Home > Uncategorized > JANUARY 6, 2021

JANUARY 6, 2021

from Peter Radford

The crisis lingers on.

One would think, although we are now in an odd world, that abetting, instigating, and applauding an attack on Congress would result in more than a gentle rebuke.  Apparently not.  The wheels of American politics move extremely slowly and the perpetrator of the crime still is hunkered down in the White House bloviating, no doubt, about how he was robbed of his victory in November’s election.  Perhaps there will be enough spine amongst those who were attacked to exact appropriate revenge.  Perhaps not.

For, already, the political calculation that infects everything done in Washington is slowing and possibly preventing prosecution.  The Republican Party, now terrified of its full complicity and concerned about whatever is left of its public image, is doing its utmost to avoid punishing its soon to be ex-leader.

What do we know?

Congress was invaded with the intention of stopping it from performing its Constitutional obligation to recognize, formally, the November election result

The invasion came at the explicit behest of Donald Trump who ordered the mob at his January 6th rally to march on Congress with that aim in mind.

Several of the more extremest members of the mob had been planning various acts of mayhem for several weeks.

That planning had been overt: many of them had spoken, written, and communicated about their intentions for months.

Many others in the mob had simply fallen for the serial lying of Donald Trump or had fallen prey to various conspiracy theories allowed to float freely on social media platforms that think of themselves as above regulatory control.  This group consisted of people from all over America who believed Trump’s lies concerning the election.  They thought he had been robbed.  That he never, not once, produced evidence to support his claim was not enough to stop them joining in the assault.

Adding these facts together we see something as stark is an insurrection or a coup.  America has just survived an attempt to topple its government through the use of violence.

We are thus in a binary condition: either we are for Trump, or we are for the United States of America.  There is no middle ground.  And even those who imagined themselves acting out some patriotic mission to salvage freedom and the election result are part of the treasonous plot.  They are guilty.  Perhaps they are guilty most of monumental gullibility, but once they entered the hall of Congress they became criminals along with Trump himself.

So what to do?

Here we run into the obscurities of the American governance system itself.

Because of the absurdity of the prolonged “lame duck” period between the election and the inauguration of the new president, Donald Trump remains the president and thus the wheels of justice are, technically under his control.  Fortunately, it appears that Trump is not only in hiding, possibly aware of his guilt, but he also seems to have dropped any pretense to governing: he is absent from all discussions.  He has always run from the carnage he has created throughout his life, he has never accepted responsibility for his actions, so we can assume he is trying to stay away from his own coup attempt too.  His absence leaves the reins of American government loosely held by sundry departmental heads, all of whom have suddenly found the urge to cooperate fully with the incoming regime.  It also leaves the Vice President in the lurch, his own political future shot through from all sides: to Trump loyalists he is a traitor; to those supporting the United States of America he is an enabler, or worse, a quisling.

Vice President Pence shares this unenviable situation with whole swathes of our political and business class.

Which side are they on?

For years large numbers of our business elite have overlooked Trump’s manifest racism, misogyny, and other defects because he promised, and delivered, fat tax cuts to enrich them.  He bought their support.  Their moral equivocation now stands out in startling detail.  How could they?  The list of very wealthy Trump supporters who fawned over him whilst he pillaged the economy on their behalf is too long to go into here.  But we must be insistent: whose side are they on now?  How can anyone trust their moral judgment going forward?  How will they make recompense?

Whose side is Steven Schwarzman of the Blackstone Group on?  Trump’s? or America’s?

Ditto, Larry Ellison and Safra Catz of Oracle.

Ditto John Paulson; Marc Rowan; David Duffield; and Peter Theil.

Are they fans of the coup attempt?  Have they spoken out against Trump? If not we know where they stand.  We already know that they value their business interests above their valuation of America.  Have they discovered patriotism yet?

If they do not speak out, forcefully and not in corporate waffle-speak, then their business interests ought suffer.  How can any respectable business transact with people who abet such a crime?

The political class too is now in the spotlight.  Having either tacitly or explicitly supported Trump as he trashed institution after institution, the day of reckoning has arrived.  Which side are they on?  Mitch McConnell: where do you stand?  Fancy speeches on the Senate floor are one thing, but substantive support for concrete action is another.  Take a stand against Trump, or join him.  Those are the only two options you have.

Ditto for Marco Rubio; Tom Cotton; Ben Sasse; and the entire host of Republican contenders for president down the road.  Will they disavow Trump and his mob?  Or will they worm their way around looking for a politically convenient way to avoid roiling that mob?

