Remember January 6, 2021? You know, the day when fascist mobs that had been summoned to DC by Donald Trump stormed the Congress with weapons and a gallows, hunting politicians who refused to go along with Trump’s attempt to overturn the election?
“Who doesn’t?” you might ask. Yet too many decent people who care about the future are looking at January 6 as over and done. Too many people don’t see its deep implications for the future. And too many people are not following what is going down, right now, around the investigation into January 6, the further information coming out, the possibility of criminal indictments (including of Trump himself), and the intense polarization going on in this country around all that.
These hearings have already brought out new evidence as to the depth and multifaceted scope of the plot to overturn the elections. Further, the “wheel is still in spin” on these hearings, to quote Bob Dylan, so we won’t “speak too soon” in regard to in-depth analysis or conclusions. But there’s still some observations that can be and need to be made and some questions to be posed.
To ground all this, let’s start with the quote from Organizing for an Actual Revolution: 7 Key Points:
Brutal and murderous white supremacy, male supremacy, and other oppressive relations, the deepening crisis in society and the world overall, including the constant wars and the continuing destruction of the environment: all this cannot ultimately be resolved, in any positive way, within the confines of the system that rules in this country and dominates in the world as a whole—the system of capitalism-imperialism. Under the rule of this system, all this will only get worse. The deepening divisions within this country now, from top to bottom, mean that those who have ruled in this country for so long (the capitalist-imperialist ruling class) can no longer rule, as a “unified force,” in the “normal” way that people have been conditioned to accept—with a system of government that has an outer shell of “democracy” to cover over the fact that it is an actual capitalist dictatorship at its core, relying fundamentally on the armed force of the institutions of “official violence,” the police and the military. Because of big changes in this country and the world overall, one part of the ruling class, represented by the Republican Party, has become fascist: they no longer believe in or feel bound by what have been the “norms” of “democratic” capitalist rule in this country. And the other section of the ruling class, represented by the Democratic Party, has no real answer to this—except trying to maintain the “normal way” that the oppressive rule of this system has been enforced for hundreds of years, while the fascists are determined to tear up those “norms” and rule through more openly and aggressively oppressive means, without the traditional disguise of supposed “democracy for all.”
The crisis and deep divisions in society can only be resolved through radical means, of one kind or another—either radically reactionary, murderously oppressive and destructive means, or radically emancipating revolutionary means. And this resolution could quite possibly happen, one way or the other, within the next few years. This rare situation, with the deepening and sharpening conflicts among the ruling powers, and in the society overall, provides a stronger basis and greater openings to break the hold of this system over masses of people. In a situation like this, things that have basically remained the same, for decades, can radically change in a very short period of time.
A Heightening Polarization… NOT a Coming Together
Despite the presence of a few extremely prominent Republicans like Liz Cheney and former federal judge J. Michael Luttig as participants or witnesses in the hearings, the mass of the Republi-fascist Party officeholders refuses to condemn Trump. Most of those who condemned January 6 when it happened have long since changed their tune to harmonize with Trump, or at least not publicly contradict him. In fact, the great majority of the Republican Party believe that Trump—and they themselves—were victims of a towering crime by the Democrats, despite all evidence to the contrary. Most refuse to even watch the hearings. And in Republican primaries overlapping the hearings, most of those candidates who zealously insisted on Trump’s delusionary tale of a “stolen election” sailed to victory, including in some of the so-called “battleground” states, where the presidential vote is often close.
It is also interesting that last week was the 50th anniversary of the break-in at the Democratic National Committee headquarters in Washington, D.C. This break-in was traced to Richard Nixon, the Republican president at the time, and Republicans and Democrats joined together to threaten to impeach him if he did not resign. In other words, the main factions in the ruling class were able to come together when the president violated the norms of how they were supposed to manage conflicts among themselves.
Commentators also remarked on another difference between then and now—with America not only unable to unite on what should be a basic question of the rule of law, but unable to even agree on the truth of what actually happened. And it’s not as if the early 1970s were somehow not a time of sharp polarization—the revolutionary high tide of the late 1960s, the most revolutionary period in history had only just begun to ebb.
What is the significance of this? This point from SOMETHING TERRIBLE, OR SOMETHING TRULY EMANCIPATING: Profound Crisis, Deepening Divisions, The Looming Possibility Of Civil War—And The Revolution That Is Urgently Needed, A Necessary Foundation, A Basic Roadmap For This Revolution by Bob Avakian has particular relevance:
This rare situation, with the deepening and sharpening conflicts among the ruling powers, and in the society overall, provides a stronger basis and greater openings to break the hold of this system over masses of people.
It is extremely important to deeply understand this:
As this situation develops, and the ruling class is more and more unable to rule in the old way, society and daily life for masses of people, from different parts of society, can become increasingly unsettled and chaotic, with frequent “disruptions” of the “normal” way things have been.
And as the “the normal way” society has been ruled is failing to hold things together—and society is increasingly being ripped apart—this can shake people’s belief that “the way things have always been” is the only way things can be. It can make people more open to questioning—in a real sense it can force people to question—the way things have been, and whether they have to stay that way. And this is all the more likely to happen if the revolutionary forces are out among the people shining a light on the deeper reality of what is happening, and why, and bringing out that there IS an alternative to living this way.
This is a crucial part of how a revolutionary situation could be brought into being—a situation where it becomes possible to actually bring down this system.
On the other hand, “left to itself”—that is, if the current character and dynamics of all this remain on the same course they are now on—this situation, the divisions characterizing it, and the outcome resulting from it are almost certainly going to become even more terribly negative. So, all this must be radically changed, in what is a relatively brief, “compressed” period of time—not just weeks or months, but also not decades. If things have not already fully erupted before then, the scheduled presidential election of 2024 is very likely to be a critical focal point and turning point, through which the fascist Republicans will attempt to gain and lock down power over society, and put an end to any possibility of a future “transfer of power” away from them.
