January 6th at Capitol Hill: Blowback and the Ongoing Crisis of Legitimacy

Two Januarys ago, an obscure politician from a minor political party named Juan Guaido assumed a one-month chairmanship of the Venezuelan National Assembly. Then he promptly declared himself the interim president of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela.

The bizarre declaration had no legal standing. But that did not stop the Trump administration and later, the European Union, from recognizing this fictional presidency.

For most in the world, this was yet another in a series of illegal U.S. efforts to control the politics of countries in the global South. Supporting dictators, overthrowing governments with violence and destroying nations have been at the center of each of the U.S. global policies since the United States became the leader of the colonial/capitalist Western alliance in 1945.

But as Malcolm X once said, “The chickens have come home to roost.”

How ever one might characterize the events of January 6 or the several weeks since the election, one thing is certain: Millions of people in the United States have lost respect for U.S. institutions. Across the political spectrum, people are adopting a common cry that the U.S. government doesn’t represent their interests.

Decades of neoliberal austerity, low wages, de-industrialization, privatization of public services like healthcare facilities, the looting of public resources to transfer to the military-industrial complex and the inability of the state to protect the fundamental human rights of the people have created the crisis of legitimacy that has made it difficult for the U.S. ruling class to govern in the same old way.

And so, as BAP predicted when we launched in April 2017, the elites default to repression. The events of January 6 have given the rulers an opportunity to move even more rapidly to narrow the range of acceptable political thought and participation. Calls have come from some quarters of the public for retribution against the individuals that “breached” the Capitol. Now, state authorities—including Big Tech companies that have emerged as unrecognized agents of the state—have moved remarkably close to branding Trump supporters as criminal elements who deserve to be relegated to the social death that de-platforming renders today.

These dangerous times require sober, unemotional analysis and clear politics for those of us who have always been on the receiving end of U.S. political repression.

The ongoing crisis of the colonial-capitalist system is creating new expressions of what might be referred to as fascism. One framework defines fascism as the “open terrorist dictatorship of the most reactionary, most chauvinistic and most imperialist elements of finance capital.” When the whole ruling class—led by finance capital—line up with Joe Biden and Democrats, we must be careful in our analysis and positions.

The Democratic Party agenda for restoring “legitimacy” to the system will come at a cost. As oppressed peoples and workers in the United States who are in alignment with the laboring classes and oppressed nations of the world, we must not allow fascists in any guise to rebuild legitimacy at our expense.


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