What once might have seemed like a radical situation, far removed from our everyday reality, aligned itself with our own experiences of living through a dangerous pandemic.
On Wednesday 6th January, an array of far-right protestors stormed the US Capitol, breaking into the Senate Chamber, leading to the evacuation of Congress and the deaths of multiple people. It is hard to look at these events, even from a distance, and not see them as a depiction of something simultaneously obscure, significant and rotting.
With white supremacist fascists assualting a white supremacist fascist state, we must understand what is occurring in the details: that the alliance between Trump-styled fascists and bourgeois politicians of the old order is fracturing, and civil society is breaking apart. It is easy to assume that this comes as a direct response to the US election, and indeed that is the overt justification and catalyst. But we cannot forget the context that goes beyond any election or figure: that the fabric of American capitalism and neoliberalism is in decay, with the strands of capitalist alliances and society fraying from one another.
It is being said by liberal pundits that “this is not what America is about'', that this is “a dark day for a beacon of democracy”. Having white supremacist fascists in the Senate Chambers is not a change but a direct continuation. The breakage here is the way that they got in the room ― they did not need votes, they just walked in. They did not need the pretence of democracy but sheer force. This is an amalgamation of Trump’s presidency, who pulled at the civil society, the norms, the dominant ideas of “how society should be”, that allow the capitalist state to function in its interests and suppress the working classes. This attempted seizing of power amounts to a further uprooting of the ideas of “democracy” and “order” which serve the material function of entrenching power. US democracy has always been a lie, a pretence that allows their capitalist class to dominate their own population without opposition and export violence across the world for greater exploitation. At the heart of this event, and the various fascistic groups from “Stop the Steal” to QAnon, is an intention to replace an old order, one that inflicts its violence upon working and oppressed people, with one that kills us quicker.
As fascistic powers have stumbled electorally, old bourgeois liberalism has attempted to reassert itself, leading to ruptures in their relationship. Both Democrats and Republicans have drawn closer and away from the Trump-led fascistic movement, cashing in on his spiralling position and thus cutting off Trump’s by-the-book road to the Presidency. The political differences between these parties have always been minimal as both represent the capitalist class. They might sometimes represent different sections of that class, such as different industries or methods, but the fundamental interests are the same. The relationship between these parties has always been one of amicable rivalry rather than fundamental conflict. Trump has never been fully integrated with the Republicans. As shown with this attack, he primarily mobilisés the petit bourgeoisie, the lower ranks of military and intelligence services, farmers and american manufacturers (who have notably now switched their allegiance); these class dimensions represent different interests to the big bourgeoisie, financier capitalists and technology monopolists that the Republicans and Democrats naturally align with. Trump has been slowly abandoned over recent weeks as he has scrambled to find avenues of power to hold onto; the GOP has rallied with the Democrats. We have seen this type of division before. In Britain, Brexit has been the epitome of divisions in the bourgeois class, between a borderline-to-outright fascistic Leave campaign to a liberal, bourgeois Remain campaign. Like Republicans and Democrats, they differ on method, but their task and outcomes are the same: to defend and expand capitalism, at any cost to the rest of us.
Mike Pence and Mitch McConnell, the two most senior Republicans other than Trump and undoubtedly competent politickers, have both refused to back him in recent weeks before and after the storming of the Capitol, followed by multiple resignations from Trump’s cabinet and staff. McConnell in particular is significant: his position as the Senate Majority Leader, and presumptive most-senior Republican during a Biden Presidency, suddenly holds a lot less influence. This is because he has become the presumptive Senate Minority Leader, after Democrats won both seats in the Georgia Senate run-off election held that same day (and understandably forgotten about amidst the chaos). Epitomising the changing alliances, the rocking of the boat has led McConnell to jump ship to what he understands as safer, more familiar ground. There is no doubt that his alliance with the fascistic elements of the GOP was no struggle for him; again, his difference with them is primarily tactical wherein he is willing to play the longer, patient, institutional game,. These types of Republicans, the majority of the Party machine, have been seeing the way that things are falling in institutional terms, and are looking to build a Republican Party beyond Trump to defend the old bourgeois structures that have served them well. And indeed, Trump’s second speech — a scripted attempt at peace by deriding the protests and confirming his intention was always to accept the election result — along with his suspension from Twitter shows that his authority is only getting weaker.
Symbolised most by the attempted bombing of Republican Party Headquarters, fascism is created by bourgeois liberalism and nonetheless seeks to smash and replace it. Its forces were not powerful enough to do so on Wednesday. That is not to say they will not be in the future.
With the waned support of the political class, the fascist movement will reconfigure itself around the strongest alliance it has: that with the police. This was embodied in this week’s attempt on the Capitol, when pigs were seen taking selfies with fascists. They were filmed actively letting in the “patriots” (and indeed they represent the US fairly), offering none of the opposition that would and has been deployed against far less volatile but left-wing protests. The police are naturally loyal to the capitalist state, but they have proven to be more specifically supportive of Trump, such as in the fact that every policing organisation endorsed him for President. It is primarily not personal, but political: as the pigs aligned with and populated fascist groups in the past, they would continue their support even without Trump as the figurehead. And despite what we are told about the policeman, a “humble family man looking to help out”, this fascistic sympathy makes sense with the reality of who they are. Whilst police serve to defend the private property of the capitalist class, a Trump Presidency and emboldening white supremacy allows them to go on the offensive. Fascism takes the violent, white supremacist impulses trained into cops by the bourgeois state, and welcomes them into the daylight.
The response, therefore, must be inherently abolitionist. We do not bother to critique the pigs for their lack of opposition to the fascists, for we see no distinction in these groups that are fundamentally aligned in their interests. Nor do we accept law and order from any capitalist — not from Biden or Trump, nor Labour or Tory. We do not support demands on the bourgeois legal system to designate the protestors as terrorists, as doing so only buys into the anti-Black and islamophobic structure of counter-terrorism itself, and centres the individuals in the room and not the structures that put them there. The abolitionist answer is clear: we respond to fascism with a united front of those who oppose it, and led by the revolutionary classes who know that in defeating fascism we can similarly defeat liberalism. As the fascists know well, now blaming anti-fascists for the Capitol attack, both fascism and liberalism are the enemies of communists.
The protestors claimed this as a moment of revolution, where the traitors in Congress were made scared and accountable. That is no revolution. The revolution of the masses will not be about loyalty to a sham democracy for love of a country, but the betterment of working people for love of each other. The socialist revolution will not be surrounded by the marble walls of the Capitol or Westminster, but on the streets of our communities. And it will not be in defence of some individual’s grip on office and his desire to expand the violence of capitalism ever wider, but in the defence of working and oppressed people and the expansion of our liberation into every aspect of society. This is a revolution, and it is coming.