Jan 18, 2021
The following is the editorial from SPARK’s workplace newsletters, for the week of January 11, 2021.
We’ve all seen the pictures. Gangs of white supremacists led the way into the Capitol Building, Confederate flags and Trump flags flying, racist slogans held aloft. Latter-day KKK masqueraded as Proud Boys, 3%ers, American Nazis, QAnon, Michigan Militia and other paramilitary groups. Mixed in were off-duty cops from California, Illinois, Pennsylvania and other states.
It looked almost as though the Capitol police had melted away when these gangs reached the doors.
It was clear something would happen in Washington, D.C. on January 6. Trump was calling on his supporters to overturn the election. Social media was filled with calls for “action.”
And it wasn’t just words. In December, just as Electoral College electors met in all the states to cast their votes, some of these extreme-right thugs had paraded through an area of DC, surrounding people they met, defacing black churches.
In May, militia gangs invaded the Michigan legislature, hoisting their guns in a show of force. In the summer, Proud Boys and Boogaloo Bois rammed truck caravans through Portland Oregon, long guns poking out of windows. Other gangs attacked Black Lives Matter demonstrators in Louisville and Kenosha. People were killed.
Any rational person, listening to Trump, looking at these groups’ social media posts, would have prepared for an attack on January 6.
DC and federal police authorities did not.
DC cops certainly have a long tradition of controlling crowds. Even for an ordinary demonstration—like those calling for action on climate change or protesting the police murders of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor—they act with military precision and planning.
Not this time. The police might as well have invited the marauding bands to come in and make themselves at home. The DC police, who not very long ago shot up a car with black children in it, gave white hoodlums a pass.
Yes, what happened on January 6 reflects the ever-present official racism of U.S. society. But it was also a signpost, pointing out future dangers.
Whatever Trump does when he leaves the White House, these forces that were part of his support aren’t going away. And the invasion of the Capitol could only have made them bolder.
These gangs may still be marginal today. But they can become a real force, pushing everyone back. These gangs, who want a “white, Christian nation,” target black people, immigrants, Jews, Muslims. They work to get rid of unions today, as the UAW discovered in its organizing campaign in Tennessee. And they rail against communism.
These gangs potentially are a dagger pointed right into the heart of the working class, ready to rip the working class apart. And there is a very real danger that their radicalism will pull a number of white workers, whose lives are deteriorating, to fall in line behind them.
Against a danger like this, we can’t count on the cops or the federal government to protect us. Didn’t January 6 show that? As for the Democrats, listen to Biden and you hear only platitudes, him saying, “This isn’t what America is.” Yes, this IS what capitalist America is—and has long been.
There is only one answer that can serve all of us in the period of crisis we live through today—and that is for working people to fight to improve their situation, not at the expense of other working people, but taken out of the hide of the capitalist class that exploits us all.
The only force in this society that has the capacity to do that, to lead the way to a decent future for all of us, is the working class. Its central role in production gives it the possibility to carry on a real fight against the capitalist system, to start the work of building a new one, that is, to attract to ITS side all those fed up with capitalist society today.
Those who would oppose these racist bands must rest on the capacities that working people have as a class: their own class, made up of all the multitude of workers who produce all the products and services that society needs today.