On The Anniversary Of the Jan 6 Insurrection, Workers Must Call For A United Front To Fight Fascism
SF Rally On January 6, 2021 12:00 PM SF Federal Building 90 7th St. SF
The victory of Biden and the Democrats did not stop the rise of fascism.
The economic conditions of poverty, collapse of the health system and the pandemic are conditions that expose the failure of capitalism,
The growing class hatred by the working class has led to a growing strike wave of workers at Columbia University, Volvo, Kellogg, the UMWA Warrior Met miners, Kaiser IUOE engineers against the union busting.
The call by the Vermont AFL-CIO before the election to warn about the threat of a attempted coup and insurrection was true then and is even more true today. Their call for a general strike was a correct answer to any coup and insurrection.
The unions, workers and workers organizations must work now to organize and form national and international united front movements against fascism.
We call for preparation today with education on the rise of fascism and self defense organizations to prepare for another fascist coup.
Fascists. have also used the pandemic to organize and also have joined in physically attacking unions in Italy and Australia. The same dangers are growing in the US.
The rise in racist, sexist, xenophobic, homophobic, Islamophobic and attack on immigrants is part of the rise of the fascist movement in the US and internationally.
The threats of war with China, Russia and war mongering and sanctions is part and parcel of the dangers of world war,
The use of a general strike and other mass working class action is necessary and if a coup takes place workers and workers organizations must be prepared to defend democratic and working class rights with the power of the organized working class and the oppressed.
We cannot depend on the Democrats, the military and the state apparatus to defend democratic rights.
The time is now to prepare for the upcoming battles with either the working class or the fascists in charge of the US.
We cannot allow and afford a coup or take-over of power by a fascist movement.
Endorsed by United Front Committee For A Labor Party, Class Conscious, Liaison Committee for the Fourth International and its national groups: Consistent Democrats (Great Britain) Liga Comunista (Brazil) Tendencia Militant Bolchevique (Argentine) Socialist Workers League (United States)
We call on other organizations that are concerned about the growth of fascism and the need for a united front of workers, unions and working class organizations to join this and organize similar actions in all cities in the US.
Millions of Angry, Armed Americans Stand Ready to Seize Power If Trump Loses in 2024
Mike "Wompus" Nieznany is a 73-year-old Vietnam veteran who walks with a cane from the combat wounds he received during his service. That disability doesn't keep Nieznany from making a living selling custom motorcycle luggage racks from his home in Gainesville, Georgia. Neither will it slow him down when it's time to visit Washington, D.C.—heavily armed and ready to do his part in overthrowing the U.S. government.
Millions of fellow would-be insurrectionists will be there, too, Nieznany says, "a ticking time-bomb" targeting the Capitol. "There are lots of fully armed people wondering what's happening to this country," he says. "Are we going to let Biden keep destroying it? Or do we need to get rid of him? We're only going to take so much before we fight back." The 2024 election, he adds, may well be the trigger.
Nieznany is no loner. His political comments on the social-media site Quora received 44,000 views in the first two weeks of November and more than 4 million overall. He is one of many rank-and-file Republicans who own guns and in recent months have talked openly of the need to take down—by force if necessary—a federal government they see as illegitimate, overreaching and corrosive to American freedom.
The phenomenon goes well beyond the growth of militias, which have been a feature of American life at least since the Ku Klux Klan rose to power after the Civil War. Groups like the Proud Boys and the Oath Keepers, which took part in the January 6th riot at the Capitol and may have played organizational roles, have grown in membership. Law enforcement has long tracked and often infiltrated these groups. What Nieznany represents is something else entirely: a much larger and more diffuse movement of more-or-less ordinary people, stoked by misinformation, knitted together by social media and well-armed. In 2020, 17 million Americans bought 40 million guns and in 2021 were on track to add another 20 million. If historical trends hold, the buyers will be overwhelmingly white, Republican and southern or rural.
America's massive and mostly Republican gun-rights movement dovetails with a growing belief among many Republicans that the federal government is an illegitimate tyranny that must be overthrown by any means necessary. That combustible formula raises the threat of armed, large-scale attacks around the 2024 presidential election—attacks that could make the January 6 insurrection look like a toothless stunt by comparison. "The idea that people would take up arms against an American election has gone from completely farfetched to something we have to start planning for and preparing for," says University of California, Los Angeles law professor Adam Winkler, an expert on gun policy and constitutional law.
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West Ohio Minutemen, an armed militia, stand guard near Public Square during the second day of the 2016 Republican National Convention in Cleveland, Ohio, on July 19, 2016.
