by Davey Heller, January 3rd 2021
January 6th 2021, is shaping up to be a dark day in US history. Since the election of November 3rd, the revolutionary Left with a few commendable exceptions has failed to organise any counter response to Trump’s efforts to overturn the election. However, the forces of fascism have not been idle. Day after day they have been crawling over social media, organising two large demonstrations in Washington and managing to convince tens of millions of Americans that the election has been stolen. Now these events seem to be heading towards a crescendo. On December 19th, the President summoned his supporters tweeting “Big protest in D.C. on January 6th. Be there, will be wild”. It can be expected that at least tens of thousands of “patriots” will be in Washington outside Congress on the day it certifies the electoral college votes, determined to launch a last stand to save their Fuhrer and “save the Republic”. Inside the chambers, whilst Trump does not have the numbers to overturn the vote, there will be enough Republicans cooperating with his coup attempts to create chaos. Two weeks before the supposed inauguration of Biden, it is hard to imagine a more febrile political atmosphere. It is no wonder that reports have surfaced that senior military figures are on “red alert” for unrest and a possible coup. The stage is set for a fascist provocation that could be a combination of Mussolini’s march on Rome and the EuroMaiden provocations in Ukraine. All the while, as stated, the Left sits on the side-lines leaving the defence of democratic rights up to Joe Biden or perhaps the military.
After November 3rd, the anti-Trump faction of the ruling class via the corporate press has been doing their best to ignore reality and pretend we just went through a normal bourgeois electoral cycle, you know, where one major party wins and the other loses. However, this illusion has been harder to maintain by the day. Trump signalled months before the election he had no intention of accepting an electoral loss and transferring power peacefully. He would have been happy to win the election outright of course but when this didn’t happen he just activated a long standing plan to try and overturn the election. The ‘Plan B’ activated was the legal strategy. It was of course hoped that a flurry of cases would result in at least one case reaching the Trump appointee dominated Supreme Court allowing for a judicial coup as occurred with George W Bush in 2000. Whilst that failed, the court cases however became the major vehicle for popularising the outlandish conspiracy theories of “foreign” communist interference via voting machine software and unsubstantiated claims of destruction of ballots and massive mail-in fraud, etc… The failed cases have also had a radicalising impact on Trump’s base. From their perspective it is now clear that even the Supreme Court is involved in the dastardly conspiracy being waged against Trump and the US constitution. Trump has built on ordinary peoples understandable and justifiable lack of faith in bourgeois democracy and directed all of this rage behind himself. First it was institutions like the “fake news” media who were the enemies of the people. Now it is clear from their perspective that the electoral system and the judicial system must be added to that list. The only thing they can now trust is Trump himself!
‘Plan C’ was always available to Trump but was not his favoured option. This was the activation of the fascist movement he has been building since launching his Presidential campaign five years ago through countless tweets, MAGA rallies and via a vast eco-system of far right online media. We saw this with the “Million MAGA march” on Nov 14th, which saw tens or perhaps hundreds of thousands descend on Washington. That time Trump did a ‘drive by’ of the rally. A month later, a smaller but more violent rally occurred in Washington, again welcomed publicly by Trump. This time he flew over the gangs of Proud Boys and white Supremacists in his Presidential helicopter. Hours later these same gangs were stabbing people and in a little tribute to the KKK and ‘Kristallnacht’ – burnt Black Lives Matters signs ripped down from Black churches.
With his tweet on December 19th, Trump took this strategy to a qualitatively different level. This time he wasn’t just going to welcome the demonstrations or give them tacit endorsement. He has personally summoned the fascist MAGA movement using his full authority and status as POTUS. This was the moment that Trump has officially told his far right supporter base that the time to “stand back and stand by” is over – it’s time to act. As a former Homeland Security and counter-terrorism advisor to Mike Pence stated in regards to the 6th of January “This is what he does. He tweets, he incites it, he gets his followers and supporters to behave in this manner and these people think they’re being patriotic because they’re supporting Donald Trump.”
