The following is an article from Communist International, Marxist-Leninist-Maoist Internet Review, on the reactionary riot at the US Capitol. Minor technical edits have been included to increase readability for an English-speaking audience.
Proletarians of all countries, unite!
This article is the result of applying our Marxist-Leninist-Maoist position and conception, with Chairman Gonzalo’s universal contributions to the world proletarian revolution, to the events unfolding in the class struggle in the country that is the sole hegemonic imperialist superpower, on the other hill, and the consequences for the proletariat and the people. We reaffirm that the task for the communists facing such a situation is to persistently rebuild the party to launch the people’s war in the belly of the beast, to develop the socialist revolution in the United States as part of and in the service to the proletarian world revolution.
On January 6, there was a march of Trump supporters to the Capitol after a speech by still-incumbent US President Donald Trump at a rally in Washington. This was Donald Trump’s last attempt to get a second term in office after all. A second term in which, presumably, Trump would have made a leap on the issue of presidential absolutism.
The Yankee electoral-farce-system, which must be called by name, which does not meet basic standards of bourgeois elections (one citizen – one vote) through the system of so-called electoral college votes, which systematically privileges the rich and disadvantages the poor through “legal” allocation of voting districts and polling stations, among other things, as well as restrictive admission criteria for voters, and which also runs with non-legal manipulation, as the 2004 presidential election clearly showed, had given him a first term in office. A second term, however, was to be denied to Trump, which was apparently determined early on and led to Trump’s statements regarding what he feared was “electoral fraud” to his disadvantage.
Trump wanted to enforce a second term by ignoring the current “electoral” system. A second term of Trump would have led to a leap in the absolutism of the executive, more precisely of the presidential system, introducing a presidential absolutism and subjecting the legislature (two chambers) and the judiciary de facto to the decisions of the president. That is why, after the election, he used the levers at his disposal to retroactively change the elections result by violating the conventions of the US electoral-farce-system. There were calls and incitements by the ultra-reactionary “big mouth” Trump to disregard the election results in the five states with Republican governors and in Republican-dominated local legislatures (Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, Nevada, Pennsylvania). He made renewed accusations of massive electoral fraud here and in general, and tried to obstruct and prevent the appointment of electoral officials. But his appeals were neither heard nor heeded. More precisely, they were met with open rejection by the governors and the Republican representatives of the electoral commissions of these states. Similarly, lawsuits on behalf of candidate Trump to challenge the results in these and other states were all rejected by prosecutors and courts. Finally, his calls did not resound within the Supreme Court either, although Trump tried to win its support with new appointments. Moreover, Trump’s legal team, headed by Rudy Guilliani, could not base their cases on solid evidence in these legal institutions and put themselves at risk of being prosecuted for false accusations (and so it happened). Once again, there is a huge gap between what the “big mouth” Trump preached and what he was actually able to do to make his demand for changing the election results concrete. Not even in the states under Republican control did anything happen.
He does not have the means and instruments to initiate a non-constitutional takeover or coup d’état. That is why even the preparatory acts for the much-vaunted “coup d’etat” did not take place. He set himself this goal, he wanted it, he coveted it, but he was not in a position to realize it. Such an undertaking needs the support, or at least the benevolent neutrality, of a state’s armed forces, intelligence services, and bureaucracy (in this case the higher and highest officials). It is not enough to be rich and have great media influence. This is how the actions on January 6 came about, with which Trump wanted to prove that he had a power base after all. He was virtually forced to do this to show that he is not just a big mouth, that he has something in his hands. Trump has always had the ability to mobilize his supporters, who are grouped in the electoral committees of his candidacy, the right-wing gangs or militias, and as lumpen ready for anything, led by some Trump people (close allies and family) and “celebrities” close to the Republicans. Besides this, Trump has prestige within local police forces. Above all, however, his power base consists of such elements as Karl Marx defined as follows: “Alongside decayed roués with dubious means of subsistence and of dubious origin, alongside ruined and adventurous offshoots of the bourgeoisie, were vagabonds, discharged soldiers, discharged jailbirds, escaped galley slaves, rogues, mountebanks, lazzaroni, pickpockets, tricksters, gamblers, maquereaus (pimps), brothel keepers, porters, literati, organ-grinders, rag-pickers, knife grinders, tinkers, beggars — in short, the whole indefinite, disintegrated mass, thrown hither and thither, which the French term la bohème“[i]
On January 6, they marched to the Capitol after speeches by Trump and others. At the Capitol, some of these protesters gained access to the chamber where the confirmation of Joe Biden as the next president was to take place. The Capitol was evacuated and the meeting was suspended. Inside the Capitol, violent clashes broke out, there was even shooting, and 5 people died as a result. The pictures went around the world and caused consternation—especially among representatives of the bourgeoisie in Western Europe.
