain ground and take the streets away from the ultra-right. Just as the Greek people defeated the Golden Dawn neo-Nazis, so too can the American working people defeat impunity.
But this united mobilization will also be necessary to confront the anti-popular policy of the future Biden government. With a «democratic» and «anti-Trump» makeup they will continue to favor the big businessmen and bankers who financed them.
It is urgent to call a national meeting of popular organizations under the leadership of Black Lives Matter, community organizations, workers, women and the left, to advance towards a common program of demands and an agenda for mobilization. Against the ultra-right and also for social and economic demands on the new government in the face of the brutal economic, social and health crisis. The Democratic Socialists (DSA) have the responsibility to help build this united front of struggle.
These are some initial proposals for the democratic discussion of a unitary program:
– De-financing of the police and jail for the racist killer cops.
– Freedom for political prisoners of the anti-racist movement and the BLM protests.
– An end to the policy of mass incarceration. An end to the privatization of prisons. Closure of ICE immigrant concentration camps.
– No to Democrats’ attempts to use the attack on the Capitol to promote new legal instruments to restrict the right to protest.
– Trial and punishment for Trump and the fascist leaders for their role in the criminal attack on Jan. 6 and other criminal attacks. No more impunity for ultra-right violence.
– Free and universal public health care.
– Increase of the minimum wage to $15 per hour and a universal basic income until the end of the crisis.
– Equal pay for equal work for men and women.
– High taxes on the big economic groups and banks. That this money and the money from cuts in police budgets go to education, health and social assistance.
– No to voter suppression, which disproportionately affects African American, Latino and Indigenous communities. No to gerrymandering.
– No to the electoral college. Direct elections, one person-one vote. Proportional representation in Congress and the abolition of the Senate.
We know these are not easy tasks. But massive and coordinated mobilization nationwide can open the path to change.
Calling a national meeting would be a big step in coordinating the struggles. The other great pending task is the need to build a unitary political alternative of the left outside the bipartisanship. It is necessary to overcome the existing division in the anti-capitalist left. It would be very important that the Democratic Socialists (DSA), which is the largest organization on the left, be part of this construction. They should take the step of breaking with the Democratic Party. It is necessary to advance towards the construction of a broad, unitary and independent party of the left. The fundamental changes can only be carried out by a government of the whole working class and the exploited and oppressed sectors.