Assault on the Capitol

By Miguel Sorans (Socialist Left Argentina, IWU-FI)

The abhorrent storming of the US Capitol by a mob reveals the depth of the political crisis of US imperialism. On the January 6, hundreds of far-right and Trump supporters assaulted and stormed the Capitol, causing an understandable worldwide impact. These are unprecedented events that show the seriousness of the crisis US imperialism is undergoing and also the danger Trumpism represents as a far-right, reactionary and racist movement. Many said it was an “attempted coup” and part of an “insurrectional plan” to prevent Biden from taking office and keep Trump in power.

Naturally, this was perhaps what many of the neo-fascists and racists who stormed the Capitol believed. However, we do not think that this was an attempted coup d’etat. That was not Trump’s plan, and certainly not the plan of any bourgeois or armed forces sector.

In fact, it was Trump’s shot in the dark, trying with this reactionary demonstration to keep his popularity in the far-right movement. It was another expression of his political defeat. He is not someone on the rise, but rather defeated and retreating.  

It was foreseeable that Trump would go on with new provocations in his campaign against the so called “fraud” through which he claims the election was “stolen from him”. With this antidemocratic action he did not intend to carry out a coup but to strengthen, for the future, his neo-fascist social base and to try to gain control of the Republican Party.

He was so alone in contesting Biden that vice-president Pence did not support him. The Minority Leader in the House of Representatives, Kevin McCarthy, said the events were “un-American” and “unacceptable”. Former Republican president George Bush condemned the events and Trump comparing them to the way elections are disputed in a banana republic.

Not a single military sector adhered. There might have been support or cooperation from sectors of the police, some officers even taking pictures with the racists. Some police officers may have fired too. A woman former air force member and Trump supporter was killed and there were other deaths and injuries. But as members of the movement BLM denounced, the outcome would have been very different if the protesters had been African American.

The assault on the Capitol provoked such a condemnation among Republican leaders, as well as threats of impeachment, that Trump had to “accept” Biden would take over. Though he announced he would not attend Biden’s inauguration.

What happened in the Capitol is another example of what we in the IWU-FI defined as an extreme polarisation not present in other countries. “That polarisation has grown with the social crisis combined with the anti-racist rebellion, the growth of the workers movement, the women’s movement or against climate change” (http://www.uit-ci.org/index.php/news-a-documents/2842-on-the-world-situation-and-prospects-for-2021). In the statement we warned  “Trump loses but consolidates as a leader of a large ultraconservative, reactionary and racist social sector (…) Trump relies on millions of people from the traditional social base of racists, neo-fascists, white supremacist hate groups, armed far-right militias, of visceral xenophobia, hatred of feminists and environmentalists (…) Millions believe in the “crazy” discourse that Biden can “lead to socialism”, that he is “following Cuba and Venezuela” and that Biden is part of the “far-left” that is going to “destroy” the United States. As the social crisis, economic crisis and popular struggles deepen, the more the racist and fascist pole grows”.

This was reflected in the racist and white supremacist mob that assaulted the Capitol.

When Trump took power in 2016, we defined him as a neofascist. We also pointed out was that this was not the same as the Trump government being able to transform the US political regime into a fascist one, to transform the imperialist bourgeois democracy into a dictatorship following Mussolini or Hitler.

This was confirmed by how Trump’s government ends: a political electoral defeat. After a popular rebellion against his government and the racist police repression after the assassination of George Floyd.

Trump strengthened the serious social polarisation and the existing racist mass movement, white supremacist, fascist, anti-Semitic, homophobic, etc., that exists in the US. Therefore, we cannot minimize his 70 million votes. But the context to what happened in the Capitol on January 6 is Trump’s political and electoral defeat. So, what political future is left for Trump is an open question. It remains to be seen if the events of January 6 will turn against him.

To make matters worse, on January 5 the Republican Party lost the election for senators in Georgia. With this defeat, they lose control over the Senate for the first time in 20 years. It is also the first time that an African American candidate from the Democratic Party wins a seat in Georgia. Another victory for Biden and the Democrats.

We should remember Trump’s defeat is the electoral expression of the large anti-racist popular rebellion after George Floyd’s assassination. That struggle is still ongoing. And Biden’s new government will suffer from it.

All of this confirms thatthere is an unprecedented and serious political crisis in the US, the centre of world imperialism. What will come is not so much the danger of a coup d’état but the continuity of this global social-economic, political and military crisis. An imperialism still dominant but in a profound and deepening crisis that runs parallel to the crisis of the imperialist capitalist system and the struggles and world social polarisation.

The tendency is towards a new political crisis but now under Biden’s Democratic Party government. He has to face a very serious social, economic and health crisis, because of the pandemic.

The social crisis can bring about an increase in union and anti-racist struggles and also new sectors joining the far-right movement. So, the social polarisation, peculiarly american, continues to develop and move violence can erupt from the racist white supremacist far-right groups, Trump’s supporters and fans. It’s a great danger and it will be part of the reality we will have to fight.

The key task and challenge, not only of the IWU-FI but of the entire left that considers itself anti-capitalist, is to move forward in the building of an independent left political alternative.