On the Revisionist Response to the January 6 Riots and the Weeks to Come

By the Editorial Board

Look how revisionism quickly jumps to the heels of its imperialist masters, and yips like the little dog it is! Just like the majority of the imperialist ruling class, revisionism has pronounced the word “coup,” and to this they have added the word “fascist.”

The particular focus of the revisionists is centered on the question of fascism, and this is a thinly veiled attempt to unite with the majority of the imperialist ruling class, to defend it, legitimize its illegitimate elections, its reactionary liberal democratic system, its congress and courts. There is nothing legitimate about the imperialist dictatorship of the bourgeoisie. Disruption of election certification is only a coup in the imagination of those who intentionally distort the question of power.

One particular revisionist claim is that the whole of the riots were an attempt at intimidating Black voters and attacking non-white ruling-class members of Congress, as well as a coup. They defend US imperialism because it is all-inclusive. The reactionary Donald Trump is an outlier on the way out, and like all imperialists he is the champion of law and order until it affects him and the section of the ruling class he represents, and then he must challenge the election results, not elections themselves. The only difference is that Trump is more flagrant in his challenge than the Democrats have been with their own challenges, historically. His favor with the stronger sections of the US imperialist ruling class has waned throughout his term; they figure Biden a better servant.

The January 6 reactionary riots are part of the intra-imperialist contradiction, in which a minority of imperialists and their supporters strike out at the majority in a frantic protest, whipped up by Trump’s rhetoric. They will likely engage in more desperate reactionary violence. Like all imperialists they resort to such acts of aggression when their faction is threatened. This does not mean that there is a major divide among the imperialists; it means they are united to do away with Trump, and his actions increase this unity, rather than decrease it.

The revisionist position calls for a united front with the majority of imperialists against a desperate minority of imperialists to defend bogus electoral results of a completely corroded bourgeois democracy. In essence, they support and defend the establishment, its hallowed halls, its law and order—the dictatorship of finance capital. The result of this is to refuse to protest and raise resistance against Biden, every bit the imperialist that Trump is, and with much more military backing.

The reactionary riots ensure that the Biden presidency will not be challenged in the way that it should be—that is, from the left. Revisionism, with all of its groveling, has issued its stand-down orders and made itself clear; stand back and stand by to defend the Old State from itself. They raise alarmist notions of civil war to protect the civil peace of imperialism, while its guns remain trained on the people. In the unlikely event of a civil war, the revolutionaries have the duty to use the unrest as a way to mobilize the people against the imperialist state.

Many of the bourgeois media monopolies and revisionists alike are more or less obsessed with comparing and contrasting the police response to the reactionary riots and the uprisings after the murder of George Floyd, and many of these are convinced this is due to the racial composition of the crowd. They will trick and confuse the people into thinking that class and politics have nothing to do with this, and that the police simply act according to race. Nothing could be more ridiculous.

To be clear, the police allowed the riots near free rein within a certain limit because they are reactionaries. The police unions have been some of the most outspoken supporters of Donald Trump, and off-duty cops attended the riots as partisans in support of them. Had there been thousands of whites protesting Trump, assaulting the Capitol in defense of the people’s rights, no one would expect them to face the mild level of resistance experienced by the rioters on January 6. The response from the Old State to the protests around Trump’s inauguration prove this, as plenty of progressive whites were jailed and brutalized. Dividing the class along racial lines is in the interest of maintaining the old rule. The class must be united along political lines, exposing and isolating the few reactionaries among the class as class traitors.

As angry as the majority of imperialists are with Trump and his supporters, almost all of them belong to the exploiting classes, and so the government and state cannot act against them with the same fury and intensity with which they respond to the activity of the people and the proletariat—this is political.

The revisionists attempt to convince their audience that the conclusion that should be drawn from the failure of the police and other agents of the state to defend the reactionary citadel of the US Capitol, and the expectation that this will continue, is that the state cannot protect the people. Again the revisionist sleight of hand confuses the people for those in power, and those in power for the people. The existence of the Old State has never been, and will never be, for the protection of the people. All of US history is proof that the people must defend themselves.

Other revisionists, those who have the sense not to cry “fascist insurrection,” nevertheless, through their electoralism, come around to sleep at their masters’ feet, calling for impeachment, as if his impeachment would curtail his most aggressive and desperate supporters. Impeachment would only aggravate his base into more extra-electoral means, a boost they actually need.

The most vile revisionists by far, those in the so-called “Revolutionary Communist Party,” have perhaps the most groveling, election-legitimizing line of all. They go so far as to praise the unity of the imperialist ruling majority against Trump as a progressive act.

Of course, there is also the so-called “Communist Party,” whose only solution to the current conditions is more voting. Mainly revisionism is united on two points—the idea that the events of January 6 were an attempt at a “fascist coup,” and the need to legitimize the illegitimate bourgeois democracy to preserve America.

The weeks and months to come will be marked by more dramatic, reactionary, and violent actions from Trump’s support base, overwhelmingly composed not of workers, but of those among the exploiting classes.

History Is Important

This is far from the first time the specter of fascism has been raised by revisionism to pursue a policy of long-term class collaboration with the imperialist ruling class in the US. Likewise, the events on January 6 were not just the product of Trump’s campaigns, nor were they just the product of Trump personally, nor just of his rhetoric, but of crises within the economy and the whole history of culture in the US.

It is important to recall that the revisionists were in lock step with the imperialists in casting the blame for the economic crisis on the coronavirus pandemic, erasing the role of a foreseeable trend in overproduction, and ignoring the fact that even before Trump’s presidency was finalized, there were signs that a depression would hit before the next election. Responding to this, Maoists raised their efforts to expose the electoral farce with election boycott, while the revisionists either ran hopeless candidates or endorsed Democrats. This recent history has everything to do with the conclusions the revisionists are drawing today.