MARCUS YAM/LOS ANGELES TIMES/GETTY
Both Democrats and Republicans are rapidly losing faith in the integrity of U.S. elections. Democrats worry that voter suppression and election interference from Republican state officials will deny millions of Americans their say at the polling booths. A PBS NewsHour/ NPR/ Marist poll in early November reported that 55 percent of Democrats saw voter suppression as the biggest threat to U.S. elections. Republicans claim, contrary to the evidence, that Democrats have already manipulated vote counts through fraud to steal a presidential election. An October CNN poll found that more than three-quarters of Republicans falsely believe Joe Biden's 2020 election win was fraudulent.
According to the Constitution, Congress and the Supreme Court are supposed to settle those sorts of dueling claims. Given the growing intensity and polarization of political life, would either side accept a decision that handed a contested 2024 election result to the other?
Such a decision would more likely bring tens of millions of protesters and counter-protesters into the streets, especially around the U.S. Capitol and possibly many state capitols, plunging the country into chaos. Although many Democrats might be inclined to demonstrate, a larger percentage of Republican protesters would almost certainly be carrying guns. If the Supreme Court ruling, expected in mid-2022, on New York State Rifle & Pistol Association v. Bruen establishes an unrestricted right to carry a gun anywhere in the country, bringing firearms to the Capitol in Washington, D.C. could be perfectly legal. Says Winkler: "The Supreme Court may be close to issuing the ruling that leads to the overthrow of the U.S. government."
If armed violence erupts the 2024 elections, quelling it could fall to the U.S. military, which may be reluctant to take arms against U.S. citizens. In that case, the fate of the nation might well be decided by a simple fact: a big subset of one of the two parties has for years been systemically arming itself for this very reason.
"I hope it's just too crazy to happen here," says Erica De Bruin, an assistant professor of government at Hamilton College, who studies coups around the world. "But it's now in the realm of the plausible."
Enemy at the Gates
Many Republicans are increasingly coming to see themselves less as citizens represented by the federal government, and more as tyrannized victims of that government. More than three-quarters of Republicans reported "low trust" in the federal government in a Grinnell College national poll in October; only a minority of Democrats agreed. From this point of view, peaceful elections will not save the day. More than two out of three Republicans think democracy is under attack, according to the Grinnell poll, which echoes the results of a CNN poll in September. Half as many Democrats say the same.
Mainstream news publications are filled with howls of protest over political outrages by Republican leaders, who are reflecting the beliefs of the party mainstream. But the small newspapers in the rural, red-state areas that are the core of the Republican party's rank and file are giving voice to a simpler picture: Politics are dead; it's time to fight. "Wake up America!" reads a September opinion piece excoriating Democrats in The Gaston Gazette, based in Gastonia, N.C. "The enemy is at our gates, God willing it is not too late to turn back the rushing tide of this dark regime." The piece goes on to quote Thomas Paine's exhortation to colonists to take up arms against the British. "We are in a civil war," a letter published in September in The New Mexico Sun likewise warns Republicans, "between the traditional Americans and those who want to impose socialism in this country and thus obtain complete government control of its citizens."
Evidence that a significant portion of Republicans are increasingly likely to resort to violence against the government and political opponents is growing. More than 100 violent threats, many of them death threats, were leveled at poll workers and election officials in battleground states in 2020, according to an investigation by Reuters published in September—all those threat-makers whom Reuters could contact identified as Trump supporters. In October 2020, 13 men were charged with plotting to kidnap Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer, a Democrat; all of them were aligned with the political right. Nearly a third of Republicans agree that "true American patriots may have to resort to violence in order to save our country," according to a September poll conducted by the Public Religion Research Institute, a non-partisan group. That's three times as many as the number of Democrats who felt the same way.
Guns are becoming an essential part of the equation. "Americans are increasingly wielding guns in public spaces, roused by persons they politically oppose or public decisions with which they disagree," concludes an August article in the Northwestern University Law Review. Guns were plentiful when hundreds of anti-COVID-precaution protestors gathered at the Michigan State Capitol in May 2020. Some of the armed protesters tried to enter the Capitol chamber.
Those who carry arms to a political protest may in theory have peaceful intentions, but there's plenty of reason to think otherwise. An October study from Everytown for Gun Safety and the Armed Conflict Location and Event Data Project (ACLED) looked at 560 protests involving armed participants over an 18-month period through mid-2021, and found that a sixth of them turned violent, and some involved fatalities.
