Analogies of Trump to Hitler can be misleading. While material conditions for many Americans are distressing, they are not as dire as Weimar Germany, following its economic collapse. Nor do the Proud Boys and company approximate the hundreds of thousands of trained and armed paramilitaries under Hitler’s direct command. Most important, the mass working class Communist and Socialist parties in Weimar Germany were positioned to contend for state power, while trade unions and third parties challenging bourgeoise rule are in decline in the US today. Under fascism, the capitalist class voluntarily cedes a degree of economic decision making to a dictatorial state in exchange for guarantees of public order and promises to keep their profits.
The World Socialist Web Site has uncovered evidence that police departments across the United States have paid thousands of dollars for “training” by a fascistic private military contractor, Northern Red Inc. Former trainers at the company who have since left and founded their own ventures have continued to train police departments in the death squad tactics honed in the course of US neo-colonial wars overseas. Last month, during a congressional hearing on the January 6 coup attempt that took testimony from US Capitol Police Inspector General Michael Bolton, it was revealed that in 2018 and 2019 the US Capitol Police paid Northern Red Inc. $90,075 to train its Containment Emergency Response Team, or CERT.
On Sunday, CBS News’ “60 Minutes” profiled the Oath Keepers, a white-supremacist veterans’ group founded when President Barack Obama assumed office. The program traced the group’s history from its 2009 formation to its armed support of Cliven Bundy in 2014 to its open plotting of sedition in December 2020. Then CBS showed some cell-phone footage of the 40 members of the group on Jan. 6, 2021, as they breached the U.S. Capitol in perfect military formation. That insurrection’s aftereffects are still being felt, with 400 participants having been arrested by the Justice Department. Now, as indictments loom, at least one Oath Keeper is openly cooperating with the Department of Justice, and the country’s two political parties are broadcasting dueling narratives about Jan. 6.
The January 6th raid on the Capitol and the pandemic that has upended the lives of every American seemingly have nothing to do with Venezuela. But the effects they had on U.S. political and economic stability offer a glimpse into what Venezuelans have been going through for the past several years of failed coups and sanctions. Remember how January 6th felt? The shock, confusion and fear. The constant refreshing of Twitter feeds or eyes glued to cable news, watching a bunch of extremists attempt to overthrow the government. The not knowing what was going to happen next and whether it would impact our daily lives. For Venezuelans, there is no one “January 6.” There are at least half a dozen.
The Democrats’ second trial of Trump ends like the first: the outcome known in advance, the entire process designed to sell to the anti-Trump masses that the Democrats were leading some progressive counter-attack. Both impeachments enabled these politicians to present a national diversion to avoid addressing real issues the US people suffer from: the pandemic, lack of vaccines, no national health care program, increasing homelessness, closed schools. The Democrats' first impeachment over Trump’s phone call to Ukraine aimed to sully his name for the benefit of the 2020 Democratic presidential campaign. hey purposely did not address Trump’s actual crimes: his cruelty to Latino immigrants on the border, his indifference to police abuse of Blacks and Latinos, his racist attacks on non-white US citizens and residents, his neglect of the threat of global warming, funding the genocidal war against Yemen, bombing other countries, such as Syria, illegal and cruel sanctions on Cuba and Venezuela.
The impeachment circus has mercifully come to an end. The public have endured rank hypocrisy and a cynical show meant to give both parties cover for their wrong doing. The Republicans defended Donald Trump on the charge of inciting an insurrection because that’s what their people want them to do. Their rank-and-file members are Trump defenders, and senators took a risk if they voted to convict the man who garnered more than 74 million votes in his losing effort. As usual the Democrats want to look like an opposition party without really opposing anything. They made media stars of their impeachment managers, who talked a lot about the need to punish Trump for the January 6 Capitol riot and the threat to democracy if that didn’t happen.
As the Capitol insurrection on January 6 descended into a frenzy of mob violence, a far-right paramilitary group known as the Oath Keepers marched through the sea of rioters and protesters, up the east steps of the Capitol building and into the rotunda. Video from that day shows the Oath Keepers marching in a military formation known as “Ranger File”, described by the Associated Press as ‘standard operating procedure for a combat team that is “stacking up” to breach a building – instantly recognizable to any U.S. soldier or Marine who served in Iraq and Afghanistan.’ On November 10, 2020, nearly two months before the insurrection that had sought to prevent the transfer of power to then-president-elect Joe Biden, the Oath Keepers distributed a propaganda letter titled “March on DC, Stop the Steal, Defend the President, & Defeat the Deep State.”