No matter how sick and tired the American people are of establishment candidates, the Democratic Party is committed to running them. In order to run another one successfully, they did two things: the first and only consequential thing was to unite the majority of imperialists against Trump; the second and of almost no importance due to their insignificance was to rely on the revisionists to work among grassroots movements against Trump and for the Democrats, expanding their already sizable grassroots networks.

We can look further back for precedence as well:

After the 7th Comintern Congress led by the great revolutionaries Georgi Dimitrov and Comrade Stalin, it was clear that the policy of a united anti-fascist front must be adopted the world over to defeat the rise of real fascism. This was a just and correct policy that proved itself all over the world, with the greatest examples being the liberation of China led by the Communist Party of China, but also the guerrilla wars led by other Communist Parties against fascist occupation across Europe. Even back then there were groups of revisionists and revisionist leaders who distorted this policy to surrender to the imperialists in the name of a falsified “anti-fascism.”

Chief among these bourgeois capitulators was Earl Browder, leader of the “CP” in the US. Browder’s distortions of the united front extended to post-war “cooperation” with the ruling-class imperialists, again on the basis of falsified anti-fascism. Browder expressed as much in a speech after the war: “Whatever may be the situation in other lands, in the United States this means a perspective in the immediate postwar period of expanded production and employment and the strengthening of democracy within the framework of the present system—and not a perspective of the transition to socialism.”

He used the threat of fascism to appeal to the workers to support their own imperialist bourgeoisie, and justified this to the Communists as part of the continued need to defend the Soviet Union in reconstruction: “We must be prepared to give the hand of co-operation and fellowship to everyone who fights for the realization of this coalition. If J. P. Morgan supports this coalition and goes down the line for it, I as a Communist am prepared to clasp his hand on that and join with him to realize it. Class divisions or political groupings have no significance now…” In reality, it was the class struggle Browder sought to liquidate, and he did so by getting rid of the Party members who did not want to shake hands with imperialists and warmongers.

At times, Browder was far more honest than today’s revisionists who take up the same line, as when he stated, “We do not want disaster for America, even though it results in socialism.” Browder would express his program of capitulation most clearly, and much more clearly than the revisionists today do who say the same thing with their failure to expose bourgeois democracy for what it is, reactionary. Browder said, “We want our country’s economy fully at work, supplying a greatly multiplied market to heal the wounds of the world, a greatly expanded home market reflecting rising standards of living here, and an orderly, co-operative and democratic working out of our domestic and class relationships, within a continuing national unity that will reduce and eventually eliminate large domestic struggles.”

The revisionists are all similar: they do not want the intra-imperialist crisis in the US to disrupt business as usual. They do not want to make use of a contradiction among the enemy to denounce the enemy, because imperialism is not their enemy—they just seek a place within the imperialist government, for a more charitable imperialism. Genuine revolutionaries on the other hand understand the importance of internal contradictions among the enemy—in this case the bourgeois-democratic US imperialist ruling class which includes both Trump and Biden—and hence does not go in for defense of the sanctity of the US Capitol, Biden’s administration, or the equally reactionary Trump riots.

At the root of the revisionist position is their groveling electoralism, their lack of faith in the masses, and their belief in “US democracy.” They have surrendered to their lives as electoral cretins, and the elections are the most sacred thing to them, their means of making history. Any attack on the election (even if it is just attacking the results) exposes their false approach to making revolution.

In their mind, Biden is the democratic bourgeoisie, and Trump is the fascist bourgeoisie, and so the logical next step is to unite with imperialism against Trump’s failing movement. The revolutionary position on the contrary understands that things will get worse before they get better, and that a sharp intra-imperialist contradiction among the ruling-class bourgeois democrats (both ruling parties in this case) only amounts to more favorable conditions for drawing the masses toward revolutionary conclusions.

The revolutionary situation in the world today exists in uneven development. Imperialism is not stable, it cannot go further; it is dying, and this is how that looks. As contradictions sharpen, the imperialists will turn on themselves more and more. This can be in a fascist manner or a bourgeois liberal democratic manner.

The US monopoly economy is based in private ownership, and the most suitable form of government which corresponds to this is not fascism, in which the state takes ownership of the majority of the economy and furthers the corporatization of society. What is taking place is not fascism, but the inevitable result of the reactionary process unfolding in the Old State, where liberal bourgeois democracy is becoming more and more reactionary in defense of private ownership and coming into factional struggles. While they are mainly unified around Biden, Trump represents only the advanced expression of an inevitable process related to the identity politics used by both parties, which takes affiliation and personal identity as the most important issue to conceal the almost identical policies of both. The partisan type identity politics used by both is to present the idea to the people of an important choice between the two. This is an attempt to legitimize bourgeois democracy and class rule.

As two factions of the liberal democratic imperialist ruling class ready for escalation of conflict, the revolutionary has a more important role than ever—to expose imperialism and its inevitable death—to expose it as a giant with clay feet, and to take every opportunity to act on the objective conditions, in an effort to fortify and increase the revolutionary forces of the proletariat in class struggle. This must be done without entering into a pact with the stronger imperialist faction against the weaker, while using the desperate acts of the weaker imperialist faction to expose the role of reaction, and to expose the reactionization of the old society and the Old State. This means raising the red flag in struggle against imperialism, reaction, and revisionism, combating them inseparably and implacably. Uniting the masses against imperialism is the task at hand, not throwing in your lot with one imperialist or the other.

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