quick analysis of the capitol riot
On the Wednesday preceding the publication of this article hundreds of Trump supporters attacked the US capital building during a ceremonial recognition of president elect Joe Biden's 2020 election victory. The immediate spur of the siege was a speech by president Donald Trump given at a rally urging his supporters to march on the capital. The President made this speech as a last ditch effort to overturn the 2020 election results after his legal team's attempts to do so by claiming mass election fraud have been completely stamped out in the courts.
The event seemed spontaneous, but the news media has reported far-right groups and even the president himself produced rather clear signs that something of this nature was going to take place. This has lead to talk of a "crises of security" where the local police have been scrutinized for seemingly putting up no opposition to the attempted sacking of a major political ceremony. The crises of security presented a stark contrast to the militarized police, national guard, and at times full blown military presence which bore down on crowds of peaceful protestors during the past months of black lives matter protests. The event was deeply traumatic for America's political elite as it constituted a semi-organized threat to their personal well-beings. The event has been condemned not only by Democrats, but also by what seems to be the entire Republican establishment.
So what does this event tell us about US politics and social movements? I believe it tells us three things:
1. Donald Trump is in a bad way.
2. The Trumpist genie can't be put back in the bottle.
3. US police forces are nothing more than the black patrol.
Almost since election night itself president Trump has mobilized as many resources as he could muscle to overturn the election results. Mr. Trump is clearly desperate to remain in power. Why is this? After all, it is not really a normal occurrence that an outgoing president refuses to leave. Many will posit that it is because Mr. Trump is a wanna be autocrat. He wants as much power for himself as possible and he can't stand to loose the US government as his personal plaything. This certainly isn't an incorrect assessment, but there is something maybe even more important to consider.
Donald Trump is facing multiple charges upon his departure from office. He has been accused of sexual assault and corrupt businesses practices. The state of New York is investigating him through the same office that was once held by his personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani. He will not be able to pardon himself, nor will anyone else be able to pardon him. The only way he can avoid the path to possible jail time is a second presidential term. Time, however, has run out on this option.
Once this door closed on Mr. Trump's face he scrambled to achieve the impossible task of overturning a US presidential election. This was never going to work. His legal staff frantically grasped at straws like honing in on votes which wouldn't have moved the dial away from Biden's victory in the states in question anyway. His attempts have been rejected every which way and as a result even the fantasy of overturning the election is now completely up in smoke.
The dominant political ideology of the 19th and 20th centuries was centrist liberalism. Under this ideology governments dolled out limited civil rights and social programs in order to give the global lower strata some vested interest in the world-system. The 1970s saw a world-economic crises that put stress on governments so severe that they buckled and could no longer provide the limited civil liberties and social programs leading to "neoliberalism" where social programs were slashed and the state's control over things like organized labor increased.
During centrist liberalism's period of dominance it subordinated it's two competitors; radicalism and conservatism. It's collapse set them both free to pursue their independent agendas. Conservatism, the political ideology based on the defense of inequality and social hierarchy, reasserted itself in two forms. One was in the economic form, i.e. neoliberalism. The other was in the socio-cultural form, i.e. nationalism, racism, sexism, xenophobia, ect.
Part of the neoliberal program in the United States was Reagan era tax cuts that produced an unprecedented resurgence of inequality. This inequality has lead to a significant decline in the fortunes of those who used to be relatively privileged. White workers were in many ways brought down to the level that those below them suffered in for hundreds of years before. In 2016 this allowed Trump to use socio-cultural conservatism (anti-immigrant, America first rhetoric) to do what leaders like him have done all around the world; argue that to get rid of the miseries of economic insecurity one needs to close off society to those not considered true members of the nation. His strategy was successful as his victories in rust belt states (areas afflicted by the neoliberal policies) combined with his electoral college victory and the stubbornness of the Democratic Party delivered his insurgent campaign the win.
What the Capital siege shows us is that Trump was not the cause of the rise of right-wing movements, he was only the product of this development. Trump lost the election, yet a mob of people throwing up white power signs and erecting nooses stormed the capital building. What reason could anyone conceivably have to believe that these people are just going to go away even a year into the Biden administration?
The crises of security at the capital certainly provides ample cognitive dissonance. Why did police use force against peaceful protestors to clear a path for Trump to pose with a bible while police at the capital can be seen in videos moving barricades to allow the mob in? Police forces around the world serve a specific purpose. That purpose is not to protect members of the population from violence. That purpose is to enforce the designated roles of the world-division of labor.
Since the United States was founded on slavery the US police force litterally evolved out of militias that caught run away slaves. The global division of labor dictates that in US society black people need extreme amounts of policing. As those allotted some of the worst roles and rewards within the division of labor they need to be forcibly pigeonholed, where as white people need to be ensured the best roles and rewards. This is why peaceful demonstrators against police racism, even unarmed black people not part of any social upheaval, are more threatening to US police forces then a mob of white nationalists storming the capital.
It's not the job of US police forces to defend against violent white people. It's their job to DO VIOLENCE against black people. This has been the reality since there were police in America. The job description of any and all American cops is "use violence to control the black population". This is the reason for our police brutality problem, not the racism of individual cops, not racist police chiefs, not lack of proper training, not poor representation of people of color in police departments, not lack of community control over police, but the social structure of the US police force itself.