By Gerald Smith and Isabel Xochitl
We wish we could have been flies on the wall during the circus at the Capitol building on January 6th. Many liberals called it an insurrection and a coup attempt, but as the inauguration went ahead it became clear to all that it was more of a temper tantrum — a dramatic one, what with all the costumes and photo ops. To antifascists who have been aware of and working to oppose the alt-right for years, the outburst at the Capitol was no surprise — it was yet another iteration of the violent and often deadly fascist activity that has only recently become widely criticized by the mainstream media.
The Democratic Party and their mouthpieces among the mainstream media and the nonprofits have overused the word insurrection in reference to January 6, 2021 with numbing regularity and potentially grave consequences. The question is not was it an insurrection, but why are different political factions choosing to label it in different ways based on their political agendas — what are the implications of labeling it as such? Whenever your enemy labels a historic event, put your hand over your wallet. We must never forget the naming of events can also be a form of psychological warfare. By drumming into our heads over and over, “Insurrection Bad,” some of us might begin believing it. In fact, where there is no mass revolutionary party, many of us will believe it.
We should not take leadership from the very party that is attacking us, including their use of words. The ruling class has long showed that they use words to flip ‘em around and confuse people. The fascists with their “Traditionalist Workers Party” — who are in fact the antithesis of a workers’ party; No Child Left Behind — led to the firing of 100,000 Black teachers; “School Reform” — a thinly veiled cover for the privatization of the public schools. The use of the word insurrection is part of a strategic toolkit to further criminalize future revolutionary activity in this country.
“Choose your leaders with wisdom and forethought. To be led by a coward is to be controlled by all that the coward fears. To be led by a fool is to be led by the opportunists who control the fool. To be led by a thief is to offer up your most precious treasures to be stolen. To be led by a liar is to ask to be told lies. To be led by a tyrant is to sell yourself and those you love into slavery.”
― Octavia E. Butler, Parable of the Talents
According to someone from the antifascist news source It’s Going Down: “In the wake of the far-Right storming of the capitol on January 6th, it is incumbent upon autonomous social movements and the Left in general to remind the public that for years the State allowed the fascist Right to grow, while focusing on coming down against the Left. Giving the State more powers to repress even the far-Right, will ultimately be used even harder against movements from below.”
Collusion? Yes. Coup? No.
Whether January 6 can be formally identified as a coup or not, what is clear is the now open, now secret, collusion between the President, member of congress, law enforcement commanders, police officers, and military personnel (active and veteran) who all collaborated before, during and after the January 6 event. Besides the handful of congresspeople including Majorie Taylor Greene (SC) and Lauren Boebert (CO) who have openly spouted Q Anon conspiracy theories, there is Paul Gosar (AZ), who is associated with the Oathkeepers, and Andy Biggs (AZ) and Mo Brooks (AL) who also associate with far right militia groups. It is a sign of the times that these people are being elected to national office, despite the fact that in some cases even their family members have made statements asking voters not to vote for them.
All of these people ran on a platform that Trump was going to win overwhelmingly, but if anyone claims he lost, it must be the work of Lucifer and his avenging angels. Thus, they laid the groundwork for the psychological unrest of their base.
What did this really provide us with? It wasn’t much of a coup, as the Senate was able to complete the vote within three hours. What we can carry away from this is that fascism is rising in the US. It is fragile, it is weak, and it can be easily smashed — and we need to get busy at carrying out this task. For instance, after the battle for Charlottesville, where a large number of fascists assembled and Heather Heyer was murdered, antifascism was re-awoken in America to the point where in Boston 50 fascists arrived at their so called “Free Speech Rally” on August 19, 2017 to find 40,000 antifascist counter-protesters assembled. That’s the odds we like! January 6th was a warning to all antifascists and class conscious workers that fascism in America cannot be ignored, nor should it be grossly exaggerated. American revolutionaries need the truth, not fairy tales and horror stories.
