This is republishing of a four part series that came out after the January 6th, 2021 fascist riots in Washington D.C. An attempt by Trump supporters, QAnon believers, and various white supremacist and neo-fascist militias to disrupt Amerikkka’s neoliberal order, that they believed was not serving their petty-bourgeoisie and middle class needs.
I’m both shocked and not surprised by what happened Wednesday. A fascists coup attempt that’s been years in the making. The signs were all there, neatly lined up. No one was hiding their intentions.
What follows is some thoughts and analysis of the situation. For some of you who haven’t been keeping up with fascist activity in the US, or the Black Lives Matter protests/insurrections during last summer, the connections explaining Wednesday won’t be obvious. Which is why you must pay attention. At the end, I’ll include some links to further reading.
Right off the bat, let’s be a hundred percent clear why fascists got into the Capitol building in the first place: the counter response by Capitol police was not only weak and utterly half-assed, but was sabotaged at multiple points by Donald Trump himself. Calls for the National Guard were denied by Trump, only to be eventually overturned by VP Pence.
The Capitol Police are a federal agency tasked with securing the US Congress. They repeatedly denied National Guard requests before and during the coup attempt. Security perimeters were lackluster and only focused in some areas. Capitol Police estimates of the crowd were all over the place. Many experts/officials said that assumptions were most likely made about the crowd because of their political and racial makeup. You can read more about the Capitol Police fuck-up here.
The police do not fear right-wing protestors for the very reason that right-wing protestors do not see the police as their enemy: they’re on the same side. Cops and Klan go hand in hand. The police’s level of intensity during the coup – pre-break-in and during it – in which police gave up ground to fascists, pathetically failed to keep them behind police lines, took selfies with them, and even escorted them down steps and to bathrooms in the Capitol building, only highlight this socio-political relationship.
This was not a moment of white privilege, but white power. An expression of the inherent superior status white people hold in a system of their own creation. During the George Floyd protests, Black and brown people were routinely singled out by police for beatens and arrests. Tons of videos exist showing the cruelty cops are not only capable of, but act on a daily basis. Cruelty that was interestingly missing during Wednesday’s coup attempt. This is not a wish for an equality of violence against fascists and BLM protestors alike. Nor is it a condoning of what police violence was used, Wednesday. It’s an acknowledgement of the systemic white supremacy that courses through this country’s veins.
This coup attempt failed, not because of the actions of law enforcement and National Guard, but because of the nature of the Trump supporters, Proud Boys, and various far-right groups that made up the fascist mob. It was a mob, through and through. They were disorganized, without any substantial leadership or goal, and had not thought of what to do after invading the Capitol building. Many of them left the Capitol building during the invasion because they got bored. Many of them wandered about like lost tourists. The ones who were militant could only rush doors, make a mess, and steal random trinkets.
This is not to downplay the severity of Wednesday’s coup attempt. It’s to point out how fuckin’ lucky we were. If they were more cohesive, organized, and focused the body count would’ve been higher, and they probably would’ve gotten a hold of Congressional aides and politicians. Or, barricaded themselves in the building.
These were not revolutionaries, but internet posters and middle class fanatics. The collective obsession – a seemingly automatic response – to wave their flags once ascending any number of stairs, scaffolding, and balconies highlights this. All in all, we’re lucky they were dumb as they were.
This is not the end. This coup, although a complete failure in our eyes, will be portrayed as an abject success in the books of various fascist and far-right groups hell-bent on violence and subjugation. Various neo-nazi and white supremacist groups were present, not only to recruit, but to enact damage. The QAnon fascist woman who died will become a martyr to some, and a false flag to others.
The QAnon/Trumper side will make up some insane narrative to excuse Trump’s capitulation to Biden, the coup failure, and other aspects of the insanity. Fascists are bolstered when left unchecked. The police are not a legitimate barrier to their continued accumulation of power. Biden’s presidency will not quell them. This is no longer an electoral issue. It’s a socio-political one. It’s one of community defense and empowerment.
