In terms of the street-fighting, right-wing thugs, they draw most of their cadre and financial support from the middle classes and a minority of white workers. News reports, although still anecdotal, indicate that the crowd outside the Capitol and the gangs that invaded the building were made up substantially of small business owners (realtors, contractors, salespeople, self-employed truckers, etc.), low level professionals and managers, and unorganized and semi-employed workers. Their funding, according to the New York Times,came from thousands of small donations gathered through social media from a similar social base. Put simply, no major capitalists and certainly no sector of capital in the US today supports attempts to disrupt the Constitutional order that has served them so well.
Tuğal also accuses us of underestimating the degree of division and disorientation in capitalist state institutions, pointing to what he believes is evidence that elements in the military command may have facilitated the putsch. Clearly, there is more and more evidence that individual cops, active-duty military personnel, and ex-police and military veterans were involved in the riot. Equally clear is that elements of both the Metro DC and Capitol police, and possibly some Republican members of the House, facilitated the incursion. However, the Pentagon’s refusal to allow the arming and mobilization of the National Guard after the request of the DC authorities is an example of incompetence and not collaboration with the erstwhile “coup plotters.” Almost immediately, the entire office corps of the federal military condemned the riot and has been providing arms and personnel to defend the inauguration of Biden.
Tuğal also points out unclear and simplistic formulations in our first statement. We completely agree that the left needs to raise the demand for the prosecution and jailing of the organizers and participants of this attempt to overturn the 2020 election—including Trump, Giuliani, and the Republicans in Congress who facilitated the action.
The challenge will be finding a way for the left to demand that the fascists be brought to justice; organize mass mobilizations to outnumber, overwhelm, and disperse the fascist gangs; and oppose the Biden administration’s plans for a Patriot Act 2.0 against “domestic terrorism.” Put another way, we need to oppose calls by liberals and some on the left for a “people’s front” with the Democratic establishment in support of increased political repression and for a honeymoon period for the Biden-Harris administration.
Finally, the question of the relationship between building mass, disruptive, and often illegal strikes, demonstrations, and occupations on the one hand, and electoral politics on the other is one that requires much deeper debate. Our position would proceed from the following points. First, it is mass movements that are the source of social power and radicalism for working and oppressed people, not elections and legislative maneuvering.
Second, electoral activity can give these movements a political voice and help generalize them across workplaces and communities, but only if the electoral party is rooted in these struggles and prioritizes them over winning elections.
Third, such an electoral party must, at a minimum, be politically and organizationally independent from the Democratic Party—a capitalist party that is incapable of being reformed or used to prepare for a future independent working-class party in the US.
As Richard Seymour points out, the fascist gangs’ current lack of support from capital or state personnel is only one side of the story. The left needs to be vigilant against new attacks—not those waged against the state, but against us. Clearly, they are disoriented by their recent defeat and enraged at Trump for failing to support them to the end. But the social conditions that created them—the twin crises of capitalism and of the left and working-class movement—have not disappeared.
Put another way, the left in the US today is faced with a paradoxical situation. On the one hand, the far right street fighters are in no position to take power and suspend democratic rights or the Constitutional order. On the other, the new fascist groupings are (and will continue to be) increasingly a threat to a revived left—especially one that attempts to reorganize workplaces, build anti-racist struggles, defund the police, defend immigrants and queers, and openly educate and organize for socialism.