And what about Fox News and other right wing media?  I doubt there will be much change.  They will wriggle and deflect the blame.  Their commitment to the truth and to the moral high ground will be sorely tested.  Judging by these past few years, there is little reason to imagine a sea-change or any contrition.

But, enough.  The nation has been attacked from within.  The reckoning will take time and will be dangerous.  Given the ability of most people to maintain contradictory mental images simultaneously it is only time that will allow the heat of the moment to dissipate.  Some of the mob will end up in court.  Most will fade back into the woodwork and get on with their lives.  They will continue to harbor loyalty to Trump and his lost cause.  The tempers and feelings he engendered will lurk below the surface and no amount of proof, rectitude, or logic will eliminate the disease.

One last thing: the stark evidence of racism throughout the mob is, perhaps, its most horrifying aspect.  One woman mob member, as she wiped away tear gas from her eyes, proclaimed: “They are supposed to be shooting at BLM, they are not supposed to be shooting at us.  We are patriots. We are on their side”.  This as she broke numerous laws and defiled democracy.  There is no need to parse that statement.  It stands as testimony to the depth to which America is in need of a reckoning and a full accounting for its past.  Perhaps this woman fears that the day of reckoning is here.  Perhaps she thinks that a mob of white people invading the halls of Congress is perfectly allowable.  It doesn’t matter what her justification is.  She is a racist.  Self-declared in her own language.  And she was far from alone: anti-black and anti-Semitic language and paraphernalia were on abundant display.  We do need to waste time wondering whether racism was part of the motivation of the mob.  It most certainly was.

This is a sick nation.  Trump damn near destroyed it.  A generation will be needed to pass away before the stain of January 6th begins to fade.  Under any circumstance the reality of what America is, is fully exposed.  For those who keep repeating “this is not who we are”, I ask you to stop and reflect.  Because this is indeed who we are.

Now we need to fix it.

  1. Ikonoclast
    January 13, 2021 at 11:35 am

    The majority of Americans made a mistake by voting for Donald Trumpin 2016. It was always clear to intelligent and aware people what Donald Trump was and is;

    (a) A millionaire oligarch;
    (b) A pathological, narcissistic liar and manipulator;
    (c) A moral criminal and probably a legal criminal even before he incited insurrection;
    (d) A racist, sexist and capitalist elitist of the ugliest kind.

    All this was clear to people who understood, via political, economic and even psychological analysis, what Donald Trump was. However, people make a choice-mistake if they don’t understand what is happening and who and whate are truly before them. If one doesn’t understand, then the feaible good choice(s) are not within their Venn circle of understanding; hence rational choice is not possible. The “moral deplorables” who voted for Trump are perhaps more accurately termed morally incapacitated through knowledge incapacitation. There will be a sub-group who are sociopaths and psychopaths but we can’t do much about their poor reality checking. Such people need to treated and sometimes “sectioned” under mental health acts (which process needs many of its own checks and balances).

    The rest of the those morally incapacitated through knowledge incapacitation need (or rather needed) proper education and socialization. Without that, we get, well, exactly what we have got in the USA now. Catabolizing public health, welfare and education leads to the generation of more sick and incapacitated people, including those who are morally incapacitated. Vast increases in investment in public health, welfare and education will be needed to avoid this happening again and to re-educate and re-socialize as far as possible the adults with these problems.

    First, you help people regain work, income, activity, dignity and a sense of having a stake in the whole nation and the body social and politic. This post would get too long if I listed all the programs needed, especially in the USA. Ultimately, there will be a core who will not change and if and when they take violent actions against society and minorities (it’s usually minorities who cop it) then the iron fist, which even democracies are capable of in extremis, needs to come down, according to appropriate rule of law, checks and balances. People who worship force and violence ultimately only respect only one thing and that is even more force and violence than they can muster. With the right policies, the recalcitrant core will likely be so small that they will quail from open political violence. They will know (unless completely crazy) that they have no hope in taking that path.

    Yes, the ringleaders of this attempted fascist coup have to be identified and appropriately dealt with according to law right up to and including Donald Trump. Appeasement is not an option. That only emboldens fascists.

  2. Ken Zimmerman
    January 29, 2021 at 4:20 am

    Fascism (a term often used to identify a group of beliefs and actions) has been part of several of the dozen or so American cultures for over 200 years. For some regions (deep South and Appalachia) a rather large part. But what is fascism? In his 1995 essay “Ur-Fascism”, cultural theorist and Medievalist Umberto Eco lists fourteen general properties of fascist ideology. He argues that it is not possible to organize these into a coherent system, but that “it is enough that one of them be present to allow fascism to coagulate around it”. He uses the term “Ur-fascism” as a generic description of different historical forms of fascism. The fourteen properties are as follows:

    “The Cult of Tradition,” characterized by cultural syncretism (a combination of different forms of belief or practice), even at the risk of internal contradiction. When all truth has already been revealed by Tradition, no new learning can occur, only further interpretation and refinement.

