The storming of the US Capitol Building was only one of a series of right-wing attacks on 01/06/2021, adding to decades of nationalist reaction. Yes, you read that correctly. In my opinion, what happened yesterday was not a mere 4-years in the making. It wasn’t even a decade in the making. This movement in US society goes back far beyond Trump, the Tea Party, and post-9/11 patriotism. Tracing this movement to its origins takes us all the way back to good old fashioned American anti-communism …especially the form given to it by the John Birch Society. And really, anti-communism is in many ways the same, good old fashioned American white supremacy that has existed in this country since the beginning.
The surprise by anyone surprised by all of this is only possible when we forget the terroristic history of white supremacists and anti-communists; the “far-right,” as they are often times gently referred to. If we were to remember anything about the history of the KKK, or the Tulsa Massacre, the Red Scares, NATO, the Vietnam War, the Regan Doctrine, Pat Buchanan and Culture War, Jerry Falwell and the Moral Majority, and on and on and on; well, then nothing that happened yesterday would come as a surprise. And, ever since the 9/11 attacks put the United States’ propaganda machine back into high gear, the momentum of the jingoist right-wing has gained, elbowing its way into official power, especially as it became a force on the streets during the formative years of the Tea Party.
What is just as important to note though are the parallel efforts by the liberals over these decades to establish and reinforce their so-called “center” position, often by pacifying all variety of left-leaning radicals. If the fascists aren’t going to quit reacting to anarchists, socialists, and other radicals, neither will the liberals stop positioning themselves as the conscience of the Left while pursuing neo-liberal policies of international market deregulation and austerity. After decades of crushing labor militancy, intervening in social movements, marginalizing progressive candidates, and projecting an image of mature, professional, and rational statesmanship that can “reach across the isle” to the barely-more-conservative Republican center, the liberals have become deaf to alternative strategies.
This all means that while the “patriots” continue their grassroots mobilizations, the liberals will continue to hold back anti-authoritarian fighting forces. After-all, one of the immediate responses of liberal reporters was to call the 6th’s fascists “anarchists” instead of… y’know, fascists! Yes, they may point out that the police were soft on the right-wing compared with B.L.M. and other street protests; but, let’s not kid ourselves …that is merely the same old tired liberal plea for non-violence and equal distribution of repressive force by the police. So for the foreseeable future, we’re still on our own against our right-wing neighbors who are solidifying relationships with the politicians who interface with liberal centrists in the halls of US power. And even though liberals may have gained political strength recently, unless they can somehow pull together a grassroots force to support them, they will be losing the long-term game.
This incessant liberal strategy of strengthening the center as a bulwark against both those to their left and their right leaves the Progressives in the Democratic Party, along with Democratic Socialists and other anti-capitalists where they have long been, taking almost as many slow steps backward as they had taken forward towards reforms. To put that another way, the marginalization of those to their left will continue to weaken all that is to the left of the Republican Party.
Excuses will continue to be made that this strategy is necessary to batten down the hatches against the worst of the Right. But for as much as the Right may be postponed in their nationalist efforts, the Left will be stuck with its feet in the mud for much longer and its traditional base will continue to rot at the roots. This leaves the rest of the Left to mend the tatters as much as it can; but it will have to do so while both attempting to avoid Democratic Party recuperation of its work, as well as appropriation by the Right due to their more sophisticated, mostly youth appeal online. And of course, for all the time that these trends will continue, general disillusionment with any and all social struggle will only grow.
For us anarchists, we would be best to remember that much of the history of this was a reaction against us in the first place. We shouldn’t give up our initiative; which means, we shouldn’t pretend that Antifa is anything but a redundant, tempered reaction to the authoritarian tendencies we are already opposed to. Communists, Socialists, and Liberals may want to work with us in the heat of the moment, but ultimately they do not want what we want. This is our opportunity to make our differences visible by opposing their calls for the State to respond. The best defense against the white supremacy and anti-communism of the right-wing is grassroots solidarity, not a more invasive surveillance state, not the regulation of social media companies, not more repressive police and judicial handling of supposed “extremists”.
American Anti-Communism: Combating the Enemy Within, 1830-1970 – M.J. Heale
Anti-Communism in Twentieth-Century America: A Critical History – Larry Ceplair
Alex Goodall – Two Concepts of Un-Americanism