And it must be met with a united front every time it rears its ugly head. Coups don’t happen without buildups. Rampant fascist violence and takeovers don’t happen all of a sudden. Everything that happened was communicated on open message boards and social media accounts. These fascists aren’t hiding anything because they don’t see themselves as the enemy of the state. They believe the state will allow them free reign to take out far-left groups however they see fit. And they’re largely right. But with most things in life, it’s not so black and white. A multi-front battle for fascists, against police and state power and the local anti-fascists defending their communities will only prove destructive for them in the long run. But it has to be a multi-front battle. The police and state apparatus will only defend their own structures of power. Communities – especially Black, brown, and Indigenous communities – will be left to their own devices. As they always are.
If you ever wondered what you’d be doing during the Nazi rise to power, in Germany, you’re doing it right now.
Rarely can we view scenes of violence without an emotional reaction. Our reactions can be one of internal trauma, reminding us of a previous harmful moment; or, one of sympathy with the subjects of violence; or some form of joy in seeing violence. In the aftermath of Wednesday’s coup attempt in the Capitol building, as more and more videos come forth into the limelight, it’s this feeling of sympathy that will prove troubling and enlightening.
How and where sympathy is expressed communicates a lot about our internal social alignment.
Many of you will see videos of the fascists and police getting hit, shot, and beaten and feel sympathy with them. You’ll think about the hundreds of people who will lose their jobs, get arrested, and recieve jail time. You might sympathize with their predicament. Sympathy isn’t an inherently bad emotion to feel, but at this moment it’s necessary to analyze that feeling of sympathy. Contrast it with other events that deserve sympathy (and even empathy). Dig deep down into the root cause of that sympathy.
A lot of white people – who haven’t criticized their whiteness as a socio-political force that privileges their lives over Black, brown, and indigenous lives, and gives them power in an overlapping system of institutionalized racism – will instinctively feel and express more sympathy toward this Trump/fascist mob than George Floyd and the countless victims of police abuse last summer during said insurrections.
A lot of white people can look at the protestors during the Black Lives Matter protests and discount their experiences, actions, and beliefs as misguided and deserving of the violence inflicted on them by the police-carceral state apparatus. The videos of teenagers, young, and elderly people getting tear gassed, maced, and beaten (many times to the point of serious injury or mainment), failed to trigger sympathy within these white people. It failed to kick them into action in any sense of the word. A lot of these white people justified the beatings and killings. Their rhetoric expressed their alignment with the forces of injustice and oppression.
Now, if I were to say that the QAnon fascist woman who died at the Capitol on Wednesday “deserved it,” and that I “don’t give a fuckin’ shit.” Or, if I laughed at the thought of a police officer dying by the hands of fascists flying thin blue line flags. How would you react? (note: I’m not saying this. It’s a mental exercise.)
Many of you would be furious. You’d go ape-shit on me for being a such and such bad person.
With that image in your mind, let’s compare it to the crowds of protestors fighting for justice against cops who kill and maim with impunity. One group is fighting for a lost life and the lost lives and brutality Black people experience daily in the so-called “US.” The other group is protesting an election they believe to be rigged, because they exist in Trump’s cult of personality and echo chambers. They yell at Black and Hispanic kids to “go back to your country.” They beat random people in cities they don’t belong in, often targeting them for being Black, trans, or “antifa.” They commit hate crimes, advocate for civil war, and enjoy larping as fascist death squads.
Even if you identify as a conservative, why would you, as a white person, feel more sympathy for these people than the ones fighting for justice? Especially when they violate everything you claim to believe in.
Whiteness. That’s why! White people live racially isolated lives: they don’t consciously see their whiteness as a distinction, because it’s the norm. They engage in various levels of racial segregation and oppression against Black and Indigenous peoples, and other groups outside the norm. Whiteness is the norm, and therefore, what these middle class white people do is considered justified. When their actions can’t be justified – like many right-wingers are running up against after Wednesday’s coup attempt – they create elaborate narratives to dismiss the incident, so as to avoid responsibility. The Capitol building wasn’t totally cleared before right-wing conspiracy theories started to proliferate, accusing “undercover antifa” groups of invading the Capitol building. (as someone pointed out on twitter, if it was antifa charging the Capitol building, it would’ve been burned down by now.)