History is being written in the United States today. Even the most pessimistic about the prospects of American democracy have rarely ventured out this far while offering a bleak analysis of America’s future, whether in terms of political polarization at home or global standing abroad. As shocking and, certainly, telling as the images of thousands of American protesters taking over the symbols of America’s federal, representative democracy in Washington DC on January 6, it was only a facet in a far more complex and devastating political trajectory that has been in the making for years. While mainstream US media has conveniently attributed all of America’s ills to the unruly character of outgoing President Donald Trump, the truth is not quite so convenient.
Washington, DC - Enrique Tarrio, the leader of the Proud Boys extremist group, has a past as an informer for federal and local law enforcement, repeatedly working undercover for investigators after he was arrested in 2012, according to a former prosecutor and a transcript of a 2014 federal court proceeding obtained by Reuters. In the Miami hearing, a federal prosecutor, a Federal Bureau of Investigation agent and Tarrio’s own lawyer described his undercover work and said he had helped authorities prosecute more than a dozen people in various cases involving drugs, gambling and human smuggling. Tarrio, in an interview with Reuters Tuesday, denied working undercover or cooperating in cases against others.
The Capitol building riot of January 6 marked the messiest transition in recent history of ruling class power from one chief executive of the capitalist world to the next. If that history is any guide, the change of guard neither portends better treatment of working people nor a reduction of the threat of fascism. Trump may have been booted off the mainstage, but the next act promises to be worse. Beyond the particularities of either Mr. Trump’s or Mr. Biden’s personalities or even the parties they represent, fundamental institutional factors have and will likely determine the trajectory of neoliberal capitalism towards an ever more authoritarian state, austerity for workers, and imperialism abroad.
The US national security state failed to prevent the pro-Trump mob attack on the Capitol. Yet instead of accountability, US intelligence officials are being emboldened via increased militarization, censorship, and surveillance. Max Blumenthal and Aaron Maté discuss the dangerous fallout. Rather than prioritize accountability for US intelligence officials’ failure to prevent the pro-Trump mob attack on the Capitol, the incident is instead being used to expand the national security state’s powers. Max Blumenthal, who witnessed the Capitol mob and reported on a key participant, discusses his coverage of the attack and the dangers of a militarized, myopic response.
The U.S. Justice Department has reversed an earlier assertion in court by prosecutors that protestors who broke into the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 had plans to “capture and assassinate elected officials.” Instead, the head of the DOJ investigation into the Capitol siege admitted that federal prosecutors filed a misleading statement before a federal judge in Arizona that was intended to prevent Jacob Chansley, aka Jake Angeli, from being released on bail. The DOJ said that though there were calls to kill officials during the two-hour takeover of the Capitol, no evidence has been discovered yet to prove any serious effort to carry out such a plan.
January 6, like December 7 eighty years earlier, will forever live in history as a day of infamy. Yet unlike the foreign military attack on the US base in Pearl Harbor in 1941, the domestic terrorist attack upon the US Capitol in 2021 enjoyed the objective support of nearly one-third of the US Congress and vast sections of the US population. “Stop the Steal”, the rallying cry of the violent mob which invaded and ransacked the US Capitol was officially echoed by 147 members of Congress, all Republicans, later on that infamous day and trumpeted loudly throughout the land for months by none other than the President of the United States and his regime.
There are key flashpoints that define the Trump years. The escalator speech. The “total and complete shutdown.” Charlottesville. But these were not qualitatively dissimilar from the bulk of his Presidential term, during which racism and violence became ubiquitous. These forces were the water we swam in—which was already the case for BIPOC and marginalized communities. But the Trump era saw these social dynamics doused in accelerant. The aggressive war on the border, the pathological cruelty of social service cuts, or the police siege against social movements are not the only defining facets of the Trump presidency.
The most dramatic footage to emerge from the far-right storming of the US Capitol on January 6 depicted the lethal shooting of Ashli Babbit, a pro-Trump activist and military veteran, by a Capitol Police officer. The man responsible for capturing that video was John Sullivan, a self-styled activist who has operated under aliases “Activist X,” “Activist John,” and “Jayden X.” Since an interview with CNN’s Anderson Cooper, who described him as a “left-wing activist,” Sullivan has become Exhibit A in the right-wing’s conspiratorial case claiming Antifa was responsible for the violence in the Capitol. Through interviews with Sullivan, his brother, a video-journalist documenting his exploits, and Black Lives Matter (BLM) activists who...