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Capitol Riot: The Grambling of Democratic Imagination

A piece by Kostas Savvopoulos on the fascist attack on the US Capitol in Washington DC.

Originally published by Void Network. Written by Kostas Savvopoulos.

1.

These events were not an aberration from democracy, because simply the USA were never democratic in the first place. They weren’t democratic when they had slaves, they certainly weren’t democratic when the segregation laws were in place, the separation of normal citizens and Others due to the Color of their skin and of course they remained un-democratic when the Jim Crow laws withdrew and the ugly systemic racism was swept under the rag.
Some, let’s say, unrelated numbers to keep in mind. USA at the moment is the country with the largest prisoner population, over 2,5 millions. Over 2/3 of those people are people of colour and the vast majority of them remain imprisoned for non violent crimes or inability to pay their fees. So this was not an aberration, because Uncle Sam was never democratic to begin with, at best USA could be categorised as a capitalist oligarchy. What happened yesterday, was the crumbling of this democratic imagination in the eyes of the people. It was shown what actually happens when the settlers get mad. And what happens is that they are able to storm the Capitol, with of course let’s not forget this, the tolerance ( some might say help even) of elected “democratic” government officials.

2.

This brings us to the next point. United States of America have been constructed as country, a nation, since the beginning under very strict rules regarding class and race. It’s not as simple as to just say that what happened yesterday was solely due to the colour of the protestors skin. Surely the case would be different if we were talking about Black Lives Matter activists, but that’s not all there’s to it.
The head of the Proud Boys, who were among the initiators of yesterday’s events, is as you know, Enrique Tarrio, who became the leader, after founder Gavin McInnes ( also one of the founders of VICE) stepped down. Enrique is non white. He is of Cuban heritage. He is what many latino activists call a “gusano”, a worm, a reactionary. And as we learned from Scarface, gusanos were the Cubans that left Cuba after Castro took power. Why? Because ideology, that’s why. Because they were power hungry reactionaries, ultra conservative anti-communists, owners of land, who in more than one cases worked with either Batista or the American Secret Services.


Similar cases have been in found, in the face of Rafael Cruz for example, Republican Ted Cruz’s father, who is also a big time conservative and a pastor.
Likewise in the case of Mark Rubio, who in a bizarre twist, originally said that his parents were exiled from Cuba from Castro, however it was later revealed that this happened during Batista’s regime.
It’s not the first time after all that reactionary Cubans are used for Uncle Sam’s dirty work.
The decade of the ‘60s is full of examples, as we read from Mike Davis, were Cuban paramilitaries carried out bombings on leftists, anti-war activistes, latino activists and feminists. We should bear in mind that one the people arrested for the Watergate case, was a Cuban ex patriate, who also server in the CIA.
So let’s not be so surprised when non white folk support either Trump or the far right in general. It’s not only about colour, it’s also about ideology and class.

3.

True enough, as I said earlier, if instead of white MAGA’s we had BLM activists in yesterday’s events, the National Guard would have descended upon with heaven’s fury, as of course they did earlier this year. Rubber bullets would rain upon the protesters. And, if by any miraculous chance, some made inside the Capitol Building, the Secret Services would have executed them on sight. And of course the very next day, on CNN, on FOX, on MSNBC, we would hear tales about violent extremists, totalitarian ideologies, communist terrorists, Russia, China and cultural marxism, by Republicans and Democrats alike. These are all very true. And some of those commentators, feeling emboldened by the prevailing hate, would even resort to the old familiar Nixon and Reagan rhetoric, about vicious black criminals and super predators.


Because this kind of rhetoric is not a privilege only to Republicans. It’s also part of the Democrats. Because it’s as American as apple pie and it goes back to the colonial era, where colonisers needed to dehumanise the slaves, the Others, in order to justify the unspeakable brutalities they inflicted upon them. And these brutalities carried on until the 60’s. We’ve all heard about the trees baring strange fruit after all. And we should also bear in mind that this all started because the colonisers wanted to rob Africa and the Americas, from spices and gold. The cheap labor in the form of slaves was the fat bonus that came later. How could the colonisers say no to unpaid labor, the bloody labor that would later create the Land of Liberty.
And this is why we say, that class and race, are inseparable.

4.

The basic reason that there was no heavy repression yesterday, has also a lot to do with the demands of the protestors. Trump is not an anomaly. He is not an aberration. He is a systemic symptom. He is a billionaire, right from the belly of the beast. The government officials yesterday would not green light an operation because they thought that Trump is one of them. What drove them in the end, to call on law enforcement, was the fact that this was public. It was because CNN was broadcasting, in a sense. Because we also know, that the USA have no problem with coup d’etats, as long as they are happening on the other side of the iron curtain or under the guise of the night. If a coup happens in broad daylight, with national television on it, it has failed.


The demands of protests during 6/1/2021 in Washington, as it seems are demands that the Police likes as well. And we can tell this, from the hundreds of selfies, cops took with protesters on the Capitol Building. The National Guard didn’t seem to mind a lot, as well, since it’s head, personally appointed by Trump, was holding them on position.
On the other hand, demands from protests like the ones for social equality and justice, for defunding or abolishing the police, that came from the racist murder of George Floyd, are demands that no government official wants. Democrat or Republican. And this was obvious as soon as Biden was elected. It was also clear from Obama’s words that “ slogans like Defund The Police are snappy and polarising”
This is something we’ve said for a long time, that Democrats and Republicans are two sides of the same coin. They both serve this capitalist oligarchy to the letter. As long as our analysis doesn’t factor in accounts of race, class and gender ( who I didn’t mention because I don’t think it’s relevant to this specific event, but is essential in the larger picture) then we are doomed to watch history repeat itself.

5.

Α lot of non white American folk, even black, supported Trump. Apart from the gusanos, there is another important factor. Ever since the 70’s, politically speaking, race was disconnected from class. The general idea that, in the Land of Opportunities you could make it, regardless of race, gender, religion and what not, became prevalent, as a direct result of the New Deal hegemony. From then on, we came to today, where we learn that race is a different thing from class and from gender. We also learn that these 3 things have nothing to do with each other. But a look again, the numbers will prove us wrong.
The prison numbers don’t lie. The ones that suffer come from a specific class and have a specific colour. Also we look at the numbers of police killings. The ones who are being eaterminated in alarming rates, come from a specific class and have a specific colour ( or the absence of it, they are not white).

Constantly referring to class, while avoiding all other issues, is class reductionism and wrong. Constantly referring to race and gender while overlooking class is liberal identity politics and also wrong. Lets try intersectionality for a change, it might work for us. Otherwise we can’t see the forest for the trees.

Kostas Savvopoulos, January 7, 2020.


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