For instance, every person that attended that march was not aware that they would enter the building — and every person didn’t enter the building. Many of the participants in the march had formerly voted for Democratic candidates — some even voted for Bernie Sanders in the primary (1 in 10 people who voted for Sanders in the primary later voted for Trump). We have to look at this “Stop the Steal” movement like an onion. The middle of the onion is the KKK itself and longtime Nazi/fascist organizations. Then there are the proto-fascists: The Oath Keepers, III Percenters, Patriot Prayer, and The Proud Boys, who all heavily recruit from the police and the military. The next layer consists of alt-right groups that emerged from internet obscurity and had their coming out party in Charlottesville in 2016 — such as Republic of Florida, members of the Facebook group “Alt-Reich”, and the readers of the Daily Stormer and Infowars. These are followed by working folk who hate the Democrats, which is understandable given the Democrats’ performance. These working folk, many of whom do not view themselves as racist, can be won over to defending their own interests against the bosses, the bankers and the landlords. The Left needs to look at this element and split the base from the top.
Fascism is virulently opposed to working class organizations, including unions. Many people in the crowd were probably members of trade unions. Were there Jews in the crowd? These are contradictions. What this points to is working people struggling within this system, grasping for solutions, sometimes find fascist extremism the most attractive or accessible path given that there is no visible alternative. We seek to create and strengthen an alternative. One of our biggest hurdles is the lack of visibility for broad revolutionary movements that already do exist, while fascists are platformed and sensationalized by the mainstream media. The role the media has played has actually strengthened Trump and his followers. Was covering his every tweet really necessary? Trump himself is not a fascist, but a political exploiter of the fascists. While he urged his followers to march to the Capitol, he himself did not march with them.
According to someone from It’s Going Down, “The stance by the press overall towards antifascists and anarchists more broadly has been one largely of contempt. Before Charlottesville, there were literally more editorials written attacking antifascists in mainstream newspapers than there were attacking the Alt-Right. And while the red carpet was rolled out for the far-Right and volumes of explainer pieces were written about the movement, when it came to autonomous anti-capitalist and anti-colonial movements and struggles, the press was afraid to dive deep and give a platform to those with radical anti-capitalist views — and for good reason. While news of Nazis sells, it also does not upset the owners of corporate media. This dynamic resulted in a reality where the media gave the far-Right a large platform to talk about their ideas, where antifascists, when they were interviewed at all, were forced to defend their tactics.”
“In short, if working people understood that they could self-organize and take on the far-Right without looking to the State or the police — and what other conclusion could one make under Trump — then what was stopping them from blocking ICE vans, stopping evictions, launching strikes and engaging in other forms of actions that put our own interests ahead of those in power?”
The Cops and the Klan Go Hand in Hand
The breaching of the Capitol was a ball of confusion from the start. The police wound up on both sides — some attempting to carry out their duties and fiercely resisting the mob, while some were openly cooperating with the rioters — taking selfies with them, moving the gates so people could enter the building. Will the real pigs please stand up? Actually, they’re all pigs. The police are far more politically heterogeneous than they would like to admit. We saw that on January 6th. This contradiction was so intense that two officers took their own lives after the incident.
As participants in the Capitol rally are identified and charges are brought, a large number of those in attendance have been outed as off duty cops. The extensive crossover between law enforcement and white nationalists and fascists is nothing new. In 1972, the FBI opened up an investigation into collaboration between American cops and the KKK. The investigation was abandoned because so much was uncovered, and the only public documents from it are heavily redacted.
Prosecutors are charging a number of off-duty cops who showed up to the rally, but they will never charge those who made the strategic decisions about law enforcement that day — practically sabotaging any defense of the Capitol. 57 state legislators attended the march — though it is unclear how many went in. This is why the pathetic attempt to hold Trump legally accountable was doomed to fail. The Republican legislators realized that if they brought heat on Trump, they’d incriminate themselves — as they were co-conspirators in this event. They’re stupid, but they ain’t that stupid.
One of the reasons that the cops and the Klan go hand in hand is because there are no consequences for it — there have been none for 100 years. This is why we need the right to self defense. This is why we need to form rifle clubs today. This is why we refuse to call their spectacle an insurrection, as we work towards a real one in the not so distant future. Those in power understand that not only do far right groups reinforce the existing power structure, but these groups may come in handy when the class struggle intensifies and a real insurrection comes around.
The instances of collusion between cops and fascists are so numerous it would take several books to catalogue them. Here are a few of the more significant examples:
Portland, June 3rd, 2018
In Portland, we can only praise the tenacity of the comrades in this city, who organized 100 consecutive days of protests during the Black Lives Matter uprising last summer. This is a necessary ingredient in our fight against fascism — steadfastness, consistency, dedication, sustainable engagement. While there are many incidents revealing that the cops and the Klan go hand in hand in Portland, we will shine the light on just one for now. On June 3rd, 2018, Lt. Jeff Niiya, acting under the rubric of free speech for fascists, actually informed members of Patriot Prayer that the mayor of Portland was demanding that the police carry out an arms search of the fascists — giving them a warning before the search began. All of this was caught on tape and published by The Guardian.