Resurgent fascism in the US, like in other countries such as Germany, is not an organic “from ground up” phenomena but carefully nurtured by sections of intelligence representing a faction of the ruling class. Figures such as Erik Prince, Machiavellian operators like Stephen Bannon and Roger Stone are funded and directed by billionaires like the Mercers who are actively engaged in the conspiracy. US Imperialism via the CIA and other intelligence agencies has been perfecting the art of regime change and the use of fascist and dictatorial forces in countries like Chile for decades. We are witnessing these techniques being brought home to the heart of the empire.
This dynamic can be seen clearly in the manner that the decentralised organising for the “March for Trump” is being funded and facilitated. Professional websites such as www.trumpmarch.com and Wild Protest have sprung up. Slick videos are being shared on social media online with imagery supporting the rally. The clips have been shared and watched tens of thousands of times on Twitter alone. Many of these videos share the same fascist, militaristic motifs – suggesting a common source. One of the leaders of the Proud Boys, Enrique Tarrio, who visited Trump at the Whitehouse on the day the last MAGA march happened in Washington, was previously flown on a private jet to the first November MAGA march in Washington.
The canny fascists, the Mercers – who funded Cambridge Analytica and Breitbart news are now helping to fuel the movement to overturn the election via social media. The fascist wing of the ruling class have not sat on their hands in response to the use of the tech giants Facebook, Google and Twitter to “deplatform” them. It was recently revealed that the Mercers helped fund the relatively new social media Parler, which has become a hub of activity around the “stolen election” and gained millions of new users since November 3rd. Trump is actively using his Twitter account to encourage people to leave Twitter and Facebook for some of these new platforms. Given that even Fox News has censored Trump since the election such a strategy has taken on increased importance in terms of sustaining the MAGA movement.
The feverish social-media activity promoting the narrative of the stolen election, which is literally now believed by tens of millions of Americans, is a demonstration that what was once fringe far-right politics has now moved to take over the Republican Party base as a whole. The narrative popularised by the Q Anon account that Trump is standing up to to a cabal of “deep state” globalists involved in corruption and child abuse has moved mainstream. One of the key tenets of the anti-Semitic, evangelical, fascist world view of “Q” is that Trump, aided by a group of ‘Patriots’, is just waiting for the right time to launch “the storm” which will involve the declaration of martial law and a purge of all the “traitors” in Washington and a round up of the “radical left’. This thinly-veiled, recycled Nazi propaganda is now informing the movement around the ‘Stop the steal’ protests. General Mike Flynn, who has pronounced that he has taken an oath of loyalty to Q has been pardoned, brought into the Whitehouse for meetings and publicly encouraged Trump to declare martial law in order to rerun the election in the swing states. Just as coronavirus is ripping tragically through the US population, the Q narrative is also running rampant now through the consciousness of the US conservative movement.
Trump himself is openly tweeting such conspiracy theories. On December 24th, he tweeted a particularly deranged video made by a journalist associated with the Epoch Times. The Epoch Times is a publication of the Chinese Falun Gong sect that has become a major promoter of Trump – who it sees as an ally against the Chinese Communist Party. In the video, which is the second of a series tweeted by Trump, it lays out the conspiracy that in- fact the media, Democrats, the Deep State and the elite are all working with or controlled by the CCP to steal the election! The videos, like so much of the far-right propaganda around the election is saturated in the imagery of ‘1776’ and fighting to prevent the “end of the Republic”. In the context of US politics these are thinly veiled calls for armed insurrection. Which brings us back to what will happen on the 6th of January? The thousands of Trump supporters marching on Congress will be at a fever pitch politically.
The determination of Trump and his faction to continue to overturn the election both inside the Republican Party and on the streets has a logic and is building to a climax. When and how this will play out between now and the 20th of January is extremely unstable and unpredictable. However Trump and MAGA are not the first time that capitalism has staked its last card on fascism. There are some previous examples of fascists seizing power that may be illustrative of some of the possibilities.
