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(en) Melbourne Anarchist Communist Group: THE TRUMP PUTSCH by ablokeimet

Date Wed, 13 Jan 2021 10:19:09 +0200

The following statement was released by the Melbourne Anarchist Communist Group on 10 January 2021. ---- It is important to call the events of Tuesday 6 January in Washington DC in the US by their proper name. It was an attempted Fascist putsch, consciously incited though not directed by Donald Trump. It was an attempt to prevent the US Congress taking the final step to authorise the inauguration of Joe Biden as President a fortnight later. It failed and we're glad it did. ---- Capitalist media organisations are notoriously unreliable at estimating numbers at political events, but it's clear that at least tens of thousands of Trump supporters attended a demonstration in Washington under Fascist leadership. Up to a couple of thousand people, including organised Fascist groups and known Fascist identities, stormed the Capitol building (the US Parliament House). The mob included not a few off-duty cops who were seen flashing their IDs to the Capitol Police on the way in. The rioters disrupted the proceedings, which were a certification of the results of the Electoral College, and took over the meeting chambers and many other areas of the building. Photographs have emerged from inside showing men in combat gear, carrying weapons and zip ties for handling prisoners. Eventually, the rioters were forced to leave. Congress resumed its session and recognised the result of the Electoral College.

Police treatment of the Washington event was remarkably light, especially considering that Fascists had been threatening for weeks to storm the Capitol and that Black Lives Matter protestors have been met with overwhelming and aggressive police violence. Leftist demonstrators would never have been given the opportunity to reach the steps, let alone breach the doors and break windows. Instead, several cops posed for selfies with members of the mob. At a later point, a woman Trump supporter was shot dead by Capitol Police. Three other Trump supporters died from "medical emergencies" (only one of which occurred inside the Capitol) and a cop died the next day.

Trump incited his Fascist followers to storm the Capitol as a last ditch attempt to prevent Biden's inauguration, following the refusal of Mike Pence (Trump's Vice President) to prevent it by acting in his role of presiding over the Senate. This was after a series of attempts by Trump to frustrate the inauguration of Biden. He called rallies of his supporters outside counting centres; launched dozens of court cases, losing on all but a handful of minor procedural points; and tried to heavy various State governors and officials involved in the election process. His phone call to the Georgia Secretary of State was recorded and released on the Internet and showed just how desperate Trump was becoming.

The Trump putsch, if it had been successful, would have transformed the United States into a Fascist dictatorship. Trump's private army would have swept away the legislative branch of government. To make it stick, he would have been compelled to sack and/or arrest thousands of public officials - including, possibly, judges. But to carry through a putsch in defiance of a democratic election, it's necessary to have plenty of friends in high places. Trump found he didn't have nearly enough friends. He was beaten by the Deep State.

The failure of the putsch is a major blow to Trump. He has forced many Republican politicians, including the Vice President, to break with him. Most of the rest of the country is enraged. He has now been forced to promise a peaceful transfer of power on 20 January. This is both an admission of defeat and a concession that his conduct until now has contained an implicit threat of a coup.

There is no precise analogy from well-known history, but the closest one is Adolf Hitler's Beer Hall Putsch of 1923. A relatively small group of people attempted, with daring action, to deliver the government of Germany into the hands of a dictator. The failure of the putsch was a setback for the Nazis, but the Weimar Republic treated the putschists with kid gloves. Hitler was sentenced to only five years prison and was released after nine months. Worse, successive Weimar governments eroded democratic rights with frequent states of emergency and left Germany's social problems unresolved. Hitler was able to rebuild his political credibility and then capitalise on the crisis created by the Depression. And we all know what followed that.

The Beer Hall Putsch analogy contains a lesson. Trump has given his enemies an opportunity to put him out of business, but the Democrats won't follow through. The Fascists who stormed the Capitol building are being denounced by everyone, including Trump, and will probably be hung out to dry, but the consequences for Trump himself won't be anywhere near hard enough. And the way Biden governs will, in due course, rehabilitate Trump. Left to their own devices, the Democrats will pave the way for the revival of Trump's political fortunes.

Democrats will make their own assaults on democratic rights. Already, Biden has called the people who stormed the Capitol "domestic terrorists" and Democrats across the board have picked up on his cue. In using this term, Biden isn't referring to the pipe bombs and the truck full of Molotov cocktails found in Washington, which have hardly got a mention in the mainstream media. He also wasn't speaking about the death of a cop, which occurred after his statement. The "terrorism" he was denouncing was what was on everyone's TV screens - a mob breaking windows, occupying the Capitol and disrupting a sitting of Congress.

Biden knows what he is doing. By denouncing Trump's foot soldiers as terrorists, he is preparing for a broader crackdown on political activity outside accepted political channels. Any new laws or police powers will apply as much to the Left as to the Right. They will be used by the cops with glee against the Left and not at all or hardly ever against the Right. And Democrats denouncing (with equal parts ignorance and malice) the rioters in the Capitol as "anarchists" will have real consequences for actual Anarchists.


The first lesson to be drawn is that the US bourgeoisie have not given up on capitalist democracy. It is their preferred form of rule, since there are too many capitalists to fit inside a single palace. While the capitalists are prepared to abandon democracy if it is necessary to preserve their power, they fear that a dictator would rule in the interests of one faction of capital rather than the capitalist class as a whole.

