One: the failure of the Democrats’ attempt to bring forward a “bipartisan investigation” of the January 6 armed fascist assault on Congress.
As made clear in Bob Avakian’s new piece, “THIS IS A RARE TIME WHEN REVOLUTION BECOMES POSSIBLE—WHY THAT IS SO, AND HOW TO SEIZE ON THIS RARE OPPORTUNITY” (or “RARE TIME”), the sharp divisions among the ruling powers in the U.S. can no longer be resolved within the framework of capitalist democracy that has existed for the past 150 years.
The failure last week of the Democratic attempt to organize a bipartisan commission to investigate the armed fascist coup attempt on January 6 is one sharp illustration of how that is so.
First, some background. Commissions of this kind have been one way that the rulers have reforged that framework in the face of different political shocks, or “jolts.” Such investigations took place after the assassination of John F. Kennedy in 1963; the heroic rebellions by Black people against police repression and racism in Newark, New Jersey, and Detroit in 1967; and the attack on the World Trade Center in 2001 by Islamic jihadist fanatics. Prominent legislators and other political figures were appointed to commissions. They did some investigation and pronounced their verdicts, and they sometimes recommended reforms or concessions.
This has all been presented to people as part of what BA has described as
insisting that this is all part of “creating a more perfect union” and “further perfecting the great democracy that has always existed in this country.” This has also been necessary in order for the rulers of this country to continue promoting it as “the leader of the free world,” which they say must remain the dominant power in the world—but which, in reality, is the most oppressive and destructive power, plundering masses of people as well as the earth.
That was then. Fast forward to today. On January 6, a group of thousands, with armed and organized fascist forces at its core, stormed Congress in an attempt to stop it from confirming Joe Biden as the new president. This was nothing less than an armed assault to overturn the election and impose a different form of rule—an open fascist dictatorship. The ways in which Trump’s minions hunted down major Democrats like Nancy Pelosi, Republican dissenters like Mitt Romney, and even Mike Pence (who refused to go along with Trump on the coup), showed that this fascist rule would give no quarter to even ruling class opponents. And the Confederate flags and the gallows outside showed what they intended for Black people and other oppressed masses and for people who care about justice. Even though this coup attempt failed, it amounted to ideological preparation for civil war among those who follow Trump.
Trump today calls this outrage “beautiful” and “full of love.”1
Immediately after January 6, some prominent Republicans condemned it. Some even joined, or at least did not immediately rule out, the call for the formation of a commission to investigate the attack. The Democrats saw a need to immediately unite some Republicans that, at long last, had broken with Trump. Fomenting an armed assault on the Congress had gone too far for some. Now, the Democrats hoped, they could get the Republi-fascists to at least go on record as condemning such a violent coup attempt. So months of negotiation between the two parties ensued over the scope and makeup of the commission.
Events of the last week would indicate that fantasy is over.
Even before last week, the idea of a joint Congressional Committee (senators and congresspeople coming together) was blocked by Mitch McConnell, the leader of the Republican senators. In response, Nancy Pelosi, the Democratic leader in the House of Representatives, called for an investigation by the House alone.
Then last week, the Republi-fascists responded to Pelosi by (among other things) proposing two representatives to the committee who continue to spread the lie that Trump was elected and who had actually opposed the investigation. By the week’s end, a New York Times “news analysis” concluded that “after months of negotiation, the end result is likely to be two panels, one led by Democrats and the other by Republicans.” (“Why America Isn’t Getting the Jan. 6 Investigation It Needs,” Lisa Lerer, New York Times, July 24)
From all indications right now, the fascists will both minimize the assault and even attempt to blame the Democrats for it. They will turn most of their fire against the just (and in fact overwhelmingly nonviolent) demonstrations opposing police murder and violence, and institutional racism, last summer—as if these heroic struggles during the beautiful rising in response to the wanton, horrific murder of George Floyd have anything whatsoever in common with attempting to overturn an election and impose fascism! They will continue to train their followers to believe anything, so long as it feeds their lunatic, nightmare notions of “making America great.”
