Posted January 13, 2021
January 13, 2021 — With the House of Representatives today debating an unprecedented second impeachment of a sitting President, this time with bipartisan support, fast-breaking events in the past week call for an update of our previous discussion of Grand Theft Election? It Could Happen Here.
Contrary to the typical pattern of a Trumpian outrage or incident of white-supremacist violence fading into the background noise, the aftermath of the January 6 mob assault on the Capitol has seen fast-breaking developments that focused popular as well elite attention on the extent of preparation and the enormity of what took place. The following points are only a brief interim followup.
1. The full reality of horrific violence and murderous intent of parts of the crowd have been exposed on video and in eyewitness accounts. Our previous article argued that this wasn’t properly an “insurrection” or “coup” — given the absence of either a mass popular movement or any support from the military or the state machinery. Yet many QAnon-intoxicated participants evidently thought they were involved in an “insurrection” with some mythical “plan” behind it, or a revolution, an even greater fantasy. Others were mainly innocent folks out for a rebellious, masculinist good time wandering the Capitol halls — hence those self-incriminating selfies, live-streamed videos and social media posts which are now a treasure trove for investigators.
2. More important, by some combination of organized intent and spontaneous mass hysteria, the assault morphed into a serious lynch mob that murdered one Capitol police officer, injured many others and went hunting for leading politicians of both parties, including Trump’s loyal enabler Mike Pence and his family. At the core of the action, with threats of more to come, are the network of neo-Nazi, white-nationalist and militia groups joined together under the banner of the Trump cult.
This is what finally became a bridge-too-far for the U.S. ruling class, speaking through its organs the big banks, major corporations and National Association of Manufacturers, after years of happily accepting the billions of dollars stuffed into their pockets by the Trump administration’s tax cut, deregulation and ecocide actions. Even Trump’s and his enablers’ never-ending lying Grand Theft Election games did not overly disturb them, until the January 6 assault brought the country face to face with the fragility of its “sacred” institutions.
That’s when much of corporate capital announced they’re cutting off the campaign contribution lifeline to Republicans who voted against certifying the Electoral College vote. And like a snowball rolling downhill, that triggered leading captains of the Republican ship to begin deserting the sinking presidential rat.
3. How could it have happened that the Capitol police were so severely underprepared for the assault, and that multiple appeals for the National Guard were rejected for hours? The possibility cannot be excluded that there was simple command incompetence, blindness and complacency, compounded by the vacuum of White House leadership as Trump sat glued to the televised coverage. But a serious investigation is required to determine whether there was active or passive complicity within the security forces in ignoring advance intelligence of the attack that had been prepared.
4. The violent mob attacks on police officers, as well as the revelations about armed white-supremacist forces and the direct incitement by Trump. Giuliani and several politicians, have forced the FBI and other investigative bodies to finally regard the events as the “domestic terrorism” (a contested and slippery, but descriptive term) threats that they actually are. The threat includes not only future armed “protests,” but the clear danger of bombings and assassinations. Belatedly, there will be real investigations and possibly dismantling of the Proud Boys, the Boogaloo Movement and other militia types.
In one regard, such revelations and investigations are essential and long overdue. On the other hand, the FBI and other state security institutions remain, as they’ve always been, the most serious ongoing dangers to democratic rights and civil liberties. The left and civil rights organizations must demand that the incoming Biden/Harris administration not allow the Capitol assault to trigger, as the right wing will surely advocate, even more surveillance and crackdown on anti-racist movements. This is as great, if not a greater, longterm menace as the violent right wing itself.
5. Similarly, the American Civil Liberties Union is quite correct in raising alarm over social media companies’ peremptory cutoff of Trump and others’ accounts. The obvious contradiction here is that yes, Trump’s tweets are a clear and present threat and emergency, but no, the Facebook/Google corporate empire cannot be entrusted with the mandate of determining where speech does or doesn’t cross the line into direct incitement of violence.
Whatever their origins as entrepreneurial startups, the social media giants should now be regarded as quasi-monopoly utilities that need to be under democratic control — in fact, nationalized, but short of that, carefully and accountably regulated with clear and transparent rules. This is a complex but urgent discussion!
6. The left must repudiate the sickening (bipartisan) rhetoric all around about the United States as “the shining city on the hill.” The “shining city” is the imperialist metropole dumping its garbage, raw sewage and toxic waste, figuratively and literally, onto the nations and people down the hill, including much of its own population.
Yes, Trump needs to be thrown out and prosecuted. But instead of joining this obscene celebration of “our democracy,” folks on the left and particularly socialists need to focus our demands on the Biden administration to confront the staggering social, economic and public health emergencies facing the U.S. population. That’s the only way that the appeal of white-nationalist false promises to white workers and middle-class people can be curbed.
7. It’s necessary to conclude here with one particular act of premeditated murder — the federal execution last night of Lisa Montgomery, even after one court had intervened to stay it due to her severe mental disabilities resulting from unspeakable childhood sexual violence. The last-minute resumption of federal executions is the final demonstration of the sadistic monstrosity of Donald Trump and his attorney general William Barr.
While this occurred the same day that 4400 people in the United States died of COVID due to Trump’s criminal negligence, the pure savagery of Lisa Montgomery’s execution stands out. The fact that Barr left the White House a few weeks ago and crawled back under his rock doesn’t change his guilt. This case will pursue Barr, along with Trump and all the rest who perpetrated it, to the gates of hell. Contrary to all the patriotic drivel, yes, all this is “who we really are.”