One indication of how far Republicans may be willing to go in violently opposing the government is their sanguine reaction to the January 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol. Republicans by and large see no problem with a mob of hundreds swarming and forcing their way into the seat of American government. Half of Republicans said that the mob was "defending freedom," according to a CBS/YouGov poll taken just after the insurrection. Today two-thirds of Republicans have come to deny that it was an attack at all, according to an October survey by Quinnipiac University. "There's been little accountability for that insurrection," says UCLA's Winkler. "The right-wing rhetoric has only grown worse since then."
Most Republican leaders are circumspect when it comes to supporting violence against the government, but not all. Former Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke, a controversial character who remains popular among many Republicans, reportedly told an enthusiastic gathering of Trump supporters in October that if and when a "serious" insurrection springs up, "there's very little you're going to be able to do about it."
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Georgia Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene, another prominent Republican popular with the rank and file, opined that the January 6 insurrectionists were simply doing what the Declaration of Independence tells true patriots to do, in that they were trying to "overthrow tyrants." The real threat to democracy, she added, are Black Lives Matter protesters and Democratic "Marxist-communist" agents. Greene and Representative Madison Cawthorn, a Republican from North Carolina, have referred to some of the insurrectionists as "political prisoners."
Trump himself, of course, has nurtured a constant undercurrent of violence among his supporters from the beginning of his first presidential campaign. In 2016 he publicly stated he could shoot someone in the street without losing any of his political support, and he went on to encourage attendees at his rallies to assault protesters and journalists. When demonstrators at a rally in Miami were being dragged away, Trump warned that next time "I'll be a little more violent." At a 2016 rally in Las Vegas, he openly complained to the crowd that security wasn't being rough enough on a protester they were removing. "I'd like to punch him in the face, I'll tell you," he said.
Today Trump openly declares the January 6 rioters to be "great people." In October, he suggested that Republicans might not want to bother to vote in the 2022 or 2024 elections because of their concerns over fraud in the 2020 election. At the same time, he declared that he would achieve an "even more glorious victory in November of 2024." The notion that Republicans could turn their backs on voting booths while sweeping Trump to glory only makes sense if Trump envisions a path to taking power that doesn't require votes.
Republicans approve of that sort of talk. The October Quinnipiac poll found that while 94 percent of Democrats insist Trump is undermining democracy, 85 percent of Republicans say he's protecting it.
Where the Guns Are
In his acclaimed history of the early days of the American Revolution, "The British Are Coming," author Rick Atkinson explains one major reason why America became the first British colony to succeed in winning freedom, where others had failed. "Unlike the Irish and other subjugated peoples," he writes, "the Americans were heavily armed." Muskets, he points out, were "as common as kettles" among the colonists, and American riflemen were among the world's finest marksmen. That possession of and skill with guns, combined with the colonists' deep passion for ridding themselves of what they saw as government tyranny, would help carry the day against otherwise long odds.
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On display at a gun shop in Wendell, N.C., an AR-15 assault rifle manufactured by Core15 Rifle Systems.
Today the many Republicans who have convinced themselves that they, too, must cast off a tyrannical government have plenty of guns. Americans own about 400 million guns, according to the Switzerland-based Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies in Geneva. (The U.S. government doesn't track gun ownership.) The vast majority of those guns belong to Republicans. Gallup found that half of all Republicans own guns, nearly three times the rate of gun ownership as among Democrats. Gun owners are overwhelmingly male and white and are more likely to live in the rural south than anywhere else. Those demographics mesh neatly with the hard-core segment of the Republican party.
Gun sales have spiked wildly in the past two years. About 17 million people, or more than six percent of the population, bought 40 million guns in 2020 alone, according to research from Harvard and Northeastern Universities. Sales for 2021 are on track to add another 20 million to the total, according to gun-industry research firm Small Arms Analytics & Forecasting.
While there's data to suggest Democrats are stepping up their modest share of the gun-buying, recent history suggests that the great majority of these guns are going to Republicans. According to a 2017 Pew Research Center survey, Republicans and Republican-leaning independents were more than twice as likely to own a gun as their Democratic counterparts.
Former Iowa Representative Steve King, long known as someone unafraid to say out loud what many other Republicans are thinking, is confident that his party is better armed. "Folks keep talking about another civil war," he posted to Facebook in 2019. "One side has about 8 trillion bullets... Wonder who would win?"
