Friday 8 January 2021

Ten Points on Trump's Attempted Coup

1. A number of people have compared the the storming of Congress to the shambles of the Munich Beer Hall putsch led by Adolf Hitler. This, sadly, is a valid comparison, with the exception that the Trumpist movement, in all its incoherence, is better funded, better organised, and enjoys significant legitimacy despite what happened on Wednesday.

2. As this piece notes, the Republican party's turn to barely-disguised ethno-nationalism is the result of and has further assisted the radicalisation of millions of white Americans. 51% of Republicans questioned agreed with the statement, "The traditional American way of life is disappearing so fast that we may have to use force to save it" and 41% with "A time will come when patriotic Americans have to take the law into their own hands." This data was from a year ago, but attitudes have barely shifted. A snap poll by YouGov found 45% of Republicans supported the invasion of the Capitol. There is a mass basis for this politics, and it has been cultivated for a long time.

3. The Congress debacle was not a coup, but it was an episode in and the culmination of an attempted coup by Trump and his allies. From the moment it became clear Trump had lost he, as is well known, refused to accept the election result, made unfounded and completely false allegations of election fraud, attempted to prevent the counting of votes, filed over 60 suits to overturn counts, and repeatedly tried strongarming state officials - most recently in Georgia - to declare for him. For their own venal reasons, a clutch of Republican congressman have gone along with this confidence trick by challenging the electoral college votes and, last of all, Trump publicly pressured Mike Pence to veto the result. Even though he had no power to do so. These constitute deliberate attempts to subvert the democratic functioning of the state.

4. Trump and his fash-adjacent running dogs now know they're in deep trouble. To have Ilhan Omar drawing up the articles of impeachment is one thing, but to have the Democrat leader of the Senate Chuck Schumer and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi demanding Article 25 be invoked is something else. This probably explains Trump's about turn, his comdemnation of the violence, and calls for a peaceful transition of power, a transition hitherto he's done everything to disrupt and prevent. Likewise, as news came through about a Capitol Hill copper who succumbed to injuries sustained on Wednesday, Ted Cruz has done his bit to bodyswerve what should be coming for him.

5. As a longtime congressman, Joe Biden has a reputation as a centrist who works across the House. And, before Wednesday, it looked like all the calls to pursue Trump, his family, and his associates for criminal activities in office were going to fall by the wayside in the name of conciliation and bringing America together. Even his speech condemning the Trumpists was soggy and couched in the same tones. The temptation for magnamnity, to "make nice" with the mob and their supporters must be resisted. Yes, going hard on Trump, the senators, and the representatives who backed his long and incompetent coup is going to harden some of his supporters, but better when they're on the backfoot and their people in the institutions are on the retreat than in the moment of their insurgence.

6. In fact, prosecuting the Trump clique and its backers in the GOP offers the Democrats a historic opportunity. In her unhinged commentary on the riot, which apparently was the result of Antifa infiltrators, on Fox News Sarah Palin argued for a new conservative party returning to core Republican values. By pursuing action against congressman who've gone along with Trump's attempted coup, a wedge can be driven between the Trumpists and "moderate" Republicans which could affect a split in the party which, in the context of the two-party system, would severely disadvantage the right for decades to come.

7. There are also divisions within Trumpism itself, which can be seen in the incoherent response to their mob violence. We have fools like Palin claiming it was a false flag operation, which is contradicted by Trump telling his supporters to march on the Capitol and several leading fash, alt-right, and QAnon activists spearheading the storming of the building, and hundreds of Trumpists recording their activities and boasting about them on social media. And there are the disappointments some will feel about Trump going on the record and disowning the action they undertook at his behest, and confusion over how, according to Trump, the election is a put up job and a fraud but is still acquiescing to the transfer of power. Striking while the Trumpists are in disarray and likely to split further is the wisest cause of action.

8. With Trumpism shaking to pieces, unfortunately there are going to be more outrages and terror attacks, like the suicide bombing of downtown Nashville by a conspiracy theorist. A movement without anywhere to go (for the moment) will drive some of its despairing adherents to extremes.

9. And the conditions for Trumpism have not gone away. Polarisation exists. Cultural anxieties exist. And the material base for fascism and the further evolution of rightwing populism persist. If only something could be done about it. Well, it can. Following the run-offs in Georgia, the Democrats now control the White House, the House of Representatives and, thanks to Kamala Harris's casting vote, the Senate. There are no excuses for not implementing the promises Biden made on the campaign trail, nor for the absence of a levelling up agenda and action on health care. Going on the offensive against Trumpism and its afters means rebuilding infrastructure, fuelling job growth through state-led investment in green industry, and offering the possibility of security versus precarity. This more than anything can begin the process of dissolving the mass basis for the American far right.

10. The American far right overreached on Wednesday, and the conditions are present to inflict a further strategic defeat. It is worth remembering there is nothing inevitable about the rise of the right. The authoritarians and would-be dictators don't have to win, and the forces of the left, even the forces of liberalism, are stronger on paper than what Trumpism and the alt-right can muster. There is the means and the opportunity to roll them over. Make it so.