When Black people and their white accomplices protest, it’s called a riot. When white right-wingers and their fascist allies protest, attack cops, and storm a Federal building, it’s called a false flag.
I’ve dived into the social and political makeup of whiteness before in more detail (and I’ll continue to do so in the future), but the point is who is worthy of white’s sympathy is largely based on the skin color and political alignment of the group. Who do you automatically feel more sympathy with? Does this racialized sympathy lead you to feel sorry for the fascists getting doxxed, arrested, and socially ostracized?
This is not an argument to distribute sympathy equally across groups regardless of political alignment or actions. This is an invitation to question a reality that has been forced on you via societal norms and institutions. A reality you might have accepted by now.
Whiteness teaches us to feel for the abuser and victim-blame the abused. It teaches us to sidestep the moral conundrum we put ourselves in when we advocate for suffering and domination. It teaches us that what we advocate for is right, because we have the opportunity to be at the top of the hierarchy. That the opportunity is a sick lie covered in the blood of subjugated generations is conveniently hidden from, or justified in our eyes.
Most people, I’d hope, wouldn’t demonize the kids who stand up to the school bully. The issue at hand is much more complex than simple school bullying, but the mental exercise is necessary to see where white rhetoric is ultimately taking us: a perversion of morality, transforming into malicious destruction hell bent on the accumulation of power. Fascism.
To sympathize with a fascist is to condone fascism.
Leave it to America to completely miss the lessons of a bunch of right-wing white people charging a Federal building. Too many are calling them “terrorists” in an effort to communicate the severity of the situation. An understandable conflation, but misguided nonetheless.
Terrorism is not a neutral word. It’s incredibly racialized and politicized in its application and history. Images of Middle East extremism, and anarchist ideology run wild within its boundaries. Although most terrorists are white supremacists and fascists, the dominant imagery is of racial and political others. But what is worse, in light of the J6 fascist mob, is how the state uses terrorism as an excuse to reinforce control over the populace. As we saw after 9/11.
Make no mistake, politicians and security personnel will gloss over the reality of J6 as a result of inherent police biases toward white right-wingers, opting for a push to increase police funding and surveillance in one of the most surveilled cities in the nation. It wasn’t for a lack of funding or numbers that ended with the police being overrun. They failed because they overestimated their friendly relationship with the fascist mob. They ignored easily accessible information that the right-wingers were planning something. And to some level, allowed this dumpster fire to grow to monstrous proportions.
Rhetoric is extremely important in times like these, in terms of figuring out where public opinion is headed, and what politicians/officials will do. I have no faith that the government will effectively deal with this threat in any substantive manner.
As some other comrades have explained it to me, some lower level fascists will be arrested and sent to jail. There, they’ll probably get in contact with more extreme white supremacists. If you’re not familiar, prisons are one of the biggest white supremacist recruitment areas. But as I’ve said in previous essays, the fascists are aligned with capitalist/state interests. They are petty-bourgeoisie, middle management, middle class who feel disenfranchised by previous financial crises, and threatened by the election of Barack Obama. They’re not revolutionaries, but disgruntled normies who’ve been radicalized over ten plus years.
Any funding or beefing up of the police and surveillance state will ultimately be directed against the very people who actively act against fascist mobilizing. Leftist and Black Lives Matter groups will be targeted and rounded up with a furious momentum, as they always are. The fascists, like Trump supporters, Proud Boys, III%ers, and other smaller neo-nazi groups don’t pose an outright revolutionary threat to the government. They disrupt the peace once in a while, sure. But they provide a paramilitary force that can act in ways the government can’t outright act toward dissidents.
Fighting the police is much different than fighting the fascists in the streets. White supremacists and fascists have a long history of infiltrating and recruiting from the ranks of the police. Various police, border patrol and other law enforcement groups endorsed Trump’s candidacy. The police do not protect us, they act as property protectors and tools of control and suppression. It shouldn’t be surprising or hard to grasp that they would align themselves with reactionary figures like Trump, and other fascist sentiments.