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The impulse for violent insurrection among Republicans is getting some of its energy from the mostly Republican gun-rights movement, and vice-versa. That's a relatively new phenomenon. The right to own guns was long a passionate cause of conservatives, without ever posing much apparent threat to democracy. But that's changing fast.
In 2000, 60 percent of gun owners cited hunting as the reason they bought guns, according to a Gallup poll. Many of the rest listed "sport," which generally means target shooting. But by 2016, 63 percent were saying they bought guns for self-defense. That shift was brought on by growing paranoia about street crime and mob violence, a fear constantly pumped up on Fox and other right-wing media, which have long been conjuring up the notion that urban gangs and other trouble-makers are increasingly running rampant through suburbs and beyond.
Over the past four years those fears have been blurring into anti-government, pro-Trump, and in some cases white-supremacist movements. "We've seen the flourishing of a different view of gun rights, one that focuses on the necessity of owning guns in order to fight a tyrannical government," says Winkler. "The promotion of that idea has made it all the more likely that some people will come to see the government as a tyrannical one that needs to be overthrown." The resulting gun-rights-driven, anti-deep-state radicalism echoes throughout Republican-heavy social media and other communications channels.
The full text of the Vermont General Strike Authorization Resolution adopted on November 21, 2020:
Vermont AFL-CIO Resolution: Protect Democracy
November 21, 2020
WHEREAS, the Vermont AFL-CIO and our affiliates are committed to the defense of democratic rights and the institutions of democracy, regardless of the party affiliations of those in power;
WHEREAS, the Vermont AFL-CIO recognizes that democracy in the United States is hobbled by the archaic structure of the Electoral College and entrenchment of the two-party system;
WHEREAS, President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence have refused to acknowledge the results of the election in multiple key states and continue to mount frivolous lawsuits and various political interventions in a baseless attempt to overturn the November 3rd results;
WHEREAS, President Trump has refused, on multiple occasions, to denounce the activities of white supremacist militias and organizations that have stated desires to overthrow American democracy and instead has conveyed support for their actions;
WHEREAS, the Trump administration and Republican allies have conducted a concerted campaign to obstruct, sabotage, and reject a fair and complete count of presidential ballots by creating barriers to voting, targeted at people of color, immigrants, women, and young people. These tactics include intimidation of BIPOC voters at polling places and requirements to have two people sign a ballot that hurt women voters, as well as dismantling key infrastructure such as the U.S. Postal Service;
WHEREAS, the Constitution requires voting results and Electoral College tallies to be completed and submitted to Congress by the first Monday after the second Wednesday in December, and the new 2021 Congress to validate the results, and voters should be determining the results, not courts;
WHEREAS, Trump has denied science, resulting in more than 250,000 Americans dying from COVID-19, and millions more facing deep economic pain due to ongoing impact from the virus, and can do irreparable harm during a lame-duck session;
WHEREAS, the extreme risk currently posed to the historic institutions of democracy in our nation may require more widespread and vigorous resistance than at any time in recent history;
WHEREAS, the labor movement and trade unions have played a proud and vital role in protecting democracy and opposing authoritarianism in many nations throughout the world;
WHEREAS, the most powerful tool of the labor movement in our history has been the power of the general strike;
THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the Vermont AFL-CIO is empowered by the delegates at the 2020 state convention to call for a general strike of all working people in our state in the event that Donald Trump refuses to concede the office of President of the United States.
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the Vermont AFL-CIO will work with allies in the antiracist, environmental justice, feminist, LGBTQ+, immigrant rights, and disability rights movements to protect our democracy, the Constitution, the law, and our nation’s democratic traditions;
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the Vermont AFL-CIO will call on city and county governments to pledge to protect protesters defending democracy, and commit to not using police action or curfews to curtail these activities, and to use all available resources to stand up against any effort by the Trump administration to steal the presidential election.
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the Vermont AFL-CIO commits itself to the long-term goal of winning genuine democracy through the abolition of the Electoral College and two-party system, through the collective action of our affiliates and allied organizations.
*Adopted by the seated Delegates at the November 21, 2020 Vermont AFL-CIO Convention
Click on the below link to which the film of the full Vermont General Strike discussion, debate, and authorization vote: https://www.facebook.com/1912800402275545/videos/3127791327447958
America is now in fascism’s legal phase
America is now in fascism’s legal phase
“Let us be reminded that before there is a final solution, there must be a first solution, a second one, even a third. The move toward a final solution is not a jump. It takes one step, then another, then another.”
So began Toni Morrison’s 1995 address to Howard University, entitled Racism and Fascism, which delineated 10 step-by-step procedures to carry a society from first to last.
