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Don’t count on Dems to confront threat of far-right


January 8, 2021

The storming of the US Capitol building by Trump inspired right-wing mobs was a predictable outcome of a political polarization that has been developing for decades.

If it was supposed to be a coup it was a rather pathetic one. While there were thousands outside the Capitol building, that hardly represents a real threat to the US government. There would need to be masses in the streets of many more US cities to have any effect. This was not a group capable of taking over the reins of government.

And, crucially the US ruling class is not onside with Trump. Many in corporate America broke with him in the summer during the mass mobilizations by Black Lives Matter groups after the killing of George Floyd. That opposition was taken to a new level when the national Association of Manufacturers (NAM) released a statement during the riot calling for the 25th amendment to be invoked and for Trump to be removed from office. The NAM is a massive grouping of most of the US’s biggest manufacturers. They do not want Trump’s personal vendetta to curtail their ability to make profits. The bosses want a Biden presidency because he is seen as a much more stable set of hands to keep the goals of the US empire intact.

That is also behind many of the splits that are developing within the Republican party with some who want to lay claim to Trump’s base for a possible run for president in 2024 and those that are more concerned about the larger project of preserving capitalism.

But it was a reflection of the growing strength of the far right in the US and around the world. Although the MAGA crowd was eventually pushed out of the building, most far right groups see this as a victory. Chris Hill, a leader of the III%ers, called it the opening salvo in a new civil war. He told the LA Times that “The second revolution begins today”.

These groups have found a new audience for their repugnant and dangerous ideas in recent years. War, economic crisis and the dislocations of neoliberalism have fed their base. The history of post-war fascism is one of small, isolated groups that exist on the margins, only to gain a hearing in times of crisis. Capitalism is now limping from one crisis to the next and this provides fertile ground for new recruits.

This didn’t start with Trump nor will it end when he vacates the president’s office. The anger expressed by many of the pro-Trump crowd is part of a much larger set of issues. Massive economic inequality creates despair and hatred and the right wing has been very active in using these grievances to build a base. That the inequality and economic misery has become brutally acute during the COVID pandemic is accelerating this process.

And the racism endemic in US society gives the right a leg up when trying build their power. The racism was on full display at the Capitol riot as police gave free reign – even encouragement – to the people storming the building. Sandy Hudson, founder of Black Lives Matter Toronto told CTV that, “It couldn’t be more clear that Black people are subject to intense repression by law enforcement and it’s actually unbelievable that armed people were able to get so close to the Capitol with firearms and inside the Capitol with firearms”.

Anyone who has been to DC for a protest knows that the cops there are very experienced in shutting down dissent and maintaining “order”. The events at the Capitol could not have happened without a conscious decision to cede the space to the MAGA crowd.

Impacts

The congresspeople and senators of both parties resumed their session to count the electoral college votes soon after the Capitol building was secured. Thus began a lengthy series of speeches from both parties extolling the righteousness of the US government and constitution.

The need for this committee of the bourgeoisie to maintain a sense of permanence and continuity amid the chaos speaks to the fear that many in the neoliberal centre have toward a radicalizing population. The two parties of US capital haven’t been this united since they agreed to a $750 billion Pentagon budget last week.

Both the Democrats and Republicans will use this event as a means of securing their rule. The media and many of the congresspeople used this opportunity to decry what they see as two sides of the same coin – the radicalization to the left and the right. Their insistence on describing the MAGA mob as anarchists indicates that they will use these events to further curtail the freedom of dissent by anyone not supporting the status quo.

Biden in the drivers seat

Somewhat lost in the middle of the chaos was the fact that the Democrats, on the same day, won both senate run-off races in Georgia. This gives the Dems control of both houses of Congress and the presidency. Expectations will be high that the Democrats can bring about change that will help the millions of Americans facing poverty, evictions and health crises.

Biden has given no indication that he plans on meeting any of those expectations. His cabinet picks are a who’s who of corporate America. As he has throughout his career, he will do the bidding of Wall Street at the expense of working people. This will not stop the polarization in US politics but will instead bring more people to the conclusion that the system is rigged for the right – which it is.

The left needs to provide a clear alternative to the twin corporate parties if we are to stop the rise of the far right. This is true in Canada as well as the US and any other country around the world. As Seattle socialist councillor Kshama Sawant said, “We need to build a mass fightback for Medicare For All, a Green New Deal, and actual democratic control over police. Unions, socialists, workers must fight.”

While the MAGA crowd was attacking the Capitol in the US, a car caravan of Trump supporters rolled through the streets of Toronto decrying the “election steal” and waving Q-anon flags out their windows. What happens in US politics has broad implications for the rest of the world and we in Canada will have to prepare for many battles ahead.

The rise of the far right didn’t start with Trump and it will not end when he is booted from office. Nor will the impacts of this movement stop at the border. We will only be rid of these people and their disgusting ideas when we get rid of the system that propagates them.

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