We’re not dealing with terrorists, but a sizable and militant segment of the middle class that has radicalized, in light of recent economic hardships and threats to the white supremacist system. Instead of recognizing the implicit failings of capitalism, and joining the side of the working class, they’ve opted to create their own reactionary movement. A movement against the bourgeoisie, politicians who don’t pander to their interests, and ideologically opposed groups (groups who historically protect their main targets). This movement doesn’t want reform. It wants power.
“Ur-Fascism derives from individual or social frustration. That is why one of the most typical features of the historical fascism was the appeal to a frustrated middle class, a class suffering from an economic crisis or feelings of political humiliation, and frightened by the pressure of
lower social groups.
To people who feel deprived of a clear social identity, Ur-Fascism says that their only privilege is the most common one, to be born in the same country. This is the origin of nationalism. Besides, the only ones who can provide an identity to the nation are its enemies. Thus at the root of the Ur-Fascist psychology there is the obsession with a plot, possibly an international one.”~ Ur-fascism By Umberto Eco
The past reproduces present atrocities. Failure to pick out the roots will only exacerbate the weed problem. Fascism, as a socio-political organism, has its roots deep within the psyche of the American way of life. White supremacy, even more so.
Lessons must be learned. In terms of the building blocks that led up to the January 6th fascist riot in the Capitol, and in terms of the shit we let slide on a daily basis.
The other is the quintessential obsession of the fascist. Defined by nationality, race, gender, political alignment, or some combo thereof, fascism goes after the marginalized and disempowered. It should be obvious that not every racist, sexist, transphobe, and xenophobe is a fascist, but it’s important to know where the stakes lie. Xenophobia has been a common occurrence since this country was founded. Chinese immigrants were used as cheap labor to build the country’s infrastructure, only to be demonized by public opinion. Same with every nationality that’s immigrated here. Xenophobia isn’t new. But its intensity these days, combined with economic and socio-political clashes, enlivens it.
Here’s the kicker for some of y’all: nationalism inherently plays into xenophobia. They are one in the same. Nationalism is foundational for fascism. A main characteristic of it. The Trumper, QAnon fascists constantly rail against globalism, liberal elites, foreign powers (like, Iran, China, the UN, etc), and immigrants. All of this is mixed with white supremacy. US nationalism is white supremacy incarnate. It fuels these bigoted, fascists elements, that, when times get tough, become activated elements within our socio-political system.
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The middle class and the petty-bourgeoisie (shopkeepers, entrepreneurs, small business owners, and the managerial class) are prime conduits for these fascist undercurrents. As the class strata contracts (read increased inequality), those with some will push to keep what little they still have. The working and poor classes, being at the bottom of the class strata have little to no power except when united against their bosses and capitalist owners. I’ve argued before that the middle class is becoming more and more a state of mind, as opposed to an income bracket. I blame this on increased inequality. Older generations of the middle class learned to live with certain expectations. They imparted this on their children. But even the older generations are losing what little they have. Some, in this moment of cognitive dissonance, unify themselves with the working and poor classes; realizing that their true enemy are the robber barons above them. For the vast majority of the shrinking middle class, this fact flies over their heads. They begin to drift farther and farther into conspiracy theories and jingoistic fervor.
As inheritors of a white supremacist society (again, the vast majority of middle class culture is dominated by whiteness) waist deep in nationalist fervor, this class begins to latch onto historical boogiemen. The US empire’s centuries of atrocities and misdeeds make the targets obvious. It’s no coincidence that our fascist creep plays into the US empire’s foreign relations, namely countries like Iran (the US destroyed a democratically elected president to install the Shah), China (US capitalists are unable to dominate Chinese Capitalists’ territory), and North Korea (Cold War atrocities).
If the political apparatus fails to quench their fears and demands, the middle class and petty-bourgeoisie turn reactionary. Or, should I say, accentuate their reactionarism. Many times, this reactionarism, and eventual fascism is utilized by capitalists to suppress worker unifications and lefitst encroachment. That a fascist riot broke out in D.C. and violated the seats of power – that they claim to revere – not long after the multi-month long uprising by Black Lives Matter and their lefitst accomplices is no accident. This has happened before with both iterations of the Klan.
