When rioters broke into the Capitol building, people were glued to their screens, mesmerized by the sheer enormity of the action happening. January 6, 2021, will live in infamy as the day that a mob of fascists and their friends tried their damnedest to wrest control of the U.S. Congress.
Fast forward a year and a half later, and it’s all being relived, in technicolor glory, thanks to the bipartisan House of Representatives committee investigating the coup. As of this writing in mid-July, there have been seven hearings, with some explosive revelations.
Uncommon honesty. As a card-carrying socialist, I did not expect to be surprised by the hearings. But my assumption was shaken by how blasé the powers-that-be were over the attempted overthrow of the elected government. Multiple people testified that Trump and his inner circle knew he lost the election; Trump just did not care. He put out a not-so-subtle call to his white supremacist and far-right followers, and they responded with plans and weapons.
From where I sit, it took Cassidy Hutchinson to blow the whole thing open. Her testimony was riveting. She made it clear that Trump’s people knew exactly what was happening and that The Donald planned to stride into the Capitol like a conquering hero.
She did what many of those in the know were too spineless or supportive to do. She stood up to the bullying and told the truth. In a CNN interview, former White house communications director Alyssa Farah Griffin backed Hutchinson, saying that Chief of Staff Mark Meadows (Hutchinson’s boss) suggested Griffin stay on the job because Trump would not be leaving office.
The usefulness of fascism. The hearings made it abundantly clear that the veneer of U.S. democracy is razor thin; ordinary people have little to no real control over those who rule them.
What we have is capitalist (or bourgeois) democracy, which provides the illusion that people have a real say in the government through voting. But it’s a rigged game, in which only Republicans and Democrats can get on the ballot. And since politicians on both sides of the aisle protect business and monied interests, the needs and wishes of working people are left in the dust.
But even this “choice” between the two bought-and-sold parties may be too much in these economically precarious and socially volatile times. And that is why the ruling class tolerates the existence of fascist groups like the Proud Boys and Oath Keepers (notwithstanding the handwringing at the hearings).
The capitalists may need these goons when the next recession hits and brings with it misery for the working class — on top of already unaffordable housing, rents, food, medicine and basic life requirements. Because increased rebellion is likely to accompany increased suffering.
To come to power, fascism must build a mass movement to smash working-class organizations like unions; strip rights and humanity from religious, sexual and ethnic minorities; and reduce women to second-class citizenship. Their way is paved by the bigotry and suspicion that already exists, fostered by the profit system, against immigrants, the LGBTQ+ community, single moms, “greedy” public workers, women and people of color blamed for “taking jobs” from white men, tree-hugging climate activists, leftists, and so on.
True democracy for the majority. The January 6 investigation is generating a tsunami of analysis, and much of it is crap. By and large, it promotes the idea that Trump and his minions threatened a precious democracy. In reality, that exists for most U.S. residents only as a fantasy.
So what’s the alternative to the mess that the collapse of capitalism is creating, with its drastic last resort of fascism?
I see socialism as that alternative. I want to live in a world where workers and people who are currently marginalized have not only a voice but the power. Where we can make sure that the issues important to most of us — things like civil rights, peace, freedom of movement, climate security, health, and basic human rights — are addressed in a sane and sustainable way.
To me, the key takeaway of the hearings is that bourgeois democracy will never be safe from the threat of fascism and it will never be enough for the world’s majority. What we need to win is workers’ democracy.