Sacramento, June 26, 2016
Through the defense work for the Sacramento 3, the truth came out in the courtroom — that the highway patrol, and the district attorney, were working in conjunction with the fascists from the beginning. CHP shared information with the Traditionalist Workers Party and helped to get them permits for their rally. CHP officer Donovan Ayres admitted in court that they had been aware at the time that TWP was a fascist organization. According to the Sacramento Bee, the District Attorney had planned to indict 104 antifascists in connection with this particular counter-protest. The police specifically warned antifascists that they could not carry even a sign on a stick — in effect disarming antifascists. As a result, nine antifascists were stabbed. Never again!
One of the survivors of these stabbings, Yvette Felarca, was among the 3 charged by the DA for their participation in the counter-protest, along with Mike Williams and Paz Porfirio — the Sacramento 3, who eventually won their case. All three are organizers — Yvette with By Any Means Necessary and Paz and Mike with the Brown Berets — and they were targeted amongst the attendees on July 26. Court solidarity is a must, and it is part of why this case was won. No antifascist should stand alone when they are facing the power of the state.
Berkeley, March 4, 2017
A similar process unfolded in Berkeley, but this time, we were at a distinct disadvantage. Janet Napolitano, then chancellor of UC Berkeley and former head of Homeland Security, spent $8 million on UCPD to defend the fascists’ “right to free speech”. Antifa was good at showing up, but didn’t display enough sophistication when it came to defending us on a political level and unfortunately it got the best of us. We are unconditionally opposed to free speech for known fascist organizations. We need to insist that there can be no free speech for fascists because they don’t speak of anything of consequence — all of their organizing is to facilitate genocide of the oppressed. Genocide is not debatable. The situation in Berkeley was unfortunately contradictory. The mayor took advantage of the anarchists’ weakness — they placed police as the “protectors” of free speech, allowing the fascists to run wild.
There were some positives in what was otherwise a complex situation. One: the Berkeley 5 were a group of antifascists who were charged with beating up a fascist. Their case went to trial, in which the DA instructed the jury to ignore the historical facts, but the jury found them not guilty. The state failed in its attempt to frame these antifascists.
San Francisco, August 25, 2017
Patriot Prayer proclaimed that they would march from Kezar stadium in San Francisco. Whenever confronted with a fascist assault, we should use defensive tactics, i.e. “we’re going to defend our families from fascist marauders.” The International Longshoremen and Warehousemen Union Local 10 got word and planned to march to the same location at the same time. Patriot Prayer abandoned their provocative plan, understanding the consequences. This is how you fight fascism — with the power of labor.
Profound organizing against fascism takes not only the form of active community defense, but also the forms of education and of mutual aid that can build revolutionary consciousness and capacity. Antifascists need to find ways to better appeal to working class folks rather than increasing political polarization.
According to someone from It’s Going Down: “The energy that exploded last summer needs to continue, albeit in new trajectories and projects. The neoliberal center is going to attempt to placate liberals and progressives and push for social peace; it’s our job to point out the contradictions and how similar both parties really are. We need to keep building up the mass networks and programs of mutual aid, tenant unions, and prison organizing which has been taking place across the US the past year and expand these projects. There’s a lot of new people around radical circles now that need to be caught up to speed on everything from security culture to community organizing — let’s not lose our momentum but keep growing. Already since Biden was elected we’ve seen strikes in New York and riots against the police in Tacoma; things may have calmed down a bit, but nothing is going back to whatever ‘normal’ is in an age of catastrophic climate change and rising fascism. Get organized. Expand the capacity of your projects. Work on strengthening existing movement infrastructure and growing it. Solidify and build regional networks. Deepen relationships with the broader proletariat in every way possible.”
It is not often in one’s life that reality confirms all of our convictions. But everything we’ve been saying has turned out to be 100 percent correct. We must never ever give up in terms of our perspective and our beliefs. The real goal of all of this is a socialist victory. Only by smashing capitalism can we smash fascism. Forward to our Socialist Future.
WORKERS OF THE WORLD WILL RISE AGAIN, FASCISM NEVER!