The attempt to create the commission and carry forward an investigation thus will not “unite the American people.” It will not serve to smooth out differences and divisions among the rulers. Instead, it will exacerbate those divisions.
This is, among other things, a stark example of what BA says in “RARE TIME” is one factor that marks a situation in which revolution could be possible:
A crisis in society and government so deep and so disruptive of the “usual way of things,” that those who have ruled over us, for so long, can no longer do so in the “normal” way that people have been conditioned to accept.
Two: The unconscionable refusal of Biden to actively oppose the Republi-fascist assault on voting rights.
We have covered at revcom.us the Republi-fascist assault on the right of Black, Latino, and Native American people to vote (see here and here). Let’s be clear on the stakes here. As BA writes in “RARE TIME”:
The Republicans have become a fascist party—a party based on open and aggressive white supremacy, male supremacy, and other oppressive relations—a party convinced that only it deserves to rule, moving to manipulate elections and suppress votes in order to gain and hold onto power, refusing to accept the outcome of elections it does not win, determined to gut and pervert “the rule of law,” trample on people’s rights, and adopt what amounts to an undisguised capitalist dictatorship, ready to use violence not only against masses of people but also against its rivals in the ruling class.
In the past two weeks, Biden has at times spoken very sternly about the assault on voting rights and elections, correctly calling this an attempt to re-impose Jim Crow. (Jim Crow was the system in the South until the mid-1960s. Through laws and customs enforced by brutal sheriffs and violent lynch mobs, Jim Crow kept Black people in an openly subjugated position, segregated in schools, housing and public transportation, subject to racist violence at any moment and generally treated as inferiors. Under Jim Crow, the vast majority of Black people were prevented from voting and risked death if they dared to try.)
But Biden has done very little to actually oppose this in the real world. He acts as if his hands are tied. But he is the president. He is the leader of his party. He could say that nothing passes until this racist, illegal, and unconscionable assault on basic rights is stopped. He could campaign against the filibuster, the Senate mechanism that enables the fascists to block a vote on the bills to protect voting rights. In short, he could really throw down around this.
Instead, he actually spoke in favor of the filibuster in a “town hall” with Don Lemon on CNN! Killing the rule, Biden said, would “throw the entire Congress into chaos and nothing will get done.” He went on to say: “I’m trying to bring the country together.”
“Bring the country together” alright—in the same way that the Democrats have always done—by throwing overboard, if not actively themselves repressing, the basic rights of Black and other oppressed peoples!
Last week, leaders of 150 organizations concerned with civil rights publicly called on Biden to drop the “ideal of bipartisan cooperation on voting rights” and “support the passage of these bills by whatever means necessary.” Privately the leaders say that the Biden administration is telling them to do “better organizing” within the severe limits imposed by these bills.
This is part of the strategy called out by BA in “RARE TIME”:
The Democrats are committed to “playing by the rules” and “relying on the norms” of “democratic” capitalist dictatorship, while the Republicans are moving to tear up those norms and rule through an open, undisguised capitalist dictatorship.
And this betrayal bears out something BA pointed to in January, that:
This fascism is deeply rooted, in the underlying dynamics of the capitalist-imperialist system that rules in this country and in the whole history of this country, from its founding in slavery and genocide. Related to this is another critical truth: Biden will fail miserably in his attempt to bring about “healing” and “unite the country.” As I have written previously:
Biden and the Democrats cannot “bring the country together,” as they falsely claim, because there can be no “reconciliation” with these fascists—whose “grievances” are based on fanatical resentment against any limitation on white supremacy, male supremacy, xenophobia (hatred of foreigners), rabid American chauvinism, and the unrestrained plundering of the environment, and are increasingly expressed in literally lunatic terms. There can be no “reconciliation” with this, other than on the terms of these fascists, with all the terrible implications and consequences of that! [“New Year’s Statement by Bob Avakian”]
Relying on the Democrats in this situation, holding out any hope that Biden will “succeed”—even in the form of “pressuring” him as these civil rights leaders seem to be trying—is an express lane to an even worse hell than the one you think you are avoiding. Again, from “RARE TIME”:
Instead of being a tail on the Democratic donkey—with its attempt to keep this monstrous system going, and to deal with the growing fascist danger, by relying on the “normal procedures” of this system and doomed efforts to “heal the divisions” that are deepening every day—people need to work for the revolution that is urgently needed, and deal with the fascist danger as part of doing that.