Will the Justice Department Charge Trump with a Crime? What if They Do… and What if They Don’t?
These hearings are dramatically uncovering and setting forth evidence that could form the basis to indict Trump himself on a number of serious crimes. There are any number of highly competent and learned liberal lawyers who can detail the ways in which evidence of Trump’s legal liability for actual crimes is being laid out—go here, for instance, to Dahlia Lithwick’s podcast with law professor Ryan Goodman. This gives rise to (at least) two questions: will Merrick Garland, the attorney general, actually follow the evidence if it points to Trump? And what will happen if he does?
As to the first question, Biden has up to now continued to labor to “bring the country together” and continued—as the polarization around the hearings shows—to “fail miserably,” in the words of Bob Avakian. As of this moment, we don’t know whether Attorney General Merrick Garland is moving on this, nor how seriously he is doing so. But the committee is putting extremely substantive evidence before the nation as a whole and doing so in a compelling way—even hiring an experienced TV producer to package the hearings—and it is not clear that all of this can be neatly contained.
Here the remark of Barbara McQuade, a former federal prosecutor and MSNBC legal analyst, is important to think about. McQuade has said that filing criminal charges against Trump in connection with his efforts to overturn the election “will very likely spark civil unrest, and maybe even civil war.” But, she added, “I think not charging is even worse, because not charging means you failed to hold someone criminally accountable who tried to subvert our democracy.”
So again: will the Department of Justice “follow the evidence” and, in the event that there is reasonable cause, prosecute Trump? Why, under a Democratic president, is this even a question? And if McQuade’s observations on the likely outcome of filing criminal charges have even a remote connection to reality, how would revolutionaries enter into this to repolarize for a real revolution, and not let this end either in a steamroller victory for fascism or merely a restoration of the same imperialist order (of the bourgeois-liberal variety) that got us to this point in the first place?
While the first question can only be answered as events unfold (though people’s actions can perhaps make a difference in how it’s answered), the answers as to why the Democrats may actually refuse to prosecute even if the evidence is there and what can be done to actually get rid of the system that gave rise to the fascism in the first place can be found in Bob Avakian’s work SOMETHING TERRIBLE, OR SOMETHING TRULY EMANCIPATING, and in very concentrated form in Organizing for an Actual Revolution: 7 Key Points.
Mike Pence Is Not a Hero
One further point for now: the fact that some Democrats on the committee have been trying to make the Trump-enabling, woman-hating, Christian fascist Mike Pence into some kind of hero.
It is true that Pence did act at considerable physical risk that day in refusing Trump’s command. And it is a fact—and it is an indicator of how sharp things have gotten—that the committee presented evidence that Trump actually said “maybe our supporters have the right idea” when he was told that the crowd was chanting “hang Mike Pence.”
But that just indicates that Trump was willing to crush anyone, no matter how previously loyal, who got in the way of his particular fascist project. Let’s look at the facts on Pence.
Mike Pence, like everyone else in the White House (including Trump), knew that Trump lost. Yet, like the others who now tell the committee that they knew all along that Trump’s claims were bogus, he went along with Trump’s bullshit publicly for weeks and weeks after the election. While some of his legal people pushed back against Trump’s scheme, Pence also went to a number of people to ask if there was any possible legal way that he could do what Trump was insisting he do, which was to single-handedly refuse to count some of the electoral votes that had gone against Trump. Only after everyone he went to told him that not only was there no way he could do it but it would be illegal besides and could open him to prosecution did he actually refuse—at the eleventh hour.1 And even after that, it was not until over a year later that Pence could finally bring himself to say that Trump had not won the election (prior to that, Pence would only say he refused to single-handedly prevent Biden’s certification because “one man should not decide who’s president”).
Yet the Democrats portrayed this longtime fascist and four-year lackey of Trump as a hero, and most of the mainstream media followed the script. Democratic Congressman Aguilar went so far as to ask Pence’s lawyer (Pence himself did not testify) at the very end of one session of the hearings what role his faith had had in this—a “question” which enabled the lawyer to talk about how he and Pence shared Bible verses and prayers at the end of it, blah blah blah. This was a totally inappropriate question serving no role other than to throw a sop to the Bible-thumping woman-hating Christian fascists, lionize Pence, and try to paper over the actual character of the fascist movement overall with a lot of bible-kissing kumbaya horse crap. This has everything to do with the Democrats’ attempt to “hold things together” for the very system that has now produced this fascism, even if holding it together would mean a slightly more “palatable” (to them) form of this fascism.
America Was Never Great
One last point: the terms of these hearings have up to now been the need to defend and preserve the “great democratic traditions” of America. But the reality is that these traditions have always masked the fact that a small group of rulers monopolize the use of force to enforce brutal exploitation and oppression, which they then legitimize through elections. This is a tradition, in other words, of bourgeois-democratic norms covering and legitimizing a bourgeois (capitalist-imperialist) dictatorship. Yet what is coming out in these very hearings has the potential to give the lie to those very terms, if revolutionaries draw out the contradictions. In fact, these hearings are evidence of the extreme strain that the bourgeois-democratic form of dictatorship now faces… with unpredictable consequences.
For now the point is to stay tuned… and for revolutionaries to stay tense as to what it may mean for “making people more open to questioning” this system as a whole… and what further cracks and fissures may develop among the rulers, and within the society as a whole, which may bear on the possible development of a revolutionary situation.