In 1922, the world’s first fascist movement took power in Rome under the strongman Mussolini. Italy was in the grip of violent class-struggle and a fascist movement was developed to stop Italy going the same way as Russia. In October 1922, in a show of force, 30,000 Blackshirts, which were the Italian fascist paramilitaries, marched into Rome. Fearing a civil war and using the march as a pretext, the Italian bourgeoisie (ruling class) installed Mussolini in power legally, just as Hitler was handed the keys to power in 1933 in Germany through legal methods.
Trump’s ‘Blackshirts’ are organised in a more decentralised manner than Mussolini’s – however the purpose of assembling outside the Congress on January 6th is similar. It is plain and simple, a show of force. It is meant as an act of intimidation against the working class as a whole and against Trump’s ruling class opponents which includes not just the Democrats but any section of the Republican Party not yet totally loyal to him.
In a creepy parallel, Proud Boys leader Tarrio recently posted on Parler the following, “The Proud Boys will turn out in record numbers on Jan 6th but this time with a twist…We will not be wearing our traditional Black and Yellow. We will be incognito and we will spread across downtown DC in smaller teams. And who knows….we might dress in all BLACK for the occasion. The night calls for a BLACK tie event ”
It needs to be noted that some Marxists insist that the fascist threat from the Proud Boys, Militias and armed MAGA/ Q supporters is not as dangerous as the Black Shirts or Hitler’s Brown Shirts as they are not centrally organised into a formal paramilitary army. This, however ignores the way that political organising has changed largely due to the internet. Whether it be progressive working-class movements like the Arab Spring or the recent General Strikes in Chile, the internet is a powerful tool for mass mobilisations. However, it’s not just the Left who has access to the internet. The far-right also can coalesce its forces using social media and secure chat-platforms. The far-right also has the advantage of course, that when they mobilise they are not opposed by the “armed bodies of men” of the state but are instead supported by them. In the case of the US, they are supported by the still serving President.
Another potential parallel for the 6th of January was the Maiden protests in the Ukraine in 2014 where protests led by fascist thugs confronted the Ukrainian Government. The decisive political blow against the Ukrainian Government was when snipers opened fire on anti-government protestors. The Maiden protests were not only led by fascists but were also backed by the ‘black hands’ of the US and German Intelligence who wanted the Ukrainian Government overthrown and replaced with a pro-Western/anti-Russian one. On 20th February, 4 police officers and 48 protestors were killed. Who actually started the shooting and indeed who was responsible for shooting the protestors and police – remains contested. There are theories the shooting was orchestrated by the fascist/ Western opposition. Either way, after the shooting the Ukrainian Government soon fell and the forces of reaction have ruled Ukraine ever since – resulting in a bloody civil war. A similar event preceded the attempted coup against Chavez in 2002 in Venezuala when 18 anti-Chavez protestors were killed by unidentified gunmen.
Could such an event happen on the 6th in Washington? What would occur if a group of armed protestors attempted to enter Congress and were shot and killed? What if ‘unidentified gunmen’ attack the MAGA crowds. Any such murky event could be quickly seized upon by Trump and his hand-picked officials at the Pentagon to use the Insurrection Act to unleash the military onto the street, just as Trump threatened to do against Black Live Matters protests earlier last year.
Of course all of this is supposition, so what can be said with certainty at this point? Trump has given no indication before or since the election he will leave office peacefully. He now has tens of millions of Americans believing the election was stolen and the fate of the Republic hangs in the balance. He is now directly calling out the most extreme elements of his supporters onto the streets. Trump is also creating chaos within Congress on the 6th with the cooperation of an unknown number of Republican Congressman who will vote to reject certification of the Electoral College results. Trump is not only backed by a fascist section of the ruling class including elements of the police, military and intelligence – he still has all the formal powers of the Presidency until January 20th. Lastly, and perhaps most devastatingly the Left and the working class remain on the sidelines while this crisis escalates. There are no mass mobilisations planned for the 6th to demand Trump leaves office. No delegations of Trade Unions organised into defence committees to protect protestors. Except for a few brave individuals and groups, the sad reality is that on the 6th Jan when the thugs chant “Whose streets, Our streets” they will be largely correct. The Democrat Party of course does not want to mobilise the working-class, as it fears them far more than fascism. So whilst no predictions can be made to the exact nature of events that will transpire on the 6th, one can say clearly and loudly – that the danger of a fascist provocation is real and if it occurs, it will come as a deep shock to the working class.