Three: The fears of General Mark Milley.
Last week we covered revelations that General Mark Milley, the head of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, feared a fascist coup and took measures to prevent Trump from using the military to either invade Iran or to mobilize troops to keep him in office. This is very heavy, to say the least, and certainly unprecedented in the last 150 years! The article last week brings out many different truths that are revealed by this and bears rereading.
One further point: If Milley was so feverishly working behind the scenes to prevent the armed forces from being wielded in this way, what does this implicitly mean about a potential section that he feared could be used by Trump? In his recent controversial testimony in Congress—in which he defended studying books on critical race theory and “white rage,” even if he disagreed with them—Milley made the point that he needed to know what was influencing the thinking of his troops. In an armed force in which 40 percent of the soldiers and sailors come from the oppressed nationality sections of society (people of color, in short) and many others come from the rural areas in which the fascists have a stronghold, holding this together is a challenge that will only deepen as this situation develops.
In fact, the armed forces are an institution that is charged with carrying out official violence that the rulers of this system think is necessary to keep their rule going. This force—used against the oppressed here and around the world to defend this system—is supposedly “legitimate,” and in normal times all too many oppressed and justice-seeking people go along with that view.
But in times when the rulers themselves argue and fight with each other over what use of force is “legitimate” and what is not, when factions among the rulers begin to take up arms or threaten to take up arms against each other, this can raise questions very broadly in the minds of people who normally take the right of the rulers to use force for granted. Questions like: What is being defended and what is being attacked? Who decides what is legitimate? and what is actually a righteous and just use of force... and what is not?
There is a further point, made in the Declaration and Call, that also rings out against this backdrop:
Today, there are not only many fascists in the murderous police forces, but more than a few in the military as well. But it is a fact that, at the high point of the 1960s, the strength of the radical liberation movements at that time reached into and strongly influenced every part and every institution of society—including the armed forces of this system, where more of the soldiers looked for leadership from the Black Panther Party and other revolutionary-minded forces than from the president of the United States (the so-called “commander-in-chief” of the armed forces). Even with the differences between then and now, creating this kind of situation—where a revolutionary movement based on the new communism and the leadership of BA is impacting every part of society and key institutions—this is achievable, and is a very important part of preparing the ground for the seizure of power, when the time is right. This will make it possible to have the best fighting chance to take revolution all the way, and not be beaten back down into yet more horror.
The Takeaway: Time to Get Organized Now for a Real Revolution
When you look at conflicts like these—conflicts that have been unfolding and multiplying—the truth being hammered at in the Declaration and Call and “RARE TIME” rings out all the more sharply:
Revolutions are not possible all the time, but are generally possible only in rare times and circumstances, especially in a powerful country like this. This is one of those rare times and circumstances. This system is in real trouble, caught up in crisis and conflicts for which it has no easy or lasting solutions. Throughout this country the workings of this system have given rise to deep divisions which cannot be resolved under this system. Society is being ripped apart. Those who rule are locked in a bitter fight among themselves, and they cannot hold things together in the way they have in the past.
Although there are a lot of bad things connected with this and it could lead to something really terrible, it is also possible that we could wrench something really positive out of it—revolution, to put an end to this system and bring something much better. into being.
1. For example, The Hill reported that in February, in a Fox News interview, Trump said of the January 6 rally that he had spoken at, “It was a lovefest. It was a beautiful thing.” And in an interview with journalists Carol Leonnig and Philip Rucker for their book I Alone Can Fix It, Trump said of the January 6 rally, “There was a lot of love… Many have told me it was a loving crowd.” (CBS News, July 22, 2021) [back]