Nancy Pelosi, Democratic speaker of the House, called it “an armed insurrection against America” and “an unspeakable assault on our nation and our people.“[ii] Chuck Schumer called the Trump supporters domestic terrorists. Adopting this style, but with somewhat more restraint in details, the German embassy in the USA takes a stand. In a report, excerpts of which were leaked to a newspaper, it speaks of a “coup d’état staged in several stages“[iii]. The Guardian headlined: “The violence at the Capitol was an attempted coup. Call it that.“[iv] This widespread opinion of the events is simply wrong. What happened on January 6 was not a coup, nor was it an attempted coup. It was not a “re-run of the March on Rome,” as some opportunists have called the riots on Capitol Hill. After he failed, Trump mobilized his lumpen to create a symbol of his own and to show that he had a force capable of anything, to be reckoned with even after he was out of office, so as to be in a better position to negotiate his future.
The US comrades correctly wrote: “This was no insurrection but a riot“[v]. The discord within the ruling authorities pointed out by the comrades can be seen, among other things, in the fact that some of the police forces not only let demonstrators through, but even opened barriers to them.[vi] Obvious the differences in the general approach of the police, for example, to the Black Live Matters protests, handshakes and discussions between police officers and demonstrators were not uncommon. The National Guard was deployed late by Mike Pence, the vice-president and head of the legislature, with whom Trump had come into greater contradiction given the foreseeable leap in the reactionization of the state mentioned above, i.e. by concentrating power in the figure of the president and less power for the legislature that Pence represents (the Trump/Pence duo was based on contention and collusion), which also explains the “Hang Pence!” chants. However, this only highlights one side of the issue. Another is of even greater importance to communists, and that is the classification for the motives for participating in these protests. This is the material fact that interests us, regardless of whom and what it was used for: The crisis of democracy, concreted and concentrated in the crisis of parliamentarism. The prestige of the bourgeois parliament among the masses is tending towards zero, whether it is the Capitol, the Reichstag, or Skupština, Washington, Berlin, Belgrade, Bishkek, or Yerevan.
What Trump was able to exploit was precisely this spontaneous rejection by the masses. This is also partly expressed in the analyses of various media. The Belgian newspaper De Tijd, for example, wrote: “… what remains above all is the observation that faith in elections has died in a nation that claimed to export democracy to other countries. This is a black day, and not only for the USA.“[vii] The Washington Post is less direct about the problem: “Rules, norms, laws, even the Constitution itself are worth something only if people believe in them. […] faith makes it work.“[viii] The German newspaper Die Zeit provides a relatively precise and detailed analysis. It states, among other things: “The storming of the Capitol in Washington is not a slip-up because the police were not paying proper attention or because only Trump, who has been voted out of office, is so crazy. It is the consequence of years of decay in American institutions and parties. Some believe that with Trump’s departure this is now over. This is a mistake.“[ix] In an interview in the same newspaper, it is stated: “Until now, we thought that old, rich democracies do not really die, but are particularly stable. And yet something is now happening in the USA that is shaking this certainty.“[x] A third article describes the reaction of the people of Washington as follows: “… the city’s population accepts the events of the previous day with a shrug of the shoulders.” The same article also makes clear, “If they had wanted to, they could have burned this building down completely – but they didn’t want to.“[xi] Finally, the same paper declares, “That’s all there was to it anyway, certainly not a coup d’état. That was not the intention. After all, a coup presupposes the possibility of seizing the state’s monopoly on the use of force. In principle, such a thing would also be conceivable in the United States, but not under today’s conditions. No, the attack on Congress was a thoroughly symbolic action“[xii]. That is precisely why the demonstrators were able to leave when they had taken the relevant photos, when they were satisfied to have humiliated the legislature, with feet on the table. These pictures are symbols of the general crisis of imperialism, which it tries to counter with the further reactionization of the state, which in turn deepens the crisis of democracy, which is concretized in the crisis of parliamentarism. It is confirmed that the only hegemonic imperialist superpower is a colossus on feet of clay, that its institutions are extremely fragile. So fragile the “almighty” giant is, which drowns the peoples of the world with its wars of plunder! The bourgeoisie recognizes the problem. That is why the German Minister of Foreign Affairs Maas also proposed a “Marshall Plan for Democracy.” He went on to say: “We must give no room to the enemies of liberal democracy. […] we will only be able to preserve the faith […] in democracy […] together.“[xiii]
Reaction may now be different, with different speech, led by Joe Biden. There will be no great movement of conservatives under the leadership of Donald Trump. Despite the deep crisis, both factions of Yankee imperialist finance capital and the major groups within them have currently agreed to stick to the continuity of the current “party” system and electoral system, with some cosmetic corrections, even against the movement Trump is leading. The 2 mafias (the Democratic and Republican party, which alternate in government and in the congressional majority) will marginalize them and the rags will probably be led by a new condottiero [captains in command of mercenary companies] sooner or later.