Secondly, there is nothing surprising about the events in Washington. Not the Fascist mobs. Not Trump's incitement. Not the complicit approach of the cops. Not the failure of the putsch. Not the Democrats' turn to "law and order". And not the liberals' surprise at all of these things except the last.

The Democrats will handle the aftermath of the putsch in a way that will strengthen the Right. They will pass yet more repressive laws. They will wax lyrical about the precious institutions of capitalist democracy and vehemently denounce the invaders of Congress. But when it comes to prosecuting and sentencing, many of these invaders will get kid glove treatment.

Finally, we need to realise that liberals are not our friends. They are not quietly on our side while we do the dangerous stuff. When push comes to shove, liberals want the heavy hand of the State to suppress Right wing dissent. They do not support working class counter-mobilisation. When the workers of the United States make a revolution, they will disperse the liberals' precious Congress - themselves - not to establish a dictatorship, but to allow the mass organs of workers' democracy to take power. And they will need to be prepared to defend themselves against a last-ditch violent reaction by the old regime, supported whole-heartedly by the liberals.


For the time being, Trump is badly wounded and the Republican Party is deeply divided. The Fascists are demoralised because Trump is dumping on them to save his own skin. The Democrats are angry and also feel vindicated.

Anarchists in the United States need to ensure that the organisers of the Trump Putsch are clearly identified as Fascists for the world to see. Anarchists need to seize the opportunity to break the links that have been developing between them and the mainstream Right and calling the Fascists by their true name is an essential part of that. And Anarchists need to run hard against the Democrats' agenda of righteous "law and order" and neo-liberalism. Biden was always going to be a bad President. The Trump Putsch means he'll be worse.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
Posted on 10 January, 2021 by ablokeimet
This article first appeared in The Anvil, Vol 9 No 6, published 31 Dec 2020.

The US Presidential election is over and Donald Trump has lost. While he has convinced his hard core supporters than the election has been stolen from him, he has failed to get sufficient backing from powerful actors to mount a coup. Joe Biden will take office on 20 January.

Biden will have no honeymoon. The previous two Democratic Presidents faced a massive Right wing reaction as soon as they took office, although they had no opposition worth noting from the Left. The Republicans will try a third time to mount a reactionary movement and Trump will probably lead it. Biden campaigned on a platform of being a "normal President" - but "normal" politics is precisely what led to the election of Trump in 2016. Left to his own devices, Biden will bring the Washington establishment even further into disrepute and set the stage for Trump to be re-elected in 2024 (health permitting). Biden will rule for Wall Street, allow inequality to grow unchecked and confine progressive policies to gestures that will infuriate the Right while not satisfying the burning needs of the mass of workers in the US.

There is a new factor. Obama took office when the grassroots Left was small, weak and inexperienced. As a result, there were massive illusions in him, something that demobilised the Left for some years. Under Clinton back in 1992, the situation was even worse. The Left was ideologically shattered by the collapse of the USSR and its organisations were falling to pieces. The capitalists were celebrating the "death of communism" and proclaiming "the end of history". Now the grassroots left is confident and growing, having left full or partial ideological dependence on the USSR behind. For the first time since LBJ, a Democratic President will take office with a grassroots challenge from the Left.

The strategy

The social movement in the United States faces a fundamental strategic choice. Either it works through the Democratic Party or against it. Every movement throws up a layer of activists who use it to climb into Parliament, but the crucial issue is whether the movement will follow them and divert itself into Parliamentary channels. The moment the movement tones down its actions or demands to suit the fortunes of Bernie Sanders or Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, it's finished as an independent force. It's not for nothing that the Democratic Party is known in the US as the graveyard of political movements. It's happened so many times before that activists have no excuse for not seeing it coming.

Anarchist communists in the United States need to avoid being distracted by the siren call of demands to change the Democratic Party. The priority must be to build the grassroots struggle, in whatever sphere it erupts, while engaging patiently with those who think there is currently no alternative to the Democrats. And the argument has to be that "We - the grassroots movement - are the alternative to the Democrats. We're creating facts on the ground to which all politicians must respond in some way, while the organisations we are building are the new society within the shell of the old."

The struggle

Finally, we must consider the fields of struggle available. The struggle against the police and their racist violence, the struggle for immigrants' rights and against borders and the struggle to prevent rampant climate change have all generated strong grassroots movements in recent years. The first of these struggles is the one that has shaken the United States the most, because US capitalism is founded on the legacy of slavery. The demand that the State merely recognise that Black lives matter is enough to undermine the stability of its order and send the cops into a frenzy of violence.

The militant demonstrations against the police murder of George Floyd, for example, were entirely justified and spread like wildfire. Demonstrators can be beaten off the streets, however, as eventually happened in Minneapolis, Louisville, Atlanta, Portland and elsewhere. What would give this struggle, and all other struggles, the social weight to win would be bringing it into the workplace. If grassroots radicals were strong enough in the labour movement in Minneapolis to force the staging of a one day general strike there, the capitalists would have been hit where it really hurts. Cutting off the flow of profits would achieve far more to defund police and change their behaviour than any amount of reform pursued electorally.

The workplace is the source of the capitalists' power, so the struggle in that location is decisive. It is the vehicle for fighting the economic inequality that is driving down living standards for US workers for the first time since the Great Depression and fuelling the growth of Fascism. It is, though, much more than that. The struggle in the workplace can unite the multi-racial, multicultural and gender diverse working class in the fight against all forms of social oppression and build the solidarity needed to make the revolution to overthrow capitalism as a whole.

After Trump, the fundamental task is the same as before.


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