Blissex said...

«the forces of the left, even the forces of liberalism»

The “forces of liberalism” regard the left as enemies and the conservatives as fellow rightists, still part of the same class.

It seems to me that the “forces of liberalism” in their "centrist"/neocon evolution have been doing a definite turn towards an authoritarianism as vicious as that of the conservatives. See for example Tony Blair, ASBOs, detention without trial, wars of aggression, anti trade-unionism, support for "political correctness", etc. etc.; mistaking liberalism for an ally of the left against the scarecrow of trumpism seems to me a grave mistake.

Robert said...

Would be wonderful if Trump's legacy was to split the Republican party and keep the right out of power for a generation. I fear it's too much to hope for.

Bruce said...

To think Biden or Democrats can or will alleviate our situation is blind. No "Green New Deal" or any other state intervention can help since, in our world, profits must still be made. But if profits could really be made there would be no need for state intervention. Capitalism cannot be made useful to societal well-being; it must be surpassed. But, alas, we cling to the things that kill us.

Anonymous said...

You astutely remark the right could be split between moderates and extremists and barred from power, yet consistently fail to recognise the effect in your own back yard, or haven't the Tories been in power for the past ten years?

BCFG said...

Before we begin, I am delighted that Trump lost, have no joy whatsoever at who won and think hardly anything will change as a result of Biden’s victory.

“There is a mass basis for this politics, and it has been cultivated for a long time.”

Probably from around the time when the ‘native Americans’ were being exterminated to make way for ‘progress’ and when African people were transported to support the cotton trade.

The comparisons between Hitler and Trump are just typical lazy liberalism. For one thing Hitler was a lowly decorated soldier whose experiences of fighting in the first world war and the iniquities of the Treaty of Versailles and the subsequent impact of that treaty created an embittered and militaristic monster.

Trump on the other hand was a silver spoon fed billionaire brat who enjoyed a high profile business and tv career, and if anything was slightly less prone to militarism than the previous presidents (which isn’t saying much admittedly). So there is next to no chance that Trump would have carried out the military adventurism of Hitler or resorted to the final solution for Muslims.

I think the wall and tax cuts were the extent of the project.

“The Congress debacle was not a coup, but it was an episode in and the culmination of an attempted coup by Trump and his allies.”

This is so just so much liberal blather and poppycock. Coups happen because the military move over to the side of the coup, coups are won at the barrel of the gun and the tank, they do not happen by extra legislative means. You cannot win a coup via legal challenges and a few crazed rednecks. My view is that Trump is simply paying back the democrats for the unprecedented level of blather and hostility they meted out to him. I personally don’t blame him for this, they made his term almost ungovernable, and why should he not do the same to them? It is just another in the long line of elections where the loser simply cannot accept the result, for example remember the attempt at a coup in Belarus, in fact events in the US are probably closer to Belarus than they are to the Beer Hall putsch?

The other point to make is how unpopular Trump is among the Republican establishment; they see him as a dangerous outsider. And they don’t hate him because he is so right wing, if anything the republicans that oppose him are even more crazily right wing than Trump, certainly on things like Trade Union rights and international relations.

“And the conditions for Trumpism have not gone away.”

The conditions being the very fabric of the USA, as you say Trump won a majority among white voters and I doubt that dynamic will change anytime soon, especially given who is now ruling the gangster mob state that is the US.

“It is worth remembering there is nothing inevitable about the rise of the right”

If that is the case then it is one mighty coincidence that in every major capitalist system without exception a sizeable right wing has not only risen but more or less held continuous power! The rise of the right, and the ‘far right’, is an inevitable outcome of a capitalist based system, where you stand and fall in the market place, be it the world or local market. By supporting centrism you are simply facilitating the next period of rightist rule, and even then what is centrism but rightism with gay marriage (to paraphrase blissex).

Nothing less than the eradication of exchange itself can get rid of the right, anything less is hot air.

asquith (stopped using google) said...

I'd add to this that Dems actually did have an election stolen from them, in 2000, and did not become terrorists as a result, but as we've now seen went too far in the direction of working with the right-wing government.

You can see how the people out of office, who actually won the election, behaved in 2000 and compare it with how the losers behaved in 2020!

Trump's refusal to attend Biden's inauguration, and stabbing his supporters in the back to save his own skin, showd what a graceless and undignified man he truly is.

Yet the swamp is not drained, Biden will probably be a disappointment, and the forces behind Trump are waiting to do what they've been striving since 2008 to do! Biden/Harris must go all out to transform America for the better so that the diehard cultists will be cut off from the mainstream and can never even pretend to be competitive in another vote.

Blissex said...

To illustrate the difference between "freedom fighters" and "coup conspirators", have a look at the "peaceful demonstration" in the Hong Kong Legistlative Council building in July 2019, from unimpeachably liberal sources, a couple of videos:

“On 1 July 2019, hundreds of protesters stormed Hong Kong's Legislative Council, (Legco), spraying graffiti and defacing symbols of the Hong Kong law-making body. The ransacking of the government building marked a turning point in a protest movement against a now suspended extradition law.”