Morrison’s interest was not in fascist demagogues or fascist regimes. It was rather in “forces interested in fascist solutions to national problems”. The procedures she described were methods to normalize such solutions, to “construct an internal enemy”, isolate, demonize and criminalize it and sympathizers to its ideology and their allies, and, using the media, provide the illusion of power and influence to one’s supporters.
Morrison saw, in the history of US racism, fascist practices – ones that could enable a fascist social and political movement in the United States.
Writing in the era of the “super-predator” myth (a Newsweek headline the next year read, “Superpredators: Should we cage the new breed of vicious kids?”), Morrison unflinchingly read fascism into the practices of US racism. Twenty-five years later, those “forces interested in fascist solutions to national problems” are closer than ever to winning a multi-decade national fight.
The contemporary American fascist movement is led by oligarchical interests for whom the public good is an impediment, such as those in the hydrocarbon business, as well as a social, political, and religious movement with roots in the Confederacy. As in all fascist movements, these forces have found a popular leader unconstrained by the rules of democracy, this time in the figure of Donald Trump.
My father, raised in Berlin under the Nazis, saw in European fascism a course that any country could take. He knew that US democracy was not exceptional in its capacity to resist the forces that shattered his family and devastated his youth. My mother, a court stenographer in US criminal courts for 44 years, saw in the anti-Black racism of the American legal system parallels to the vicious antisemitism she experienced in her youth in Poland, attitudes which enabled eastern European complicity with fascism. And my grandmother, Ilse Stanley, wrote a memoir, published in 1957, of her experiences in 1930s Berlin, later appearing on the US television show This is Your Life to discuss it. It is a memoir of the normalization years of German fascism, well before world war and genocide. In it, she recounts experiences with Nazi officers who assured her that in nazism’s vilification of Jews, they certainly did not mean her.
Philosophers have always been at the forefront in the analysis of fascist ideology and movements. In keeping with a tradition that includes the philosophers Hannah Arendt and Theodor Adorno, I have been writing for a decade on the way politicians and movement leaders employ propaganda, centrally including fascist propaganda, to win elections and gain power.
Often, those who employ fascist tactics do so cynically – they do not really believe the enemies they target are so malign, or so powerful, as their rhetoric suggests. Nevertheless, there comes a tipping point, where rhetoric becomes policy. Donald Trump and the party that is now in thrall to him have long been exploiting fascist propaganda. They are now inscribing it into fascist policy.
Fascist propaganda takes place in the US in already fertile ground – decades of racial strife has led to the United States having by far the highest incarceration rate in the world. A police militarized to address the wounds of racial inequities by violence, and a recent history of unsuccessful imperial wars have made us susceptible to a narrative of national humiliation by enemies both internal and external. As WEB Du Bois showed in his 1935 masterwork Black Reconstruction, there is a long history of business elites backing racism and fascism out of self-interest, to divide the working class and thereby destroy the labor movement.
The novel development is that a ruthless would-be autocrat has marshalled these fascist forces and shaped them into a cult, with him as its leader. We are now well into the repercussions of this latter process – where fascist lies, for example, the “big lie” that the 2020 election was stolen, have begun to restructure institutions, notably electoral infrastructure and law. As this process unfolds, slowly and deliberately, the media’s normalization of these processes evokes Morrison’s tenth and final step: “Maintain, at all costs, silence.”
Constructing an enemy
To understand contemporary US fascism, it is useful to consider parallels to 20th century history, both where they succeed and where they fail.
Hitler was a genocidal antisemite. Though fascism involves disregard for human life, not all fascists are genocidal. Even Nazi Germany turned to genocide only relatively late in the regime’s rule. And not all fascists are antisemitic. There were Italian Jewish fascists. Referring to the successful assimilation of Jews into all phases of Weimar era German life, my father warned me, “if they had chosen someone else, some of us would have been among the very best Nazis.” We American Jews feel firmly at home. Now, where the fascist movement’s internal enemies are leftists and movements for Black racial equality, there certainly could be fascist American Jews.
Germany’s National Socialist party did not take over a mainstream party. It started as a small, radical, far-right anti-democratic party, which faced different pressures as it strove to achieve greater electoral success.