    “The Rejection of modernism,” which views the rationalistic development of Western culture since the Enlightenment as a descent into depravity. Eco distinguishes this from a rejection of superficial technological advancement, as many fascist regimes cite their industrial potency as proof of the vitality of their system.

    “The Cult of Action for Action’s Sake,” which dictates that action is of value in itself and should be taken without intellectual reflection. This, says Eco, is connected with anti-intellectualism and irrationalism, and often manifests in attacks on modern culture and science.

    “Disagreement Is Treason,” Fascism devalues intellectual discourse and critical reasoning as barriers to action, as well as out of fear that such analysis will expose the contradictions embodied in a syncretistic faith.

    “Fear of Difference,” which fascism seeks to exploit and exacerbate, often in the form of racism or an appeal against foreigners and immigrants.

    “Appeal to a Frustrated Middle Class,” fearing economic pressure from the demands and aspirations of lower social groups.

    “Obsession with a Plot” and the touting of an enemy threat. This often combines an appeal to xenophobia with a fear of disloyalty and sabotage from marginalized groups living within the society (such as the German elite’s ‘fear’ of the 1930s Jewish populace’s businesses and successes; see also anti-Semitism). Eco also cites Pat Robertson’s book The New World Order as a prominent example of a plot obsession.

    Fascist societies rhetorically cast their enemies as “at the same time too strong and too weak.” On the one hand, fascists play up the power of certain disfavored elites to encourage in their followers a sense of grievance and humiliation. On the other hand, fascist leaders point to the decadence of those elites as proof of their ultimate feebleness in the face of an overwhelming popular will.

    “Pacifism is Trafficking with the Enemy” because “Life is Permanent Warfare.” There must always be an enemy to fight. Both fascist Germany under Hitler and Italy under Mussolini worked first to organize and clean up their respective countries and then build the war machines that they later intended to and did use, despite Germany being under restrictions of the Versailles treaty to not build a military force. This principle leads to a fundamental contradiction within fascism: the incompatibility of ultimate triumph with perpetual war.

    “Contempt for the Weak,” which is uncomfortably married to a chauvinistic popular elitism, in which every member of society is superior to outsiders by virtue of belonging to the in-group. Eco sees in these attitudes the root of a deep tension in the fundamentally hierarchical structure of fascist polities, as they encourage leaders to despise their underlings, up to the ultimate Leader who holds the whole country in contempt for having allowed him to overtake it by force.

    “Everybody is Educated to Become a Hero,” which leads to the embrace of a cult of death. As Eco observes, “[t]he Ur-Fascist hero is impatient to die. In his impatience, he more frequently sends other people to death.”

    “Machismo,” which sublimates the difficult work of permanent war and heroism into the sexual sphere. Fascists thus hold “both disdain for women and intolerance and condemnation of nonstandard sexual habits, from chastity to homosexuality.”

    “Selective Populism.” The People, conceived monolithically, have a Common Will, distinct from and superior to the viewpoint of any individual. As no mass of people can ever be truly unanimous, the Leader holds himself out as the interpreter of the popular will (though truly he dictates it). Fascists use this concept to delegitimize democratic institutions they accuse of “no longer represent[ing] the Voice of the People.”

    “Newspeak.” – Fascism employs and promotes an impoverished vocabulary to limit critical reasoning.

  3. Craig
    January 29, 2021 at 5:25 pm

    Excellent post. We need to regulate social media in intelligent ways. We need to have a civics class starting in 8th grade and all the way through high school that incorporates the psychological insights in the following books: The True Believer by Eric Hoffer and Escape From Freedom and The Art of Loving by Eric Fromm.

    I have posted that what we need is a mass social movement, not a political movement. I stand corrected. We need BOTH a mass social movement AND a third INTEGRATIVE political party that communicates and appeals to the integrated self interests of traditional republican and democratic constituencies that are enabled by the policies of a universal dividend and a 50% discount/rebate policy at retail sale.

    We could easily fall into a continuing disintegrative social and political trend….if we don’t wake up and start integrating the self interests and particles of truth in the seeming opposite political ideologies.

  4. Craig
    January 29, 2021 at 11:02 pm

    A political party that integrated the self interests of normal republicans and democrats and that they could easily see the benefits of could create and attract a super majority that included almost all democrats and sane republicans. The solution to disintegration is not more regurgitative analysis, it is the choice to ACTUALLY integrate.

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