Salvation—as feasible as squaring the circle—now falls to Joe Biden. The recent statements of reconciliation from various corners of Yankee politics and the success of the Democratic Party in the run-off elections in Georgia may seem to benefit Joe Biden’s presidency—the House of Representatives, the Senate, and the White House are now in Democratic hands—and make a temporary, relative stabilization possible. However, the president of the USA is not a party man, since there are simply no parties in the literal sense in the USA, but election committees that organize the horrendous costs of election campaigns for the candidates. Thus, Biden has no team on which he can build and in which he can trust. On the contrary, his own majority in the Senate opens up another front for him to struggle on. He has to struggle in a confusion of secret services, armed forces, high officials and advisors of the state bureaucracy who circulate between the administration and the big non-state and state monopolies, of indirectly or directly bribed “party” establishment of the Democrats and the Republicans, as well as of relatively autonomous states with regard to the three civil powers. Moreover, relevant “reforms” (i.e. measures) often have to be passed with a two-thirds majority. The political crisis, the further decomposition of the Yankee imperialist state, is also expressed in particular in the contradictions generated by its process of greater reactionization of the state. The so-called “deep division of political life in the USA,” is an executive-legislative contradiction. This was epically embodied on January 6 by the chief executive, Trump, and the assembly leader of both legislative chambers, Pence. This, more than any other statement, expresses the definitions of the reactionary actors in this contention-collusion nexus. The same goes for the central government-federal states contradiction, which is why the Republican governors did not follow their president. These contradictions will further divide the factions and the groups within the factions of Yankee imperialism. At the same time, this man, the “savior” Joe Biden, is really really old and no less in agony than the system he represents.
The consequence for the proletariat and the people in the USA of these facts, the chaos after the elections and the greater reactionization of the state will probably be, under the pretext of the events in the Capitol, more repression, more curtailment of rights and freedoms will be used against the proletariat and the people in the USA. It must be denounced that with the pretext added by Trump on Capitol Hill, a favorable public opinion is being created about the need to “protect democracy” through the use of censorship in the so-called social media—a “cyber coup,” the only real coup that has taken place.
[i] Karl Marx: THE EIGHTEENTH BRUMAIRE OF LOUIS BONAPARTE
[ii] New York Times: Pelosi calls on Pence to invoke the 25th Amendment and remove Trump from office; https://www.nytimes.com/2021/01/07/us/politics/pelosi-trump-removed-from-office.html
[iii] SZ: Nach Sturm auf das US-Kapitol – Was nun, Amerika?; https://www.sueddeutsche.de/politik/usa-aktuell-washington-deutsche-botschaft-donald-trump-1.5168958
[iv] The Guardian: The violence at the Capitol was an attempted coup. Call it that; https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2021/jan/06/trump-mob-storm-capitol-washington-coup-attempt
[v] Tribune of the People: Trump’s Reactionary Loyalists Riot and Breach US Capitol Building; https://tribuneofthepeople.news/2021/01/08/trumps-reactionary-loyalists-riot-and-breach-us-capitol-building/
[vii] De Tijd: Commentaar – ‘Doomsday’; https://www.tijd.be/opinie/commentaar/doomsday/10275590
[viii] Washington Post: Trump caused the assault on the Capitol. He must be removed.; https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/remove-trump-incitement-sedition-25th-amendment/2021/01/06/b22c6ad4-506d-11eb-b96e-0e54447b23a1_story.html
[ix] Die Zeit: Fünf vor acht / Sturm auf das US-Kapitol – Kampf um die Demokratie; https://www.zeit.de/politik/2021-01/sturm-us-kapitol-washington-korruption-demokratie-5vor8
[x] Die Zeit: “Das hier ist keinesfalls schon das Ende”; https://www.zeit.de/politik/ausland/2021-01/daniel-ziblatt-us-demokratie-ausschreitungen-washington/komplettansicht
[xi] Die Zeit: Das war noch nicht der letzte Akt; https://www.zeit.de/politik/ausland/2021-01/sturm-us-kapitol-washington-ausschreitungen-hochsicherheitszone
[xii] Die Zeit: Sturm auf US-Parlament – Es ging ihnen um diese Bilder; https://www.zeit.de/gesellschaft/zeitgeschehen/2021-01/sturm-us-parlament-kongress-revolution-putschversuch-bilder
[xiii] FAZ: Krise in Amerika : Maas will mit Vereinigten Staaten „Marshallplan für Demokratie“ erarbeiten; https://www.faz.net/aktuell/politik/von-trump-zu-biden/krise-in-amerika-maas-will-mit-vereinigten-staaten-marshallplan-fuer-demokratie-erarbeiten-17137508.html