Despite its radical start, the Nazi party dramatically increased its popularity over many years in part by strategically masking its explicit antisemitic agenda to attract moderate voters, who could convince themselves that the racism at the core of Nazi ideology was something the party had outgrown. It represented itself as the antidote to communism, using a history of political violence in the Weimar Republic, including street clashes between communists and the far right, to warn of a threat of violent communist revolution. It attracted support from business elites by promising to smash labor unions. The Nazis portrayed socialists, Marxists, liberals, labor unions, the cultural world and the media as representatives of, or sympathizers with, this revolution. Once in power, they bore down on this message.
In his 1935 speech, Communism with its Mask Off, Nazi propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels described Bolshevism carrying “on a campaign, directed by the Jews, with the international underworld, against culture as such”. By contrast, “National Socialism sees in all these things – in [private] property, in personal values and in nation and race and the principles of idealism – these forces which carry on every human civilization and fundamentally determine its worth.”
The Nazis recognized that the language of family, faith, morality and homeland could be used to justify especially brutal violence against an enemy represented as being opposed to all these things. The central message of Nazi politics was to demonize a set of constructed enemies, an unholy alliance of communists and Jews, and ultimately to justify their criminalization.
Trump supporters constructed a gallows near the Capitol in the hours before the 6 January riot.Photograph: Andrew Caballero-Reynolds/AFP/Getty Images
Contrary to popular belief, the Nazi government of the 1930s was not genocidal, nor were its notorious concentration camps packed with Jewish prisoners, at least until the November pogrom of 1938. The main targets of the regime’s concentration camps were, initially, communists and socialists. The Nazi regime urged vigilante violence against its other targets, such as Jews, separating themselves from this violence by obscuring the role of agents of the state. During this time, it was possible for many non-Jewish Germans to deceive themselves about the brutal nature of the regime, to tell themselves that its harsh means were necessary to protect the German nation from the insidious threat of communism.
Violent militias occupied an ambiguous role between state and non-state actors. The SS began as violent Nazi supporters, before becoming an independent arm of the government. The message of violent law and order created a culture that influenced all the Nazi state’s institutions. As Yale historian Timothy Snyder writes in On Tyranny, “for violence to transform not just the atmosphere but also the system, the emotions of rallies and the ideology of exclusion have to be incorporated into the training of armed guards.”
In the US, the training of police as “warriors”, together with the unofficial replacement of the American flag by the thin blue line flag, auger poorly about the democratic commitments of this institution.
A thin blue line carried at a Blue Lives Matter rally in Kenosha, Wisconsin, 30 August 2020. Photograph: Morry Gash/AP
For a far-right party to become viable in a democracy, it must present a face it can defend as moderate, and cultivate an ambiguous relationship to the extreme views and statements of its most explicit members. It must maintain a pretense of the rule of law, characteristically by projecting its own violations of it on to its opponents.
In the case of the takeover of the mainstream rightwing party by a far-right anti-democratic movement, the pretense must be stronger. The movement must contend with members of that party who are faithful to procedural elements of democracy, such as the principle of one voter one vote, or that the loser of a fair election give up power – in the United States today, figures such as Adam Kinzinger and Elizabeth Cheney. A fascist social and political party faces pressure both to mask its connection to and to cultivate violent racist supporters, as well as its inherently anti-democratic agenda.
Armed members of the New England Minutemen militia group at an anti-mask and anti-vaccine ‘world wide rally for freedom’ in Concord, New Hampshire, 15 May 2021. Photograph: Joseph Prezioso/AFP/Getty Images
In the face of the attack on the US capital on 6 January, even the most resolute skeptic must admit that Republican politicians have been at least attempting to cultivate a mass of violent vigilantes to support their causes. Kyle Rittenhouse is becoming a hero to Republicans after showing up in Kenosha, WI as an armed vigilante citizen, and killing two men. Perhaps there are not enough potential Kyle Rittenhouses in the US to justify fear of massive armed vigilante militias enforcing a 2024 election result demanded by Donald Trump. But denying that Trump’s party is trying to create such a movement is, at this point, deliberate deception.
Black rebellion, white backlash
Street violence proved invaluable to the National Socialists in their path to power. The Nazis instigated and exacerbated violence in the streets, then demonized their opponents as enemies of the German people who must be dealt with harshly. Trump’s rise followed Black protest, at times violent, of police brutality in Ferguson and Baltimore. More recently, the murder of George Floyd and a historic protest movement in the US in the late spring has given fuel to fascist misrepresentation.
All of these recent developments take place as only the latest in a long US history of Black rebellion against white supremacist ideology and structures, and a parallel history of white backlash.