Of course this political crisis does not occur in a vacuum. US Imperialism continues its reckless encirclement of Russia and China. The US empire has for decades now, tried to offset its declining economic power with increasingly bloody and reckless military actions. Trump is even now threatening war against Iran, which if launched, could add to his ability to derail the election. The US, like the rest of the globe is also facing a Climate Crisis with record wild fires occurring in California earlier this year, giving a taste of the chaos ahead. Economically, whilst Trump crows about the record high stock-market, these highs have only been sustained by bailing out the debt of corporate America to levels that threaten to once again crash the whole economy. The US and global economy and profit levels had not recovered from the 2007-2008 Global Financial Crisis even before the shocks of COVID-19 shutdowns in 2020. Now, tens of millions of Americans stare down hunger and eviction. Perhaps, most shocking and traumatic of it all, is that the US is in the grip of its worst health crisis since 1918 with an almost unimaginable death toll from COVID–19 accelerating. Seventy-seven thousand Americans died in the last month of 2020 from COVID-19, resulting from Trump’s criminal pursuit of “herd immunity” in order to protect the profits of Wall Street. It is no coincidence that the first major mobilisations of fascist militias in 2020 were aimed at intimidating Democrat State Governors into ending the limited COVID-19 shutdowns that were initially implemented.
The combination of these multiple crisies brings to mind the words of Leon Trotsky, the great Russian Revolutionary from 1929:
“By analogy with electrical engineering, democracy might be defined as a system of safety switches and circuit breakers for protection against currents overloaded by the national or social struggle. No period of human history has been—even remotely—so overcharged with antagonisms such as ours… Under the impact of class and international contradictions that are too highly charged, the safety switches of democracy either burn out or explode. That is what the short circuit of dictatorship represents.”
On October 13th, classconscious.org published a call out for a United Front against Fascism. It began:
“Two facts are now clear. Firstly, President Trump will use fascist thugs and his control of the executive and judiciary to try and stay in power regardless of the vote on Nov 3rd. Secondly, the Democrat Party will not offer any resistance to this coup. The consolidation of a presidential dictatorship means the end of democracy and the basic rights of free speech and assembly won by the working class over the past two centuries.
What path forward then for the US working class? The answer lies in organising for a general strike organised by a United Front of all anti-fascist forces in the US to bring down the Trump regime”
This call out, although it has not yet been widely picked up retains its urgency. It is not yet too late for the working class to act. It is simply not tenable for the working-class to sit around and hope that ‘the system’ takes care of Trump. In reality, this is a policy of relying on the US military, Secret Service and intelligence agencies to protect democratic rights! The ‘call to arms’ also, will never come from the Democrats who fear working-class power more than fascism this is a policy of collective class-suicide.
We are watching the switches of US bourgeois democracy explode before our eyes. The stakes for not just the US working class but the international working class could not be higher. When the capitalist powerhouse of Germany fell to fascism in 1933 it led to disaster on a previously unimagined scale in Europe. If fascism can be consolidated at the heart of the most powerful Imperialist power in world history, the consequences are even more explosive. One way or another the working class must enter the fight. This is not meant to be a pessimistic tract. Whilst the dangers are real, the power of the US and international working class if mobilised, could crush the fascist bands like dust and challenge the power of the entire ruling-class. However, this power must be concretely mobilised. Whilst a defensive United Front is desperately needed in the US to fight the immediate threat of fascist dictatorship, this struggle must also be part of the process of developing the leadership and the consciousness of the working class – to put an end to the root cause of fascism – the capitalist system itself. Socialism or barbarism! Workers of the world unite!