Fascism will eventually, if left unchecked, outgrow its capitalist puppet masters. Fascism is only anti-capitalist in the sense that it wants to capture power from the capitalist class, to better serve the interests of the petty-bourgeoisie. It’s a power tossle between the varying levels of the upper class.
In the US, with our long and stringent history of racism, slavery, and subjugation, a fascist state would be an explicit ethno state.
Middle class sensibilities – its culture – play into this. At the very least, it excuses reactionary tendencies by couching them as the “way things are.” “Common sense,” turned fascistic sleeper cell. The intricacies of middle class cultural indoctrination are beyond the scope of this essay. But! It’s worth saying that the middle class psyche is explicitly self-centered in its quest to carve out a mini-kingdom to dominate. Not every component of this mini-kingdom is inherently problematic (although I do have a lot to say about the nuclear family). As a whole, combined with a mindset of accumulation emulating high class interests and sensibilities, it provides an easy pathway to further and further reactionary thought.
It explains how liberals can be complicit in fascist creep. Still glued to the values implicit within middle class culture, liberals value “going back to normal” over all else. Fighting fascists, regardless of tactics or intensity, is against their ethics because their ethics are tied up with the normalcy that gives capitalists and the state power. Pushing back against fascists disrupts business as normal. Pacifism isn’t so much a value, as an excuse to do nothing (while getting filled up on self-righteous delusions of grandeur).
That which starts off as the status quo, can eventually lead to reactionism, and if the situation deteriorates further, leads to the militancy we saw on J6.
American Christianity – specifically its evangelical, conservative elements – are prone to heightened levels of reactionism. To be fair, they’re prone to a lot of things. But who’s counting?
Our lack of critical introspectiveness, and general complicitness with interlocking systems of oppression, have become our undoing. As the baseball cap I have says so eloquently: your lifestyle sucks. But more explicitly: we can no longer walk around with plastic blinders around our eyes.
Domestication is so suffocating that it can force reactionary elements to resort to violence as a form of actualization. Fight Club is appealing – in a misunderstood way – because so many people – especially men – live domicile lives while being fed spoonfuls of patriarchal violence fantasies. Street battles are exhilarating because they unleash an untapped element that capitalism suppresses (until it needs it). Of course, violence isn’t an actualizing element. Violence can be part of the moment of actualizing. This is what the macho chud reactionaries fail to realize; it explains why it’s so easy to defeat them. Fascism is mob violence, honed to the tune of power trips and privileged entitlement. The actualization that anti-capitalist/anti-colonialist advocates offer is of a wholesome variety. It both encapsulates a wide perspective on life within the leviathan, and presents a mental, emotional, and physically healthy approach to confronting it.
Fascists only see red.
The enticing lies of hierarchical accumulation that posits itself within the middle class physique, along with the middle class virtue of mimicking bourgeoisie idiocies, leads them to either participate outright in reactionary, and subsequently fascists outcroppings, or to condone or excuse the abuses of their peers.
This might seem like dichotomous thinking to the more middle class among us, but there is nothing questionable about drawing a line between abusive violence and defending the lives of our neighbors and loved ones.
Accusations of “both-sides” are statements of culpability by middle class actors. It’s no surprise that the ones who throw out such narrow-minded concepts are the ones who object to all forms of anti-fascist work that doesn’t explicitly reinforce the power structures of the state. Fascists aren’t voted out. Historically, they’ve always been voted into power.
The failings of the liberal middle class perspective to decipher fascistic rise is its inability to connect the dots beyond the most surface level tv-show plot. Life is more complicated than Game of Thrones, or, dare I say it, Harry Potter.
This is not to say that all semblance of autonomy is nonexistent from the ranks of the middle class; reactionary or liberal. Broad explanations of class consciousness and social alignments do not require the absolution of free will. Our lives are not islands. We live within a larger whole. Cogs within machines.
Failing to see the forest for the trees is to become defenseless to broader societal trends. Trends that are far from innocent. The winds of society can drive us anywhere if we’re not careful about the direction, or where we are already.