White vigilante groups regularly formed in reaction to Black rebellions, to “defend their families and property against Black rebellion”, the historian Elizabeth Hinton writes in her recent history of these rebellions. Hinton shows that police often acted in concert with these groups. For decades, the instigator of these rebellions has typically been an incident or incidents of police violence against members of the community, following a long period of often violent over-policing that exacerbated these communities’ grievances.
Armed police forced people to lie face down in the street during the Watts riots, Los Angeles, in August 1965. Photograph: Hulton Archive/Getty Images
Street movements in the US have often been accompanied by vigorous campus protests, from the protests against the Vietnam war of the 1960s, to recent campus protests for racial justice that attracted media rebuke (paradoxically, for “chilling free speech”). Politicians in both parties have feasted on these moments, using them to troll for votes. During these episodes of protest and rebellion, US politicians from Barry Goldwateronwards, placing campus protests together with Black rebellion against over-policing, have encouraged harsh law and order policing and crackdowns on leftists. John Ehrlichman, one of Nixon’s top advisers, said that Nixon’s campaign and administration “had two enemies: the anti-war left and Black people”, and invented the drug war to target both:
You understand what I’m saying? We knew we couldn’t make it illegal to be either against the war or black, but by getting the public to associate the hippies with marijuana and blacks with heroin. And then criminalizing both heavily, we could disrupt those communities. We could arrest their leaders, raid their homes, break up their meetings, and vilify them night after night on the evening news. Did we know we were lying about the drugs? Of course we did.
Politicians have shown less interest in addressing the underlying conditions that lead to violence in poor Black urban communities – the widespread availability of guns, the massive and persistent racial wealth gap and the effects of violent policing and mass incarceration. And why should they? As long as these underlying conditions persist, politicians of either party can run for office by milking fear and promising a harsh law and order response. Morrison’s 1995 address is a warning that these conditions are ripe for harnessing by a fascist movement, one targeting democracy itself.
In its most recent iteration, in the form of the reaction against Black Lives Matter protesters and the demonization of antifa and student activists, a fascist social and political movement has been avidly stoking the flames for mass rightwing political violence, by justifying it against these supposed internal enemies.
Rachel Kleinfield, in an October 2021 article, documents the rise of the legitimation of political violence in the US. According to the article, the “bedrock idea uniting right-wing communities who condone violence is that white Christian men in the United States are under cultural and demographic threat and require defending – and that it is the Republican Party and Donald Trump, in particular, who will safeguard their way of life.”
This kind of justification of political violence is classically fascist – a dominant group threatened by the prospect of gender, racial and religious equality turning to a leader who promises a violent response.
How to topple a democracy
We are now in fascism’s legal phase. According to the International Center for Not for Profit Law, 45 states have considered 230 bills criminalizing protest, with the threat of violent leftist and Black rebellion being used to justify them. That this is happening at the same time that multiple electoral bills enabling a Republican state legislature majority to overturn their state’s election have been enacted suggests that the true aim of bills criminalizing protest is to have a response in place to expected protests against the stealing of a future election (as a reminder of fascism’s historical connection to big business, some of these laws criminalize protest near gas and oil lines).
The Nazis used Judeo-Bolshevism as their constructed enemy. The fascist movement in the Republican party has turned to critical race theory instead. Fascism feeds off a narrative of supposed national humiliation by internal enemies. Defending a fictional glorious and virtuous national past, and presenting its enemies as deviously maligning the nation to its children, is a classic fascist strategy to stoke fury and resentment. Using the bogeyman of critical race theory, 29 states have introduced bills to restrict teaching about racism and sexism in schools, and 13 states have enacted such bans.
Opponents of critical race theory protest outside the Loudoun county school board offices, in Ashburn, Virginia, 22 June 2021. Photograph: Evelyn Hockstein/Reuters
The key to democracy is an informed electorate. An electorate that knows about persisting racial injustice in the United States along all its dimensions, from the racial wealth gap to the effects of over-policing and over-incarceration, will be unsurprised by mass political rebellion in the face of persistent refusal to face up to these problems. An electorate ignorant of these facts will react not with understanding, but with uncomprehending fear and horror at Black political unrest.
Sometimes, you trace a fascist movement to its genesis in Nazi influence on its leaders, as with India’s RSS. In the United States, the causal relations run the other way around. As James Whitman shows in his 2017 book, Hitler’s American Model: The United States and the Making of Nazi Race Law, the Jim Crow era in the United States influenced Nazi law. In 2021, legislators in 19 states passed laws making access to the ballot more difficult, some with specific (and clearly intentional) disparate impact on minority communities (as in Texas). By obscuring in our education system facts about this era, one can mask the reemergence of legislation that borrows from its strategies.
Trump supporters outside the Pennsylvania convention center, where ballots were being counted, 6 November 2020. Photograph: Bryan R Smith/AFP/Getty Images
Indeed, the very tactic of restricting politically vital information to schoolchildren is itself borrowed from the Jim Crow era. Chapter 9 of Carter G Woodson’s 1933 book, The Mis-Education of the Negro, is called Political Education Neglected. In it, Woodson describes how history was taught “to enslave the Negroes’ mind”, by whitewashing the brutality of slavery and the actual roots and causes of racial disparities. In Fugitive Pedagogy: Carter G Woodson and the Art of Black Teaching, Jarvis Givens documents the strategies Black educators used to convey real history in the constricted environments of Jim Crow schools, strategies that, tragically, will again become necessary for educators to take up again today.
Fascist ideology strictly enforces gender roles and restricts the freedom of women. For fascists, it is part of their commitment to a supposed “natural order” where men are on top. It is also integral to the broader fascist strategy of winning over social conservatives who might otherwise be unhappy with the endemic corruption of fascist rule. Far-right authoritarian leaders across the world, such as Brazil’s Jair Bolsonaro, Hungary’s Viktor Orbán, and Russia’s Vladimir Putin, have targeted “gender ideology”, as nazism targeted feminism. Freedom to choose one’s role in society, when it goes against a supposed “natural order”, is a kind of freedom fascism has always opposed.
According to National Socialist ideology, abortion, at any point in pregnancy, was considered to be murder. Just as it was acceptable to murder disabled people and other groups whose identities were considered dangerous to the health of the “Aryan race”, it was acceptable to perform abortions on members of these groups. In the first six years of Nazi rule, from 1933 to 1939, there was a harsh crackdown on the birth control movement. Led by the Gestapo, there was a punitive campaign against doctors who performed abortions on Aryan women. The recent attack on abortion rights, and the coming attack on birth control, led by a hard-right supreme court, is consistent with the hypothesis that we are, in the United States, facing a real possibility of a fascist future.
If you want to topple a democracy, you take over the courts. Donald Trump lost the popular vote to Hillary Clinton in 2016 by almost 3m votes, and yet has appointed one-third of supreme court, three youthful far-right judges who will be spending decades there. The Roberts court has for more than a decade consistently enabled an attack on democracy, by hollowing out the Voting Rights Act over time, unleashing unlimited corporate money into elections, and allowing clearly partisan gerrymanders of elections. There is every reason to believe that the court will allow even the semblance of democracy to crumble, as long as laws are passed by gerrymandered Republican statehouses that make anti-democratic practices, including stealing elections, legal.
There has been a growing fascist social and political movement in the United States for decades. Like other fascist movements, it is riddled with internal contradictions, but no less of a threat to democracy. Donald Trump is an aspiring autocrat out solely for his own power and material gain. By giving this movement a classically authoritarian leader, Trump shaped and exacerbated it, and his time in politics has normalized it.
Donald Trump has shown others what is possible. But the fascist movement he now leads preceded him, and will outlive him. As Toni Morrison warned, it feeds off ideologies with deep roots in American history. It would be a grave error to think it cannot ultimately win.
TRUMKA: HANDS OFF THE VERMONT AFL-CIO - NINE LEFT ORGANIZATIONS FROM AROUND THE WORLD BACK VT AFL-CIO
Today the Vermont AFL-CIO was pleased to receive solidarity from nine working class organizations from around the world in our conflict with Richard Trumka over our commitment to defend democracy both in our Republic and within Organized Labor. The below open letter is to National AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka. The letter demands that he end his politically motivated investigation into the Vermont AFL-CIO for daring to hold a November 2020 vote authorizing our Executive Board to call for a General Strike in the event that Donald Trump carried out a fascist coup against our democracy prior to January 20, 2021.
The Vermont AFL-CIO stands firmly by our decision to have our members vote to authorize a call for a General Strike if our democracy came into existential crisis. Workers taking collective action to defend and advance our democracy shall ALWAYS be the right thing to do!
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From the Open-Publishing Newswire
|On Anniversary Of Jan 6 Insurrection, Workers Must Call For United Front Against Fascism|
|Import into your personal calendar|
|Date||Thursday January 06|
|Time||12:00 PM - 1:00 PM|
San Francisco Federal Building
90 7th St.
Added to the calendar on Friday Dec 31st, 2021 8:24 PM